Inside, Julian and Eve sat in each other’s arms. Julian leaned his head back against the seat in attempt to get more comfortable, and Eve placed hers against his chest. Being near him like this was exciting her beyond her own comprehension. It was the first time she was completely relaxed, not having to think about anything other than being with him. The feeling was extremely liberating.
Looking out the limo window, Eve noticed they were not heading for her place or the Crane Mansion. “Where are we going?” she asked, turning back to Julian.
Smiling, he said, “I have someplace special that I want to show you. Since it’s Friday night, and Whitney told me you are not working this weekend, I figured you wouldn’t mind taking a little trip with me.”
“Oh you did, did you?” she teased as she moved closer to him on the plush leather seat.
He raised his eyebrows and motioned ‘yes.’
“Well, how long do we have to drive?” she asked curiously.
“Not drive, fly,” he announced as the limo pulled into the airport.
“You don’t mind, do you?” he asked, suddenly anxious that she may not want to.
“Well…” she hesitated for a moment.
“What? Are you OK? You’re not afraid of flying are you?” he asked as he moved towards the open limo door.
“No, I am just surprised, that’s all. I wasn’t expecting the “privacy” to involve the Crane Jet.” She reached out and took his hand, and he helped her out of the car.
Lacing his fingers with hers, he bent and kissed her on the cheek. “You’re going to love it, I promise,” he said as they walked towards the terminal.
“We won’t need a passport, will we?” she laughed. “Because I left mine at home.”
He chuckled. “As much as I would love to whisk you off to Paris or Bermuda…” He paused as he remembered the wonderful times that they had had together there. “No, we are actually going to Raleigh, North Carolina, or nearby Raleigh, rather,” he informed her.
“Oh really? Now I am intrigued.” She slipped her arm around his waist as they waited for their turn to clear security.
When they finally climbed aboard the Crane Jet, Eve was getting worn out from all the excitement. She yawned as they took their seats and waited for take-off.
Julian, sitting next to her, drew her into his arms. “I am sorry, my love. I should have checked with you first if you were up for travel,” he apologized.
“It’s OK, really. It’s just been such an emotional day, or night rather.” She chuckled. “I could sleep for days.”
“I’m so sorry.” He stroked her hair.
Pulling out of his arms, she put on her seatbelt. “Don’t you dare apologize. This has been the most wonderful, exciting night that I have had since…..well, it’s been a long time.” She hugged him.
He chuckled lightly and kissed her. “I’m glad. Tonight I will accept nothing less than perfection for you.” He smiled. “After we take off, why don’t you lie down and sleep for a while? You’re going to need to rest up for what I have in store for you tonight,” he said, his eyes twinkling with promise.
“Hmmm,” she murmured against his lips. “I think I will,” she said when she finally pulled away from his kiss.
The steward entered the room and cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Mr. Crane. We are ready for take-off.”
“Thank you,” Julian said as he sat back in his seat and buckled himself in.
Eve sat back in her seat and smiled at Julian as the jet rolled down the runway.
Outside the small window, the lights of Harmony flashed by as the jet picked up speed. A moment later it lifted off, and they were airborne.
When the plane leveled out, Eve unbuckled her seatbelt. “I think I will lie down for a while,” she announced.
“Sure, go ahead.” Julian helped her get comfortable on the sofa after he had unbuckled himself. Sitting down at her head, he smiled with pleasure when she lay down, placing her head on his lap.
He ran his fingers through her hair, brushing it back from her face. “You are so beautiful.” He leaned down and quickly kissed her.
“Hmm…” She smiled as she positioned herself more snuggly against him, her eyes already heavy with sleep.
He chuckled lightly, his heart feeling like it was about to burst with love, as he sat there watching her sleep. He felt so blessed to have her in his life again. A tear rolled down his cheek as he thought how fortunate he was to have been given a second chance with her, a woman who, despite his shortcomings, loved him as much as he loved her. Leaning back against the sofa, he closed his eyes and dozed along with her, trying to get some rest before they landed in North Carolina.
“Mr. Crane.” A hand shook him awake.
Julian opened his eyes with a start. “What?”
“We are getting ready to land,” the steward said.
“OK, good. Thank you.” He rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
Looking down on his lap, he smiled as he watched Eve sleep. She looked so peaceful; he didn’t want to wake her. A few minutes later, he shook her gently. “Eve,” he said quietly so he wouldn’t startle her.
Eve moved at the sound of his voice. “Julian…” she murmured sleepily as she snuggled deeper into the sofa.
Laughing, he shook her a little harder. “Eve, my love, it’s time to get up. We are getting ready to land.”
Eve opened her eyes and blinked. Looking up at him, she smiled widely. “I thought for a minute I was dreaming.” She sat up and tried to smooth what she thought was surely a rumpled appearance.
“You look beautiful,” he assured her as he buckled his seatbelt.
Doing the same, she looked at him and squinted. “Were you sleeping too?”
Laughing, he asked, “Can you tell?”
“Well not really, but you do look refreshed. I just didn’t want you to sit here and stare into space while I slept,” she said, reaching up to smooth his hair.
“Well, watching you sleep is a pleasure all in itself. I was really enjoying myself there for awhile. Then, I figured if you’re going to rest, I may as well do the same, and I am glad I did. I feel wide awake now.” He grabbed her hand and kissed it.
“Me too,” she smiled.
“Good!” he grinned. “You’re going to need to be where we are going.”
Rolling through the North Carolina countryside in what appeared to Eve to be a brand new Cadillac Escalade EXT only increased Eve’s excitement. She grinned at Julian like a little girl with a new toy. “Can’t you even give me a hint of where we are going?” she asked.
“Nope, you’ll see soon enough,” he grinned.
Sitting back in her seat next to Julian, she ran her hands over the expensive leather seats. “Rental?” she asked.
He laughed. “No, it’s mine. I bought it a month ago. I rent a garage space at the airport when I am not here. Do you like it?”
“Yes, it’s beautiful, though it seems kind of low-key for a Crane,” she said.
“I wanted something low-key. I came here for privacy, and running around in a stretch limo would definitely raise some eyebrows.” He took her hand and held it.
Eve sat deeper into the luxurious leather, enjoying the warmth of his hand. Looking outside in the moonlight, she spotted a country lane turning off the main road.
As if reading her mind, Julian slowed the truck and guided it down the lane. Massive oak trees on each side, with the branches leaping out and joining together, formed a canopy where the truck would pass underneath, and lit lamp posts about every twenty feet apart gave the small road a unique country charm.
Driving slowly, about one mile under the canopy, the trees suddenly broke away to reveal to an astonished Eve a beautiful timber frame house. The massive peak in the center of the home was littered with windows all the way to the top causing lights from the house to glow like candles in a pumpkin on a Halloween night.
In the bright moonlight, as they cruised up to the six-car garage and parked, Eve could see a large deck extending from the house, complete with patio furniture. Surveying the grounds as best as she could at night, she noticed flower gardens, trees, fountains, and a brick path that led…..Eve leaned over Julian to see and gasped; a lake! “Oh Julian, it’s beautiful. How did you ever find this place?”
Julian grinned with pleasure. Her reaction was everything he had hoped. “I have a great realtor,” he announced as he hit the door opener located in the ceiling of his truck. Julian shifted into drive and slowly rolled into the garage and parked.
Eve sat in silence for a moment and surveyed the huge garage. “This place is big enough for ten trucks,” she said.
Julian laughed. “It will fill up soon enough. Besides, I like space.”
“It appears that way. The house is huge.”
“You think so? I thought it was rather small. It is only five thousand square feet.”
“Five thousand!” Eve exclaimed. “For a Crane it may be small, but for someone like me, that is huge, Julian.” She laughed.
“Someone like you? There is no other like you, Eve. You deserve the best, and I aim to give it to you.” He pulled her out of the truck and into his arms. “Starting tonight, I am going to make all your dreams come true,” he promised as he kissed her passionately.