Eve took a deep breath. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she exhaled slowly, trying to get up the courage to ask TC exactly what he meant when he said she was thinking of Julian. Gripping the front edge of the sofa tightly with her slender fingers, her sweaty palms planted firmly on the cushion, she turned to face her husband, who, inches from her, met her look with one of disdain. “TC, I can explain…” she began, not knowing how to approach the subject of her and Julian, and their relationship, which in some ways was the albatross that had been around her neck for years, and in others…

“It’s all right, sweetheart. You don’t have to mention that bastard’s name if you don’t want to. I know it’s hard for you to even think about him when you’re in a nice place like this. Hell, Julian Crane would ruin paradise if he were let in. But I can tell he is what has you upset. It was seeing that sleazy jerk and his trampy wife just now in the dining room that has you so down. They make a mockery of everything…marriage, love, romantic vacations. I don’t think either of them even knows what love is. I am sorry the sight of them had to ruin our evening for you, baby.” He put his arm around her shoulder. “But we are away from their slimy faces up here at least. It’s just you and me, sweetheart. You are safe here.”

Eve couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Thinking that the moment of reckoning had come, she once again realized just how clueless her husband was. TC had no idea what was running through Eve’s mind moments ago…how she was reliving her afternoon with Julian…feeling the touch of his soothing hands on her body. She shivered at the thought of those magical hands caressing her skin.

TC sat up taller and looked at Eve intently. “It’s more than just seeing Crane downstairs at dinner, isn’t it? You ran into him earlier today, didn’t you, out on the slopes? What did he do to you, Eve? If that bastard…”

“Nothing, TC. Julian didn’t do anything to me. I did run into him on one of the trails earlier – literally – but I wasn’t hurt. Julian would never hurt me.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure of that, baby. I think Julian Crane would do whatever he could to try to get what he wants – which is a roll in the hay with anything in a skirt. I know he has come onto you in the past, and I swear, if he tried anything…”

“He didn’t, TC. Please, it’s OK. Nothing happened.” Eve sighed, realizing that this would have been the perfect time to tell TC the truth, only, once again, she could not find the strength.

“Good,” he cooed, “because I wouldn’t want anything to stand in the way of our romantic evening, especially not me being carted off to jail for rearranging that arrogant piece of filth’s face.” He inched closer to Eve and smiled sappily at her.

Eve returned his smile nervously, wondering how on earth she was going to get out of this predicament. The last thing she wanted to do tonight was make love with her husband, for so many reasons…not the least of which was that it felt like a betrayal to what she had with Julian – what the two of them had rediscovered that afternoon in his suite. Eve knew she should have felt like this when she was with Julian, because technically, the two of them were the ones breaking the laws of God and the state. But what she and Julian had together was something completely different than what she had with TC…it was so special, so extraordinary, that it did indeed seem sacred in its own right. Eve knew that she would try whatever it took to get out of an intimate encounter with TC, for Julian’s sake as well as her own. She hoped it would be enough.

“Listen, Eve…” TC leaned in and began kissing the side of her neck, moving his hand to her face. He caressed her cheek with his fingers, trying to do the little things that he knew Eve liked to get her in the mood.

Eve turned her head toward TC and gently pushed his face from her neck. “TC, you know I love you; I do. But it’s just not the right time. I am really not feeling well. I, I think I am coming down with something…a cold maybe.” She made an attempt at faking a sneeze, hoping that that would be enough to get TC off her back.

“Sweetheart, I don’t want you getting sick. But, man, it has been so long. More than a month…almost two, I bet. Come on, honey. You owe me, don’t you?”

“I just can’t, TC. I am not in the mood for this. Please try to understand.”

“Understand? How can I understand when you always have time for everyone else but me?! Eve, I love you, but you are never here for me. I am your husband, and I have needs too!”

“TC…” Eve choked up, feeling the tears that began to form in her eyes. She was relieved that TC seemed oblivious to them, to all but his urge for fulfillment. This was one time it was good that her husband was so blind. But it didn’t make her feel any better.

“Eve, I know you may not be feeling like you are in A-1 perfect shape right now, but it’s been so long. You are always at the hospital, or running out to check on patients. You haven’t had time for me in weeks, and there are times a man just needs to be with his wife. Come on, baby. You owe me that much.”

Eve cringed at her husband’s words. There was truth in them. She hadn’t been working any extra at the hospital, really, but she had been sneaking out a lot to meet Julian whenever he had news about their son. And those meetings had almost all led to a kiss… She sighed. How she wanted to be with Julian right now. She knew it was her lack of courage that had her in this predicament with TC at this very moment. Could she find the strength she needed to fight him off tonight, to break his heart and risk Julian’s life by telling him the truth? She hung her head in shame as she realized she just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t gather up the courage she needed. She was too weak. If only she could be strong, strong like Julian… A tear trickled down her face as she thought of him. He would forgive her anything, she knew, even this…

TC stood up and grasped hold of Eve’s hand. “Come on, sweetheart, just a little loving, please? If I mean anything to you…”

Eve closed her eyes tight. She wished she had more fight left in her, but she was tired…very, very tired. She opened her eyes and slowly nodded, standing up as TC helped pull her off the couch and into his arms. He then led her toward the bedroom, not even wondering why it seemed like he had to support all of her weight, as if Eve was there in body only, her mind somewhere far away…

Julian spun around sharply at Rebecca’s words. They had cut him like a dagger. How did she know about him and Eve, and the love they had shared in his suite all afternoon? And was she right that Alistair was all too aware of what had transpired as well? “I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said firmly, his eyes penetrating hers, serving to give warning that she had better be straight with him.

“Do you think I was out there skiing all day, Julian? I know I’m athletic in the bedroom, but I am certainly not going to spend the entire day on the slopes, not when there are such well-built distractions here at this inn, if you know what I mean.” She smiled, remembering the fun she had had with the bellhop in her room. Ooh, some of the things she had taught him today!

“Well, I was in here for a little while; I had some things to discuss with Eve. She was having problems with Whitney. Why am I telling you all of this? It’s really none of your damn business!”

“A little while? Try seven or eight hours. That’s what I gathered from my sources.”

“Sources! Are you spying on me now, Becky? Is that what this mockery of a marriage has come to?” He reached out and grabbed her arm. “You know, you are becoming more like my father everyday.”

Rebecca tried to wriggle her arm free, but Julian held on tight. “Let go of me, damn it!”

“Oh, I’ll let go of you, my dear Becky, when I am good and ready to!” His fingers gripped her arm even more firmly. “But before I do, you are going to tell me everything you know about Father!”

“I don’t know anything, you fool!” she sneered. “You’re hurting me!”

“Oh, I’ll hurt you all right, if you ever do anything to harm Eve…anything at all. Do you understand that?”

“Yes, now stop!” Rebecca wailed, the pain from his grip becoming sharper by the minute.

“I will, but first you are going to explain what you meant about Alistair. Has he been here? Have you seen any of his cameras?”

“I don’t know anything about him, OK? Just that he always knows what’s going on, so I assume that goes for here too. Now let me go!”

Julian ignored her pleas. “I will handle my father; but you stay out of my dealings with him, you hear? Because I am warning you, you can’t win if you try to get involved in a battle between me and my father.”

Rebecca’s eyes widened. “So you are going up against Alistair? I never thought you had the balls for that.”

Julian grinned. “I didn’t, not until now. But you just leave Alistair to me. I wouldn’t want your delicate little self getting hurt.” He glanced down at her arm and jerked it roughly. Then, moving to within inches of her face, his expression and voice became almost sinister. “And as for TC…if you EVER tell him anything about me and Eve, anything at all…the next thing you’ll be lying in is a body bag. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yessssss,” she hissed, tears forming in her eyes from the terrible pain she felt in her arm, she told herself, and not from Julian’s harsh words. The way he loved Eve - so fiercely and protectively. If only a man could love her like that…

Julian let go of her arm and sighed. “I didn’t want it coming to this, Becky. You and I did have some good times together, a lifetime ago.” He walked over to the mini-bar and poured himself a drink.

Rubbing her throbbing arm, Rebecca glared at him. “I ought to charge you with abuse!”

“But you won’t…not if you want anything at all after this sham of a marriage ends!”

“I could go to the authorities with what I know about you trying to kill Sheridan.”

“Do it! Sheridan and Luis already know the essence of what you are going to tell them. But you have not the shred of proof, so I would like to see how far you actually get with that…probably no farther than a body bag, since if you try to bring me down, you’ll be bringing Alistair along with me.”

Rebecca huffed like a little girl about to throw a tantrum. “Damn you, Julian! I could have made you happy, you know, if you had just let me. But your mind has been on nothing but Eve these last couple of years. You know you’ll never get her, don’t you? This…whatever you want to call what you two did together today… it was simply a passing fancy with her. Right now, I bet she is in her room, snuggling up against that muscular husband of hers. I bet they have even made love!”

Julian downed the glass of brandy quickly and began pouring himself another.

“Hit a nerve, did I?” she smirked, easing over to the bar. “Julian, just give it up already. This fantasy you have about you and Eve living in a home with a white picket fence isn’t going to come true. She will never leave TC, no matter how good you are in bed. I have a feeling she’s the type that would prefer things slow and steady anyway, certainly not two of your attributes in the sack.” She snickered. “I bet you weren’t even yourself with her today, were you? I am sure you didn’t do any of the exciting things we have done.” She moved toward him and put her hands on his shoulders seductively. “I am the one who knows what you like, Pookie.”

Julian threw her arms off of him and took a step backward. “You’re right about one thing, Rebecca dear. Eve and I didn’t do any of the crazy things you and I used to do together. We didn’t need to. Eve alone is enough to turn me on. I don’t need any of those silly games to get me in the mood with her. Eve is the only woman I will ever be with again.”

“Then you will be a very lonely man waiting for what’s never going to happen. Too bad; it’s such a waste of nice, raw material. But then, you are starting to get a little rough around the edges…”

Julian picked up his glass and swiftly downed the contents. “I am going for a walk. I want you gone when I get back…in fact, tomorrow, I want you gone from the mansion as well. If you’re out before noon, there’s an added bonus in it for you.” He reached up and gently touched her face as he walked by. “You know, I do feel sorry for you, Rebecca…sorry that you’ll never know a love like Eve and I share.” He placed his glass in her hand, grabbed his coat from the chair, and waltzed on out the door before Rebecca could say a word.