“Crimson,” Tabitha chortled, “my favorite color. I love it when mortals do each other in. All we have to do is munch on some popcorn and enjoy the show.”
Endora cooed in her highchair.
“Yes, well, maybe someday, when you get older, you will understand the value of having others do things for you. For free, no less.” Looking into the bowl, she crunched a corn kernel. Tabitha yelped and spit it out. Aged fingers poked through the remaining snack in her hand.
The bowl-o-vision started to bubble. The popcorn hit the floor. Tabitha flapped her hand like a baby bird learning to fly. “Hurry, zap the bowl. It’s getting all snowy, and I don’t want to miss anything.”
Endora raised her baby bottle and zapped the bowl.
“Thank you, my darling.” Tabitha pulled up a chair. “I would let you watch, but some of this is not suitable for children.”
One year later.
Eve shivered as she climbed out of her SUV. Snow flurries fluttered and swirled around her. Her jacket was soon spotted with delicate white flakes. They dissolved quickly, leaving her coat damp. Pushing her hair back beneath her hat, Eve sighed. It might as well be raining.
She brushed against some bushes as she neared his grave. TC. The headstone looked cold and merciless. Warm tears spilled onto her cheeks. Twenty-five years of my life. Gone. She pulled her coat tighter. Oh TC...why did it have to come to this? Why did it have to end so badly? Why couldn’t we be a happy family?
Julian! He was a constant reminder of her failure as a faithful wife.
Eve knelt beside TC’s grave. “I did love you. We had a wonderful life together, didn’t we?” She looked up at the gray sky. A blizzard, Sam had said. “The girls are happy again. They will always miss you though… I wish, for their sakes, that I could turn back the hands of time. That I could give them their father back.” Her voice quivered. But no one will ever know the truth.
Sam had insisted on taking the blame, for the sake of her daughters. Losing their father would be enough of a nightmare. To blame their mother too would be too much.
He'd explained to the court that TC had gone ballistic when he found Julian and Eve at the cabin. He had tried to calm him down. TC shot him. All he could do to protect himself from further harm was to shoot TC.
Her girls were devastated. But they still had their mother, they had said, as they sobbed over the loss of their father.
No one could ever determine why Julian had become the incredible muscle bound giant soon after he was admitted to Harmony Hospital. Eve never pressed charges against “Hulk Julian” for kidnapping her. And Julian, in turn, promised not to sue the hospital for negligence.
“Mom?” Whitney and Simone approached her, tears brimming in their eyes. They hugged her. “It’s going to be all right, Mom. It wasn’t your fault.” Guilt pierced her soul. It will never be all right.
A few moments later, they headed back to their car. Eve turned and looked back. Goodbye.
Julian sold the Crane cabin. He didn’t relish the idea of being anywhere near the place of TC’s demise. No, it was better to get something new. Someplace else.
He leaned back in his leather chair and looked out his office window. The wet snow was accumulating fast. Driving will soon be unwise.
Julian flexed his muscles. They were larger than they’d ever been. Side effects of ‘Hulk,’ the doctor had said. Permanent ones.
The streets were quickly becoming deserted. His heart leaped when he spotted a silver SUV roll toward Crane Industries. Eve!
The car slowly navigated down the street. Damn! Eve wasn’t the same since TC died. She refused to speak to him or even so much as look at him. Guilt. It had to be guilt. I wonder if she will ever be all right again.
Julian sighed. A stiff drink and listening to Eve sing. Time well spent. He shrugged his coat onto his shoulders. Picking up his briefcase and keys, he opened the door. His heart skipped a beat. “Eve.”