Coming Clean - Chapter One *Evian*
The smell of the car’s expensive leather hung in the air. “Are you sure,
you’re really going to do this?”
The hope in his voice was unmistakable. Eve sighed and touched his cheek. The breath he was holding found a sweet release as he pressed his face against her hand. “Yes, Julian,” she answered. “I’m sure. I’m going to tell TC the truth about our past and our baby.”
He raised his eyebrow. “And?”
She smiled and gave his lips a soft kiss. “And that I love you. That I always have.”
“I love you, too.”
Julian lowered his head and captured her lips in a deep exploring kiss. His tongue raked hungrily against hers, demanding a response that she was more than willing to give. They were lost in each other’s arms for several moments, until the need for air brought an end to the passionate exchange.
His strong warm hands cupped her face. “Eve, do you want me to come with you?”
“I would love it, but I don’t think that would be wise.” Julian nodded in understanding. “TC’s been more unhappy than usual since Whitney left for LA with Chad three days ago, and I’ve not been too happy with him either. Telling him about us is going to be hard enough without your presence blinding him with rage before he even hears the news.”
Eve closed her eyes. Her stomach was in knots. She did love TC, but it wasn’t the way she loved Julian. She couldn’t deny her feelings, not anymore. Liz was making her life a living hell, with all the threats of exposing her past, and when Whitney left for LA and TC disowned her, it put things into perspective. She’d had enough; enough of the lies, the half-truths, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. If TC loved her, he’d understand, and allow her to be happy. Something she hadn’t truly been in a very long time. She wasn’t the woman TC thought she was, and that was her own fault, but she was going to come clean with all of it. This time there was no turning back.
She took Julian’s hand and gave it a squeeze. It was so comforting and strong. Just like he had been for her over the last several months. “I should be going.” Eve reached for the door handle to exit the limousine.
He caught her hand and pressed it to his lips. “This is a dream come true for me, Eve. Before, I could only imagine getting a second chance with you. Now that I have it, I’m never going to let you go. Father and every dime I have in this world be damned. All that matters is being with you and loving you.”
Eve smiled. “Julian.” She tilted her head and received his kiss.
His thumb caressed her chin when the kiss ended, his love for her shined in his eyes. “I’ll be waiting to hear from you.”
Eve crossed her fingers. “Wish me luck.”
“I can come with you. TC will be angry, but I’m used to that. I don’t want him to take his anger out on you.”
She shook her head. “Oh, TC would never hurt me.”
“Not physically, but his words can hurt you. The way he treated Whitney when she left for LA with Chad broke your heart. He blamed you when she first left the house. I remember how you were both those nights, Eve. You were so upset by his blaming you that you wrecked his car. I can only imagine what he’ll say when he finds out about us. I don’t want you to be hurt like that again.”
“For what I’m about to do to him, a little hurt for me is well earned. I can handle it, don’t worry.”
“I can’t help but worry. I love you so much, Eve.”
“I know. You love me for who I am, faults and all, and it’s from your
love that I get my strength.” She gave his lips a peck. “Don’t worry, it’ll
be fine. I’ll call you.”
Julian watched as Eve’s car pulled away. Seconds later his cell phone rang.
“Julian Crane,” he said into the palm-size phone.
“Julian, what did I tell you?!” Alistair thundered.
Julian looked around the huge luxurious car. Did his father have cameras everywhere? “I don’t care what you say, Father. I’m not going to walk away from Eve. Not ever again.”
“You won’t have a cent, Julian. I will cut you off completely. No money, no connections, no nothing. You’ll be a pauper. A pauper who developed a spine much too late in life.”
All those years ago Alistair’s threats scared him into giving up Eve and a child he didn’t know their love created. Now those threats meant scant little. “A pauper with everything I’ll ever need. Things don’t make me happy, Father. Eve makes me happy. She’s all I want.”
Alistair’s angry breaths were loud as a lion’s roar. “She’ll be all you have if you defy me. You don’t want to try out that new backbone with me, Julian.”
“Do what you must, Father. I’m going to do the same.” Julian ended the call. After tossing the phone in the corner of the car, he reached for his briefcase and pulled out a black velvet box. Opening the box, he stared at the flawless 6-carat diamond ring. “I’ll be waiting my darling. Our future is finally at hand.”
When he arrived at the mansion, Rebecca was waiting at the door for him. “Where have you been, Pookie?”
Julian released a heavy sigh. “I was out,” he answered, walking toward the library. Rebecca was the last person he wanted to deal with. The woman was like a tightening noose around his neck, draining all the life out of him. Perhaps he needed to deal with her; to explain the end of this arrangement they have.
When he reached his desk, he turned around to see Rebecca wriggle over. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her ample bosom against his chest. He became nauseous. He never realized how strong her perfume was, or that she wore entirely too much of it.
“Pookie, we need to finalize our wedding plans. Ooh.” She smiled at him and writhed her hips against him. “Is that a jewelry box in your pocket or is Little Julian happy to see me? Jill will have a lot of fun going up that particular hill,” she cooed, sliding her hand toward his crotch.
The woman’s appetite for sex exceeded his. Julian backed away. “Uh, Rebecca, look….”
She stayed attached to him and reached into his pocket. “Hmm, what do we have here?” She opened the box and found Eve’s ring. Diamonds as big as the one in her hand flashed in her eyes. “Oh, Pookie, it’s beautiful, and so much bigger than this little ring I have now. Of course this was Theresa’s ring from Ethan, but you bought this one for me. You do know my taste.”
He grabbed the box from her hand. “This ring is not for you, Rebecca.”
She took the box back. “Of course it is, Pookie.”
“You’re not as dumb as your portray yourself to be.” His gaze bore down on her. “I don’t love you, and I’m not going to marry you.” He made an attempt to retrieve the ring, but Rebecca had a vise grip on it.
“You’re right, I’m not.” She snatched the box away, removed the old ring, tossed it to the floor, and slipped on the new one. “You think I don’t know all about you and your grand love? I figured it out, Julian. It did take me a while.” She walked over to the shelves of books. “I would have never suspected you and Eve Russell but pictures don’t lie.”
His eyes widened in surprise. “Pictures?”
“Oh, yes, a few candid snapshots of you and a young Dr. Eve posing for the camera. I have to say, I didn’t know Eve had it in her,” she giggled, taking a sideways glance in the direction of Little Julian.
Stunned, Julian could only watch as she prattled on about her discovery of his true love.
She pointed at the stereo. “That tape you constantly listen to, the way you and Eve disappeared at the Blue Note the night Whitney took the stage, all the times I caught you two alone; it all came together. The pictures I found in Ivy’s room sealed it for me. And don’t worry; they’re tucked away in a very safe place. Wouldn’t want those to get in the wrong hands, now would we?”
Rebecca sauntered over to him and toyed with his necktie. “I don’t care what you do with Eve, Julian, so long as you continue to keep it quiet. Don’t let it be said I stood in the way of the course of true love. However, you are going to make me Mrs. Julian Crane in a lavish wedding at the country club, or I’m going to Sam Bennett and telling him all about how you tried to kill your sister.”
Julian swallowed audibly. Damn that bitch.
A pleased smile spread over Rebecca’s lips. “Now, you tell me, do you
want lilies or orchids at our wedding?”
Eve’s heels clicked against the brick walkway as she approached the front door of her home. The knob was slippery against her sweaty palm when she grabbed it. The warm summer breeze blew through her hair. It acted as a gentle push, urging her to do what needed to be done. “You can do it,” Eve assured herself. After taking a deep breath, she entered the house. TC was waiting on the couch, and not surprising so was Liz.
TC quickly approached her. “Sweetheart, where have you been?”
“Yes, Eve, where have you been?” Liz repeated, the grin on her face showed she already knew the answer to the question.
Eve glared over his shoulder at her sister. “I…I had a meeting.”
“Liz was just about to tell me the name of that whore of a sister of hers. The sister who ruined her life, just like Whitney ruined her own life and ours when she left for LA with that street punk.” TC clenched his balled fist. “People like Liz’s sister and Chad shouldn’t be around decent people. All they do is take and hurt. I’m going to give that woman a piece of my mind when I find out who she is. Come on, Liz, tell us your sister’s name.”
Liz was utterly pleased with herself, but Eve refused to squirm.
Eve cleared her throat. “Before we hear that, there’s something I need to tell you, TC. Something you should have been told about a long time ago.” She glanced over at Liz, disbelief shined on her younger sister’s face.
“Can’t it wait, sweetheart? I want to know who Liz’s slut of a sister is.”
She shook her head. “No, it can’t wait. You need to know the truth,
TC, and you need to know it now.”