“What in the blazes is that four-legged beast doing in my room?!” he yelled.
Rebecca laughed. “Oh, Pookie, don’t worry. It’s just a little ole donkey.”
“How did it get in here?” he asked, hurriedly getting dressed.
“Oh don’t get dressed yet, Pookie. I thought you and I could have some fun first,” she purred as she caressed his chest.
“With that hideous thing? Have you lost your mind?” He brushed her away and hurried to his bathroom. “That thing had better be gone when I get out of the shower!” he shouted through the bathroom door.
Rebecca pouted and led the donkey out of the bedroom. “Ethan, can you please escort Maria to the barn?” She handed a startled Ethan the reins.
“But I was just…” he started.
“I’m sure that whatever it is you’re doing can wait.” She patted him on the shoulder and left him standing there stupidly with the donkey heehawing at him.
“Pookie, can I join you?” Rebecca asked as she entered the steaming bathroom.
“No, I have some business to attend to, and I don’t want to be late.” He wrapped a towel around his waist and stepped out of the shower.
Rebecca grabbed the towel and tugged. “Come on, don’t you even want a quickie?” She pinched him wickedly.
Julian jumped. “No, I don’t have time for this, Becks. I really have to go.” He grabbed his pants and put them on. “I’ll be back later. We’ll talk then.”
“Talk? Who wants to talk?” Rebecca whined.
“Yes, talk; we need to talk.” Julian said, amused at her pouting expressions. “I’ll see you later.” He grabbed his jacket and left her staring after him in disbelief.
“I wonder what is going on with you, Pookie? You’re not one to turn down a roll in the hay,” Rebecca said thoughtfully. “Not for anything!”
At the hospital, Eve was still sleeping when the nurse came in with her breakfast tray.
“Time for breakfast!” She smiled when Eve opened her eyes.
“Good morning, Kate. Are you still here?” Eve asked.
“My shift ends at eight. I just wanted to check on you one more time before I go home,” Kate explained.
“Did my husband come by last night?” Eve asked, still wondering if she had imagined the late night kiss.
“No, I didn’t see him. But he might have come when I was with a patient,” Kate offered.
“I must have been imagining it,” Eve thought out loud.
“Julian Crane stopped by to see how you were, but I told him that you were asleep, and he must have left.”
“Must have?” Eve asked, her heart fluttering at the mention of his name.
Kate raised her eyebrows at the sudden quickening of the heart monitor. “I guess he did; he was gone when I returned to my desk.”
“Kate, shut that thing off!” Eve said, annoyed. “I think I’ll live without it.”
“Sure.” Kate smiled knowingly and then turned it off. “Is there any reason you ask why someone was here last night? Did something happen?”
“No…no, nothing happened. I just thought maybe TC was here, that’s all,” Eve stammered.
“Like I said, only Julian Crane stopped by, and he left right away,” Kate said.
“So, how am I doing? Any chance of me getting out of here soon?” Eve asked, changing the subject. She didn’t want to think about it anymore.
“Well, you’ll have to discuss that with your doctor. But I think you are doing very well considering what you went through.” Kate pushed the breakfast tray close to Eve so that she could eat. “Enjoy your breakfast, Dr. Russell,” she said and then left the room.
Eve sighed and nibbled on her toast. ‘Well, I may as well make the best of it,’ she thought as she eyed the oatmeal, toast and tea.
Try as she may, she could not bring herself to eat the oatmeal, so she ate the toast and drank the tea, and then pushed the dishes aside. Slowly, she sat up and lifted her legs over the side of the bed. She rested for a moment and then tried to get on her feet. A sudden dizzy spell caused her to quickly sit back down on the bed. ‘I guess it’s too soon,’ she thought.
Getting back under the covers, Eve grabbed a magazine and flipped through the pages. She stopped short when she spotted a picture of Julian Crane in the business section. She stared at his picture, unconsciously tracing his face, admiring how distinguished he looked with gray hair.
Eve dropped the magazine and cursed, “Damn you, Julian, why are doing this to me?” When the door opened, she quickly grabbed it and hid it under the covers, and then straightened up.
“Hello, Eve.” Liz smiled.
“Liz, what are you doing here?” Eve asked, suddenly uncomfortable.
“Well, can’t I come by and see how my sister is doing?” Liz asked with a sly smile, enjoying Eve’s discomfort. “Oh, would you relax. I may want my revenge, but I certainly don’t want you dead,” she stated.
“Well, that’s a relief!” Eve said sarcastically.
“What are you hiding under the covers?” Liz grinned, leaning over for a better look.
“Nothing!” Eve lied in surprise as she pulled farther away from her.
“Oh, come now, I saw you stuff something under the covers. What is it, hmmm? Perhaps you’re hiding drugs, or maybe a list of all your latest lovers,” Liz taunted.
“Get out!” Eve yelled.
“I’m not leaving till I’m ready!” her sister fired back.
A nurse came in to see what the commotion was all about. “What is going on in here?” she asked in concern. “You cannot upset the patient. Besides, visiting hours aren’t till two o’clock, so I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
Eve smiled in smug satisfaction as the nurse escorted an unwilling Liz to the door.
“I’ll be back later,” Liz promised.
“Not if I can help it! And stay away from my family,” Eve added as she called after her.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Russell,” the nurse apologized. “I didn’t see her enter your room. I would have stopped her.”
“It’s OK, Rachel.” Eve smiled. “If it’s possible, try not to let her in here again, OK? I don’t need this stress.” She rubbed her temples to relieve the tension.
“Are you all right? Shall I get your doctor?” Rachel asked, concerned.
“No, I’m sure he’ll be here soon. I’ll talk to him then.” Eve waved wearily. “I just need to get some rest.”
After the nurse left, Eve took out the magazine and placed it under her pillow. She didn’t want to risk TC seeing it. ‘No use getting him all worked up,’ she thought, firmly patting the pillow.
Later that day, Julian finished his meetings and headed for the hospital, in hopes of visiting with Eve for a little while. He stopped at the gift store and bought her some flowers. He declined the greeting card, thinking that it would only cause TC to ‘fly off the handle.’ He shuddered at the thought of TC’s insane desire to put an end to his life, and the last thing he needed was to give him a reason to do just that. At the nurse’s station, he stopped to see if Eve had any visitors.
“No, she is alone right now, Mr. Crane,” Rachel said.
“Thank you.” He smiled and straightened his suit in an attempt to look his best, and then laughed at how ridiculous he was acting.
Eve was trying to take a nap when she heard Julian’s voice. She sat up when he entered the room.
“Are you up for some company?” He smiled tenderly as he sat on the stool next to her bed, placing the flowers on the night table. “I didn’t get a card,” he pointed out. “I didn’t want to upset TC.”
“Thank you, they are very beautiful.” Eve smiled at the thoughtful gesture, ignoring his comments on TC.
“So,” Julian exhaled nervously, “how are you feeling today?”
“Actually, I tried to get up. But I guess I am not quite ready,” she said.
“Why? What happened?”
“Well, I got a little dizzy; I guess I’ll just have to wait till TC gets here, and then maybe I’ll try again,” she explained.
Julian raised an eyebrow and grinned. “Maybe you don’t have to wait.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll help you, if you want,” he offered.
“No, that’s OK. I don’t want to bother you,” she said, feeling suddenly uneasy.
“It won’t be a bother, Eve. After all, it’s the least I can do, since I put you here in the first place.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Julian. You aren’t responsible,” she said.
“Well, I want to do what I can to help you get better.” He smiled as he got to his feet.
“What are you doing?” she asked in surprise when he pulled the blanket off of her.
“I’m going to help you stand,” he said.
Self-conscious of the thin gown that she was wearing, Eve pulled the covers back over her legs. “I think I’ll just wait for TC,” she said, trying to hide her reddening cheeks.
“You don’t have to be embarrassed, Eve.” He smiled tenderly when he noticed she was blushing. “I promise I’ll behave.”
Feeling silly, Eve agreed. “All right, but just for a minute.”
Julian helped her swing her legs over the side of the bed. Then he sat down next to her and placed his arm around her waist. His heart almost stopped from the pure pleasure of it.
Eve closed her eyes for a moment to steady her nerves. The feel of his arm around her affected her senses more than she would care to admit. Taking a deep breath, she pushed up and stood, Julian’s protective arm holding her firmly next to him.
When she wobbled slightly, he reached out with his other hand and steadied her. He looked up to see if she was all right and held her gaze, his face only inches from hers. He stopped breathing, his heart pounding crazily in his chest.
Eve, overwhelmed by his masculine presence, couldn't bring herself to look away. His eyes were so warm and gentle, begging her to trust him. Unconsciously, she shifted her gaze to his lips, wondering what it would be like to kiss him again.
“Eve,” he whispered. “I won’t take advantage of you.”
Eve looked into his eyes and saw the genuine sincerity
there. Never before had she felt as much respect for him as she did at that
moment. She didn’t know what to say.
She had had her doubts about his claims to have changed, but this…she had never seen Julian so open and honest, and frankly, it terrified her. Not in a sense that he was a danger to her, but now she wasn’t sure how she felt about him. All the anger and pain he had caused her in the past seemed to just melt away. On impulse, she suddenly reached out and hugged him.
Julian closed his eyes, holding her close for a moment. He pulled back and caressed her cheek. “I’ll never do anything to hurt you, not ever!” he promised with a smile and then helped her into bed and covered her back up with her blanket.
“Julian,” she said, her voice full of emotion.
He looked up and was surprised to see tears brimming in her eyes. “What’s wrong?” he asked in alarm. “Are you in any pain?”
“No, it’s just that…” She wiped the tears impatiently. “Thank you,” she finally said. “If there is anything that I can do to repay the kindness you have shown to me and to my family…”
“There is one thing that you can do for me,” he said.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“I’d like for us to be friends.” He raised his hand in case she protested. “Just between the two of us,” he added, taking a risk in suggesting that they keep it hidden from TC.
She paused for a moment, knowing full well what he was asking of her. Considering the mountain of secrets she was already keeping from TC, she didn’t feel right about it. “I don’t know, Julian. My life is complicated enough right now.”
“Well, let this be the one thing that isn’t complicated,” he offered. “I promise not to interfere with your life in any way. I’ll only be there when you need me.”
Eve looked into his pleading eyes and smiled. She really believed that he was being completely sincere and honest. “I’ll think about it,” she finally said. “And thank you again, Julian.”
“You’re more than welcome.” He smiled and then took his scarf off her bed and turned to leave. “Get well soon, OK?”
“OK.” She smiled and then watched as he closed the door behind him.
Falling back onto her pillow, Eve exhaled loudly. ‘What am I going to do? My husband wants to kill Julian. Liz is out to destroy me, and now Julian wants to be friends. My life couldn’t get any weirder.’ She grabbed her glass of water from the table in frustration and then sighed at the flowers that Julian had brought.