It was a cool Monday morning. Winter had nicely settled in, and Christmas was just around the corner. There were only a few more days to go, and Eve suddenly realized that she had not even gotten any of her shopping done. Well, not that she had a whole lot of shopping to do; it’s just that she wanted to spend a little more time this year trying to find the perfect toy for J.T. and something special for herself. Oh well, she thought, it would have to wait.

J.T. was eating his eggs while she placed some calls to try to locate the best day care for him until she could find a babysitter that would be willing to compromise with her work schedule. Her first shift started at 8:00 a.m., and she would have to leave him somewhere. Finally, she found the local Harmony Daycare Center, and she prayed that it was a nice place. The last thing she needed was to leave J.T. in a dump.

A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. It was Jack. “Good morning, Miss Johnson.” He smiled.

“Good morning, and please, call me Eve,” she offered. “What can I do for you?”

“Well, actually, I was hoping that I would be able to help you out today. Since you have to go to work, and obviously need a sitter, Mr. C…uh…” He cleared his throat suddenly.
“Well, the gentleman who took care of your home needs, he also hired a nanny for your son. That is, if you approve of her, of course.”

“Really??” Eve laughed in disbelief. “I can’t believe this; I am beginning to feel like someone really loves me up there.”

“Oh, I believe that he really does!” Jack said.

“You’ve met him then?” She wondered when Joel would have had the time to come here.

“Well, actually, I’ve met him a few times. He is a rather charming fellow.”

“I think so too, but I don’t know where Joel found the time to come out here once, let alone a few times,” Eve said thoughtfully.

“Joel??” Jack asked, confused.

“Joel Ward. That is who you mean, right?”

“Uh, yes, that’s it. Pardon me. Joel Ward, quite a gentleman,” he stammered, trying to recover his error. He had been specifically told by Mr. Julian Crane to keep his name under wraps.

Eve looked at him and wrinkled her brow. ‘What was the matter with him, too much coffee or something?’

“Well, where is she? I really need to get to work.”

“She should be here any moment. Her name is Pilar Lopez-Fitzgerald. She raised four or five of her own already, so I assure you that she is quite capable of taking care of J.T.,” Jack assured her.

“Well, that certainly helps, but I still…” She was interrupted by a knock on the door. “That must be her.”

She opened the door. “Come on in, Pilar.” She smiled warmly at the dark-haired woman who appeared to be about forty years of age.

“Hi, I understand that you need a sitter for your son.” Pilar smiled.

“Yes, thank you for coming. Can you wait just a moment, please?” Eve asked as she walked Jack out the door.

“Thank you, Jack; I really appreciate your help.”

“I am just doing my job, dear. And trust me; I am sure that Pilar will be a wonderful nanny for your son.” With that, he walked to the elevator.

Closing the door behind her, Eve offered to take Pilar’s coat and hung it on a hook.

They discussed everything from the town of Harmony to family. Finally, after half an hour, Eve was convinced that Pilar would be perfect for J.T.

“I just want to make sure that if you need anything, you can reach me with this pager number. No matter what, if J.T. needs anything, you call me.” Eve scribbled a number on a piece of paper and handed it to Pilar. “Thank you again, Pilar, but I was wondering what you would like to be paid.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Miss Johnson; I have already been paid, thank you…for six months anyway. And I must say, rather handsomely too.”

Well, this was getting to be too much for Eve. She was going to have to call Joel and tell him so. She was determined to make it on her own, and wasn’t going to take anymore handouts. The apartment was enough. “Well, OK then, I had better go for a shower. Why don’t you and J.T. get acquainted, and I will get ready for work.” She headed for the bathroom as Pilar and J.T. sat on the couch and stared at each other.

When Eve came out of the shower, she was delighted to see Pilar reading a book to J.T. He seemed totally engrossed in the story as he snuggled up close to her. Pilar seemed to have a way with kids, all right.

As Eve drove to the hospital, her mind wandered back to J.T.’s birth. What a wonderful day that had been! Of all the heartache she had been through, finally there was hope, a reason for living again. Though her heart still ached for Julian, she knew that she would never be able to go back again. No, it would be too risky! Alistair Crane had made sure she was certain of that.

Eve recalled the day that he had shown up at her door with a couple of beefed up bodyguards. Bodyguards! What did he expect she would do to him, cry him to death? That was, after all, all that she could do when he had threatened to kill her if she didn’t stay away from Julian.

“He is a Crane, and Crane blood does not mix with colored trash,” he’d snarled at her as he grabbed her arm and held her tightly. “Stay away from him, you hear, or Jim and Max, here, will pay you a visit that is not going to be this civilized.” And with a flip of his hand, he had thrown a package on the floor and left as quickly as he’d come.

“‘Civilized,’ he’d said. The racist pig, he didn’t know the meaning of the word,” She’d thought as she quickly packed her bags to leave town. Her plans had been slightly delayed when Julian showed up. Full of fear, she was grateful though to at least be with him one more time. The next morning, while Julian still slept, she quietly took Alistair Crane’s money and left Boston, and her life with Julian, behind.

One month later, she discovered that she was pregnant. What a glorious day that was. A baby! Julian’s baby. With the thought of Julian’s baby in her heart, she was able to carry on, make a life for herself and her child. When the baby was born, Eve was thrilled when the doctor told her that it was a boy. He had skin like hers and shining brown eyes. One would never be able to tell that his father was white.

She would name him after his father though, just so that at least he had some part of him. Julian, Julian Trey Johnson. She carefully filled out the birth certificate, ‘J.T. Johnson,’ ensuring that he could not be linked to Julian Crane, and certainly she hoped to keep his horrible father, Alistair, away.

The very idea of her child having Alistair Crane for a grandfather had made Eve sick to her stomach, and she had had to rush to the bathroom, vomiting till she was
convinced that every fiber of her being was rejecting the idea as well. If she never saw or heard that man’s name again, it would be too soon.

When she’d cleaned herself up, she continued to fill out the birth certificate. After deliberately writing ‘unknown’ next to the father’s name, with the help of Joel Ward, she was able to alter the date of birth by a few months.

So even if Julian tried to find her, at least he couldn’t prove, short of a DNA test, that J.T. was his. And this way she hoped that if Julian ever found out that she had a child with another man, he would stay away from her. Then she wouldn’t have to live in fear of Alistair Crane all her life. She shuddered at what might happen if he found out about J.T.

Even though she and Julian had briefly met since, she was convinced that he would indeed leave her alone. She never even gave him a chance. As much as she had longed to remain in his arms, and to introduce him to his son, she knew that she had done the right thing - for J.T’s sake!

Eve was aware that Julian was a very powerful man, that he could probably find her anywhere, and yes, even somehow find out that J.T. was his son. But she was counting on his love and respect for her to prevent him from prying into her life.

Eve knew that when it came to her, Julian was the perfect gentleman. He adored her, loved her, and would never do anything that he thought might hurt her, emotionally or physically. No, she was convinced that Julian wouldn’t stoop so low as to manipulate her life just to get her back - unless maybe if he was desperate, but nah, not ‘her’ Julian; he wasn’t like that! And it seemed to Eve that his lack of pursuit was a good sign that he would leave her alone.

When Eve arrived at the hospital, she parked her car and entered the building through the front emergency door. She was pointed in the right direction by the receptionist, and after being introduced to the rest of the staff that she would be working with, was assigned to the emergency ward.

During her lunch break, Eve sat alone trying to get in some study time. A loud banging on the door made her jump.

A woman with auburn colored hair stood before her, grinning from ear to ear. Eve groaned inwardly, not really wanting any company at the moment.

“Whatcha reading?” she drawled.

“Oh, not much.” Eve closed her book. “Just catching up on school work.”

“Bummer, that is such a drag…school, I mean.” She plopped down on an empty chair.

“What can I do for you?” Eve asked.

“Awe, nothing, just trying to be friendly. I am a candy striper myself, just here helping out.” She extended her hand in greeting. “I’m Grace Standish.”

“Eve Johnson,” she said as she shook her hand.

“Well, Eve, I think we are going to see a lot of each other. I work here three times a week.”

“That is very generous of you. How do you find the time to come here so much?” Eve wondered.

“I live with my folks, and I am actually here because I have to be. Got a little too rowdy one night at a club, and next thing I know, I am doing community service.” She smiled wickedly, as if she enjoyed the whole thing. “At least I get to cheer up a bunch of old geezers with not much to live for. I swear, a couple of shots of whiskey for each of them, and they would be dancing all the way home with a clean bill of health.”

“You don’t say?” Eve asked in dismay.

“Oh don’t look so shocked, Doc! The Holy Bible says ‘a little wine is good for the stomach.’ And who should know better than God himself, right?” Grace laughed at Eve’s horrified look. “Relax, I was just kidding. I know that as long as a body has insurance, you will try to keep them fit as a fiddle.”

“Well, I hope that isn’t the case here in Harmony,” Eve replied. “Insurance or not, I think that everybody deserves to be treated equally.”

Grace leaned closer and whispered, “Well, they all like to pretend that that is the way it is, but I know better. One way or another, someone always has something to hide.”

Unnerved, Eve suddenly stood. “Well, it was nice meeting you…uh, Grace. But I have to get back to work.” She gathered her books and tried to smile.

“Well, maybe I’ll catch you again later.” She grinned as she got up to leave. “You take care, Doc.” With a quick wave of her hand, she was gone.

Not knowing quite what to make of that, Eve glanced around nervously. She breathed deeply and scolded herself, “Relax, Eve, no one here knows who you are. You have nothing to worry about.” Finishing her coffee, she put her books in her locker and returned to work.

On the other side of town, in the Crane Mansion library, Julian Crane had just made the last of a series of calls that he’d been making all morning. Everything was set. He was ready; ready to sweep Eve right off her feet. With a devilish grin, he grabbed his car keys and headed for the garage. ‘Genius, Julian, you are a genius. She won’t be able to resist you this time.’ With a laugh, he got into his car and sped off down the driveway.

In some remote part of the world, a phone on a large luxurious oak desk rang shrilly. A hand reached out and grabbed it. “Yes?”

“I tracked her down in a small town called Harmony,” the voice on the phone said.

The hand slammed down in the form of a fist onto the shiny desk surface. “This could ruin everything. We must deal with her immediately!” the man behind the desk snarled.

“Yes, sir!” the voice said as the phone clicked dead.