Julian and Eve were about to step out of the room, when Julian stopped short and pulled her back in.

“What?” Eve asked in surprise as she looked at him.

Pulling her into his arms, he smiled. “Before we go out there, there is just one thing I want.” His gaze locked on her lips.

Her eyes, deep and brown, shone as they roamed his face.

“Have I ever told you how much I love your eyes, hmmm?” Julian said as if in awe. “They are so full of life, full of love… A man could lose his mind looking into those incredible eyes of yours.” He hugged her closer.

“Julian. How sweet! I think I could get used to getting spoiled with compliments like that,” she said with a smile.

“I could get used to spoiling you,” he replied.

They stood for a moment and looked at each other. Julian raised his hand and placed it against her face. He brushed his thumb lightly across her cheek. “How did I ever manage to live without you?” he asked absently, his voice suddenly filled with sadness. “So many wasted years…so many nights…lonely nights…”

Eve reached up and placed her fingers on his lips. “I know,” she whispered, her eyes resting on his lips.

Julian locked his gaze on her mouth and leaned towards her. Slowly, his lips descended to hers, and after a few breathless moments, they finally settled on them.

Eve parted her lips and allowed him to deepen the kiss. She sighed when he responded and entered her mouth, exploring every part of it. Reaching up, she placed her fingers in his hair, loving the soft feel of it as it slipped through her fingers when she moved her hand across the nape of his neck.

Julian pressed her closer, her slim body fitting perfectly to his. It was like she was made just for him, and he believed with all his heart that that had always been the divine plan: he and Eve, together forever.

As he continued to kiss her, his heart beat madly at the sweet pain he felt holding her in his arms…though she was not really his to hold just yet. His mouth moved over hers, his fingers splayed her back, pressing her closer still. Then, moving his arms up, he buried one hand in her black hair, tangling in the softness of it as the sweet scent of her coconut shampoo released its fragrance and filled his senses.

Breaking away, Eve said breathlessly, “If we don’t stop now, Julian…”

He groaned in protest. “I could go on like this forever…”

Eve chuckled softly. “Yes, I know.”

He smiled as he remembered the nights they used to spend together. “Yes, my love, we did know how to set the bed on fire, didn’t we?”

Eve remembered. It had been a long, long time since she had experienced a lover like Julian. TC was good in his own right, but Julian… Maybe it was because she shared the same passion for him that he did for her. Maybe they were so good together because their love was so intense, or their love was simply what so few ever get to experience. Eve somehow felt it was the same for him, that he never had that same magic with anyone else. “Yes, we were good together, Julian,” she replied.

“It can be that way again.” He smiled into her eyes.

Eve moved out of his arms and headed for the door. “We’d better go. Your father is waiting for us,” she said, ignoring the bait.

Julian exhaled loudly. “What I love about you most, Eve, is you are your own woman. You won’t let me push you.” He approached her, bent down and kissed her. “I’ll wait, Eve, as long as you need. But I promise you this, I will not lose you again…to anyone.”

Eve smiled at his promise. Somehow she felt that this time he just may keep his word. She placed her hand on his chest and looked up at him. “I don’t want to hurt you, Julian. That is the last thing I want. But I don’t know what I want right now. I still have my family to think about. The girls, TC…”

“TC?” Julian spat angrily. “He doesn’t deserve you, Eve. He doesn’t love you the way I love you.”

“He does love me. We spent twenty years together. I know that he loves me, even though he…”

“Cheated on you?” Julian was almost beside himself. “How can you go back to that?”

“You don’t think what you and I have been doing is wrong? How can you be so hypocritical, Julian? How dare you accuse TC of cheating when I know for a fact you would do the same thing with me if I would consent to it; you wouldn’t mind at all if I cheated on TC with you. I suppose that would be OK in your book.” Her eyes flashed angrily.

Julian backed away from her as if she had slapped him.

The hurt in his eyes was almost more than she could take. “I’m sorry, Julian.” She stepped into his arms and hugged him. “I didn’t mean to be so hard on you. I am just so frustrated with all this. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

He nodded, realizing that he had crossed a line. “No, you’re right, Eve. I am the one who should apologize, not you. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you; I know how hard these few months have been for you. I should not be making things worse. Forgive me, sweetheart,” he pleaded as he hugged her to him.

“It’s all right, Julian; we have all been under a lot of stress lately.” She smiled at him and backed out of his arms. “You have been there for me when no one else has, and I owe you for that.” She walked to the door. “But right now I really think we should…”

A loud bang on the door caused Eve to jump in fright.

“What the hell…” Julian opened the door angrily.

A security guard stood outside the door about to rap on it again. “What is the hold up? I called you once already. Your father is waiting.”

“Let him wait!” Julian slammed the door in his face.

“Julian!” Eve exclaimed in surprise.

“I refuse to be bullied any longer, Eve. We will go when you are ready.”

Eve walked to the couch and picked up her coat. “I’m ready. We may as well go see what he knows about our son. If he knows anything at all, that is.”

“OK, but I don’t want you to get your hopes up, Eve. My father is very devious. He is probably just stringing us along.” He opened the door and held it for her.

“I guess we’ll soon find out,” Eve said as she walked toward the stage. Julian followed right behind her.

Alistair sat on the stool onstage, glaring at Julian and Eve. “I said you were to be here…”

“Whatever, Father. Just get on with what you are planning here. I personally have better places to be at this time of night.”

“Like where?” Alistair smirked. “No, don’t tell me. I know exactly where you are heading after you leave here tonight.” He eyed Eve and laughed. “I may put a crimp in your plans tonight, dear.”

“What are you talking about?!” TC shouted.

Mortified, Eve sat down and covered her cheeks with her hands. Her face burned hot as she felt the eyes of everyone in the room upon her.

“Ohhhh,” Rebecca cooed, as she stood behind TC and Liz’s table. “I wonder what plans he’s talking about.”

“Probably meeting Julian somewhere for a night of illicit sex,” Liz said rudely.

TC spat out his drink. “If you don’t mind, Liz, that is my wife you are talking about. Eve would never do that.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Oh spare me, TC. I know they say that love is blind, but I see you have cataracts on top of it.”

Alistair snorted into the mike. “All right, let’s get back to business, shall we? Where were we? Oh yes, Whitney Russell…the talented Whitney Russell. I must say, for a colored woman, she is quite a looker.”

“You racist pig!” TC spat at him.

Alistair snapped his fingers and one of the security guards near TC hauled him to his feet and slammed his fist into his stomach.

TC doubled over in pain as the air rushed out of his lungs. He coughed violently as he tried to recover his breath. “Arrgghh.”

Eve gasped as TC groaned in pain. She jumped to her feet to rush to his side, only to be held back by Julian. “Let go of me,” she cried.

“Eve, you could get hurt. You saw what he did to TC,” Julian tried to reason with her.

Eve cried hysterically. “Why are you doing this?!” she shouted at Alistair.

“He was out of line!” he said simply.

“What did he ever do to you?” Eve sobbed as she continued to try to get away from Julian.

“He is just getting a taste of what he’s been dishing out. Right, Julian?”

“Don’t you dare get me involved in this, Father. You know I would never beat anyone.”

Alistair laughed. “Because you would get beaten to a pulp if you did.”

Julian cleared his throat and straightened his tie. “I just don’t believe in violence.”

“Right!” Alistair smirked. “Don’t get me started on that one.” He turned his attention back to TC. “Now, TC, are you going to be quiet, or am I going to have to give you another sample of Harry’s fist here?”

TC raised his hand in surrender.

“Good, glad you agree, because frankly, you people are becoming a real bore to me already. So let’s get on with it.” He shifted his attention back to Julian and Eve.

Julian helped Eve sit back down. Then he pulled a chair up beside her and held her hand.

Eve wiped her eyes as she looked over at TC. Liz was comforting him, trying to help him recover from his wounded pride.

Rebecca pulled up a chair and sat as close to the action as she dared. “Ohhh, I can’t wait to hear what Alistair knows about Whitney Russell. I hope it’s a doosy.”

Alistair rocked back slightly and adjusted his tie. “Where do I begin? I have decided that this is the appropriate time to reveal this…loose end. For no other reason than that I decided, so…”

“Just get on with it, Father,” Julian snapped impatiently.

“You may not be so eager when you hear the truth, Julian. So I suggest that you relax, or Harry here will help you do so.”

Julian backed off quickly, knowing full well that his father cared nothing of the fact that he was his own son. He knew all too well that Alistair would not hesitate to have him beaten within an inch of his life if he thought it appropriate.

Satisfied that he had everyone’s utmost attention, Alistair began his story. “You see, Julian, I have no news of your son…” He held up his hand to silence them when Eve and Julian started to protest. “But I do have information on your daughter.”

“Daughter? What are you talking about? The only daughters I have are with Ivy.” He shuddered at the thought of producing children with her.

“That’s what you think. You have had your spawn running loose all over the place,” Alistair said bluntly.

Embarrassed that Eve had to hear that, Julian buried his face in his hands. “Oh God, what won’t he say and do?”

Eve’s face turned red for Julian. Alistair seemed to enjoy embarrassing his son.

“What are you saying, Father?” Julian finally had the courage to ask.

“Why don’t you ask Eve what she was going to tell you tonight when you got to the suite you set up for her?”

“How did you know about that?” Eve asked in surprise.

“I’ve told you all before, I know everything,” Alistair said arrogantly.

Julian turned to Eve. “What is he talking about? What does he know?”

Eve’s hand started to tremble. She had completely forgotten about the note with all the activity going on. She pulled the note from her pocket and handed it to him.

Julian looked at Eve in wonder and then read the note. His face paled slightly. Unsure of what to think, he turned to his father. “What is this? Is this some kind of joke?”

“I never joke, Julian. You should know that by now.”

“But it can’t be true! How could I be…? This is not possible,” Julian said in bewilderment.

“The way you carry on, Julian, one might have thought you were the town bull. Our fortune will be gone in no time, the way your offspring pop up everywhere.”

Chuckles were heard around the room. Liz and TC were delighted that Julian was being humiliated.

Eve was mortified. She’d known about Julian’s promiscuous lifestyle, but could hardly believe he fathered more children than Ivy’s children and their son.

“I refuse to believe this, Father. Whitney Russell is not my daughter!” he shouted at Alistair.

TC gasped in horror. “Oh God, Whitney is a Crane? I think I’m going to be sick,” he cried, as the bile rose from his stomach. Then, just as he said it, he threw up all over the floor in front of the stage where he was sitting.

Liz looked in amazement from Julian to Alistair to TC. “This is so much better than I could have ever dreamed. Maybe now TC will come to his senses and dump Eve.”

Rebecca’s eyebrows shot up in shocked surprise. “Well, well. I always wondered why he and Whitney were so ‘buddy, buddy’ lately. Huh, I should have known. You are slacking, Rebecca,” she scolded herself.

Julian turned to Eve. “It is not possible, Eve. You said we had a son.”

Tears filled her eyes. “You didn’t waste time replacing me, did you?” she said, her voice full of pain.

“No, you don’t understand, Eve. It’s not true,” Julian protested.

“Oh please, the blood tests don’t lie, Julian,” Eve said bitterly.

Julian reached over and took her hand. “What I am trying to say is I could barely bring myself to look at an African-American woman after you left, let alone sleep with one.”

“I guess you have black genes in your blood then, Julian, which just happened to show up in Whitney,” Eve said sarcastically.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, do I have to spell everything out for you?” Alistair bellowed. “It’s true, Eve, Whitney is Julian’s daughter. And it is also true that you, Eve, are Whitney’s mother.”