He banged his fist against the table. Damn! This was not how he wanted to spend last night. Smelling stale glazed doughnuts and old coffee. He hadn’t seen Eve since he left the Bennett house. He read her worry as Sam led him away, but not wanting to expose their ruse, he insisted he would take care of everything and be right back. And once he returned, he expected her to be ready to go home with him. But thanks to the police chief, he didn’t come right back. He could only imagine what was in her mind right now.
“Sam, I want to see Julian now!”
Julian turned to the door behind him. “Eve?” He walked over and listened, praying she wouldn’t tip Sam off to their charade in her fit of pique.
“You’re going to give him an annulment, Eve.” Irritation peppered Sam’s tone. “ Why do you want to see him?”
“Because—because he’s still my husband,” she answered, “and I don’t think he tried to kill his father. My God, Sam! How could you hold him overnight for this?”
“I held him for questioning, and I can keep him here for forty-eight hours if I choose. I haven’t forgotten how he treated Ethan, and he destroyed T.C.’s tennis career. I doubt he’s beyond trying to kill Alistair. You know, Eve, I wonder why you even care. Julian practically harassed you at my house last night. Demanding you go home with him.”
“Julian is the way he is, but that doesn’t make him an attempted murderer. I may not want to stay married to him, but I still care, and I want to see him. You can’t deny me that.”
A smile stretched Julian’s lips. Eve handled that very well. He couldn’t wait to see her.
Keys jingled. Julian raced back to the chair just as the soon the door swung open. “You’ve got a visitor, Crane.”
He smelled Eve’s sweet scent before her hand closed around his shoulder. He turned to see the worry still prominent in her eyes. He would comfort her in a bit, but first things first. “Well, if it isn’t my beautiful wife in name only.”
“Are you okay?” she asked, her voice shaky.
“I don’t know,” he answered, standing. His gaze shot over to Sam, before returning to Eve. He raised an eyebrow. A slight smile tickled his lips. “Are you still insistent about this annulment?”
Julian caught the glint of relief in her eyes. She got his hint. “Yes,” Eve answered.
“Then, I’m not okay,” he said. “It doesn’t help Deputy Dog over there is keeping me here.”
Sam glowered at him. “You could have called your lawyer,” he said.
“I don’t need a lawyer, but you’re going to need one when I’m done with you and this inept police department.”
Sam stormed over. “Crane, I’m going to—”
Eve stood in the path of Sam’s charge as Julian waved him over. “Could you leave us alone?” she said to the angry police chief.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Sam,” Eve said with a heavy sigh.
The man held up his hands in resignation. “Ten minutes!” He stomped out the door, closing it with a resounding slam.
“Is it okay to talk?” Eve mouthed.
“It’s fine. There’s no audio or video surveillance in here.”
Eve raced into his arms. He held her close, taking her lips in a deep kiss. She felt so good in his arms. It was only being mindful of their location that he didn’t take her right there. He loved her in light blue, but he loved her best in nothing at all. “I missed you so,” he whispered against her lips.
“Julian, you have no idea how worried I was,” she said, pulling back slightly. “I can’t tell you how close I came to rushing down here last night and spilling all.” She brushed her fingertips along the hairs at his temple. “Why didn’t you call me, and why didn’t you tell Sam the truth?”
“Because he wouldn’t leave me alone to talk and he wouldn’t believe it, that’s why. The only reason Bennett brought me in is because I insulted him.” Julian toyed with the buttons of her silk blouse. He smiled. “Our little performance worked.”
“Yeah, for Sam, but Alistair’s in the hospital. It’s amazing he’s still alive. How is pretending to be at odds going to help us now?”
“Maybe it won’t, but Alistair’s not dead yet, and I just can’t risk it. But there’s a good thing to this.”
Eve scoffed. “And what is that?”
“With the old man incapacitated, my P.I. he paid off could become a little more visible. Just to see if Father does check out. Then, my men can find him that much faster. He’ll talk, Eve. I know he will.”
“Okay, that’s good news, but it doesn’t address your current problem.” Her hands dropped to his shoulders. She looked around the dreary room. “Julian, you’re in jail! You should have called a lawyer.”
He took her hands and brought them to his lips. “No, I shouldn’t have. I’m in jail, but I’m not under arrest, and I won’t be arrested. If I called a lawyer, what would I say to him? ‘Eve’s my alibi, but because she’s supposed to be angry with me, I can’t say we were making love when Alistair got his head bashed in. So, what do we do now?’ Eve, Bennett is on some power trip because I called him a moron. He can’t pin this on me. That man forgets who has the real power in this town, but I’ll be sure to jog his memory. That bastard could have let me go, but instead he kept me away from you last night. He won’t get away with that.”
“You don’t want to push him anymore than you already have, okay? Just let it go.” She sighed in exasperation before bringing him into the circle of her arms.
Julian breathed her in. His hands dropped to her firm backside as he held her closer. He wanted her so he could barely see straight. Oh, to lift that black skirt and have those gorgeous, long legs wrap around him. His heart skipped a beat as another part of his body throbbed with need. Bennett would indeed pay for keeping him here.
Eve pulled back. “I want you out of here, Julian. I want you out of here now. Maybe you should call Ethan. He can talk to Sam.”
“No, I don’t want to get him involved with this.” He brushed her flowing, dark tresses off her shoulder. “I didn’t marry his mother-in-law, so I don’t think Gwen will be too happy with his intervening on my behalf. And with that bozo, Bennett, it could backfire.”
“We have to do something. Somebody tried to kill Alistair, and it wasn’t you. Julian, you shouldn’t be here.”
“I shouldn’t, but Bennett is right in that I had every reason to want the old man dead.” Julian chuckled. “I tell you, Eve. I don’t know who tried to do him in, but whoever it is, I think I’ll give him or her a medal of valor. That person did the town a favor.”
Eve frowned. “That’s not funny.”
“Maybe not, but Alistair has hurt practically everyone in this town. He was bound to pay for his actions.”
“I guess.” She pressed her hand to his cheek. “I just wish you didn’t have to pay, too.”
“It’ll be okay.” He kissed her open palm. “Tell me, how is Simone? She was acting a bit strange last night.”
Eve shrugged. “I don’t know.” She took his hand and walked to the table. They sat. “I tried talking to her, but she wasn’t very receptive.”
“You think that boy did something?”
“No, I don’t,” she answered flatly.
Julian rolled his eyes. He knew she would say that. That Dylan reminded him too much of himself--as did Fox. A painful reminder of the loser coward he was when he left Eve all those years ago. He so didn’t want Eve’s daughters to suffer the way he made her suffer.
“What’s with the look?”
“Nothing,” he grumbled.
“Julian, Dylan seems like a nice young man. Why don’t you like him?”
“Because I don’t.”
“Well, that’s not a reason, and I’m certain he had nothing to do with Simone’s odd behavior. Still, something is bothering her.” She shook her head and expelled a weary breath. “We’ll deal with Simone later. For now, we need to get you out of here.” Eve reached into her purse and handed over her cell phone. “You won’t call Ethan, at least call one of your numerous Crane lawyers. Sam can’t keep you here another night. If you have to tell this lawyer the truth, tell him the truth.”
Julian took the phone. Eve meant business. He’d gone without last night, he refused to tempt fate. “I do have one barrister on retainer with enough savvy and cunning to rattle Bennett enough to let me out of here. He had to go home to Santa Barbara for some family business, but he should be back now.” He punched in the numbers and waited for a response. “And if push comes to shove, I can actually trust him with the truth.”
Eve favored him with a kiss. “Now you’re talking.”
“Anything to make you happy, my dear,” he said with a smile.
“And yourself,” she added.
He laughed. “That, too.”
After the third ring, the call was answered. “Mason Capwell.”
“Mason, it’s Julian.”
“Julian, where are you? I’ve been trying to reach you. I have some news.”
“Well, you can come over to the police station and tell me all about it.”
Julian sighed. “Yes. Chief Bennett thinks I brained Alistair. He’s holding me for questioning.”
“Oh, boy. That’s just wonderful.” Mason groaned.
“Come over and take care of it.”
“I’ll be right there.”
“Wait, Mason, what is this news you have?”
“Yes! When I came in this morning, I found a manila envelope shoved under my office door. It’s from the private investigator I told you about. Luke Dancey.”
“What? I’ve been looking for him.” Julian covered the tiny mouthpiece. “The P.I. left an envelope with Mason,” he explained to Eve. “What’s in it?”
“This is going to sound strange, especially after what I heard happened at your wedding, but this information… Julian, it proves Chad Harris isn’t your son.”
“Actually, I already knew that.”
“It’s a long story.”
“It’s about to get longer. A name is mentioned in this file.”
“A name?” Julian’s gaze darted to Eve. “You know the identity of my son?”
Eve’s eyes widened. She leaned closer to him. “Julian?”
He held up a finger. “Mason, do you know?”
“Yes, I do,” the lawyer answered. “Hold tight, Julian. I’ll be right there.”
Julian ended the call. His heart hammered in his chest. “Eve,” he said squeezing her hands, “my darling, it seems the need for our charade is about to end. Our son’s been found.”
Tears pooled her eyes. “He’s found? You’re sure?”
“Yes.” Julian smiled. “As soon as Mason gets here, we’ll learn the identity of our son.”
The horn blared. “Keep your slow ass out the way!” T.C. barked.
Liz clutched her chest. Fear gripped her heart. “T.C. you need to slow down,” she insisted. “And you should fasten your seatbelt.”
“Forget the seatbelt, and I’m not going to slow down until I get to Crane! I’m going to break that bastard’s face, and I’m going to do it nice and slow, so I can savor the moment.” T.C. slammed his hand against the steering wheel as he continued to race down the road in the height of the morning traffic. “Damn him and Eve! Damn them to hell for doing this to Whitney.”
Liz held fast to the handgrip about the passenger side window. From before the plane landed in Harmony, T.C.’s mind was set on one thing--reaching Eve and Julian. Liz closed her eyes. She hated her sister, and she couldn’t stand Julian, but God help them when the T.C. found them. She’d never seen him so angry, and for T.C., that was saying something.
As soon as Liz opened her eyes, she wanted to close them again. T.C.
ran a red light, just as another car crossed the intersection. She
braced herself for the inevitable. Horns blared, tires screeched, and
metal crashed. Then, everything went black.