He approached her bed, pulled up a stool and sat down, watching her for a moment. Tired from traveling, he stifled a yawn and breathed in as his ribs started to ache again.
Adjusting the stool right up against her bed, Julian leaned close and tenderly brushed a stray strand of curly hair away from her eyes.
Eve moved when he touched her and opened her eyes. A smile crept onto her face as she looked up at him. “Julian…” she whispered as tears welled up in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, my love. I didn’t mean to wake you.” He smiled as he leaned closer.
Eve tried to sit up, but sank back, not yet strong enough to get up on her own.
Julian got up from the stool he was sitting on and sat on the bed. He pulled her up into his arms, hugging her close, his face buried in her hair. “My sweet love,” he murmured. “I missed you so much,” he said, and then pulled back so he could look into her eyes.
She looked at him and started to cry.
Julian leaned nearer and placed his lips on hers, gently, moving softly over her mouth, enjoying being near her again. He pulled back slightly and smiled when she whimpered in objection. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he whispered as he leaned his forehead against hers.
She smiled and looked up, gazing into his eyes, not able to find the strength to express how she felt at that moment…seeing him, being near him.
He leaned her back against the pillow and moved her over a bit so he could join her on the bed. “I know, my love,” he murmured as he settled on the bed next to her. He pulled her back into his arms and leaned his chin against her head. Blowing a few strands of her hair from his face, he hugged her to him, careful not to aggravate his aching ribs. He sighed, content. “This feels like Heaven.” He smiled and kissed the top of her head.
Eve smiled, enjoying his nearness as he got comfortable beside her, taking up most of the room on the small bed. “Julian…”
“Hmm?” he murmured sleepily.
“I love you,” she whispered, placing her head on his shoulder and running her fingers across his chest.
He breathed deeply and pulled her up higher to face him. As she looked into his eyes in wonder, he grazed a finger across her bottom lip. “I….” he started, as he replaced his finger with his thumb, kneading her lip, “love…” He slipped it into her mouth when she parted her lips, anticipating his words.
When she brushed her tongue against his thumb, he groaned, lowering his head, capturing her lips with his. “I love you, Eve,” he breathed against her mouth.
She placed her hand against his chest and slowly slid it up to his collar. He had loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, exposing the base of his throat. She slipped her hand inside his shirt, touching his skin as she caressed his neck and throat.
Moving slowly, taken in with pleasure, she got reacquainted with the strength and comfort of his broad shoulders and the masculine presence that filled her senses, causing her body to respond to him in the most intimate way.
Julian caught her chin and kissed her deeply, his body on fire under the gentle touch of her hand. The exhaustion from the flight fled with each brush of her fingers, each kiss of her sweet lips, and her tongue that was driving him mad as she continued to tease him, eluding his attempts to capture it with his lips.
He smiled when she gasped in pleasure against his mouth. It felt like it had been a lifetime since he had been this intimate with her as he retreated and then once again slipped his tongue past her lips, seeking the silky softness of hers. He pressed her closer, the ache in his ribs consumed by the desire that she aroused in him.
“I’ve missed you,” Eve cried against his lips, clinging to him, desperate to be closer to him, and needing him more than ever.
When he finally pulled back, Eve, completely numb with pleasure from his kiss, sank against him, her face pressed to his throat. She kissed him there and sighed, content, into the crook of his neck.
He adjusted his head to get more comfortable. His eyes closed. “Oh, Eve, in your arms I feel like I have purpose. I feel alive, complete,” he murmured against her hair.
When a nurse came in to check on Eve, he quickly sat up and got off the bed. He smiled and gave her room to examine Eve.
The nurse checked Eve’s pulse and raised her eyes to Julian. “What did you do to her? She is too weak to even hold up her hand.”
“I kissed her ‘hello,’” Julian said innocently, grinning at Eve.
Eve blushed. “This is Nurse Tammy. She is new here. Tammy, this is my husband, Julian.”
Julian lifted his hand politely, and then motioned that he was going to get something to drink. “I’ll be back soon,” he said and gave them some privacy.
Julian quietly walked to a juice machine and bought some orange juice. Sitting down on a nearby chair, jet lag suddenly kicked in, and he began to feel the exhaustion from the day’s events set in. He leaned back and dozed while he waited for the nurse to finish with Eve.
In Eve’s room, Tammy winked. “He kissed you ‘hello,’ eh?” She grinned. “That must have been some kiss; your heart was racing, and you don’t even possess the strength to hold up you arm.”
Eve smiled sheepishly. “He has always had this way of…” She stopped.
“Curling your toes?” Tammy offered.
“Something like that,” Eve replied softly, a little embarrassed.
A few minutes later, another nurse brought Evan into the room. The infant fussed, demanding to be fed.
Placing the baby on a pillow next to Eve, the nurse handed Eve the bottle of formula.
Eve tried to hold the bottle, but lowered it a moment later. “I’m sorry,” she cried in regret. “I can’t hold it.”
“That’s OK, dear,” Tammy said. “It is going to take some time for your body to fully recover…from your ordeal,” she added with a smile as she placed a pillow under her arm to prop it up. “There you go; try that.”
Eve couldn’t help but blush. She knew Julian had a little more to do with her weakened condition at that moment than the coma she had been in. “Thank you,” she said gratefully, as she gave Evan his bottle. “Where is Julian?” Eve wondered.
“Oh,” the nurse who brought the baby said, “is he the gentleman sleeping in the chair outside the room?”
Julian slept awkwardly in the uncomfortable chair. A hand shook him, and he awoke with a start.
“Mr. Crane? Your wife would like to see you.”
Looking at the nurse in confusion for a moment, he suddenly sat up straight. “Eve? Is she OK?”
“She is fine, Mr. Crane. She is feeding your son and thought you might like to join her.” She smiled.
Julian got up and smiled. “Yes, thank you,” he said as he walked over to Eve’s room.
The noisy suckling of the baby caused Julian’s heart to swell with joy as he watched Eve feed him. “You are a natural.” He smiled tenderly.
Eve looked up, tears in her eyes.
Julian approached the bed in alarm. “What’s wrong? Are you all right?”
Eve tried to hand him the bottle, but her arm failed to lift more than a few inches.
Seeing her problem, Julian sat down next to her and helped her feed the baby. “Don’t cry, my love. Things are going to get better soon. I promise.” He hugged her close as they fed the baby together.
After the nurse took Evan back to the nursery, Julian pulled Eve into his arms once more and kissed her soundly. “All I want to do tonight is hold my beautiful wife in my arms.” He leaned back, sharing her pillow, and closed his eyes.
Eve smiled as he shifted to make them more comfortable, aware that he intended to spend the night in her bed. “That is all I want too, Julian…to be with my husband,” she murmured sleepily as he pulled the blanket over them.
A few days later, Eve was transferred to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, located in northern New Jersey, one of the leading facilities in the United States to deal with her type of trauma. There, the doctors explained the kind of physical therapy she would receive to help her learn to walk again and to build strength in her muscles.
Occupational therapy, they explained, would be given as well, which would help her learn to do all of the little things she had taken for granted since early childhood, like feeding herself, tying her shoes, buttoning a coat, and writing with a pencil. Later, she would learn to type again, and would practice the trying feats of threading a needle and working with instruments similar to the ones she used in surgery.
When Julian and Eve were finally alone in the new hospital room, Eve turned to Julian, fearful that she would never regain the skills she needed to succeed in the operating room.
Julian hugged her close, giving her the support and comfort she needed, letting her know that she wasn’t alone and never would be, ever again. “I know it will be difficult, my love, but I am here with you, and so are our children. Whitney will come to see you as often as she can, and I will be nearby with Evan at all times.” He kissed her gently. “I am staying at a suite I rented for as long as you are here. I am also going to hire a nurse to help with Evan, so there is no need to worry about him.”
Eve smiled, feeling a lot better. “Thank you, Julian. I would never in my wildest dreams have thought that the kind of love we have would come with such a tremendous price…but still, through it all, we never lost sight of each other, and for that I am so grateful.”
Tears brimmed his eyes as he whispered, “Me too, my love…me too.”