Eve stuffed her hands in her coat pockets. It was late afternoon now and the crisp fall air caused her to shiver slightly. “Time to go home and make supper for TC,” she mused as dusk continued to fall. “Only TC… Whitney rarely comes home, and Simone, well, she spends most of her time with Kay. My family is still together, technically, but really, it couldn’t be further apart.” Eve sighed. “Sometimes I wonder what I am holding onto…what I am doing. Why am I doing it?”
“I can answer that,” the smooth voice of Julian Crane interrupted her.
Eve whirled around. “Julian! What are you doing here?”
He shrugged. “The same thing you are, I suspect.”
Eve turned away from him. “I am on my way home. I stopped to admire the waterfront; I always loved it during the fall season. And now I am going home to have a lovely dinner with my husband.”
Julian smiled. “Ah, yes, TC…the man of your dreams, or is he?” he poked playfully.
Annoyed, Eve gave him a dirty look. “TC is the man of my dreams. In fact, he is everything I have ever wanted and more,” she replied in defense.
“You really shouldn’t have said that, my love.” Julian stepped closer.
She backed away from him and cursed silently when her back touched the pier barrier. Nowhere to run, she watched helplessly as he advanced toward her. “Don’t come one step nearer or I’ll scream,” she threatened.
He stopped and grinned. “You really are a sight to behold when you are angry. Why are you so unsettled? I haven’t done a thing.”
“You are always up to something, Julian. Don’t bother trying to deny it.” She tried to move sideways to get away from him, but to her frustration, he kept moving with her.
He reached out and lightly touched her cheek with his finger. She shivered at his touched, despising the fact that he managed to turn her legs to Jell-o with such a simple gesture. Eve moved her face to get away from him. “L…Leave me alone, Julian,” she stammered weakly.
Julian smiled. “You are much too beautiful a woman to leave all alone on an empty pier. You never know who might come along and try to take advantage of you.”
Eve smirked. “You should know.”
Julian clutched his heart in mocked horror. “Are you accusing me of taking advantage of you? Please say it isn’t so!” He grinned. “I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, not without your consent, of course.”
“I never…” Eve started, but was stopped short when Julian pulled her into his arms and pressed his lips firmly against hers, kissing her passionately.
A moment later, Julian pulled back. “Is that what you meant by taking advantage, hmm?” he murmured against her mouth. “You see, my love, I see it differently. I call it being in the right place, at the right time, with the right woman.” Before she could respond, he captured her lips once more.
His arms were strong and warm around her, shielding her, protecting her….protecting her? He was the one she needed protection from, not any ‘would be’ assailant. With that thought, Eve yanked herself from his arms, only to be yanked back into them.
Falling against his chest, she stared up into face, startled at his behavior. “Julian, what are you doing?” she gasped.
“What I should have done a long time ago,” he declared and picked her up in his arms. “You are coming with me, and I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” He carried her toward his limo and signaled his driver. “We are going to settle this once and for all,” he said, struggling slightly to get a very unwilling Eve into the car.
“Julian,” she cried, “let me go! This is insane. You can’t kidnap me; you will go to jail!” she said, flustered, trying to smooth her wild hair as he deposited her on the seat next to him and then promptly locked the doors.
“If this is the only way I can get you to listen to me, and your heart too, I might add, then so be it. I will risk anything to be with you, even jail.” He slid over next to her. “Not that I think for a minute you will turn me in.” He smiled wickedly.
Eve’s heart pounded wildly. Being confined to such a small space with Julian was unsettling to say the least. Panic set in when the driver closed the dark glass pane between then, giving them complete privacy, and then started driving.
Julian reached out and took her hand. Eve yanked it back unhappily. “Let me out right now, Julian, or I swear I will never speak to you again.”
Julian smiled tenderly. “I can’t, Eve. I love you too much. I can’t live another moment without you; you are my whole life. Tell me, how do I let you just walk away when every time I see you - worse yet - every time I see you with TC, it literally kills me inside? Tell me, how?” His eyes were gentle and full of sadness.
Unnerved by his sudden change of demeanor, Eve looked away. “I don’t know, Julian. All I know is you have to…for my sake. It’s what I have to do as well.”
Julian placed a finger under her chin. “Why do we have to? Can’t we just let our hearts decide for us? I know what mine wants, and I think I know that yours wants too.”
Eve’s chest heaved with uneasiness. “I can’t, Julian. I have TC to think about; he deserves better than this.”
“So that’s it? You’re going to take the easy way out and stay with TC because it’s what you are comfortable with, what is familiar to you? How can you deny yourself the happiness you deserve like this?” He shook his head in amazement.
“It’s just… I have built a life with him. He is my husband of twenty-five years, Julian. I can’t just throw that away.”
“What about our love?” He searched her eyes.
Tears formed and ran down her cheeks. “I don’t know…”
He reached out and brushed the tears from her cheek with his thumb. “My sweet Eve, you have been through so much. I wish you would let me take care of you, let me love you. I know it’s what you want.”
She stared at him, her eyes never leaving his. It would be so easy to just give in, but what about TC? What about her life with him? Could she simply just drop it all and run into Julian’s arms? Did she want to?
Julian waited breathlessly for her to respond. He could see she was struggling with her heart, and that encouraged him greatly. His hand dropped to hers and raised it up to his lips. Kissing it gently, he said, “I love you, Eve. Please give our love a chance. I know I have no right to ask since I was such a coward so many years ago, but I am pleading with you, please, let our love happen.”
Holding her gaze, he pulled her closer to him. “Let it happen…” he whispered as he closed the space between them, kissing her softly. “Let it happen,” he murmured again. “We have lost so much time. I can’t bear to lose another day, to spend another moment without you. I need you, Eve; I need you so much.” His lips settled on hers again.
Eve’s hand reached out and grasped his between them. She gripped it tightly as his mouth moved over hers. She sighed in submission when he pulled her into his embrace and onto his lap, his lips never leaving hers.
Cradling her against him, his hands and lips caressed her passionately. His heart soared when she opened her mouth, allowing him to deepen his kiss. Love and desire coursed through his body as he struggled to control his runaway emotions, pressing her closer to him still, encouraging her to respond. His heart pounded madly when she did.
Liquid fire ran through her veins when Julian’s hand started unbuttoning her shirt, and her body’s natural response to his need left her weak and practically limp against him. She ran her fingers through his hair, combing it, loving the softness if it, as her heart suddenly flip-flopped when his hand gently slipped inside her shirt and caressed her breast.
TC! Eve froze as his name somehow managed to flood her mind. TC - how could she do this to him?
With strength she didn’t know she had, Eve ripped herself from Julian’s arms, her breath short and ragged. Gasping, she tried to calm her erratically beating heart. “We can’t; I can’t. Let me go. Please, just let me go!” she cried, tears streaming down her cheeks as she sobbed uncontrollably.
Julian sat stunned. He swallowed hard, trying to keep from losing his mind as he watched the woman he loved with every fiber of his being climb out of the car as soon as he had signaled the driver. “Eve…” he called after her, his voice breaking with pain.
Eve ran as fast as she could with heels on, sobbing, trying to stop the incredible agony she was feeling inside. It was true, she loved him. She loved Julian desperately, and more than anything wished it was as simple as he had made it all sound. “Just let it happen,” he had said.
Half a block later, she slowed to a walk and then stopped to compose herself, breathing heavily, ragged and then shuddering as her heartbeat finally slowed to a somewhat normal pace. A moment later she pulled out her cell phone and called a cab. Right now, she didn’t want to think about it anymore. She just wanted to get home, home to the life she’d known for so long…maybe then she would finally find the answer she was looking for.