The next couple of weeks passed quickly. There was so much evidence, provided by the security firm, Eva didn’t even have to deal with a trial. Louis was convicted on more than one charge, and each carried a heavy penalty. Eva spent her days at work, and her nights at Daniel’s. They didn’t share a bed; Daniel slept on an airbed in the living room, the recovered gun beside him as he slept. When he slept.
He had the house repaired, too. The glass doors had been replaced, and instead of the sliders, he had French doors put in. The guest room had all new furniture, even though he hated getting rid of the bed. Instead of turning it over to Eva’s auction house, he borrowed Vince’s truck and took it to Goodwill. The mattress and box spring he burned in another friend’s pit.
Sadie decided to take another week off from school. She and Dee went shopping and ate at the “really good” places in Bangor and Augusta. They both felt Eva needed readjustment time, and were able to talk her into joining them on more than one occasion. Daniel naturally insisted they have a team with them at all times. Sadie joked about one of the guys pulling a 21 Jump Street and going undercover at her school. All Daniel said was, “Don’t be ridiculous,” even though he had considered it.
Once their lives returned to some sense of normalcy, Eva went to the prison with her lawyer and served Louis with divorce papers. She wanted nothing from him in terms of money or assets. All she wanted was his signature.
Louis sat on other side of the Plexiglas and wept. “I don’t want a divorce!” he wailed. “I love you, Sadie. Don’t you see?” he pleaded. “Everything I did, it was all for you!”
Eva reminded him about the Salt Lake trip and suggested he sign the papers. “If you had talked to me, I mean really talked to me, we might not be in here. You were jealous over nothing-”
“Nothing?!” he cut her off. “Nothing! You’re with him now, aren’t you? He’s touching you with his hands, and…he’s touching you, Eva!” he laid his head on the counter and openly cried, not caring what the guards or other inmates thought of the display. “I loved you with everything in me and this” he gestured to the papers, “is how you repay me? You sleep with my best friend and divorce me?”
“You raped me!” she bellowed. “You sick fuck! How can you justify any of this? You need help. Serious, major help.” She took a deep breath and looked around. “You were the one who thought chaining a woman to the wall, beating and taking her from behind was fun. You thought scaring the shit out of your wife was fun. You…you tied me to a bed and forced yourself on me. And, you expect me to forgive you because you’re my husband?” She shook her head, hair flying around her face. “No. Not happening.” She leaned forward and gritted her teeth. “Sign…the fucking papers…you cocksucker.” Spittle hit the Plexiglas separating them.
Finally, he relented and a guard handled the paper-shuffling between them. After he signed the papers, Eva thanked him and left. Their divorce would be final within sixty days.
When Eva got out to the car, she took a deep breath and screamed, beating the dash with her fists. Daniel watched, feeling helpless and unsure of how to fix it. He put his hand on her shoulder.
“Eva?” he asked tentatively. “What happened?”
She sniffled and turned to face him, taking in all his lines, the color of his hair, the beautiful concern clear on his face. “He tried to justify what he did,” she said and looked away and sniffled, again. “But, I must say, that was very therapeutic. I told him exactly what I thought of him and his justification.” She paused. “He signed the papers after I reminded him what he did. To me, to that woman in Salt Lake.” She searched Daniel’s eyes and all she saw was love. “Can we go home, now?” she asked.
Daniel gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek and said, “I like the sound of that.” He put the car in gear and drove through the prison gate.
Eva looked out the window and watched the concrete building disappear from view. “Me, too,” she said. “The only good thing that came out of this was you.”
Daniel squeezed her hand and pulled into traffic. “You probably don’t care, but what would you like for dinner tonight? Anything you want, I’ll make.”
“Anything?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am. Anything.”
“I want to get a lot of junk food and just pig out, watch movies with Sadie and take a hot bath,” she said, nodding firmly. “Yeah, that’s what I want.”
“Can I participate, too?” he asked carefully. “I miss my girls.”
Eva closed her eyes and rested her heard against the window. “We miss you, too.” She took a deep breath. “It’s been strange staying at your house, in your bed…without you.”
Teasing, Daniel offered, “Well, we can change that tonight, if you like.”
“Not until this is over. When the time comes, and the ink is dry…neither of us will sleep alone, again,” she insisted. “I just don’t want to push it and have him freak out, cause an international incident.” She paused and looked sideways at Daniel. “By the way, how did you pull all that off, anyway?”
Daniel signaled and turned into a nearby lot, something he seemed to do frequently. He parked the car and turned in his seat. “Eva,” he began, “I love you more than all the fish in the ocean, and all the birds in the sky.”
Eva’s breath caught in her throat. She remembered those words almost twenty years later. They were part of the vows he had written for their wedding day. “Daniel?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
Daniel cleared his throat and swallowed. “I love you, Eva. And I want you to make me the happiest man in the world. Again.”
A tear rolled down Eva’s cheek and she sniffled. Looking him in the eyes with a smile, she said, “Maybe you should take me home.”
Daniel smiled and said, “Oh, yes, ma’am.”
Eva, Daniel and their family sat in the fourth row of chairs in front of the stage. Sadie and Dani sat on the stage with their school’s academic council, waiting to be called for their respective speeches. Eva and Daniel watched the ceremony unfold with a lot of pride. They had raised her right. Even with all the ups and downs of the last nine months, Sadie made it through and earned the spot of valedictorian for her class. Dani earned Salutatorian. The speeches the girls gave moved everyone to tears. Eva looked around and there didn’t seem to be a dry eye in the house.
Afterward, the class packed up onto chartered buses and left for their white water rafting trip. The rate the school got was too good for them to pass up. Dee made sure Sadie had everything she needed for the trip, complete with a gallon of bug spray. Cabela’s turned into her new favorite store.
Eva, Daniel and Dee watched the bus drive away before heading to their car. Dee stopped by the car and said, “I won’t be going home with y’all this afternoon.”
Eva’s brow knotted in a frown. “Why not?” she asked.
Vince pulled up at that moment and waved. Dee waved to him and Daniel opened the trunk for her suitcase. “I’m adult and don’t need to explain anything.” She winked at Eva and Daniel while Vince got out of the truck and took her suitcase. “We’re going to Portland for the weekend. See y’all when I get back.” Vince helped her into the truck and climbed in on the driver’s side. Both waved at Eva and Daniel as they drove away.
Eva let out a deep breath. “Wow, I never saw that coming.”
“I did,” Daniel said. “Saw it coming last fall.” He opened her door. “And, I actually knew about this, so I planned a little surprise for us.”
Eva got in the car, perplexed. “What kind of surprise?” she asked when he slid in behind the wheel.
“You’ll see,” he teased with a smile, and started the car. “It ain’t Vegas, but its close.” Putting the car in gear he said, “We have suitcases in the trunk, too.”