Standing in the middle of the street, Eve stared after Julian’s car. How could she let him go? How was she going to live without him? Her face felt warm despite the cold snow against her cheeks. Brushing the hot tears away, she sucked in her breath. You belong with TC.

The blaring of a horn snapped Eve back to reality. She slipped slightly as she hurried to get out of the way. Are you crazy, Eve? She placed her hand over her heart in an attempt to calm its furious pace. Tremulous, she headed back home. Julian was gone.

A few minutes later, Eve unlocked the back door of her home. TC was cooking dinner. “Hello, sweetheart!” He bent to kiss her.

“What are you making?” She smiled, pecking the air next to his cheek.

He beamed proudly. “You’re favorite, spaghetti.”

Eve peeked into the pot, inhaling the delightful aroma. “Hmm, I can’t wait.” She avoided his eyes.

“Is there something wrong, Eve?” TC’s voice was filled with concern.

Shaking her head, Eve mustered up her best smile. “No, I’m fine. Why do you ask?” She met his eyes briefly.

“I don’t know,” TC said slowly. “You seem distracted. Is everything OK at the hospital?”

“Just some patients I am concerned about.” Eve jumped at the opening.

“Well, a nice hot meal will do you some good.” He smiled, returning to his pot of spaghetti.

“I think so too, honey. I think I will go for a hot shower before we eat.” She headed for the stairs.

“Do you want company?” TC quipped.

“I’ve had a long day. Can I take a rain check?” She held her breath.

TC laughed. “I was only teasing, sweetheart. Besides, by the time we got back down here, dinner would be ruined.”

She smiled as sweetly as she could. “I’ll be back soon, promise.”

The hot water clouded the glass shower walls. Lathering up a soap puff, Eve absently brushed it across her chest. Julian. Tears blinded her eyes. Her lips began to tremble, her legs unable to support her any longer. Sinking down onto the shower floor, her body shook with sobs. How do I go on? It felt as if her whole life had come crashing down. Why? Wasn’t this what she wanted - her family, TC? The stream of water gradually began to cool.

Having used up all the hot water, Eve stood, shivering.

“Eve?” TC clamored up the stairs. His feet pounded the hardwood.

Looking around apprehensively, Eve tried to compose herself. “I…I’m almost done, TC.” She brushed her hand across her face to cover how miserable she was. She hoped it didn’t show.

“The water is freezing! You must be really worried about your patient.” Concern flashed in his eyes.

“I am.” Eve wrapped her towel around herself, feeling horrible for lying to him.

“Do you want to talk about it? Maybe it will help,” TC offered, bringing her a clean pair of sweats and a t-shirt.

She shook her head. “No, I’ll be fine, TC. Thank you, though, for caring. It means a lot to me.”

“Why wouldn’t I care? You are my wife.” He smiled, brushing back a strand of her hair.

“I know. It’s just since…”

“You are worried that I might feel less for you since your past came out? I admit I was really angry with you. But it hasn’t changed how I feel about you. I love you. You are my wife, Eve.” He bent to kiss her.

Tears spilled onto her cheeks. TC was a good man. He didn’t deserve a wife whose heart longed for someone else. Eve’s chest contracted tightly. Longed for someone else?

“Are those tears of joy?” TC teased gently. He was trying to lighten the mood.

Eve humored him. “Yes. I feel much better, thank you.” She stepped into his arms and hugged him. His shirt was soft against her cheek. Guilt flooded her heart as the smile slipped from her lips. Am I wrong?

Julian sat in a plush leather chair aboard the Crane jet. With his arm propped on the rest, he placed his index finger against his temple and stared out the window. The snowfall was getting heavier. How can I leave Eve? His heart ached as he grew wearier with each minute his flight was delayed.

“Mr. Crane, there is someone here to see you.” The flight attendant interrupted his thoughts.

“Eve!” He leaped from his chair. He shoulders sagged when the pilot entered the cabin.

“I wanted to let you know that our flight has been delayed till the storm passes. It is just too precarious to travel right now.” The pilot shifted from one foot to the other.

“Relax. I am not my father who demands things regardless if it’s possible or not. We will simply wait. I must leave tonight.”

“Yes, sir!” He turned and left.

Julian sighed. Closing his eyes, he thought of Eve. My beautiful Eve. How she turned his head, took his breath away when their eyes would meet. That unspoken connection they shared, yes, there was something definitely special between them, something few people have. Yet, here he was running away from the struggle between them. What is the point? She wants another man. Till she comes to him, and wants only him, it is just going to have to be this way.

So much for being the perfect beast with her! He thought surely he could wear her down with his Crane charm. Instead, her persistent resistance of him had taken the fight right out of him. Emotionally exhausted, Julian drifted off to sleep.

Hoofs thundered and excited shouts rang into the air as the black stallion raced across a grassy meadow. A man and woman rode together, clinging to the animal. The sun was shining high in the sky.

Prince Julian closed his eyes against the brilliance of the light. He hugged Eve closer to him, afraid she might fall. “This is wonderful!” Eve shouted.

He smiled. He loved her so much it hurt his heart to think about never having her to himself. But he would. That he was sure of.

The steed skidded to a halt beside a stream, deep in the forest near the village. “Do you come here often?” Eve asked, looking around, clearly enjoying their surroundings.

“When I want to be alone, to think.” Julian helped her off the horse. She looked so lovely. Her hair down around her shoulders, her smile…it took his breath away. He couldn’t remember being this happy.

“Think about what?” she asked, tilting her head to look at him curiously. She stepped closer and wrapped her arms around his waist, looking up into his eyes. Her eyes were a warm brown color.

God how I love you! He grinned. “About you, of course; always about you.” He kissed the top of her head and then led her down to the stream. The rays of sunlight through the trees reached down and touched the ground all around them.

The stream rippled along, not in any particular rush, it seemed. Julian squatted beside the water. It was warm to the touch. “Would you care to go for a swim?” He winked.

“What if someone sees?” Eve exclaimed.

“We are too far away. Besides, no one has ever bothered me here. What do you say?” He held out his hand to her.

Eve hesitated and then took his hand. “All right, let’s go for a swim.” She stopped. “I have nothing to wear.”

“I don’t mind,” Julian teased.

She smiled. “I didn’t think you would.” She started unbuttoning her dress.

He lifted her chin and met her gaze. “Allow me.” His fingers moved slowly down her dress, undoing each button, pausing a moment at her breasts, deliberately brushing against them. Eve sucked in her breath. Julian smiled.

“Mr. Crane!” Someone shook him. “Mr. Crane, wake up.”

Julian opened his eyes and blinked. “What do you want?!” he barked.

The steward shrank back. “Are you all right, Mr. Crane?”

Julian sat up straight and smoothed his jacket. Clearing his throat, he said, “I’m fine. What is it that you want?” His tone was gentler now.

“There is someone here to see you.”

He was wide awake now. “Eve?”

“Yes, Julian,” Eve said from the doorway of the cabin.

Am I still dreaming?