Luis woke up from a deep sleep and sat up suddenly in bed. “Sheridan,” he said. He rubbed his head. “Was I dreaming?” he asked himself. “I could have sworn I heard a baby crying – Sheridan’s and my baby…Could it be here? Am I a father?”
He got up and walked over to the window, pulling the curtain apart to look outside. He could see that all of the stars were out. It was a clear night. Luis sought out his and Sheridan’s star. Finding it, he smiled, remembering all the times he and Sheridan had looked at that star together. His smile turned to concern when he thought about the dream he just had.
“Sheridan,” he said, hoping the star would be his transmitter to the woman he loved. “I just heard a baby crying – our baby. Is it real? Is our child here?” His eyes suddenly filled with tears. “I didn’t want to miss this – not for anything.”
Luis wiped the tears away from his eyes so that he could see the star more clearly. “Sheridan, look, if you have had our baby, just remember that I love you. I love him or her too – so much. And Sheridan, believe me when I say that I am doing everything I can to find you – everything! I won’t give up, either. Not until you and our baby are back with me where you belong, safe and sound.”
Bowing his head, Luis began to pray, “Lord, please look out for Sheridan. Protect her from the evil ones who have her. Keep her safe, Lord; please don’t allow any harm to come to her. And our baby…” Luis began choking back tears. “If our baby is here, please make him or her feel all the warmth and love that a child needs. Keep our baby safe from harm until I am able to find them both. Amen.”
Luis raised his head and fixed his eyes on that special star once more. “I love you, Sheridan, with all my heart. I love you too, baby, even if I don’t know you yet. I love you as much as any father here on Earth ever loved his child.” Luis stood silently, staring up at the heavens for several more minutes.
“A girl, Bethie, we have a girl!” Charlie cheered, forgetting for a moment that she was at the edge of the pit, and there were people down below who might hear her reveal her friend’s name.
“Shhhh!” Beth warned her, grabbing her arm. “Charlie, what if they heard you say my name?” she asked nervously.
Charlie looked into the pit to see if there was any reaction. “No, Beth,” she whispered, “they didn’t hear a word I said. I think Blondie is practically passed out over there. And her brother and the doc were too busy with the cord thing. Hell, they wouldn’t have heard anything the way the two of them were making goo-goo eyes at each other.”
“Yeah, that was really strange the way they kissed earlier, wasn’t it?” Beth admitted. “I had no idea there was something going on between Dr. Russell and Julian Crane. Who would have guessed? Of course, it doesn’t surprise me about him. My gosh, I’ve heard rumors the man just can’t keep his hands off anyone.”
“Well, I’d like to see him try something with me,” Charlie declared. “I’d smash his face in.”
Beth laughed. “Somehow, Charlie, I don’t see that happening…”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Charlie asked defensively. “You don’t think I’m attractive? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”
“No, I mean yes,” Beth stammered. “I mean, sure, Charlie, you’re a very attractive…woman. Just not Julian Crane’s type, I’m sure.”
“Oh,” Charlie muttered, her anger dissipating. “Well, I’m not of course,” she said, playfully socking Beth’s arm with her fist. “I’m your type, Bethie. We make a great couple. And now it looks like this couple has become a trio.”
“Yes,” Beth said, trying to force a smile, forgetting her face was covered by a mask. “It does, doesn’t it?” Beth was thrilled the baby was here, but had new concerns of what to do about Charlie. How was she going to handle her partner in crime, now that she wanted to become her partner in life as well? Beth shuddered at the thought. “I must be careful,” she told herself. “Very, very careful.”
Sheridan examined her baby with loving eyes. She could see her well in the glow of the lantern. “She’s simply…beautiful,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “She looks so much like her daddy…She’s so dark …and gorgeous.”
“She’s an angel, Sheridan,” Eve said. “A precious, precious baby. I can see a lot of you in her as well. Look at her nose and mouth.”
Sheridan smiled. “She is a perfect combination…of both of us…isn’t she?” Then she asked suddenly, “Are you sure she’s all right? I mean…she’s so early.”
“Well, 36 weeks is early,” Eve admitted. “37 is considered full-term. Had she been a week earlier than this, we may have needed an incubator. But she seems fine. She’s breathing so well and is a good, healthy color. Girls tend to be more developed than boys, too. You’ve got a strong little one here.”
On cue, the baby began crying, showing how strong her lungs really were.
“She is a definitely a Crane,” Julian joked. “I can hear her now, yelling at the servants.”
“Not the servants,” Sheridan chided. “If she yells…it will be…in the boardroom.”
“I think she would make a great businesswoman,” Julian admitted. “Maybe I’ll have to take her under my wings at Crane Industries.”
“Let’s not…go that far,” Sheridan laughed.
Eve was still amazed at the change in Julian and Sheridan’s relationship. She was so glad that Julian had healed things between him and his sister. Of course, she had no idea just how much healing and redemption had taken place in the pit. She did, however, expect that something big had happened to get them to where they were.
“”She’s so tiny…How much do you think she weighs?” Sheridan asked her doctor.
“Oh, I’d say around 5 ½ pounds,” Eve said. “You know, I need to finish some work with you, Sheridan. Julian, would you mind holding the baby while I take care of your sister?”
Julian smiled nervously and shifted his weight from one leg to the other. “I have never held one this small,” he revealed. “But sure, I think I can manage.”
Eve carefully placed the infant in Julian’s arms. “Like that. You’ve got her. Good, Julian.”
Julian grinned at Eve and then slowly began walking around the pit, talking softly to his niece. Sheridan and Eve looked at each other and smiled. They couldn’t hear what Julian was saying, but they were each processing in their minds the image of him holding the tiny baby. It was a picture they both wanted to keep – always.
Eve began taking care of what needed to be done with Sheridan, while the new mother settled back and rested. Sheridan was exhausted, yet at the same time exhilarated after the birth of her daughter. She was thrilled that the baby was healthy. She was so grateful Dr. Russell had been there to deliver the baby. Although she hadn’t been told the whole story, she was well aware that Eve had saved her daughter’s life.
Sheridan suddenly gasped. “What’s wrong?” Eve asked, still performing a post-childbirth procedure.
“Eve, how did you get here?” Sheridan asked. “I just realized…they must have come and gotten you – my kidnappers…Were you hurt?”
“I’m OK now, Sheridan,” Eve said. “While I never wanted to be kidnapped, of course, I’m so glad I was here for you when you needed me.”
“So am I,” Sheridan said, sighing. “If you hadn’t been…” She shivered at the thought of what might have happened had Eve not been brought to the pit. Surely, both she and her baby would have died…She knew what that would have done to Luis. The man she loved with all her heart would have been completely devastated.
When Eve finished with Sheridan, she removed her gloves and walked over to where Julian was standing, still holding the baby and talking to her.
“You are a pretty little girl…Yes, you are…” Julian cooed to the infant. He looked up at Eve as she approached. He blushed upon seeing the smile on her face. He could tell she was delighted at how he was bonding with the baby.
“She’s wonderful,” he said, returning Eve’s smile.
“She is a beautiful baby, isn’t she?” Eve said. “She’s every bit as beautiful as…”
“Our baby?” Julian finished quietly for her.
“He was beautiful,” Eve said softly, tears starting to form in her eyes. “I wish you had seen him.”
Julian hung his head in shame. “I do too,” he said sadly. “I wish I had been there with you.”
“Maybe someday soon, you’ll get the chance to see our son. Maybe we both will,” Eve said gently. She looked around to make sure that Sheridan hadn’t heard their conversation. She saw with relief that she was already sleeping. The horrible masked abductors were no longer standing over the pit either, so that in itself made her feel better.
“We’ll find him, Eve,” Julian promised. “We’ll find our son.”
“I hope so,” she said, running her fingers along the baby’s face. “I want that more than anything.” Her eyes met his. They did not need to speak anything more on the subject. Their eyes communicated what they both felt in their hearts.
Eve took the baby from Julian to examine her once more. She carried her over near the lantern to do this. “You know, we’re going to need something for this baby to sleep in…and diapers, a blanket. I’ll need to swaddle her. Plus, it’s cold down here. She’ll need to be kept warm.”
Julian called out to the clowns in case they were in earshot. Not long after, the larger of the two appeared at the opening of the pit. “I just came to make sure there wasn’t something dirty going on down here,” she said, laughing.
Rolling his eyes at the tasteless remark, Julian began relaying to her everything they needed for the baby.
Charlie snickered. “Well, I guess you may need those things…but not for long!” She sealed her comment with a hideous laugh.
“I don’t know what you are planning,” Julian stated, “but I can assure you this. If you harm one hair on that child’s head, I’ll kill you.”
“Well, that would be kind of hard for you to do from the bottom of this pit, now wouldn’t it?” she asked, laughing evilly. “Believe me, none of you are going to ever see the light of day again.” With that, she was off to talk to Beth about the supplies.
Julian turned to face Eve. Her eyes met his. She had heard what Charlie said, he knew instantly, and she was worried. He headed over to reassure her.
“It’s going to be all right, Eve. We’ll get out of this, I promise you…” he paused for a second, realizing that he was the reason she was even in this mess.
Reading his mind, Eve reached out with her free hand and grasped Julian’s left hand. “Don’t blame yourself, Julian. It’s OK. I was meant to be here. If I hadn’t been, Sheridan and the baby would have died.”
“I know,” he said sadly, linking his fingers with hers. “But if anything were to happen to you…I would never forgive myself.”
She nodded. “I understand how you feel, but try to let go of the guilt. You did what you had to do for your sister. I admire that.”
“It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life,” Julian said, looking into Eve’s eyes.
“Honey, I know that,” she said, squeezing his hand. “I …care about you even more knowing that you were able to do that – have them come and get me for Sheridan’s sake. That took great courage.”
Just then, Charlie and Beth headed down the basement stairs, carrying supplies. “I still don’t know why we need to throw all this stuff down there,” Charlie complained. “Can’t we just get the baby up here now?”
“Not yet,” Beth replied. “We aren’t ready for that yet. I mean, suppose someone came and found her up there?”
“You mean Luis?” Charlie asked, a hint of jealousy in her voice.
“Well, of course I mean Luis,” Beth said, stopping before she got too near the pit. “Look, Charlie, we can’t have Luis finding out about the baby – not just yet. So until my plan’s all ironed out, the baby has to stay down here.”
Charlie shrugged and walked to the edge of the pit. “Got your things here, folks,” she bellowed. “Come and get ‘em!”
Julian ran over to catch the blankets and baby clothes. He allowed a clothesbasket and package of diapers to hit the ground.
The kidnappers went back upstairs as Eve began diapering and swaddling the newborn. The baby had fallen asleep peacefully and didn’t stir during the whole time she was being dressed. “Now we’ll get you all warmed up,” she said sweetly, smiling at the baby.
“I guess the baby is supposed to sleep in this,” Julian said, picking up the clothesbasket.
“Well, it will have to do,” Eve said, shaking her head. “What on earth are those people thinking of, keeping a pregnant woman trapped in this pit…and now a baby?”
“I’m sure whatever it is, it’s not good,” Julian remarked.
Eve placed a blanket in the basket and then laid the newborn inside. She wrapped the blanket around the infant and then placed another on top of it. “There, now that should feel better,” she said. She set the basket down beside Sheridan’s cushion. Sheridan was still sound asleep.“It must be almost morning,” Eve said, yawning.
“A quarter past five,” Julian said, checking his watch in the lantern light. “It will be light soon.”
“I’ll be able to hear the baby if she wakes up,” Eve said, “but I need some rest.”
“There’s a blanket over there,” Julian said, pointing to the far side of the pit.
“Is that where you sleep?” she asked.
He nodded. “But you can use it tonight…I’ll be OK,” he said, looking around for another place to sleep.
“Oh, come on, Julian, it’s cold down here,” Eve said, motioning him to follow her to where he normally slept.
Julian sat down and leaned against the wall. Eve curled up beside him,
laying her head against his chest. Julian pulled the blanket over her and
held her close. When it was apparent by her change in breathing that she
had fallen asleep, he kissed the top of her head. “I love you, Eve,” he
said tenderly, “more than anything in this world. And I promise to get
you home safely, where I’ll never let anyone hurt you again.”