Julian took a small step out of Eve’s heavenly embrace. He caressed her cheek and offered her with a reticent smile. “This isn’t exactly what I had in mind for our first night as husband and wife, but at least we’re together,” he said, unloosening his bow tie and removing the first few studs to his shirt.
Eve returned his smile. “Yes, we are together. And nothing is ever going to change that,” she affirmed, sealing the statement with a soft kiss.
Julian chuckled. “That was nice, but I think we can do a little better than that.” He tossed the tie and studs to the nearby table and drew Eve closer. Her soft curves molded to his body, arousing his starving libido. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I want you right now.”
His lips descended on hers. Eve’s soft moan offered the opportunity to slip his seeking tongue into the warmth of her mouth. Julian’s heart pounded, and Little Julian throbbed in anticipation. After years of separation, he and Eve would finally be one again, and this time in every way. His hands roamed her back in a maddening search for the zipper to her dress.
She squirmed against him. “Julian, we…” Eve murmured against his lips.
“Yes, my love, I know.” He dusted kisses alongside her neck. “We’ve got a lot of time to make up for.” Finding the tab, he proceeded in his quest to open the zipper. “Trust me, we will recover every lost second.”
Eve groaned. “No, Julian.”
No, Julian? That wasn’t the response he sought. “What was that?” he asked.
A flash of annoyance streaked her beautiful countenance.
Uh-oh, he’d done something.
“Julian, we can’t think about us until we find Whitney and explain to her what’s going on,” she said with a frown, reaching behind her back and returning the lowered zipper to its original position. “We need to tell her the truth.”
Julian felt about two inches tall. How could he forget about Whitney? He could only imagine what the poor girl was going through right now. Believing she slept with her brother. A chill ran down his back at the thought. His father was so evil. “You’re absolutely right, Eve, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking for a moment.”
“I told Fox to call me, but I don’t have my phone. Have you heard from him?”
He shook his head. “No, I haven’t, and since he thinks you blame me for all this, I doubt he’ll call me.” Julian reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. “I’ll have to call him.”
The phone beeped as he activated the speed dial to Fox’s phone. In the middle of the fourth ring, Fox finally answered. “Father, now is not a good time,” he said.
“Is Whitney with you?”
“Yes, she’s with me.”
Julian turned to Eve. “Whitney’s with him,” he mouthed.
Eve’s shoulders slumped as she sighed with relief. “How is she?” she asked.
“Is Whitney okay?” Julian questioned.
“You tell me, Dad,” Fox remarked, his tone dripping with sarcasm. “She just found out the first man she ever loved is her brother. How do you think she’s doing?”
Julian excused his son’s acid tone, deciding Fox’s take on the situation demanded the response he gave. “Where are you two right now?”
Julian blew an exasperated breath.
He excused him once, but enough was
enough. He didn’t have time for
this. “Look, if you’re not with Whitney
at the hotel now, take her there and keep her there. I’ll be over with
Eve in a
“With Eve? Eve’s with
you? I thought she was…”
“I know what you thought,” Julian said, interrupting Fox’s words. “I’ll explain everything when I see you. Just get Whitney to the hotel and make sure she stays there. We’ll be right over.”
“So, you see,
Fox could have been knocked over by a feather. Those were the first words he heard Whitney say since she raced out of the garden. To learn that whole scene, all that upset was a scheme perpetrated by his grandfather to hurt his father and Eve. He just couldn’t believe it.
“No, he’s not your brother,” Julian reiterated. “Years ago, when Eve first got a hint that our son was still alive, she thought Chad could have been our son, but the DNA test proved that he wasn’t.”
“That test at the hospital when all the lights
Whitney wondered. “Alistair could have
been behind those favorable results.”
“Exactly, he could have been,” Eve said. “That’s
and I did more tests.”
“Yes,” Julian said. “When Eve and I actively
searching for our son, we thought about the whole fiasco at the
the power, and why that happened. It
didn’t make sense. The test proved
“Because Alistair has his finger on everything
that might go
on at the hospital, we had the tests done at two separate hospitals by
know and trust,” Eve continued. “One
Whitney leapt from the couch. “I don’t understand!” She paced from one end of the room to the next, before turning back to Eve and Julian with a jerk. “Why wouldn’t you say anything? Why did you let Alistair believe you agreed with him?”
“Because Alistair had information that we didn’t. He led us to believe our son was dead, and that was a lie.”
“Mom, what makes you think that’s a lie?”
Whitney shook her head and groaned. “I don’t understand.”
Julian walked over to Whitney. “Allow me to explain,” he said, escorting her back to the couch and settling her next to Eve. “Father created this elaborate story about our son. We had dates, names, and documents. All the information we had coupled with what the investigator gathered pointed to David Alan Dobbs being our son, because that’s what Alistair wanted. He controlled all of that.”
Eve took Whitney’s hand between hers. “When Alistair said our real son was still alive, I knew it was true, but his bringing our son to us, Julian knew was a lie,” she explained. “He was certain Alistair wouldn’t do that. That’s why he pulled me aside and we talked.”
“I remember that,” Whitney shared. “I wanted to hear what was going on, because I was already thinking the worse.”
Julian grunted. “So was I,” he clipped. “Alistair presenting us with our son on our wedding day?” He chuckled in ill humor. “Yes, that a made a lot of sense.”
Fox raked his fingers through his hair and sighed. How could he be so dense?
Whitney was a basket case from the moment
Alistair walked into that garden with the news that their half brother
still alive. She thought
“When I got Eve alone, I told her there was just no way this presentation could be good. Whoever it was Father brought into that garden, he wouldn’t be our son. But we had to make him believe we thought so in order to look for our real son without making him suspicious. And then, because I know my father, give him the reaction he expected. He wasn’t doing this on our wedding day for nothing.”
“That’s why you two started fighting,” Fox said, the proverbial light bulb now shining bright over his head.
“Yes,” Eve answered with a nod.
“We put on quite the show after you
left.” She made her way to Julian and
linked her arm with his. “Even after I
heard Julian out, and as much as I trust him, I truly wanted to believe
Alistair was being decent for once. And
had anyone but
“He thinks you broke up?”
“Oh, yes,” Julian chimed. “When Eve, my dear wife here, mentioned filing for an annulment on Monday, that pretty much cinched it for him.”<>“An annulment? How are you going to pull that off?” Whitney asked. “Are you sure he believes this?”
“Father, it’s fine. I
understand.” Fox turned to Whitney. “We can go back to
Whitney’s eyes locked with his.
He noted the slightest hint of hesitation
before she finally nodded. “Okay, we can
go back to
Fox struggled to conceal his excitement as a smile
the corners of his lips. Alone with
As if reading his thoughts, a slight shade of dusty rose colored Whitney’s cheeks. She quickly averted her eyes and cleared her throat. Fox caught the unhappy frown on his Father’s face. He wasn’t clairvoyant, but he knew exactly what his old man was thinking.
“So, Mom, Simone doesn’t know about this?” asked Whitney.
“No,” Eve answered with a shake of her head. “We want to tell Simone, but she’s going to be here, and reactions have to authentic. So, we can’t risk it. Not yet.”
“And if she calls me?”
“Talk to her. I want
you and your sister to be close again, but just sidestep any mention of
Whitney nodded. “Alright.”
“The jet will be ready whenever you are,” Julian said, crossing the room to stand by Fox. He placed his arm around Fox’s shoulder in what felt more like a chokehold than a friendly gesture.
“What are you…” Fox began as the ‘embrace’ tightened.
“I know what you’re up to, Fox,” Julian whispered
“You’ll make me regret it,” he finished. “I know, I’ve heard this before.” Fox frowned, making no attempt to conceal his annoyance as he released himself for his father’s grasp. “How many times are you going to tell me this? When are you going to get that I love Whitney, and I only want the best for her?”
Julian raised a questioning eyebrow. “You think that’s you?”
“I don’t think it’s
“I think I’ll do that.” Julian started toward Eve, but then turned back to Fox. “Just remember what I said. I don’t doubt you care about Whitney, just don’t take advantage when she’s vulnerable. If you do, you won’t be doing yourself or Whitney any favors.”
Fox said nothing, but he grudgingly took his father’s words into advisement.
Julian placed his hand on Eve’s shoulder. “Are you ready?” he asked.
She gave Whitney’s hand a little jiggle and nodded. “Yes, I am.”
When their parents left, Fox attempted to broach
of the kiss with Whitney. “I know
been a crazy day and…”
Whitney held up her hand, halting his words.
right now, Fox.” She walked to the door
and pulled it open. “I
need to pack and so do you. We’ll have
plenty of time to talk later.”
Eve held fast to Julian’s neck as he carried her over the threshold and into their cottage. “You didn’t have to do this,” she remarked with a nervous laugh. “We’re not exactly young marrieds, you know?”
“We’re not exactly ready for the retirement home, either, my love,” he said with a wolfish grin. “Besides, it’s a husband’s duty to carry his bride over the threshold. ” Julian gave her a soft kiss and then lowered her to the floor. “Why did you want to come here instead of going back to the boat?”
“I wanted to be here. The boat is beautiful, but this place…” Inhaling a deep breath, she took everything in. Their couch, their fireplace, and the light scent of fresh paint that still hung in the air. “This is home. And after the day we had, there was nothing more I wanted than to go home with my husband and spend the night in his arms.”<>Eve stepped up to Julian, ridding him of the coat to his tuxedo. “I know we have to deal with Alistair and the ramifications of what his ‘revelation’ means for us, but I don’t want to think about anymore of that tonight. Now, I just want to think about us. Is that okay with you?"