“Here you go, young man. Keep the change,” Julian said, handing the room service attendant a hundred dollar bill.

“Gee, thanks, Mr. Crane,” the inn worker said, ecstatic at the incredible tip he had just received. And people had told him the Cranes were tight snobs! He turned and left, eager to go share the news of his good fortune with the cook.

Julian grinned and closed the door to his suite, making sure to latch the chain lock. He carried the tray into the bedroom and set it down on the stand next to the bed.

Eve smiled at Julian from her position on the bed; it was hard for her to take her eyes off of him. He looked simply amazing in that silk robe of his, which was of the same deep shade of burgundy as the comforter and curtains, she noted. “Julian, you match!” she exclaimed.

“Match? Match what?” he asked, removing the lid from the tray and setting it down on the floor.

“The colors in the room – your robe!” she cried. “You couldn’t have picked a better color if you had tried.”

Julian looked down at his robe and grinned playfully. “Hmmm… it does seem that way. Too bad, really.”

“Too bad?” she asked, confused.

“Yes, dear. It’s too bad that such an outstandingly shaded article of clothing like this is going to have to go,” he said, untying it and letting it fall to the floor.

“Julian Crane!” Eve said, laughing. “Tsk, tsk. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain because the view actually just got better from where I’m sitting.”

“Come here, you,” he coaxed, pulling her toward him as he climbed onto the bed next to her. Julian leaned in and claimed her lips with his, pulling her into a passionate kiss.

Eve pulled back finally, breathless. “Julian, I thought we were going to eat lunch…”

“Lunch can wait,” he said, bringing his body overtop of hers.

Eve didn’t protest a bit; she just lay back to enjoy yet another round of bliss in the arms of the man she loved more than any man.

Eve sipped the last of her cola and leaned back against her pillow, which was propped up against the headboard, and sighed. “Thanks for the lunch, Julian. I was famished.”

“As well you should have been, dear. It was almost 4 o’clock before we began eating, and we really worked up an appetite,” he said, grinning.

She looked at him knowingly and laughed. He was right about that one!

“But don’t thank me yet, my love, because you haven’t had the dessert.”

“Dessert? But we ate everything on the tray, Julian. What else could there be?”

“Ah, just you wait and see, my dear,” he said, getting up out of bed and going into the other room for a moment. He returned with a little box of chocolates in his hand.

“Chocolate covered cherries!” Eve cried. “My favorite! Where did you get them?”

“Well, they have been a habitual delicacy of mine all these years, Eve – since you turned me onto them when we were in Bermuda. And ever since then, they have been a sort of reminder of you and our time together for me. I never leave town without them.”

“I had no idea!” Eve exclaimed, her eyes lighting up as he carefully removed the lid from the box. “You never cease to amaze me lately, Julian.”

“Well, I hope not, my dear Eve,” he said, lifting up an exquisite looking chocolate morsel between his two fingers. “Now just close your eyes and let this amaze you too.”

She did as he obliged, opening her mouth to receive the delightful treat. Julian toyed with her a bit, allowing her to get just a taste of the chocolate in her mouth, and then removing the delicious candy before she could bite down.

“Julian, you give that back right now!” she ordered, laughing as she tried to pry the piece of chocolate from his fingers.

“Oh, I am sorry, dear. If you want this luscious delight as your very own, you are going to have to earn it.”

“Earn it how?” she asked, giving him the evil eye, only partly in jest. He had her candy!

“Well, I have an idea what might get you this piece and maybe even the rest of the box,” he laughed, leaning in and whispering his offer in her ear.

Eve playfully smacked his arm and chuckled. “I see you haven’t really changed as much as I thought you had.”

“Oh now, Eve, I am a new and better man,” Julian insisted, “outside of the bedroom. But in here, I am still the same passionate devil you were with long ago, with a few minor differences.”

“Yeah, what kinds of differences?” Eve asked, taking the bait.

“Oh, well, I seem to have upped my…ahem…stamina from what it was back then,” he said, the charming yet playful glint in his eyes giving away the humor in what he was saying.

“I have noticed you seem like quite a boy in that respect, Julian,” she laughed. “And just how did you manage that?”

“The Cranes are a lot like wine, you see. We only get finer with age.” He leaned in for a kiss. Eve kissed him back eagerly, moving her hands to the back of his neck and allowing her fingers to roam his soft, graying hair. As the passionate moment continued, she moved her hands along his shoulders and down his arms. She then very quickly tried to pry open the fingers on his right hand to grab the candy that was firmly held between them.

“Uh, uh, UH, uh,” Julian chastised. “Just what do you think you are doing, my little songbird?”

“Your little songbird…” Eve said, her eyes widening. “You haven’t called me that in years, Julian.”

“Well, it is what you are to me, and always will be,” he revealed. “And I love you.”

“I love you too,” she said, “so much. I just hadn’t heard you call me that in such a long…” Her mind suddenly drifted back to when the two of them had first met…to a place filled with singing, drinking, and desire. That seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet here she was, once more in the arms of that same incredible man. Eve snapped back to the present and remembered the task at hand. “Now, Julian, let me have that candy,” she demanded.

“What? You think a little ‘I love you’ is going to do the trick?”

“Well, isn’t it? I mean, I would think that my saying that is certainly worth a little piece of candy. Maybe even the whole box.”

“Hmmm…I don’t know about that. Oh, no, the words are wonderful, but to get this piece of candy, you have to back up what you say.”

“And just how do you propose I do that?” she asked, her eyes matching his, devilish gleam for devilish gleam.

“Well, do I have to repeat myself, dear? You should be a better listener, or maybe your memory is perhaps the only thing about you that hasn’t improved with age.”

“Oh, my memory is fine,” she chuckled. “It’s my hearing that was a bit off, I think, because if I heard right, you wanted me to…”

“Oh, you heard right!” He grinned, taking her in his arms and pulling her close. “I love being like this with you,” he said, his voice suddenly sobering.

“I love it too, Julian,” she said softly, her face becoming serious. “I…I wish…”

“Shhhh, don’t say it, not yet. Let me have this next hour or so with you, to enjoy each other as much as we can. Those words can come when we are done here, but I for one am not finished yet.” He lifted her chin with his hand and looked into her eyes.

Eve nodded. She was not ready to leave Julian either, not yet. What he made her feel – it was far more than pure pleasure. She was in love with this man, with every inch of him – mind, body, and soul. He was her man, but technically he wasn’t, and she was not ready to face those facts just yet. She didn’t know if she could handle it. Tears suddenly formed in her eyes.

Julian noticed the tears as they began to fall, and reached up to wipe them from her face with his left hand. “There, there, Eve. It’s all going to work out all right. You’ll see.”

She loved the touch of his hand on her cheek, so smooth and gentle, but at the same time so strong and masculine. The sound of his voice was soothing to her ears. Julian had such a power over her. He knew exactly how to comfort her, and it always worked.

Eve looked into his eyes and smiled sweetly. “You have the touch,” she whispered, “the magic touch. Julian, I love you so much.”

He pulled her into a hug once more, rubbing her smooth, silky hair with his hand. “And I love you, Eve, more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone.” He tilted his head toward hers and kissed the side of her hair.

Eve closed her eyes tight, enjoying the moment. She wished it could be like this forever, just the two of them. But she knew that that was simply a fantasy – that they both had lives outside of these walls, lives that involved so many other people. “A lot of people are going to get hurt…” she muttered out loud. “I don’t know if I can face that.”

“We will face it together, you and me,” he said, embracing her even more tightly than before. “I will be there for you, Eve, in whatever kind of capacity you wish. You’re not alone.”

“Oh, I know I have you, Julian, and that I can trust you completely. And I am going to need you…” she said, opening her eyes and pulling back to look at him. She loved this man more than she could have ever imagined. Eve shook off the serious mood and decided to enjoy the moment. “But first thing’s first, you know. There is something I need right now.”

“What is it, dear? You can ask anything of me; you know that. What do you need?”

“This!” Eve exclaimed, suddenly grabbing Julian’s right hand and extracting the now partially melted morsel from it. Before he could stop her, she had popped the treat in her mouth, moving it around slowly to savor the taste.

“Oh no you don’t!” Julian shouted playfully. “You will not get away with that, my little songbird. No, you owe me now.”

Eve swallowed the candy and smiled at him. “And just what do I owe you, my love? Chocolate? I can get some for you.” She started to get up from the bed.

“Oh, you’re not getting out of it that easily,” he said, pulling her back to him. They collapsed on the bed together, with Eve on top of Julian.

“Well, I see you are still your same demanding self,” she laughed. “That’s something that certainly hasn’t changed.”

“Not when I am with the woman I love,” he said, kissing the side of her face. “But I wouldn’t call it demanding…encouraging maybe, but surely not demanding.”

“And just what is it you are encouraging?” she asked, caressing his cheek with her hand.

“Oh my, your memory really has faded with age,” he joked, running his hands down her smooth, golden back.

“Hmph,” Eve grunted. “I am not that old, Julian, and yeah, I think I might just remember something you said you wanted.” She grinned slyly. “But if we’re going to do it, let’s do it right.” And with that, she repositioned herself on top of him and began to show him just how much she loved him.