“I feel so much better. I hope they let me go home soon.” Whitney hugged her mom.
Sitting down, Eve said, “I am sure it will be soon, but you had a terrible accident. The doctors need to be sure you are well enough to leave.”
“Julian Crane came to see me,” Whitney said.
Eve’s heart skipped a beat at the mention of Julian’s name. “Really?” she asked.
“It was very nice. He really has changed a lot, hasn’t he? But then he was so nice to me even before I found out he was my father,” Whitney replied.
“Yes, he has changed. He is a decent and caring man now. Not like he used to be.” Eve smiled. “It seems through what Julian has told me that you and he have become friends of sorts,” she stated.
“Yes, ever since he saved my life in that horrible elevator crash…the one we were trapped in together…I still have nightmares when I think about what would have happened had he not been there with me.”
“It was very scary; I was so afraid for you. Julian was so selfless the way he protected you, almost as if he felt you were his daughter,” Eve mused.
“He had no idea though, right? I mean that is what he said.”
“No, honey, he didn’t know. We thought our baby was a boy,” Eve explained.
“Through all of this, I feel blessed to know that I am loved by both my real parents. Some kids never have that.”
“Oh you are, more than you know.” Eve squeezed her hand. “So tell me about this friendship you and Julian have,” she said.
Whitney laughed lightly, “Well, I am not sure it’s friendship, but he has been so kind and decent to me. It’s almost like he always knew he was my father, even though I know he didn’t.”
“He is such a different man now. Not the self serving cad he used to be,” Eve assured her daughter.
“I know. He’s proven to me that he has changed.”
“How so?” Eve asked curiously.
Whitney stared straight ahead for a moment. “I asked him to leave you alone, and he promised me he would,” she finally blurted out.
Eve stood up in shock. “You what? Why on earth would you do something like that?” she asked, her voice rising higher.
“Well, you and Daddy are having problems, and I thought that Julian wasn’t helping. He agreed.”
“Whitney, our problems are not Julian’s fault!” Eve almost shouted.
Whitney shrank back from her mother’s anger. Her outburst completely surprised her. “Mom, I wasn’t saying that it was…I was only saying that having him around to distract you is not helping you.”
“You said that to him?” Eve asked incredulously.
“Well, something like that…” Whitney whimpered, well aware that she had crossed a line.
“What would possess you to say that to him? How could you?” Eve cried in disbelief.
“Mom…” Whitney’s voice started to tremble. “I’m sorry. I had no idea you’d be so against it. I only wanted to help.”
Eve took a deep breath and calmed herself down. “It’s…it’s all right. I am sorry I lost it like that. I don’t want to upset you. You need to rest…”
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Whitney said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
“Yes,” Eve said, “just…just don’t! Don’t, OK, I can take care of myself. I don’t need anyone trying to help - it just makes things worse.”
“How? Julian left; now you can work things out with Daddy.”
“Whitney,” Eve sighed wearily. “There are things you just don’t know; your helping may have cost me the most important thing in my life,” Eve said.
Whitney’s eyes widened. “Julian?”
“Yes, he has been such a good friend to me. He stood by me when no one else would. He has been…my rock!” Eve finally said.
“Sounds like he is more than a friend, Mom?” Whitney stated, as she touched her mother’s hand.
Eve looked at Whitney, her heart pounding with anxiety. “I …I am not sure what you mean,” Eve stammered. “He is just a friend.”
“Mom, I can see it in your face when you speak about him; it lights up and you can’t stop smiling. You were practically glowing every time he came to see you at the hospital.”
“I was not!” Eve objected. “I was just happy that he was being so kind to our family. We have caused him a lot of financial problems lately.”
Whitney laughed lightly at Eve's lame attempts to hide her feelings. “Mom, it’s OK, really. I know it must be hard to be so torn between two men. I would never handle it as well as you do if another man would try to take Chad’s place in my life.”
“Julian is not taking TC’s place.”
“I think he already has,” Whitney said, convinced she was right.
“No!” Eve protested loudly.
“I know I asked Julian to leave you alone, but I never thought about what it would do to you, and for that I am sorry I asked him,” Whitney said, ignoring Eve’s protests.
Eve opened her mouth, and then closed it again. She sighed and slowly exhaled. “I never knew that Julian would steal my heart the way that he has,” she started. “I guess deep down I know that I never really stopped loving him.”
“So you are in love with him?” Whitney asked.
“Yes, I always will be,” Eve admitted.
“And I was conceived in love?”
“Oh yes, sweetheart! Your father and I loved each other very much when we were young, and we would have loved to have had the chance to raise you together.”
“I am sorry that was taken away from you, Mom,” Whitney sympathized.
“It’s OK, we made mistakes. The important thing is not to repeat them, right?” Eve smiled, her eyes shining with unshed tears.
"What about Daddy? Don't you love him anymore?"
Eve smiled weakly. "I do, just not like I love Julian."
“What are you going to do?” Whitney asked, her heart aching for TC, but understanding that her mother would never be truly happy until she was given the chance to pick up the pieces of her broken past.
“There is only one thing to do,” Eve said. “I have to make things right.” She got up from her chair. “I’ll be in later to see how you are, OK?” Eve leaned over and hugged her.
“OK!” Whitney hugged her mother close. “I hope you find the happiness you deserve, Mom.”
“Thank you, sweetheart! Thank you for understanding.” Eve wiped a tear from her cheek, and then headed for the door. She turned and blew Whitney a kiss. “Bye.”
Whitney returned the gesture and smiled. “Bye.” Leaning back against her pillow, she sighed. “Oh, Mom, I hope you know what you are doing.”
Meanwhile, outside the hospital, Liz was speaking on her cell phone. “So you followed her wherever she went last night?”
Listening intently, a broad grin swept across her face. “I knew it. I knew that slut was cheating on TC!” Closing her cell phone, Liz then tapped it against her chin. “Well, well, sister dear. Wait until TC hears about this!” She stuffed the phone into her purse and entered the hospital.
Sitting in his car, Julian pulled out a photograph he had of Eve. “My love.” He traced the figure of her face. “How can I leave you? How will I survive without you?” Tears welled up in his eyes as he remembered his promise to Whitney. “Whitney is right, though. You don’t need me to complicate your life.”
Placing the car in gear, he drove out of the hospital underground parking lot. When he got to the street, he dialed his car phone.
On the car speakers, the phone rang. “Crane Industries,” the voice said.
“Yes, this is Julian Crane. I want you to put me through to my secretary.”
“Yes, Mr. Crane. Just a moment.”
Julian waited until he was connected.
“Hello, Julian Crane’s office,” a female voice said.
“Karen, I want you to do me a favor,” Julian said.
“Yes, Mr. Crane, what can I do for you?” she asked.
“I am coming to the office. I want you to stay there until I arrive. I may need your help getting ready to leave.”
“You are leaving, sir?” Karen asked.
“Yes, I will be out of town for a while.”
“But you can’t leave!” Karen almost shrieked.
“Excuse me?” Julian asked, taken aback.
Flustered, Karen said, “Sorry, Mr. Crane. Of course I will be here when you arrive.”
“Good, I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he said and hung up the phone.