Julian opened his eyes and saw Eve standing in front of him. He smiled. Then, feeling someone beside him, he turned and saw Sheridan sitting with her back against the wall of the pit. Julian leaned toward his sister and greeted her. "Sheridan, how is it going?" he asked gently, the concern evident in his voice.
"I'm OK," she said, reaching out to grasp his hand. "I'm just trying to make it through this."
"If you need anything, Sheridan, don't hesitate to ask," he said softly.
"The main thing I need from you is for you to get better," she said. "I love you, Julian. I don't want you putting yourself in danger again, OK?"
"Ah, it's just a little bullet wound," he said, brushing off the seriousness of his injury. "The good doctor here patched me up quite nicely."
"Yes, and I want you to stay that way," Eve laughed. "Sheridan is right. Your heroics are done for this adventure, I think."
"Not on your life," Julian countered. "There is still fight left in this old dog."
"Yeah, well right now, 'this old dog' needs to rest so that his arm can heal," Eve said, stepping in closer. "Julian, you're slowly falling apart - first your ribs, now your arm..."
"As long as my heart is still intact, I'll be fine," Julian said, smiling at Eve.
She returned his smile. "I guess I can't argue with you. You always have the perfect comeback."
"There, you see?" he said, turning to Sheridan. "It has taken Eve what - twenty years or so? - to learn that you can't win an argument with Julian Crane. You should remember that too, dear."
"Oh, maybe one of us is no match for the great Julian Crane, but together, I think Eve and I will win every time," Sheridan laughed. "Eve's right, you know. You do need your rest."
"All right, all right, I know when to give up," Julian said, feigning defeat. "Just remember, Sheridan, if you need anything, even if it's just to talk, I'm right here."
"Thanks, Julian," Sheridan said warmly. "Both you and Eve have been so wonderful to me. I'll never forget your kindness." She squeezed his hand and then let it go as she stood up. Sheridan walked over to the other side of the pit to get a drink.
Eve walked right up to Julian and knelt down in front of him. "You were so good with her," she whispered, placing her hand on his arm. "She's lucky to have a big brother like you."
Julian took Eve's hand in his. "How is she really doing?" he asked softly.
"I think as well as can be expected," Eve admitted. "She has a tough road ahead of her, but with a lot of love and support, she'll make it through."
"I've just got to get that baby back for her," Julian said in a hushed voice. "If it's the last thing I do..."
"Sheridan will get her baby back," Eve said. "I have faith. But I don't want to hear you talk that way, Julian. I've almost lost you twice already. I can't take a third time." Tears welled up in her eyes.
"I'm sorry, darling," he said, reaching up to touch her cheek. "I never meant to hurt you. I just want to protect my sister...to make sure she doesn't have to go through what you went through."
"She won't," Eve declared softly. "I just know everything's going to be OK. But right now, I need you to rest. That's how you can help us out - by getting stronger. All right?"
"Yes, doctor," Julian said, grinning, "I suppose I am outnumbered here."
"That's exactly right," she said, letting go of his hand as she stood back up. She ran her fingers through his hair. "Looks like someone could use a nice shampoo about now," she joked. "I think we all could use a hot bath."
"What I wouldn't give to be taking a hot bath with you right now," Julian revealed.
Eve sighed and playfully tapped him on the head. "You're supposed to be thinking about getting better, not that..."
"But what other reason is there to get better?" he quipped. Then he nodded his head. "All right, good doctor, I'll sit here and rest if you look out for my little sister over there."
"It's a deal," Eve said, starting to turn. She stopped and looked back at Julian. "Sheridan's strong like her brother," she told him.
Beth paced back and forth across the floor. "It's six-thirty. Luis should be coming soon." She smiled nervously.
"Oh, Bethie, I wouldn't be getting my hopes up too high," Mrs. Wallace cautioned. "I think that's when all hell's going to break loose."
"Oh, Mother, you're just jealous," Beth retorted.
"Jealous? What is there for me to be jealous of?" she asked, letting go of her walker and putting her hands up in the air.
"You're just jealous that I have a guy like Luis and you have no one," Beth replied smugly.
"Yeah, you really have Luis," Mrs. Wallace said, shaking her head. "He's only coming here to see the baby - which is really his and Sheridan's baby."
"Not anymore," Beth said. "She's my baby now. I'm her mommy."
"Oh, and that's why Charlie's over there taking care of her right now?" Mrs. Wallace asked, pointing to the couch, where Charlie was feeding and cooing at the newborn.
"Well, Charlie's just better with her right now," Beth said. "But I'm learning. Charlie, maybe you should give the baby to me...I need to practice a bit more before Luis gets here."
"OK," Charlie said. She carefully stood up and brought the infant over to Beth. "Here you go, Bethie. I had better be getting down to the basement anyway so I can keep an eye on our friends down there. We wouldn't want them to scream out while Luis is up here."
"Good idea," Beth said. "Then when he leaves, we can take care of the three of them...after I have my final revenge against Sheridan."
Mrs. Wallace shuddered and put her hands together as if she were praying.
"You're still going to rub it in that you and Luis will be raising her baby together?" Charlie asked, grinning.
"Oh yeah," Beth said. "I'm so looking forward to seeing her face when I tell her that." She looked down and smiled at the baby. "That will be the icing on the cake."
"You go, girl," Charlie said, winking at Beth. "It's a great story, even if it is a lie." She headed for the basement stairs.
When she was out of sight, Mrs. Wallace turned to Beth. "There's one little thing you forgot, Bethie. What about your dear friend Charlie? What is going to happen when she finds out you want more from Luis than a few weeks of revenge?"
"Well, see, I've been thinking about that," Beth said, pausing to bite her lip. "I think I'll send Charlie out of town - way far away - to start looking for a house for us...so we can get started on a new life together. While she's gone, I should be able to talk Luis into moving away somewhere with me and the baby. We'll be gone before Charlie gets back." She smiled at her plan.
"You're delusional, Bethie, if you think that Luis is going to just pick up and leave town with you, especially when Sheridan is missing."
"But see, that's why he should go - to get away from all the stress of Sheridan's disappearance. It's just not good for the baby." She bent down and kissed the infant in her arms. "Mommy's here now, sweetie. You like your new mommy, don't you?"
Beth smiled. "Look, Mother! She fell asleep in my arms." She walked over and put the baby down in the bassinet that was sitting by the couch. "There you go, baby, you take a nap. Daddy will be here soon."
Mrs. Wallace rolled her eyes at the scene. "Of all the daughters in the world," she mumbled, "why did I have to get stuck with a lunatic?"
Luis stepped up to the Wallace front door and took a deep breath. He looked at his watch. It was a few minutes past seven. He couldn't believe that he really was a father now to a baby other than Sheridan's - or that he would soon see the child he created with Beth on the night he couldn't remember anything about...
He nervously knocked on the door. Beth flung it open and hugged him. "Oh, Luis!" she cried excitedly. "You're here!" She pulled him into the house.
Her eyes scanned the man of her obsession. "I love the uniform!" she exclaimed. "That will look perfect in your first pictures with our daughter!"
Luis smiled nervously. "Hello, Mrs. Wallace," he said, nodding to Beth's mother. Then he turned to Beth and asked, "So where is this little Rugrat?"
"Oh, Luis, I have the perfect name for her," Beth said, grabbing hold of his arm and pulling him toward the bassinet. She stopped for a second and took hold of his other arm as well. "What do you think about...Wallace Louise Lopez-Fitzgerald?"
Mrs. Wallace let out a chuckle. "Sorry, don't mind me!" she called, covering her mouth with her hand. She could barely contain her laughter.
"Wallace...Louise...?" Luis asked. "I guess that would be...interesting."
"Well, see, Wallace is for me, of course. But if you remember, Wallis Simpson was the lady the King of England gave up his throne for a long time ago. Wouldn't that be a great name for our baby? She could grow up to be just like her someday - someone who is loved so much...and Louise, well that's after you. And of course, our baby will have your last name. So what do you think?"
"I think we should talk about it after I see the baby," Luis said, pushing past Beth. He headed straight for the bassinet. Bending down, he took a good look at his precious child...
Charlie had the rifle pointed at the captives in the pit. As always, she was wearing her clown mask. "So, have you enjoyed your little stay in our comfortable pit?" she bellowed. "I hope so, because your visit will soon come to an end here." She laughed wickedly, remembering a line from the Eagles' hit "Hotel California." "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave! HA HA HA HA!"
Chills ran down Eve's spine as she heard those words. She backed up closer to Sheridan, who was standing in the center of the pit, staring at Charlie. "My baby!" she cried. "You give me back my baby, you witch!"
Charlie snickered as Eve reached for Sheridan's arm to try to comfort her. "It's OK, Sheridan," she whispered. "Come on over here." She led her over to where Julian was sitting.
He was eyeing Charlie and appeared to be lost in thought. Eve noticed the strange look on his face as she sat down on one side of him, while Sheridan sat down on the other. "What's wrong, Julian?" she asked softly.
"Nothing," he whispered. "I was just thinking about the drug you gave Sheridan."
"The sedative?" she asked. "Why?"
"Maybe there's a way we could get that big oaf down here again, and you could stick a needle in her, along with some of that medicine. It would knock her out."
"I like your idea," Eve said. "It could work. I think I'll go get a syringe ready...but Julian, how are you going to get her down here?"
"I'm still trying to figure that one out," he said quietly.
"What's going on down there?" Charlie roared. "What's with all the whispering?"
"Nothing," Eve said. "His arm is hurting from where you shot him. Do you mind if I go get some medicine for him?"
Charlie lowered her rifle. "Go ahead. I just wish my friend had been a little more accurate in her aim. Then I would only have to waste two bullets tonight."
Eve headed over to where her medical bag was lying near Sheridan's cushion, trying to focus on the task at hand rather than what her kidnapper had just said. It wasn't easy. She knew she had to be strong for the others, who were counting on her.
Sheridan shuddered at Charlie's words and huddled closer to Julian. He reached up and caressed her soft hair. "It's OK, Sheridan, just ignore her," he whispered. "We're going to take care of her soon, and get you out to see your baby."
"I hope you're right," Sheridan sighed. "I want that more than anything." She laid her head down on Julian's shoulder.
Eve walked back over and knelt down beside Julian. She lifted up his arm and put an antiseptic on it while Charlie watched from above. Then she pretended to give Julian an injection. He feigned a grimace, and she slipped the syringe into her pocket. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" she asked loudly.
Charlie laughed evilly. "If you're scared to get a little shot, wait till you see what I have in store for ya!"
Julian nodded to Eve, letting her know he was going to try something. He called up to Charlie. "Uh, miss, I just wanted to have a little business chat with you. You do know who I am, right? Julian Crane, one of the wealthiest men in the world? Maybe you could come down and talk business with me for a minute...to see how I could make your life better." He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.
Charlie looked at him, confused. "I can't be bought," she said. "You tried that before, remember?"
"Yes, I do," he said. "But that was when your boss was here with you. I thought maybe when you were here alone, you could use that smart head on your shoulders and think for yourself. What she doesn't know won't hurt her." He opened up his wallet and removed a card. "I have here a number for a Swiss bank account. It is totally untraceable. It has millions in it."
Charlie took a deep breath. Julian could tell she was considering his offer. "Why don't you just come down and see what's written on this card?" he asked enticingly.
Looking around slowly, Charlie said, "I bet it's a trick. I'm staying right here."
"Bring your rifle with you if it makes you feel safe," Julian said. "Just put that rope ladder over the side and come on down."
"Nah, you're too eager," she said. "I bet something's up." She looked like she was deep in thought for a moment. "What were you planning - to jump me once I got down there? I can see it in your eyes...this was all a trick to escape." She aimed her rifle at Julian and cocked it back. "I'll show you what I think of your plan, Mr. Rich!"
"Noooooo!" Sheridan and Eve chorused.
"He he he...I had you going there for a second, didn't I?" Charlie cackled. "Well, you'll feel the effects of this rifle again soon enough. For now though, I'm just going to check on things upstairs." Charlie released the trigger of the rifle and laid it down at the edge of the pit and walked away.
Eve turned toward Julian. "You tried, honey," she said, reaching up to touch his face. "I thought she almost bought your story."
"We would have had a hell of a fight down here, but I think we could have taken her with the help of that little syringe," he said sadly.
Sheridan got up and walked over to the center of the pit. She knelt down and began to pray.
Eve grasped Julian's hand. "I want you to know that I'm proud of you and that I love you," she said softly. Tears began to form in her eyes. "I don't know what would have happened if we would have made it outside tonight, but I do know that I would have wanted to be with you."
"And I with you," he said, bringing her hand up to his lips for a kiss. "I love you, Eve."
"I love you, Julian," she said, burying her head in his chest.
Julian put his arms around her and rubbed his fingers through her silky hair. "What I wouldn't give for another chance with you," he stated. "I would make it right this time."
"I know you would," Eve said, lifting her head from his chest and looking into his eyes.
In the middle of the pit, Sheridan finished saying her prayer. She kept her head bowed and began sobbing. She didn't hear the footsteps walking across the basement floor.
Julian and Eve did. Eve gasped when she looked up at the opening of the pit. Julian stared, dumbfounded.
Slowly, Sheridan lifted her head up and focused her eyes on the face staring at her from above. She couldn't believe her eyes. "Luis!!!!" she cried, a look of shock appearing on her face, replaced almost immediately by a huge smile.
"Sheridan...sweetheart," he gushed, leaning over the
pit. "I'm so glad I found you!" He fell to his knees and gave thanks.