“I can’t believe you bought me a whole new wardrobe, Julian.” Eve fastened the gold button on the beige pantsuit. He said he made some changes to the cottage, but she didn’t think it included making the closet a veritable sea of expensive garments. She already had more than her share of clothing, especially after yesterday’s impromptu shopping spree, but she had to admit, Julian knew what she liked.
Eve smoothed her hands against the soft material of the silk creation. The sparkler on her finger caught her attention. The cost of this ring alone could keep a third world country thriving for years. Could she really get used to this lavish Crane lifestyle? The pangs of guilt she felt over this unnecessary spending said no. “You really didn’t have to do this.”
Julian stepped out of the walk-in closet and tossed several scant ensembles to the bed. Tightening the belt to his royal blue terrycloth robe, he joined her at the full-length mirror. “I know I didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to. You’re a Crane now, Eve, you have to get used to overindulgence. Besides, you’ll need clothes for when we depart our enchanting little cottage. I only want you playing Lady Godiva for me,” he said with a laugh, draping his arms around her waist. He propped his chin on her shoulder and smiled at her reflection. “I want my beautiful wife to have everything she needs.”
“I’d say you more than accomplished that in the clothing, shoes, and accessories department. Although, some of the lingerie is a little more provocative than I’m used to.” She motioned to the barely there lacey bra and panty sets that littered the bed.
Julian nuzzled her neck. She reclined against him, enjoying the magic of his tender touch. “That lingerie is not for you to wear with your clothes, my darling. Those items don’t need anything covering them up.”
“Especially since they’re not covering much, right?” Eve quipped.
“I think they cover too much. Take this suit,” he said, eyeing the outfit in the mirror. “It’s beautiful, but a bit confining, yes?” He turned her around. A seductive smile graced his lips. “You look a little warm. Besides, I thought you were going to model the sets I retrieved from your new trousseau. You were just trying this suit on for a minute, remember?”
He loosened the button on the jacket and pushed it
shoulders. Soon, his lips trailed petal
soft kisses along her neck, while his nimble fingers went to work on
unfastening the buttons of her white blouse.
Eve purred. Where did he get this stamina? After last night’s and this morning’s lovemaking, she couldn’t believe Julian was raring for more. She had no problem keeping up with his enthusiasm, but they couldn’t work on each other right now, they had to formulate their plan to snow Alistair. With great pains, she released herself from his amorous clutches.
He groaned. “Why do I get the feeling you’re about to tell me the honeymoon is over?”
“I would never say that,” she said, buttoning her blouse.
“Actions speak louder than words, my love.”
Eve swatted his hands as he attempted to unfasten the buttons she just put together. “Last night was amazing, Julian.”“Just last night?” he asked with a lascivious glint in his eyes.
He laughed. “I could argue that point, but I won’t.” He eased against the headboard and tucked the thrown pillow behind his head. “So, what is it you think we can get done with you way over there?”
Eve groaned. He was incorrigible. She stared at the ceiling, determined not to succumb to his considerable charms. “Your actions make me wonder how in the world you expect us to convince everybody in Harmony we’re through.”
“I actually thought about that last night.” He slid over to her side of the bed. “See, I don’t have to convince anybody, you do.” His fingers trailed up and down her arm, stoking the embers of desire that barely had a chance to die down. “I don’t want the annulment. My behavior is totally in character.”
She pushed his hand away. “Julian, stop distracting me. This is serious.”
“Yes, it is. It’s very serious. Our son is out there somewhere, and we have to find him. Still, did you have to say ‘annulment’?”
“Excuse me?” Eve
the sheet around her, and joined Julian against the headboard. “You told me to act the way Alistair
expected!” she fired back, not at all happy with the way he said
‘annulment’. “He would expect me to leave
you after that
bomb he dropped about
“Shh. Calm down, my love. You’re right. You’re always right.” He gathered her in his arms and pressed a kiss to her temple. “It doesn’t make this situation any easier, though. I’m sorry if it sounded like I was pointing fingers.”
“Well, it did,” she confessed. “You know, I hate this, Julian. I hate that we can’t be a regular newlywed couple, that I have to pretend I don’t want you just so we can find our child.”
“Me, too. But since when have we done anything the conventional way? That’s not how things work for us.”
She nodded. “No, it’s not. So, how are we going to do this?”
“First and foremost, that whole annulment thing is going to be a non-issue. You’ll want it, and I’ll fight you every step of the way. Father won’t like it, but he knows I won’t back down now that we’re married. My money and power will hold the annulment up for as long as it takes us to find our son, and I honestly don’t think it will take that long.”
“You don’t? Why not?”
“Because of the investigator I hired. Eve, he’s the best. Better than the best. Father managed to pay him off to supply me that false information, but he wouldn’t stop investigating until he found what he was looking for. That’s just the way he is.”
Excitement coursed through her body. “You think he knows where our son is?” she asked, wrapping her arms around his and losing her sheet in the process. Julian’s attention flew from her eyes to her exposed breasts. The man had a one–track mind. She lifted his chin. “Do you think the investigator knows where our son is, Julian?”
“What?” He shook his head, as if clearing away the cobwebs that muddled his thinking process. “I’m sorry. Yes, yes, I do. Finding the investigator might be the tricky part. After Father’s payoff, there’s no telling where he could be. Cash doesn’t leave a paper trail.”
“But you think you can find him, though?”
“Oh, I’ll find him, and he will tell us the name and whereabouts of our son. You can count on that, Eve.” A crooked smile curled his lips. “Tell me something, that thing from before, was that our first fight as husband and wife?”
She laughed. “I think it was.”
“I guess that means we have to kiss and make up.” Her forefinger met his lips when he came in for a smooch. He closed his eyes and sighed. “What is it now?”
“Julian, we can’t stay here forever. And although that ‘fight’ we just had was tame, we have to show the world that we’re in different places where this marriage is concerned. We have to be so careful and very convincing.”
He brushed his thumb against her chin. “And what else?”
“I’m wondering about Simone. I’ve been gone for hours; she must be so worried.”
“You left a message on her cell phone last night, right?”
“Yes, last night.
It’s nearing noon now, Julian.
She thinks I’m upset with you, and that our marriage is over
even got started. Plus, this whole
situation has got to be hard for her, too.
“Yes, I do. I’ve spent more time with Whitney, but Simone… Yesterday, I got a whole new perspective on your youngest daughter. I like Simone. She reminds me so much of you, Eve, and she reminds me of myself. She matters, and she has to know that. We can’t leave her out of this. It’s too important for her not to know.”
“If she doesn’t handle it well, it could mean…”
He took her hand and gave it a kiss. “It could mean we’ll never find our son, but I’m not worried, because Simone won’t disappoint us. I think she’ll prove to be a very helpful third party.”
Eve smiled. Just when
she thought she couldn’t love Julian more, he shows this caring
and heart expands all the more. She
squeezed his hand. “Alright. Let’s go
His expression soured.
He lowered her to the bed. His warm breath tickled her lips as his mouth hovered mere inches away from hers. “Just a couple more hours, Eve. Once we leave here, everything is going to change.” He trailed a sensual path from her ankle to her thigh before bringing his hand to rest at her hip. “I want to be us for a little while longer.”
Eve snaked her arms around his neck as he settled
between her thighs. The familiar
stirring returned. How could she deny
him? How could she deny herself?
“Okay,” she agreed with a tender kiss to his lips, “a little while