Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
It seemed like such a whirlwind running down the plane's air stair unto the tarmac then into the waiting vehicle. Travelling along Houston's busy streets, the skyscrapers and people going about their business appeared like a fast moving movie scene in a myriad of colors. At times, the passing images were more like a blur or he did not see them at all. He may have been staring out the window but his mind lay elsewhere. Oh Evangeline...what are you doing now? Perhaps the real question is what was he doing? It bombarded his thoughts every now and then. Here he was so far away from home, so far away from his family. He began struggling with the decision to leave them behind and not being able to have a conversation with his wife before his departure. In the end he would bear the consequences if it were all for nothing. Soon the SUV came to a measured stop signaling that they had arrived.
Alistair Newman Esq., one of Houston's prominent family law attorneys, had been practicing law for the past twenty years. His perfectly coiffed salt and pepper hair, neatly trimmed beard, manicured nails, gold-rimmed eyeglasses and tailored grey suit, made an impression. He articulated his words eloquently and his hazel eyes captured your attention. The Law Office of Alistair J. Newman, located on the famous Louisiana Street proved his equal. As you entered, contemporary art pieces dotted the cream-colored walls. A few bronze statuettes, exquisite furniture and wood pieces featured noticeably throughout the office layout. A collection of law books and legal literature stood impeccably aligned in a built-in bookcase behind his desk. Paul speculated about the last time the lawyer's fingers ever graced one of those editions. Absolutely the best family attorney that one could afford.
After handshakes, a brief introduction and Mr. Newman's assistant bringing in coffee, Victor sat down and immediately began giving a synopsis of his very intriguing background. For the most part, Alistair barely reacted except for a raised eyebrow here and there as well as scribbling on a notepad whenever required.
"So this Dr. Spencer became involved with the person you believed to be your wife at the time?"
"Yes and he was very obsessed with her as well. He hated that Blair and I had any type of relationship. So much so that he framed me for crime I didn't commit..."
"The murder of your son's mother?"
Victor massaged his forehead; not really wanting to recall those emotional draining memories or his execution. Alistair had him on a virtual witness stand with an audience of one. Still he recognized the importance of these probing questions.
"How long have you been searching for your son?"
"From the first day I knew he existed up until the time someone convinced me that he was dead. Of course I now believe that stupid bastard was behind it all."
Victor provided him the letter and Alistair read it carefully concentrating on each line. "Humph."
Todd leaned forward and asked, "So what can you do for me Mr. Newman? There have been too many lows because of this. Time is of the essence. My son has been without his father for far too long...I need my son and he needs me."
"I can definitely wrangle my way into getting that DNA testing. Your son is about seven years old?"
"Then I'll put in a written request first thing in the morning and get working on your case file as well."
"Wouldn't New Beginnings decline your request given the unique circumstances involved?" Paul questioned. Victor was interested to know as well.
"I've been in this practice for far too long to know my way around. When one door closes, I usually manage to push another open." Victor liked what he heard. "Mr. Lord there is one thing you must take into consideration. If indeed your son is alive, you won't automatically be granted custody of him; there is a process that you must undergo..."
"Why must I go through this? It is not as if I was given that choice to raise him. No one else can take care of him better I can because I want to!"
Paul placed a hand on his shoulder to calm him. Victor sat back and thought about it. Yet another hurdle to cross.
"Mr. Lord it's called a transitioning period. Everything must be in order. It will be his first time meeting you as well. A trust needs to build up. He needs to get comfortable being around you and your family."
"How long is it going to take? I have heard that these cases can go on for a year or more. I don't think I can accept that from you especially."
"And you don't need to Mr. Lord," Alistair responded in a calm manner. "As your associate has stated, your case presents a unique set of circumstances which any court would find hard to ignore."
"I'm also certain that you will be granted visitations especially during the upcoming holidays."
His heart leapt for joy and it came through with a huge smile on his face. He believed his son was alive and fairly soon they would get the chance to see each other for the first time. That day he will experience so many emotions but he would gladly welcome it.
"The sooner we find him, the better it will be for you and your family."
Something stirred Victor awake and he was temporarily unsure of exactly where he was. He gazed down at himself realizing that he had actually fallen asleep fully clothed on top of the covers. He yawned, stretched a little and scratched his scalp.
"What time is it?" he asked himself reaching over to flick on the bedside lamp on the nightstand. "9:30...oh man..."
He barely recalled what he did after leaving Newman's office apart from grabbing a bite to eat and taking two pain relievers to ease his throbbing headache. He proceeded to hop off the bed, jogged down to the kitchen where he came across Paul talking on the phone.
"Everything alright Mr. Lord? You need anything."
"I'm good. Just going to grab something to drink then hit the showers. Tomorrow we'll get back at it."
"Ok goodnight Mr. Lord."
Victor stepped out of the bathroom clad in his pajama pants, gripping a towel around his neck when he stopped dead in his tracks.
"Evangeline...," was all Victor uttered before the two reunited in a tight embrace and a long, passionate kiss. "You're an amazing sight."
"And so are you - looking and smelling good."
He adored her blue jeans and navy pullover sweater; hair styled in a loose ponytail. That floral fragrance smelled amazing. "And so are you Babe." He smiled giving her an Eskimo kiss. "Oh it's so good to see you. Why didn't you call me? I could have made arrangements."
"Honestly I decided to do this at the last minute..."
"Ok. Where's little man?"
"Asleep on the bed. This is way pass his bedtime." He gazed over her shoulder and saw Trey sleeping in the middle of the bed with Paddington. He had to go over and give him a kiss on the forehead.
A smiled etched on her face, admiring Victor and the loving father he had become to Trey.
"How long will you and Trey stay?"
The question seemed to awaken a sinking feeling. She had to speak with him and he needed to listen.
When he looked up at Evangeline again, he knew something was not right. He saw a sadness in her brown eyes that was not there before. "What's wrong?"
"We need to talk Victor. On the terrace...please." Victor nodded.
When Evangeline unlocked the sliding door he remarked, "I'll join you shortly."
Victor was a little confused not being able to connect his wife's earlier loving reception to her current mood. Well those dots were about to be connected. He let out huge breath and prepared himself for what was to come.
He found her sitting quietly on the sofa staring down at her palms. He decided to remain standing leaning against the terrace rail.
Where to start?
"Do you remember the question I asked you before I stepped onto the elevator?"
In Evangeline's mind, this conversation was long overdue. She had to get a few things straightened out with Victor before their relationship went awry.
"Yes I have thought about it. I guessed that I needed to prove that I wasn't chasing the ghost of my son to the detriment of my relationship with you and Trey. Evangeline I'm not choosing him over you and our son..."
"Don't you think I know what your son being alive means to you?" She solemnly shook her head. "I certainly have good reasons to question the source of this wonderful news but when you first told me that he may be alive; I was extremely happy until I realized what you had done."
"What did I do?"
"Once again you pushed me aside." Victor started thinking. "It happens time and time again. ...I recalled wanting to go with you to Chicago but you insisted I stay behind because you feared for my safety. You almost died on that trip with Blair along for the ride. What could I say? I was merely the best friend. Many times I offered you advice but you usually tossed those aside and went your own way."
"Making the situation worst," he admitted.
"Starr brought you this information and you asked for her advice didn't you?" Victor nodded. He chose not to look at her. It was slowly sinking in. "Did you reach out to me as well? Of course not. I was never included. I was brought in at the end when decisions were already made..."
"No let me finish. My opinions should count because I am your wife. We have a family together. A bright future waiting for us but at that moment you made me feel less than. Did Blair take away so much of you that there's only this much left for me?"
Her words were cutting. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He reflected. Looking back at it now, he always valued Starr's counsel above all others. This bond grew out of his toxic relationship with Blair. After losing Starr as a daughter, subconsciously he held on to this part of their relationship without realizing the foreseeable consequences. He did choose something over his wife - his connection with Starr.
"I know you love me. I love you too. Nothing can change how much I love you. I accept many things about you but this is one thing I can't and won't accept. I must have a say because whatever you do affects not only you but our family as well. I am your other half. We are one. You come to me. Of course, at times we will disagree but there is always compromise."
Evangeline stood up and slowly walked towards the rail. She refused to look at him instead staring into the vast night sky.
"It's funny when you finally divorced Blair I was beyond ecstatic. I thought you were free to move on with your life..."
"I wasn't free..." Victor softly interjected. "All my memories were tied to her and the family I believed to be ours. When it all came out that I wasn't Todd Manning...I just lost it. I lost my purpose, my kids..."
"The one thing in life that kept you sane," she finished.
"The Manning clan against the world."
"...It feels like you're still holding on to that concept without realizing it. You're pushing me back to my rightful place," she sadly remarked turning her back to him. "Victor I can't and won't live like this..."
He moved in closer, touching her shoulders. "Please Evangeline forgive me. I get it now. I promise I do. I should have first had a discussion with you before making any decisions. That was so wrong of me - a cruel thing to do to the person I love most. Say you will forgive me. Say you won't leave me," his voice pleaded. "I did the one thing I promised never to do intentionally and that is hurt you."
He spun her around to face him. It broke him to see the immense sadness on her face because he made it so. He pressed their foreheads together and said, "Because of you, my whole world changed for the better and I wanted to change. I never knew how messed up I was and what to do about it until you stepped into my life and eventually my heart. Sweetheart you have the best part of me. From now on, my actions will prove that you come first."
Did she believe him? She took a step back and gazed at him. Victor anxiously awaited her next move - blue eyes gazed back at her intensely.
She took a hold of his hands and he pressed them to his lips. "You've never lied to me before and I'm putting my faith and trust in you now."
"Baby you won't regret it."
They leaned forward together, lips slowly meeting and it went on; growing in intensity each twist and turn of the tongue, moaning, stealing their breaths away. When they broke apart, they embraced not only each other but also their minds and hearts. It felt like a renewal, life and love together as it should be.