Evangeline was being awfully quiet, just looking back and forth between everyone. The conversation turned serious once Addy actually conceded that I was making some sense. She agreed to let me at least develop a business plan for her and said she’d consider reopening the shop.
At one point, Evangeline got up from the table, looking upset.
When she took a long time returning from the bathroom, I got up and knocked on the door. “Are you okay?”
“Open the door.”
When she slowly opened it, her eyes were red.
“I didn’t want you to see me like this.”
“What’s wrong? I thought we were having a good night.”
“We were. Nothing is wrong. That’s the problem. Everything is too perfect. This dinner. The talk about reopening the shop. The way you’ve been looking at me tonight like I never caused you all that pain…God, Sevin.”
I grabbed a tissue and wiped her eyes. “I haven’t forgotten the pain of you leaving or the broken heart you left me with. But you’re also the only one who can heal it. There might have been times when I thought I hated you. But the fact is, I could never hate you more than I love you. You’re the love of my life.”
“I love you so much. That’s why I can’t forgive myself.”
“You’re punishing yourself by staying with that trailer trash. This is your home. We can go to Wichita tonight and get your stuff before he comes back.”
She was shaking. “There’s something you don’t know. You will hate me, Sevin.”
Placing my hands on her shoulders to still her body, I said, “Please stop being cryptic. Tell me what the fuck happened!” Immediately regretting my tone, I took a deep breath.
Addy interrupted us. “Everything alright in here?” She took one look at Evangeline’s face and knew the answer. “Vangie, what’s going on?”
Evangeline was coming apart. Whatever it was she was keeping from me had slowly been eating away at her and was now totally consuming her. We needed to be alone, and I needed to get her to open up to me on her own without forcing it.
“I think I’m having a nervous breakdown, Addy.”
“I think it’s better if I take her home.”
Addy looked surprised. “To Wichita?”
“No. I said home. To my house.”
Evangeline nodded in agreement. She and Addy hugged, and we promised to call in the morning.
The ride back to my place was quiet. Evangeline rested her head against the seat. I wasn’t going to try to drag anything out of her tonight because she could have very easily just gotten in her SUV and left if I upset her enough. I didn’t want her driving in this condition and was still set on her never going back at all. I needed to make her feel safe tonight and make her believe that nothing she could tell me would change how I felt about her.
She’d run away and had been on her own for a long time before she met that weasel Dean; anything could have happened to her. My imagination was running wild. The theories running through my mind were making me sick to my stomach. I needed to let go of my own insecurities, make her my priority tonight.
Her black hair was splattered across my throw pillow as she lay down on the couch and closed her eyes.
“We don’t need to talk about it tonight. It’s been a long day. But I need to know everything that happened while you were away…when you’re ready to tell me.”
Her eyes reflected a deep sadness as she simply looked at me without saying anything before closing her eyes once again.
Rubbing her arm gently, I said, “I want you to take my bed. I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
Beads of sweat were forming on her forehead.
“Are you hot? Let me get you some water.” I walked over to the kitchen to pour her a glass.
“It’s weird. I have the chills, but sweat is pouring off of me.”
“Are you getting sick?”
“No. It’s nerves.”
“I’m gonna draw you a bath. It will relax you, get your mind off things for a while.”
She swallowed nervously and nodded her head. “I would love that. Thank you.”
“Be right back.”
My heart was pounding as I made my way to the bathroom off of my bedroom. I couldn’t explain my own nerves except to say it felt like something earth shattering was about to happen, even though I had no clue what it was. I just sensed it.
I ran my hand through the water coming out of the spout until it was the perfect warm temperature. Remembering that Nancy had left some bubble bath soap under my sink, I took out the container and poured the remainder of it into the water. The tub was now filled with spongy bubbles.
Returning to the living room, I offered her my hand and gently lifted her off the couch, leading her into the bathroom.
“Let me know if you need anything. I’ll be right behind that door.”
I neatened up my bed for her before sitting on the edge and closing my eyes. Listening to the sounds of the water bubbling as she moved her body around in it, I wished more than anything that I could be inside with her.
Be inside of her.
Her voice was so low that it was barely audible.
I got up and leaned my cheek against the door. “Yeah?”