Chapter 1: Reunion
Evan Taylor wasn't so busy directing that he couldn't hear the music swirling around him. It ebbed and flowed, just like his rhapsody, and he delighted in it. The music was what would lead him to his parents, after all. Suddenly, the music built and intensified, creating a myriad of new noises, as though laughter and love met and composed a tune. Curiosity got the better of him, and he turned slowly, unsure of what he would see. There, in the front of the audience, was a beautiful woman in a white dress, beaming at him and holding the hand of a man—the same man he had met in the park earlier today! What had his name been? Louis? And then it dawned on him. They had been led here by the music! Could they be—? Were they—? Evan knew in his heart that it was so. They were the ones who had given him the music. His parents! He lifted his eyes and hands to the sky and grinned.
As soon as the concert was over, Evan scrambled down off of the platform and into the arms of the beautiful woman. She hugged him hard, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I found you!" she exclaimed. Evan couldn't believe this was actually happening. Maybe it was just a dream, like all of his other dreams about his parents. Well, even if it was, it was the best dream he'd ever had, and he was going to make the most of it.
Louis stood back and watched Lyla embrace August, apparently overjoyed to see him. What he didn't understand was why the kid was so special. Yeah, he had talent and all, but what was the connection here? Maybe Lyla had helped teach him. Yeah, that made sense. August had mentioned that he had gone to Julliard, and so had Lyla, right? Snatches of their conversation floated over to him. "I finally found you!" he heard Lyla exclaim, and the boy grinned. "And I found you, too. I knew the music would lead me to you eventually." Found him? What is that about? And music leading him? This was getting crazy. "I'm so sorry that I ever had to give you up. I've always wanted you, Evan." Wait, what? Give him up—?
Suddenly, Lyla seemed to remember that he was there. She stood and gently led him closer to where August was. "Louis, this is Evan." Evan? He said his name was— "He's my son." She was beaming, tears still glistening on her cheeks and in her eyes. Louis had no reason to doubt her. The woman at the apartment had said she was on her honeymoon, right? A sick feeling swept over him. Honeymoon. Son. Not his. His brain refused to form coherent sentences as he reeled from the shock of it. He forced a smile as she turned again to talk to the boy, but white spots danced in front of his eyes, and he found himself struggling to take a breath. Of course not. She didn't belong to him. And while this boy was a little old to be from her recent marriage, that fact only left more unanswered questions. His mind spun with them. If not her husband, then who? The father could be anyone. After all, she had given in to him…. He shoved the thoughts that threatened to poison him back down deep inside. All that mattered now was that he had found her, right? There had to be a reason for that. The fact that she would never belong to him would not rear its ugly head on this night of all nights. But still, he needed to get out of here before her husband showed up. Her husband— The mere thought of it again hit him like a physical blow in the gut. Turning, Louis began to walk away when a touch from Lyla again stopped him.
Lyla had turned happily from talking to Evan—her son—to gaze at Louis, when she noticed that Louis didn't look so good. In fact, he looked terrible, a myriad of emotions playing across his handsome features and a green tint to his skin. She laid her hand on his arm. "Louis, what's wrong?" He had been staring off at something, so he jerked his head back around to see her. "Uh, something's wrong?" Lyla could tell that he was trying to hide something, and was in the process of trying to decipher what it could be when she saw his gaze flick to Evan and back to her again, almost nervously. It was only for the briefest second, but that was all it took. All of a sudden, understanding dawned. He didn't know about Evan. Of course! There was no way he could have. He probably thought— No wonder he looked hurt, disappointed, lost, and ill, all at the same time! She giggled, then tried to break the news gently. "Louis, he's our son."
For the second time that night, this strong, tough rock star felt like he was going to pass out, or at least burst into tears. Our son. Lyla had said "our son." That meant the child was his. The realization and shock washed over him, and only a quick grab to the rail surrounding the platform saved him from a humiliating seat on the ground.
No wonder the kid was good. Both of his parents were musicians! And that incident in the park, they were composing a symphony together, joined by an unseen bond that neither one of them had even known existed! The talent that Louis had seen earlier, it had been passed down to Evan from him. He couldn't wrap his mind around the facts. It was impossible, wasn't it? One look at Lyla and he knew it was true. And the music had led them together. Although it sounded crazy at first, Louis remembered how it was the music that had brought he and Lyla together that fateful night, ten years ago. He grinned at the boy.
Somewhere in the fog, a man stepped up and introduced himself as Richard Jeffries. He asked if he was then Evan's father, and Louis, still reeling from the revelation himself, nodded dumbly.
"I'm the social worker involved in Evan's case," Mr. Jeffries told the man standing by Lyla and Evan.
"Louis Connelly," Louis managed out, shaking the social worker's hand.
"I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. Connelly. I must say that this has been a very strange case, although I am certainly glad that you all found each other. Now, of course, there will need to be various court proceedings to establish that you two are his parents and legal guardians, but I don't think that will be an issue." He smiled down at the little family. "In the meantime, Evan can stay with Miss Novacek, although you obviously can see him at any time." He said a few more congratulatory comments, handed Louis his card, then excused himself.
Louis was dying to have a few moments alone with Lyla, to know where he stood with her. Her reaction when she saw him was better than he had hoped, but there were still more questions than answers milling about in his brain. But with Evan here, that was going to be difficult. All of a sudden, as though some unspoken prayer had been answered, the boy was called away to help the Julliard crew clean up. Louis watched in amazement as he ran off, surprised that his wish had been granted so soon.
As soon as Evan was gone, Louis slipped his arm around Lyla and drew her close. "I've been looking for you, too," he murmured into her hair. He loved the way she still melted against him, drawing from his strength and infusing him, as well. Maybe there was hope, after all.
"If I'd even known where to look for you, I would've looked for you, too," she whispered.
The thought crossed Louis' mind that if she had come with him that day he'd waited for her at the arch, like they'd planned, they wouldn't have had to look for each other, but he pushed it away. They needed to build some form of a relationship before the past was dredged up. But still, they had a lot to catch up on.
Lyla pulled back a little and went to sit on a nearby park bench. He joined her. "Tell me, Louis, what happened to you after that day?"
"I, uh, kept playing with me band, but after a while it just, uh, didn't seem like the right thing for me. I went back to school to be an accountant, and that's what I've been doing the past few years, in San Francisco."
"An accountant, huh? I can't picture you behind a desk, papers everywhere, due dates looming." She giggled at the thought. "You're more of a free spirit." Noting his clothing, she smiled. "So, are you going to go back and play with your band now, then? Since you're back in New York?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe." He grinned at her, and the smile that she returned made his heart do flip-flops. If only she knew how beautiful she was, if only he had the words to tell her— "I played with them tonight for the first time in ten years. It was amazing." Thinking about his band and their concert tonight reminded him of the song he had wrote for her. Would she think it was petty? He decided to plunge ahead despite his doubts. "I, uh, I sang a song tonight that I wrote a long time ago. Would you like to hear it?" She nodded, smiling. Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, and desperately wishing he had his guitar, he started in, "When the one thing you're looking for is nowhere to be found, and you're back stepping all of your moves, trying to figure it out…" He watched her as he sang, gauging her reaction. When he'd finished, he smiled at her. "Did you like it?"
"Oh, yes!" Lyla exclaimed. "It was beautiful, in a haunting sort of way."
"I wrote it for you," Louis whispered, looking meaningfully into her eyes.
Her look of surprise and delight made it all worth it. "For me?" she breathed, tears brimming. He nodded. "Ohhh, it's beautiful…"
Louis could feel himself falling more and more in love with this woman, and it wasn't something he could stop, even if he'd wanted to. It was like they were made for each other. He felt himself sway forward, about to kiss her.
However, right before their lips met, Lyla broke the connection. "Louis, I—I don't know if—" She couldn't finish, but he caught her drift. She wasn't ready for a relationship. She wasn't ready for him. It was as he thought before. There was someone else. She might have responded to him earlier, but there was nothing long-term. The remembrance of what the woman said about her marriage hit him again, and he drew in a quick breath, bracing himself against the pain.
"There's someone else, isn't there?" he asked through his teeth, fighting strong emotions.
Lyla pulled back and looked into his face, eyes wide. "Someone else?" She had never been able to get over Louis enough to date anyone else. The concept was unthinkable. But she knew that she'd hurt him by breaking the connection. It was written all over his expression. However, she just couldn't move that fast. After all, they'd met one day and been separated by external forces the next. Literally. Then they hadn't seen each other for eleven years. It would take a little time to move into a relationship, but Lyla was definitely willing to pursue one.
Suddenly, she realized that he was still waiting for an answer. He was actually asking! He really wondered! She almost laughed out loud, but settled with a large grin. "No, Louis, there isn't anyone else. There couldn't be anyone else."
His heart caught as she flashed him another smile, but even more so with her next words. "Couldn't be anyone else"? Did she mean that? He said the first thing that came to mind. "What about your husband?"
Lyla's eyebrows shot up. Husband? What kind of information has he been getting? "Uh, husband?"
The young man nodded dumbly. "The woman at your apartment said that you were on your honeymoon."
On my honeymoon? Lyla pondered for a moment. What woman would give away false infor— Ah, Mrs. Myers. She always did confuse me with Lizzy. She couldn't hold back a chuckle, but thought grimly of the damage that could have been done if she and Louis hadn't met. "Louis, that was Mrs. Meyers. My best friend, Lizzy, just got married, and the woman always did mix us up. There is no husband."
Louis drew in a sharp breath. No husband? All the hope that had crumbled earlier began to rematerialize. But what did this mean for them? He slipped his hand back into hers, unsure of how to express what he wanted to tell her. "Lyla, I-I'm sorry things worked out the way they did. But I, uh, don't want to keep searching for you, wondering what you're doing right at that moment. Especially after we've met again, after all these years. It—it would be torture." Looking deep into her eyes, he willed her to understand. "Let's start over. Fresh. New. Not picking up past hurts and past dreams, but finding out the future together."
"Together?" Lyla repeated in barely a whisper.
"Yes," the young man grinned broadly. "Together."
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