Coming Clean Chapter 37 ~Evian, T.C., Simone, Whitney, Sam~
Eve watched as Sam led her sobbing daughters down the hallway to their
father’s room. She turned to Julian, squeezing his hand. “You’re coming
with me, aren’t you?”
Julian shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
He pressed his forefinger to her lips, stopping her words with a soft shush.
“Eve, you know I would do anything for you, but I don’t belong in there.”
“I want you there,” she said, unable to keep the desperation she felt from
slipping into her tone. She feared how she’d react when she saw T.C. Part
of her felt an overwhelming since of loss, while another part of her felt
like squeezing what little life T.C. clung to right out of his body. “Julian,
I need you there with me.”
“My love, I understand why you’re asking, but you’re stronger than you
She shook her head. “I don’t know, Julian. I was married to T.C. for so
many years, and although I did love him, I never shared the passion a woman
should have for her husband with him.”
“Eve, you don’t need to explain this to me.”
“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. You see, I had a love for T.C. and right now, right
now, Julian, I feel like I’m a woman split in two. Part of me wants to cry
my eyes out because he was a friend and a shoulder for me to cry on when
I needed one all those years ago--when I felt like there was no one in this
world to care for me. But these past few months…these past few years, I
saw a side to him I didn’t want to believe existed. And it’s not just the
anger I feel at the way he treated me and forced you and me to come up with
a scheme to be together, that’s a whole different thing, I think what I’m
most incensed about right now is his anger. The fact this rage he couldn’t
control is going to kill him and could very well kill the son I’ve searched
Her body trembled. She felt like she was going to crumble and explode all
“Try and calm down.” Julian rubbed her shoulders. “You’re shaking.”
“I don’t think I can calm down. I’m feeling so much right now. I have to
be strong for my daughters because their father let his anger control him,
and now he’s making them pay for it. They’ll have to live the rest of their
lives without him. It’s not fair. My son could die because of him, and because
T.C. is going to die, he won’t be here for me to lay into him for what he’s
Julian tilted his head. “And what else?” he asked, brushing away the tears
burning paths down her cheeks.
She whimpered. He was always knew what she was thinking without having
to say a word. “Julian.”
He opened his arms and she readily accepted his offer of sanctuary. “My
love, I can’t begin to understand what you’re feeling right now, but I want
you to know I’m here for you and your daughters, and I always will be.” He
held her face in his hands. “T.C. was a complicated man, and even as messy
as things were for you two at the end, I knew you really wanted to forge a
friendship with him, and now you won’t have the chance.”
“No, I won’t. Over twenty years of marriage and two daughters, and it ends
“I need you to understand why I’m not going in there with you. I have many
reasons, but three stand out most in my mind. The first reason, if the shoe
were on the other foot, T.C. would be the very last person I’d want to see
while I was on my deathbed. Two, I’m angry as hell with this man, and I’d
probably smother him with a pillow the moment I saw him, and third, and
most importantly, Eve, I just don’t belong in there. You, your daughters,
and Sam are the people who care about T.C. Not me. My heart is heavy, because
I feel for you and the girls, but I don’t feel a bit of sympathy for this
man. This selfish, angry man who is the cause of pain for so many people!”
Julian’s cheeks reddened. He expelled a breath. Eve caressed his cheek
and softly kissed his lips. “It’s okay, Julian, I understand.”
“Yes, and even with the way you feel about him, you don’t begrudge me for
feeling the way I feel.”
“And I never would, Eve. Not ever.”
“I know. It’s just one of the reasons I love you so much.”
“I love you, too.” He kissed her hand. “You need to be with your daughters.”
Julian walked with her to the room. “I’ll be right outside the door.”
Eve nodded, and drawing a deep breath, she pushed open the door.
Simone rushed over, swiping away tears. “Mom,” she said, taking Eve’s hands
into her shaky ones. “Daddy is trying to open his eyes. I think he’s going
to wake up. Maybe he’ll make a complete recovery and…”
Eve hushed her daughter’s words with a shake of her head. “Don’t do this
to yourself, sweetie. There’s not going to be any miracle recovery.” Simone
whimpered. A tear trailed down her cheek. “I’m sorry.” Eve brushed the teardrop
away. “Take this time with your father and hold on to it.” She cupped Simone’s
cheek. “You’re not alone.”
“Eve, is that you?”
Eve looked up at the sound of T.C.’s low, weak voice. Walking with Simone,
she made her way to the bed. It took all she had not to look away from T.C.’s
swollen and cut-inflicted face. What this man’s anger had done to him. What
it was doing to her girls. What it would do to all of their lives. To Ethan.
Tears burned her eyes, but she blinked the sting away. She had to be strong
for Simone and Whitney, and not succumb to her warring emotions. Steeling
herself with a deep breath, “Yes, it’s me, T.C.,” she said.
“Are you satisfied, Eve? You and Crane have destroyed our daughters with
your forbidden love and bastard son. Our—our daughters are in love with
their half brother, and because of you, I won’t be here to help them get
past this. Damn you and Crane!”
A soft gasp fell from her lips. Did she hear right? Even in his weakened
state, he was blaming her and Julian for this!
Sam touched her shoulder before she could respond. “Eve, don’t,” he whispered.
After a moment she nodded. She’d be quiet, for now.
“Daddy, please, calm down and don’t say you won’t be here for us,” Whitney
begged him. “You’re going to be okay. You have to believe that.”
“No, sweetheart, I’m not going to be okay. Sammy, Sammy, come here.”
Sniffling, Sam stepped closer to the bed. “Yes, T.C?”
“You know I love you like a brother.”
“I know. Me, too.”
“Please, take care of my girls for me. Make sure they…”
“You don’t even have to ask. You know I love them like they’re my own.
You just…you just take care of yourself.”
“Right.” T.C.’s gaze turned to his daughters. “Whitney, Simone, come here,”
The girls followed his bidding. Eve moved closer to the bed. She prayed
T.C. wouldn’t do something stupid like use his last moments to put a rift
between her and the girls she would never be able to close.
“I know you girls have had problems because of Chad, but you can’t be with
him now because of your mother and Crane, so try…try and get close again.
I want you to be close like you were before this boy came along.” T.C. coughed.
His arm fell across his midsection. He moaned softly.
“Daddy,” Simone cried.
“It’s okay, Sugar Bear. Don’t worry about your daddy. Just find some happiness,
and be close to your sister again. No Crane, especially some bastard Crane
who is your half brother,” he said, cutting his eyes in Eve’s direction,
“is worth keeping you two apart.”
Eve bit her tongue. The clock was ticking on T.C.’s life, and he was using
this time to besmirch her name. Maybe she should have stayed outside with
Julian. She didn’t want to remember T.C. like this, and she didn’t want
her their daughters’ last minutes with him to be peppered with strife.
“I want you and Whitney to be sisters again,” he went on to say. “Your
mother let her love for Crane come between her and her sister, Liz, I don’t
want that for you and Whitney.”
“Mom’s what?” Whitney turned to Eve. “What is he talking about?”
Eve burned holes through her near dead ex-husband. How could he do this?
“Whitney, I wanted to tell you and Simone, but the right time...”
“The right time? Mom, she’s been living in our house. How could you not
tell us about this? Why didn’t you tell us earlier today?”
“So much was going on, Whitney. It’s complicated.”
“It always is for you, Eve,” T.C. muttered.
Simone sighed. “I can’t believe this.” She moved toward the door and then
turned around. “Daddy, I understand why you want Whitney and me to repair
our relationship, and I’ll be willing to try, but what I can’t believe is
you would use this time, what could be your last moments, to share information
that would possibly put us at odds with Mom. She’s all we’re going to have
left. Why would you do this?”
Eve watched on in surprise. Who was this mature young woman who had swallowed
up her little girl?
Shame darkened T.C.’s beaten face as Simone’s words hit home. “Sugar Bear,
“Daddy, doesn’t it matter that we’re hurting?” She sniffled. “These last
few days, these last few weeks have been hell, and when we’re about to lose
you, you want to stoke the flames and make things worse.” Simone wiped the
tears from her cheeks. “You think our knowing Liz is Mom’s sister is something
we needed to know, well I think you need to know that Chad isn’t our brother.
“What…what are you saying?” T.C. looked at Eve. “What is she talking about?”
“You heard Simone. Chad isn’t my son and I’ve always known that. When Alistair
made his big reveal, Julian and I realized the son we believed to be dead
was alive somewhere, and if we played our cards right, we’d find out who
he was. We pretended to accept his words and be at odds in hope the private
investigator Julian hired would come forward with the real truth, and eventually
“But Ethan? Sam’s Ethan?” he asked, looking at his friend. “How?”
“Alistair’s idea of fun,” Eve explained. “He didn’t want Ivy passing off
a Bennett as a Crane, and when I gave birth to a baby that could pass, he
decided he had the answer to all of his problems. It’s very involved, T.C.,
but it’s true. Ethan is my son, not Chad.”
Sam shrugged. “I’ve seen files, but I just…” He sighed. “It seems to be
“It is true, Sam!” Eve groaned, totally fed up with this whole situation.
“I’m sorry you and Ivy are having such a hard time with this, but it’s true,
and because of you, T.C., I could lose…” She stopped abruptly, grunting.
So much for keeping her emotions in check.
“What?” T.C. prodded. “You could lose what?”
“I could lose my son! When you went barreling through that intersection,
you slammed into Ethan’s car.”
“Huh-uh.” T.C. shook his head. “No.”
“Yes, T.C. Yes! My granddaughter was brought into this world sooner than
expected, but she’s a little fighter. Gwen is serious, but stable, and Ethan…Ethan
is…” Tears pooled her eyes.
“Eve, I’m sorry.” Tears filled his already glassy, red-streaked eyes. “I
“No, T.C., you didn’t know. All you cared about was getting to Julian.”
She paused for a moment, gathering her bearings and forcing down the anger
she felt trying to bubble to the surface. After wiping her tears, she met
the gaze of her ex-husband. “I want to hate you, T.C., but I don’t. I hate
what you’ve done, and I hate you’re going to leave our daughters without a
father, but I don’t hate you. Even with everything that’s happened between
us, I always hoped we find a way to be friends because you were still important
to me. But, see, that’s not going to happen. So, what I want now is for
you find some peace within yourself before it’s too late. I know you’re
sorry, and as I wait to find out what’s going to happen with my son, I pray
God gives me the strength to forgive you, but more than anything, I want
you to forgive yourself.”
“You’re a remarkable woman, Eve. I know I treated you terribly when you
told me you wanted to be with Crane, but that was because I didn’t—I didn’t
want to lose you. I was angry. I have been angry, and I’ll be forever sorry
for what I’ve done to you. I don’t deserve your kindness, and your understanding,
but I’m grateful for it.” Eve nodded. Shades of the man she knew and loved
returned. “Julian is a lucky man, and I know he’s going to make you happy.
You…you deserve that. I hope and pray everything will be okay with Ethan.”
“Me, too. Me, too.”
T.C.’s eyes fluttered. Simone and Whitney moved closer to the bed. Shadows
darkened over him as Eve and Sam and stepped in as well.
Each of the girls took a hand. Tears slid down their faces. T.C. opened
his eyes again. “I’m so tired,” he said.
Whitney nodded. “I know, Daddy.” She sniffled. “You get your rest. We’ll
“Listen to Whitney, Daddy. We’ll be just fine,” Simone said, echoing her
“I know. I know. You have each other, Sam, and your mother.” He looked
at Eve. She could see the light in his eyes dimming. His time was almost
over. He managed a smile. Maybe he’d finally found his peace. “She’s a good
woman. You’re going to be fine.”
The girls’ sobs increased. Sam swallowed loudly. He hung head. Eve took
his hand, his grip tightened around hers. Tears filled her eyes. This moment
was tough for all of them.
“Shh, don’t cry,” said T.C., bringing the girls’ hands to his chest. “Don’t…don’t
be sad when I’m gone. I’m going to a better place. I’ll be with your grandparents,
and I won’t feel this pain. This pain being foolish has brought my way.
I want you both to know how…how proud you have made me, and how much I have
and always will love you. Never forget.”
“We won’t,” the girls said in accord.
Lulled by his daughters’ words of love and surrounded by those who cared
for him most, T.C. drew his final breath and peacefully slipped away.