THREE WEEKS LATER
Julian knocked on the door to Sheridan’s cottage. She opened it and smiled when she saw who it was. “Come on in,” she said happily.
“I’ll just stay for a minute,” he said upon entering the cottage. “This is for the baby.” He handed Sheridan a small gift bag.
She opened it and pulled out a silver piggy bank. “Oh this is beautiful, Julian!” she exclaimed.
“I thought our ‘little piggy’ might like a bank,” he said, laughing. “I put some coins inside it for her…What good is an empty piggy bank, you know?” He smiled. “I also wanted to tell you that I have set up a trust fund in Julia Eve’s name. It’ll work much the same as yours does. She should never have to want for anything.”
“Thank you, Julian. I appreciate that,” Sheridan said, reaching up to hug her brother. “Why don’t we sit down over here…if we can find a spot.” She laughed as she quickly threw some scattered baby items from the couch to the floor. “I’m sorry this place is such a mess,” she said as they sat down on the couch.
“Don’t worry about that,” Julian urged. “You have had your hands full, I’m sure.” He looked around the room. “So where is my little niece and namesake?”
“Napping in the bedroom,” Sheridan replied. “I finally got her to sleep. She has been rather fussy lately.”
“Have you been getting enough rest? I could hire a nanny for you…”
“No, no nannies,” Sheridan vowed. “I am going to raise this little girl on my own – with Luis’s help, of course.”
Julian nodded. “I understand…and I envy you for your determination, Sheridan. I think that young lady in there is lucky to have you as a mother.”
“And you as an uncle,” she added. Then her face turned serious. “So, Julian, have you heard from Eve?”
He shook his head. “Not since the morning after she told TC…right before I checked out of the hospital.”
“She needs some time,” Sheridan said, placing her hand gently on his. “I’m sure you’ll hear from her soon…when she’s ready.”
“I know,” Julian said slowly. “It’s just with each day that goes by that she doesn’t call…I’m more afraid that I’m going to lose her.”
Sheridan squeezed her brother’s hand. “I don’t think you’re going to lose Eve, Julian. I think that the love you two have for each other will win out in the end.” She smiled. “You’re going to be as happy as me and Luis…You’ll see.”
Julian nodded. “I hope you’re right, dear,” he said. He stood up. “Well, I had better go.”
“So soon?” she asked.
“I know you have things to do. Give the baby my love when she wakes up.”
“I will,” Sheridan said, giving her brother a warm hug. “I just want you to be happy, Julian.”
“When I come here, it’s rather painful to see what you guys have…the love that resonates in this place,” he admitted. “I’m terribly happy for you, don’t get me wrong…It’s just I am rather envious too.”
“You’ll find that happiness,” Sheridan promised. “I see you someday, down the road, playing with all of your nieces and nephews in the yard…”
He smiled at the lovely thought. “I can’t wait,” he said. “I think I’ll make a fine uncle…I had some problems as a father…but I think I’m ready to try again with a new generation.”
“Well, Julia Eve will come to adore you, I know,” Sheridan said. “As will all of the others Luis and I plan to have.”
“You want a big family then?” Julian asked. “I like that.”
“Oh, Luis wants half a dozen,” she laughed. “We may have to compromise on that.”
“You’ll certainly need to build on here if you plan to stay,” Julian said. “And I hope you do stay.” His eyes almost begged her to say yes.
“I think we will stay, Julian. We love it here – the peace and quiet, the beautiful grounds, and the security. Luis likes that aspect of this place.”
“Good,” Julian said, the dark cloud over him lifting some. “You don’t know how that pleases me.” He hugged her one last time and then exited the cottage, slowly making his way to the mansion.
“Oh, Julian,” Sheridan whispered after him. “I sure hope you realize your dream…”
Eve sat in her office at the hospital, trying to concentrate on her work. She had somehow drifted through the last three weeks, putting everything she had into her job. She found it more and more difficult to stay on task, especially when she was alone…as she was in her office. That’s when her mind would always start to wander.
For the past three weeks, Eve had been staying in a hotel in town (not the Crane Hotel, however). She had wanted her space…to be away from both TC and Julian…until she could figure out what it was she really wanted.
What did she want? That was hard for her to answer. She had been with TC for over 20 years. They had two wonderful children together. She thought back to when she met him in the hospital after his accident…how he had swept her off her feet, making her forget the pain in her past. Most of the years had been really good ones, until recently. That’s when everything she had bottled up inside her had begun to pour out – the truth about her firstborn child, as well as the feelings that were buried deep in her heart…the feelings for Julian Crane.
Just thinking about Julian made Eve’s heart flutter. The love she felt for that man was immeasurable and incomprehensible. How could she be so in love with a man that had hurt her so deeply? She shook her head. There was just something about Julian. He owned her heart…like it or not. She was his and always would be. And he had changed. She couldn’t believe how he had matured during the past year…or the bond he had formed with his sister Sheridan in the pit. Sheridan also saw the love Julian was capable of, Eve knew. She wasn’t the only one captivated by his charms.
Eve knew she wanted to be with Julian more than anything – to feel his arms around her like she had in the pit. How safe she felt with him – so free from the lies and secrets that had surrounded her for years. He was her rock, the loyal, caring friend whom she could count on when in trouble. He was also the only one who could set her body on fire with his touch…
How could she give that up? How could she go through the rest of her life never having what she really wanted? Eve couldn’t fathom it. She had missed out on so much with him these past 20 years…yet had she been with Julian, she never would have had her daughters, her family.
Eve thought of Whitney and Simone. Her leaving TC would tear them up inside. Simone was having a hard time already with the separation…Eve had clued her in on some of the difficulties, but hadn’t mentioned Julian’s name. TC may have told her, she realized, but Simone hadn’t let on…How she was maturing!
Whitney…At least she was safe in LA, enjoying the sights and sounds of that remarkable city. Eve had called her to tell her that she was staying at a hotel for awhile, but didn’t go into a lot of details over the phone. She thought Whitney would understand though. She knew what true love was like.
TC – her girls’ father…She never wanted to hurt him, but she had. She still remembered the look in his eyes when she had told him about her and Julian. Never had she seen such anger directed at her. For a moment she had feared for her safety…but TC didn’t hurt her, as she knew he wouldn’t. She wondered how he would cope if she left him for good.
Eve was surprised TC had not gone after Julian, but he hadn’t ventured near the Crane Estate from what she had heard from Sheridan. Julian had hired more security, just in case. Maybe TC finally realized violence wasn’t the way to handle his problems. Maybe he was just too devastated to even attempt a fight. Eve felt guilty for what she was doing to TC.
“I know what I want,” Eve said, sighing. “I just wish there was a sign that it was OK for me to go after it. I wish I had a sign that this was the right choice, and not just me being selfish.” She laid her head down on her desk and prayed.
She was suddenly roused by a knock on the door. Eve called out, “Come in!”
A nurse entered, carrying a stack of folders. “These are the latest lab results for all of your patients,” she said, handing them to the doctor.
“Thank you, Vicky,” Eve responded, as the nurse turned and exited.
Eve thumbed through the files until she found a particular one. She opened it up and gasped when she saw the results. “Oh my goodness,” she said, resting her head on her hand. “I had no idea…”
She closed the file and beamed. “I think I just got my sign,” she gushed.
Eve swallowed hard as she picked up the phone and dialed her home number. “TC, it’s me. Please don’t hang up. We have to talk…Will you still be there in a few minutes? … OK, I’ll see you then.”
She took a deep breath to steady herself as she got up to leave. Her future would begin today…
Much later, Eve steered her car up the familiar road, her heart racing as fast as the engine of her vehicle. She was going to greet the man she loved…the man she was going to spend forever with. It had been three weeks since she had seen him, and that was much too long.
Eve fingered the car phone and decided to pick it up. She dialed the number and held her breath as she waited for it to ring. She was thrilled hearing the sound of his voice on the other end of the line. “It’s me,” she said. “I am on my way.”
Pulling her car in front of the house, Eve jumped out and ran to the door. She was surprised to see it standing ajar. She carefully pushed it open and peered inside.
That’s when she saw him. He was standing in the living room, straight and tall, looking at her. She felt the power of his eyes even from that distance.
As he started walking closer, Eve took off and ran into his waiting arms. “I’m home!” she cried, throwing her arms around the man she loved.
Julian picked her up and spun her around, as tears of joy flooded his
eyes. “Eve…my Eve…” he said softly. “You are finally home.” He set her
down gently and pressed his lips to hers.