Overcome with shock, both Eve and Julian stared at each other silently.
Enthusiastically, Joel introduced them. “Julian Crane, meet Eve Johnson. Eve, this is...I am hoping our newest partner, Julian Crane.”
Numbly, Julian held out his hand, his heart pounding at the shock of seeing her after all these years.
Eve extended her hand and placed it in his, which was large and warm, just like she remembered it.
Julian closed his hand over hers. He felt it tremble, and his heart leaped. He had dreamed so often of this moment, and now he was at total loss for words. She looked as beautiful as ever. Her beautiful dark hair, longer than he remembered, made him want to reach out and run his fingers through it.
Joel stood, quiet now, noticing an unusual tension between them. “Do you two know each other?”
“No!” Eve blurted out before Julian could speak.
Pain flashed in Julian’s eyes. He held her hand tightly and said in a hushed tone, "I would never forget such a beautiful face."
Her lips parted as if to speak as she gazed into his eyes. Breathing suddenly became impossible as she felt herself drown in the liquid pools of deep brown. There was sadness in them that she had never seen before, and it broke her heart as she realized she was the cause of it. She wanted to throw herself into his arms, to kiss him, hold him, love him, be with him...
Julian watched her intently, but at the same time tried not to be too obvious about how much she affected him. He almost groaned out load when her lips parted slightly. Realizing he was not helping himself, he quickly released her hand.
“Well, I guess this is as good a time as any to cash in on that dance, Julian,” Joel chirped, slapping him on the shoulder.
“Dance?” Eve asked, confused.
"I promised Julian a dance with you if he would think about giving a donation,” Joel reminded her. "This hospital is counting on you." He pleaded with his eyes.
“I’m game if you are,” Julian challenged.
"I...I guess it would be OK." Eve smiled at Joel weakly. The thought of dancing with Julian almost caused her knees to buckle.
"Great! I have some business to take care of, so you guys..." He slapped Julian on the shoulder, "have fun!"
Eve watched helplessly as Joel walked away. 'Dear God, now what?' Her heart hammered as she looked at Julian.
His eyes were gentle as he stepped nearer and drew her trembling body close to his. They danced quietly. Neither had the nerve to speak; they were just leaning against each other, eyes closed, letting that old familiar feeling come rushing back to fill their hearts once more.
Julian pressed her closer still, his eyes shut tight to keep the tears from falling. He never wanted to let her go. The love he felt for her, that he had tried so hard to forget, filled his heart, body, mind and soul. As angry and hurt as he had been, it all fled the moment he laid eyes on her.
He raised his hand and placed it against her hair, so soft and silky, it almost drove him mad. He felt her breathe deeply, her body trembling slightly, and he knew she was crying. Slowly he slid his hand up to her neck and pressed her face into his chest.
Grateful that Julian was taller and broader, she let him press her closer to hide her tears. The music continued, slow and haunting, as Eve slid one arm inside Julian's open jacket and held on for dear life.
She felt so safe in his arms, so loved. Oh, if he only knew how often she had longed to be in his arms! No other man made her feel the way that he did. Her love for him was forever, the kind of love that most people only dream about - pure, honest, and more powerful than any drug in the world. She loved him, and only him.
As the song came to an end, she tried to collect her wits, scolding herself silently for letting her emotions get the best of her. Pulling from his arms, she stepped back a bit, her cheeks glistening with tears. Looking into his face, she noticed a tear had managed to escape and roll down his cheek.
They stared at each other, still saying nothing. Then Julian reached up and placed his palm on her cheek, gently wiping the tears with his thumb. As she pressed her cheek into his palm, he reached down and kissed her other cheek.
Shocked by his unexpected kiss, she suddenly turned and bolted for the door, leaving a startled Julian staring after her.
Joel finished his business, and when he noticed Julian heading out onto the balcony, he followed him, bringing along two glasses of brandy. When he reached Julian, he handed him the brandy.
"Thanks." Julian smiled gratefully and tasted it. "Great stuff!"
"The best!" Joel boasted with a smile. "Where did Eve go?"
"Probably to the ladies’ room. Isn't that where all women hang out when they are missing?" Julian tried to joke.
"Women, who can understand them?"
"Not me, that’s for sure." Julian took another sip from his drink.
"I saw you dance with her; looked mighty cozy," Joel commented.
Julian smiled. "It was. She's pretty terrific."
"You sound like you’re speaking from experience."
Julian swallowed the rest of his drink and exhaled as he stared across the city. "I do know her, Joel; she used to live in Boston. We...were...in love." Julian pressed his lips together tightly.
"Ahh...that explains the tension between you two. But why would she lie about knowing you?" Joel wondered.
"Maybe she was trying to protect you, keep you from feeling threatened by what we once had," Julian offered.
Joel laughed. "My relationship with Eve is mostly friendship. I always knew there was someone else in her heart, but she refused to discuss him."
Julian shuffled from one foot to the other. "So there is nothing going on between you two? There is no one else in her life?"
"Not that I know of…except for J.T."
"J.T? Who is J.T.?" Julian asked.
The news hit Julian like a ton of bricks. "She has a son??"
"Cute little guy too. She thinks the world of him," Joel informed him.
"Excuse me, Joel; there is something I have to take care of." Julian turned and hurried back inside.