So, Julian had reluctantly gone into the living area of his spacious inn suite, stopping in the bedroom first to put on his boxers and pants. He was sitting on the leather sofa where he and Eve only hours before had re-consummated their love. He could hardly believe what had happened that afternoon in his room. Together, they had made love a total of six times. It had been as heavenly as he had remembered, and as passionate. Julian was on an incredible high, but he knew that soon things were going to get tense as he and Eve had to say their goodbyes, at least temporarily. He was not sure how he could handle that, turning the love of his life over to TC after what they had experienced here today. It seemed so wrong, so against nature. Eve was his, and he was hers – those were the only truths Julian knew. That was what seemed right. The two had no marriage certificate to legally bind them, but in every way that mattered, they were bound together as husband and wife. If only that were enough…
“You seem like you’re a million miles away,” Eve noted, coming up to him wrapped in only a towel. He turned toward her and smiled, his eyebrows lifting playfully at the way she looked. Her damp hair hung in loose curls. Julian loved the look of Eve’s hair when wet. As she came closer to the couch, he reached out and grabbed her, pulling her onto his lap. The fingers of his right hand began combing through her shimmering tresses as he held her close with his left arm.
Eve smiled. It felt so good to be in Julian’s arms like this, so right. If only… She stopped herself from going there. Eve still couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him, even for a little while, but she knew she must. TC was expecting her soon, for dinner, and there was no way she could back out of that…not in an inn with only one dining room! Eve knew that Julian’s far-away look just now hadn’t come from thinking about a temporary separation, but rather the realization that this could be their first and last time as lovers in the present. She sighed. That was the last thing she wanted, but was there really any alternative? After all, she was married and had a family. She had made a commitment to TC, and she did love him. But Eve knew she wasn’t showing the loyalty owed in a marriage, not today…not when she had slept with Julian half a dozen times. And although she should regret what she just did, she couldn’t. She loved Julian so much, so much more than she could show in one passionate afternoon at a ski lodge.
Julian bent his head forward and kissed Eve’s hair. “You are so quiet,” he said softly, running his hand along her back. “Now who is a million miles away?”
“I was just thinking,” Eve muttered sadly, turning to look at Julian with tears in her eyes.
“There, there, dear, don’t cry,” he said soothingly, running his fingers through her wet locks once more, wishing he could take away her pain with each gentle touch. He moved his hand to wipe away a lone tear that had begun to stream down her face. “It’s going to be all right, Eve. This isn’t goodbye. It can’t be.”
“It has to be, Julian. What’s the alternative? I can’t become what Liz has accused me of all these months – what Whitney, I fear, was afraid I was…your father…”
“Damn my father!” Julian shouted. “He can go to hell for all I care. And Liz, well, that snake can join him there. I’d just as soon see her in hell as look at her.”
“Julian…” Eve started.
“No, let me finish,” he urged. “I know you are concerned about Whitney, since she saw us kissing, but, Eve, I explained that to her. I think she realizes it was all my fault.”
“But even so, don’t you understand what us seeing each other would do to her, Julian? Whitney will be watching my every move. She is such a sensitive young woman. I can’t fathom how this all could affect her…how much it would hurt her. I can’t take that risk, not with my own child.”
“But, Eve, either way we will still have to see each other,” Julian protested softly. “We still have to look for our son. I know you want to be involved in the search. Eve, you can’t cut me out of your life.”
“Oh, I know, Julian. I do want to be involved in finding our son; you know that,” she responded. She reached up and gently touched his face. “And I couldn’t cut you out of my life if I tried. I love you; I need you.”
Eve put her finger up to Julian’s lips and smiled sadly. “Hear me out, OK? This is hard enough for me to say all at once. I…I don’t know how…” she began sobbing and lowered her head into her hands.
Julian pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her tightly and protectively while she gave into her emotions. He didn’t want to see her in this kind of pain. He had never wanted that. Maybe they shouldn’t have… But it was too late now. They had. And it had been the most wonderful day of his life. Julian did not regret it one bit; in fact, he yearned for more with every ounce of his being. Now that he had her again, he wasn’t about to give her up…not without a fight.
“Eve, dear, I love you…” he began, leaning down to kiss the top of her head. He closed his eyes momentarily. “You are my angel, my one true love. I never wanted to hurt you. God, I wish I could take this pain from you. I love you, Eve. I love you more than anything. Tell me what I can do…what we can do. I don’t think I can live without you in my life, not after what we shared here today.” Julian opened his eyes. He had wanted to be strong, not add to her pain, but he just couldn’t help himself. She was his life; his heart would be totally empty without her in it. And he feared what would happen to both him and her if after today there was no more “them.”
Eve wiped her tears with her hand. “Oh, Julian,” she said, choking back her sobs. “I couldn’t live without you in my life either…ever again. You are my dearest friend, the one person I can tell anything to. I love you far too much, and need you too much, to give you up. I couldn’t make it without you, Julian. It’s that simple.”
He smiled at her and began caressing her smooth, beautiful back. Eve had always loved when he did that. It was what soothed her more than anything. He had remembered so much about her – everything they had shared together all those years ago. He knew her better than anyone.
Only half noticing his hand on her back, but realizing she suddenly felt a little better, Eve continued. “You will always be a part of my life, Julian. I just think that today we went a little too far in showing our affections. Listen to me, please,” she urged when he began to shake his head in protest. “What happened here today was incredible; I can’t call it wrong. There is no way something so beautiful could be wrong. You and I, we are perfect for each other. It was so obvious today. I understand that. But we were also very selfish here in this suite. We were thinking only of ourselves, and not of the world outside. And Julian, I have to think of that. I have a husband and a family. You know how much they mean to me.”
“I do know, Eve. Everything I have done for the last year has been for you and your family. I have only wanted you to be happy. And if that meant you would stay with TC, then I was all for it. No matter how much I wanted you in my arms, like this, I fought it. I tried to think only of what you needed…of what was best for you. But today, I just couldn’t fight it any longer. What we have together just had to be expressed here. There was no more holding back. You know it as well as I; the magic we have could no longer be denied.”
She swallowed hard. He spoke the truth, as always. The wisdom he showed never ceased to amaze her. Sometimes she thought he knew her better than she knew herself. He was the only one who understood the real Eve…the only one who could see into the depths of her heart and soul. “Julian, what you say is true. I have tried for months to prevent this from happening, but I could no longer do it; I could no longer fight these feelings I have for you. What I feel for you is so overwhelming. I love you so, so much. It’s just… I can’t allow what I want to affect what my family needs, can you understand that? I can’t hurt them so that I can steal a moment of happiness with you.”
“But, Eve, do you see how you will be hurting yourself if we end this here? And in the long run how that is going to affect your family? You said yourself…you mentioned moments of happiness with me. My dear, I am afraid that you are not really happy when we aren’t together. Maybe that is darn conceited of me; I don’t know. But I get the feeling that you haven’t been as happy as you were today, here in my arms, in a long, long time. I want to put you and your happiness first, Eve, I do. But from what I have witnessed lately, and especially today, I am going to speculate that you aren’t happy with TC, not the way a woman should be with her husband.”
“Julian…” Eve whispered. How could she argue with that, when every word he said hit her as the bitter truth?
“Eve, dear, I love you. If you told me right now that you would be happier without me in your life, I would leave, and I could make it so you would never see me again. You know that. All you have to do is ask.”
“No! No, Julian, don’t you go. Don’t you ever, ever leave me!” she cried, wrapping her arms about his neck and pulling him to her tightly. “If you left Harmony, I would die. You are as important to me as the air I breathe. Please don’t go!” She began sobbing loudly as she buried her head in his chest.
The damp hair felt cool against his dry skin. Julian closed his eyes tight and held the woman he loved, tears streaming down his face. “I would leave if you asked me,” he whispered. “I would do anything you asked of me. I only want you to be happy. I don’t want it to have to be me or your family. I don’t want you to have to choose.”
Eve loosened her grip around Julian’s neck and pulled back to look him in the eyes. “It can’t be both…” she began. “I can’t have you and still keep them. Not TC, not even the girls.”
“I know not TC,” Julian said. “But I am hoping that if we did get together, your daughters would come around eventually.”
“I don’t think so, Julian; not when I raised them to believe in the sanctity of marriage. Whitney takes everything she learned to heart. All of the values I taught her are tightly entwined in her being. And Simone…she is so cynical about love already. This would devastate her, and I don’t know if she would recover, if she would ever be able to have a healthy relationship with a man after this. She has been hurt so much in her young life.”
“I think you underestimate your daughters, Eve,” Julian said softly. “But I do love your devotion to them. I wish I were one-tenth as close to my children as you are to yours. I missed out on so much with them. I wish I could do it all over again, but it is too late for me. Maybe when we find our son…”
“Julian, it is never too late! You can still reach out to Fox and your girls, and little Ethan. Don’t give up on any of them.”
“I won’t, Eve. I think Fox and I have made a bit of a breakthrough as of late. The girls, well, I do wish I saw more of them. I would like the chance to talk to them – to see how they are doing. I don’t know if they will be accepting of my attention though.”
“Well at least try, Julian. They are still your children, no matter who their mother is.”
“I know, Eve. I just wish I had had a child I could raise in a house full of love, like you did…a child who was a constant sign of the love I shared with someone. Of all my children, only our son fits that bill, but he wasn’t around for us to raise. I wasn’t around either, for that matter.”
Eve reached up to caress Julian’s face once more. Her fingers gently wiped away his tears. “We have been all through that, honey. I have forgiven you for all of it. I do wish we had our son with us here; I wish it with all my heart. Maybe someday…”
“Maybe someday we will have that family I always wanted, when we find our son.”
“I hope we do find him, Julian. I really think we will…no matter what Alistair tries to do to stop us.”
“My father is a bastard,” Julian said coldly. “But he won’t stop me from finding our son. I promised you I would bring him back to you, and I will, even if it’s over Father’s dead body.”
“Julian!” Eve cried. “Please don’t say that you would resort to…to…”
“Murder, Eve? You know I would do anything to make you happy. I don’t think it will come to that. But I tell you this, if Alistair ever lifted a finger to hurt you or our son, I would kill him. That isn’t even in question.”
Eve looked into her lover’s eyes and sighed. Julian had the most beautiful hazel eyes, so invitingly warm and gentle, so full of love for her. But they could also be ruthless when push came to shove. She had no doubt he would kill to protect her, none in the least. He would do anything for her. It was something she loved about him, but also her greatest fear for him…that someday he would get into trouble for her, trouble that no fancy name or stash of billions could get him out of. “Julian, just be careful, OK? That is all I ask. I don’t want anything to happen to you, ever.”
“Nothing bad will happen, Eve. I won’t allow it. Alistair can’t touch us, not when we are together like this. Our love is too much for him, and he knows it. And Rebecca? Well, I can take care of her in a heartbeat if you just say the word.”
“Julian!” Eve exclaimed. “You know I dislike Rebecca, but I would not want to see her dead.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean I’d kill her,” he sighed, “although the thought has crossed my mind. No, I think that Becks will be easy enough to buy off with the right Swiss bank account. She won’t hurt us, Eve. I won’t let anyone hurt what we have here…if you only say the word.”
Eve took a deep breath. She loved this man more than anyone. How could she tell him no? How could she turn her back on what they had rediscovered here? She cleared her throat. “Julian, I need some time to think, to figure out what it is I really want, and what I can have. I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for, but it’s all I can give you right now. I hope it’s enough.”
“Are you kidding?!” Julian shouted. “It is more than enough. I love you, Eve!” He turned her around on his lap and kissed her lips. She responded by parting them eagerly for his tongue. The two were lost in the passion of the moment once more, as Julian lowered Eve’s towel to the floor and eased her down on the couch with his body on top of hers.
“Julian…” she protested slightly when they stopped for air. “I have really got to go. It is almost six o’clock; TC will be waiting. And Rebecca will be coming here to get you soon. We can’t let her find me here.”
“She won’t. I latched the door. And I say, let them wait. We are having the first course here in this room. It is so much more delicious when you can have it in your suite.” His lips pressed firmly against hers as his hands moved lovingly over her soft, beautiful body.
Eve gave up her weak protest and surrendered to her desire, moving her hands under him to gently but quickly undo his pants. She couldn’t survive without this man in her life, nor could she live without the passion she shared with him. Somehow, someway, she would have to reconcile the two halves of her life. There would have to be a way to fit Julian Crane into it on more than just the periphery. There just had to be! She wanted him as an integral part of her life, but was unsure how, if ever, that could come about. She shook the thoughts out of her head as Julian again prepared to bring her to the brink of ecstasy. Her mind filled with the sheer happiness of love, the love she had found again on that special day.