At the Russell home, TC slammed the door with Liz close at his heels. “I need a drink,” he muttered.

“I’ll get one for you.” Liz jumped right on it.

Pouring two rather large drinks, Liz handed one to TC and kept the other for herself. They sat in silence draining the drinks, sulking in their self-made misery.

After a few more, TC was getting quite drunk, and Liz was not far behind. She smiled wickedly and sat down next to TC. Purring in his ear, she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, TC.”

“Mmmm, that is good.” He smiled at her, not caring one way or another about what she meant.

Liz slipped her hand inside his shirt and ran her fingers over his chest.

“Ahhh,” TC groaned in pleasure as he pulled Liz into his arms, sloshing his drink on the sofa. Roughly he placed his lips on hers, kissing her with a wild and drunken abandon, giving in to the lust that burned inside of him.

At the hospital, Julian was happy. For the first time in countless years, he was truly happy. He smiled at Eve, his eyes sparkling with love. “I bought you something. It’s nothing much; I just saw it in the window of a store and thought of you. I hope you like it.” He handed her the gift he had brought.

Eve took the gift and said, “Oh, you shouldn’t have, Julian.”

“I wanted to. I wanted to get you a little something for putting you in here in the first place,” he explained apologetically.

“You know that was my fault. If anything, I should be getting you a new car. After all, it is the second one that we have ruined for you,” Eve pointed out.

Julian chuckled. “You need not worry about my cars, Eve. I can afford to replace them whenever I please. Besides, I already got a new car, a black Mercedes to be exact!”

Eve stopped short. “A black Mercedes?”

“Yes. Why? Is there something wrong?” he asked curiously.

“Uh…no. I just…well, nothing,” she stammered, thinking of the black car in her dream.

‘This is so weird,’ she thought as she started to open the gift.

“Actually, I don’t exactly know why I bought it. It just felt…right,” Julian tried to explain.

Eve smiled when she pulled out the scarf. It was black with flecks of silver in it. “It’s beautiful, Julian, but you shouldn’t have.” Her smile of delight said otherwise.

“I’m glad you like it. I knew you would.” He grinned happily at her obvious pleasure.

“I love it, but I can’t accept this. TC would kill you if he found out,” Eve said anxiously.

“I won’t tell him if you won’t,” Julian offered. “But if it makes you that uncomfortable, I’ll take it back.”

Eve sighed and smiled at him. “It’s OK. I am going to keep it.”

As Eve and Julian talked, the door suddenly opened and Whitney and Chad walked in.

Whitney stopped short when she saw Julian sitting next to her mother. “Mom, is everything OK here?” She eyed Julian, who smiled at her and Chad.

“Hello, Whitney, Chad.” He nodded to Chad. “Good to see you again.”

“Again?” asked Eve.

“I saw them at the Book Café earlier today,” Julian turned to explain and then got up.

“I’ll see you later, Eve. Get better soon, OK?” He touched her hand briefly and walked to the door.

When Julian had left, Whitney sat on the stool and eyed the scarf on Eve’s lap. “Gift?”

Eve shifted uncomfortably. “Yes, Julian felt bad about the accident, and he bought me this scarf to try to make me feel better.”

“Did it work?” Whitney raised her eyebrows.

“Well, not as much as seeing you guys.” Eve smiled weakly, trying to change the subject. “Where is Simone? I thought she might be with you, Chad.”

“She’s over at the Bennett house,” Whitney explained quickly. “I mentioned that I wanted to come see you, and Chad offered to walk me.”

“Oh,” said Eve, eyeing the two suspiciously. “You know, I am still amazed that you and Simone are going out,” she said to Chad. “I always thought that it would be you and Whitney. But I guess I was wrong…or was I?” she said when Whitney and Chad exchanged a look.

Whitney looked at Eve guiltily. “Please don’t tell Daddy,” she pleaded. “Chad and I have been in love for awhile now, and we just want to prove to Daddy that I can play tennis and have a boyfriend too.”

Eve exhaled loudly. “What about Simone?”

“Well that’s just it… Chad and I don’t want to hurt her, so we are letting her believe she and Chad are a couple. And then Chad will gradually ease her out of what she now thinks is a relationship,” Whitney tried to explain as Chad held her hand in support.

“I don’t know about this, Whitney. It’s one thing to keep this from your father, but to deceive Simone like this… I don’t like it.” Eve said, a worried look wrinkling her brow.

“I know,” sighed Whitney. “We don’t like it either, but we think that it is the only thing that will work. We don’t want to hurt her.”

“Yes, Dr. Russell, we don’t want to hurt anyone. We just want to be together. You understand, right? You know what it’s like to be in love?” Chad asked, hoping to sway Eve for her support in this matter.

Eve’s thoughts turned to Julian. ‘Love, it can cause a lot of pain.’ She looked at the pleading faces of Whitney and Chad. Holding hands, they looked very much in love, but caught between a rock and a hard place. Eve’s heart when out to them, to be so young and in such a predicament. It broke her heart. “I understand where you are coming from. I definitely know what it’s like to be in love and not be able to be with the one you love…”

“How? Did something happen when you and Daddy fell in love? Was someone keeping you apart?” Whitney asked curiously.

“No…no…” Eve lied, thinking of how it was Julian that was taken from her, not TC. “I was just thinking of some of the patients that I have counseled. There have been some with this problem. The thing is, I am not sure that this plan of yours is going to work, Whitney.” Eve quickly changed the topic back to her daughter, feeling foolish for letting her thoughts slip out.

“Why not? What did you tell your patients to do?” Whitney wanted to know.

“I…well, I just told them to…to…follow their hearts,” Eve said, scrambling for an answer.

“See, that is what I have been saying all along!” Chad jumped in. “We belong together, and I want to be able to follow my heart and dream, and that is to be with Whitney.” He smiled fondly at her and placed his arm protectively around her shoulders.

“Well, I can see that you are in love. But I am not sure that TC will accept it,” Eve said.

“I know,” Whitney said. “That is why I want to win tournaments and show Daddy that I can handle both.”

“Well, your losing the last one did not help,” Eve pointed out.

“I don’t know what happened. I didn’t get to bed that late, but when I woke up, I was so tired. I don’t understand what could have made me so tired,” Whitney said, bewildered.

“Well, you just make sure that you get in on time from now on. I will support you as much as I can. But I will warn you, I am not going against your father’s wishes for you. This means too much to him,” Eve warned.

“Too much!” Chad blurted out.

“Well, he wants what is best for Whitney, Chad,” Eve said in TC’s defense.

“I know. It’s just that sometimes I think that Whitney’s tennis career is more his dream than it is Whitney’s.”

“That’s not true,” Whitney jumped in when Eve’s eyes narrowed in disapproval. “I love to play tennis,” she said. “I just want to have a life at the same time too, you know?”

Chad smiled and took her hand. “I’m sorry. I just want you to be happy. I love you so much.”

Whitney grinned with pleasure.

Eve smiled at the two young lovers. ‘To be young and in love again…’ She sighed as her thoughts turned to Julian Crane. Her pulse quickened as she remembered his kiss, the soft masculine feel of his lips on hers, and the scent of his cologne that still lingered in the air.

She fingered the scarf in her hands as her body responded to the thoughts running free in her mind. She squeezed her eyes shut as a tear tried to escape. ‘What am I going to do about you, Julian?’ she thought.

“Mom? Are you crying? What’s wrong?” Whitney asked in alarm.

Eve brushed the tears from her cheeks and smiled. “Nothing, dear, it’s just so touching to see my beautiful daughter in love for the first time,” she said.

“Oh…” Whitney and Chad both grinned in delight.

“Thanks, Mom. I knew that I could count on you.” Whitney hugged her.

“Thank you, Dr. Russell. We’re going to go now and let you get some rest,” Chad said as he shook her hand politely and then pulled Whitney from the room.

After they left, Eve sank back into her pillow, exhausted, her head reeling from the day’s events. TC, Liz, Whitney, Simone, Julian…it was all beginning to take its toll on her as she slipped into an exhausted sleep.

Her heart and mind took her to the only relief she could find these days, the life that might have been…

Julian sat up and pulled Eve with him. “Come on, I want to show you something.” He grinned at her.

“Where?” she shrieked as her feet hit the cold floor. “Hold on, I want to get my slippers.” She laughed when he kept tugging her hand eagerly.

In the living room, Eve was astonished to see a beautiful Christmas tree all decorated in silver and gold. Beautifully wrapped gifts were laid out beneath it. “Where did you get all this? When did you do this?” she asked in disbelief.

“Last night when you were asleep. Pilar came over to help me, after I convinced her that Alistair was safe in jail. She did a great job. I’ll have to give her a bonus for this one.” He smiled.

“Oh, Julian, how wonderful! I never had the time to shop. I never even got a gift for J.T.” Tears suddenly sprang into her eyes.

“Well, no harm done. It is Christmas morning, and we are all here together.” He smiled and pulled her into his arms. “As soon as our son wakes up, we’ll see what Santa brought us this year.” He bent and kissed her tenderly.

“He already brought me the best gift of all.” Eve smiled as she hugged him closer.

“Oh yeah, what’s that?” He laughed.

“He got us a tree!” she teased, laughing at his phony hurt expression.

“It is rather beautiful,” he commented, playing along.

“I love you, Julian,” Eve whispered, “more than I ever thought possible.”

“Hmmm,” he murmured as he kissed her again. “I love you too, and our son.” He smiled when J.T. came into the room and stared at them.

Eve pulled out of Julian’s arms and knelt down to hug J.T., who raced into her arms, while keeping a wary eye on Julian. “Good morning, sweetheart,” she said as Julian knelt down beside her.

“Hello, J.T.” He offered his hand to shake.

J.T. looked at it for a moment and then clutched it in an adult fashion and shook it proudly. “Hi!” He smiled, still hanging onto Eve.

Julian laughed. “You sure are a big boy.” He ruffled his hair.

J.T. shyly ducked behind his mother, and then let out a shriek when he spotted all the gifts behind her. Eve and Julian sat down on the floor and watched him eagerly tear into the presents.

They laughed as he opened one toy after another, giggling with delight at all the new things to play with.

“Thank you, Julian.” Eve leaned over and kissed him.

“You are so welcome. I have dreamed of this moment for a long, long time,” he breathed huskily as he reached into the tree and brought out a small package and handed it to Eve. “I got this for you.” He smiled.

With nervous fingers, Eve opened the gift. Her heart stopped when she noticed it was a small square jewelry box. She slowly opened the lid and gasped. Sparkling brilliantly back at her was the biggest diamond ring that she had ever seen. “Oh, Julian, it’s beautiful,” she said as tears slipped down her cheeks.

“Not nearly as beautiful as you,” he whispered as he took the ring from the box.

Getting up on one knee, he took her hand and kissed it. “Eve,” he said nervously, “I have loved you from the first moment I saw you singing in that bar in Boston. I never knew that a woman could change a man as completely as you have changed me. You have given me a second chance at life. Before I met you, I was a runaway train, on its way downhill. But you saved me, Eve. You saved my life. You gave me hope when there was none, and you gave me love, when I didn’t deserve any. I love you more than I love my own life. Will you make me the happiest man in the world? Will you be my wife?” His eyes glistened with tears as he waited anxiously for her response.

Eve sat in stunned silence at his profound words. She never dreamed that she could love him any more than she already did, but at that moment, hearing his passionate plea, she knew she did. Brushing tears from his cheek, she leaned over and kissed him. With her lips pressed to his, she whispered, “Yes, yes, I will marry you, Julian. Now and forever.”

She threw her arms around him and cried with joy.

J.T. stared at them in confusion, and then started to cry himself. “Mommy…” He pressed himself against her and hugged her.

Eve and Julian laughed and pulled away from each other. “It’s OK, son. Mommy is just very happy. That’s all.” Eve smoothed his hair and kissed his forehead.

Satisfied that nothing was wrong, J.T. went back to playing with his toys.

Eve turned back to Julian and held out her left hand. She smiled happily as Julian slipped the diamond ring on her finger. Then he pulled her into his arms and held her close as they watched J.T. play with his new toys.

Eve opened her eyes, not understanding why she kept dreaming about Julian and the son she never knew. ‘Could it be? Could it be a glimpse of what might have been?’ she wondered.

She took a sip of water and then relaxed back against her pillow. “Dear Lord,” she prayed, “please help me to sort out this mess that is my life. I don’t know what to do, where to turn. My husband is always angry, and frankly it is getting quite tiresome. I don’t want to live like this anymore, Lord. I am tired of being anxious all the time, worrying about how I say things for fear that TC might misinterpret what I say. Please help me; show me what to do. Lord, be with my girls. I know that they are all grown up now, and ready to live their own lives. I just pray that you will be with them and keep them from making the same mistakes I made. Protect them, bless them.”

Eve poured out her heart to God, not knowing what else to do, or where else to turn.
“Lord, I love Liz, but she is making it awfully hard for me to like her. Help her to forgive me for all that I did to hurt her. And Lord, I need your wisdom concerning Julian Crane. He was the first man that I ever loved. After all this time, I thought I had gotten over him, but now I am not sure of these feelings that he stirs in me. And I have no idea why I am dreaming of him the way that I am. Help me to do what is right. If my son is out there somewhere, please look out for him. And if it’s not too much to ask, Lord, I would love to see him, even just once, just to see if he is OK,” Eve prayed as tears slipped down her cheeks, her heart heavy with the burdens that she was no longer able to bear.

Sitting in his black Mercedes, Julian leaned against the side window, his heart aching for Eve. “Oh, Eve, what I wouldn’t give to have you here in my arms.” He sighed as his mind wandered back to the kiss he had shared with her. His heart raced at the thought of it. Shaking his head, he pulled himself together and started his car. Shifting into drive, he slowly headed for the mansion.