"Sam, anything new while I was out?" Luis asked, stepping into the police chief's office.
"Nothing," Sam sighed. "But we're not giving up, Luis. We'll find her."
"It may be 'them' by now," Luis revealed. "I had a vision of sorts last night, maybe a dream. I don't know. But I get the feeling that Sheridan has given birth - that I'm a father now."
"Are you serious, Luis?" Sam asked, coming up out of his chair. "That's great...or is it?"
"If the baby's here and it's safe, it's wonderful," Luis admitted. "But if it's in danger, and I can't be there to protect it, well then it's the worst thing in the world."
"I know what you mean, Luis," Sam admitted. "When Kay was in danger - she has been so many times these last couple of years - I just felt so helpless. I'm her father. I'm supposed to be able to take care of her."
Luis nodded. "I guess being a father is a lot harder than most men realize. It can cause you the greatest heartache in the world..."
"Or bring you the greatest joy," Sam said, smiling. "You will find that out, Luis. When we get Sheridan and the baby back with you safely, you'll see what I mean."
"I know - I will be thrilled beyond measure," Luis said, grinning broadly. "To have the love of my life back, along with a life that our love created, what more could a man ask for?"
"That's right," Sam said, lowering his eyes. "I just wish I could get my own life straightened out. Grace and I belong together, but right now it doesn't look like..."
Sam was cut off by the ringing of his office phone. Picking it up, he said, "Yeah, put him through... TC, what's up?... Yeah... Really?... Oh my God... Sure, pal, we'll be there right away!"
Hanging up the phone, he looked at Luis with both surprise and worry in his eyes.
"What's wrong, Sam?" Luis asked, his heartbeat quickening.
"That was TC. He's over at the hospital. He says Eve's missing. She got off work late last night, but her car's still at the hospital. No one's seen her. He's there now."
"Let's go! I'm with you," Luis said. Sam grabbed his keys and weapon as they headed out the door.
"Where are those horrendous clowns when you need them?" Julian grumbled. "They are always popping up when you least expect them, being nuisances, but when you really need something, they are nowhere in sight."
"I really do need something to eat," Sheridan said. "I think all this nursing has made me really hungry."
"And it will, sweetheart," Eve said kindly. "Hopefully, they will send some food down soon." She bent over the clothesbasket. "She's still sleeping. You're lucky to have such a calm baby from the start. She seems to only cry when she's hungry."
"Can you imagine what it would be like if she cried all the time down here?" Sheridan asked. "We would need to ask for some earplugs for my brother over there."
"Me?" Julian asked. "No, I don't mind the sound of babies crying at all; I'm just not that used to it."
"Well, that's because all of us Crane children were raised by nannies," Sheridan said. "It's not going to be that way with this one though. I don't plan on letting her out of my sight!"
The baby stirred in the basket. Sheridan reached over and carefully picked her up.
Eve knelt down and touched the baby's hand. "I don't blame you at all, Sheridan. If I were you, I wouldn't let this little angel out of my sight either..." Her voice trailed off as Eve suddenly choked back tears.
Julian came up behind her and gently put his hand on her back, so that she could feel his presence. He knew what had her so upset. She was thinking of the baby she had had with him, and how when he was out of her sight, someone had apparently stolen him.
Sheridan looked puzzled for a moment, and then suddenly her eyes widened in the realization of what Eve was upset about. She knew at that instant that Eve was the woman whom Julian had told her about - the one who had given birth to his child - only to have him taken from her, through death or abduction.
It all made sense now - the intimacy she had spotted between the two when they were sleeping, the little looks they gave each other every now and then, the hushed whispering on the other side of the pit, and the hand touches when they didn't know she was watching - it was all finally clear: Eve Russell was the woman her brother had always loved. And she loved him. That was obvious to Sheridan. The two of them shared a love as great as hers and Luis's, she realized...and as tragic. What was it about the Cranes? Could they never live happily ever after with the person they loved? She hoped she would finally break the Crane curse and have a happy life with Luis. She wondered about Julian and Eve though. Was there any chance for them? She wasn't sure, knowing that Eve was a married woman, but she knew that the love between these two would be hard to be denied. It was so obvious now when you saw them together.
Eve got up and stepped aside so Julian could have a look at the baby. He leaned over and put his index finger underneath her tiny little fingers. The infant curled her fingers around his, squeezing tightly. "What a grip she has on her!" Julian cried, surprised.
Laughing, Eve said, "It's something all newborns are able to do, Julian. It was a reflex used by babies long ago so that they could hang onto their mothers."
Julian grinned. "Well, this little one wouldn't have any trouble holding on," he said. Removing his finger from the baby's hand, he looked at Sheridan. "So, have you decided on a name for this little girl, or do I have to continue calling my new niece 'Baby?'"
Sheridan laughed. "Actually, I have thought of a good name for her," she said, smiling. "But I want to talk to Luis about it first. After all, he is her father."
Eve looked at Julian, puzzled by the comment. She was under the impression that Sheridan wasn't sure who the baby's father was. She knew of course that the child's black hair did signal she was likely Luis's.
Julian noticed Eve's inquisitive look. "Sheridan is certain the baby is Luis's," he explained. "She was finally able to see that when she was trapped down here in this pit."
"I just knew," Sheridan nodded. "It all suddenly became very clear to me. I don't know why I didn't see it before. There was just so much going on lately that cluttered my mind, I think. After spending time alone, I was able to see things straight - what should have been obvious to me - that I was carrying the child of the man I love. A woman just knows that, I think. She just feels it through her whole body, especially if she and her lover are soul mates."
Eve turned her head and took a couple steps away from the cushion. Sheridan's words had hit her hard. Julian turned and put his hand on her shoulder. "It's all right, Eve," he said, walking her across the pit. "Some soul mate I was - a damn fool."
"I've forgiven you," Eve said softly. "But sometimes it still hurts."
Sheridan realized she had said something she shouldn't have, remembering that Eve too had carried a child of the man she loved inside of her, wishing the whole time that she and the baby's father could be together. It was still hard for her to picture Eve having a past with Julian. They were so different. But here it was, right before her eyes. Her brother and the upstanding Dr. Russell were once lovers, and if they had it their way, she believed, they would be again.
Sam pulled his police cruiser up beside of TC's SUV. His friend was standing on the other side of it, by his wife's empty car. Sam and Luis quickly exited the cruiser.
"TC, how are you holding up?" Sam asked, placing his hand on his friend's shoulder.
"I don't know, man. It's hard, Eve being missing..." He put his hand over his eyes to wipe the tears away.
Sam patted TC's shoulder. "It's going to be all right, pal. We're going to find her. You just get yourself together enough so you can tell us exactly what happened, OK?"
TC took a deep breath. "I'm OK now, Sam. I just love Eve so much, you know. She's the perfect wife, the perfect woman. If anything happened to her..." He choked back the tears that were starting to flow.
Luis walked around Eve's car. "There's no sign of a struggle," he said.
"Look here," TC said. He held up Eve's car keys.
"Where did you get them?" Sam asked.
"I found them on the ground by her car door. The car was still locked," he replied. "Someone jumped her here - took her. Someone has my wife!"
"OK, listen. We don't want to jump to any conclusions yet, TC," Sam said, taking the keys from his friend. "I wish you had left these keys where you found them though, just in case."
"In case what, Sammy? In case there were fingerprints on them? You do believe something's happened to Eve, don't you?"
Luis came over and joined the pair. "Why don't you start at the beginning, TC. Tell us everything."
"Well, Eve got called in yesterday evening to work. Another doctor was sick. She was supposed to get off around midnight, but you know how that goes. She's always asked to stay longer. I just went on to bed. When I woke up at seven, I saw that she wasn't home, and I just figured she had forgotten to call. Hell, I was even mad at her," he said, kicking himself for having acted that way.
"I went back to sleep and got up around ten. I called the hospital a little while later. They said she got off at midnight. I couldn't believe it. Eve always comes straight home. So I rushed over here. I found her car, but then I went inside just to make sure the receptionist was right. She was. There was no sign of Eve. I checked everywhere - even her office - just in case she could have fallen asleep in there. She hadn't."
"And then you called us?" Sam asked.
"I'm so worried, Sam," TC said. "I just know someone took her. I'm going to kill him if he lays a finger on my wife!"
"We'll find her, TC," Sam said, doing the best he could to reassure his friend.
At that moment, Rebecca Hotchkiss came out of the hospital. Seeing the trio huddled together, she walked on over to join them. "What are all of you boys doing outside of the hospital?" she asked. "Is someone hurt? It's not...my Pookey, is it?"
"No, Rebecca, it's not about Julian," Luis said.
"Well then, who is it about? You guys look so...long in the face."
"If you have to know, we are discussing a different disappearance, one that just happened this morning," Luis answered.
"Who disappeared?" Rebecca inquired, her eyes as big as saucers.
"My wife!" TC yelled, agitated at all of Rebecca's questions.
"Dr. Russell's missing?!!" Rebecca exclaimed. "How weird! First Sheridan, then Pookey, and now Dr. Russell too... What's going on in this town?"
"That's what we'd like to know too," Sam said.
"Of course, with Dr. Russell, one does wonder whether it was truly a kidnapping. I mean, maybe she just ran off with, I don't know, one of those strong orderlies with the biceps...ooh...or maybe a sexy patient with a mysterious past charmed her away or..."
"Rebecca, Eve's husband is standing right here," Sam said, admonishing her.
"Well, I know that, Chief Bennett. Nobody misses TC. Hi, TC!" she called, smiling and waving at him.
TC ignored her attempt at flirting and shook his head.
"I hope you explore every possibility with Dr. Russell the way you did with my Pookey," Rebecca insisted. "You were quick to think he had run off with someone else, but if you ask me, it's the good doctor's eyes that have been wandering lately. I told her that myself yesterday."
"My wife would never look at another man, ever," TC said defensively. "She's the most perfect wife in the world. She hasn't been with anyone but me her whole entire life and hasn't wanted to. I'm the only man for her, so whatever you're thinking, drop it." He gave her a glare filled with so much anger that it surprised even Sam.
Luis began walking around Eve's car once more, thinking. "Something Rebecca said makes sense," he thought, "when she said that everyone in this town keeps vanishing. I'm sure Sheridan's and Julian's disappearances are related. Maybe Eve's is connected to them too. But what would Crane enemies want with a doctor?"
A light bulb suddenly went on inside of Luis's head. "Oh my God," he said, running over to the others. "Sam, my dream last night - what if it really was true?!! What if Sheridan really went into labor last night, and they needed a doctor?!! What if they came and took Dr. Russell to deliver her baby?"
Sam considered Luis's theory. "I guess it is possible, Luis," he said finally, "if that dream you had was really some sort of vision."
"Then I really might be a father!" he shouted. "And Sam, we may find some clues here that will help find all three of them!"
"Who are the three?" TC asked, confused. "You just said Eve might be with Sheridan."
"And Julian," Luis said.
"Julian Crane?!!" TC roared. "That bastard is dead, isn't he?"
"We don't think so, TC," Sam said. "We think he's being held with Sheridan."
"And you think my wife may be with them? I swear if that scum lays one hand on my wife..."
"TC, if they're together, they're being held prisoner. It's not Julian's fault," Sam cautioned.
"Oh, you can believe this whole thing is somehow Julian Crane's fault. That stupid bastard. If anything happens to my wife because of him, he's going to wish he died in that accident."
Rebecca, who had been standing quietly up until this point, now joined in with her own displeasure at the thought of Julian and Eve being held somewhere together. "That woman had better keep her paws off of my man if she knows what's good for her," she declared.
The men all looked at her, stunned at her comment.
"Well," she said, "a woman knows when another
woman's interested in the scenery, you know." With that, she turned and
walked away, wiggling her bottom. All three men stared after her, speechless.