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UAgirl
5.9.07, 10:24 PM
Thought I'd put my SHUIS shorts in one place.

Enjoy!










Once upon a time.





So there were these two people, right? Two of this town's very best. Although.it might be said that person #1 didn't think highly of person #2 at the time. Actually.person #2 felt the same.

"Triiiiiiiiiiiiissssssstttttttaaaaaaaannnnn," the petulant baby-faced girl at his right whined. "These two people have names, don't they?"

Tristan rolled his brown eyes and shook his head. Kid sisters were such pains. Such P-A-I-N-S! "Gee, Nat," he shrugged his shoulders. "You think?"

Her blue eyes flashed angrily, and she crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm going to tell Mom!"

"Aww.Nat," Caleb grumbled. "Don't," he pleaded. "She'll make us go to bed. And I don't want to go."

"Yeah, Na," Hope parroted. Looking up at her big sister with enormous brown eyes.

"See?" Tristan smirked. Earning himself a slap over his dark head. "Ouch! What was that for?"

"Haha!" Caleb laughed. Pointing at his big brother.

Hope giggled as Nat scooped her up in her arms and planted kisses on her silky cheeks.

"Tristan," Nat said expectantly. "The story?"

Tristan rubbed the sore spot on his head with a glare. "Okay," he relented when Nat whispered something in Hope's ear, and a second later, the angel- faced toddler stuck her bottom lip out in the biggest pout he'd seen in his short 12 years. "There were these two people."

"Names, please," Nat sighed. "How am I supposed to get into a story with nameless people?"

Hope stuck her thumb in her mouth and nodded her blond head. "Twisthan."

"Person #1.let's call him..uh, how do you like the name.oh heck, Nat! I don't know what to call them!"

"Romeo and Juliet," Nat said dreamily.

"You girls are so weird. Why do you even like them anyway? They died."

Hope's brown eyes grew round as saucers.

"Tristan!"

She was on his case again. "Okay," he muttered. "Romeo and Juliet." Dumb names! Stupid names! Craz..

"Tristan!"

"Not so loud, Nat. You don't have to scream it to the whole world. We're not supposed to be out here anyway."

Nat peeked her brown head over the edge of the old tree house. The lights were still on in the living room, and she could barely see the silhouettes of her parents. "I'm sorry," she mumbled.

"What's that? I didn't hear you. Care to speak a little louder?" Tristan smirked. "As I was saying.Romeo and Juliet.they were two great people. Awesome, cool people. Only they didn't realize it. Well.Romeo knew he was cool. And Juliet knew she was cool. But they didn't know each other was cool. Understand?"

Caleb's mouth hung open, and his blue eyes were glazed over.

Hope sucked her thumb happily. Secure in Nat's arms. Her pink fuzzy slippers dangling from her tiny feet.

"And?" Nat prompted. "So it wasn't love at first sight. What happened next?"

Tristan stretched his legs out along the bottom of the old treehouse, and held his arm out for Caleb.

Caleb scooted closer, and tucked his tawny head underneath his brother's chin.

"Romeo hated Juliet's family. But it turns out.Romeo's mother loved Juliet. Like a daughter. She tried to convince Romeo that Juliet was really a nice person."

"Stop! Stop right there. Romeo and Juliet aren't working for me," Nat muttered. Shifting Hope to her other arm. "How about."

"Bart and Lisa," Caleb piped up.

Tristan's belly rumbled with laughter, and Caleb's tawny head bobbed up and down.

"What?" Caleb said in a hurt voice.

Nat bit her lip to hide her smile. "Bart and Lisa are brother and sister."

"Oh!" Caleb said in realization. But then."So what? Sounds better than Romeo and Juliet," he stuck his tongue out at her.

"I know.Susan and Liam," Nat said triumphantly.

"Susan and Liam then," Tristan shook his head. "Girls! If Mom weren't so great."

"Hush up," Nat warned.

"Susan and Liam didn't like each other. But get this," Tristan divulged with a mischievous smile and twinkling brown eyes. "They worked together every day!"

"And fell in love," Nat added.

"Not yet. That part comes later," Tristan shushed her. "Liam had this problem, see. He grew up without a dad."

"No Dad?" Caleb frowned.

Hope's little features were appropriately sad.

"And one day, he decided to find him."

"Oh really?" Nat rolled her blue eyes. "Get to the part where they fell in love."

Tristan ignored her. "Susan.purely by accident.ended up going with Liam to look for his dad. And she nearly died!"

Caleb gasped. "Died?"

"She didn't," Nat gaped.

"Chill. Chill," Tristan grinned. "I said nearly, didn't I? She lived. Liam saved her, of course. And.saw her naked."

Caleb giggled wickedly. Hiding his eyes behind his hands.

"Boys," Nat muttered under her breath. "Like that's the most important thing."

"Well.after that little trip, Liam realized Susan wasn't so bad. In fact, he started to actually.L-I-K-E her."

Nat inserted her perfected eye roll here.

"Until finally.Liam asked Susan out on a date."

Hope's eyelids fluttered heavily, and she wound a strand of golden hair tighter and tighter around her pinkie.

"Did they kiss?" Nat smiled.

"Well.not a real kiss. A kiss on the cheek. But Liam knew now he really, really liked Susan. And Susan felt the same."

"What happened to Romeo and Juliet?" Caleb interrupted suddenly in a perplexed little voice.

"Romeo's Liam now. And Juliet's Susan," Nat explained patien.rather impatiently. "When did they REALLY kiss?"

"I'm twelve, Nat. I CAN'T tell you about the time first time they really kiss. Except." he teased. "They had a big fight not long after it. Susan was very, very upset. She thought Liam was only pretending to like her. So she ran away."

"To Disney World?" Caleb asked with a toothless grin.

"Disney World?" Nat scoffed. "Where? Where did Susan run away to? Wait.I don't really care where. Did Liam go after her?"

Tristan crossed his arms about his chest and shook his head at his kid sister. "Let ME tell the story. Nat.you're worse than Mom."

Hope's little fingers stopped moving, and her arm relaxed. Falling to her side limply.

Caleb yawned. "Is this story long? I'm.sleepy," he yawned again.

"Liam went after her. And brought her home again. But boy! Was Susan mad!" Tristan explained with a wicked gleam in his brown eyes. "She called the police, and Liam was put in jail."

"Poor Liam," Caleb commiserated.

"Poor Liam?" Nat shook her head. "I'm sure he deserved. Like you said.Susan's a cool person. She had to have a reason."

"Reason Smeason," Tristan rolled his eyes. "Susan was in a lot of trouble, and Liam had to protect her."

"Aww," Nat sighed. "That's when they fell in love."

"Nat."

"Okay. Finish the story."

"A whole lot of stuff happened, and Susan realized Liam was cool again. But she didn't want to admit she'd been wrong. Just like a woman," Tristan told his sister. "Stubborn."

"Hey! I resent that! Boys are just as stubborn! Look at Dad," she huffed.

"Dad says Mom's more stubborn," Caleb just had to add his input.

"Caleb!" Nat gasped. "Mom would be so disappointed!"

"But she is," Caleb shrugged his small shoulders.

Tristan laughed. "It was all Susan's evil family's fault, but she didn't know it at the time. She found that out later. After she'd already died."

"Tristan! She died! I don't want to hear anymore! What kind of love story is that?"

"Calm down, Natty," Tristan grinned. "Liam's love brought her back to life."

"Only the best love story I've ever heard," Nat sighed.

Hope's thumb fell from her lips.

Caleb watched in fascination as drool trickled down her chin.

"And they were extremely happy. For a while."

"Tristan."

Tristan held up a brown hand and smiled. "Don't attack me. It's not my fault Susan died again."

"That's it," Nat grumbled. Climbing to her feet with Hope snuggled in her arms. "Hope.Hopie.it's time to go bedtime. Tristan's story's no good."

"Yeah, Tristan," Caleb said sleepily. Hugging his sister's legs and holding on for support. He was almost down for the count.

"I can't believe we snuck out here for a story like this."

"Don't you even want to know what happened with Liam?"

"Yeah, Tristan. What happened to Liam?"

"DAD!" Tristan, Nat, and Caleb shouted in unison.

"Finish the story, Tristan. I'm really interested in how it ends," their dad grinned.

Nat looked past him, and her blue eyes landed on her mother. "Mom.we didn't."

"Know we were out here?" her mom laughed softly. An amused smile on her lips.

"Give me your sister," their dad said. Stretching out his arms to receive his Sleeping Beauty. Hope snuggled against him with a gentle sigh. Her blond hair spilling over his arms.

Nat descended the ladder next. Holding out her own arms for Caleb.

"You're not mad, are you Mom?" Caleb asked with wide blue eyes once he was safely on the ground.

Tristan hopped down from the last couple of rungs.

"No, Sweetie. I'm not mad."

Caleb hugged her waist and smiled up at her adoringly.

"The story, Tristan?" their dad reminded him.

"I.why don't you tell it, Dad?" Tristan shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. He didn't feel right telling it with THEM here.

"Susan didn't die," their mom spoke up. "Liam's love.it's what kept her alive."

Nat smiled at the look that passed between her parents. She had the most wonderful parents in the world. She hoped her husband looked at her the same way her dad looked in her mom's blue eyes.

"But how?" Caleb whispered in awe.

"It's amazing," their dad answered. His brown eyes sparkling in the moonlight. "No one else could believe it either. But it happened."

"Liam was so happy to see Susan again, he married her on the spot."

"They eloped? How romantic," Nat sighed.

Her mom smiled down at her, and reached a hand down to tuck her dark hair behind her ear. "It WAS romantic."

"Yes, it was," her dad smiled back at her mom.

"How did you.Mom? Dad? Tristan? What's going on here?" Nat asked in confusion.

"My dear, sweet Natalie Marie," her dad chuckled. "I thought for sure you'd have it figured out by now."

Nat's mouth dropped open in an 'O'. "You mean.you guys.Susan? Liam?"

"You're Bart and Lisa?" Caleb tugged on the hem of his mother's shirt.

"I married your father the very moment I laid eyes on him again," their mother smiled. One of her patented glowing smiles. "We'd been apart so long. And I knew I didn't want to let another minute of my life go by without him. Plus.somebody was well on his way."

Tristan ducked his dark head in embarrassment. His cheeks flushed pink. "Mom."

"Nearly two years later.you came, Natty. And we moved out here to this big old house."

Nat's blue eyes shone as they roamed the familiar dwelling. Hope's fairy night light made the shadows dance upstairs.

"Things were a little hectic for the next few years," their father laughed. "Mom had to learn how to cook."

Tristan snickered. "What do you mean learn, Dad? You do most of the cooking around the house."

"Tristan Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald!" his mother gasped.

"Sorry, Mom. I love you. But your cooking...well."

"It's awful," Caleb said bluntly.

"Thank you," she pouted. Ruffling his tawny mop of curls. "I shouldn't have expected anything less from you."

"That's right," their dad grinned. "You've been telling it like it is since you arrived seven years ago."

Caleb flashed his toothless grin once more.

"Honest to a fault," Mom agreed.

"What about Hopie?" Nat asked quietly.

They all took a moment to smile at her tiny form. Sweet face relaxed in slumber. Blond mane in wild disarray.

"Hopie's our surprise," Dad laughed.

"Don't you mean accident?" Tristan teased goodnaturedly.

"Tristan!"

"Our unexpected surprise. A happy surprise," Mom admitted. "But a miracle all the same."

"Is that why Aunt Theresa calls her Serendipity all the time?" Nat had a sudden realization. Well.what else could it be? Aunt Theresa was always spewing something about Fate, Destiny, and Serendipity.

Dad chuckled as he transferred her baby sister into Mom's open arms and hefted Caleb's drowsy body over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. "Smart girl," he grinned down at her.

She hurried ahead of them to open the French doors.

Tristan stepped through the doors behind them all and ruffled his kid sister's dark hair affectionately.

"Tristan.I can't believe you didn't tell. Mom!" she called up to her mother as she paused at the top of the landing. "I want to hear the WHOLE story. Starting with 'Once upon a time' and ending with 'Happily ever after'."

Her dad laughed. "Our Nat isn't going to stop until she hears the whole story. She's quite persistent. I hear she gets that from her mother."

"Luis," her mom laughed. As her dad leaned in close to kiss her gently on the lips.

"I'm telling you, Sher. She's just like you. You don't believe me, ask Mama. She sees it. Ethan sees it. We all see it."

Nat grinned in satisfaction. Just like her mom! She could live with that.

Tristan shook his head and started his ascent up the stairs. "Don't you know, Nat?"

"Know what?"

"The story's not over yet."

And she realized he was right.

The story was only beginning.

UAgirl
5.9.07, 10:26 PM
Three Little Words



They were in the middle of one of their infamous fights when it happened. Something totally unexpected. So unexpected it took her breath away. Three words. Three words sent her world into a tailspin.

"I want you."

She stopped mid-sentence. Mid-yell was more like it. This fight--like all their others--had quickly escalated into a shouting match. One that got her blood pumping. Made her blue eyes flash with fire. And apparently, it had just as strong an effect on him.

He was standing so close she could feel his hot breath on her face. The darkness of his eyes wasn't due to anger. The moment those three words left his lips, all the air in her lungs fled. She licked her lips. A nervous gesture that did nothing to help him tear his gaze away from her mouth.

He did something he wanted to do for weeks then. Cursed her effect on him under his breath before roughly pulling her against him and claiming her lips with his own. Delighting in the moan that rose in the back of her throat. She was glad the Youth Center was closed for the day.

Because those three words just did something to her. Something she couldn't explain. To this day, she still blushed when she walked past the locker room. Luis had quite a knack for making even her wildest fantasies come true.

They saw each other from then on. Secretly, of course. They kept up the old charade. Luis hated her. Because she was a Crane. She hated him. Because he was a narrow-minded jerk. At least that's what the outside world saw. The rest of Harmony. It couldn't be further from the truth.

He surprised her again with three little words. He had the strangest timing. They were in the shower. The morning after a particularly exhausting but satisfying night together. She was wrapped around him. Close as she could be. And he was kissing her like there was no tomorrow. When all of a sudden, he stopped. Looked into her blue eyes and blurted three more little words. And she felt more helpless than ever before.

"I love you."

She didn't know what to say to that. Her heart soared, but her mind had a stranglehold on her. No words would escape her throat. She could only look at him. And hope he knew. She loved him, too. She just didn't know how to say it yet. That was the morning Pilar caught them together. Their affair was no longer a secret. Things changed dramatically.

Little by little, her defenses wore down. As she defended Luis and her relationship with him to Ethan. Her brother. Her father. It was Ivy that first posed the question to her. "Did she love him that much?" Did she love him enough to go against her family. She still wasn't comfortable with the words. But she proved it to him with her actions.

Funny how all their important moments were hashed out during fights. Some knock-down drag-outs. They were at the Book Cafe this time. She'd been particularly edgy for several weeks. Seeing Luis and Beth with their heads close together was the last straw. Boy, did she let Beth have it. Luis, too. She left the tiny hangout in tears. But he followed her. And chased all her anger away with three words that totally caught her off-guard. She smiled through her tears as he kneeled on one knee.

"Marry me, Sheridan."

The news gave Father a stroke. Literally. But that didn't take away from her happiness. She glowed. Inside and out. Their wedding day was the happiest day of her life. Luis had tears in his eyes as she admitted for all the world to hear that she loved him. Only him. With all her heart. It didn't even faze them that Julian had to be forcibly removed from the church. His objections were ignored. Their vows were exchanged. They were married.

They honeymooned in Spain. She showed him all her special places. All the beauty the country possessed. Made more beautiful because he saw it through her eyes. This time she surprised him with three very special words of her own. As they held each other. Watching the sunset.

"Luis, I'm pregnant."

The look on his face was priceless. Complete and utter awe. She laughed. Carefree. When he spun her in his arms until they both were dizzy. Dizzy with joy. Happiness. All the happiness in the world.

Months passed. And soon it was time. Luis was a bundle of nerves. Even more so than Sheridan. He winced as she nearly squeezed his hand right off of his arm. Then laughed as she swore she was never letting him touch her again. Even in labor, Sheridan was fighting with him. It was only appropriate that Dr. Thomason changed their lives forever with three little words.

"Mr. and Mrs. Lopez-Fitzgerald," the nurse began.

"Meet your beautiful babies."

Dr. Thomason smiled at the young couple. They had many sleepless nights ahead of them. "Katherine...Alexander...Isabelle."

Never before had three words changed two lives more. And to think...it all started during a silly argument.



THE END

UAgirl
5.9.07, 10:32 PM
Show Me Heaven





Part One







"Luis! No!" she cried desperately. Urgently. "Luis! Don't you leave me now!" she screamed. Lowering her mouth to his. Trying futilely to breathe life back into his body. Sobbing as she counted aloud between compressions. "Luis, please," she pleaded. Cupping his face with her hands. "Please," she cried once more. One of her tears falling to his cheek. Making it seem as if he were crying with her. "I love you," she whispered. Kissing his cool lips. "I love you so much," she repeated. "Breathe, dammit! Luis! Come back to me!"



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~



"Come back to me, Luis. Breathe, Mijo. That's it," a lilting voice soothed. Cradling his dark head against her bosom. "Mama?" he asked in confusion. Blinking his dark eyes against the blinding sunlight. "Mama? What happened?" His mother's brown eyes softened with love, and she ran her fingers tenderly, gingerly through his dark hair.

"You were trying to be a hero again," Antonio piped in. Peering over their mother's shoulder. "Big Mama's baby," he teased. Delighting in annoying his kid brother. And succeeding by tousling Luis's dark hair. "Hey!" Luis yelled. He'd worked so hard to have his hair look perfect this morning. Perfect for when Beth saw him. He lunged forward. Pulling free from his mother's embrace. "Ouch!" he moaned. Holding his head in pain.

"That's it, Mijo. I'm taking you to see Dr. Russell," his mother said. Helping him to his feet. "Mama," he protested, "stop treating me like I'm a baby. I'm fourteen years old." "Really, Mijo?" she asked. Eyebrows raised. "I didn't know young men your age still climbed treas. Or fell out of them," she said. Taking him by the hand. "It's all that dumb animal's fault," he muttered. Pointing to the offending monster struggling mightily to escape his four-year-old sister's arms. "Is not," Theresa pouted. "Is it, Fate?" The orange tabby squeaked pitifully, and Theresa turned to her mother and said, "Mama? Tell Luis he's wrong."

Pilar released Luis's hand with a stern look and kneeled down in front of her youngest daughter. "Theresita," she sighed. Brushing her abundant dark hair back from her face. Wiping at her tears. "What am I going to do with you?" she whispered as she hugged her close. "Both of you are wrong." She shook her head at their rumblings of protest. "No more arguments. That means you, too, Antonio," she said pointedly. "While I'm gone I want you to look after your brother and sisters." "But Mama.I have a date." "No buts, Antonio. Your father will be home soon. You'll still have plenty of time for your date. Come on, Mijo," she gestured to Luis. "I have to stop back by the main house and tell Mrs. Crane where I'm going." Luis followed behind her. But only after shooting Antonio a triumphant smirk. His mother's "I saw that" left him scratching his head.

He waved at Papa as they passed the construction site for the new gazebo Mr. Crane had commissioned. His heart swelled with pride for his father. He was a master at his job. He lagged behind his mother as they walked through the servants' entrance. Waving and smiling at all of her friends. Fading into the background when he lay eyes on Mrs. Crane. He wandered away aimlessly while she and his mother talked. Studying the finery that adorned the walls of the Crane Mansion. Stopping in his tracks when he heard a noise. Something that sounded like.like muffled sobs.

"Hello," he called quietly. Almost a whisper. "Is anybody there?" he asked. Peering around the next open door he came to. It looked like a library. A really big library, he thought in awe as he walked inside. He jumped at the sound of her voice. Whirling around so quickly he made himself dizzy. "Who are you?" she repeated softly. Steadying him with a gentle hand. He didn't answer her at first. Sure he was drowning in her sad blue eyes. Instead he reached a shaking hand out to wipe away the reminder of her tears. She breathed in sharply. Her eyes fluttering shut at his touch. Bringing her hand up to cover his.

"My name's Luis," he whispered. Afraid to break the spell he was under. "Why are you so sad?" he asked. Tucking a loose strand of her blond hair behind her ear. He waited. Breath held. For an answer. Mesmerized by her. She studied him solemnly. "I.it's." "Sheridan!" a stern voice shouted. He watched, puzzled as her blue eyes filled with fear. "I have to go," she said in a panic-filled voice. "Nice meeting you, too," he mumbled as her golden figure disappeared before his very eyes. Was she even real? He wondered. Rubbing his eyes. Or did he imagine her, he asked himself as his mother's concerned face came into view. "Mijo! I've been worried sick. Where have you been? I've been looking for you everywhere," she rushed. Pulling him forward as he looked back once more. Would he ever see her again?




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




"Son, I'm so proud of you," Martin Fitzgerald said. Slapping him affectionately on the back. "Valedictorian," he said. Tears in his eyes. Luis grinned broadly as his mother clutched his diploma close to her heart. Tears in her eyes as well. "Don't cry, Mama," he laughed. Hugging her close. "I can't help it," she sniffled. Dabbing at her eyes and gazing at him proudly. "You'll be leaving me soon. For college. First Antonio. Now you, Luis. Paloma will be next," she cried. Running a hand through his twelve-year-old sister's dark curls. "You still have me for a while, Mama," Paloma said sweetly. Her hazel eyes sparkling. "And Theresa and Miguel." "Yes," Pilar laughed as she watched Theresa and Miguel playing with Sam and Grace Bennett's three youngsters. "I still have you. But only for a little while. You grow up so fast."

"Ain't that the truth," Antonio whistled as he watched his little brother kiss his girlfriend in celebration. "My, my," he teased. Grinning widely at the blush that rose on the pretty brunette's cheeks. "Looks like little Beth Wallace is all grown up now," he said. Bringing her hand to his lips and kissing it. "Hands off," cried a familiar voice laced with humor. "The minute.no wait, make that the second.Luis and Beth break it off, she's mine," Hank Bennett said. Wrapping his arms around Beth from behind and pretending to nibble on her neck. Beth giggled wildly. "All mine. You got that Lo-Fitz?" "Aww. If it isn't little Hanky Bennett," Antonio said in the most babyish voice he could muster. "You mean Mommy let you out to play with the big boys today, Runt?" "Watch what you say around Hank now, Bro," Luis laughed. "Look," he said. "He's actually got muscles now."

"Boys," Martin chuckled. "Play nice. This is the last time you'll see each other for at least two weeks." Antonio smirked at Hank one last time and winked at Beth as he turned his attention on his little brother. "Hey, Luis. When are you guys heading out to Myrtle Beach? Huh? Are you all getting your own rooms? Or are you and the lovely Miss Wallace going to sneak off and leave ole Hanky-poo in the dust?" "Antonio," Luis hissed in warning. "Mama." he said. Raising an eyebrow in her direction. "Calm down, Bro. She's talking to Hanky's sister-in-law. You have nothing to worry about. Besides. It's not like she thinks you're a saint or something. Especially after catching you kissing Mary Jo up in your bedroom. Oops! Did I just say that?" he said as Beth stalked away from Luis angrily. "Good going, Antonio," Luis ground out as he followed her. "Thanks, Man, for making sure the ride down there's going to be Hell," Hank said. Wincing when he saw his brother's wife descending upon them. Arms stretched out wide.



@@@@@



Luis kicked the sand at his feet in frustration. Beth still wasn't talking to him. Two days and counting. She was trying to kill him, he decided. Flirting with every guy she saw. Including Hank. He had to laugh as he remembered the look on Hank's face when she sat in his lap at dinner last night. He ate it up. Joined right in her game. Hank was the only one Beth was talking to right now. Why was she acting this way? It wasn't like she didn't know. She'd went out with other people, too, when they cooled things off for a little while a few months back. It was HER idea, after all. Women. He couldn't figure out what went through their heads for the life of him. And boy, would he like to figure it out, he thought as a beautiful sight halted him in his tracks.

The rising sun made her blond hair gleam. His heart hammered in his chest as he watched her. Something about her seemed.felt.familiar. He watched as she leaned her head forward and rested her chin on her updrawn knees. Her eyes lifted skyward. Closed. Her golden hair seemed to float in the light breeze, and he ached to touch her. To prove to himself she was real. She was right there. In front of him. He had no voice as he opened his mouth to speak. No words would escape his lips. Sheridan, his mind screamed. Could it be the same girl? The same girl that haunted his dreams? His heart stopped when she opened her eyes and stared at him. Right through his soul. With the same sad blue eyes. "Sheridan," he whispered. Taking a step forward. Only to be stopped by a sound he had not heard in two days. "Luis!" He shut his eyes against the sound. When he opened them, she was gone.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~




Part Two





"Hey Lo-Fitz! Quit moping around. It happens to all of us," his dorm mate Josh said. Tossing his basketball at him. "Want to go shoot some hoops?" he asked as Luis caught the ball. Luis stared at the ball in his hands and sighed. "No. Sorry, Josh. I'm just not up to it, Man." "What about hitting some of the parties? Having a few beers? Drown your sorrows. Always works for me." Luis studied him curiously for a moment with his dark eyes. "How many break-ups have you had, Buddy? You sound real experienced at this sort of thing," he laughed. "Kind of like my good friend Hank back home," he said. "Who? Me?" Josh asked. Puffing out his rather puny chest. Luis stood up. Towering over him. "You know.you kind of look like him, too. Hank's been dumped so many times I've lost count," he said. Chuckling to himself when Josh grinned and said, "I bet I got him beat. I can't even remember how many times I've been dumped. Me. Myself. Now that's bad." And Luis had to agree with him. "So.are you game? Kyle invited us to his fraternity's big bash. Guaranteed a lot of rich chicks'll be there." Luis shook his head at him as he pulled his faded leather jacket on. Josh was always on the prowl. He was determined to rise above his own social status. Even if he had to do it through marriage. "That's it, Lo-Fitz!" Josh said with a grin.

He was going to live to regret this, Luis thought as they stepped outside into the cool night air. "Come on," Josh yelled in front of him. "I'm freezing my butt off here." They jogged nearly the whole way to the fraternity house. Arriving out of breath. "Man, it's cold out there," Josh shivered. "But it's hot in here," he whistled. Setting his sights on a girl obviously out of his league. "See ya later, Lo-Fitz. I have a date with destiny." Luis blinked at him. Now where had he heard something like that before? He laughed to himself as it dawned on him. His little sister Theresa was always spouting off nonsense about fate and destiny. She lived in a fantasy-world of her own making, Mama said. Always a dreamer. From day one. He looked up. Realizing he had wandered off to a remote, reasonably quiet corner. Here he was. A senior in college. And still he was hit with longings for home and all that he knew. Fine company he was, he smirked, as he stared out the window. At the stars.

He scanned the room. Looking for Josh. And spotted him with the redhead from before. Nope, he thought. He didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell with that girl. "Hey Luis!" Kyle called after him. Luis groaned. So close. Yet so far. He'd been seconds away from stealing away. To wallow in his misery alone. "Have somebody I want you to meet!" Kyle grinned. Throwing his arm over his shoulder and leading him back into the buzzing crowd. "You'll love her. Gorgeous. And rich, Man. You'll be living the big life." Luis barely restrained himself from jerking out of Kyle's grasp. Who said rich girls were more attractive? Beth wasn't rich. And he loved her. At least he thought he did. He was so confused. He'd known her his whole life. But he felt he didn't really know her. "The only problem is, Man, she doesn't say too much. But one look at her. I'm telling you, Lo-Fitz. Who cares if she doesn't say much?" he said. Howling at his own flat joke. That just proved Luis's suspicions. Kyle was already filthy, stinking drunk. "What the.she's gone! Bianca, where'd your friend go?" "I dunno," the sullen brunette replied with a shrug of her shoulders. "She's not my friend anyway. Daddy's just trying to make nice with her old man so he wanted me to get in good with her. But she's hopeless. She doesn't know how to have fun. Not like I do," she said. Pulling him into a tasteless kiss. Luis left. He'd had enough.

He went outside. To resume his stargazing. And prayed for answers. So Beth was feeling a little insecure about their relationship. He had no clue why. Since their fight following graduation, they'd only had little disagreements at best. Luis always assumed in the back of his mind that after he finished college, then law school, she'd be waiting for him. And they'd get married and live happily ever after. Now he wasn't so sure. She actually wanted him to give up his dream. For her. He loved her. But.would he be happy? Truly happy? Going against what he'd worked for as long as he could remember? He didn't know. "The stars hold all the answers, don't they?" He turned. Startled once again. By the soft voice from years past. "It's you," he whispered. Staring into her blue eyes. With their ever- present sadness. She smiled. The corners of her lips turning up. But it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Luis, is it?" she asked. Laughing softly at the look of amazement on his handsome face. "I've never forgotten," she divulged with a secret smile, and he was transported back almost 8 years. To that library where he first saw her. When he wiped her tears from her silky cheeks. "You never answered me," he stated. His words hanging in the night air. "Hmm?" she hummed. "My question," he said simply. Reaching out and brushing her cheek tentatively with his knuckles. "You ARE real," he said. Dark eyes shining in the starlight. "I always wondered," he laughed. "And that morning on the beach. Why are you always running from me?" he asked. "So many questions," she smiled. This time the smile lighting up her blue eyes. He closed his eyes. Savoring the moment. "For another time," she said. Covering his hand with her own and placing a gentle kiss on the back of it. "Wait," he said. "You're doing it again," he called out. She stopped. Turned and pinned him with her blue gaze. "Good-bye, Luis," she whispered. And Luis watched helplessly as she disappeared from his life once again.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~




He took the picture out of the box and placed it on his desk. His desk. He'd done it. He followed his dream, he thought as he looked around the small office. Not much. But it was his own. He heart warmed as he remembered the proud smile his father sported after he'd first seen the place. "My son," he beamed. "An attorney. And not one of those crooked lawyers, either," he'd said. Causing Mama to scold in an amused voice, "Martin!" Theresa had giggled like the school girl she was, while Miguel and Kay laughed heartily. Antonio had raised his glass in a toast, "To my little brother. It seems like it was just yesterday I was teasing him about painstakingly fixing that ugly rug of his for good ole Bethy. My how times have changed. Or not," he teased. Luis could swear his face was flaming. But nobody seemed to notice. Not even Paloma. Who could always see right through him. Theresa sighed dreamily. Propping her chin up on her hand. "I'm so glad you two are back together. So.when's the wedding?" she asked. Luis choked on his lemonade, and Beth shot him a funny look and excused herself.

"Theresita!" Mama said in an exasperated voice. "Think before you say something next time," Paloma said. "I'm sorry," Theresa apologized. "I just assumed." "Alright. Leave your sister alone. I was kind of wondering the same thing, Luis. But I didn't want to put you on the spot," he said. Smiling at his youngest daughter and running his hand over her dark head affectionately. "I don't know, Papa," Luis admitted. "We've only just got back together. It's been a long time." "Yes, it has," his father agreed. "Don't you think it's time you started a family of your own, Son? I want some grandkids," he laughed. "Preferably after you and the girl of your dreams get married," he said. Casting a meaningful glance Antonio's way. "Is Beth the girl of your dreams?" Paloma asked quietly. Remembering the 'real' girl of Luis's dreams. He'd confided in her about Sheridan long ago. She knew he still thought about her. Sheridan's memory lingered. And Luis wasn't so sure he wouldn't see her again.

Luis avoided the question. Knowing what Paloma was up to. He couldn't wait his entire life for her to come back into his life. Just as suddenly as she had all those other times. It'd been four years. How could she affect him so? He'd given up trying to figure it out. "I love Beth," he said. Rising from his seat and making his decision. He'd kept her waiting long enough. He'd found her outside. Bare feet tucked up under her on the old swingset. Her brown eyes lit up at the sight of him, and he smiled at her. "Luis, wait," she said. Placing a finger on his lips as he sat down beside her and opened his mouth to speak. "I know you aren't ready for this." "But Beth," he protested. "No, Luis. Don't. You need some more time. And I'm okay with that. I want you to be sure when you ask. Okay?" she whispered. Her dark eyes staring into his. "Shh," she hushed. "I'll be waiting," she said. Kissing his forehead and stretching her legs out. He watched her as she walked away. Time. All the time in the world wasn't going to make this decision any easier.

That had been a week ago, he thought. Running a finger across the old photo. Taken at their high school graduation. Him, Hank, and Beth. Whatever he decided, he knew she would always be in his life. But did he want to take that final step and marry her? He didn't know. He just didn't know, he thought. Lowering his weary head to his hands. His eyes wandered to the copy of the Harmony Herald lying just fingertips away. The headline proclaimed.Crane Heiress to Wed.He slammed his fist down on the paper. Then picked it up. Studying her. Why? She wasn't happy. He could tell. Her blue eyes were dull. Lifeless as he held her. And that little spark he had seen at their last meeting was gone. Extinguished. It was crazy. But he had to see her before he made his decision. He grabbed the paper in his hands and walked through the door. Never looking back.




@@@@@




Later, as he stared out at the rolling waves frantically pounding the shore, he thought they were a perfect reflection of his mood. He'd gone to the Crane Mansion. And they hadn't let him see her. Refused to admit him. What were they afraid of? He stared ahead. Oblivious to the rain that had begun falling lightly. Barely conscious of the ocean's salty spray. But he felt her presence immediately. He always had. It was strange really. Almost frightening how much she was a part of his life. Yet she wasn't. She walked slowly toward him. The wind whipping her blond curls around her beautiful face. "You cut your hair," he whispered. Smoothing his hand over it. His hand falling to her neck and bringing her close. Sighing contentedly as he felt her nestle against his chest. They held each other for the longest time. Uncaring that the rain and the waves' mist were soaking them. Finally, she pulled away. And there were tears in her blue eyes. Tears in his dark eyes. He tasted the salt from their mingled tears as he kissed her. For the first.and last time. A cry tore free from her throat as she leaned her forehead against his. Kissing his tears away. "I'm sorry," she whispered in farewell. He stayed there. Rooted to the spot. His decision made for him.








Part Three











"Daddy! Daddy! Help me!" the little girl squealed. Jumping on the bed and landing on top of him with an "oomph." "Emily," her mother groaned. Rolling over and pulling the covers over her head. "Daddy," she whispered. "Josh and Sam said they were going to catch me, tie me up, and put me up on top of the roof," she said solemnly. Her chocolate brown eyes wide with terror. "They said a big bird was going to come and fly away with me. And I'd never see you or Mommy again," she sniffled. Placing a tiny hand on his unshaven face. Tears welling up in her eyes. "Oh Em," he said. Hugging her tight and closing his eyes as he breathed in the sweet scent of her dark curls. "Josh and Sam aren't going to do that," he said. A smile on his face as he pictured his two rambunctious boys. "I won't let them. Now," he said. Pulling back and wiping away the last of her tears. "You go in there and tell them Daddy said to quit terrorizing their little sister, okay?" he grinned as she giggled. He watched as she ambled out the door. Her tiny feet clad in a pair of her mother's old socks. A pink nightshirt with a happy dalmation on the front engulfing her body. She stopped before she was all the way out the door and turned around. Blowing him a sweet kiss. Smiling adorably as he pretended to catch it. He lay back against the pillows with a sigh. There were a lot of things he'd change given a second chance. But how could he ever imagine life without his children?

"Thanks, Honey," his wife mumbled. Her dark head popping out from the covers to give him a quick kiss to the cheek. "Josh and Sam are little monsters," he laughed. "But they're our monsters," he said. Brushing her hair back from her face and placing a chaste kiss to her lips before climbing out of bed. He walked into the living room. Finding the two monsters in question squeezed together in one of their recliners. Watching cartoons and munching on cereal. He couldn't help but laugh when twin pairs of brown eyes turned to him, and he saw the milk dribbling down both their chins. "Hey guys," he laughed. Motioning for them to clean themselves up. "What do you say we do something fun this weekend? Instead of staying here and watching cartoons all day, huh? Want to go to the park?" "Yeah!" they exclaimed in unison. Scrambling from the seat. Their breakfast forgotten. Luis just shook his head as he walked across the room and grabbed their bowls. "Daddy?" Emily asked. Tugging on his hand. "Can we see if Abby can go, too?" "Sure, Em," he said. "Why don't you go call your aunt Paloma now and ask her if it's okay. You remember the phone number, right?" "Daddy," Emily giggled. "I KNOW it. I'm a big girl," she said. Proudly holding up four fingers. "You sure are," he said. Tickling her tummy. When I was your age, I didn't even know what a telephone was," he teased. "Now, shoo with you," he laughed. Scooting her off in the direction of her room. "Go get ready."

Paloma was more than happy to let them take Abby off her hands. With the baby coming in just a couple more months, the three-year-old was almost more than she could handle. Luis could certainly understand why, too. Abby was her father through and through. If someone had told him 6-7 years ago that his sister would be married to his best friend with one adorable daughter and another baby on the way, he'd never have believed it. Luis hoped for his sister's sake that the new baby was nothing like Hank. Poor Paloma was already going to be gray before her time. He grinned as Abby and Em squealed excitedly as the entrance to the park came into view. It was one of their favorite places. Josh and Sam grabbed their gloves from the back seat and ran ahead. Immediately engaging in a game of catch. Abby tagged Em and raced off, yelling "You're it!" He took a seat at the nearest bench and watched them while they played.

"Is this seat taken?" he heard a familiar voice ask. And his heart leapt to his throat. He hadn't seen her.living and breathing since that evening on the beach 7 years ago. He quit breathing for a moment as he just stared at her. She was more beautiful than ever. "Sheridan," he finally whispered in surprise. "I was starting to think the cat had got your tongue, Luis," she teased. A smile playing at her lips. "I didn't.I never." "It's okay," she said softly. Fiddling nervously with the rings on her finger. His dark eyes were drawn to her hands. And it was then he noticed the absence of a wedding band. "I thought." he said. "I did," she said. Staring out ahead. At the children. One child in particular. "But it's been over for a really long time now, Luis. It never really was. It was more of an arrangement. For the good of the family name," she scoffed. "Father must not have been real clear on all the bases when he made the deal with Eric, though. He left me before Katie was even born."

"Katie? You have a daughter?" he asked. Somehow stunned by this news. She looked at him strangely for a moment. Then said simply, "Yes." And pointed to the children. For the first time Luis noticed a little girl. No more than 5 or 6 years old. With shimmering golden hair so much like her mother's. Happily playing tag with Em and Abby. "She's beautiful," he said honestly. Thinking to himself that she must look exactly like her mother at that age. "She's my happiness," Sheridan said softly. Turning those blue eyes on him and taking his hand. He breathed in sharply at her touch, and for a moment, he wished.he wished he could take it all back. Start all over again. But then he heard Em's sweet voice calling "Daddy" and Josh and Sam's cheers. And he didn't know anymore. He had his slice of heaven. He couldn't ask for more. Nothing more but to share it with her. It was almost as if she were reading his mind, knew his thoughts, as she whispered, "In this life, it's impossible, Luis. You have what you've always wanted. This IS what you wanted. Isn't it, Luis?" she asked. Her blue eyes staring straight through him. Down to his very soul. He searched his heart, his mind frantically for the answer. He DID have everything. His entire family. Scattered. But together. He was a lawyer. Like he'd always dreamed. And he was married. With three wonderful children. This isn't how you pictured heaven, is it, Luis? his mind whirled. He closed his eyes. Hoping to stop the sensation. But it only got worse. Why did her voice sound so far away, he wondered as he faded into blackness. What was happening to him?




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~






"Luis! You can't leave me," he heard someone crying in the distance. It sounded like Sheridan. Why was she crying? He wasn't leaving her. He would never even consider it. He had to tell her that. Reassure her. He loved her. More than anything in the world. He awakened. Blinking his eyes when he was confronted with the harsh light. Where was he? And what made Sheridan so sad? So sad she was crying. He could feel her hot tears soaking the material of his shirt. Slowly, he raised a hand to her hair. Stroking it gently. Confused as she went still in his arms. "Luis?" she whispered. Disbelief evident in her voice. "Luis?" she cried joyfully. Raising her blue eyes to meet his gaze. "You came back to me," she said. Throwing her arms around his neck. "I was afraid I'd lost you. I tried everything. Don't ever leave me again," she sniffled against his neck. She cupped his face in her hands and smiled brilliantly. The sadness gone. "I," she paused. Kissing each eyelid. "Love," she said. Tenderly brushing his cheeks with her lips. "You," she finished. Before brushing her lips gently against his. His mind flashed back to another time. Another place when they kissed. As tears coursed down their faces. This time, though, it was not a kiss farewell. He broke away with a sigh. Tucking a strand of her blond hair back behind her ear and gazing into her eyes. He smiled. "I'm not going anywhere without you. You're stuck with me for an eternity," he whispered. Caressing her cheek. "We'll find out the answers. In our own time," he said. Pulling her into his embrace again. Heaven's not the same without you, he thought as he held her tight. Not the same at all.

UAgirl
8.10.07, 3:37 PM
Almost forgot about this one. ;)








She Never Stopped Loving Him



~~She used to sit and stare and dream that he was there
But she quit that~~


In the beginning, the pain was too fresh. Too new. Her heart wouldn't accept that he was gone. She'd sit before the crackling fire and all she'd see was his face. His beautiful brown eyes. Hear his laughter echoing down the hall as he chased Alex and the girls to their bedroom where they'd scramble into bed with her and settle in for a bedtime story. It was so real. But lately, that wonderful image was fading more and more.


The kids still crawled into bed with her. They still listened raptly as she wove them fairy tales that thrilled them. But one important person was missing. The house was different. It wasn't the same. She finally stopped asking, screaming "Why?" in her mind. She'd drive herself crazy if she didn't let go of the dream that he'd come back, and they'd all be snuggled together in this big, empty bed again. She had the children to think of. To live for. She wasn't much good to them living in a dream world.


~~She made up her mind that someday she'd be fine
And she meant that~~


It hurt so much. His leaving. But she had lived her life before crashing into his life, and she was determined not to lose herself with his leaving. It was the hardest thing she'd ever done. Moving on. Willing the tears to stop. But she did it for the children. Alex, who looked so much like his father it broke her heart over and over again each day. Gabriela and Serena.


She did it for them, she reminded herself as such simple things as brushing their long golden curls nearly brought her to tears. He'd loved those blond curls. Said they were beautiful. Just like their mother's. Said it in such a voice filled with love, her tears threatened to spill over every time she picked up a brush.


~~And she stopped drivin' by their old place
Now it's not that she don't know the way~~


She couldn't bear staying there. Their home. Where they'd created so many wonderful memories. She remembered the day he made detective. He was so proud. And so was she. They'd only been married a month. Close to two. They'd celebrated all night. Made love until the break of dawn.


They made Alex that night almost six years ago.

And Serena and Gabriela two years later, she thought as her throat clogged with tears. L.J. was the last baby she'd make with him in that house. The last baby she'd make with anyone. The memories were too painful without him there to share them. Too haunting.
She lived with Mama now. They took care of the kids together. She stopped driving past their old home. It hurt too much to see the new family.


~~She just stopped, cause she had all she could take
But she never stopped loving him~~

~~There's a place deep in her soul, a place she'd always hold Only for him~~




He'd been gone a while now. The hurt was slowly fading. She feared the ache never would. Mama urged her to move on with her life. Find someone new.


Maybe not yet. But eventually. That's what he would have wanted, she assured her. She knows she has the best intentions, but really she doesn't believe there to be anyone else out there for her. No one else but him. He was her soulmate. Mama of all people should understand that. Her heart would never belong to another.


~~Still, she gets down on her knees, pray that she won't be Lonely for him~~

~~And she stopped wakin' up every night
Three o'clock wanting him by her side~~




She prays everyday for the strength and the courage to mend her ailing heart. The loneliness is the worst. He was her best friend. The one person she was closest to in the entire world. Only with God's help could she hope to find some small semblance of peace. Some hope that her heart would heal.


That she'd feel whole again without feeling his arms wrapped tightly around her. The bed was so empty. She missed him so much. But she rarely woke up in the middle of the night reaching, searching for his strong, loving, comforting arms anymore. The cold place where his warm body should be wasn't a constant source of tears anymore. For that small blessing, she was thankful.


~~Yeah, she stopped, but no matter how hard she tried
She never stopped lovin' him~~


She never told him how long she'd loved him. The real moment she'd fallen in love with him. He would laugh if he knew. And she knew he'd blush in embarrassment. The way she always did. She never got the chance to tell him the full breadth, full extent of her love for him before he left her and the children. She hoped he knew.

She never got to tell him he was right. The baby she carried was another boy. Another fine son he'd wished for but hadn't dared lay voice to his desire.

There were so many things she still wanted to share as they cuddled together just enjoying each other. So many things she never got to say.

~~The leaves are off the trees
And the snow is awfully deep for December
She walks right up to him, she can't quite find the words
But they're in there
So she stops and says "Since you've been gone
I have thought about how life must go on"~~


She pulls her coat tighter around her as she walks through the deep snow to get to him. It's awfully cold. Colder than she remembered it being for some years. But then, a lot of things are different without him by her side. Her throat closes tight with emotion as she struggles to find the words. They're there, she knows.


Clearing her throat, she begins, wiping carelessly at the tears that stream down her cheeks as she talks. "Luis," she chokes, "it's nearly Christmas. You should see the kids. They're so excited. Oh, they still miss you. They'll probably always miss you. Just like me. And L.J. I tell him stories about his daddy everyday. How much you loved him. How much you looked forward to meeting him. How you're watching over him. He's so little, Luis, but I swear he smiles every time I mention your name. He knows his daddy," she said smiling through her tears.

"We all miss you, Luis. They finally caught the guy that shot you. Funny. When I looked into his scared green eyes, I didn't feel the hatred I expected. I felt sorry for the man. He had no one to love him. Me and the kids, we have Mama, Theresa, Miguel, all our friends. Most importantly, we have you. And I know we'll see you again. I'll always love you, Luis," she said as she kissed her fingertips and touched his stone. "Always."


~~Then she stopped and placed a rose on his stone
Then left him alone
But she never stopped lovin' him~~





The End


The song lyrics used in the story are from a Patty Loveless song of the same name; I own nothing but the CD. :)

UAgirl
8.10.07, 3:40 PM
Beautiful Dream





Chubby little fingers clasped the slender green stalks, and a
kaleidoscope of color bloomed beneath the upturned, lightly freckled nose—splashes of pink, purple, the palest blue, and cheerful yellow.

A warm, gentle breeze ruffled chestnut curls, and a butterfly flitted past, just out of arms’ reach, eliciting a musical sound from the child’s pouty pink lips.

Tall green blades rustled as the tiny girl journeyed nearer, and she lifted a hand to her mouth to hide her smile of amusement as she glimpsed a dark figure parting the waves of the emerald sea and making its way toward the toddling vessel.

He held a finger to his smiling lips as he crept closer and closer, and his amber eyes were sparkling with mischief as he suddenly burst forward. His large brown hands scooped the giggling little bundle up, and her blue eyes glistened bright with happiness as she watched them twirl around and around in carefree circles.

Her fingers worked furiously as she snapped picture after picture, and the camera whirred in protest until she lay it to the gaily patterned quilt with a defeated sigh. The merry twinkle in her blue eyes diminishing only slightly with regret that there’d be no more moments to immortalize on film today.

His tone was teasing as he knelt beside her, releasing his impish captive. “Out of film again? You know…that wouldn’t happen so much if you didn’t insist on documenting her every waking moment. And I do mean EVERY waking moment,” he chuckled as tiny fingers plucked the crumpled remainders of the once brilliant bouquet from his pocket.

“Pwitty, Ma-ma,” she singsonged as she proudly offered her treasure. White lace fluttered around dimpled brown legs, and the snowy ribbon in her hair flapped in the early summer air.

“Pretty,” she agreed, taking one pink blossom and whispering it across the sweet, smiling cheeks as another bare, sun-kissed arm snaked the tiny waist to hold the dear little body close. Pretty blue eyes mirrored her own happiness and love as she nuzzled her nose against the velvety softness of the baby’s skin, and miniature ivory teeth sparkled at her in a glorious smile.

“Not pretty,” his voice hummed against her ear, and she quirked a golden brow at him in question as he wrapped them both securely in his strong embrace from behind, giving the wee sandaled feet a playful tug and earning more tinkling laughter. “Beautiful,” he murmured, skimming her arms with feather-light strokes as his lips sought out the thrumming pulse in a fleeting kiss.

“Beautiful,” she whispered in agreement as she threaded her fingers through his hand and brought it to her lips to kiss the matching gold ring adorning his finger.

“Bu-ful,” a sweet, drowsy voice mimicked as a chestnut-curled head tucked itself beneath her chin, and chubby baby fingers twisted the necklace at her neck, heavy lidded baby blues struggling to stay open.

He coccooned his treasures in his arms as they lay back against the welcoming softness of the quilt.

The sunlight bathed them in warmth and golden tranquility while the gentle summer breeze caressed their slumbering bodies, and they dreamed beautiful dreams.




~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



Long, trembling fingers trailed the snow-covered window pane as she stared at the world outside, blanketed with a pristine, quiet beauty. Twinkling lights of a kaleidoscope of colors blinked at her, and remembrance made her lips curve into a gentle smile.

“A nightmare?” Brian asked as she took the mug of hot chocolate from his hands, cupping her hands around it and soaking up its warmth.

“No,” Diana answered softly, turning to him with glistening, wistful but hopeful blue eyes. “Just a dream,” she murmured as she sipped on the soothing liquid. “A beautiful dream,” she whispered as she closed her eyes and made a wish—a wish that Harmony would bring her closer to the ones she loved, AND closer to making her beautiful dream a reality.





The End