Liz stood watching the events unfold, as Rebecca Hotchkiss approached her from behind.
“Incredible, isn’t it?” Rebecca asked.
“Better than I could ever have imagined,” Liz said with a smile.
“What? You are enjoying seeing Eve and TC in so much pain?” Rebecca asked incredulously.
“Not TC, but I sure am enjoying seeing Eve so miserable.” Liz turned to her and smiled to emphasize her point.
“Well, well, you have an axe to grind,” Rebecca commented. “What are your reasons for enjoying this fiasco?”
“That is my business,” Liz said matter-of-factly.
“Oh, a secretive one. Well, no matter. I will find out eventually.” Rebecca smoothed her hair and waited for Alistair’s response to Eve’s question.
Eve stood, her heart pounding madly as she waited for an answer. “Where is my son, Alistair? I know that you had something to do with him being taken from me.”
“Oh, do you?” Alistair smiled. “Well, tell me, what do you know?”
Taken aback, Eve stammered. “Well, I…I had a dream that he was stolen from the hospital, and that he was never really dead like I was told.” She couldn’t help but feel foolish for telling him this. She was comforted when Julian squeezed her hand in support. She turned and smiled her gratitude.
Alistair laughed. “What nonsense. You are basing all your hopes on a dream?” he said, mocking her.
“It was very real, and I have every reason to believe it is true…that my son is still alive.” Eve’s lips quivered as she struggled to keep her emotions in check.
Julian waited just as anxiously as Eve for news about their son, but was disappointed when Alistair got up and walked off the stage, heading toward them.
“I am taking a break, but since you are so insistent that I know something about your ‘son,’ stick around. Maybe I do know something that might be of interest to you.” With that, he disappeared into a private room.
Eve turned to Julian. “Damn him. I know that he is responsible for our son’s disappearance. I just know it.” She reached down and picked up her jacket.
“You know I support you one hundred percent, don’t you?” Julian asked.
“Yes, I do.” She looked up in surprise. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t hang your hopes so highly on that dream, Eve. I mean, it may not be true.”
“What? I thought that you believed it too?” Eve asked in confusion. “Are you saying you don’t believe me?”
Julian reached out and took her hand. “Not here; let’s go somewhere private to talk about this.” He pulled her along behind him as he headed for the back of the club.
Julian opened a door to an empty room furnished for private parties. “This seems deserted. Let’s go in here.” He held the door for Eve, and then closed it behind her and locked it.
“What’s wrong, Julian? I thought that you believed our son is alive,” Eve said in confusion. “Has that changed?”
Julian ran his hands up her arms. “No, I still believe that our son is out there somewhere. I just don’t know if my father will be able to help us. Or will want to, for that matter. I’m just afraid that your hopes will get dashed again, Eve. I can’t bear to see you hurting this way again,” Julian said, concerned.
Eve sighed and stepped into his arms. “I know, Julian. I am scared too. I want to find our son so badly that I would risk just about anything to make it happen.” She breathed deeply, inhaling his masculine cologne. “Julian…”
“Yes, love?” he said dreamily as he held her close.
“What happened that night?” she asked.
Pulling back so she could look at him, she said, “The night I crashed your car.”
“Oh, Eve, are you sure you want to know?” he questioned, looking into her beautiful brown eyes.
“Yes, I want to know everything. Please don’t leave anything out.”
He smiled weakly. “I’ll try, but I can’t say that I remember all that much. Now ask me about what we did after that…well, that is as clear as if it were yesterday.” He grinned when she slapped her hand playfully against his back.
“All right, if that is what you really want.”
Julian coughed lightly. “Well, as you know, when I arrived at the Harmony Country Club with Ivy, I had no idea you were singing there. When you got up on stage and sang that song…” He strayed as he remembered the emotional shock waves that had stunned him to the very core of his being. “That *song*, your voice…I had never felt anything so raw and powerful in all my life, Eve. I realized at that moment how deeply in love with you I was. I desperately wanted to be with you, to love you, to make you mine…” Tears sprang into his eyes as he remembered how he felt.
“I know,” she whispered. “I felt it too. I had waited for you. I was so excited to see you. When I saw you…so incredibly handsome…I knew then that I loved you. I loved you so much.” Her heart ached at the thought of that painful night.
He sucked in his breath. “What I wouldn’t give to have that moment back, to do what was in my heart, to come to you…leave Ivy.” Pain flashed in his eyes.
“You came back…you came,” Eve cried, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I was so hurt, Julian, seeing you with her,” she said against his shoulder.
Julian pulled her into his arms and buried his face in her neck. “I am so sorry, Eve. I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back…” His voice trembled with emotion. “How I loved you…how I love you still.” He rocked her as both he and Eve experienced the pain of their loss all over again.
“I thought I was hallucinating when you came. I thought I was beyond drunk.”
“It was all my fault. If I had not introduced you to drinking and drugs, you wouldn’t have turned to the bottle that night. If I would have stood by you, there would have been no need to drown your pain…there would have been no pain.” Julian pulled back and studied her face. He brushed the tears from her cheeks.
Eve shook her head. “Don’t blame yourself, Julian. I was responsible for my own actions. You didn’t force me to do drugs and drink.”
“I guess I felt so guilty that I just gave in when you begged to drive. I knew better. That is why I kept it from you. I was totally to blame, and that is why I didn’t tell you that it was you driving the night we crashed into TC’s car. You would never have known if it weren’t for my father.”
“You kept that all to yourself, all these years?” Eve asked in amazement.
“Why not? No one ever needed to know.”
“You should have told me,” Eve said.
“Least of all you, Eve. I didn’t want you to carry that burden. I carried it easily, because I carried it for you. I knew that as long as I was being blamed, you would be safe, and that is what I wanted.”
“What happened?” she asked.
He paused a moment, not wanting to burden her with the truth. The pleading in her eyes to know the whole truth prompted him to continue. “You were too drunk. I shouldn’t have let you drive, but you begged me and kissed me, and well…I gave in. I should have been stronger, but the fact was, I was drinking too. You drove a little too fast, and then you passed out and we hit TC’s car.”
Eve covered her mouth in disbelief. “I can’t believe it. We might have been killed. Poor TC; I destroyed his life.” She started to cry with regret.
Julian swallowed hard. “I’m sorry, Eve. It wasn’t your fault. Please don’t blame yourself. You were too drunk to know any better. That is why I kept it from you. I knew it would kill you to hear about it. I didn’t want TC to hate you for something that could have been avoided had I used common sense.”
Eve stepped away from Julian. “I understand why you covered it up. I am grateful, so grateful. But it wasn’t right for you to take the blame, especially with TC threatening you all the time. I mean, that had to be tiring to hear, knowing you were not responsible,” she said as she sat down on a sofa.
Julian shook his head. “I was responsible. I think I put up with TC’s abuse as a way of punishing myself for deserting you. I left you and our son to marry a woman I didn’t even love.” He sat down next to her on the couch. “Many nights I wished it was you.”
Eve smiled briefly at that, and then folded her arm across her waist and rubbed one hand across her forehead. “You had the car fixed and took me to Boston…”
“Yes, we stayed in a hotel,” he added.
“I was passed out then?” she asked. “Because I remember nothing.”
“You came to when we got to Boston. We spent the night together. I let you sleep in the next morning and left,” he finished.
Rubbing her neck, Eve took it all in. She breathed deeply and said, “Thank you, Julian. I am glad that I know what happened.”
Julian placed his hand on her leg and traced circles on her knee with his fingers. “Do you feel any better knowing?”
Eve looked up at him. “No, but I am glad that you don’t have to carry this anymore.”
He smiled. “I would do it again, you know.”
“I think you would.” She smiled back at him and placed her hand on top of his.
Julian spread his fingers so that hers fell between his. He closed his palm and held her hand, and then brought it to his lips and kissed it.
Eve’s heart skipped a beat when his lips brushed her hand. She closed her eyes and savored the moment.
Julian smiled at her reaction. Then he lifted his other hand and caressed her chin with his thumb. When she opened her eyes, he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips, lingering briefly before pulling back.
As he sat back against the sofa, Eve shifted, and after a moment, leaned over and rested her head against his chest, sliding her arms around his back, inside his open jacket. Against his shirt, she could feel the steady rhythm of his heart.
The warmth of his body caused her to shiver. Julian picked up her coat lying on the sofa next to him and wrapped it around her body as he held her close. “Everything is going to be all right, Eve,” he promised. “Everything is going to be all right.”
At the foot of the stage, sitting at a table, TC, now calmer, ordered a drink while he eyed the two security guards who stood nearby watching him. “You can leave now,” he said with annoyance.
“Our orders are to keep you here till the boss says otherwise.”
Liz, who had been unsuccessfully trying to shake loose a prying Rebecca, finally managed to get away from her and approached TC. “How are you holding up, TC?” she asked.
“About as well as can be expected.” He motioned for her to sit down.
Liz slid her chair next to TC’s. “Well, just know that I am here for you.”
“Thanks, Liz. At least I can count on you.” He smiled as he paid for his drink.
“It seems like Eve has made her choice. I saw her leave with Julian Crane,” Liz commented.
“If I never see that bastard again, it will be too soon. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. Seducing my wife right under my nose. The pig!” TC gritted his teeth in anger.
Liz twisted the knife a little more. “I think Eve wanted it that way, TC. After all, she did kiss him here in front of everyone.”
“He probably forced her.”
Liz rolled her eyes in disgust. “TC, would you let go of that ‘perfect Eve’ image. Here’s a newsflash for you…she has faults!”
“No! I see it clearly now. Julian is to blame for everything. He got her hooked on drugs and booze. He deserted her…” He took a swig from his drink.
“But she lied to you, TC. She kept it all from you. She caused the accident that ruined your career.” Liz tried desperately to get TC to come around and see the real Eve.
“All Julian’s fault; he should never have let her drive. The pig. When I get my hands on him, I will make him pay.” He slammed his fist on the table in anger.
Liz sighed. “Is there nothing I can say that will convince you that Eve is not who you think she is?”
“Eve would have been perfect had she not gotten sucked in by Julian Crane.” TC’s eyes glistened with tears. “He is to blame for everything, not Eve. She was a victim in all of this. And I swear to God, I will make him pay.”
“But she kissed him…”
“Another trick. Julian probably tried to save his own skin by blaming Eve for the accident, making her feel grateful to him for being so ‘noble’ and taking the blame.” He drained the rest of his drink.
Liz rolled her eyes in frustration. “TC, you have had way too much to drink! How can you sit there and make one excuse after another to try and divert blame from Eve? She is to blame, don’t you get it? Why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you insisting on putting Eve up on a pedestal again? She fell off, remember?”
“Because I love her, Liz,” he said simply. “I know that I overreacted at the hospital, but I didn’t see the whole picture then the way I see it now. I didn’t see that Julian was the cause of all Eve’s pain.”
“She is in love with Julian, TC. There is nothing you can do that will change that. She will leave you to be with him.”
“No! We will work this out; we will get through it, just as soon as I get rid of Julian Crane.”
“You are a fool, TC,” Liz fired. “You believe what you want, but I am telling you that Eve is going to leave you for Julian.”
TC jumped to his feet. “No, she won’t! I will kill him before I let him have her!” he cried angrily.
Security approached the table and forced TC to calm down. “One more outburst like that, and you will be sorry.”
“He’s drunk; give him a break,” Liz said angrily.
“You better watch that lip, missy, or you are out the door,” the taller one said.
Offended, Liz sat back and clamped her mouth shut. She didn’t want to miss the rest of the night’s action. “Fine, have it your way,” she said as she placed a hand on TC’s arm to help him calm down.
Security knocked on the door to the room where Julian and Eve were. Reluctantly, Julian released Eve and got up to answer the door. “What is it?”
“Your father is ready to go onstage again. He said to tell you to make sure you are out there when he gets there.”
Julian looked at Eve, his heart pounding. “You ready for this?”
Eve smiled and placed her hand in his. “More than ready.”
*song* -- Page 129 from Hidden Passions