Whitney added another crumbled tissue to the collection piled high on
the coffee table. She hadn’t stopped crying from the moment her parents
left. She still couldn’t believe it; they were getting a divorce. Warm
tears streamed down her cheeks. She took a new tissue and dabbed her face.
Consciously, she knew she shouldn’t feel responsible for the breakup of
her parents’ marriage, but subconsciously, she was wracked with guilt.
Had she not left Harmony to live in L.A. with Chad, her parents might still
be together, and the not knowing ‘What if?’ was killing her.
Fox approached the couch with a steaming cup. “Here’s some tea, I think you could use it. I even put in extra lemon for you.”
She managed a half-hearted smile, then took the cup and placed it next to the crumbled tissues.
Fox joined her on the couch. “Whitney, I really think you should drink some of that.”
Whitney sniffled and shook her head. “I don’t want any tea, Fox. What I want is for my parents to stay married.”
He wrapped his arm around her and rubbed her shoulder. Whitney’s stomach fluttered. There was that feeling again. What was this reaction Fox was stirring in her? She looked into his eyes and saw care and concern staring back. As she looked closer, she saw something more. Something that made the fluttering in her stomach increase and her throat go dry. Unnerved, she lowered her head, and directed her attention to the tissue in her hand.
He brushed his finger against her cheek. “Whitney, I understand you’re upset, but if your parents aren’t happy, why would you want them to stay together?”
She met his gaze. “You think I’m being selfish, don’t you?”
“Maybe a little, but I understand.” Fox sighed and shrugged. “Well, on the other hand, no I don’t understand. My parents getting divorced wasn’t a big deal, I always knew they weren’t happy, hell, they never even liked each other, must less love each other. I know there was a time yours did love each other, and I’m sure they always will in some way, but if they don’t love each other or have the kind of relationship two married people should have, there’s no point in pretending. Your folks don’t strike me as the kind of people who would blithely throw away over twenty years of marriage. I know you’re hurt, but putting aside your feelings, don’t you want them to be happy?”
Whitney dabbed at the tears that filled her eyes and nodded.
“It’s been a long time since you’ve seen them happy, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, it has.”
“You think they would want you all upset and crying because they are doing something they need to do for themselves?”
“Okay.” Fox eased closer and removed the tissue from her hand. “Now,” he said, using the pads of his thumbs to brush the remnants of tears that glistened her lashes, “I don’t want anymore sad tears in those beautiful eyes, ‘cause see, when you’re sad, I’m sad, and you don’t want me to be sad, do you?” He tilted his head and pushed out his bottom lip.
She chuckled. “No.”
He smiled. “Right answer. Before your parents came over and shared their news, you had convinced me to go back to Harmony with you for my father’s wedding.”
Whitney gasped. “I forgot all about that.” She groaned. “I don’t want go back to Harmony now.”
“You have to go, you’ve actually managed to get me excited about this wedding, and my father specifically asked you to come. He didn’t even invite me, so you have to go.”
“I’m sure your father won’t miss me. He seemed really happy when I talked to him on the phone. He’s so beside himself, I’m sure he was calling any and everyone who ever said a nice word to him. I doubt he’d even notice my absence at the festivities.” Whitney actually felt cheerful for the first time since her folks left. “You know, I’m thrilled for Julian. In the elevator he was so sad when he talked about his lost love, but when I talked to him earlier, he was on Cloud Nine.”
“It’s strange. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen my father happy.”
“Well, I’m certain you will at this wedding. When we were in the elevator he was involved with Rebecca, but I would have never guessed she could get him to forget about his lost love and move on, but she’s done that for him. Julian was practically giddy today.”
“My father, giddy?”
“Yeah, he was.”
Fox’s eyebrows drew together. “Hmm?”
The scent of the lemon tea grabbed Whitney’s attention. She reached for the cup and after taking a sip of the beverage turned to Fox. “So, you gonna tell me what you’re thinking?” she asked, keeping her hands around the warm cup and tucking her legs under her bottom.
“I wish I could, but I don’t really know what I’m thinking. I do know one thing, I want to go to this wedding, and I insist you come with me.”
“Fox,” she grumbled.
He took the cup from her hand and placed it on the table. “I’m not taking no for an answer, and since you already told my father you would come --”
“That was before I found out my parents were getting a divorce.”
“I think that’s even more reason for you to come. You did mean it when you said you wanted your parents to be happy, right?”
“Yeah, I did, but what does that have to do with your father’s wedding?”
He shook his head. “I meant, seeing my father happy will go a long way in helping you to see that your parents could find happiness again, too. Come on, say you’ll go to the wedding with me.”
She expelled a breath. “Alright, I’ll come. It will be good to see someone
happy, and I truly believe your father deserves this happiness he’s enjoying.
After our talk in the elevator, I know he’s waited long enough for it.”
Two days later…
Eve entered the B & B. The bell on the door jingled, alerting anyone within earshot of her arrival. The familiar scent of roasting chicken and tomato soup cake greeted her when she walked in. Eve smiled and dropped her suitcase against the side of the counter. Grace was definitely close by.
Her friend entered the lobby, rubbing her hands with a dishcloth. “Eve, you’re back. Are you okay?” Grace asked with outstretched arms.
Eve nodded and accepted Grace’s hug. “Yeah, I’m fine. I feel kinda strange, I got divorced yesterday, but I feel liberated at the same time.” Once the papers were signed and filed, Eve told TC she hoped they could be friends. Of course that sounded trite, but she did mean it. TC was still so angry, and he smugly threw Julian ‘cheating’ on her in her face every chance he could. As angry as he was now, he’d be even more so when he learned the truth, but they shared two daughters, and that fact demanded they keep their lines of communication open. Perhaps, in time, TC would see that, get over his need to punish her, and put their daughters first. “TC and I weren’t happy anymore, so ending the marriage was for the best,” she said.
Grace took Eve’s hand and led her to the couch in the lobby. “Oh, Eve, this all happened so fast. How can you be sure it was the right decision? Not that it makes a difference now, but you and TC were married for years, you have a family?”
“I can ask you the same question, Grace. You’re on the fence with Sam and David, and for what?”
Eve closed her eyes. She knew why. It was mostly because of the lie Ivy forced her into telling. God, she had to stop saying that. She didn’t have to do what Ivy wanted, but she did, and now she had to live with it. Soon, she would have to tell Grace everything, and she so wasn’t looking forward to that. What she was looking forward to was seeing Julian; she missed him terribly. It’s been days since she heard his voice, and she was counting the minutes until she was in his arms again.
People would talk when they went public, but at this point she only cared what her girls would think. They would be shocked, to say the very least, but Eve prayed they would understand and grow to accept her love for Julian. She had already lost too many years with him, and she wouldn’t lose a minute more. Whatever she had to face, she would face it with him, and their love would see them through. Regardless of the slings and arrows they were sure to encounter.
Eve shrugged. “Look, Grace, I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t have any regrets about divorcing TC. What I don’t want is for you to make a bad decision and have your own regrets later on. I know if you leave Sam you’ll have tons of regret. I just know it. Remember how much you love him. No matter what kind of life you think you had with David, you can’t remember it, and you don’t owe him anything.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, but it’s easier said than done. We do share a child.”
“John?” Eve sighed. “Grace, John is a grown man, not a two-year-old.” Despite the way he acted, she wanted to ad. John was a nice young man, but sometimes she wondered how a kindergartener got stuck in a grown man’s body. “You don’t have to follow behind him wiping his bottom and cleaning his nose. He shouldn’t be a consideration in your choice. Only the way you feel about Sam and David.”
“Eve, I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I’m preparing dinner for the guests, why don’t you rest up a bit, then come over to the house and have dinner with us. Well, it might just be me. Sam’s been spending a lot of time at the station, Jessica’s out with Reese, and John’s helping David with a shoot in Boston. Of course Ivy is at the house but….” Grace groaned.
Eve stood. “I appreciate the offer, but there are some things I need to take care of. I’m not sure how long it will take, so I’ll give my apologies now. Maybe we can do breakfast in the morning.”
“That would be good.” Grace’s eyes sparkled. “We can dish Julian and Rebecca’s wedding and how lavish it’s going to be.” Eve’s ears perked at the sound of her love’s name. “He came by the day before and personally invited me. He said his bride would not be happy if I wasn’t there.”
Hmm, Eve thought, Julian was really taking this wedding scam to the extreme. No, on the other hand, this was probably Rebecca’s idea. She would want everybody in Harmony and their brother at this wedding. Eve almost felt sorry for the embarrassment the woman would face…almost. She smiled at her wicked thoughts.
“Eve, what’s with the smirk on your face?”
“Nothing, I’m just thinking about what a spectacle this wedding is going to be.”
“Does it bother you? You know--Julian marrying another woman.”
“Truthfully, Julian marrying another woman is the farthest thing from
my mind. I’ll see you.” Eve picked up her suitcase and headed to her room.
Sheridan stuck her head inside the crack of the door. “Okay, Julian, I got here as fast as I could. What’s going on?”
Julian ushered his sister inside the bedroom. “I need your opinion on something.”
“Yes, you’re a woman, and you have a wonderful sense of style, and that’s what I need from you.”
She raised an eyebrow. Confusion colored her bright eyes. “My sense of style?”
“Your opinion. I had three of the world’s greatest designers create their interpretation of the ideal wedding dress, with some tips on what I know my love would like, and I want you to choose which you like best. I’m sure they are all beautiful, but I really want a discriminating female’s opinion.” He actually wanted Whitney to do this, but didn’t want to make her curious as to why she and not Gwen was choosing his bride’s wedding gown. “Besides, I don’t want to actually see the dress before my bride is in it.”
“You got Rebecca a gown, too? I happen to know she’s already chosen--”
He held up his hand, cutting her off. “Sheridan, I think my bride will be okay with this. Just go into my bathroom, choose the dress you like best, and separate it from the remaining two on the garment rack. I’ll have Phyllis come in and get it prepared for the wedding.”
“Alright, I guess I can do that.” Sheridan wobbled into the bathroom.
Julian rubbed his hands together. Everything was going along just as planned. His new limo driver informed him that Whitney arrived at Harmony airport with a male companion two hours before, and they were all smiles as he dashed them to the penthouse of the Crane Hotel. Julian didn’t expect Chad would come, but he was glad Whitney talked him into taking some time off. Chad had a hard life but he was turning it around, and it was clear he loved Whitney. Julian knew Chad could make her happy, unlike his wayward son who thought quite the opposite. He wanted to give Fox the benefit of the doubt, but he reminded him way too much of himself at that age, and with Whitney he couldn’t risk it. The last thing he wanted was Eve’s daughter getting mixed up with his son. Wherever Fox was, he was far away from Whitney, and that’s the way it would stay.
Sheridan exited the bathroom about ten minutes later. She patted her hand against her chest, beaming brightly. “Julian, it was so hard to come to a decision. They are all so very beautiful, but there was one dress that had a little something special.”
Pleased, Julian smiled. “Thank you, Sheridan. I really appreciate this.”
“It wasn’t a problem, but I think you might have one.”
Julian took a breath and tried not to get too alarmed. “A problem?” he said, nervously scratching his temple.
Sheridan shrugged. “Well, Rebecca is a beautiful woman, but she is a little on the voluminous side. I don’t think the dress I chose or any of the others are going to fit--uh, look right.”
Julian bit back a chuckle. Sheridan almost gave him a heart attack. Of course they wouldn’t fit or look right, because they were made for Eve--with her taste and size in mind. Even after so many years, he knew her body dimensions like the back of his hand. Whichever dress was chosen would fit Eve like a glove. He sighed. If things continued as planned, in just over twenty-four hours, she would be walking toward him in that special, beautiful dress. He couldn’t help smiling. “Don’t worry, Sheridan, I have a feeling it’s going to work out.”
“I think you’re wrong, but if you say so.” She rubbed her distended abdomen. “I hate to cut out on you, but I have been craving huevos rancheros all day, and Luis was just starting to prepare it for me, so it’s time for me to go. You need anything else before I leave? Maybe the number to a great, fast working seamstress?”
Julian laughed. “Thanks, but no thanks. You go take care of your craving, and thanks again for coming over.”
“My pleasure. I’m really starting to enjoy this idea of us being friends.” She brushed a kiss to his cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Julian’s already full heart expanded all the more as he watched Sheridan leave. After too many years, he was developing a real relationship with his sister. The vibration of his cell phone ended his pensive thoughts on the warm sibling moment. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the phone. “Julian Crane.”
“Hello, Julian Crane.”
He smiled even brighter. “My darling, are you home?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“So, the divorce is final?”
“Yes, it is. I’m once again a single woman.” She sighed, longingly. “I’ve missed you so much, Julian. I can’t wait to see you.”
“I can’t wait to see you, too.”
“Can we meet somewhere? Find out who missed whom most?”
He laughed and checked his watch. “I think I can get away for a few minutes. Meet me at the cottage. Do you remember how to get there?”
“Okay, I’ll see you in say half an hour?”
“That works for me. I’ll see you soon, Julian. I love you.”
“I love you, too, so much.” Julian ended the call and sighed. “Oh, my love, I can’t wait to see you.”
“Is that a fact?”
Julian turned at the sound of the voice behind him. This was the last person he expected to see. “How long have you been standing there?”
Julian didn’t even try to disguise his annoyance. “Fox, what are you doing here?”
“My father is getting married tomorrow. Strange thing is, I just heard
him give his love to someone, and considering I just saw his fiancée
moments before, sans telephone, I have to wonder who that someone was.
And, too, since Rebecca’s been divorced for a while, I’m one hundred percent
certain you weren’t talking to her. Nah,” he said shaking his head, “it
wasn’t Rebecca.” Fox walked to the bed and sat. “I think you have some
explaining to do, and if my assumption of what’s going on is correct, you
had better start talking fast.”