“It’s good,” Eve said, “just what I needed to take the chill off.” She looked around the semi-crowded room uneasily, knowing it may not be best to be seen there with Julian. “Do you mind if we find someplace more private to drink this?” she asked. “There are some things I really need to talk to you about as well.”
“No, not at all,” Julian said. “Where would you like to go? The lodge is pretty busy on weekends, it looks like.”
“I don’t know – just not here,” she said, her eyes scanning the room for familiar faces.
“OK, I know someplace where we can be alone,” he offered. “Follow me.” Julian led Eve out into the hallway and over to the elevator.
“Your room?” she asked worriedly. “But Rebecca…”
Julian shook his head. “We have separate rooms – like at home. Rebecca likes her privacy some of the time. Who knows what for? But as long as it keeps her out of my hair for a little while, I am grateful.”
Eve blushed, realizing how uncomfortable she felt picturing Julian and Rebecca being intimate.
Noticing her demeanor, Julian smiled, reaching out with his free hand to caress her face. “It’s going to be all right, dear; I promise you. Rebecca doesn’t scare me. I know how to handle her. As for the time-being, well, she is undoubtedly having the time of her life out there on the advanced trails today. I don’t expect her back for quite awhile.”
Eve giggled at the thought of Rebecca tackling the expert hills. She began laughing even harder at the image that popped into her head just then – Rebecca heading way too fast down a slope, at full throttle, her red hair flying wildly behind her like a witch’s on a broomstick. In the vision, Becks screamed at the top of her lungs as she neared the bottom of the trail, and finally came to a stop after plowing into a huge snow bank at the base of a pine tree, landing very embarrassingly on her backside, with her feet and skis sticking up above her head, caught in the branches of the tree.
“What is so funny?” Julian asked, perplexed at her sudden laughter.
“Oh nothing,” Eve said, smiling. “I just had a weird vision is all.” But to herself, she thought, ‘If only something like that could happen to the witch. It would serve her right!’
As they stepped into the empty elevator and the doors closed in front of them, Eve relaxed a little. She took another sip of her cocoa, letting it warm her mouth before swallowing.
Julian pressed the third floor button and turned to look at Eve. “Where’s TC?” he asked, shifting his weight uncomfortably from one leg to the other.
“Out there on the black diamonds…he’ll be there all day, I am sure,” she replied. “TC is great at every sport. He takes it easy because of his knee, but he is so much better than I am at skiing.”
“Well I hope so, my dear, or he may end up killing someone out there,” Julian quipped.
Eve playfully smacked his arm with her free hand. Just then, the doors opened, and they exited the elevator. As they walked up the hallway together, she quietly sipped her drink and kept a look-out for anyone who might see them. She was thankful that the floor appeared to be deserted.
Julian stopped beside the door to his room and took out his key to unlock it. He looked over and smiled at Eve, who all of a sudden appeared nervous, realizing she was about to enter a very private place with Julian – a man she loved dearly, whom she had had problems controlling herself around in the recent past.
Noticing Eve’s hesitancy, Julian tried to make her feel comfortable. “We can find someplace else to talk if you wish…we don’t have to go in here.”
“No, Julian, you are right. This is the only place we can go that is safe to talk. Anyplace else is too risky – with all the people downstairs and out on the trails, and I really do need to talk to you.”
“If you’re sure, Eve, because if not, we could always go find a quiet place to talk in the woods outside,” he said, laughing.
“After I have finally gotten warmed up? No thank you,” she chuckled. Then turning serious, she added, “We are both adults, Julian. I think we can handle being alone together for a few minutes without anything happening.” As she said those words, an eerie feeling came over Eve… She shook it off, nervously smiling as she entered the room.
Julian closed the door behind them and turned on the light. It was a spacious suite, the best in the lodge. It had two rooms: a living area complete with a leather sofa, two comfortable chairs, and a cherry dining room set, and also a bedroom with a king-size bed and another sofa. He ushered Eve over to the living-room sofa, and took one of the chairs for himself. They both threw their coats and accessories on the floor and sat down. “What is it you wanted to talk about?” he asked, just glad to be able to finally be alone with Eve for the first time since the night they had kissed on his estate.
“It’s Whitney,” she said simply. “I just can’t believe she knows.”
“Knows what?” Julian asked, his heart beating quicker at the thought of their long-kept secrets being exposed to her daughter. “I am aware she knows about us kissing, but what else does she know? Has she figured out everything?” he asked, alarmed at what this could mean for Eve.
“No,” Eve said, shaking her head. “Nothing’s changed since I called you the other day. Whitney only knows what I told her, which was very little. I tried to assure her it was a mistake, and that it will never happen again. And it can’t, Julian; we can’t take that chance. It’s far too risky.”
“It’s not like we planned to do it, Eve, any of those times…” Julian began, and then shifted course when he recognized the worry in her eyes. “It was all my fault, dear. I should never have forced you into that kiss. I am sorry.”
“You didn’t force me,” Eve admitted, lowering her eyes as her cheeks began to turn red. “I wanted to kiss you every bit as much as you wanted to kiss me, but that’s the problem, Julian. I lose control around you. I forget where we are…and that is not good.”
Julian leaned forward in his chair and spoke softly to the woman he loved. “Eve, I understand what you are saying. I hope you know that in this instance, I tried to do everything I could to convince Whitney that I was solely responsible – that I had grabbed you and forced you into that kiss. I don’t think it was too much of a stretch for her to believe that – not with the reputation I have around town.”
“Well, Whitney’s a smart girl, Julian. She knows I had to have been at least a little involved to kiss you like that. Goodness, that kiss lasted forever. It was…” she let her voice trail off as she thought of what it had been like to kiss Julian so passionately, as if neither had a care in the world except each other. Words just couldn’t describe that kiss. But the last thing she could do was let Julian know how it had affected her, how it had made her want more – something that simply could never happen, for both of their sakes.
“It was what, Eve?” Julian asked quietly, his heart racing at the thought of what she might be trying to say.
“It was a mistake,” she said, averting her eyes. “It never should have happened, Julian.” She turned back to look at him. “I…I need to keep my distance from you, but it’s just so hard. We’re trying to find our son and…and you are my dearest friend, you know that, don’t you? You are the only one I can talk to about things. I…I just can’t give that up.” She lowered her head into her hands and began to sob.
Julian got up and walked over to the sofa to sit down beside Eve. He gently took her into his arms and held her.
She wrapped her arms around him and held on tightly to his back as she cried at the predicament she was in. She needed this man in her life more than anyone, and yet, at the same time, knew that to keep her life as it always was, she had to put as much distance as possible between them. She squeezed her arms even tighter around Julian at the thought of him being gone from her life.
“Eve, listen to me,” Julian said softly, his voice not much louder than a whisper. “I will be here for you always, you know that. But if my presence is making you miserable, then I know what I must do. I simply have to stay away from you.”
She shuddered at that revelation and choked back her tears. “No…” she whispered.
Julian pulled back and placed his hand under her chin, lifting her face up so that she could look into his eyes. “I love you, Eve, with all my heart, and I can’t stand to see you in pain. No one will get away with hurting you – not even me. I won’t allow it. So, here’s what I think we should do. We can talk over the phone. We’ll arrange a certain time every couple of days that we can check in with each other. I can let you know what is going on with the search for our son, and you can talk to me about anything you need to.”
Eve nodded at what Julian was saying. She couldn’t argue with the wisdom in his words. His idea made perfect sense. They needed to keep their relationship a long distance one. And in Harmony, that meant over the phone. There was no other choice. Why though was her heart breaking over the thought of not seeing Julian again in private – not being able to hold him, to have his arms around her like this, when she needed him more than ever? Eve reached up and grasped his hand in hers. “Oh, Julian,” she cried, “I love you. I love you more than I can say…”
Their eyes met as she spoke those words, and Eve saw into Julian’s soul the way she always did, through those magnificent hazel orbs that could never hide what he was thinking – not from her. She knew those eyes so well…every slight change in color and size was immediately noticed by her. They were the most exquisite eyes she had ever seen. Right now she saw many feelings in them…regret, sadness, honor…and something else.
Julian knew she was reading his thoughts and smiled at her. “Eve, I can’t seem to keep anything hidden from you, can I? Even what I am thinking, what I am feeling.”
She shook her head, returning his smile. Her own heart skipped a beat as she realized that he saw reflected in her eyes the same thing she saw in his – desire. The emotion was taking over her being. She just had to kiss him right then – to feel his lips on hers – one more time.
Sensing Eve’s desire for a kiss, Julian’s breathing became uneven, his heart pounding loudly, and his nerve endings tingling all over. He knew he should get up right then, walk away at that very moment; his mind told him that that was the right thing to do. Julian’s body, however, was telling him a far different story. He had to kiss her then – he just had to. It may be his last chance ever to kiss the woman he loved, and he wasn’t going to let it slip by. He leaned in toward her slowly, until his lips met hers.
Hungrily they tasted one another’s lips and within seconds had opened their mouths to greet each other’s tongue. The kiss took on a life of its own as both of them tried to drown in the sweet taste of the person they loved. If this was to be their last kiss, then let it be their best. Neither one wanted it to end.
The passion in him rising, Julian tilted Eve’s head back for better access to her mouth, the fingers of one of his hands running through her silky, straight hair as his other hand caressed her back.
Eve’s hands grasped Julian’s neck tightly, pulling him as close as was physically possible, as her mouth delighted in the taste of his. The kiss went on for several minutes, becoming more intense with each passing second.
The need for air was what finally drew Julian’s lips from hers. He gasped for it in deep breaths, trying in vain to get his wind back.
The look he saw in Eve’s eyes as she too attempted to catch her breath was one of disappointment. She had never wanted the kiss to end…not that one. Not their last. Her warm brown eyes suddenly flickered in a way that Julian had not seen for more than twenty years. He knew what that look meant, it was ingrained in his mind as much as it was in his heart and his soul.
Eve could not think, could not reason…her mind had been totally cut off from the rest of her. Those feelings inside of her, the ones she had kept buried for all those years, had suddenly come to the surface and flooded her entire being. There was only one thing she wanted now, one thing she needed…and that was Julian. She needed to feel his touch, his kisses…she needed all of him. “Make love to me, Julian,” she said, the words coming out in the sultry voice he had not heard in years, except for on his beloved tape of her precious songs. It was Eve, his Eve…she was back, all of her.
Julian took a deep breath. It was going to take everything in him to resist taking her in his arms and giving her what she wanted – what they both wanted. He knew he had to use all the strength he possessed to fight the urge to have her; it was the right thing to do. The last thing he wanted was to hurt Eve anymore; he wanted to protect her even more than he wanted to be intimate with her right then and there. And he wanted that with all of his heart, soul, and body. “Eve,” he said, taking another deep breath, “we can’t do this. I can’t do this, not when you are going to regret it later. I won’t let that happen. I love you too much to hurt you like that.”
Although she could hear the wisdom in his words, her body would have none of that. Eve reached up and pulled Julian down on top of her, kissing him passionately. He surrendered to her advances completely, realizing that anymore attempts to change her mind would be futile. He wanted his Eve as much as she wanted him. Right then, right there, they would become one again.