It was clear to Julian that he was just going to have to cut his losses and leave Harmony. He just couldn’t stay in the same town with Eve, not as long as she insisted on staying with TC. Julian kicked at a stone lying nearby, barely moving it from its original spot. It was too painful; he couldn’t take that kind of anguish, seeing her nearly everyday, at every event, every restaurant, with a man he knew she was simply staying with because it was the easiest thing for her to do.
Damn this cold weather. He sniffed, pulling his
silk handkerchief from his breast pocket. Well, he couldn’t live like
this anymore. Be her ‘rock.’ Watch her get her hopes raised
and dashed. Stuffing the handkerchief into his coat pocket, Julian thought of
the times he had tried to convince Eve that he, not TC, was the man for her.
It was apparent that she wanted her family. Not me!
Julian swallowed the lump in his throat. Yes, maybe it was time for him to leave. Maybe then he could find peace. Yet, the thought of never seeing her again was inconceivable. Life without Eve… It was too much. He had to find some relief from the pain. Something. Anything!
He pulled his phone from his coat and headed for his car. “This is Julian Crane. Fuel the jet; I am leaving Harmony tonight.” Snow flurries were softly beginning to fall. This time the wrinkled suit on the local news predicted right.
He stopped beside his car. Fumbling for his keys, he cursed when they fell. Warming his hands against his mouth, he bent to pick them up. Where is my driver when I need him? He unlocked the car and climbed in.
Settling back against the leather upholstery, Julian stared absently at the wipers swishing back and forth. He contemplated calling Eve, his heart leaping at the notion of hearing her sweet voice. The back lit screen on his phone shone a brilliant blue. His finger was poised to dial. Julian’s thoughts ran amuck, and his heart pounded with anticipation. Maybe she would want to see him?
After the second ring, she answered. “Dr. Russell.” Julian held his breath. He knew she hated it when he called her at home. “Hello, is anyone there?” Eve asked.
“Eve, it’s me. Please don’t hang up,” he blurted out.
“Julian?” she hissed. “You can’t call me here.”
Julian nodded. “I know, but I had to speak to you.”
Eve coughed abruptly. “Um, yes, Dr. White. Is it an emergency?”
“TC is there?”
“I won’t keep you then. If you can make it, I am at the park, in my car. I need to see you.” He picked at the fabric of his coat. “Please.”
Eve hesitated. “All right, I will be there as soon as I can.”
Ending the call, Julian pressed his lips together. Was seeing her one last time a good idea? He leaned over the steering wheel. The snowfall was getting heavier. Maybe asking Eve out in this weather wasn’t so astute of me.
For a while Julian scanned the radio stations, hoping to find a distraction, exhilarated at the thought of seeing Eve. He glanced at the dashboard clock. Twenty minutes had passed. He shifted, wondering if she had changed her mind.
A tap on the car window startled him. Eve! Scrambling to open the door, he climbed out, almost tripping in his haste. “Eve. I didn’t expect you so soon.” He smiled, his heart burning with love.
Her eyes disapproving, she stepped back suspiciously. “What is it, Julian? I have to get back.”
Julian looked down at the wet pavement. She didn’t trust him. “I’m sorry, Eve, to make you come out in this weather, but I had to see you, one last time.”
“One last time?” she repeated. “What do you mean?”
Julian exhaled. “I am leaving Harmony--tonight.”
Eve’s eyes flickered with alarm. “What? For how long?”
He reached out to touch her cheek. “For good, Eve.”
“Why?” she cried, confused.
His throat contracted painfully. “Why don’t we get into my car where it’s dry?” he offered, dropping his hand to her arm.
Eve twisted out of his reach. “No! Just tell me what is going on. I don’t have time to play games, Julian.” She glanced nervously up the street.
“Why do you put yourself through this, Eve?” Julian asked quietly.
“Through what?” She feigned ignorance.
“You belong with me, not TC.”
“Is this why you called me out here? To…”
He placed a finger against her lips. “No; well, yes, but not entirely.”
Eve wrinkled her brow, bewildered. “Have you been drinking?” She leaned close to examine his eyes.
Julian couldn’t help himself. Pulling her into his arms, he claimed her lips in a passionate kiss. She resisted at first, pushing against his chest. Then, as his mouth moved over hers, seducing her, she surrendered with a whimper.
He pulled back, briefly, his lips lingering a breath’s space from hers. Her hands crept behind his back, clinging to him as if afraid she would fall. Softly he touched her lips again, unable to deny himself, just one last time, the sweetness that was distinctly Eve.
“My love,” he murmured against her mouth, “I can’t accept the thought of never seeing you again.”
Eve pulled back. “We can’t; this can’t happen again.” Snow swirled around her, dampening her hair.
“It won’t, I give you my word.” He brushed his thumb across her lips. They glistened, wet from his kiss.
Eve stepped away from him. “Are you all right, Julian?” she asked, his words not yet sinking in.
He gripped her shoulders firmly. “Eve, I am leaving Harmony tonight. I can’t live here anymore, watching you with TC. It’s too painful.”
Her eyes widened. “You can’t mean that. You can’t leave.” Tears slipped down her cheeks. Finally she’s getting it. She flung herself into his arms.
“Eve.” He pressed his face into her hair.
“I can’t lose you,” she sobbed. It was more than he could bear.
“It is for the best,” Julian pointed out. “It isn’t doing either of us any good living like this.”
Reality set in. Eve lifted her head and gazed into his eyes. “Why does it have to be like this? Why can’t love be simple?”
“What is worth having is never simple, my love.” He kissed her tenderly.
After a moment, she pulled back. “Do you have to leave tonight?”
“Yes, my jet will be taking off soon.” Against his will, Julian pushed her from his arms. For a moment he thought of grabbing her and taking her with him. He smiled sadly. A tempting thought.
Eve nodded, pressing her lips shut. Her tears told the truth behind her brave face. “I will miss you.” Her voice trembled.
Julian embraced her. “I love you.”
She held onto him tightly. A knot formed in his throat.
With one last kiss, Julian climbed back into his car and drove off. A tear escaped onto his cheek. Impatiently, he brushed it away. Men don’t cry. In the rearview mirror he watched Eve raise her hand to her mouth, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed uncontrollably.