Luis put another log on the fire. He turned and smiled at Sheridan, who was sitting on the sofa with Julia Eve lying on her lap. “It seems so early to light a fire in here. It’s only September. But it’s so cool out all of a sudden, and I don’t want the baby to freeze.” He got up and walked over to the sofa, sitting down next to Sheridan.
“I think it’s perfect!” Sheridan professed, watching the flames dance before her eyes.
Luis smiled and put his arm around Sheridan. “Do you know how much I love you?” he asked.
“Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea,” she giggled, leaning in to kiss him.
“Mmm,” Luis said, coming up for air. “I will light a fire more often if this is the treatment I get.”
“I am counting on that fire,” Sheridan said, winking at him.
“Oooh, you are really making it hard for me to hold off until this little one goes to sleep,” Luis groaned, gently patting a drowsy Julia Eve’s head.
“I think she’ll be in dreamland soon enough, from the looks of her,” Sheridan said. “And then we’ll see what kind of dreams are in store for her mommy and daddy.”
“I can’t wait,” he replied, leaning in for another kiss. Pulling back, Luis looked into Sheridan’s eyes and held her gaze for a second.
“What?” Sheridan asked, smiling. “I can tell something’s on your mind, and it isn’t just that, which for you is unusual, once you get in this kind of mood. What’s up, Luis?”
“Well, besides the obvious…” he paused, chuckling as she playfully slapped his arm. “It was just something you said before, about dreams. I wanted to run something by you.”
“Really? What is it, Luis?”
“Well, I have been thinking… What happened to you has me realizing how short life is. And now that I am a father, it also has me wanting to do the best I can to support little Julia Eve and all of our future babies…all six of them.” He laughed as Sheridan once again smacked his arm. “Hey, hey, I was just starting to get serious here!” he groaned.
“OK, I am sorry, go on,” Sheridan said, intrigued at where the conversation was leading.
“Well, I know I told you once that my dream was to become a lawyer, only I gave it up so I could help support the family when I got out of high school. I joined the police force instead of going to college. But now…now I have been thinking of what it would be like to go for it, you know, to do what I have always wanted to do, to go after my dream.”
“You want to be a lawyer?” Sheridan asked, shocked.
“Yeah, what do you think about that? Think it’s a good idea?” He searched her eyes with his.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, if that’s what you want!” Sheridan said. “We have my trust fund. We don’t need to worry about money. And it could easily pay for your tuition too…”
“Whoa, hold on. This is something I want to pay for myself, not with Alistair Crane’s blood money.” Seeing her hurt expression, he reached up to touch her face. “ Sheridan, I really want to do this, but I want to be the one who pays for it. I will save up as much of my salary as I can. I can go to school nights, just part-time. I want to be here for you and Julia Eve as much as I can. And one day, I want to fight criminals in the courtroom. That’s always been my dream.”
Sheridan smiled. How could she argue with anyone’s dream? Here was a man who loved her and their baby with all his heart, a man who would do anything for her. He wanted to achieve all of his dreams, while keeping his pride intact. She wasn’t about to deny him that. “OK, we will do it your way,” she said. “And you can pay the tuition using your income. But you had better keep that promise about being here for Julia Eve and me, because I don’t know what I’d do if I never got to see you much.”
“Oh, you never have to worry about that,” Luis said. “I will always be here for my two favorite ladies. He bent down and kissed Julia Eve on the cheek. “ Sheridan, she’s finally asleep.”
“Awww, I will go put her in her bassinet.”
“No, allow me,” Luis said. He picked the baby up and carried her into the bedroom, gently placing her inside her bassinet. “Night, night, my sweet princess,” he said, kissing her forehead and then patting her head. He smiled at his baby girl. Looking up, he saw Sheridan in the doorway, her eyes shining.
Luis walked over to her, taking her by the hand back into the living room. He pulled the bedroom door shut behind them. “Now that Julia Eve is in dreamland, it’s time her mommy and daddy join her,” he said devilishly, leading her to the couch.
Sheridan threw her arms around his neck as the two connected with a kiss so passionate, it just about knocked her socks off…no, that was Luis taking off her socks with his hand! “Luis,” she giggled, coming up for air, “what are you doing to my socks?”
“I just wanted to feel your feet against mine,” he said. “I love how your feet feel. But, we can’t have our feet feeling lonely now, can we? I guess that means we’re going to have to let the rest of our bodies join them, piece by piece.”
“Oooh, I like the sound of that,” Sheridan said, setting her hands to work at following Luis’s suggestion.
Soon, the two were engaged in the heights of passion that only they could reach, the kind of dream they hadn’t dared possible just a few short weeks before. Sheridan and Luis had found one another again, and they would never be apart again.
Julian and Eve kissed passionately as they entered his bedroom. Julian shut the door behind them and fumbled with the lock, his lips never leaving Eve's. He didn't remember how they had made it up the stairs to his bedroom - but somehow they had. The trip across the foyer and up the stairs had been one long, beautiful kiss.
Eve finally pulled away and tried to catch her breath. She could not believe the passion that this man stirred in her - the desires that his simple touch could unleash in her body. How could she have lived without this for so long?
"What...are you thinking?" Julian asked, finally getting his wind back.
"Just that...I love you...so much," she said, tears flowing down her cheeks. "I don't know why it took me so long to see what was staring me in the face all this time. Why was I so blind?"
"Don't blame yourself, Eve," Julian said, cupping her face with his hands and using his fingers to wipe away her tears. "It took me almost as long to realize the same thing. I don't think we were ready to see it before. I had some growing up to do..."
"And I had to sort out all my problems," she added. "We have missed out on so much..."
"We still have the future," Julian said, bringing her hand up to his mouth for a kiss. "And I for one plan to live another thirty years at least."
Eve smiled. "Only thirty? I was hoping you would make it another forty. I plan to."
"Yes, well, I am older than you are...but for you, dear, I could live to be a hundred even, if I have you to keep me company."
"You have me," Eve said. "The past is in the past. The future begins tonight." She reached up and began unbuttoning his shirt.
Julian drew in a deep breath. "Oh, Eve, you are making me lose my mind here..."
"Already?" she laughed, taking care of the last button. "It's not as though you are a teenager, Julian."
"Well, when I'm around you, I feel like I'm seventeen again...and the world is fresh and new."
Eve ran her fingers along Julian's masculine chest. "The world is fresh and new," she whispered. "It's a whole new beginning." She removed his shirt completely as he lifted his arms to help.
He nodded in agreement, his eyes, deep with desire, holding hers. Then, wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her close, his lips hungrily seeking hers. His heart pounded when she parted her lips, allowing him to deepen the kiss. As they kissed, Julian's hands caressed her silky hair and moved on down her back, pressing her closer.
A few minutes later, coming up for air, he gazed into her deep brown eyes. "I love you," he whispered as he nervously began fumbling with the buttons on her blouse.
"And I love you, Julian, with all of my heart." Eve smiled tenderly, and then chuckled at his unsuccessful attempts at manipulating her buttons. "Here, let me help you. They are tricky, even for me." She finished removing her blouse for him and stood in front of him in her bra and skirt.
Julian's eyes filled with desire as he reached behind her to unfasten her bra, smiling when she helped him slip it over her head and arms. His heart fluttered upon seeing her beautiful breasts, ready and waiting for his touch. "I want you so much," he whispered as he moved in to explore her exquisite chest.
"Then take me," she replied, her body yearning for his touch. Their mouths locked again in a sensual kiss as Julian's hands moved to arouse even more desire in her.
He slowly maneuvered her back toward the bed, his lips never leaving hers. Laying her down gently on the soft bed, he let her mouth go. Bending over her, leaning against the foot of the bed, he stared for a moment at her beautiful, sensuous body. "In the pit, I never got to see you like this," he said, his eyes taking in all of her beauty. "You are exquisite... There is no one like you...in any way." He reached down to caress the soft skin of her elegant arms.
"Nor you, Julian," she said. "That is why I love you." She noticed that his eyes were suddenly filling with tears. "This is supposed to be a happy occasion," she joked. "We are making love here, Julian, not attending a funeral."
"I know," he said, swallowing hard. "I was just thinking that I don't deserve this pleasure...after all I have done."
"Remember what we said about the past?" she asked, reaching up to touch his face. "It stays in the past. It's the present we're working on now, and the future...and I don't know about you, but I am thoroughly enjoying myself here." She gently wiped the tears away from his face.
Laughing lightly, he looked into her deep, beautiful eyes, and saw his own feelings reflected back at him. It was then he knew for sure that there need be no more apologies, no more guilt... This woman loved him for who he was...and would love him until the day he died. Of all the men she could have had, he was the one she wanted - her true love, her soul mate.
Eve smiled tenderly as she slid her hands around his back and pulled his body toward hers. When she reached under him to unzip his pants, he groaned in anticipation, no longer able to contain his yearning for the woman he loved.
Julian hungrily joined his mouth with hers as he removed the rest of her clothing. When she was finally lying undressed on his bed, he took in her beauty, as his heart filled with the most incredible love and desire for her. He had never felt this way about anyone else, and knew there would never be another who would grab onto his heart like Eve. Slowly, he descended toward her, knowing now that he was worthy to give her all of his love.
Much later, Eve woke up in Julian's arms. Noticing that he was sleeping peacefully, she smiled. She couldn't believe that she was finally here, in the arms of the man she loved, completely free to be with him.
She had met with TC earlier and had told him that she was going to Julian. He had appeared hurt at the news, but had brushed off his sorrow and covered it with indifference toward her and anger toward Julian.
Eve knew he was deeply wounded, but also knew in the end it was the best decision for all involved that they separate. TC had agreed to a divorce, acting as if it was what he really wanted, although she knew differently. She could still see his love for her in his eyes...behind the pain.
The two had talked at length about her past, and Eve had revealed the sad tale of the child she had lost - Julian's child. She could tell TC was upset with the news, but more than that, he was astonished that she had forgiven Julian for what he had put her through. It was then, Eve knew, that TC had realized the depth of her feelings for Julian. He finally understood that she was no longer his, and had never been completely his from the start because of her secrets and lies. TC, although terribly hurt, had at last agreed to let her go.
She had wanted to part on good terms with him for the girls' sake, and was pleased that she was able to do that. Eve knew that she still must call Whitney and break the news to her about the divorce. She was planning on seeing Simone in the morning to tell her what she and TC had decided as well. Neither girl was going to take it well, she realized, but she hoped they would come to understand the reasons behind her choice. It would be a shock to them, she knew, but they were big girls now and both seemed to have matured tremendously in the past year.
Julian began stirring at that very moment. He opened his eyes and blinked them, as if to see if what he was looking at was real or a mirage. He smiled at the love of his life. "Eve..." he said simply.
"Yes, love?" she asked.
"I thought for a moment this was all a dream," he admitted, looking into her gorgeous brown eyes. "I can't believe you're actually here - in my house - in my bed..."
"In our bed," Eve corrected him, her face all smiles. "As I told you earlier, I am home now...and you know that will mean some changes."
"Changes?" Julian asked, remembering how when Rebecca moved in, she had completely refurbished the mansion. He grinned. "Redecorate whatever you want, my dear - just as long as you're here, that's all that matters."
"I wasn't talking about redecorating, Julian," she said, playfully slapping his arm. "I meant that there would be changes with you...with the lifestyle you're used to."
"Oh, that," he laughed. "I gave up womanizing long ago, Eve. There's only one woman for me now."
"I know that," she said. "And I'm sure that will always be the case; it doesn't worry me in the least. No, I was referring to things like sharing your room with somebody else. You've never really done that, have you, Julian? I mean, I know Ivy had her own bedroom, and I'm assuming Rebecca did as well."
"Yes, they did," Julian said. "But don't think for an instant that I want you away from me any night. This is where I want you always, Eve, in my arms." He caressed her hair as he leaned over and gave her a kiss.
Eve returned his kiss and then pulled back. "Then there's my career, Julian. I work late hours. Are you going to be understanding of that?"
"Just as long as I have you, dear, I don't care about the rest. I'm thrilled you have a career of your own; Ivy and Rebecca never did. Maybe that was part of the problem with them."
"I'm glad you are so understanding," Eve said, smiling, "because the biggest change is yet to come..."
"What else?" Julian inquired, not sure where the conversation was headed.
"How are you going to handle the 3 a.m. feedings?" she asked, a huge smile on her face.
"What? 3 a.m...." Julian looked confused for a second. Then it hit him! "You're...you're not...?"
"Pregnant?" Eve smiled, blushing a little. "Oh, yes, Julian, you're going to be a daddy again."
Julian was completely shocked by the news. His eyes were as large as she had ever seen them, and his mouth hung wide open for what seemed like an eternity. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, giving it time to sink in. He thought of little Julia Eve, and his demeanor brightened suddenly. A broad smile spread across his face. He had never in a million years imagined those words coming out of Eve's mouth: She was pregnant! He couldn't believe what that meant for him...a new beginning, a second chance for them to have a family together, and a way for him to make things right with her.
Turning to his only love, Julian looked through the sudden tears in his eyes and said, "You have made me the happiest man in the world tonight, Eve."
"I am thrilled about it too," she admitted, smiling as much as he. "Quite surprised, but thrilled."
A thought suddenly crossed Julian's mind. "Are you sure that...?"
"That's it's ours?" Eve asked. She reached up and pushed the hair back on his forehead. "Oh, yes, honey, I'm sure. TC and I hadn't been together for awhile...and besides, we had trouble conceiving a child together after Simone was born. TC always said it was me - I think it hurt his pride too much to think otherwise. I guess we now know the problem was not with me." She shook her head and sighed. "Plus, as an obstetrician, I am pretty good with dates. And, like Sheridan, I just know that I am carrying the child of the man I love." Eve smiled as she said this last part, her eyes never leaving Julian's.
He leaned in and kissed her gently. "Is it OK, at your age and all?" he asked, worried.
She laughed. "I am not the youngest mother who will deliver at our hospital, but I am not quite the oldest either. More and more women my age are having babies," she said, "but usually with outside help." Eve chuckled. "That's one area you've never seemed to have had a problem in, Julian..."
"What? Getting a girl pregnant?" he asked, blushing. "I suppose not."
"We will just have to be very careful from now on," she laughed. "I intend for this to be my last."
"And for me, my best," he said. "I was never there for my other children, Eve. They hardly know me. I want to do things differently this time...to be a good father."
"You will be, Julian, the best!" Eve declared. "I have seen you with Julia Eve. You are wonderful with her."
"She is a precious little girl," he said. "I'd like a girl. I was always a man who favored sons, but I see now that daughters are very special in their own right."
"Yes, they certainly are," Eve beamed. "I have two wonderful ones myself."
"If it's a girl, I think we should call her Eden," Julian said. "Because even though she was conceived in a pit, it was like paradise for me and my Eve."
"And if it's a boy?" Eve asked.
"Is there a male version of Eden?" he wondered, grinning.
"I think Aden is the male form of Eden. We could use the Irish version - Aidan - what do you think?"
"Aidan Crane...hmmm... It has a nice ring to it," he said. "My dear, you have made me the happiest man in the world tonight, in so many ways," he declared. "I couldn't love you anymore than I do right now."
"I couldn't love you more either," she revealed. "You make me whole, Julian. You fill the void that has been in my heart since you left."
"I could say the same about you, Eve. Without you, I am not a complete person; I have been a mere shell of a man these last twenty years. Now I am whole again, ready to tackle whatever life throws our way."
"This child will be loved," Eve said, gently patting her stomach. "And I hope we can find our son soon. Then we will really be a complete family."
"We will find him, Eve. He is out there; I just know it." Julian leaned in and kissed his precious love.
"There is one more problem, Julian."
"What?" he asked, having no clue as to what she was referring.
"Alistair," she said. "I'm sure by now he knows that I am here."
"Yes, Father would have seen us on the cameras...except not in here," he reassured her. "We have total privacy in this room."
"Do you think he'll follow through on his threat and disown you?" she asked, her heart knowing his answer but wanting to hear it one more time.
"I don't really care if he does," Julian said. "I would take being penniless and having you over having billions without you."
She smiled and kissed his lips. "Whatever he does, it will be soon."
Julian nodded. "If there's one thing good I can say about Father, it's that he's definitely swift in his actions. I wouldn't worry though, Eve. I'm certain he'll remove me as the Crane heir, probably fire me from my position at Crane Industries...but he can't take every dime I have - some of the money is in my name too."
"I'm not worried," she said, looking deep into his adorable hazel eyes. "I would stay with you even if you were kicked out on the street. That's how much I love you."
Julian sat up and then re-positioned himself gently on top of Eve, his hands caressing the soft skin of her beautiful face. "I love you, my dear, more than you can imagine." He closed the gap between their mouths, meshing his lips with hers.
At that moment, the telephone rang next to the bed. "What timing," Julian groaned, making a face. He rolled off of Eve and scooted over to the side of the bed to pick up the receiver. "Yes, Father, what do you want?" he asked, his tone radically different from when he was speaking to Eve. "What?!" Julian cried. "Are you sure?... Unbelievable!" He clumsily hung up the phone and sat staring ahead into space.
"Julian, what's wrong?" Eve asked worriedly.
Her lover suddenly began laughing hysterically. "Yes!" he exclaimed, turning to her and smiling.
"What is it, Julian?" Eve wondered, the suspense killing her.
"The best news we could get, aside from finding our son," he replied. "Father is dead."
"You're kidding, right?" she asked. "Alistair - dead? I never thought I would see the day that that..."
"Bastard?" he helped finish for her. "You can say it. He certainly was one."
"Yes, that bastard... I never thought I'd see the day that that bastard would die. He seemed indestructible."
"Yes, he did," Julian admitted. "But I couldn't be happier. I am finally free!"
"What did he die of?" Eve asked curiously.
"He was killed," Julian said, "murdered, to be exact."
"Murdered?" Eve cried. "By whom?"
"It's by what, not whom," Julian said. "And the answer is, our love."
"I don't understand..." Eve confessed.
"Well, it seems that my dear father saw the two of us kissing each other earlier...You know how we get carried away with our kisses...and he had a massive coronary, right there on the spot. Apparently he just fell over dead on his desk. His secretary's the one who called me."
"I don't believe it," Eve said, trying to hold back her laughter. The picture of that formidable, evil man keeling over from watching them kiss was just too funny a picture for her. And what luck! She smiled broadly. "Our last obstacle gone - now I know we are destined to be together. Everything has worked out for us, finally."
"Well, almost everything," Julian said, grinning.
"What hasn't?" Eve asked, confused.
"Well, the phone call interrupted us," he said in his sexiest tone, "and we never got to finish what we started just now."
"I think I can fix that," she laughed.
"You can? Good, because I was hoping..."
"Come here, my man," she said, reaching for him to come back to the center of the bed, and then pulling him by his arms down onto her. "Let's celebrate your good news."
Once more they made love, this time realizing that nothing was left to prevent
them from living out their lives together at the Crane Estate. Eve was home...and
she and Julian would enjoy their home together for decades to come.