Sheridan wolfed down the last of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "This is kind of bottom of the barrel cuisine here, even for this establishment," she said, picking up a stale potato chip. The three occupants of the pit were having a picnic of sorts on a blanket spread out on the ground.
"I think it's the extra mouth to feed," Julian joked, looking at Eve.
Eve laughed at his remark. "Well, if I am hurting your menu choices, Mr. Crane, I had best be leaving this fine hotel."
"If only we could do that," Sheridan sighed. "I just want to get home - to get my baby home. Julian, when do you think they're going to release us?" She asked the question with a hint of fear in her voice.
Julian shifted uncomfortably on the floor of the pit. He had a feeling there would be no release, at least until the kidnappers got what they wanted. He prayed he was wrong with his assumptions. He knew Sheridan had heard the one abductor hint at wanting what she had. She had been in the beginnings of labor then, and for all he knew, had wiped the comment out of her mind. "I hope soon, dear," he said quietly.
Eve noticed how uncomfortable Julian was with the question, but did not probe him for fear of upsetting Sheridan. She too had heard something the kidnapper had said that made her wonder exactly what they were after.
At that time, the baby began crying. Sheridan got up off the floor and went over to check on her. "I guess someone noticed us eating and got a little jealous," she called as she bent over the clothesbasket. "If you two don't mind, I think I'll finish my dinner later. This little one has to eat."
"By all means, feed my niece," Julian said. "And don't worry about your share of this delicious meal. We'll save you plenty!"
"I was afraid of that!" she cried. Lifting her infant out of the basket, she sat down on the cushion and prepared to nurse her. She started singing to her child as the newborn began to suckle.
Realizing that Sheridan was now otherwise occupied, Eve turned to Julian and in a hushed voice asked, "What do you think really is going on here, Julian? Why are they keeping all of us in this pit?"
Julian lowered his eyes. Eve could tell by his reaction that something was deeply troubling him. "I have my suspicions," he said slowly. "And I hope to God I am wrong."
Eve glanced over at Sheridan, who was singing softly to her nursing infant on the other side of the pit. "Is this about the baby?" she asked, turning to look into Julian's eyes.
He looked away, not able to face the fear he saw in the eyes of the woman he loved. The fear that what happened to her may be played out again - but this time with Sheridan as the grieving mother. "I believe so," he said slowly.
"Oh, Julian, no!" Eve exclaimed, managing to keep from crying out too loudly, which would have alarmed Sheridan. "That would be the most horrible thing I could imagine - for them to take Sheridan's baby."
"I know," he said, finally looking at Eve again. "I will do anything I can to protect her and the baby. I just hope it's enough."
"I know you will, Julian," Eve said. Then she wondered something about the young mother. "Does Sheridan also know what they are after?"
"I think deep down she does," Julian replied softly, looking over at his smiling sister. "I think right now she's in denial, which may not be a bad thing."
Eve shuddered. "Oh, Julian, I hope you are wrong," she said, "but I am wondering what else it could be."
Julian reached out and touched her hand. "We'll find a way to keep them safe," he said tenderly.
"And us?" she asked, suddenly understanding that the two of them were now completely useless to the kidnappers if it was the baby they were after.
Julian reached out to touch her cheek, but noticing that Sheridan was looking their way, he quickly lowered his hand. "Eve, I got you into this mess. I'm going to get you out of it, if it's the last thing I do. I'd give my life to protect you, you know that. I just wish that were enough."
"Julian, if I lost you, my life would lose a lot of its meaning," she said, surprising herself at the words that had just slipped from her mouth.
He reached up and caressed her cheek this time, not caring if Sheridan saw. The new mother was actually checking on her nursing infant at this point. "Eve, I love you," he said simply. "And I promise to do what I can to get all of us out of here. I just can't fail you again, or Sheridan."
"You've done so much already," Eve said, trying to reassure the man she loved. She reached up and placed her hand on top of his, which was still on her cheek. "You have saved Sheridan's life and the baby's. If it weren't for your love, they would be dead right now."
Julian shifted his hand so that his fingers locked with Eve's as they lowered their hands to the blanket. "I've tried to be a help to Sheridan, to make amends with her. I think I have done that to some extent. I just wish it didn't have to be at your expense."
"I know, honey," she said, squeezing his hand tightly. "And I truly believe we will come out of this OK. God wouldn't get us back together here, in this pit, just to rip us apart again. It would be too cruel."
"Unless he was giving us one last chance to say goodbye," he said sadly, looking deeply into her eyes. "But if that's the case, I'm not going to waste it." Lightening his tone, he let go of her hand and smiled. "Remember, Eve, I've got something planned for tonight, for the two of us. Are you game?"
She shook off the feeling of dread and smiled back at him. "It depends what you have in mind, dear," she said playfully.
"Oh, you leave that up to me," he said, his eyes beginning to twinkle. "I am going to give you a night you won't forget - a PG rated one, of course."
"So you can't even manage a PG - 13 one, then?" she asked, feigning disappointment.
"Well, we'll have to see about that," he laughed. "I guess you can say the movie has yet to be rated."
Beth continued pacing back and forth across the living room floor. Mrs. Wallace stared at her daughter, shaking her head in disbelief.
"I cannot believe that you are still going forward with your plan - to steal a baby from its mother. How cruel that is! You will go straight to Hell for that, Bethie - if you don't wind up in prison first!"
Beth stopped and faced her mother. "I am only getting what I deserve - Luis's baby. It would be my baby if Sheridan had never come back from the dead!"
"Oh, Bethie, how can you talk like that? Luis and Sheridan created that baby!" Mrs. Wallace insisted. "I would hate to see any baby you would create - it would be evil incarnate!"
"Why, Mother, because it would have inherited your genes?" Beth fired back, her eyes flashing wildly.
Mrs. Wallace ignored the slam. "What did I do, Lord, to deserve a daughter like this?" she asked, looking upward.
"God is on my side," Beth said. "He wants me to be happy. You'll see."
"What a sick, delusional woman you are if you believe that, Bethie! God would never want you to rip another woman's baby from her arms and pass it off as yours," Mrs. Wallace said. "How are you going to do that anyway, Bethie? How are you going to make Luis think you gave birth but couldn't call him?"
"Well, that's what I'm working on now," she said. "I'm trying to think of a way to make Luis think I was called out of town suddenly, had the baby, but then got released from the hospital before he could really make it there. What do you think?"
"Personally, I think you're bonkers. And what are you going to do about Charlie, huh? How are you going to make sure she's out of the picture so you and Luis can play family here?"
"I haven't really thought that far ahead," Beth said, worried that her plan just might unravel before her eyes. "Any ideas, Mother?"
"Oh, I have plenty of ideas for you, Bethie. For starters, let all those people out of that pit. Blindfold them or something, I don't know. Just let them go."
"Oh, no! You know I will never let Sheridan go. And the others? It's just too risky," Beth said. "Only the baby is getting out of that pit alive. The rest will meet their fate soon."
Mrs. Wallace shivered in fear and looked heavenward. "Please, Lord, protect those poor people from my daughter's wacko schemes," she begged.
Julian shined the flashlight at Eve and grinned. "Now I can see you at least," he said.
She giggled, grabbing the plastic flashlight from his hand. "This is for Sheridan, so she can feed the baby when she wakes up at night," she said. At least the stupid kidnapper had thrown this into the pit when they told her the lantern was out. Still, it wasn't the best device for seeing in the dark.
"Sheridan and the baby are now sound asleep," he said slyly. "So what if I tell you that I promise to have this flashlight back by her cushion in oh, two hours or so, when it's time for the baby's next feeding?"
"I would want to know exactly what you had planned," she said, blushing.
"Oh, my dear, that's for me to know and you to find out - soon!" He grabbed the flashlight back and grinned. "Why don't you, good doctor, go wait over there by the latrine while I get things prepared."
"So you're sending me to the latrine, huh? I hope you don't do that with all your dates."
"Only the nosy ones," he joked. "Now on with it, doctor, before you spoil the fun."
Eve complied with Julian's request and waited in the dark by the latrine while he stumbled about getting things in order for their date. She could only make out a little of what was going on, as he tried to keep the light pointed toward the ground.
Finally, Julian said, "OK, it's ready!"
Eve walked over to Julian's blanket. He held the flashlight up and panned it over the blanket for her to see. On it was an assortment of food. "Another picnic!" she cried out softly. "Where did you get all this, Julian?"
"Ah, well, a gentleman can't reveal all his secrets now, can he?" he said with much devilish charm. "Let's see what kind of goodies we have here for you...This box of Crackerjacks here, such a delicacy, half a bag of exquisitely stale potato chips, some rare peanut butter crackers...and of course, the house water to wash it all down with."
Eve chuckled. "I guess I may not be dressed for such fine dining, but if you'll allow me to eat at your establishment looking like this, I will be very generous with the tip."
"Ooh, how generous are we talking about?" he joked.
"Just you wait and see," she flirted back.
The two sat and ate the leftover bits of snack food. To them, it was better than the finest cuisine at a five star restaurant. They were together, and that was all that mattered.
After the meal, Eve smiled. "That was, terrific, Julian. Thanks for the nice surprise," she said.
"Oh, the evening's not over yet," he said coyly. "Think of that as the appetizer. The main course is still to come."
"And just what is the main course?" she asked, curiosity getting the better of her.
"Well, that's where the PG rating comes in," Julian said. He began collecting all of the food and paper plates and moved them out of the way. He walked over to the wash basin, shining the light as he went, and returned with something in his hand.
"What on earth do you have there?" Eve asked, her eyes lighting up in the semi-dark pit.
"Why, this bar of soap here is for your massage, my dear," he announced, grinning seductively.
"A massage!" she exclaimed. "Well, you think of everything."
"I wanted to be close," Julian said, "and since we couldn't do everything I wanted to, I thought maybe this would be a nice way for us to have some intimacy. What do you say?"
Eve smiled at Julian's idea. She wondered if she could handle this. She knew the kind of passion he could stir in her with his touch. "Well, I guess it's all right," she said finally, "since you did go to such a bother."
"Thank you, my dear. Now, to get a good massage, doctor, one does need to remove her shirt."
Eve blushed as she pulled off her top and threw it out of the way. "I think I gave all of my tip money to the waiter," she joked as she lay down on the blanket.
"No problem," Julian said, smiling. "Maybe we can work something out."
He sprinkled some water on her back. She gasped when he did this, her body startled by the cold. "On second thought, I'm not going to worry about that tip," she quipped.
Julian rubbed the bar of soap on her wet skin and began to lather it up. He used his hands to spread it all over her shoulders and back. "My how tense you are," he said jokingly. "I am glad you decided to come to my house of massage. Maybe I can work some of this tension out."
"I think if you keep rubbing your hands all over my back, I'm going to feel even more tension," she said, shaking her head. What his touch was doing to her body! She knew any minute now her will power would be gone completely.
Smiling at her last statement, Julian carefully poured some more water on Eve's back and grinned as she cried out in shock. He wiped her smooth skin clean with a cloth. He then began working his hands all over her exquisite back. The beauty of her finely toned body and heavenly golden brown skin was really getting to him. How he wanted her! The urge in him was rising by the minute. He didn't know how much longer he could keep this up without taking her in his arms...
Eve suddenly rolled over on the blanket, taking Julian by surprise. "Do...you want me to...do your front now?" he asked nervously, taking a deep breath. He didn't know if he could handle any more of this. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea...
"No, I think that's enough of the main course," she said. "Now how about the dessert?"
Julian's heart started to beat faster. His face began to sweat. "I...I didn't plan on any dessert," he stammered awkwardly, taking another deep breath.
"I did," Eve said seductively, putting her hands on the back of his neck and pulling him closer. "But you may just have to up that movie rating of yours - how high remains to be seen."
Julian's heart was racing at an all-time high at this point as the passion surged through his body. Breathless with desire, he asked, "What...about Sheridan?"
"If you promise to be gentle, I'll promise to be quiet,"
she said with a grin, pulling him down until his body met hers.