Julian reached the fifth floor about a minute after Eve. He stood for a moment to catch his breath, just as the elevator opened and the chauffeur stepped out. Annoyed that he had just raced up five flights of stairs at the same pace, Julian waved him away. “I’ll take care of her. You may as well go home.”

When the chauffeur left, Julian approached the open door. Entering the apartment, he was stunned to see Alistair holding a gun on Eve. “Father, what are you doing?!” Julian shouted in disbelief. “Where is Pilar?”

“She was escorted home,” Alistair said matter-of-factly.

With all the shouting, and strangers, and his mother crying, J.T. started to cry as well.

“Shut up!” Alistair slapped the toddler.

Eve screamed, “Don’t hurt him! He’s done nothing to you.”

“He was born alive! That’s enough reason,” Alistair snarled viciously.

“Father, let the boy go!” Julian could not believe what he was hearing as he stepped toward Alistair.

“You stay right where you are, sonny!” Alistair now pointed the gun at him.

Julian stopped. “What the hell is going on?” he demanded angrily.

“You always were clueless. To think that you actually have Crane blood, what a disgrace to the family name,” Alistair sneered.

“Clueless about what?” Julian asked, confused, and looked to a terrified Eve for help.

“Take a good look at this boy, Julian; aside from his appalling color, who does he remind you of?” Alistair forced the wailing boy to look toward him.

While Alistair was content in torturing Julian with the news of his son, Eve had backed toward the stove and gently eased the cast iron skillet off of it.

J.T. kept squirming, trying to get away from Alistair. Alistair angrily grabbed the boy with both hands and pushed him into Julian. “There, get acquainted with your son, for the first and LAST time.” He stood and pointed the gun at the boy and laughed cruelly at Julian’s shocked expression.

“Eve, what is he talking about?” Julian turned to face her, as he stepped in front of J.T. to shield him from the gun.

“It’s true, Julian; J.T. is your son. And you can thank your ‘miserable excuse for a father’” she quoted Alistair’s words, “that you never had the chance to get to know him.” She spat at Alistair.

“How dare you speak to a Crane that way?” Alistair said arrogantly. “You are not fit to breathe the same air as a Crane, let alone speak down to one.” He stepped closer to her and cocked the gun. “You shouldn’t have taken my warning so lightly, Eve. I warned you to stay away.”

“No!” cried Julian as he rushed his father and tried to wrestle the gun away. The gun went off just as Julian reached him. It missed, but Alistair clobbered him over the head with the butt end. Julian crumpled to the floor and groaned in pain.

At this point, Eve had pointed J.T. to his room, and he wasted no time getting there. He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, shutting the door behind him.

Satisfied that he was at least out of Alistair reach, Eve raised the skillet in self defense.

Alistair laughed hysterically at it. “And what do you think you are going to do with that, hmmm?” He waved the gun at Eve and continued to insult her. “You lower-class foot stool, you’d have to be shown how to use it.”

Julian lifted his leg and kicked Alistair with all the energy that he could muster. Alistair staggered and fell onto his knees.

Eve wasted no time. She made a mad dash for Alistair, raised her skillet and smashed it onto his head. He crumpled in a heap next to Julian, completely out cold.

Shaking, Eve jabbed him with the skillet, making sure he was out, and said in defiance, “I don’t know how to use a skillet, eh?” She stood over Alistair like a lion over her kill.

Julian groaned and reached up to touch his aching head. “I think you are a natural with it.” He tried to smile as he rubbed his injured head.

“Oh Julian!” She dropped the skillet and knelt down next to him. When she touched the wound, he winced. “I’m sorry; hold on, I’ll get my medical kit.” She went to the bathroom and got the supplies that she needed.

While she was bandaging Julian’s head, J.T. came out of his room to see what was going on. His face was wet with tears.

“Come here, sweetie.” Eve held out her arms, and he ran straight for them.

“He seems like a wonderful boy,” Julian said, sitting up.

“Just like his father.” Eve smiled, her eyes begging for him to understand.

“You should have told me, Eve,” he said.

“I know,” she whispered. “I know that now. I just wish that I would have had the courage to tell you years ago,” she said as her eyes filled with tears.

“Hey, don’t cry.” He reached out and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I understand that you were afraid for your life. I know what an evil man my father is, and I believe that he would have killed you just like he threatened.” Julian looked at the crumpled figure of Alistair in disgust. “But I want you to know that I would have helped you.”

“Julian,” she cried as she threw herself into his arms, “I’ve ruined everything.”

“Shhh, you haven’t ruined anything, just delayed things for awhile, that’s all.” He pulled back and smiled. “Now that we are together again, we can start all over…you, me and our son.” He pulled J.T. close and held them both in his arms.

J.T., a little unsure of this stranger, held tightly to his mother.

“It’s OK, son, we have lots of time to get to know each other.” He laughed and leaned over to kissed Eve as J.T. squirmed out of their arms and stood, staring thoughtfully at the stranger on the floor.

“Yes,” Eve agreed happily. “But what are we going to do with him?” She turned to face Alistair.

“Maybe we could tie him up and torture him for awhile - show him how much we love each other.” Julian grinned wickedly.

“Oh, Julian, you are too much.” She leaned in and kissed him.

Half an hour later, the police arrived and took Alistair into custody for attempted murder.

“You are going away for a long time,” Sam Bennett, the chief of police, said.

Later that evening, when J.T. was sound asleep, Julian and Eve lay in bed and held each other close.

“I’ve missed you so much,” Eve said.

“Not nearly as much as I have,” he sighed, hugging her closer.

Eve lazily ran her fingers lightly over his chest. “Julian,” she murmured sleepily as she dozed off happily.

Present Day... One week later...

“EVE!!” The loud angry voice awoke her with a start.

“What’s wrong?? J.T.?” She sat up in confusion.

“What the hell is going on?” he practically shouted.

“What’s going on?” she repeated, trying to focus on the face leaning over her.

Slowly everything came into focus, including the angry face of her husband, TC Russell. She stared for a moment, confused. “What happened?”

“You were in a car accident. We brought you in here, unconscious. You have been in a coma for a week. Then out of the blue, you started smiling and rubbing my hand. Then you said ‘Julian!’”

Eve stared at TC in shock. It had all seemed so real, the emotions she felt. ‘Dear God, help me, how am I going to explain this one?’ she thought frantically.

“What is going on, Eve? Why were you saying Julian’s name? What do you have to do with him?” TC demanded angrily.