Coming Clean Chapter
35 ~Evian, Savy~
by Luvin Evian
Her fingertips brushed the cap of white gauze covering his head before
gently sliding over the cuts and scratches that marked his handsome face.
Her gaze darted from one machine to the next, scanning the results displayed
on the tiny screens and processing what they all meant, before returning
to the unconscious young man before her. Her son. Ethan. Her little baby
“You’ve been so quiet,” Julian said, his resonant tones providing a welcoming respite to the sounds of medical technology all around them. He gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze. “What are you thinking?”
“I don’t know where to begin.” She sandwiched Ethan’s hand between hers and brought it to her cheek. “I was just remembering all those years ago when the doctor placed him in my arms. His tiny little hand wrapped around my finger.” She smiled. “He was small, but so beautiful. I remember every facet of that gorgeous little face. Every second of those precious moments I got to spend with him before he was...” She sighed. “I can’t believe I never saw it.”
She carefully lowered Ethan’s hand to the bed and stood from the chair. “A sign,” she said, meeting Julian’s gaze. “Some something that would let me know he was our son.”
“Aw, my love.” Julian slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her close to his side. Eve leaned into him, grateful for the comfort she always found in his arms. He pressed a kiss to her temple. “It’s like you said before, Eve, there’s no way we could have known he was ours. It’s what Father wanted.” Julian turned his gaze to Ethan. “For years he lived his life as my son, in my house, but I never had a clue. And when I thought he was Bennett’s, I treated him so—so horribly.” Tears shined in his eyes. “I have so much to make up to him.”
Eve stroked Julian’s cheek. “Ethan knows how sorry you are for that, and
he’s forgiven you, Julian. You’ve been very good to him since that happened.
You know, I see a lot of you in him.”
Julian smiled. “Do you?”
“Yes. I always have.” Eve turned her attention back to Ethan. “I could never put my finger on it, but he always reminded me of you. And even when you were topping my least favorite person list, I always liked being around Ethan, because he made me think of you. The you I knew before everything changed.” She trailed her finger against Ethan’s cheek. “One would need a microscope to see any of me in him.”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
Eve turned to Julian. “Are you serious?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “My love, there’s more to Ethan than just his outer shell.” He chuckled. “You know, in hindsight, Ethan is so much like you it’s almost scary. His goodness, his dedication to his marriage, and the way he cares about people, all those things came from you. He has the biggest part of you, Eve. He has your spirit, and he has your strength. And it’s your strength that’s going to get him through this.”
“I hope so, Julian.”
“Believe it, Eve,” he said with a kiss. “I saw you watching those monitors before. How is his condition?”
“Considering everything, his readings are pretty good, but we won’t know the true extent of his injuries and if there will be any lasting effects until he wakes up.”
“Ethan will wake up soon, and he’ll be fine. He has so much to live for.
A beautiful baby girl, Gwen, and us. His family. He’s going to come back
to us. I don’t have a doubt.”
“Do you think he’ll resent me?”
Julian shook his head. “Of course not.” Curiosity filled his eyes. “Why would you even ask?”
“Because I’m taking away the only mother he’s ever known. Julian, his life is going to be turned upside down. I’m not even thinking of any problems he might have as a result of this accident, and I pray there are none, but regardless of perception, Ethan’s going to learn he’s half black. That could be a problem.”
“A problem for whom? Not Ethan.”
Eve said nothing. She expected Julian to say all the right things, and tell her Ethan would accept everything without missing a step, but she couldn’t ignore the fact this could very well be a big problem for Ethan. The fact this was even on her mind bothered her, but she couldn’t help it. She brushed her knuckles against Ethan’s cheek. What big surprises he had to wake up to.
Julian closed his hands over her shoulders and turned her to him. “Eve, what are you getting at?”
“I don’t know, Julian. Maybe I’m just thinking out loud.”
“Thinking what?” he asked, folding his arms across his chest.
“Well, I’ve known people who’ve discovered they were adopted and suddenly felt displaced, and that’s without having a question about race. Ethan is going to discover his parents aren’t his parents, and he’s biracial. How can I disrupt his world like that?”
“You wouldn’t be disrupting his world, you would be enlightening it. Ethan’s life has been a lie, and he needs to know that.”
“Regardless of what it will do to him?”
“What it would do to him?” Julian drew a harsh breath. His eyes narrowed. “You look like my wife, but you sound like my father.”
Eve frowned, finding his comparison a bit extreme. Not wanting things to escalate, she touched Ethan’s shoulder and moved to the window a few feet away.
Julian quickly fell in step behind her. “Eve?”
She turned to him. “I don’t want to argue with you about this.”
“We’re not going to argue, because there’s nothing to argue about. There’s not a biased bone in that boy’s body,” he declared, pointing at Ethan’s supine form. “Ethan is our son. Yours and mine, and he’s going to know that. How can you even suggest he’d have a problem with you being his mother because you’re black?”
“I’m not suggesting anything, Julian, I’m just… I never thought for one
moment our son would grow up believing he was anything other than a black
man. Up until a few years ago, Ethan lived a life of privilege as a Crane.
Okay, now he’s a Crane again, but he’s a black Crane.”
She held up her hand, bringing his words to a stop. “I’m not saying this would be a problem for Ethan per se, but for the world. Julian, the world can be a cruel place, and the people in it even more so. Ethan was devastated when he learned he wasn’t your son and suddenly treated like a second-class citizen because of it. It’s one thing to grow up knowing who you are and being prepared to expect a certain kind of treatment because of it, but to have it come at you all of a sudden...again. I don’t want him to be hurt.”
“He won’t be.” Julian stepped closer to her and took her face in her hands. His thumbs brushed her cheeks as he pressed a soft kiss to her lips. “You’re being a mother, Eve, and it’s a beautiful thing, but you can’t protect him from the world. Ethan’s a grown man now, and he’s a good man, and he’ll handle anything that comes his way. Yes, there are lots of narrow minds out there, and Alistair has done so much to hurt us and Ethan, but things are different now.”
“They’re not that different.”
“Eve, he needs to know who he is,” Julian said, the matter-of-fact edge
in his tone and the determination in his eyes adding a finality to his words
Eve knew would be pointless to question. She hung her head in defeat. “Hey.”
Julian lifted her lowered chin. “He already respects you, and when he learns
you’re his mother, he’s going to love you as much as I do. How could he not?”
How ironic, Eve thought. A few hours ago she was giving him the pep talk. “You sound so confident,” she said.
“Because I am. You worry you’ll be taking away the only mother he’s ever known, but what you’re giving Ethan is the first love he’s ever known. Your touch, your voice, your caring--those are the first things he’s known, and that’s a connection that can’t be broken. You’ve always been close to him. I use to think it was because you’re both such good people, but it’s because of an intricate bond. He’s drawn to you and you to him, and now we know why. Finally, after so many years, we’re married and we’ve found our son. We’re a family, Eve. Nothing’s going to keep us apart again.” He pulled her in the circle of his arms and held her close. “I promise.”
The swoosh of the door opening pulled Eve and Julian out of their embrace. They turned to see a young nurse approaching. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but it’s time to end your visit,” she explained. “You can come back in a couple of hours.”
“Thank you, Nurse, we’ll be right out,” said Julian.
The woman nodded and walked out the room.
Julian and Eve returned to Ethan’s bedside. Eve picked up his hand. She didn’t want to leave him, but knew it was necessary and for the best. “You get your rest, and we’ll be back later.” She pressed a kiss to his forehead. “I love you.”
“We both love you, son,” Julian said, leaning over and kissing Ethan’s cheek. He squeezed Eve’s shoulder. “He’s going to be okay.”
Eve lowered Ethan’s hand to the bed and gave Julian a nod. Hand in hand, they left the ICU and returned to the waiting room with the others. Ivy and Sam rushed them.
“How is Ethan? Did he wake up?” Ivy asked, looking from one to the other. “Well?”
Eve did a double take. Why hadn’t she noticed Ivy was out of her wheelchair before now? “Ivy, you’re walking,” she said.
“Yes,” Sam said, draping his arm around the woman’s shoulders. “Ivy’s been working religiously with her therapy, and I guess it was the shock of hearing about Ethan’s accident that propelled her out of the chair.” His hand swept up and down her arm. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, amazing,” Julian grumbled. Ivy shot him a hateful glare. “So, this happened today?”
“Yes. She’s been out of the chair since right before we came to the hospital. I guess you two have had too much on your minds to notice. I guess everyone has. It’s a miracle. One positive to come out of this tragedy.”
Eve didn’t buy this sudden miracle of Ivy’s, but she had way too much on her mind to question it now. “Right,” she mumbled.
“You didn’t answer me, Eve. Is Ethan awake?” Ivy pressed.
Eve shook her head. “No, he’s still unconscious.” She spotted Simone.
There was so much she needed to tell her daughter. “Excuse me,” she said,
heading to where Simone stood with Dylan.
Ivy grabbed her arm. “I’m not finished with you yet!” she railed, her fingernails digging into Eve’s flesh from the tight grip.
Eve jerked her arm away as Julian stepped up, branding his ex with a look that would melt the polar ice caps. Eve considered letting Julian do whatever he had in mind for the woman, but just as soon let the thought go. She pressed her hand to Julian’s chest as Sam restrained the furious woman. Now was not the time for payback. As out of line as she was, Ivy was contending with unbearable pain, and Eve did feel for her.
“Don’t bother, Julian,” Eve said, rubbing her stinging arm. “We need to
talk to Simone.”
Julian glanced over at Simone before returning his gaze to Ivy. “Don’t ever let me see you touch my wife again,” he warned, his voice dangerously low, chilling.
“Your wife?” Ivy spat. “Wasn’t it just last night your wife was demanding an annulment?”
“And wasn’t it last night you were in a wheelchair!” Julian countered. “Things aren’t always as they appear, Ivy.”
Contempt flashed in Ivy blue eyes. “Don’t try to change the subject, Julian.
Last night Eve was practically at your throat, and now you two are thick
as thieves and you’re claiming my son as your own!” Ivy broke free of Sam’s
hold and stomped closer to them. Her body shook with rage. “I don’t give
a damn about your threats, Julian. I will do whatever it takes to get some
answers. And I’ll tell you this, it’s going to take a lot more than these
damn papers and some CD to convince me the boy I’ve raised and loved all
of his life is not mine!” she maintained, picking up the folder and flinging
it to the floor.
“What’s going on here?” Simone asked, rushing over to the commotion. “What did she mean you’re claiming her son as your own?”
Eve rolled her eyes. This is not how she wanted Simone to hear about her brother.
Dylan went about picking up the strewn papers.
“Don’t bother.” Ivy pushed Dylan aside and kicked the papers more about the floor. “It’s just a bunch of trash.”
“You wish,” Julian said, as Dylan made it to his feet and took a few steps away from the fray.
Simone touched Eve’s shoulder, her eyes full of questions. “Mom, what’s
going on?” she asked once again. “What is Ms. Winthrop talking about?”
“Go ahead, Eve, explain it to her. Tell your daughter this unbelievable tale about Ethan being your son!”
All eyes turned to Chad as he stepped off the elevator. Anger and confusion
hardened his featured. Eve’s stomach did a flip-flop as Chad’s gaze burned
through her. Julian pulled her close to him. She expelled a breath. Now it