Eve slept peacefully, her weary body relaxed in the warm sunshine. The quiet apartment offered the rest she had needed since she woke from her coma. Rolling over onto her side, she readjusted herself and awoke with a start when she nearly toppled onto the floor.

Confused, she looked around for a moment. She then stretched lazily, trying to loosen her stiff muscles as she remembered where she was. Sighing wearily, she tried to rub away the anxiety that was returning again. Finally, after a few unsuccessful attempts, she got up and walked to the window and looked out over the waterfront.

A knock on the door caused her to jump slightly. Unsure of who it could be, she approached the door and looked through the peephole. Smiling, she unlocked the door and opened it. “Sweetheart!” Eve exclaimed happily.

Simone pushed past her and entered the apartment. “How could you, Mom? How could you leave Daddy?” she cried angrily.

“I didn’t leave your father, Simone. He wants nothing to do with me. He found out about my past with Julian Crane, and he just can’t forgive me for it,” Eve tried to explain.

“But you could have begged him. He would have forgiven you.”

Eve sighed. “Beg, Simone? I am not a desperate, pathetic woman that I am going to beg for forgiveness for something that I did when I was young and dumb. I didn’t even know your father then. I admit it was wrong to keep it from him, but he can’t see past his hatred for Julian to even consider forgiving me.”

Simone cried louder. “Why did you have to have an affair with that pig anyways? All he’s ever done is ruin our lives.”

“I admit Julian has been a horrible person in the past, but I really believe he has changed and deserves a second chance.” Eve was surprised at her defense of Julian.

“You’re defending that pig?” Simone cried in disbelief.

“Well, yes, I…” Eve started.

“I don’t believe this, Mom. How could you? How could you stand up for Julian and not Daddy?”

“This is between your father and me, not Julian, Simone. You father can’t forgive my past. And as long as that is the case, I’m afraid we don’t have a future together.” Eve tried desperately to get Simone to understand.

“You are just like Whitney; choosing another man over your family. You both make me sick!” she screamed, and ran toward the door.

“Simone…” Eve called after her, as her daughter raced for the door.

“I don’t want to hear it!” She stormed out and slammed the door behind her.

Eve sank to the floor and cried.

Just as Simone stepped into one elevator, Julian stepped out of the other. He approached Eve’s suite and stood outside her door, listening for a moment to her sobs. His heart went out to her as he gently opened the door and slipped inside, closing the door behind him.

Startled, Eve looked up. When she saw Julian, she only cried louder.

Julian removed his shoes, tossed his coat on the counter, and knelt down on the floor next to her. He pulled her into his arms and leaned her head against his chest, letting her cry until she was spent and exhausted.

Gently, he ran his fingers through her hair, pressing her closer to him, letting her know that he was there for her. He was rewarded when she buried her face deeper into his chest, her arms sliding around his back, clinging to him desperately.

“My sweet Eve,” he whispered. “I wish that I could take away all your pain. I wish that I had stayed with you all those years ago…” he said as a tear escaped and slid down his cheek.

Eve leaned back slightly and looked into his face. The tears glistening in his eyes took her breath away. She reached up and tried to brush them away, but Julian caught her hand and pressed it to his lips.

“I wish that things could have been different for us too, Julian,” she said sadly.

“I made a mistake that I have regretted for twenty years, Eve.” Julian’s voice shook with emotion. “Maybe I can do it right this time.”

Julian caught his breath as Eve’s gaze settled on his lips. When her eyes rose to meet his once more, he saw that he had not misread her intentions. He pulled her to him, placing his mouth on hers and kissing her with the urgency of a desperate, dying man. He held her close, never wanting to let her go. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he released her lips for a moment, and breathed deeply, his forehead resting against hers.

Eve pulled back and looked into his eyes. She could see the love and passion shining in them. Overwhelming emotions flooded her soul as she tried to make sense of what was happening to her. The feelings she used to feel for Julian came rushing back, like a river that had been held back and finally released. Only this time, they were so much more intense.

Julian smiled as Eve blinked back tears that threatened to fall. He finally saw in her eyes what he had been hoping to see for such a long time. He didn’t need words to tell him how she felt, he knew. He knew at last that she loved him still. And he would wait as long as she needed him to, for her to tell him so.

Julian smiled and leaned in to kiss her again. He caught her face in his hands and drew her nearer. When his lips settled on hers once more, he kissed her gently, feeling her, tasting her as he gave her his heart and soul.

Eve’s heart soared as she returned him kiss for kiss. She felt that in all her years she had never been loved so completely, and so unconditionally. At that moment she realized that he was the man for her, the man she wanted to grow old with.

Though Eve had wanted to distance herself from men, she knew in her heart that twenty years away from your true love was more than any one person should have to endure. Twenty years had slipped away from them, and she wasn’t about to let it happen again.

After a few moments, Julian pulled back and got to his feet, dragging Eve up with him.

She protested good-naturedly as he pulled her over to the window.

They stood in the sunshine, gazing out over the waterfront. Boats were slowly moving in and out of the piers as seagulls flew overhead looking for any scraps that the fishermen might throw away.

Julian stood behind Eve and circled her waist with his arms, locking his fingers together and holding her close. He hugged her and, smiling, leaned down and kissed her on the neck just below her ear.

Eve shivered with pleasure and folded one arm across his and hugged him closer as her other hand reached up and pressed his cheek against her own. “I love you, Julian,” she whispered.