Alistair Crane smirked at TC as he continued to struggle to get away from the security guards. “You know, TC, all these years you have hated the Cranes because you thought that Julian was responsible for the car accident that shattered your knee and ruined your tennis career.”
TC glared at him. “One day I am going to find that receipt and prove that I am right, that Julian’s car was the one that hit mine that night.”
“I’ll save you the trouble, TC. Julian was responsible…partly anyway.”
“I knew it!!” TC shouted.
Julian and Eve both gasped in shock.
Ignoring Julian’s plea, Alistair continued. “Yes, TC, it was Julian’s car that hit you that night, but it wasn’t Julian who was driving it.”
“FATHER…” Julian’s voice rose in panic.
“What? I saw Julian,” TC said.
“Yes, you saw Julian all right, but he wasn’t the one who hit you. He was the passenger.”
“That is enough, Father!!” Julian cried.
“No, Julian, it is time that TC knew the truth. Frankly, I am tired of listening to his wild accusations. He has no idea what he is talking about, and it is time he knew the truth.” With that, he turned back to face TC.
“Well, if it wasn’t Julian, who was it then?” TC demanded.
“Eve!” Alistair said simply.
Eve’s hand flew to her mouth in horror. “Oh no! It couldn’t be true.”
“You see, Eve was singing at a local club, and Julian showed up with Ivy Winthrop. Eve was devastated when she saw them together, and when it was all over, she drank till she could hardly walk. Julian returned later to pick her up. Even though Eve was hurt, she still went with him. And like that whipped pup that he was, Julian allowed Eve to convince him to let her drive. After the accident, Julian quickly had the car fixed while he took Eve to the luxurious Crane Hotel and carried on with her all night. When she sobered up in the morning, she didn’t remember a thing, and by the looks of things, she still doesn’t.” Alistair glanced at Eve, who collapsed in Julian’s arms in a wave of sobs.
“I didn’t know…I didn’t know…” she cried.
TC turned and stared at Eve. His eyes filled with pain, and his face twisted in disgust as thoughts of her and Julian together filled his mind. He couldn’t believe it. It seemed so outrageous that he could not bring himself to accept it as truth. “I don’t believe it. Eve would never do anything like that. She would never drink and drive.”
“The Eve you know now wouldn’t, but the Eve of Julian’s past, well, she was a whole different person,” Alistair informed him.
The security guards let TC drop to the floor in a heap. “No, not Eve, I don’t believe it.” His heart ached with bitter pain as he realized that he had been wrong all those years, and that the one he’d loved most was the one who had ruined his life.
“Well, you had better. It is the truth TC, the whole truth,” Alistair smirked.
“Father, stop it!!” Julian demanded as he supported Eve in his arms.
“I am sorry, Julian; you have carried the blame for Eve long enough.”
“That was my choice!” Julian fired angrily. “You had no right to bring this up.”
“Why not? After all, we are in a truth telling mood.” Alistair shrugged.
“You have accomplished nothing by bringing this up.”
“Really? I think that I have. You, my son, are free. TC will no longer threaten your life, and Grace and Sam will get their marriage back. I think that I have done a lot of good.”
“Free? If my freedom comes at Eve’s expense, then I don’t want it!” Julian spat.
“Yes, yes, you love her. I’ve heard it all before.”
Julian turned to Eve and kissed her cheek. “I’m so sorry, Eve.”
Eve wiped her tears. “All this time you took the blame, Julian. Why? Why would you let TC beat you up time and time again? Why would you let him keep thinking it was you, keep hating you for something you didn’t do?”
“What, and have him hate you, and maybe even leave you? No, your happiness was far more important to me, Eve. I would never have hurt you like that,” Julian said tenderly as he wiped the tears from her cheeks.
Incredulous, Eve stared at him. “Not even if it meant you might get a second chance with me?”
“Eve, I want you to come to me because you love me and want me, not because I manipulated the situation.”
“Julian…” Eve whispered, her eyes full of love and respect. “What can I say?”
Julian hugged her close. “Shhh, you don’t have to say anything. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Eve drew back, and before TC and Alistair and all the curious spectators that had gathered to listen, she kissed him.
Alistair rolled his eyes as he fixed his gaze on Eve and Julian wrapped in each other’s arms, kissing passionately. “JULIAN!” he roared into the mike.
Startled, Julian and Eve jumped apart. “Do you have to yell?” Julian asked, annoyed.
TC got to his feet, his heart pounding. “I’ll kill you, Julian; I’ll kill you and your pig of a father.”
“Shut up!!” Julian and Alistair shouted.
A smack on the back of the head from one of the security guards caused TC to wince in pain. “Let go of me.” He turned to leave. “I’m out of here.”
A signal from Alistair and the guards held TC firmly. “You are not leaving until I am finished.” Alistair nodded his approval as security forced him to sit in a chair. “When I am done, then you can go wherever you like. Until then, you are going to sit there and you are going to be quiet. You got that?”
TC gritted his teeth in anger, but he knew he had no choice with two beefed up security guards sticking to him like glue.
Satisfied that TC wasn’t going to interrupt again, Alistair returned his attention to Julian and Eve. He glared at Julian, who held onto Eve protectively. “You are a disgrace to the Crane name. How dare you dishonor the family name by carrying on like that in public with the local riff raff?” he goaded him.
Julian’s face turned red with anger. “Eve has more class and more honor than all the Cranes put together.”
“I told you years ago to cut your ties with that woman. I meant it then, and I sure as hell mean it now. Get those ridiculous fantasies out of your head and set your mind on the family business. You had better do as I say or…”
“Or what, Father? You’ll disown me? You’ll cancel all my accounts?” Julian asked in disgust. “Well, go ahead. I don’t care. I’ll be damned if I am going to let you ruin my life again like you did twenty years ago. I love Eve, and no one is going to make me give her up again. Not even you, Father. Not even all the money and power we possess.” Julian pulled Eve closer as she stared at him in astonishment.
“Julian, what are you doing?” Eve protested. “You will lose everything.”
“You are worth so much more to me than the Crane name and money, Eve. I love you more than my own life, and if I have to be dirt poor because of it, then so be it.” He looked at Alistair defiantly.
To his surprise, Alistair began clapping and shouted, “Hallelujah!!”
Julian and Eve looked at each other in confusion.
“Finally,” said Alistair, “finally after all these years, you have displayed some backbone. You have taken a stand like a true Crane. You have not allowed yourself to be deterred from what you want. Not even by me.” Alistair smiled proudly. “Yes, Julian, twenty years ago I put you to the test, and you failed miserably. You chose to give up what you wanted most in this world rather than lose your name and the power that came with it.” Alistair continued, “Twenty years ago, I searched for a way to test you, and when you fell for Eve Johnson, I knew I had found it. I hoped that your love for this woman would make you stand on your own two feet, but I was wrong. You were nothing but a coward; you gave in to the slightest pressure.”
Julian’s face went pale. “You forced me to give up Eve just to see if I would stand up to you?”
Eve pulled from Julian’s arms and sat down on a chair. Tears sprang into her eyes. “All those years…”
Looking at his father, Julian’s eyes turned cold. “You are a miserable excuse for a human being. You destroyed my life and Eve’s, and for what? You make me sick,” he spat as he turned from Alistair and knelt beside Eve. “I am so sorry, Eve.”
Tears rolling down her cheeks, she said, “My poor baby…” Her eyes were full of pain as she looked into Julian’s. “How could you let him do this to us, Julian?”
Stung, Julian took her hands in his. His eyes were pleading for forgiveness. “You have every right to hate me, Eve. I was a coward. Because of me, we lost our son. We lost each other. I am so sorry, Eve. Please forgive me for my spineless behavior.” Tears rolled down his cheeks.
Touched, she reached out and placed her palm against his cheek. “I don’t blame you, Julian. You were young. You had no way of knowing how evil and vindictive you father was.” Eve rose to her feet and stared coldly at Alistair. “Where is my son? What have you done with him?” Her heart pounded as she stood defiantly demanding an answer.