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Thread: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

  1. #33

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 32 - "The Vision"

    Luis woke up from a deep sleep and sat up suddenly in bed. "Sheridan," he said. He rubbed his head. "Was I dreaming?" he asked himself. "I could have sworn I heard a baby crying - Sheridan's and my baby. Could it be here? Am I a father?"

    He got up and walked over to the window, pulling the curtain apart to look outside. He could see that all of the stars were out. It was a clear night. Luis sought out his and Sheridan's star. Finding it, he smiled, remembering all the times he and Sheridan had looked at that star together. His smile turned to concern when he thought about the dream he just had.

    "Sheridan," he said, hoping the star would be his transmitter to the woman he loved. "I just heard a baby crying - our baby. Is it real? Is our child here?" His eyes suddenly filled with tears. "I didn't want to miss this - not for anything."
    Luis wiped the tears away from his eyes so that he could see the star more clearly. "Sheridan, look, if you have had our baby, just remember that I love you. I love him or her too - so much. And Sheridan, believe me when I say that I am doing everything I can to find you - everything! I won't give up, either. Not until you and our baby are back with me where you belong, safe and sound."

    Bowing his head, Luis began to pray, "Lord, please look out for Sheridan. Protect her from the evil ones who have her. Keep her safe, Lord; please don't allow any harm to come to her. And our baby..." Luis began choking back tears. "If our child is here, please make him or her feel all the warmth and love that a child needs. Keep our baby safe from harm until I am able to find them both. Amen."

    Luis raised his head and fixed his eyes on that special star once more. "I love you, Sheridan, with all my heart. I love you, baby, even if I don't know you yet. I love you as much as any father here on Earth ever loved his child." Luis stood silently, staring up at the heavens for several more minutes.

    "A girl, Bethie, we have a girl!" Charlie cheered, forgetting for a moment that she was at the edge of the pit, and there were people down below who might hear her reveal her friend's name.

    "Shhhh!" Beth warned her, grabbing her arm. "Charlie, what if they heard you say my name?" she asked nervously.

    Charlie looked into the pit to see if there was any reaction. "No, Beth," she whispered, "they didn't hear a word I said. I think Blondie is practically passed out over there. And her brother and the doc were too busy with the cord thing. Hell, they wouldn't have heard anything anyway, the way the two of them were making goo-goo eyes at each other."

    "Yeah, that was really strange the way they kissed earlier, wasn't it?" Beth admitted. "I had no idea there was something going on between Dr. Russell and Julian Crane. Who would have guessed? Of course, it doesn't surprise me about him. My gosh, I've heard rumors the man just can't keep his hands off anyone."

    "Well, I'd like to see him try something with me," Charlie declared. "I'd smash his face in."

    Beth laughed. "Somehow, Charlie, I don't see that happening..."

    "What's that supposed to mean?" Charlie asked defensively. "You don't think I'm attractive? Is that what you're trying to tell me?"

    "No, I mean yes," Beth stammered. "I mean, sure, Charlie, you're a very attractive...woman. Just not Julian Crane's type, I'm sure."

    "Oh," Charlie muttered, her anger dissipating. "Well, I'm not of course," she said, playfully socking Beth's arm with her fist. "I'm your type, Bethie. We make a great couple. And now it looks like this couple has become a family."

    "Yes," Beth said, trying to force a smile, forgetting her face was covered by a mask. "It does, doesn't it?" Beth was thrilled the baby was here, but had new concerns of what to do about Charlie. How was she going to handle her partner in crime, now that she wanted to become her partner in life as well? Beth shuddered at the thought. "I must be careful," she told herself. "Very, very careful."

    Sheridan examined her baby with loving eyes. She could see her well in the glow of the lantern. "She's simply...beautiful," she said, with tears in her eyes. "She looks so much like her daddy. She's so dark ...and gorgeous."

    "She's an angel, Sheridan," Eve said. "A precious, precious baby. I can see a lot of you in her as well. Look at her nose and mouth."

    Sheridan smiled. "She is a perfect combination...of both of us...isn't she?" Then she asked suddenly, "Are you sure she's all right? I mean...she's so early."

    "Well, 36 weeks is early," Eve admitted. "37 is considered full-term. Had she been a week earlier than this, we may have needed an incubator. But she seems fine. She's breathing so well and is a good, healthy color. Girls tend to be more developed than boys, too. You've got a strong little one here."

    On cue, the baby began crying, showing how strong her lungs really were.

    "She is a definitely a Crane," Julian joked. "I can hear her now, yelling at the servants."

    "Not the servants," Sheridan chided. "If she will the boardroom."

    "I think she would make a great businesswoman," Julian admitted. "Maybe I'll have to take her under my wings at Crane Industries."

    "Let's not...go that far," Sheridan laughed.

    Eve was still amazed at the change in Julian and Sheridan's relationship. She was so glad that Julian had healed things between him and his sister. Of course, she had no idea just how much healing and redemption had taken place in the pit. She did, however, suspect that something big had happened to get them to where they were.

    "She's so tiny... How much do you think she weighs?" Sheridan asked her doctor.

    "Oh, I'd say around 5 ½ pounds," Eve said. "You know, I need to finish some work with you, Sheridan. Julian, would you mind holding the baby while I take care of your sister?"

    Julian smiled nervously and shifted his weight from one leg to the other. "I have never held one this small," he revealed. "But sure, I think I can manage."

    Eve carefully placed the infant in Julian's arms. "Like that. You've got her. Good, Julian."

    Julian grinned at Eve and then slowly began walking around the pit, talking softly to his niece. Sheridan and Eve looked at each other and smiled. They couldn't hear what Julian was saying, but they were each processing in their minds the image of him holding the tiny baby. It was a picture they both wanted to keep - always.

    Eve began taking care of what needed to be done with Sheridan, while the new mother settled back and rested. Sheridan was exhausted, yet at the same time exhilarated after the birth of her daughter. She was thrilled that the baby was healthy. She was so grateful Dr. Russell had been there to deliver the baby. Although she hadn't been told the whole story, she was well aware that Eve had saved her daughter's life.

    Sheridan suddenly gasped. "What's wrong?" Eve asked, still performing a post-childbirth procedure.

    "Eve, how did you get here?" Sheridan asked. "I just realized...they must have come and gotten you - my kidnappers... Were you hurt?"

    "I'm OK now, Sheridan," Eve said. "While I never wanted to be kidnapped, of course, I'm so glad I was here for you when you needed me."

    "So am I," Sheridan said, sighing. "If you hadn't been..." She shivered at the thought of what might have happened had Eve not been brought to the pit. Surely, both she and her baby would have died. She knew what that would have done to Luis. The man she loved with all her heart would have been completely devastated.

    When Eve finished with Sheridan, she removed her gloves and walked over to where Julian was standing, still holding the baby and talking to her.

    "You are a pretty little girl. Yes, you are," Julian cooed to the infant. He looked up at Eve as she approached. He blushed upon seeing the smile on her face. He could tell she was delighted with how he was bonding with the baby.
    "She's wonderful," he said, returning Eve's smile.

    "She is a beautiful baby, isn't she?" Eve said. "She's every bit as beautiful as..."

    "Our baby?" Julian finished quietly for her.

    "He was beautiful," Eve said softly, tears starting to form in her eyes. "I wish you had seen him."

    Julian hung his head in shame. "I do too," he said sadly. "I wish I had been there with you."

    "Maybe someday soon, you'll get the chance to see our son. Maybe we both will," Eve said gently. She looked around to make sure that Sheridan hadn't heard their conversation. She saw with relief that she was already sleeping. The horrible masked abductors were no longer standing over the pit either, so that in itself made her feel better.

    "We'll find him, Eve," Julian promised. "We'll find our son."

    "I hope so," she said, running her fingers along the baby's face. "I want that more than anything." Her eyes met his. They did not need to speak anything more on the subject. Their eyes communicated what they both felt in their hearts.

    Eve took the baby from Julian to examine her once more. She carried her over near the lantern to do this. "You know, we're going to need something for this baby to sleep in...and diapers, a blanket. I'll need to swaddle her. Plus, it's cold down here. She'll need to be kept warm."

    Julian called out to the clowns in case they were in earshot. Not long after, the larger of the two appeared at the opening of the pit. "I just came to make sure there wasn't something dirty going on down here," she said, laughing.

    Rolling his eyes at the tasteless remark, Julian began relaying to her everything they needed for the baby.

    Charlie snickered. "Well, I guess you may need those things...but not for long!" She sealed her comment with a hideous laugh.

    "I don't know what you are planning," Julian stated, "but I can assure you this - if you harm one hair on that child's head, I'll kill you."

    "Well, that would be kind of hard for you to do from the bottom of this pit, now wouldn't it?" she said, laughing evilly. "Believe me, none of you are going to ever see the light of day again." With that, she was off to talk to Beth about the supplies.

    Julian turned to face Eve. Her eyes met his. She had heard what Charlie said, he knew instantly, and she was worried. He headed over to reassure her.

    "It's going to be all right, Eve. We'll get out of this, I promise you..." he paused for a second, realizing that he was the reason she was even in this mess.

    Reading his mind, Eve reached out with her free hand and grasped Julian's left hand. "Don't blame yourself, Julian. It's OK; I was meant to be here. If I hadn't been, Sheridan and the baby would have died."

    "I know," he said sadly, linking his fingers with hers. "But if anything were to happen to you...I would never forgive myself."

    She nodded. "I understand how you feel, but try to let go of the guilt. You did what you had to do for your sister. I admire that."

    "It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life," Julian said, looking into Eve's eyes.

    "Honey, I know that," she said, squeezing his hand. " about you even more knowing that you were able to do that - have them come and get me for Sheridan's sake. That took great courage."

    Just then, Charlie and Beth headed down the basement stairs, carrying supplies. "I still don't know why we need to throw all this stuff down there," Charlie complained. "Can't we just get the baby up here now?"

    "Not yet," Beth replied. "We aren't ready for that yet. I mean, suppose someone came and found her up there?"

    "You mean Luis?" Charlie asked, a hint of jealousy in her voice.

    "Well, of course I mean Luis," Beth said, stopping before she got too near the pit. "Look, Charlie, we can't have Luis finding out about the baby - not just yet. So until my plan's all ironed out, the baby has to stay down here."

    Charlie shrugged and walked to the edge of the pit. "Got your things here, folks," she bellowed. "Come and get 'em!"

    Julian ran over to catch the blankets and baby clothes. He allowed a clothes basket and package of diapers to hit the ground.

    The kidnappers went back upstairs as Eve began diapering and swaddling the newborn. The baby had fallen asleep peacefully and didn't stir during the whole time she was being dressed. "Now we'll get you all warmed up," she said sweetly, smiling at the baby.

    "I guess the baby is supposed to sleep in this," Julian said, picking up the clothes basket.

    "Well, it will have to do," Eve said, shaking her head. "What on earth are those people thinking of, keeping a pregnant woman trapped in this pit...and now a baby?"

    "I'm sure whatever it is, it's not good," Julian remarked.

    Eve placed a blanket in the basket and then laid the newborn inside. She wrapped the blanket around the infant and then placed another on top of it. "There, now that should feel better," she said. She set the basket down beside Sheridan's cushion. Sheridan was still sound asleep."It must be almost morning," Eve said, yawning.

    "A quarter past five," Julian said, checking his watch in the lantern light. "It will be light soon."

    "I'll be able to hear the baby if she wakes up," Eve said, "but I need some rest."

    "There's a blanket over there," Julian said, pointing to the far side of the pit.

    "Is that where you sleep?" she asked.

    He nodded. "But you can use it tonight...I'll be OK," he said, looking around for another place to sleep.

    "Oh, come on, Julian, it's cold down here," Eve said, motioning him to follow her to where he normally slept.

    Julian sat down and leaned against the wall. Eve curled up beside him, laying her head against his chest. Julian pulled the blanket over her and held her close. When it was apparent by her change in breathing that she had fallen asleep, he kissed the top of her head. "I love you, Eve," he said tenderly, "more than anything in this world. And I promise to get you home safely, where I'll never let anyone hurt you again."

  2. #34

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 33 - "Heated Exam"

    TC began waking up and reached over to touch his wife. His hand landed on her pillow. Opening his eyes, he noticed that Eve wasn't home yet. He looked at the clock and saw that it was almost seven o'clock. "Hmmm..." he murmured. "Eve was supposed to be home hours ago."

    He wondered if he should call the hospital to check on her. "No," he said, shaking his head. "She has worked late every night she's been on call lately. All those extra hours... Maybe the hospital does need her, but this family needs her more."

    Rubbing his eyes with the backs of his hands, TC continued conversing with himself. "If it hadn't been for all that damn overtime she's been putting in at the hospital, our family would still be together. Whitney would be in Harmony, playing tennis, instead of running around LA with that punk, Chad. And my little Sugar Bear would be happy, instead of moping around in her room all the time."

    TC looked at the clock once more. "Nah, Eve's probably just putting in some extra hours again, giving her time to others instead of us. Well, the hell with it, she can call me to let me know what she's up to!"

    He firmly pressed down on his pillow with his hand and lay back down. "Come to think of it, she probably didn't call because she was afraid she'd wake me. I guess at least that part's good. Eve knows how much I enjoy my rest in the summertime. He smiled, closing his eyes. "I'll just catch up on my sleep," he decided and began nodding off again.

    Eve stirred and opened her eyes. It did not take long for them to adjust to the dim morning light that was streaming down from above. "There is obviously a window up there somewhere," she surmised.

    Feeling secure in Julian's protective arms, she looked up at his face and noticed that he was sound asleep. She had forgotten how adorable he looked when he was sleeping. Absentmindedly, she ran her fingers along his face. He began to move.

    Eve quickly dropped her hand before Julian's eyes opened. He turned his head so he could see her better. "Eve..." he said softly.

    She smiled at him. "I...I tried not to wake you," she stammered. "I was just going to get up to check on the baby." Julian moved his arms and lifted the blanket so that she could get up. Eve walked over to the clothes basket. Leaning over the basket, she could tell that the baby was still asleep. She headed back to Julian.

    "She's still sleeping, but I know not for much longer. She'll be hungry soon, and I'm going to have to show Sheridan how to nurse her."

    "Here," Julian said, raising the blanket up for her. "It's cold out there." Eve hesitated for a second and then freely went into Julian's arms, snuggling close under the warm blanket.

    "It feels good to be near you, Julian," she said, "to feel you and know that you are alive." She smiled as she lay with her head on his chest once more, her left hand and arm touching his back.

    "You really did believe I was dead?" Julian asked. "I mean, I just thought maybe..."

    "What? That I would just somehow know that you weren't dead? That I could feel it?" she asked.

    "Well, no..." he started. "I don't know. I hoped that you wouldn't have to go through any of that."

    "Well, I did," Eve admitted sadly. "At first, when TC told me that you were probably dead, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was completely and utterly devastated. I hadn't felt like that since..."

    "Since you were told our child had died?" Julian asked softly.

    "Yes, not since then," she said, tears forming in her eyes. She began sobbing at the reminder of all the pain she had gone through - recently and long ago.

    "My dear Eve, everything's going to be fine," Julian said, tilting her head so that he could wipe her tears away with his thumb. "I'm all right, and our child is too. You'll see."

    "I am thrilled that you are OK," Eve said. "I was pretty sure that you were alive after I talked to Luis. He suspected that something just wasn't right with the accident."

    "So Luis knows that something else is going on? That I'm being held prisoner?"

    "Yes, he does," she answered. "And he even thinks that whoever has you has Sheridan."

    "Good," Julian said, relieved. "Maybe the police will find us, then, before it is too late."

    "Julian, why did these people kidnap you? If it's not for money, then what?"

    "First, they didn't really kidnap me - not in the way you are thinking."

    "They didn't?" Eve asked, turning her head to get a better look at Julian.

    Julian relayed the whole story of how he had acquired his father's videotapes and studied them, looking for clues to Sheridan's disappearance. He told how he had seen the kidnapper, a woman, on the tape and at that same moment had spotted her spying on things outside of the cottage. "When she left, I immediately jumped into my car and followed her. She was driving like a maniac. I kept up with her until she parked in front of this house."

    "So you know where we are?" Eve asked, excited that maybe that could give them a clue to what was going on in the minds of the kidnappers.

    "I didn't recognize the place," Julian admitted sadly. "I wish I had looked around for a street sign or something. All I know is we are somewhere on the eastern side of Harmony, not far from the wharf and the Book Café."

    "But how did they get you in here?" Eve asked.

    Julian filled her in on how he had approached the home, planning to call the police on his cell phone, but had heard a noise that sounded like a faint scream. "So without thinking, I barged inside," he said.

    "You were worried about Sheridan, weren't you?" Eve said, touched at his feelings for his sister.

    "I really was," Julian admitted. He told her about hearing the voices in the kitchen and then hiding in the basement. "That's where I discovered Sheridan in this Godforsaken pit," he said. "But before I knew what was happening, I got struck from behind, probably with a baseball bat. That's when I woke up here."

    "You fell all the way down?" she asked incredulously. "It's a wonder you survived."

    "Apparently Sheridan had a similar kind of entrance," Julian reported. "When they brought her here, they simply threw her in."

    "Those pigs!" Eve cried. "That poor girl - it's a miracle she and her baby have made it through all of this."

    Julian nodded. "And that's thanks to your medical expertise," he said admiringly.

    "Speaking of my 'medical expertise,' how about I use it to take a look at those ribs of yours?" she said, remembering his injury.

    "They're not too bad," Julian said, telling her how he was again struck by the bat-wielding maniac during his escape attempt.

    Eve shook her head. "Julian, that sounds horrendous. Let me examine you."

    "They don't hurt any worse than when I cracked them last October," Julian revealed. "But I guess I can allow Harmony's finest physician to examine me." He smiled at her in a devilishly fun way.

    "Flattery will get you nowhere," Eve laughed. "But I am going to take a look at those ribs." She pulled the blanket back and began unbuttoning Julian's shirt. He shivered at the touch of her fingers against his chest.

    "My fingers must be like ice. It's so cold down here," Eve said, noticing his reaction.

    "Funny, I was just thinking how hot it was getting," Julian said, a sexy grin on his face.

    Eve tried to keep a straight face as she finished unbuttoning Julian's shirt. "Don't distract me from the task at hand," she said. "I have my doctor's hat on at this point."

    "What about when the doctor's hat comes off?" Julian asked, continuing to press the issue. He couldn't believe how much she had returned his banter up to this point. Something had definitely changed with Eve from the last time he had seen her, when she had told him that her heart and life belonged to TC. Julian decided to see just how much things had really changed.

    Eve did not reply to his last question, but her mouth turned up in a slight grin. Julian also noticed that she was beginning to blush. "Why, doctor, apparently you have sensed the heat as well," he said, caressing her face with his hand.

    Eve turned her face toward his as her heart began racing in a reaction that only Julian could invoke. Noticing the desire in her eyes, he gently pulled her face toward his as he leaned in for the kiss. Their lips hungrily sought each other. Eve soon parted hers, allowing Julian to explore her entire mouth with his tongue. Then in a wave of passion, his tongue and hers furiously danced together, as each gave in totally to the moment.

    After several minutes, their lips parted, and Eve pulled back slightly and looked into Julian's eyes. He saw in her eyes all the love that he used to see - what he had not seen completely for over twenty years.

    "I love you, Eve," he said, reaching up to touch her face once more with his hand.

    "I know you do, Julian," she said. "I...I..." She tried to deny her feelings for him - to tell him that they had just been caught up in the heat of the moment, under very unusual circumstances. But looking into his eyes, and seeing all the way to his soul, she just couldn't do it. She remembered the tremendous pain she had felt when she thought he had died, the overwhelming joy at seeing him alive, and the delight in noticing how much he had matured lately, particularly in regards to Sheridan. Lastly, she reflected on the passion he was able to stir in her, the way he could always reach a place with her that no one else, even TC, could venture near.

    Eve took a deep breath and smiled, looking deep into Julian's eyes. "I didn't want this. I have fought the notion back with every ounce of my strength these last few months. But God help me, I can't do it anymore. I love you, Julian Crane. So help me, I do."

    Julian's heart filled with joy on hearing Eve's confession. Her love for him didn't surprise him in the least. He had known her true feelings for so long. What did surprise him was that she finally admitted it to herself and to him. He reached up to pull her into another kiss, but she beat him to it.

    They immediately deepened the kiss this time, sharing a passionate moment unrivaled by any either of them had shared with another. Julian moved his hand up to the back of Eve's head, pulling her body closer until it was firmly pressed against his.

    Eve fingered the back of Julian's neck, and then moved her hand into his hair as well.

    Slowly and gently, Julian pushed Eve backwards onto the floor of the pit, while the two continued their steamy, magical kiss.

    Pressing himself gently on top of her, Julian's left hand caressed Eve's back, keeping her head up off the hard ground. His right hand began to roam down her shirt, finally tugging at it in hopes of untucking it.

    Eve suddenly pulled her mouth away from Julian's, gasping for air. "No, Julian, we can't," she said, after she got her breath back. Seeing his obvious disappointment, she nodded toward the cushion. "Sheridan..." she said, her eyes moving to where Julian's sister was sleeping soundly on the other side of the pit.

    Julian lifted himself off of her and grinned. "For a moment, I completely forgot where we were," he said, blushing. Secretly, he was pleased beyond measure that she had added the "Sheridan" part as her reason to stop what was happening. At that moment, Julian knew that somehow, some way, Eve would be his again. He already had her heart. Soon he would have all of her.

    As if reading his mind, she looked at him intently. "What are you thinking?" she asked, smiling at him in a scrutinizing but sensual way.

    "Only that I am the luckiest man in the world," he said, pulling her in for a hug. They leaned back against the wall and sighed, completely secure in each other's arms.

    "You're trapped in a pit, Julian," Eve said, slowly rubbing her fingers along his arm. "I would hardly call that luck."

    "Well, that's why I just said 'world,' " he explained, grinning. "If it weren't for this pit, I would have said I am the luckiest man in the universe."

    Eve laughed and leaned her head against his chest. Despite the danger they were in, at that moment, she felt completely safe lying there in the arms of the man she loved. The man she loved! She felt so free after revealing her true feelings to herself and him. She had no idea what the future held in store for them, but one thing she was certain of - her life would never be the same again.

  3. #35

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 34 - "Bonding Time"

    Luis reached in and turned the water on in the shower. He withdrew his hand as the water started gushing out of the faucet. He removed his watch and boxers. Leaning in to test the water with his hand, he waited until it was warm enough and then stepped on in.

    He stood for several minutes under the stream of water, allowing its warmth to spread across his entire body. There was nothing better to wake a person up in the morning than a hot shower, he thought. It did the trick better than coffee.

    Luis hadn't been sleeping well since Sheridan disappeared. Last night he did not get much rest at all because of the strange dream he had in the middle of the night. Was it a dream?

    Grabbing the soap, he began lathering it up onto his washcloth as he prepared to wash his face and body. "I don't know if it was a dream or not," he told himself, "but it seemed so real. I am sure I heard a baby crying - mine and Sheridan's baby. And if that's the case, then that means that our baby has already been born."

    Rinsing off his body in the warm rushing water, Luis sighed. He had wanted to be there when his child was born - with Sheridan. He knew how frightened and alone she would be, having the baby without him. Plus, he knew it was early - their baby wasn't due for another four weeks. Still, if it was here already, he knew that the dream was a good one. He had heard the baby crying, so it must be healthy.

    Luis began lathering shampoo on his hair. He had accidentally applied too much, and it was oozing through his fingers and down into his eyes. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers as the stinging drops found their mark. He remembered his prayer to God, requesting that He keep his child safe and loved until he could find the baby and Sheridan. "I will find you too," he said. "You have to believe that."

    Rinsing the shampoo out of his hair, Luis thought of everything he had done so far to find Sheridan and tried to focus on what else had to be done. He figured that the key to finding Sheridan lay in finding whoever took Julian. A Crane enemy, perhaps? Alistair? No, he shook his head. Alistair would never want any harm to come to his lackey, Julian. Plus, Crane Industries had only suffered recently with Julian not at the helm. He couldn't see Alistair doing anything that would harm his corporation.

    Luis stepped out of the shower and grabbed his towel. Drying off his muscular body from head to toe, his thoughts returned to the baby. If his child was already born, what was it, he wondered - a boy or a girl? He remembered telling Sheridan he was hoping for a boy. Still, he secretly wished for a girl as well, a child as pretty as Sheridan, whom he could teach to dance. He smiled, thinking of dancing to the tune of "Daddy's Little Girl" one day with a daughter.

    "Well, whatever the baby is, boy or girl, it is going to be the most loved child ever," he said, sighing. "You couldn't be any less loved than that, baby, because you come from the greatest love on this planet - mine and your mommy's."

    Luis walked out into the bedroom to get dressed for work. He knew he had a lot to accomplish today so that he could find his family and bring them home safely.

    Sheridan awoke and opened her eyes. She could tell by the light coming from above that it was morning now. She felt an overwhelming rush of love and excitement from the sudden realization that there was a new little person in the world for her to love and care for - her precious baby girl. Sheridan suddenly wondered where the baby was. She turned her head to the side and saw the clothes basket beside the cushion with her newborn daughter inside. Sheridan smiled and reached out to touch the infant. "She's still sleeping," she thought. "Such a beautiful little angel..."

    Realizing that Julian and Eve must still be asleep, she scanned the pit with her eyes and discovered them on the far side of the enclosure, lying in each other's arms. Eve had her head and left arm against Julian's chest. A smile was on her face. His arms were around her, holding onto her protectively. Sheridan was shocked at the degree of intimacy between the two. Even though they were asleep, the way the two were holding one another so peacefully signaled only one thing to her - genuine love. She stared at them, dumbfounded.

    Her stupor was interrupted by the sudden crying of her baby girl. Sheridan reached over to comfort the infant. "Hey, baby, good morning! I bet you are a hungry girl. Yes, I do." Sheridan ignored the soreness she felt as she raised herself to a seated position and carefully lifted the baby from her basket. "You must have been so warm," she said. "Dr. Eve had you bundled up like an Eskimo."

    The baby's cries awakened Eve and Julian, who began stirring on the far side of the pit. Realizing that the baby needed her, Eve quickly loosened herself from Julian's arms and jumped up, heading straight for the cushion. Her eyes met Sheridan's. It suddenly dawned on Eve what Sheridan must be wondering about her and Julian. Blushing, she straightened her rumpled clothing and took a deep breath to steady her nerves as she prepared to greet Sheridan.

    "Good morning, Sheridan. How is our new mother doing today?" she asked, looking from her to the baby.

    "I'm all right," Sheridan replied, "but this little one seems to be a bit fussy this morning."

    "Well, I bet I know what will change that," Eve said. Gently running her fingers along the baby's cheek, Eve spoke to the newborn girl. "You probably want some breakfast, don't you, sweetie?" she asked.

    "I guess I should start nursing her," Sheridan said. "Would you be able to show me how, Dr. Russell? I am pretty green at this."

    "First, it's 'Eve,' " her doctor replied, smiling. "No more titles, OK? Especially down here. We are all in this together. Secondly, I will gladly help you get started with nursing this little angel."

    At that moment, Julian came over and stood several feet from Eve. He looked at Sheridan a little sheepishly as he realized his shirt was open, exposing the makeshift bandage she had put on him some time ago. Julian began fumbling with the buttons on his shirt as he tried to explain, "Uh, Dr. Russell just wanted to check out my ribs...where I hurt them," he began, feeling his face redden.

    "Did you tell her I did my best with that bandage?" Sheridan asked, smiling at Julian in an attempt to make her brother feel more comfortable. She had never seen him like this. He was acting like a schoolboy who had been caught kissing a girl in the hallway.

    "We...uh...never got that far," Julian stammered, looking at Eve.

    Eve's face turned the color of crimson. "I guess we were so exhausted, after being up all night, that we just fell asleep before I could finish with the exam," she covered, throwing Julian a sideways glance.

    Right then, Sheridan knew that whatever her brother was feeling for Dr. Russell, it was mutual. Not wanting to embarrass Eve any further, Sheridan changed the subject. "I think we had better get this little one fed before her cries bring the walls of this pit down on us," she joked, trying to soothe the wailing infant.

    Eve smiled. "Well, we had certainly better. Julian," she said, turning to look at the only male in the pit, "why don't you go find something to do. I'm sure the pit needs some tidying up...way over on the other side."

    Julian grinned. "I get it. I suppose you don't want a man hanging around when you show Sheridan how to feed this little babe. I understand. I'll just go make myself useful over there," he said, pointing to the far side of the pit.

    "You do that, Julian," Eve said, smiling at him when their eyes met.

    Sheridan noticed the look between the two of them and averted her eyes so that Eve wouldn't feel uncomfortable. "Maybe she doesn't realize how obvious it is - the love she has for my brother," Sheridan thought. "When you look in her eyes, it's all you see."

    "OK," Eve said, reaching down to touch the baby. "Let's get this little one fed."

    Sometime later, as the baby was eagerly nursing, Eve walked over to where Julian was standing on the other side of the pit. She smiled as she approached him.

    He returned her smile. "I want so much to just hold you in my arms and kiss you," he said softly.

    "Julian, you know that's not possible," Eve whispered, tilting her head in Sheridan's direction.

    "Maybe later?" he suggested, hoping that she wouldn't turn down his request. He was literally dying inside to touch her now that he knew her heart belonged to him.

    "Maybe," Eve softly whispered, "but you know we have to be careful. Sheridan already suspects something, I think."

    "Don't worry about Sheridan," Julian said, soothing her fears. "She won't say anything. We have become very close. Actually, I have told her some things...about us. I didn't say it was you, of course, but she knows someone has taken over my heart."

    "I had a feeling that it was more than just seeing us together this morning," Eve said. "I guess it's hard to hide things when you're trapped in a tiny pit together."

    "She was bound to find out," Julian agreed. "I wouldn't worry though, Eve."

    "I'm not," she said matter-of-factly. "I can't believe I'm saying that, after I've spent the last few years desperately worried that our past would come out. Now I almost wish it would." She reached out and touched his hand with hers.

    "You've certainly come a long way since I last saw you, Eve," Julian said, adjusting his hand so that his fingers intertwined with hers. Eve's body blocked the handholding from Sheridan's view.

    "I know I have," she said in a hushed voice, "and I have never felt freer...but we still must be careful, Julian."

    "Because of TC?" he asked slowly.

    "Yes, because of TC," she said, "not to mention Alistair and Rebecca. But mostly because of TC... Julian, he's my husband; we have children together."

    "I know," Julian said, lowering his eyes. "I don't want to cause problems in your marriage, Eve - that wasn't my intention."

    "I know it wasn't, honey," she said. "But like it or not, we know it has come to that. There is no way at this point to avoid problems in my marriage. I can't just bury my feelings for you anymore. I'm not going to."

    Julian's heart filled with joy on hearing Eve's proclamation. "Did I tell you I loved you?" he asked, giving her the warmest smile she had ever seen on his face.

    "I think I might have heard you utter those words sometime during the night," she said. "I may have been dreaming though."

    "Well, hopefully after tonight you won't be confusing dreams and reality," he said seductively.

    "Julian, what do you have planned?" she asked, blushing. "You know we can't..."

    "I didn't say we had to, you know... I just was hoping for a little quiet time alone with you again - that's all."

    "Hmmm... I'll have to think about that proposal," she said coyly. "I just might have a better offer come my way tonight." She grinned and then let his hand go as she turned and headed back toward Sheridan.

    Julian watched her walk away and took a deep breath. He looked toward the wash basin on one side of the pit and sighed. "Right now I'd give anything for a cold shower," he said to himself, shaking his head.

  4. #36

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 35 - "Love Uncovered"

    "Sam, anything new while I was out?" Luis asked, stepping into the police chief's office.

    "Nothing," Sam sighed. "But we're not giving up, Luis. We'll find her."

    "It may be 'them' by now," Luis revealed. "I had a vision of sorts last night, maybe a dream. I don't know. But I get the feeling that Sheridan has given birth - that I'm a father now."

    "Are you serious, Luis?" Sam asked, coming up out of his chair. "That's great...or is it?"

    "If the baby's here and it's safe, it's wonderful," Luis admitted. "But if it's in danger, and I can't be there to protect it, well then it's the worst thing in the world."

    "I know what you mean, Luis," Sam admitted. "When Kay was in danger - she has been so many times these last couple of years - I just felt so helpless. I'm her father. I'm supposed to be able to take care of her."

    Luis nodded. "I guess being a father is a lot harder than most men realize. It can cause you the greatest heartache in the world..."

    "Or bring you the greatest joy," Sam said, smiling. "You will find that out, Luis. When we get Sheridan and the baby back with you safely, you'll see what I mean."

    "I know - I will be thrilled beyond measure," Luis said, grinning broadly. "To have the love of my life back, along with a life that our love created, what more could a man ask for?"

    "That's right," Sam said, lowering his eyes. "I just wish I could get my own life straightened out. Grace and I belong together, but right now it doesn't look like..."

    Sam was cut off by the ringing of his office phone. Picking it up, he said, "Yeah, put him through... TC, what's up?... Yeah... Really?... Oh my God... Sure, pal, we'll be there right away!"

    Hanging up the phone, he looked at Luis with both surprise and worry in his eyes.

    "What's wrong, Sam?" Luis asked, his heartbeat quickening.

    "That was TC. He's over at the hospital. He says Eve's missing. She got off work late last night, but her car's still at the hospital. No one's seen her. He's there now."

    "Let's go! I'm with you," Luis said. Sam grabbed his keys and weapon as they headed out the door.

    "Where are those horrendous clowns when you need them?" Julian grumbled. "They are always popping up when you least expect them, being nuisances, but when you really need something, they are nowhere in sight."

    "I really do need something to eat," Sheridan said. "I think all this nursing has made me really hungry."

    "And it will, sweetheart," Eve said kindly. "Hopefully, they will send some food down soon." She bent over the clothes basket. "She's still sleeping. You're lucky to have such a calm baby from the start. She seems to only cry when she's hungry."

    "Can you imagine what it would be like if she cried all the time down here?" Sheridan asked. "We would need to ask for some earplugs for my brother over there."

    "Me?" Julian asked. "No, I don't mind the sound of babies crying at all; I'm just not that used to it."

    "Well, that's because all of us Crane children were raised by nannies," Sheridan said. "It's not going to be that way with this one though. I don't plan on letting her out of my sight!"

    The baby stirred in the basket. Sheridan reached over and carefully picked her up.

    Eve knelt down and touched the baby's hand. "I don't blame you at all, Sheridan. If I were you, I wouldn't let this little angel out of my sight either..." Her voice trailed off as Eve suddenly choked back tears.

    Julian came up behind her and gently put his hand on her back, so that she could feel his presence. He knew what had her so upset. She was thinking of the baby she had had with him, and how when he was out of her sight, someone had apparently stolen him.

    Sheridan looked puzzled for a moment, and then suddenly her eyes widened in the realization of what Eve was upset about. She knew at that instant that Eve was the woman whom Julian had told her about - the one who had given birth to his child - only to have him taken from her, through death or abduction.

    It all made sense now - the intimacy she had spotted between the two when they were sleeping, the little looks they gave each other every now and then, the hushed whispering on the other side of the pit, and the hand touches when they didn't know she was watching - it was all finally clear: Eve Russell was the woman her brother had always loved. And she loved him. That was obvious to Sheridan. The two of them shared a love as great as hers and Luis's, she realized...and as tragic. What was it about the Cranes? Could they never live happily ever after with the person they loved? She hoped she would finally break the Crane curse and have a happy life with Luis. She wondered about Julian and Eve though. Was there any chance for them? She wasn't sure, knowing that Eve was a married woman, but she knew that the love between these two would be hard to be denied. It was so obvious now when you saw them together.

    Eve got up and stepped aside so Julian could have a look at the baby. He leaned over and put his index finger underneath her tiny little fingers. The infant curled her fingers around his, squeezing tightly. "What a grip she has on her!" Julian cried, surprised.

    Laughing, Eve said, "It's something all newborns are able to do, Julian. It was a reflex used by babies long ago so that they could hang onto their mothers."

    Julian grinned. "Well, this little one wouldn't have any trouble holding on," he said. Removing his finger from the baby's hand, he looked at Sheridan. "So, have you decided on a name for this little girl, or do I have to continue calling my new niece 'Baby?'"

    Sheridan laughed. "Actually, I have thought of a good name for her," she said, smiling. "But I want to talk to Luis about it first. After all, he is her father."

    Eve looked at Julian, puzzled by the comment. She was under the impression that Sheridan wasn't sure who the baby's father was. She knew of course that the child's black hair did signal she was likely Luis's.

    Julian noticed Eve's inquisitive look. "Sheridan is certain the baby is Luis's," he explained. "She was finally able to see that when she was trapped down here in this pit."

    "I just knew," Sheridan nodded. "It all suddenly became very clear to me. I don't know why I didn't see it before. There was just so much going on lately that cluttered my mind, I think. After spending time alone, I was able to see things straight - what should have been obvious to me - that I was carrying the child of the man I love. A woman just knows that, I think. She just feels it through her whole body, especially if she and her lover are soul mates."

    Eve turned her head and took a couple steps away from the cushion. Sheridan's words had hit her hard. Julian turned and put his hand on her shoulder. "It's all right, Eve," he said, walking her across the pit. "Some soul mate I was - a damn fool."

    "I've forgiven you," Eve said softly. "But sometimes it still hurts."

    Sheridan realized she had said something she shouldn't have, remembering that Eve too had carried a child of the man she loved inside of her, wishing the whole time that she and the baby's father could be together. It was still hard for her to picture Eve having a past with Julian. They were so different. But here it was, right before her eyes. Her brother and the upstanding Dr. Russell were once lovers, and if they had it their way, she believed, they would be again.

    Sam pulled his police cruiser up beside of TC's SUV. His friend was standing on the other side of it, by his wife's empty car. Sam and Luis quickly exited the cruiser.

    "TC, how are you holding up?" Sam asked, placing his hand on his friend's shoulder.

    "I don't know, man. It's hard, Eve being missing..." He put his hand over his eyes to wipe the tears away.

    Sam patted TC's shoulder. "It's going to be all right, pal. We're going to find her. You just get yourself together enough so you can tell us exactly what happened, OK?"

    TC took a deep breath. "I'm OK now, Sam. I just love Eve so much, you know. She's the perfect wife, the perfect woman. If anything happened to her..." He choked back the tears that were starting to flow.

    Luis walked around Eve's car. "There's no sign of a struggle," he said.

    "Look here," TC said. He held up Eve's car keys.

    "Where did you get them?" Sam asked.

    "I found them on the ground by her car door. The car was still locked," he replied. "Someone jumped her here - took her. Someone has my wife!"

    "OK, listen. We don't want to jump to any conclusions yet, TC," Sam said, taking the keys from his friend. "I wish you had left these keys where you found them though, just in case."

    "In case what, Sammy? In case there were fingerprints on them? You do believe something's happened to Eve, don't you?"

    Luis came over and joined the pair. "Why don't you start at the beginning, TC. Tell us everything."

    "Well, Eve got called in yesterday evening to work. Another doctor was sick. She was supposed to get off around midnight, but you know how that goes. She's always asked to stay longer. I just went on to bed. When I woke up at seven, I saw that she wasn't home, and I just figured she had forgotten to call. Hell, I was even mad at her," he said, kicking himself for having acted that way.

    "I went back to sleep and got up around ten. I called the hospital a little while later. They said she got off at midnight. I couldn't believe it. Eve always comes straight home. So I rushed over here. I found her car, but then I went inside just to make sure the receptionist was right. She was. There was no sign of Eve. I checked everywhere - even her office - just in case she could have fallen asleep in there. She hadn't."

    "And then you called us?" Sam asked.

    "I'm so worried, Sam," TC said. "I just know someone took her. I'm going to kill him if he lays a finger on my wife!"

    "We'll find her, TC," Sam said, doing the best he could to reassure his friend.

    At that moment, Rebecca Hotchkiss came out of the hospital. Seeing the trio huddled together, she walked on over to join them. "What are all of you boys doing outside of the hospital?" she asked. "Is someone hurt? It's not my Pookey, is it?"

    "No, Rebecca, it's not about Julian," Luis said.

    "Well then, who is it about? You guys look so...long in the face."

    "If you have to know, we are discussing a different disappearance, one that just happened this morning," Luis answered.

    "Who disappeared?" Rebecca inquired, her eyes as big as saucers.

    "My wife!" TC yelled, agitated at all of Rebecca's questions.

    "Dr. Russell's missing?!!" Rebecca exclaimed. "How weird! First Sheridan, then Pookey, and now Dr. Russell too... What's going on in this town?"

    "That's what we'd like to know too," Sam said.

    "Of course, with Dr. Russell, one does wonder whether it was truly a kidnapping. I mean, maybe she just ran off with, I don't know, one of those strong orderlies with the biceps...ooh...or maybe a sexy patient with a mysterious past charmed her away or..."

    "Rebecca, Eve's husband is standing right here," Sam said, admonishing her.

    "Well, I know that, Chief Bennett. Nobody misses TC. Hi, TC!" she called, smiling and waving at him.

    TC ignored her attempt at flirting and shook his head.

    "I hope you explore every possibility with Dr. Russell the way you did with my Pookey," Rebecca insisted. "You were quick to think he had run off with someone else, but if you ask me, it's the good doctor's eyes that have been wandering lately. I told her that myself yesterday."

    "My wife would never look at another man, ever," TC said defensively. "She's the most perfect wife in the world. She hasn't been with anyone but me her whole entire life and hasn't wanted to. I'm the only man for her, so whatever you're thinking, drop it." He gave her a glare filled with so much anger that it surprised even Sam.

    Luis began walking around Eve's car once more, thinking. "Something Rebecca said makes sense," he thought, "when she said that everyone in this town keeps vanishing. I'm sure Sheridan's and Julian's disappearances are related. Maybe Eve's is connected to them too. But what would Crane enemies want with a doctor?"

    A light bulb suddenly went on inside of Luis's head. "Oh my God," he said, running over to the others. "Sam, my dream last night - what if it really was true?!! What if Sheridan really went into labor last night, and they needed a doctor?!! What if they came and took Dr. Russell to deliver her baby?"

    Sam considered Luis's theory. "I guess it is possible, Luis," he said finally, "if that dream you had was really some sort of vision."

    "Then I really might be a father!" he shouted. "And Sam, we may find some clues here that will help find all three of them!"

    "Who are the three?" TC asked, confused. "You just said Eve might be with Sheridan."

    "And Julian," Luis said.

    "Julian Crane?!!" TC roared. "That bastard is dead, isn't he?"

    "We don't think so, TC," Sam said. "We think he's being held with Sheridan."

    "And you think my wife may be with them? I swear if that scum lays one hand on my wife..."

    "TC, if they're together, they're being held prisoner. It's not Julian's fault," Sam cautioned.

    "Oh, you can believe this whole thing is somehow Julian Crane's fault. That stupid bastard. If anything happens to my wife because of him, he's going to wish he died in that accident."

    Rebecca, who had been standing quietly up until this point, now joined in with her own displeasure at the thought of Julian and Eve being held somewhere together. "That woman had better keep her paws off of my man if she knows what's good for her," she declared.

    The men all looked at her, stunned at her comment.

    "Well," she said, "a woman knows when another woman's interested in the scenery, you know." With that, she turned and walked away, wiggling her bottom. All three men stared after her, speechless.

  5. #37

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 36 - "Julian's Date"

    Sheridan wolfed down the last of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "This is kind of bottom of the barrel cuisine here, even for this establishment," she said, picking up a stale potato chip. The three occupants of the pit were having a picnic of sorts on a blanket spread out on the ground.

    "I think it's the extra mouth to feed," Julian joked, looking at Eve.

    Eve laughed at his remark. "Well, if I am hurting your menu choices, Mr. Crane, I had best be leaving this fine hotel."

    "If only we could do that," Sheridan sighed. "I just want to get home - to get my baby home. Julian, when do you think they're going to release us?" She asked the question with a hint of fear in her voice.

    Julian shifted uncomfortably on the floor of the pit. He had a feeling there would be no release, at least until the kidnappers got what they wanted. He prayed he was wrong with his assumptions. He knew Sheridan had heard the one abductor hint at wanting what she had. She had been in the beginnings of labor then, and for all he knew, had wiped the comment out of her mind. "I hope soon, dear," he said quietly.

    Eve noticed how uncomfortable Julian was with the question, but did not probe him for fear of upsetting Sheridan. She too had heard something the kidnapper had said that made her wonder exactly what they were after.

    At that time, the baby began crying. Sheridan got up off the floor and went over to check on her. "I guess someone noticed us eating and got a little jealous," she called as she bent over the clothes basket. "If you two don't mind, I think I'll finish my dinner later. This little one has to eat."

    "By all means, feed my niece," Julian said. "And don't worry about your share of this delicious meal. We'll save you plenty!"

    "I was afraid of that!" she cried. Lifting her infant out of the basket, she sat down on the cushion and prepared to nurse her. She started singing to her child as the newborn began to suckle.

    Realizing that Sheridan was now otherwise occupied, Eve turned to Julian and in a hushed voice asked, "What do you think really is going on here, Julian? Why are they keeping all of us in this pit?"

    Julian lowered his eyes. Eve could tell by his reaction that something was deeply troubling him. "I have my suspicions," he said slowly. "And I hope to God I am wrong."

    Eve glanced over at Sheridan, who was singing softly to her nursing infant on the other side of the pit. "Is this about the baby?" she asked, turning to look into Julian's eyes.

    He looked away, not able to face the fear he saw in the eyes of the woman he loved. The fear that what happened to her may be played out again - but this time with Sheridan as the grieving mother. "I believe so," he said slowly.

    "Oh, Julian, no!" Eve exclaimed, managing to keep from crying out too loudly, which would have alarmed Sheridan. "That would be the most horrible thing I could imagine - for them to take Sheridan's baby."

    "I know," he said, finally looking at Eve again. "I will do everything I can to protect her and the baby. I just hope it's enough."

    "I know you will, Julian," Eve said. Then she wondered something about the young mother. "Does Sheridan also know what they are after?"

    "I think deep down she does," Julian replied softly, looking over at his smiling sister. "I think right now she's in denial, which may not be a bad thing."

    Eve shuddered. "Oh, Julian, I hope you are wrong," she said, "but I am wondering what else it could be."

    Julian reached out and touched her hand. "We'll find a way to keep them safe," he said tenderly.

    "And us?" she asked, suddenly understanding that the two of them were now completely useless to the kidnappers if it was the baby they were after.

    Julian reached out to touch her cheek, but noticing that Sheridan was looking their way, he quickly lowered his hand. "Eve, I got you into this mess. I'm going to get you out of it, if it's the last thing I do. I'd give my life to protect you, you know that. I just wish that were enough."

    "Julian, if I lost you, my life would lose a lot of its meaning," she said, surprising herself at the words that had just slipped from her mouth.

    He reached up and caressed her cheek this time, not caring if Sheridan saw. The new mother was actually checking on her nursing infant at this point. "Eve, I love you," he said simply. "And I promise to do what I can to get all of us out of here. I just can't fail you again, or Sheridan."

    "You've done so much already," Eve said, trying to reassure the man she loved. She reached up and placed her hand on top of his, which was still on her cheek. "You have saved Sheridan's life and the baby's. If it weren't for your love, they would be dead right now."

    Julian shifted his hand so that his fingers locked with Eve's as they lowered their hands to the blanket. "I've tried to be a help to Sheridan, to make amends with her. I think I have done that to some extent. I just wish it didn't have to be at your expense."

    "I know, honey," she said, squeezing his hand tightly. "And I truly believe we will come out of this OK. God wouldn't get us back together here, in this pit, just to rip us apart again. It would be too cruel."

    "Unless He was giving us one last chance to say goodbye," he said sadly, looking deeply into her eyes. "But if that's the case, I'm not going to waste it." Lightening his tone, he let go of her hand and smiled. "Remember, Eve, I've got something planned for tonight, for the two of us. Are you game?"

    She shook off the feeling of dread and smiled back at him. "It depends what you have in mind, dear," she said playfully.

    "Oh, you leave that up to me," he said, his eyes beginning to twinkle. "I am going to give you a night you won't forget - a PG rated one, of course."

    "So you can't even manage a PG - 13 one, then?" she asked, feigning disappointment.

    "Well, we'll have to see about that," he laughed. "I guess you can say the movie has yet to be rated."

    Beth continued pacing back and forth across the living room floor. Mrs. Wallace stared at her daughter, shaking her head in disbelief. "I cannot believe that you are still going forward with your plan - to steal a baby from its mother. How cruel that is! You will go straight to Hell for that, Bethie - if you don't wind up in prison first!"

    Beth stopped and faced her mother. "I am only getting what I deserve - Luis's baby. It would be my baby if Sheridan had never come back from the dead!"

    "Oh, Bethie, how can you talk like that? Luis and Sheridan created that baby!" Mrs. Wallace insisted. "I would hate to see any baby you would create - it would be evil incarnate!"

    "Why, Mother, because it would have inherited your genes?" Beth fired back, her eyes flashing wildly.

    Mrs. Wallace ignored the slam. "What did I do, Lord, to deserve a daughter like this?" she asked, looking upward.

    "God is on my side," Beth said. "He wants me to be happy. You'll see."

    "What a sick, delusional woman you are if you believe that, Bethie! God would never want you to rip another woman's baby from her arms and pass it off as yours," Mrs. Wallace said. "How are you going to do that anyway, Bethie? How are you going to make Luis think you gave birth but couldn't call him?"

    "Well, that's what I'm working on now," she said. "I'm trying to think of a way to make Luis think I was called out of town suddenly, had the baby, but then got released from the hospital before he could really make it there. What do you think?"

    "Personally, I think you're bonkers. And what are you going to do about Charlie, huh? How are you going to make sure she's out of the picture so you and Luis can play family here?"

    "I haven't really thought that far ahead," Beth said, worried that her plan just might unravel before her eyes. "Any ideas, Mother?"

    "Oh, I have plenty of ideas for you, Bethie. For starters, let all those people out of that pit. Blindfold them or something, I don't know. Just let them go."

    "Oh, no! You know I will never let Sheridan go. And the others? It's just too risky," Beth said. "Only the baby is getting out of that pit alive. The rest will meet their fate soon."

    Mrs. Wallace shivered in fear and looked heavenward. "Please, Lord, protect those poor people from my daughter's wacko schemes," she begged.

    Julian shined the flashlight at Eve and grinned. "Now I can see you at least," he said.

    She giggled, grabbing the plastic flashlight from his hand. "This is for Sheridan, so she can feed the baby when she wakes up at night," she said. At least the stupid kidnapper had thrown it into the pit when they told her the lantern was out. Still, it wasn't the best device for seeing in the dark.

    "Sheridan and the baby are now sound asleep," he said slyly. "So what if I tell you that I promise to have this flashlight back by her cushion in oh, two hours or so, when it's time for the baby's next feeding?"

    "I would want to know exactly what you had planned," she said, blushing.

    "Oh, my dear, that's for me to know and you to find out - soon!" He grabbed the flashlight back and grinned. "Why don't you, good doctor, go wait over there by the latrine while I get things prepared."

    "So you're sending me to the latrine, huh? I hope you don't do that with all your dates."

    "Only the nosy ones," he joked. "Now on with it, doctor, before you spoil the fun."

    Eve complied with Julian's request and waited in the dark by the latrine while he stumbled about getting things in order for their date. She could only make out a little of what was going on, as he tried to keep the light pointed toward the ground.

    Finally, Julian said, "OK, it's ready!"

    Eve walked over to Julian's blanket. He held the flashlight up and panned it over the blanket for her to see. On it was an assortment of food. "Another picnic!" she cried out softly. "Where did you get all this, Julian?"

    "Ah, well, a gentleman can't reveal all his secrets now, can he?" he said with much devilish charm. "Let's see what kind of goodies we have here for you...This box of Crackerjacks here, such a delicacy; half a bag of exquisitely stale potato chips; some rare peanut butter crackers...and of course, the house water to wash it all down with."

    Eve chuckled. "I guess I may not be dressed for such fine dining, but if you'll allow me to eat at your establishment looking like this, I will be very generous with the tip."

    "Ooh, how generous are we talking about?" he joked.

    "Just you wait and see," she flirted back.

    The two sat and ate the leftover bits of snack food. To them, it was better than the finest cuisine at any five star restaurant. They were together, and that was all that mattered.

    After the meal, Eve smiled. "That was, terrific, Julian. Thanks for the nice surprise," she said.

    "Oh, the evening's not over yet," he said coyly. "Think of that as the appetizer. The main course is still to come."

    "And just what is the main course?" she asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

    "Well, that's where the PG rating comes in," Julian said. He began collecting all of the food and paper plates and moved them out of the way. He walked over to the wash basin, shining the light as he went, and returned with something in his hand.

    "What on earth do you have there?" Eve asked, her eyes lighting up in the semi-dark pit.

    "Why, this bar of soap here is for your massage, my dear," he announced, grinning seductively.

    "A massage!" she exclaimed. "Well, you think of everything."

    "I wanted to be close," Julian said, "and since we couldn't do everything I wanted to, I thought maybe this would be a nice way for us to have some intimacy. What do you say?"

    Eve smiled at Julian's idea. She wondered if she could handle this. She knew the kind of passion he could stir in her with his touch. "Well, I guess it's all right," she said finally, "since you did go to such a bother."

    "Thank you, my dear. Now, to get a good massage, doctor, one does need to remove her shirt."

    Eve blushed as she pulled off her top and threw it out of the way. "I think I gave all of my tip money to the waiter," she joked as she lay down on the blanket.

    "No problem," Julian said, smiling. "Maybe we can work something out."

    He sprinkled some water on her back. She gasped when he did this, her body startled by the cold. "On second thought, I'm not going to worry about that tip," she quipped.

    Julian rubbed the bar of soap on her wet skin and began to lather it up. He used his hands to spread it all over her shoulders and back. "My how tense you are," he said jokingly. "I am glad you decided to come to my house of massage. Maybe I can work some of this tension out."

    "I think if you keep rubbing your hands all over my back, I'm going to feel even more tension," she said, shaking her head. What his touch was doing to her body! She knew any minute now her will power would be gone completely.

    Smiling at her last statement, Julian carefully poured some more water on Eve's back and grinned as she cried out in shock. He wiped her smooth skin clean with a cloth. He then began working his hands all over her exquisite back. The beauty of her finely toned body and heavenly golden brown skin was really getting to him. How he wanted her! The urge in him was rising by the minute. He didn't know how much longer he could keep this up without taking her in his arms...

    Eve suddenly rolled over on the blanket, taking Julian by surprise. " want me your front now?" he asked nervously, taking a deep breath. He didn't know if he could handle any more of this. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea...

    "No, I think that's enough of the main course," she said. "Now how about the dessert?"

    Julian's heart started to beat faster. His face began to sweat. "I...I didn't plan on any dessert," he stammered awkwardly, taking another deep breath.

    "I did," Eve said seductively, putting her hands on the back of his neck and pulling him closer. "But you may just have to up that movie rating of yours - how high remains to be seen."

    Julian's heart was racing at an all-time high at this point as the passion surged through his body. Breathless with desire, he asked, "What...about Sheridan?"

    "If you promise to be gentle, I'll promise to be quiet," she said with a grin, pulling him down until his body met hers.

  6. #38

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 37 - "Evian Loving"

    Beth continued pacing back and forth across the living room floor. "You're going to ruin that good carpet if you keep doing that!" Mrs. Wallace called from the other side of the room.

    "Be quiet, Mother, I am trying to get my plan in order in my mind. I think I almost have it."

    "You think you almost have what - a mind? I don't think so, Bethie. If you did, you certainly wouldn't be doing the things you are doing."

    "Watch it, Mother, or I will throw you in that rat-infested nursing home this instant!"

    "No, you won't," Mrs. Wallace fired back. "I have too much on you, Bethie, with all this stuff going on in the pit. You could go to prison for life."

    "Well if you tell, you'll go right along with me," Beth said. "Now, Mother, just leave me alone. I think I just about have it all planned out."

    "Well, don't keep me in suspense, Bethie. Go on, tell me your plan!"

    "OK, I have to make Luis believe somehow that I've had the baby, right? But it can't be here, because he would wonder why I didn't go the hospital, or he would try to make me go afterwards, which would be worse. I need to make him think I was out of town and had the how about this? How about I call him and tell him that I went to, I don't know, a little town in New Hampshire, to take care of your sister..."

    "I don't have a sister!" Mrs. Wallace exclaimed.

    "I am aware of that, Mother, but Luis doesn't know that. So I'll just tell him that I drove there to spend a couple of days with her and went into early labor...and they had to put me under, so I couldn't call...and then later, the phone lines were down in a bad storm, and I couldn't get a call out. What do you think?"

    "I think he's going to say, 'Where was your cell phone?' " Mrs. Wallace smirked.

    "I'll just tell him the battery was dead, if he asks," Beth explained. "But I don't think he will, Mother. He has been so preoccupied with poor Sheridan lately. He's hardly had any sleep. I don't think he'll ask many questions."

    "Doesn't that tell you something, Bethie?" Mrs. Wallace asked. "That he is so worried about Sheridan? The man is in love with her, not you."

    "Well, I just have to help him get over her, that's all. And the baby is the perfect way to do that!" She clapped her hands together excitedly.

    "What's going to prevent Luis from coming to New Hampshire to see you?" Mrs. Wallace asked. "Did you think of that, Bethie?"

    "I did, Mother. See, I'll be on the way home by the time I phone Luis. I'll say some friends of my aunt's offered to take me and the baby home, and I used their phone to call. It's perfect!"

    "But, are you really driving to New Hampshire?"

    "No, Mother, Luis will just think I went there. Really, I'll be hiding out here - upstairs - so nobody sees me."

    "And just when do you plan to put this little scheme of yours to work?" Mrs. Wallace asked fearfully.

    "Well, I just saw Luis recently; so to make it work, I can't call him tomorrow. It'll have to be the next day. That'll give us time then."

    "Time for what?" Mrs. Wallace asked, her eyes as big as saucers.

    "It'll give us time to take the baby," Beth said matter-of-factly, "and time to get rid of everyone in the pit."

    Eve and Julian lay in each other's arms, leaning back against the wall, the blanket wrapped up around them. They had just had the most exquisite round of lovemaking either had ever experienced. Two souls joined as well as two bodies. They both realized what level they had reached together. Neither one had to speak of it. They just knew in their hearts that they totally belonged to each other now.

    Eve reached out and caressed Julian's face. "I love you," she said softly. Tears formed in her eyes as she thought of what could lay ahead for them. "This may have been our last be together like this," she said.

    Julian turned his head toward hers and placed his hand under her chin, lifting it up. "Eve..." he said slowly, trying to find the right words. "Whatever happens, know that I love you with all my much as any man has ever loved a woman...and if we can't be together in this world, I pray to God we will be in the next."

    "Oh, Julian," she cried, choking back sobs.

    "Here, here, I didn't mean to upset you more," he said, wiping her tears with his fingers. "I was trying to make you feel better."

    "What you said was beautiful, Julian," Eve said. "It was the most beautiful thing anyone has ever said to me. I'm just so happy and so sad - all at the same time."

    Julian caressed her cheek once more. "You know I would never intentionally hurt you, don't you?" he asked carefully, trying to phrase the words correctly in what was probably one of the most important conversations in his life. "I wouldn't have allowed this to happen if I thought it would upset you or mess up your life. You know that, don't you, dear?"

    "Honey, I am not sorry that we made love," she said. "In fact, I am thrilled beyond belief about what just happened here tonight. It was simply much better than anything I have experienced before, even with you. There was an innocence about it that wasn't there twenty years ago, something almost spiritual. You felt it too, I know."

    "I did," he said, nodding. "I think that's because I'm not the man I was twenty years ago. I have possession of my soul again, and it was free to join with yours."

    "I should probably feel guilty for what we just did, but I don't," Eve admitted, looking down at the blanket. "I know it was wrong that I broke my marriage vows, but on so many levels, what happened here just now was so right. I think it was meant to be - destined perhaps - maybe long overdue."

    Julian pulled her in for a hug and moved his strong arms gently down her back, caressing her soft skin.

    Eve pulled away finally and placed her hand on his cheek. "I love you, Julian, more than I have ever loved any man. It is you my heart belongs to. You know that, don't you?"

    "I think deep down, I have always known that," Julian said, grabbing her hand from his cheek and pulling it to his lips for a kiss. "I was just too scared to find out for sure...for all those years...afraid of my own guilt...afraid of the pain I saw in your eyes. It was easier to just ignore it and pretend I was only after one thing with you."

    "Oh, you were good at that." She smiled. "But even then, Julian, when you were at your worst, I still couldn't stop thinking about you. Did you know that? Whatever power you have over me is too big for me to fathom. It's just there, and like it or not, it always will be."

    "I hope you like it," he said, laughing. Then he became serious. "Eve, I know exactly what you mean. You hold a power over me like no other. Oh, you might say Father has power over me too. He does, to some extent, with his threats and illicit spying on me. But that doesn't hold a candle to what you have over me. I literally haven't been able to function these last few months. Did you realize that? I couldn't do anything when I was at home - I just lay on the sofa and listened to your tapes all the time, over and over, and tried to use alcohol to take away the pain of not having you in my arms. It didn't work."

    Eve reached up and played with Julian's hair, feeling how soft it was even though he had been down in this filthy pit for so long. "I had no idea...that it was that bad for you, Julian," she said. "I wish I had known, but then I don't think it would have made a difference. I wasn't ready then to see what I see now."

    "Which is what?" he asked, grasping her free hand in his.

    "That I was living a lie," she said slowly. "That I wasn't the person I was pretending to be. That for good or bad, the person I really am is the woman I am right now, right here...with you."

    Julian sighed. "I knew that you weren't allowing your real self to be free," he said. "But it wasn't my place to push. I had to honor what you thought you wanted, which was to be a respectable physician, perfect wife, loving mother, and an upstanding citizen of Harmony - someone beyond reproach."

    "I am some of those things," Eve said. "But others I only pretended to be - like the perfect wife. If TC could only see me now."

    "I think he would see blood if he saw us now," Julian said. "My blood...and I don't blame him. Here I am, with his wife, when I don't have the right."

    "I'm sure he would go ballistic, Julian," Eve agreed. "But as for you not having the right to be with me like this... I don't know, in some ways it seems more right than it ever was with TC."

    "Because it's more real?" he asked.

    "Yes," she revealed, "because I am my true self now. There are no lies between us; there's no pretending. What you see is what you get."

    "And I like what I see," Julian said, pulling her closer.

    "I know you do." Eve smiled. "I can't believe it took me so long to realize that. You knew the real me, all along, and loved me. I was so afraid to show that side to TC and lose his love...but it didn't matter to you. You love all of me, even the part of me that I think is unlovable."

    "Nothing about you is unlovable," Julian said, placing his hand on her smooth cheek. "You are the most beautiful, wonderful, caring person I know...and the most lovable. Only God knows how much I love you."

    Eve smiled warmly and leaned in to kiss Julian. Their lips met first, greeting each other in anticipation. He parted his lips as her tongue swept over his, unleashing the passion that was always just under the surface when they were together. Hungrily they kissed, tasting the pleasure of each other's mouths.

    As the passion surged in both of them, Julian placed his hands on Eve's shoulders, feeling every inch of them. Then he slowly ran his hands down her arms and moved them over to her breasts.

    Eve suddenly pulled back and touched Julian's face with her hand. "I think we should stop," she said, catching her breath. "It must be almost time for the baby to wake up."

    "We have time for another round, I think," Julian said enticingly, "if it is a quick one. What do you say?"

    "I say, how can I resist a man who lives on the edge?" she asked seductively. "But we had better make it fast."

    "Well, I think I can manage...if you can keep up with me," he laughed.

    "Honey, I was ready for another round the minute we finished the last. It's the man who has to recharge his battery."

    "Well, this battery is fully charged," Julian said in an alluring tone, "but I think we should take it for a test spin - just to make sure."

    Eve laughed. As the pair feverishly reclaimed each other's lips, she ran one hand through Julian's hair and the other across his back.

    Julian wrapped both arms around Eve's back and gently pushed her down onto the blanket. Lying on top of her, he began exploring her body with his hands.
    Eve placed both hands on the back of his head and ran her fingers through his thick hair. Then, moving her hands down his back, she pressed her fingers tightly against his skin, sighing as his touch stirred even more desire in her body.

    The lovers again gave into their passion completely and shared another precious wave of bliss. Their forbidden, but oh so right, love expressed itself once more in the magic of their time together on that fateful night.

  7. #39

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 38 - "Love and Marriage"

    The next morning, TC burst into the police station, with Rebecca close on his heels. Finding Sam at Luis's desk, he hurried over to talk to him. "Sam, have you heard anything about Eve? Anything at all?"

    "No, TC, I'm sorry," Sam said, looking from him to Rebecca. "Did you two...come together?" he asked, puzzled at why they would be arriving at the same time.

    "Of course not, Sam, we just met outside the station," TC explained, a disgusted look on his face.

    "TC, I didn't mean anything like that - I just thought maybe you had given her a ride over here, since you two are kind of in the same situation."

    "Oh," TC said, easing up a little. "Well, I guess we kind of are in the same spot here, aren't we, Rebecca?" he said, finally acknowledging her presence.

    "Yes, we certainly are," she responded. "So maybe we should try to comfort each other." She reached out to grab his hand.

    TC jerked his hand away and shook his head. "You just don't change, do you, Rebecca? My wife is missing, and here you are trying to make a move on me!"

    "I was not!" Rebecca defended herself. "I was just trying to show you my support."

    "Yeah, whatever," TC said, rolling his eyes. He turned his attention once again to Sam. "Sammy, please, you've got to help me find my wife here. I'm dying inside without my Eve. She's what keeps me going, you know? She's the most perfect person in the world. Without her, I would return to the bitter, angry man I was in the past."

    "In the past?" Rebecca slammed. "Sounds like you just described yourself in the present."

    "Hey, watch it!" TC retorted. "I have never struck a lady. But then again, I don't see any ladies here."

    "Oh, you have asked for it now, you big dumb ox!" Rebecca shouted, whacking him on the head with her purse.

    "Hey, hey, hey!" Sam yelled, pulling Rebecca away as Luis grabbed hold of TC to steady him.

    "Just ignore it, TC," Luis said. "She's upset here too, I guess. She's going through what you and I both are."

    "Yeah, well, no one can compare losing that scum Julian Crane to us losing our terrific women, Luis. They are worth a million Julian Cranes."

    "I agree completely, TC," Luis said, "but just settle down, OK? Her nerves are frazzled too."

    Rebecca, meanwhile, was enjoying having Sam's arms around her. "Now I know why Grace and Ivy are always fighting over you," she said in her most sexy voice. "Ooh, you do have a firm blue-collar grip. Ah!"

    Blushing, Sam immediately released his hold on Rebecca. Taking a deep breath, he said, "I think we should turn our attention back to police matters, if that's OK with all of you."

    TC and Rebecca nodded.

    "All right then, Luis can brief you on what we know so far."

    "It's not much," Luis said, "but Sam and I do think that the theory that Eve was abducted to deliver Sheridan's baby has merit. We have had her car examined for evidence, but so far that has turned up nothing. We kind of expected that, since we don't believe Eve made it into her car the night before last."

    "But someone had to see something, right?" TC asked anxiously.

    "Right now we have no witnesses," Luis said sadly. "It seems like Dr. Russell simply vanished."

    "No, no, there has to be someone who saw something," TC said, hanging his head.

    "Hey, we're working on it, pal," Sam said soothingly, stepping over to place his hand on TC's shoulder.

    Rebecca, noticing the attention that TC was getting from the police chief, feigned a deeper concern for Julian than she truly had, hoping to reap some rewards. "My Pookey, he's the light of my life," she cried, choking back fake tears. "I...I don't think I can go on without him. Please, oh please, you must do something to find him!" She hung her head and pretended to sob.

    Luis, younger and a tad more naïve than Sam about the tricks a woman like Rebecca will resort to, placed his hand on her shoulder for comfort. "It's OK, Rebecca," he said awkwardly. "We'll find them."

    Rebecca, head still lowered, secretly smiled at the attention she was getting. "Not one, but two of Harmony's finest have had their hands on me today," she thought happily. "Oo-la-la!"

    Sheridan smiled while nursing her baby girl. She enjoyed being a mother so immensely. It was more than she ever imagined - the love she felt for this little girl. Nursing was her favorite bonding time with her daughter. She only wished Luis had been there to share in these early moments of their daughter's life.

    Eve walked over to check on the new mother. "How are things going with this little one?" she asked. "From the looks of things, she is eating up a storm!"

    "She does have quite an appetite," Sheridan agreed. "I think she gets that from her father."

    Eve laughed. It was good that Sheridan could joke while in this terrible situation. She just hoped it didn't get any worse for her. She knew they all needed some sort of release from the stress of their confinement. She and Julian had found that release - and so much more - the night before.

    She turned to look at Julian. His eyes met hers, and they smiled at each other. There was so much they could communicate silently. As a couple, they were beyond the need for words to get their feelings across.

    Sheridan noticed their look and wondered at the intensity of it. She saw something in her brother's eyes that wasn't there the night before - satisfaction? Confidence, perhaps? She knew something had happened to change his demeanor...something after she had gone to sleep.

    Eve turned back to the nursing mother. "I think I'll give you some privacy," she said. "Just let me know if you need anything. When you get done with that little angel, I'd like to give her a check-up. It's just a routine exam, don't worry."

    Sheridan nodded, smiling. "I'm so grateful to have you down here, Eve. When I think what would have happened to me and my baby if you hadn't been..." she shuddered, not wanting to comprehend the tragic outcome that would have been almost certain without Eve's medical prowess.

    Eve smiled and patted Sheridan's hand. "I know I've told you this before, Sheridan, but I truly meant it. I am glad to have been here for you - you don't know how glad," she said, glancing back at Julian.

    He walked over after the baby had finished nursing and Sheridan had covered herself once more. "So, how is everything going with my favorite little niece?" he asked, placing his hand on Eve's back as he joined them.

    Eve smiled at his touch. She loved the simple things between the two of them every bit as much as she loved their lovemaking...and that was exquisite. She sighed, remembering the magical night they had spent together. Thank goodness Sheridan had not awakened during that time. She didn't know how she would have explained it. Somehow, though, she felt Sheridan would have understood.

    "Your niece is doing just fine," Sheridan said, "although she seems to eat like a pig." She giggled.

    Eve bent down and carefully took the infant from Sheridan's arms. "I'm going to take this little piggy over to the wash basin to bathe and change her. Then I'm going to give her a little exam, if you don't mind."

    "Go right ahead," Sheridan said, smiling. "That will give me time to catch up on things with my big brother here."

    She grabbed Julian's hand and pulled him over to chat. Making sure Eve was out of earshot, Sheridan softly asked, "So, what's new with you, Julian? Something sure is different..."

    Julian could feel his face reddening. "Well, uh, I..." he stammered, not able to find the right words.

    "It's OK," Sheridan laughed. "I'm just teasing you." She smiled at him. "It looks like you had a good time last night, am I right?"

    He returned her smile. "I guess you can say that," he said, blushing more.

    "I can't believe my playboy of a brother is getting embarrassed. He must be in love!" she said lightly. Then she turned more serious. "Julian, I'm glad you two had a good time together. I think you needed that. You deserved it. I just wish Luis..." she stopped, choking back tears.

    "Sheridan, Luis will come; I know it," Julian said, kneeling down to comfort his sister. "He's going to rescue us. You'll see."

    "I know," Sheridan said. "I have so much faith in him. It's just he's missed out on so much with our daughter already...I don't want him to miss anything else."

    "Hopefully we won't be here much longer," Julian sighed. "I am as ready as ever to get out of here and start living my life again."

    "And does that life have anything to do with our Dr. Russell?" she probed.

    "Well, let's just say I hope it does," he answered. "There are, however, a lot of things that we need to work out first - especially her. She is, after all, a married woman."

    "And so am I," Sheridan said sadly, remembering the vows she took with Antonio. "Julian, I don't know the status of Eve's marriage to TC, but from what I see here, she is completely in love with you. You two remind me of myself and Luis. I never thought I would say that about any other couple, but it's true."

    "We have a great love," Julian admitted, "as do the two of you. I am so sorry for my part in trying to break you two up. I was as bad as Father was with me and Eve..."

    "That's water under the bridge now," Sheridan said. "But Julian, seeing what you and Eve have together has made me realize what you risked having those goons kidnap her for me."

    Julian looked at her, surprised. "How did you...?"

    "Eve told me," Sheridan said. "We had a little chat this morning when you were over at the wash basin."

    He grinned. "So you two ladies were having a little girl talk, huh? My ears should have been burning."

    "I just think Eve wanted me to know what you had done for me, Julian," Sheridan confessed. "I was so out of it then, I didn't really remember anything that went on. I just figured that getting my doctor was something the kidnappers had thought of - that maybe they each had a heart after all."

    "I'm just glad they listened to me," Julian revealed. "If they hadn't..."

    "If they hadn't, I wouldn't be here, and neither would that precious little baby over there," Sheridan said.

    "I couldn't let that happen," Julian admitted tenderly. "I couldn't lose you, Sheridan."

    "I know that." She smiled. "And I also know what you had to risk to keep that from happening. That woman over there means more to you than anything in this world, Julian. I'll be eternally grateful for your sacrifice."

    "I hope I have made up for some of the bad things I have done to you in the past," Julian confessed. "I know I owe you so much..."

    "Julian, this more than makes up for everything," she said warmly. "I have my brother back - the brother I idolized when I was a little girl. And I have a little girl of my own, who is as healthy as can be, thanks to you."

    Julian smiled and hugged her close. "I love you, Sheridan."

    She returned his hug. "I love you too, Julian."

  8. #40

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 39 - "One Terrible Night"

    "There you are! Finally!" Beth cried. "I have been wondering when you were going to get here, Charlie."

    "What's up, Bethie?" Charlie asked, closing the front door and giving her friend a wink.

    "Tonight's the night we have to take the baby," Beth said. "I need to get her used to me before Luis comes. I'm going to call him tomorrow and tell him I had the baby!"

    "So you are going through with that New Hampshire crap?" Charlie asked.

    "Yes, I think it will work," Beth said. "It has to."

    "Beth, I still don't understand why you are going to go to so much bother to make Luis think this is your baby with him, when we are going to raise her together. It doesn't make any sense."

    "Well, see, it's all part of my final revenge against Sheridan," Beth explained. "How could it hurt her more than to think that Luis and I are raising her baby together? It'll be the final nail in that girl's coffin." She clasped her hands together and laughed.

    "So you're going to tell her then? You're going to let Sheridan know you are the one who has been keeping her in that pit?"

    "I will, right before I kill her!" Beth revealed. "It will be such fun to see the shock on her face when she realizes that Luis and I and her baby will be a family!"

    "But that's not really true - right, Beth?" Charlie asked, jealous at her friend's apparent delight in the idea of raising the baby with Luis.

    "Of course not, Charlie," Beth said quickly. "I am only going to pretend with Luis for hit Sheridan where it really hurts before she dies. I may try to continue it for a little while longer, just so I can step on her grave properly...while carrying her baby! Ha Ha Ha! Then, of course, I will dump Luis, and you and I can raise the baby."

    "Well, when are we going to take care of the three losers in the pit?" Charlie asked, worried that she would likely have to do the bulk of the job herself.

    "Maybe tomorrow night, after Luis has seen the baby and I tell Sheridan my plan to raise her with him," Beth said. "I think I'll have you shoot them, and then we can fill the dirt back in on top of them. No one will ever know!"

    Charlie smiled. "That sounds like a pretty safe plan as far as we're concerned. There's not much risk involved. OK, let's go over all the details before we head down to get the baby."

    "It's almost nighttime," Sheridan said. "I always hate the dark down here." She was holding the baby while seated on the cushion. Julian and Eve were sitting nearby.

    "It should be getting dark soon," Julian agreed, looking at his watch. "I guess that means we will have to spend yet another night in this hellhole."

    "I can't wait to get out of here too," Eve admitted. "I really miss my family." She realized how that sounded to Julian only after the words had already escaped her mouth.

    He looked at her quickly, and she saw the pain in his eyes. She could tell he understood, however. She had had her family for over twenty years. Of course she missed them. He hoped it was the girls she was thinking about more than their father, however.

    "I know Luis will find us soon; I just know it," Sheridan stated.

    "I'm sure he's working on it around the clock," Eve agreed. "And now that I'm missing too, I bet they have put two and two together and realize you've had your baby, Sheridan."

    "Do you think so?" she asked. "I had kind of thought that Luis would sense our baby arriving. I've hoped that; I just didn't know."

    "You can bet Luis is doing everything he can to find us," Julian said, "especially the baby. There's nothing worse than knowing you have a child out there somewhere that you can't locate and protect."

    His eyes met Eve's. She knew he was referring to their child as well as Sheridan's. She wanted more than anything to be reunited with her firstborn, the child created from the greatest love she had experienced in her life.

    Julian reached out and grasped Eve's hand. She smiled at him sadly.

    Sheridan understood exactly what Julian meant as well, but decided to remain silent on the subject for Eve's sake. She wasn't sure if Eve knew that she was aware of everything now. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt the woman who had done so much to help her.

    "I think this little gal needs a diaper change," Sheridan said. "I'll do it this time." She got up and carried the baby over to where the package of diapers was located and began to change her.

    Julian turned to look into Eve's eyes. "I'm sorry you are sad about our son," he said. "And I also feel bad that you have to be apart from your family. I've hurt you so much by having you brought here, Eve."

    "Don't think that, Julian," Eve said. "There are three big reasons I am glad I was brought to this pit. I was able to save Sheridan's life and the baby's life and..." She paused, looking deeply into his eyes.

    "What was the third?" Julian asked softly.

    "That I could be with you, Julian," she said, smiling. "Making love with you last night was not only a whole lot of fun - it was also a major turning point in my life. I'm sure of it. This whole experience has been, beginning with me thinking you were dead. That was a horrible couple of days for me, but it got me to open my eyes to what was around me and to look in my heart."

    "So you don't have any regrets then, about what happened last night?" Julian asked, wanting to be sure of where she stood.

    "Julian, I don't have any regrets," she said. "Maybe that means I'm a horrible person; I don't know. I just know that I am in love with you and thrilled that I was able to show you how much."

    He reached up and touched her face with his hand. Oh, how he wanted to take her in his arms again and kiss her... Maybe he could tonight, after Sheridan went to sleep.

    "Look at the lovebirds!" boomed a voice from above. "Can't keep their hands off of each other, I see!" Charlie added an evil laugh to reinforce her jab.

    Julian quickly lowered his hand and glared at the masked abductors peering over the edge of the pit. "What do you two want?" he asked angrily.

    Sheridan had just finished changing her daughter and hurried back with her toward the others.

    "Just where do you think you're going so fast, Blondie?" bellowed Charlie. "You can run, but you can't hide." She chuckled hideously.

    Sheridan felt chills run down her spine when she heard that evil laugh. She quickly sat down on the cushion and huddled near Julian and Eve.

    "We've come for something," Charlie continued. "You can make this easy on yourselves, or you can make it hard. It really doesn't matter to me."

    Eve's stomach churned. She feared that she knew what those monsters were after. She looked at Sheridan. She must have known too, for her eyes were wide with alarm, and she clutched her baby tightly to her chest.

    Julian jumped up and faced the kidnappers. "I don't know what you think you're after, but you're not going to get it. So why don't you just turn around right now and go back the way you came?"

    "OK, Mr. Rich, you could have made it easy on yourself and them. But since you're not, I think it's time to play hardball." Charlie reached down and picked up her rifle. She aimed it at Julian. "Now, I want you to go over and get the baby from your sister and bring it over here. My partner is lowering the basket right over there as we speak, so I want you to put the baby in the basket real gentle now. Understand?"

    Sheridan shrieked in horror from her spot on the cushion. She clutched the baby even tighter and bent down over her, shielding her with her body.

    Eve gasped and put her hand over her mouth as the realization sunk in that the kidnappers really had come to take the baby. She reached out and touched Sheridan's arm. "It's gong to be OK," she told the desperate young mother. "We won't let them take your baby."

    Julian kept his defiant stance. He wasn't about to comply with the abductor's request.

    Charlie cocked the rifle. Julian backed up toward the women and put his arms out to shield them. "Get behind me," he whispered. Eve did as he requested and huddled with Sheridan on the cushion. She too would protect the mother and child.

    "You're just delaying the inevitable," Charlie said. "We are not leaving here without the baby."

    Beth had lowered the basket to the floor of the pit by this time. She stood in fearful anticipation of what might happen. She couldn't believe they were trying to defy Charlie's orders.

    Charlie aimed the rifle at Julian's chest. "This is the last friendly warning you get, pal. Get the baby, put it in the basket, or die."

    "Never!" Julian declared. "You'll have to kill me first."

    Eve shrieked at Julian's last statement. She knew he meant it.

    Sheridan was murmuring something incomprehensible at this point, still not lifting her head to look at Charlie. She continued to shield the baby with her body.

    "OK," Charlie said, "we were planning to give you all a little more time to live, but it doesn't really matter now." She prepared to fire the rifle.

    "No, wait!" Eve screamed, standing up beside Julian. "Don't kill him!"

    "Eve, sit down," Julian ordered. "They're not playing games. This is serious."

    "Julian, they're going to shoot you!" Eve cried. "Come over here with us." She grabbed hold of his arm to pull him toward the cushion.

    "How do you know I'm going to shoot him?" Charlie snickered. "I just may shoot you instead." She aimed her rifle at Eve. Julian quickly stepped in front of her. The action startled Charlie, who fired, knocking both Julian and Eve down with the blast from her rifle.

    Sheridan raised her head to watch her brother and Eve fall to the ground, Julian landing on top of the woman he loved. Neither moved. Sheridan let out a shriek and desperately clung to her child, sobbing uncontrollably.

    "Now you've killed both of them," Beth whispered. "And Sheridan is a basket case. You're going to have to go after the baby yourself."

    "I will then," Charlie said. "Bethie, you cover me with this rifle. I'll go down and get the baby." She cocked the rifle once more for Beth. "If anyone tries anything, point this right at them and pull the trigger," she said.

    Charlie went to retrieve the rope ladder and secured one end to a basement pole. She flung the ladder over the edge of the pit and proceeded to climb down.

    Beth aimed the rifle at the two motionless bodies in the center of the pit.
    As Charlie neared the bottom of the ladder, she looked at the two cautiously. There was still no movement from Julian or Eve. She jumped to the ground and headed toward Sheridan and the baby.

    Suddenly, Julian leaped up and lunged at Charlie. She turned and tried to fight him off. "Now, Beth, shoot!" she cried, dropping to the ground to avoid the shot.

    Beth looked through the scope and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit Julian in the arm and flung him around. He sank to the floor of the pit in pain. Eve got up from where Julian had whispered for her to stay and rushed to his side. Neither had been wounded before, but this time it was not pretend. Julian had been hit!

    Charlie jumped up and ran over to Sheridan. She grabbed hold of her hair, yanking her off of the baby. Sheridan cried out desperately. The stronger woman ripped the baby from her arms and headed toward the basket. "My baby!" Sheridan cried after her, "My baby!"

    Julian tried to get up to stop her, but fell back in pain. Eve managed to leap up and made a valiant attempt to grab the baby out of the kidnapper's arms. Charlie responded by delivering a strong blow to Eve's head with her left arm while holding the baby in her right one. While Eve tumbled backwards toward the ground, Charlie quickly put the baby in the basket and yelled at Beth to pull her up. She did.

    Then Charlie began scrambling up the ladder, before Eve and Julian could do anything to stop her. Eve jumped up and headed for the ladder, but Charlie was almost to the top. Pulling herself over the edge of the pit, Charlie shook the ladder furiously as Eve tried to hold onto the ropes and get a foothold. The shaking eventually knocked the doctor off, and Charlie quickly yanked the ladder up.

    Eve jumped up from the ground and banged her fists against the side of the pit, sobbing. She realized that she had failed in preventing the kidnapping of Sheridan's baby.

    Sheridan herself was sobbing hysterically on the cushion. Eve noticed she was lying in a fetal position when she turned around to check.

    Julian was lying on the floor, grabbing his arm in pain. His face was deathly white. Eve realized he was going into shock. She rushed to his side. "Julian, let me see," she said, extending his arm out so she could see where the bullet had hit. She quickly removed his shirt so that she could inspect his wound. "You're going to be OK, but I have to stop the bleeding," she said. She noticed he was slowly losing consciousness. "Hold on, honey. Don't you leave me now."

    Eve retrieved her medical bag and set to work saving her lover's life. She had to prevent the loss of blood. She applied pressure to the wound and made a tourniquet out of his shirt to help stop the bleeding. The cleansing of the wound and removal of the bullet could come later, she knew. Right now, there were more pressing things to do to save Julian's life.

    She looked back at Sheridan as she tightened the tourniquet. She knew she too required immediate medical attention. "Julian," she asked, "how are you doing?"

    He was still deathly pale. "Eve..." he murmured, opening his eyes, "Our baby...couldn't save...our baby."

    "Oh, God, he's delirious," Eve said. She gave him a shot of a common antibiotic that she kept in her medical bag for emergencies. Then she ran to grab a water bottle and put an acetaminophen tablet in his mouth. She held his head up and gave him a sip of water to wash it down. "That and the shot should help with the fever and preventing infection," she thought. Eve thankfully noted that the loss of blood had stopped. She hoped that she got to him in time to ward off shock. "You're going to be all right, Julian," she said, caressing his cheek. "I won't let anything happen to you."

    Eve eased Julian's head gently onto the ground and turned her attention to his sister. Sheridan was in a terrible state. The loss of her baby had hit her hard. Eve bent over the sobbing mother, and tried to talk soothingly to her. Sheridan was in a far-away place, Eve realized. She could hear nothing the doctor said. Eve decided that the best thing to do was sedate the poor girl. She prepared the injection. "Sheridan, I know what you're going through," she said as she gave her the shot. "I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone, not in a million years."

    The sedative began to take effect, first calming Sheridan down, and then putting her to sleep. Eve brushed the hair out of the sleeping woman's eyes and stood up. She looked from her to Julian. The two siblings, healthy just moments ago, were now in terrible shape. Eve sighed, realizing that at that moment she was the only one in the pit who could do anything to get the baby back. She had no idea what she possibly could do, but knew she would try. She couldn't let Sheridan suffer like she had all those years ago...


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