Snow flurries softly fluttering onto the frozen ground, people rushing to finish their shopping, some content to just sit in coffee shops sipping coffee and talking about the great gifts they found, and the decor of red, green, silver and gold brought out a spirit of happiness and human kindness in the residents of Harmony. This beautiful morning, one could feel the Christmas magic in the air.
Eve Russell hurried out of the shopping mall, arms full of packages, and a smile on her lips. Spending her first Christmas with Whitney and her father Julian filled her heart with happiness and pure joy.
Her joy, however, was deflated when thoughts of her younger daughter Simone filled her mind. Simone strongly disapproved of her dating Julian Crane, even a year after the divorce to TC was finalized. Learning that Whitney was Julian’s daughter and not TC’s, and trying to deal with her and TC’s divorce, Simone went out of her way to make trouble for her and Julian. Sighing heavily, she unlocked her car.
Putting the parcels into the trunk of her car, Eve's thoughts turned to Julian…his hands gently caressing her face, the sweet pressure of his lips as he tenderly kissed her... Eve sucked in her breath as she snapped back to reality when a car horn blared somewhere nearby. Feeling as if her thoughts had been discovered, Eve looked around sheepishly before she slammed the trunk shut.
Climbing into her car, Eve headed over to the Crane Hotel, her thoughts once again turning to Julian and their new and tender relationship. They had hardly spent any time together since Eve had decided that they should slow down till Simone had a change of heart about them dating. Julian wasn't pleased, but honored her wishes and didn't push the issue.
When Eve arrived at the Crane Hotel, she noticed Julian’s Hummer was running in the driveway. She parked her car and headed up the sidewalk to the front entrance.
Before she could ring for the bell hop, Julian yanked open the door. Dressed in black jeans, a cream shirt, and a navy and burgundy bomber jacket, he stood and grinned from ear to ear.
“Hey!” he said and beckoned her inside.
“Where are you off to?” Eve asked, noticing that he was leaving.
“Well, actually, I was heading up to the cabin. I want to try the Hummer in this snow,” he explained, not taking his eyes off her face. “Wanna come?”
“I thought I would spend some time with Whitney,” Eve declined politely.
“Great!! But there is only one problem with that,” he said.
“And what's that?” Eve wanted to know.
“You should have called first. She is spending the day with Chad,” he informed her.
“Oh I see, well....I’ll just go home then. See you later,” she said.
“Oh come on, you have nothing to do. Why don't you spend the day with me?” he suggested with a smile.
“I don't know if that's a good idea, Julian,” she objected.
“Why not? It'll be fun, and besides when was the last time you had a good time?” he pointed out.
She looked at him sincerely and said, “I don’t remember.”
“Well, it’s time you did. Come on - what do you say?” he almost begged.
Eve looked into his handsome face. How could she say ‘no’ to that? “OK, I’ll come with you,” she smiled.
“Great!!” he almost shouted like a happy school boy as he opened the door of his truck and helped her inside. Before he closed the door, he took her hand in his and squeezed it gently. They gazed at each other for a moment, before he finally closed the door and jumped into his truck and pulled out of the driveway.
As they headed out of Harmony, the snow appeared to be falling heavier than it had earlier that morning. “Do you think we should go, Julian? It looks like we are in for a quite a few inches of snow.” She tried not to sound worried.
“We’ll be fine; we’re in a Hummer,” he boasted as he squeezed her hand. She smiled at him and settled back into the seat.
By the time they got to the cabin, the wind had picked up, and visibility was getting bad.
Worried that they would get caught in the storm, Eve suggested that they head back.
Julian thought since they were here, they might as well get a quick cup of coffee to warm up. “Besides, it might stop soon,” he said.
Eve agreed, and they parked next to the cabin and went in to make coffee. Ten minutes later, they jumped into the truck and headed out the driveway.
Looking both ways for traffic, they saw that they could barely see the road. They looked helplessly at each other.
“You know, I think we’ll have to wait this out,” Julian suggested, not wanting to risk their lives by heading out into the storm.
"I agree; let’s just go into the cabin and see if we can find something to eat,” she suggested.
Julian nodded and backed the truck back to the cabin. Shutting the engine off, they climbed out and hurried inside.
The electricity was out, and it was almost dark. A bit of daylight offered little light, but they were still able to find candles and matches. The candlelight provided a warm, soft glow that gave the cabin a romantic touch.
Julian headed for the fireplace and started making a fire.
Eve searched the cupboards for food. She found canned stew, flaked turkey, crackers and a few bottles of wine. She placed them on the table and walked over to the fireplace where Julian was down on one knee and busy stirring the fire. He put down the poker and removed his jacket.
“Don’t you want to remove yours?” he asked.
“It’s still too cool in here for me. I’ll wait a while yet,” she said.
“How about that wine? It'll warm you up,” he said with a smile.
“Sure! I’ll get glasses, and you open the wine,” she suggested.
“Sounds like a plan.” He grinned at her.
They sat on a blanket and pillows in front of the fire, sipping wine and eating crackers.
“Well, at least I know Whitney is safe,” Julian said thankfully. “All we have to worry about is us.”
“Yes, thank God she is safe,” Eve said, looking at Julian over her glass.
“Speaking of us...” Julian started, “we’ve been stuck in neutral long enough, don't you think?” he asked.
“Well...with Simone acting the....” She stopped when he put a finger on her lips.
“Forget about Simone. She’s not here right now. It’s just you and me, here, stuck together, till the storm passes. So let’s not spoil this time together by talking about Simone, OK?” he said almost desperately. “Let’s talk about us for a while,” he suggested.
“What about us?” she asked, nervously playing with her wine glass.
“Well...I know you want to be with me, and I want to be with you so... where do you want to go from here?” he asked.
Suddenly feeling very warm, Eve put down her glass of wine and started to unzip her jacket.
Julian quickly put down his glass and offered to help her. “Here, let me give you a hand,” he said and reached out to help.
His hands brushed hers, and he paused. Their eyes met and held as his hands clasped hers. She started to protest, but the tender look on his face made her heart melt.
Gently his thumbs caressed her hands before he laced his fingers with hers. Feeling faint at his nearness, Eve could only stare at him, with her lips slightly parted. Her mouth felt suddenly dry as he leaned nearer, desire in his eyes.
“I’ve wanted to be alone with you like this,” he whispered. “I can’t get you out of my mind. You drive me crazy...not being with you drives me crazy.” He smiled tenderly.
“I want to be with you too, Julian,” Eve said in a hushed tone. “I mean...that’s all I want, to be with my daughter...” she pulled her hand free and gently touched his cheek, “and her father, because they both mean the world to me,” she said with love shining in her eyes.
He turned his face and kissed her hand. With his free arm, he encircled her waist and pulled her into his arms.
Eve sucked in her breath, no longer able to hold back her desire to kiss him. She leaned against him and gently touched her lips to his. The warmth of his breath on her cheeks and the smell of his cologne almost drove her out of her mind.
With her soft lips seeking his, he groaned and pulled her closer, claiming her mouth in a firm but gentle kiss. He deepened the kiss with a hunger that overpowered his ability to reason. He cared for nothing at this moment, only that she was in his arms and her lips on his.
She pressed against him, loving the feel of his strong, broad chest against her breasts. She ran her fingers through his hair, so soft and smooth. Her mouth fused to his, never wanting to let go of him. This moment was hers, and nothing could take that away from her.
Julian eased his lips gently from hers, his hands caressing her face. Then unable to control his desire, he claimed her lips again in a sweet, satisfying kiss. He leaned her back onto a pillow and lay next to her, holding her in his arms. All their pent up longing surfaced as they found complete happiness in each other’s arms, next to the crackling of the warm fire, while the wind and snow raged outside.
Much later, asleep in front of the fireplace in each others arms, tangled in a bed of blankets, they were unaware that the storm outside had died down. When Julian awoke, he smiled as he kissed Eve’s head. He chuckled as he removed her hair from his lips.
Awakened by the sound of his laughter, Eve stirred in Julian’s arms.
He squeezed her tight, and she rolled onto her side to face him. She smiled and leaned over and kissed him. “This has been so wonderful. I have wanted to be with you for a long time, Julian. You have made me the happiest woman in the world, like I finally deserve something wonderful in my life.”
“You are wonderful, Eve. And you have made me the happiest man on earth. This is what I want....I want to be with you.” He smiled tenderly and kissed her lips. She kissed him back and hugged him close to her.
When they finally came up for air, they soon realized that the storm had stopped. Worried that Whitney would wonder where they were; they cleaned up the blankets and pillows and headed out the door. Pausing a moment, they looked back....Julian put his arm around Eve’s waist and hugged her close, and then he closed the door.
Jumping into the truck, Eve and Julian noticed that the snow removal crew had already begun to clear the road. Happily they sang Christmas tunes as they headed back to Harmony.
* No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the author. Copyright © 2003 by Bailey. Published by Evian Dreams.