Luis reached in and turned the water on in the shower. He withdrew his hand as the water started gushing out of the faucet. He removed his watch and boxers. Leaning in to test the water with his hand, he waited until it was warm enough and then stepped on in.
He stood for several minutes under the stream of water, allowing its warmth to spread across his entire body. There was nothing better to wake a person up in the morning than a hot shower, he thought. It did the trick better than coffee.
Luis hadn't been sleeping well since Sheridan disappeared. Last night he did not get much rest at all because of the strange dream he had in the middle of the night. Was it a dream?
Grabbing the soap, he began lathering it up onto his washcloth as he prepared to wash his face and body. "I don't know if it was a dream or not," he told himself, "but it seemed so real. I am sure I heard a baby crying - mine and Sheridan's baby. And if that's the case, then that means that our baby has already been born."
Rinsing off his body in the warm rushing water, Luis sighed. He had wanted to be there when his child was born - with Sheridan. He knew how frightened and alone she would be, having the baby without him. Plus, he knew it was early - their baby wasn't due for another four weeks. Still, if it was here already, he knew that the dream was a good one. He had heard the baby crying, so it must be healthy.
Luis began lathering shampoo on his hair. He had accidentally applied too much, and it was oozing through his fingers and down into his eyes. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers as the stinging drops found their mark. He remembered his prayer to God, requesting that He keep his child safe and loved until he could find the baby and Sheridan. "I will find you too," he said. "You have to believe that."
Rinsing the shampoo out of his hair, Luis thought of everything he had done so far to find Sheridan and tried to focus on what else had to be done. He figured that the key to finding Sheridan lay in finding whoever took Julian. A Crane enemy, perhaps? Alistair? No, he shook his head. Alistair would never want any harm to come to his lackey, Julian. Plus, Crane Industries had only suffered recently with Julian not at the helm. He couldn't see Alistair doing anything that would harm his corporation.
Luis stepped out of the shower and grabbed his towel. Drying off his muscular body from head to toe, his thoughts returned to the baby. If his child was already born, what was it, he wondered - a boy or a girl? He remembered telling Sheridan he was hoping for a boy. Still, he secretly wished for a girl as well, a child as pretty as Sheridan, whom he could teach to dance. He smiled, thinking of dancing to the tune of "Daddy's Little Girl" one day with a daughter.
"Well, whatever the baby is, boy or girl, it is going to be the most loved child ever," he said, sighing. "You couldn't be any less loved, baby, because you come from the greatest love on this planet - mine and your mommy's."
Luis walked out into the bedroom to get dressed for work. He knew he had a lot to accomplish today so that he could find his family and bring them home safely.
Sheridan awoke and opened her eyes. She could tell by the light coming from above that it was morning now. She felt an overwhelming rush of love and excitement from the sudden realization that there was a new little person in the world for her to love and care for - her precious baby girl. Sheridan suddenly wondered where the baby was. She turned her head to the side and saw the clothesbasket beside the cushion with her newborn daughter inside. Sheridan smiled and reached out to touch the infant. "She's still sleeping," she thought. "Such a beautiful little angel..."
Realizing that Julian and Eve must still be asleep, she scanned the pit with her eyes and discovered them on the far side of the enclosure, lying in each other's arms. Eve had her head and left arm against Julian's chest. A smile was on her face. His arms were around her, holding onto her protectively. Sheridan was shocked at the degree of intimacy between the two. Even though they were asleep, the way the two were holding one another so peacefully signaled only one thing to her - genuine love. She stared at them, dumbfounded.
Her stupor was interrupted by the sudden crying of her baby girl. Sheridan reached over to comfort the infant. "Hey, baby, good morning! I bet you are a hungry girl. Yes, I do." Sheridan ignored the soreness she felt as she raised herself to a seated position and carefully lifted the baby from her basket. "You must have been so warm," she said. "Dr. Eve had you bundled up like an Eskimo."
The baby's cries awakened Eve and Julian, who began stirring on the far side of the pit. Realizing that the baby needed her, Eve quickly loosened herself from Julian's arms and jumped up, heading straight for the cushion. Her eyes met Sheridan's. It suddenly dawned on Eve what Sheridan must be wondering about her and Julian. Blushing, she straightened her rumpled clothing and took a deep breath to steady her nerves as she prepared to greet Sheridan.
"Good morning, Sheridan. How is our new mother doing today?" she asked, looking from her to the baby.
"I'm all right," Sheridan replied, "but this little one seems to be a bit fussy this morning."
"Well, I bet I know what will change that," Eve said. Gently running her fingers along the baby's cheek, Eve spoke to the newborn girl. "You probably want some breakfast, don't you, sweetie?" she asked.
"I guess I should start nursing her," Sheridan said. "Would you be able to show me how, Dr. Russell? I am pretty green at this."
"First, it's 'Eve,' " her doctor replied, smiling. "No more titles, OK? Especially down here. We are all in this together. Secondly, I will gladly help you get started with nursing this little angel."
At that moment, Julian came over and stood several feet from Eve. He looked at Sheridan a little sheepishly as he realized his shirt was open, exposing the makeshift bandage she had put on him some time ago. Julian began fumbling with the buttons on his shirt as he tried to explain, "Uh, Dr. Russell just wanted to check out my ribs...where I hurt them," he began, feeling his face redden.
"Did you tell her I did my best with that bandage?" Sheridan asked, smiling at Julian in an attempt to make her brother feel more comfortable. She had never seen him like this. He was acting like a schoolboy who had been caught kissing a girl in the hallway.
"We...uh...never got that far," Julian stammered, looking at Eve.
Eve's face turned the color of crimson. "I guess we were so exhausted, after being up all night, that we just fell asleep before I could finish with the exam," she covered, throwing Julian a sideways glance.
Right then, Sheridan knew that whatever her brother was feeling for Dr. Russell, it was mutual. Not wanting to embarrass Eve any further, Sheridan changed the subject. "I think we had better get this little one fed before her cries bring the walls of this pit down on us," she joked, trying to soothe the wailing infant.
Eve smiled. "Well, we had certainly better. Julian," she said, turning to look at the only male in the pit, "why don't you go find something to do. I'm sure the pit needs some tidying up...way over on the other side."
Julian grinned. "I get it. I suppose you don't want a man hanging around when you show Sheridan how to feed this little babe. I understand. I'll just go make myself useful over there," he said, pointing to the far side of the pit.
"You do that, Julian," Eve said, smiling at him when their eyes met.
Sheridan noticed the look between the two of them and averted her eyes so that Eve wouldn't feel uncomfortable. "Maybe she doesn't realize how obvious it is - the love she has for my brother," Sheridan thought. "When you look in her eyes, it's all you see."
"OK," Eve said, reaching down to touch the baby. "Let's get this little one fed."
Sometime later, as the baby was eagerly nursing, Eve walked over to where Julian was standing on the other side of the pit. She smiled as she approached him.
He returned her smile. "I want so much to just hold you in my arms and kiss you," he said softly.
"Julian, you know that's not possible," Eve whispered, tilting her head in Sheridan's direction.
"Maybe later?" he suggested, hoping that she wouldn't turn down his request. He was literally dying inside to touch her now that he knew her heart belonged to him.
"Maybe," Eve softly whispered, "but you know we have to be careful. Sheridan already suspects something, I think."
"Don't worry about Sheridan," Julian said, soothing her fears. "She won't say anything. We have become very close. Actually, I have told her some things...about us. I didn't say it was you, of course, but she knows someone has taken over my heart."
"I had a feeling that it was more than just seeing us together this morning," Eve said. "I guess it's hard to hide things when you're trapped in a tiny pit together."
"She was bound to find out," Julian agreed. "I wouldn't worry though, Eve."
"I'm not," she said matter-of-factly. "I can't believe I'm saying that, after I've spent the last few years desperately worried that our past would come out. Now I almost wish it would." She reached out and touched his hand with hers.
"You've certainly come a long way since I last saw you, Eve," Julian said, adjusting his hand so that his fingers intertwined with hers. Eve's body blocked the handholding from Sheridan's view.
"I know I have," she said in a hushed voice, "and I have never felt freer...but we still must be careful, Julian."
"Because of TC?" he asked slowly.
"Yes, because of TC," she said, "not to mention Alistair and Rebecca. But mostly because of TC... Julian, he's my husband; we have children together."
"I know," Julian said, lowering his eyes. "I don't want to cause problems in your marriage, Eve - that wasn't my intention."
"I know it wasn't, honey," she said. "But like it or not, we know it has come to that. There is no way at this point to avoid problems in my marriage. I can't just bury my feelings for you anymore. I'm not going to."
Julian's heart filled with joy on hearing Eve's proclamation. "Did I tell you I loved you?" he asked, giving her the warmest smile she had ever seen on his face.
"I think I might have heard you utter those words sometime during the night," she said. "I may have been dreaming though."
"Well, hopefully after tonight you won't be confusing dreams and reality," he said seductively.
"Julian, what do you have planned?" she asked, blushing. "You know we can't..."
"I didn't say we had to, you know... I just was hoping for a little quiet time alone with you again - that's all."
"Hmmm... I'll have to think about that proposal," she said coyly. "I just might have a better offer come my way tonight." She grinned and then let his hand go as she turned and headed back toward Sheridan.
Julian watched her walk away and took a deep breath. He looked toward the wash basin on one side of the pit and sighed. "Right now I'd give anything for a cold shower," he said to himself, shaking his head.