Julian’s heart pounded in his chest. Second thoughts swirled around
in his head. He didn’t want to tell Eve anything, all he wanted was to
take her in his arms and forget about everything and everyone except them.
Alas, that wasn’t an option. When all the words were said, Eve’s love for
him would once again become the wonderful memory it had been for so many
years, and it would be no one’s fault but his. He didn’t know where to
start. Eve watched him with a pensive expression. He dropped his head.
It broke his heart to look at her beautiful face knowing what he had to
She stroked his cheek. Her touch was so incredible it literally reduced him to tears. “Julian?” There was a hint of anxiety in her voice. He looked up to see doubt in her eyes. “Have you changed your mind?”
“Oh, my darling, no. I want to spend every millisecond of my life with you. Never doubt that. I’m just afraid….”
“Afraid of what? Julian, tell me. Has Alistair….”
“Father’s control over me has come to an end. Decades too late, but….” He shook his head and sighed. “I’ll go into that later.” Julian clasped her hand between his. “I heard from the private investigator today.”
Her eyes brightened. “You did? Did he find our son?”
Julian nodded and lowered his gaze.
Eve jiggled his hands. “Julian, that’s wonderful. Why are you--”
His eyes met hers once again. The tears that blurred his vision gave him away.
She shook her head as sadness overtook her once happy expression. “No.”
He took her into his arms and softly stroked her hair. “I’m sorry, my darling. Our son was a good man.”
“Was? Oh, Julian?” she whimpered.
With a sobbing Eve in his arms, Julian shared the investigator’s findings. When he finished, Eve raised her head from his shoulder and looked in his eyes. “Are you sure that was our son? Maybe the investigator was wrong.”
“Eve, everything fits. Every piece of information we had led my man to Orlando and to David Alan Dobbs. This PI is the best. There’s no doubt. I wish there was, but….”
New tears filled her eyes. “Our son, his wife, our granddaughter, all gone? Killed, by a drunk driver?” She pressed her head against his chest. “Julian, it’s too much.”
Julian placed a kiss atop her head and held her close. “I know. It does give me some comfort to know he was happy, and he had a good upbringing. I just wish….” He sighed. “We shared a grandchild, Eve. To have been able to look in her little face and see us staring back at me.”
Tears rolled down Eve’s cheeks as she wiped away his. “Julian, don’t.”
“I wish I had better news.”
“Me, too. As sad as it is, at least now we know.” She brushed away the tears that glistened on her lashes and clasped his hands. “We have some closure, and now we…we can mourn them together.”
Julian tightened his fingers around hers. “I hope you still feel that way when I tell you the rest.”
There was no point in prolonging this. Eve needed to hear the other news. Julian took a breath to steady his nerves, but it didn’t do much in the way of helping. His hands shook.
Eve covered his trembling fingers. “Julian, nothing you tell me can be as bad as what you just said.”
He chuckled, but it was devoid of humor. “Oh, my love, how I wish that were true. It might not be as sad, but bad…it’s a lot worse. The biggest mistake I ever made was following Father’s demand to leave you, and that one fatal error has been the genesis of all the other terrible things I’ve done in my lifetime. Being Father’s errand boy, apple polisher extraordinaire, became my mission in life.”
“Alistair didn’t give you a choice.”
“I always had choices, Eve. I just always made the wrong ones. I’ve done some horrible things, and now I have to pay for them.” Julian drew a deep breath and slowly let it go. “Rebecca knows about us.”
Eve sighed in relief. “Is that all? Julian, we knew people were going to find out about us. Rebecca is your…well, she was someone who was close to you. I imagine she’s not happy, but--”
“Oh, she is not happy at all. She managed to get her hands on the bird statue pictures, so she’s known about us for a while. We do have her permission to fool around, so long as we keep it hush-hush.”
“That’s big of her.”
“Yeah, very magnanimous. When I told her I wasn’t going to marry her she made a threat. She’s aware of some of the things I’ve done. The illegal things, the immoral things, the most hideous things, and she promised to go to the authorities if I didn’t marry her.”
“So, she’s blackmailing you?”
He nodded. “I love you so much, Eve. There’s no way I can marry her. I’ll rot in jail for the rest of my life first. That’s why I’m coming to you. You need to know what I’ve done, the disdain I’ll see in your eyes will remind me of why I’m worthy of my new future home. Prison will be too good for me.”
Eve delicate fingers tightened around his in an offer of comfort. “Nothing could be that bad, Julian.”
Before his name had completely passed her lips, Julian made his confession. “On two occasions, at Father’s request, I arranged to have my sister killed.”
The shock and disappointment in Eve’s eyes was just as he feared. “What?” she said in a hushed whisper.
“That’s what I did, and that’s what Rebecca knows.” He cleared his throat.
“Once I listen to you tell me what a despicable human being I am, I’m going
to go to Sam Bennett and turn myself in.”