“You think your plan will work?” Eve asked, lifting her head for Julian’s
“Why not. You made some great points tonight. I think I’ve become a little blinded by love,” Julian said with a laugh, sitting more upright on the sofa. He pressed a kiss to Eve’s temple. “What you said is right. Rebecca would never go to the police. If she gives me up, she’s going to be giving up Father, too, and she’s not that brave. Alistair doesn’t have much use for me right now, but he wouldn’t allow me to be sent to jail, especially when he could be joining me.” He smiled and brought her fingers to his lips. “When this is done, we’ll be together forever.”
“Forever.” Eve repeated as her mouth met with Julian’s in a deep, drugging kiss. When the kiss was over, she sighed in pure bliss. “So, how do we set this plan into motion?”
Julian blinked away the desire that glazed his eyes. “Well, that might be a little tricky. The only people we need to convince are TC and Rebecca. Getting them in one spot, that’s not public, is our dilemma.”
Eve stroked her chin in deep thought. “Hmm, maybe. Or maybe we can try a different route.”
“What’s going on in that lovely head of yours?” Julian asked, tapping his forefinger against her forehead.
She smiled. “An idea for the perfect plan.”
“What’s with the faraway look?”
The sound of Fox’s voice shook Whitney from her deep thoughts. The warm temperatures and the smell of chlorine from the pool didn’t take away her melancholy as she had hoped. “I’m sorry. I was just--”
He raised a curious eyebrow. “Back in Harmony?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“The sly Fox is good at reading people. Especially when the people are beautiful women.” His smile was always playful, with a hint of flirtation, and that spark in his eyes…. Whitney sighed. Fox was quite the charmer, and he always brightened her spirits.
Fox covered his heart. “Wow! A smile. That’s good to see.”
He was being too sweet. Whitney averted her eyes and lowered her head to hide the heat that burned her cheeks. “It hasn’t been that long between smiles,” she said, fiddling nervously with her fingers.
“Longer than you think.” He sat on the chaise next to her. “Your family and best friend are back in Harmony. I know you miss them.”
She stopped the mindless preoccupation with her hands and turned to him. “I do. I email with Theresa everyday, but my family…. Even with the way things were left with my father, I can’t help--” The longing she had for her family filled her heart. She sniffled; tears burned her eyes.
Fox brushed his forefinger against her cheek. “Hey, it’s going to be okay.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Coach Russell is angry and upset right now, but he’ll get over it.”
“I’m glad you believe that, because I don’t. My father has disowned me, my sister hates my guts, my parents are barely speaking to each other, except for maybe to argue, and the close-knit family I belonged to a few short months ago is all but destroyed. I’m engaged to be married and I don’t have my family to share in my happiness.”
“Uh, forgive me for mentioning this, Whitney, but you don’t exactly strike me as a blushing bride to be.”
“How can I be happy when my family is falling apart because of me. I spoke to my mother the other day, and I can tell things are still bad between her and Daddy. When I asked her about it, she changed the subject.”
“Problems between married couples are their problems, even when the couple is your parents. You can’t take the blame for what goes on between them, and you can’t fix this for them if they don’t want it to be fixed; which is probably why she’s not discussing it with you.”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, I do. Believe me. I grew up in a family so devoid of love it was--” He stopped mid-sentence and shrugged. “What am I saying? I grew up in boarding schools. When I came home on the holidays, which wasn’t too often, it was like I was the invisible man. My mother was too preoccupied with the fair Ethan, and my father was always too busy chasing skirts or in the library listening to that tape he always listens to. I’m telling you, the Cranes are the definition of dysfunctional.”
“I know you have problems with your father, but I’ve seen another side to him. When we were stuck in that elevator he….”
Fox shook his head. “Sorry, Whit, but I’m not the one to be listening as you extol the virtues of Julian Crane.”
It saddened her to see how strained Fox’s relationship was with his parents; especially his father. “Julian’s really not as bad as you think.”
“I’ll have to take your word for that. All I was trying to say is you didn’t and don’t have what I grew up with. No matter what’s going on with your parents, they always liked each other and they will always love you, even if you don’t think so right now. Never forget that.”
“I’d like to try, but it’s hard, especially now that I’m here. I moved to California with Chad, against my family’s wishes, and I hardly see him. I understand he’s working but….” Tears blurred her vision before rolling down her cheeks. “Everything is just so--”
“Hey, hey, hey, no tears,” Fox said, using the pad of his thumb to brush away the salty streams.
A nervous fluttering invaded Whitney’s stomach. Her heart skipped a beat. Why was Fox’s touch eliciting this kind of reaction in her? She shook it off. She was missing Chad and eating up the attention Fox was paying her. That was all. Wasn’t it?
“Listen, we need to get rid of the sadness that’s invaded those beautiful brown eyes. Let’s go have some fun.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her off the lounger.
She brushed away the curly locks that flew into her face from the warm breeze. “Where are we going?”
“Wherever we want. Chad is going to be working until late, right?”
“As usual,” she muttered.
He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Okay, that settles it.” His penetrating gaze swept over bikini-clad body. “Mmm, I almost hate to say it, but you might need to change. You look really hot in that hot pink, but I’m thinking you should change into something a little more uptown chic. We’re going to paint the town red and chase away your blues all at the same time.” He extended his right hand. “So, are you game?”
Whitney took a moment to think it over, although her choice was made
at the moment Fox made the suggestion. “Sure, I think I could use a little
fun.” She took his hand. “Let’s go get changed.”
After finalizing the details of their plan, Eve and Julian arrived at her house. A light shined underneath the door of TC’s shed. Eve said he would be in there, and she was right.
“I told you. TC is nothing if not predictable. I knew he’d be in that shed. Whenever he gets upset, that’s the first place he goes. I wonder what’s in that damn thing.”
Julian wondered the same thing on more than one occasion. TC’s shed was fast on its way to becoming one of the great legends of Harmony. “I’m surprised he hasn’t told you what’s in there?”
Eve shook her head. “I doubt TC’s told anyone what’s in there. He won’t let anyone near the door, and he has the lone key. The contents of that shed are the farthest thing from my mind right now. I’m ready to do this, are you?”
“I guess. You were right about him being in the shed, so I’m inclined to believe you in TC’s predictability when it comes to other things.” He sighed deeply. “I have to trust you.”
“Don’t worry, Julian. Just do exactly what I said and everything will go like I said. Let’s get this started.”
Julian took her hand. “I just need a moment.” He brought her into the circle of his arms and gave her a lingering kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” She gave him a quick kiss then released a breath. “Now,” she whispered.
Julian nodded as they prepared to start phase one of their plan.