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View Full Version : Love Me Tender, chapters one through seven



UsedtobeSheridanC
2.7.08, 12:53 PM
PROLOGUE

It wasn't the darkness that scared her, or the strange silhouette gliding down that long hallway. The one that stopped at the spiraling staircase that led up to the attic she'd always been frightened of. It wasn't that the only thing she could see was this glowing, ethereal figure, that led her up that staircase, into the attic. Then it turned to her, and she knew it was a girl, with the biggest, saddest eyes she'd ever seen.
What scared her the most was this dream that she hadn't had since she was fourteen. And she knew she was dreaming, even while she was dreaming. It was one of those dreams that you couldn't seem to pull yourself out of. The scariest ones, because you're afraid you're going to be stuck there forever. It seems silly when you wake up and realize that, yes, it was only a dream...but in the midst of it, it seems so real, and so terrifying. And that's what frightened Sheridan the most.
But this time, she was twenty-three years old, and part of her really wanted to talk to that girl. So, she opened her mouth, she reached out her hand, and she tried....

*****

Fashion merchandising had been her major in college, but that was pretty much inevitable given where she had been living since she was twelve. Paris had to be the world capital of trendsetting, and Sheridan got swept up in it all the moment she started to care about how she looked. Mostly, she loved the designer labels, and she loved to feel good in what she was wearing. But above all, she loved to throw parties.
That's how she became a fashion event planner.
Her name wasn't up there with the best of them yet, but it would be soon enough; of that, she was certain. She had been feeling her way around the fashion industry for the last year and a half, and she was just getting confident enough to butt heads with the more well-known event planners. And she was beginning to acquire connections, slowly but surely. Her shows were not half-assed; neither were her parties. Anybody who knew Sheridan was well-aware of this.
Her work didn't feel like work; that's what she loved most about it. Sheridan wasn't built to work. She didn't want to work. Not when she didn't have to, being Alistair Crane's daughter. Daddy was never there when she needed him, but his money was. That was all she cared about, after all. Clothes and money.
Sheridan was not always snobby, and at one point in time, she had cared about more than clothes and money. There was a time she remembered crying when her limo driver had run over a cat. She had made him get out and put the poor bleeding animal into a bag, and later, she had buried it behind the cottage next to the mansion she used to live in. She had been sweet and shy, like all little girls are at one point in their lives. Then, her picture-perfect world had changed seemingly overnight.
She was twelve years old, and the nightmares had come one after another. She remembered screaming at night, telling her nanny that a little girl had come to visit her. And she was so scary. Sheridan became this whimpering, shivering thing. And when it had become too much to handle, off she was shipped to a boarding school in Paris, like some expendable thing. That's when she realized Daddy didn't care. The nightmares continued for another year-and-a-half, till she turned fourteen. And on her fourteenth birthday, they stopped abruptly, just like that.
Sheridan learned to deal with the rejection in her own way...by making herself the best she could be. Everybody else would want her, she decided, even if her own daddy didn't. She learned cosmetics from the best, and fashion from the best. She never looked less than perfect.
So, it came as quite a shock to Sheridan when she woke up from this particular nightmare. Yesterday had been her twenty-third birthday after all, so it was exactly nine years to the day that she had last had this nightmare. What brought it around again, Sheridan did not know. Her life was not upsetting. She was happy where she was. Her career was coming along beautifully. And besides all that, she was filthy rich and set for life.
What did she have to complain about?
Not a thing.
The only thing that made her angry was the fact that she was having this nightmare again. It had ended suddenly, right when she had been about to talk to the girl. She had wanted to say -- and Sheridan remembered this perfectly -- "I'm not twelve anymore. Stay the hell out of my life." Apparently, that wasn't what the little girl in her dreams wanted to hear.
That was the only change in her dream in all these years. Other than that, it was exactly how she remembered it. Same little girl, same mansion that she used to live in. Of course, the mansion had been vacant since she had been shipped to boarding school. Her father still routinely had someone go in and clean it, Sheridan knew, but nobody had lived there in nearly eleven years.
But Sheridan decided to put these thoughts out of her mind and focus on the task at hand: Putting together a fashion event. That was her next big step, and this would be a success, not one of the quieter ones she had put together in the past. This was her entrance into the big league. She would make a lasting impression.
So over the next week, Sheridan tried to focus on her fashion show. That was by day. And by night, she dreamt of a little girl in a big, lonely mansion trying unsuccessfully to get Sheridan's attention.
And when she'd had enough, Sheridan decided it was time to return to Harmony.

CHAPTER ONE

Her father thought it was a bad idea.
His exact words were, "What in the hell are you expecting to find in Harmony, Sheridan? It's only a nightmare. A nightmare."
She was on her private jet, on her private phone, filing her niles while she spoke to him. But she put the file down and shot back, "I want to know why this has been haunting me. It's not your concern, why do you care?"
"It is my concern. You put your career on hold to go on some wild goose chase. How long is this going to continue, Sheridan? When are you going to get some sense in your head?"
"Don't pretend that you care what I do with my life, Father," Sheridan muttered, picking up the file again.
His voice became tight. "That was out of line, Sheridan."
Sheridan sighed. "Good-bye, Father." She hung up just as the jet landed, and when she stepped off, Prada bag in one hand and Chanel sunglasses in the other, looking every bit the movie star, she curled her lip and gazed around in disgust.
Her personal maid stepped off behind her carrying two Fendi suitcases.
"I can't believe I used to live here," Sheridan remarked. "Look at this town. It's the size of a store in Paris. Milly, can you please take this?" She shoved her sunglasses into her bag and piled it on top of the suitcases that the very offended Milly was carrying. "Oh, don't give me that look," she said dismissively. Then, "Where's our limo?"
They didn't have to wait very long. A sleek black limousine pulled up two seconds later, and Sheridan sighed with relief and climbed inside while the driver got out and took Sheridan's bags from Milly. Then they were on their way, but Sheridan had the driver stop before they reached the mansion.
"I want a coffee," she explained, hopping out before anyone could reply. But she knocked on Milly's window a second later, smiled brightly and asked, "Milly, where's my purse?"
The disgruntled maid handed it over and rolled up her window without saying a word.
The Book Café was a cozy little shop unlike anything Sheridan had ever seen before. It wasn't cozy in the really classy way, nothing she would have chosen to go to personally, but it was inviting and warm. It reminded her of the more common people she knew, and she imagined it as sort of a grandmother's living-room. A middle-class grandmother's living-room.
The woman behind the counter was about her age, petite with brown hair, pouty lips, and big eyes. She had an open, friendly face, and was smiling at a man who was talking to her at the counter. A very big, broad-shouldered man.
Sheridan approached the counter. "Could I get a latté?" she asked absentmindedly, uncaring of the fact that she had just interrupted their conversation, and began digging in her purse for some cash but pulled out a credit card instead. "Do you take credit?" she asked before the woman could answer her first question.
She looked up when she didn't get an immediate reply and found the woman staring at her like she was some sort of alien. "Hello? Can you talk?" Sheridan demanded impatiently.
"Y-Yes, I can talk." Her voice started off weak, but got stronger with anger that was very noticeable. "No, we don't have lattés, and yes, we take credit. But as you can probably see, I was in the middle of taking care of a customer, so could you please wait your turn?"
Sheridan looked between the man and the woman -- whose nametag read Beth -- completely shocked at what had just happened. "Excuse me," she interrupted them for the second time. "I don't think you know who I am!"
Beth sighed and looked at her. "I don't think it matters who you are. When you're in my store, you're going to treat my customers with respect, or you're going to leave."
Sheridan's cheeks felt hot, and she was sure that she had turned completely red. "I'm in a hurry. Could I just get a muffin and go?" She grated this last bit out, and held out her credit card, staring at Beth pointedly.
"I don't think you understood me the first time. I'm in the middle of taking care of this customer. You can either wait, or leave." She turned back to the man, who had a sort of shocked smile on his face, and said, "Will there be anything else today, Luis?"
Luis glanced at Sheridan, who was staring at him open-mouthed. "Yes, I think I'll have that last muffin please, Beth."
Fuming, Sheridan stormed off and slammed her way into the limo. "Let's just go," she snapped at the driver, who raised his eyebrows, but started the engine and pulled away, no questions asked.

*****

It was like she last remembered it: Big, fancy, and clean. Not a thing was out of place, and you would never know that this mansion hadn't been used for nearly eleven years -- not unless you looked in the closets and bureaus upstairs, which were empty of clothes or any personal effects. She told Milly to bring her stuff into the master bedroom while she explored, and the first place she went was that hallway. The one that stopped at the spiraling staircase that led up to the attic. When she reached the staircase, with its shiny oak banister, she gazed up toward the attic and felt a chill come over her. But she brushed that aside, stiffened her spine, and started up.
The attic was the only place in the house that was dusty, and she resolved to tell her father that whoever was cleaning this place wasn't doing a very thorough job. They could have important things in this attic that were covered in years of dust!
But as of right now, all that mattered was the fact that she was finally going to face her demons.
So she stopped and gazed around, and was drawn towards a large stained glass window, which she stared at with some interest. It was a picture of a little girl holding a rose, smiling. For some reason, the window seemed out of place in the attic, like it hadn't always been there -- or it hadn't always been that particular window. She shook her head and turned away from the window, flashes of her dream rushing back to her, pictures of the girl whose face she could never really make out looming in her mind.
Her eyes came to rest on a box full of photo albums, and she made her way over to it -- which had nothing to do with her dream and everything to do with the fact that she had only one faded photograph of her mother. Her mother had died when she was very young, and Sheridan could hardly remember a thing about her. She knew that her mother was beautiful, and that she had inherited her mother's sparkling blue eyes, but that was about it.
So she sat cross-legged digging through the photo albums for what seemed like forever, setting aside every picture of her beautiful mother that she could find. At last she reached the final album, and this one was the most interesting of them all. It held only one picture, of someone that she knew wasn't part of her family. A preteen girl with long brown hair, big eyes, and a delicate nose. Very pretty and sweet-looking, staring out from the photograph with those innocent eyes. Sheridan wondered for a moment about this girl, but then put the album back in the box carefully and scooped up the pictures of her mother.
By the time she had reached the bottom of that spiraling staircase, the girl was forgotten.

*****

She hardly knew a soul in town, having been gone from Harmony most of her life. She decided after a few hours of sitting around, doing nothing, that this had to be the most boring place in the world. And at last she started to wonder why she had come back at all.
Sure, the dreams that she had were disturbing. They had ruined her childhood, and if she let them, they could ruin her adult life. But her father had been right -- what did she expect, coming back to Harmony? What would she find here that she couldn't find in Paris?
The dreams did take place in the mansion, but they were only dreams.... Sometimes they seemed much more real than that, though. Like someone was trying to speak to her, to tell her something.
She shook her head. Ridiculous thoughts. She was losing it.
She wandered the grounds late that afternoon and stopped in front of the cottage, remembering the cat that was buried behind it, and she smiled a little bit. Little girls had so much faith in the world. It was a crime that they all had to grow up and realize that dreams don't always come true, and you can't trust everybody.
She approached the cottage door, but stopped when she realized it was slightly ajar. The frame had been broken. Someone had broken into the cottage!
Without even glancing inside, Sheridan ran back to the mansion and breathlessly told Milly to get the police on the phone. After her heart stopped pounding, she spoke briefly with the dispatcher, who assured her that an officer would be there as soon as possible. Every minute seemed to last a lifetime, and after an agonizing amount of time, she finally saw a cruiser pull into the driveway.
She ran out to greet the officer, who was turned away from her at the moment. "Oh, thank God, I didn't even look inside! Someone could still be in there! You see this mansion has been empty for about eleven years now, we have people come in to...to...to..." She trailed off when he finally turned and she recognized his face.
It was Luis, from the Book Café.
Sheridan took a deep breath and shook her head.
It figured.

CHAPTER TWO

A smile eased its way across Luis's face, and very slowly, he said, "What a nice surprise."
Sheridan felt her cheeks burning. For a long moment, she stayed quiet, and then -- "To clean. We have people come in...to clean." Clearing her throat, she continued, "But the frame was broken at the cottage. Someone must have broken in."
She turned and began to walk. "It's this way," she directed him towards the cottage, and he passed her, throwing a cocky smile her way. Obviously, he hadn't forgotten about that morning, but damned if she was going to bring it up.
He inspected the damage and looked up at her with raised eyebrows. "Anything important in there?" he asked, all professional officer now.
Sheridan shook her head. "I wouldn't know. I stayed in the mansion until I was twelve, and then moved to Paris. I think the cottage is where the help stayed."
Luis smiled again, that arrogant smile. "Well, now we know who you are, don't we?"
Sheridan looked confused. "Excuse me?"
"This morning." He was busy looking at the doorframe while he spoke to her, and then turned away and walked inside, calling over his shoulder, "You asked Beth if she knew who you were. Remember?"
Sheridan let out a sigh and replied, "Listen, all I really need you to do is look at the damage and write it down. Don't talk to me like you know me. You don't. In fact, I don't really care to know you. Just do your job and get out. Okay?"
Luis glanced at her once while he checked out the living-room and said, "Gotcha," but nothing more. When they reached the kitchen, and then the bedroom, he finally turned to her and shrugged.
"I don't know -- Ms. Crane, is it?" When Sheridan nodded, he continued, "I can't really see anything out of place here. You would have had to know what personal items you kept, that some were missing, for me to rule it as a robbery. Right now it just looks like some kids were having fun, breaking into Crane property...which is not out of the norm." He smiled again at her, and what irritated her the most was that she knew these were not genuine smiles -- but rather the teasing kind, like he knew he was better than her or something.
And nobody was better than Sheridan Crane.
She bristled. "Fine, just as long as you have it on record. I'd like you to leave now."
"Why so hostile?" he teased. And then, "You know..." He said it slowly, walking away from the bedroom and taking his time reaching the front door. "Last time any police were at the mansion was...oh, about twelve years ago. You remember that, I'm sure?"
Sheridan stopped walking and stared at him, confused. "No," she answered finally; and she couldn't help it, but she was curious, so she asked, "What do you mean?"
Luis faced her, looking genuinely surprised. "You were living here then, weren't you?"
She nodded. "Yes, but I don't remember any police coming to the mansion for any special reason."
He stared at her, almost skeptical. "It was all over the news."
For some reason, her heart started pounding, and her voice came quietly. "What was?"
Now Luis looked even more suspicious. For a long, long time he kept silent. Finally, he said, "The girl who jumped from the attic window at the mansion. Don't you remember that?"

*****

She was in the living-room at the mansion, sitting on the expensive beige couch; and Sheridan hugged her knees to her chest, staring at her cell phone, pondering. She wanted to call her father and ask him why he had never told her about the girl who had committed suicide. Luis had said she was fourteen; that she had jumped from the attic window one day when she was playing with Sheridan. Well, that was what the official record stated, he had told her. But Sheridan didn't remember being friends with any little girl who had committed suicide. She didn't remember the police coming, or anything of the sort.
All she remembered was that one day she was a happy little girl with all the love in the world, and the next she was being sent to Paris, discarded and uncared for.
She picked up the phone finally, giving in, and dialed her father's number.
"Alistair Crane speaking."
"Hello, Father," she said smoothly, stretching out on the couch like a cat, in her red silk robe and nightie.
"Sheridan, my dear. How is Harmony?"
Sheridan considered this. "Boring. I'm glad you moved me away from here so young. I would have died long ago, for lack of anything better to do."
Alistair chuckled over the phone. "Sounds like home."
"Father," she said hesitantly, picking at her nails -- a bad habit she was never able to rid herself of. "Someone broke into the cottage.... I found out earlier today when I was walking the grounds."
Alistair sighed. "Unfortunately, that happens a lot. The maids report back to me, but I've never alerted the police. Just some foolish kids with nothing better to do, I'm sure. Did you call the police?"
Sheridan cleared her throat, feeling uneasy. "Well, yes."
"I see."
"What else was I supposed to do? We're Cranes, Father. We have to put a stop to this nonsense. Anyway," she continued, dismissing that issue, "the officer told me something interesting." She paused for only a moment before blurting the words out: "Father, why didn't you tell me a girl committed suicide here?"
Her father didn't answer for so long that Sheridan feared that he had hung up; but finally, he said, "I didn't think you'd want to know, Sheridan."
She was so confused that she couldn't think of anything to say, so she simply replied, "Well, he told me I was friends with her. Was I?"
"Yes, you were," Alistair sighed. "That's why you started having nightmares, Sheridan. That's why I didn't think it was a good idea for you to come back to Harmony. It will only make them worse. But don't let this bother you."
Sheridan was quiet for a while. "It does bother me," she finally said. "I mean, she was a friend of mine, and I can't even remember her." And then she told him she had to go and hung up, because she couldn't think of anything else to say to him.
All she knew was that she had to figure out who this girl was, and why she couldn't remember her.

*****

That night, Sheridan dreamed of the little girl again -- but it was interrupted every now and then with the officer, Luis's face, smiling that arrogant smile and asking her, "Don't you remember, Sheridan? Don't you remember?"
She woke in a cold sweat, recalling that the little girl had turned to her with that sad smile again -- but this time, she had turned again and waited for Sheridan to follow her to the attic window. But the window was not of a little girl holding a rose; it wasn't even stained glass. It was just a window. Then the dream had stopped abruptly.
But now Sheridan was sure that this was her friend she was dreaming of, and there was even something vaguely familiar about her -- even though Sheridan still couldn't make out her features.
She glanced at the clock on her nightstand and sighed. It was 6:00 AM, and she knew she wasn't going to be able to get back to sleep, so she hopped in the shower and emerged thirty minutes later feeling refreshed and ready for a cup of coffee.
As it turned out, the only coffee house in town was the Book Café, and once again she found herself face-to-face with Beth.
Making no effort to apologize for the day before, Sheridan ordered a medium French Vanilla milk-only, and, as an afterthought, added, "And that blueberry muffin, too."
Beth gave her an icy glare, but went to work making the coffee. She practically slammed it onto the counter in front of Sheridan, splashing some of the contents over the edge, and Sheridan gave her an impatient look.
"Wipe the cup, please," she demanded.
Beth gave her a disbelieving look. "Excuse me?"
"You spilled some over the side. It's only right that you wipe it off. I didn't come here to get coffee all over my hands. Or aren't you professional? -- because it seems that this is the only coffee house in Harmony and as I recall it...the Cranes own this shop? And I happen to be a Crane." She smiled a little too sweetly, and gave Beth a pointed look; then folded her arms, and waited while the disgruntled waitress grabbed a napkin and wiped the side of the cup.
"There," Beth shot out. "Happy?"
"You could do with a more pleasant attitude, but yes. My muffin?"
Beth tossed the muffin into a to-go bag and shoved it at Sheridan. "Have a great day," she said sarcastically, but Sheridan only smiled at her and sat down at one of the tables, opening that morning's newspaper and scanning the page while sipping her coffee.
And ten minutes later, Luis walked in.
Ordinarily, Sheridan would have simply ignored him and left the Book Café, but today she had actually been hoping she would run into him. He did, after all, know more about the girl who committed suicide than she did; and she didn't know anyone else in town, and wasn't all that sure that she would make a great impression on anybody else, anyway. These people weren't her type of people -- none of them were rich, with the exception of the Hotchkisses, who she didn't even know; and none of them understood what it meant to be the best and know that you were the best.
The only person who could put up with her so far happened to be Luis. So, he was the only one she was interested in talking to.
She allowed him time to order his coffee and chat for a while with Beth, but then she got impatient. He had to be on break, because he was in uniform, which meant that he could leave at any point, and damned if she was going to miss this opportunity to speak with him. So she got up and approached the counter, and for the third time in two days, she interrupted Beth and Luis.
"I'd like to speak to you," she said importantly. "Now."
Luis raised his eyebrows at her and scanned her appearance. She wasn't all that worried about this, because she knew she looked good in her white Christian Dior pantsuit and matching handbag, but she did get a little huffy when he didn't answer her right away.
"Can't you tell it's important?" she asked impatiently.
"I was speaking to Beth. You remember Beth," he replied with a smile, gesturing to the waitress.
Sheridan glanced at her, but ignored that comment and said, "It's about that girl you told me about yesterday."
"You talked to her yesterday?!" Beth interrupted, incredulous.
"It was a work thing," Luis reassured her, and then said to Sheridan, "Well, I'd love to help you, but I simply can't drag myself away for that long. Maybe another time." Then he turned his back on her and addressed Beth, who shot Sheridan a silky smile.
Sheridan had never felt so frustrated with one person in all her life. She stood there for a moment, not sure what to do. She always got what she wanted, always, and she wasn't going to let this low-class policeman turn that around. So she tapped him on the shoulder and said again, "I need to talk to you."
He sighed and faced her. "I'm busy. Can't you see?"
"You're only talking to her," Sheridan spat out, disgusted. "You can talk to her any other time, but I really need your help."
Luis stared at her for a long time. Finally he said, "Okay, I'll talk to you. On one condition."
Sheridan folded her arms and lifted an eyebrow, waiting.
"Beth tells me that this morning you were a little rude to her." He smiled that arrogant smile that had haunted her dreams all night. "You apologize to her, and promise to be nice from now on, and I'll give you a few minutes of my time."
Sheridan looked back and forth between Beth and Luis. "I don't do bargains," she finally said, getting a little angry.
Luis shrugged and turned his back on her, and Sheridan fumed. He was going to compromise her pride, and that was one thing she just couldn't deal with. But if she was going to get any answers, she needed to at least pretend to let go of her pride for one second. So she said quietly, "Fine," and addressed Beth -- "I'm sorry. I won't be rude to you again."
And then she looked at Luis again and said, "But you have to tell her that the same goes!"
Luis smirked and told Beth, "You be nice now," and Beth simply stared innocently, giving a little shrug.
Sheridan shook her head, furious with herself, but even more furious with Luis; and she stormed away to a little table in the far corner of the Book Café, waiting for him to join her. When he finally did, she said, "This isn't about us being friendly towards each other in any way. In fact, after today, I'd prefer not to see your face ever again." She sipped the coffee she'd ordered earlier, which was getting a little cold, and looked up at him.
He still had that arrogant look on his face, and she was sure it was just permanently attached there.
"I just want to know," she continued when he didn't reply, "who that little girl was, and where I can get more information on her."
Luis smiled slowly at her, folded his arms, and leaned back in his chair.
"All right," he said quietly. "I'll tell you."

CHAPTER THREE

Sheridan stared expectantly for what must have been a couple of minutes, but Luis just sat there, silent.
"Well?" she finally exploded when she couldn't take it any longer.
He smiled again, that infuriating smile of his that never quite reached his eyes. "As I recall, her name was Ella. Ella...DuBois," he answered softly. "I believe her mother was named Cindy, but don't take my word for it. It was a long time ago."
"Why did she jump?" Sheridan whispered, giving Luis all of her attention -- which was something she rarely did for anyone.
Luis shrugged. "I don't know. I was thirteen at the time. I only know what I saw on the news. Who ever really knows what's going on in a suicidal person's mind? Especially one so young."
The question was rhetorical, but Sheridan answered, "Well, you're a cop, aren't you! You should know. You deal with this stuff on a daily basis, don't you?"
Luis chuckled, amused by her ignorance. "Yes, I'm a cop, and yes, I deal with suicide. But we rarely get to ask anyone what was going on inside of their heads when they committed suicide."
Sheridan let out her breath in a frustrated huff. "So she just jumped? Where was her mother?" Why can't I remember her?
"Her mother was a crackhead and alcoholic, among other things," Luis said grimly. "She wasn't around too often, and when she was, she wasn't much use to Ella, anyway. Well, you live a life like that -- what do you expect? It's a wonder she didn't jump earlier."
Sheridan sighed and relaxed against her chair. "What about her father?"
Luis shrugged. "Like I said, I was young. I don't remember everything. But I think her mother had slept around so much that they never did find out who the father was." He studied Sheridan for a moment, seemingly undecided on something, and finally said, "Listen, if you want to find out more, you can probably look at the old newspapers they keep in the library. It's on Main Street near the bridge. I'm sure your limo driver can find it," he added as an afterthought, that sounded more like a disguised attack to her than anything.
"Fine," Sheridan said stiffly, and she stood. "Well, I'd thank you, but you've both degraded me and helped me in the same day -- so I think it balances out."
That arrogant smile slid onto his face once more, and all he offered was, "My pleasure."

*****

"I need to look at some of your old newspapers."
The librarian, petite and a bit mousy-looking, gave Sheridan a startled glance. She had been bent over a book, unaware that anyone had approached the counter.
Clearing her throat, the woman said, with a bit of an edge to her voice, "Dated when?"
"September 1994. You don't happen to know anything about an Ella DuBois, do you?" Sheridan followed her to a room in the far back of the library that was dark and damp, full of dust and tons of newspapers. It smelled like it looked: old and rotting.
The librarian threw her a quick look after she turned on the light, one of those lights hanging in the middle of the ceiling that you use a string to turn on. "Name sounds familiar, but not really. The newspapers from 1994 are in this section--" she gestured towards a stack of newspapers and headed to the door "--you'll find September's newspapers in there somewhere. Enjoy."
She left quickly, and Sheridan stared at the closed door, a bit shocked. People were so damn rude in this town.

*****

It took her an hour of browsing through September's newspapers before she finally gave up, conceding the fact that the newspaper she was looking for simply did not exist. It had at one point, she knew, but it was missing. Whether someone had purposely removed that newspaper or if it was just a coincidence, Sheridan did not know.
She approached the counter again, and the mousy-looking librarian glanced up at her with an impatient look.
"It's not there," Sheridan said simply, gesturing towards the room she had just come from. "The newspaper I'm looking for. It's not there."
The librarian shrugged. "I don't know what to tell you. People rarely come in and look at those newspapers anymore, what with the Internet being so popular. I don't know why it's missing."
"The Internet," Sheridan echoed, brightening. "Do you have the Internet?" She turned a full circle before her gaze fell on a computer, which she immediately headed for. "You'll have to show me how to use it," she called over her shoulder. "I'm not very good with computers."
The librarian just stared at her. Sheridan stared back.
"Hello? Did you hear what I said?" she finally asked.
"Yes, but I'm afraid I can't help you. I have work to do." The librarian bent over the book she had been reading once more.
"What?" Sheridan said, incredulous. "You're not working. You're reading. How is that work?"
The librarian gave her a bored look. "I'm working to improve my mind. Now if you'll excuse me." She walked away then, towards a closed room that must have been for employees only. Sheridan stared after her, shocked.
"This is ridiculous," she said aloud, looking at the computer. None of it made sense to her. She'd never been very good with computers, since she rarely spent anytime indoors.
"What is?"
Sheridan jumped visibly, and, grasping her chest, turned in her chair to see who was there. "Jesus," she breathed, staring at the man. "Who are you?"
"Sorry." He flashed a very nice-looking grin. "Hank Bennett," he said, holding out his hand. "And you are?"
She took the proffered hand and smiled. He seemed nice. And he was easy on the eyes. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, being back in Harmony. "Sheridan Crane."
"A Crane, huh?" He pulled up a chair and stared at the computer screen, then at her. "So what's ridiculous?"
"People in this town," she muttered, and gestured wildly towards the door the librarian had disappeared behind. "I don't get it. Everyone is so damn rude here. First that Beth, then the officer, and now this librarian. All I wanted was help finding a newspaper, but noo...."
Hank chuckled. "Beth Wallace, by any chance?"
Sheridan shrugged. "Hell if I know. She wasn't very nice, though."
"That doesn't sound like Beth," he commented lightly. Then, "Having trouble?" -- and he gestured towards the computer that Sheridan was only staring at blankly.
"Oh! Yes," she said eagerly. "I wanted to find an article on Ella DuBois, but there wasn't any mention of her in the newspapers out back, and I don't know how to work the computer."
"Ella DuBois?" He furrowed his brow, like the name sounded familiar, but he couldn't quite place it.
"She died about eleven years ago," Sheridan responded quietly. "Jumped from the window at the mansion."
Realization dawned on Hank's face. "Right," he said. "I remember that. Yeah. I can help you," he offered, "but why are you interested, anyway?"
She shrugged. "I don't think that's any of your business."
He looked at her like he'd just been slapped, then a grin broke out on his face. "Okay. Fine. That's fine."

*****

It was as though the Ella DuBois that had once existed had been erased. All traces of her were gone, except in anyone's memory -- but those memories were fuzzy. Hardly anyone knew anything about her. Sheridan sat on the steps in front of the library, hugging her beige jacket to herself, and staring straight ahead. Frustration was written all over her face.
Hank, who was sitting next to her, put a hand on her thigh. Sheridan looked down at his hand, then up at him.
"Listen, I don't know what to tell you," he said. "I don't know how this happened. She did exist, if that's any consolation."
"Sure, plenty," she replied bitterly, and looked away. "I'm so confused," she added with a sigh. "How can someone's life just be erased like this?"
"Well, obviously, someone doesn't want people to find out what happened to her."
"What happened to her?" Sheridan echoed, glancing at him. "We know what happened to her. She committed suicide. I just wanted to find out why," she said glumly. "Well, I will find out what happened, if it's the last thing I do."
"Yeah. Okay. But don't you find it kind of funny that there is no mention of her anywhere?" He began to rub her thigh, which didn't escape Sheridan's notice. She ignored it, however, and Hank went on. "Her existence or her suicide. I remember that day. It was all over the news, Sheridan. This is impossible. There has to be a record of her somewhere."
Sheridan stood, and Hank looked a bit disappointed. "My father will know," she said optimistically. "Hey, thanks for everything." Smiling brightly, Sheridan pulled out her cell phone and walked away, leaving Hank to stare after her like a lovesick puppy.

*****

"What do you mean, you don't know?" Sheridan fumed, pacing the living-room of the mansion. She had her father on speakerphone, and Milly stood by uncomfortably, pretending not to hear anything.
"How can you not know?" Sheridan went on. "Come on, you're the almighty Alistair Crane. You know everything, remember?"
"Don't you think this might be a sign that some things are better left to rest?"
"She was a friend of mine, and I don't even remember her. I need to know more about her, Father. I just need to." She sighed and sat down on the couch, crossing her legs, falling silent.
"This is getting out of hand, Sheridan," Alistair reprimanded. "Go home, and forget about this nonsense."
"I can't," Sheridan whispered. Then she stood and crossed the room. "I just can't," she said again before hanging up.
That night, the little girl said her name. She waited by the attic window, her big, sad eyes on Sheridan -- who still couldn't quite make out her features -- and she said her name. Her voice was haunting, more breath than anything; like a cold wind, seeping into Sheridan's soul.
"Sheridan..."
"What?" Sheridan said desperately, reaching for her, grabbing nothing but air when she had her. "What?"
And she woke abruptly; and then laid there for what seemed like hours trying to figure out the dream.
It was Ella; she knew it was -- but why did she keep dreaming about her? Why couldn't she see her face? Was Ella trying to tell her something, from beyond the grave?
Or was Sheridan simply losing her mind?
She went to the Book Café with that thought, and for once in her life, she looked disheveled -- human. Her hair was mussed, she wore no make-up, and she had only thrown on a red sweat suit and matching jacket -- Juicy Couture, but still. Beth looked at her in surprise when she approached the counter.
"Listen," Sheridan said wearily, "I don't need any mouth today. I just want a coffee." She paused, and then added, "Please," and Beth's eyebrows shot up.
"What? I can be polite, when I want to be."
Beth said nothing. She made her a medium French Vanilla milk only, and gingerly placed it on the counter so as not to spill anything. Probably remembering yesterday's mishap. Sheridan sat down without thanking her, all at once forgetting to be polite.
It was six in the morning, and Sheridan was exhausted. She was tired of this whole mess. She was tired of wondering why she kept dreaming about a girl she didn't even remember. She was tired of this wild goose chase.
She was just plain tired.
She didn't even know why she'd come back here anymore. Her father was right -- this was ridiculous. She was dreaming about a dead girl, for Christ's sake; a dead girl that she didn't even remember. Most likely it was just leftover trauma from her childhood -- the trauma of suddenly losing who was supposedly a close friend. She didn't need to be back here in Harmony, researching a case that didn't even seem to exist.
What she needed was psychiatric help.
A wry smile tilted her lips just as the bell over the door rang, indicating someone had entered. She looked up and sighed. It was Luis.
Jesus.
What, was he stalking her or something?
He glanced her way, and she gave a sarcastic smile and a little wave -- both of which he ignored. But he didn't miss her slovenly appearance. She could tell by the look in his eyes; and she blushed to her core.
"Hey Beth," he greeted the waitress, taking a seat at the counter. "Could I get my coffee?"
"Sure, Luis."
Sheridan watched their exchange with a tinge of jealousy. Nobody was that nice to her. Nobody was ever that nice to her; and if they were, there was a reason. Mainly it was her money that got her friends.
She averted her eyes when he glanced her way, and took a sudden interest in her coffee.
"Did you ever find out more about Ella?" he called to her.
Sheridan looked up in surprise. "No," she answered. She was quiet for a minute, and they stared at each other. Finally she said, "I thought I said I'd prefer not to see you ever again."
As soon as she said the words, she wondered why. Luis gave her an odd little look, and then a curt nod. "Fine. Well, since it seems to bother you more than it bothers me, I'd find a new place to get your coffee in the mornings if I were you. I'm here every morning, and I have been for the last five years. I'm not about to change that for you."
Sheridan didn't answer him. She felt her cheeks grow hot, and she looked away. What the hell was the matter with her? He'd actually made an attempt to be nice to her, and she'd ruined it.
Without saying another word, she picked up her coffee and left.

CHAPTER FOUR

There was only one club in Harmony: The Blue Note; and this was owned by a mildly well-known family, the latter part due to a scandal that had happened some years ago concerning the lady of the house and another married man. The Russells had stuck together through it all, but not without some consequence. A prominent doctor, Eve Russell’s license was revoked for relatively unknown reasons—though Sheridan was sure some bullshit excuse had been invented in the office to look pretty on paper—and T.C., already bitter about an injury that cut his tennis career short, had locked himself into hiding for quite a long time. Their two daughters, Whitney and Simone, suffered several cases of teen rebellion and a couple of stints in jail for mild to moderate offenses. About a year ago, the storm had calmed, and things were looking up for the whole family.
Sheridan learned this all over a pitcher of margaritas and a haze of cigarette smoke that left her coughing and lightheaded. The source of all this unseemly gossip, Hank Bennett, grinned at her at the finish of another oh-so-scandalous tale about the eldest daughter and asked her for a dance.
Braver than usual in her impaired state, Sheridan agreed, and accompanied him to the dance floor.
All eyes were on her, but this was something that Sheridan was not unused to. Despite all of her complaining about the paparazzi that seemed to follow her like a plague, about the crazy fans that stopped her in the most shocking places to ask for her autograph—despite all this, she liked the attention. In fact, she sort of missed it, being in this little town where nobody gave a damn about her—except to witness a few moments’ misery at her expense. She got the feeling that people in Harmony just didn’t like her.
This added to the fact that she just could not seem to find anything on Ella DuBois, had driven her to drink tonight. It was the reason that she had accepted Hank’s invitation to the “most exclusive club in Harmony” (his words), only to be disappointed at the sight of a little jazz club that had packed about twenty people tops. It was the reason that she stuck around despite this and drank half a pitcher of margaritas.
Now she was getting extra close and personal with Hank Bennett on the dance floor in front of twenty pairs of wide, interested eyes, and she just didn’t give a damn. Let them spread it across every paper in the good old USA. She was just too drunk to care at this point.
Of course, that wasn’t the case the next morning when Milly timidly murmured her mistress’ name a few times before her father’s angry voice blared over the nearby speakerphone, “What in God’s name were you thinking, Sheridan?!”
She had passed out on her living-room couch in last night’s clothes, and her head felt like it had just split in half. She bolted upright and squinted into Milly’s face. “What?” was all she could manage.
“Your picture. Your picture spread across every damnable tabloid the universe has to offer, with you what can only be described as canoodling some commoner—and who gives a damn about your career? Milly, show her.”
Sheridan blinked a few times at the little black phone that seemed to be ever-present. This was her father, or all that she had ever known of him: a black telephone that once in a while barked at her that she had done this or that wrong. She accepted the tabloid from Milly and scanned the cover. There she was, obviously drunk. Her glassy gaze had captured Hank’s, her mouth wide open in what seemed to be a hysterical laugh. One of his hands was gripping her bum and the other was dangerously close to another kind of curve. Sheridan moaned audibly.
“You think so, too, then?” her father’s voice demanded irritably. “Do you know what this could do to you, Sheridan? Do you have any idea?”
Sheridan sighed and stared at the headline: Wild Child: Party Over Pay? The caption beneath it read, Father Crane fed up with daughter’s partying ways…threatens to cut her off unless she starts taking her career seriously.
“How did they even know where I was?” she wondered aloud, rubbing her temples. “Ridiculous.”
“It’s not like you made it a big secret,” her father said sternly. “You really need to take this as a sign that it’s time to go back to Paris. Forget this whole Ella nonsense. Let it rest. Your career is in jeopardy now, which you will discover as soon as you read the article inside. Do you want to go chasing the ghosts of the past, or would you rather worry about your future? It’s your call, Sheridan.”
The line went dead. Sheridan stared at the phone for a full minute before tossing the magazine aside. She couldn’t worry about that right now. She was furious that they had found her, even more furious that she had managed to screw up yet again, and to top it all off, she was hung over.
She needed coffee.
This turned out to be no easy task. She stepped outside of the mansion expecting to make her way to the nice, cozy coffee house with the waitress that hated her and the ever-present Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald. This was what would be familiar in the little town of Harmony, Maine. But nothing in Sheridan Crane’s life was ever really predictable, as the little crowd of paparazzi outside her front door proved. She could not for the life of her make it through the pack, so she shut the door angrily in their faces and turned to Milly.
“For God’s sake,” she ground out. “Go get me a coffee, Milly.”
The maid managed to wipe the offended look off of her face before Sheridan caught it. This was something she had mastered over her years in the Cranes’ employ. “Yes, ma’am,” she mumbled, bowing her head as she made her way to the front door. Sheridan stopped her just before she stepped outside and stared her straight in the eyes.
“I don’t say it enough, Milly, but being here in Harmony—well, I’m learning. So…thank you.”
Wiping the shocked look off of her face was not something that Milly had mastered. She could not remember a time when a Crane had ever thanked her for her services. She bobbed a curtsy towards Sheridan and simply said, “You’re welcome.” Then she made her way out the front door, not daring to look back.

*****

A half hour later, just as Sheridan was contemplating grabbing a kitchen knife and threatening her way through the overwhelming crowd of paparazzi outside, salvation came in the form of one Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald and a large cup of steaming coffee that tempted her senses. Milly followed him with an apologetic look on her face.
She bowed her head and mumbled, “I’m sorry, ma’am, I couldn’t make it through the paparazzi, and Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald offered to help.”
“Ohhh,” Sheridan moaned, taking the cup of coffee from Luis without even glancing at him. “I don’t care. I just don’t care. Bless you.”
She took a gulp, and Milly inched away unnoticed, preparing to reappear only when her name was called. Luis made his way into the living-room without invitation and called back to Sheridan, “Seems like you’ve had a busy night.”
Sheridan followed, a wry smile tilting her lips. “You could say that.”
Luis stopped in the middle of the living-room and folded his arms, scanning her appearance. Sheridan shifted under his gaze, all at once uncomfortable—and incredibly aware of the fact that she looked like she might have just crawled out of a dumpster.
He cleared his throat, not making a comment either way. “I know that you didn’t want to ever see my face again, so I’ll make this quick. The little…disturbance—” he said the word with a curl of his lips that Sheridan recognized as disgust “—that you and Hank caused last night has turned Harmony inside-out. Frankly, Miss Crane, your entire stay in Harmony has the town on edge…but since your family owns about half the town, there’s not really much we can do.” He smiled, but it wasn’t a friendly smile. Sheridan’s gaze turned icy. This obviously wasn’t a courtesy call.
“And?” she demanded, having had enough lecturing for one morning.
“Well, I wouldn’t even have bothered to come, but the chief thought that maybe there was something you could do about the circus outside. You see, we’re generally a quiet town.” He paused for a minute, seeming to debate something, and then said, “Your father informed the chief that he wasn’t quite behind your decision to come to Harmony in the first place, so he doesn’t mind if we, ah, encourage a hasty exit—so to speak.”
A stab of betrayal sliced through Sheridan. “My father called the police station?” she asked quietly.
“Not so much to make you leave as to…well, back our decision. As a society,” he added, seemingly as an afterthought. “Harmony just isn’t used to this kind of behavior.”
“Wait,” Sheridan said, suddenly feeling a bubble of laughter in her throat. She had the fleeting thought that she might have just been pushed into hysterics. “So let me get this straight. I danced last night at a club. A dance club. With this nice guy who I met earlier in the day—and I was having a bad day, let me tell you.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes, and she felt kind of wild. “You see, I can’t seem to find anything about a girl that I was friends with who threw herself out a frickin’ window in my house when I was a little girl, and I can’t even remember her for God’s sake; and nobody in all of Harmony likes me, save for one guy who I’m apparently not allowed to dance with. My father is a freaking phone. And now you’re actually telling me that you’re throwing me out of Harmony? Because I happen to be famous?”
She let her breath out in a whoosh, gave him the dirtiest look she could muster, snatched her purse off the table where she had carelessly tossed it last night, and walked away. Over her shoulder, she called, “I would have thought better of you, Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald.”
Because she was famous, because she had grown up knowing vanity, she pulled a pair of huge Dior sunglasses out of her bag to cover the effects of last night’s alcohol binge. Then she opened the front door, and the cameras went off, and she smiled—because that was what she was best at: Putting a face on for the public. She ignored the questions and made her way through the frenzied crowd with some amount of difficulty. The cameras were still going off when she stepped into her rented car; they were still going off as she pulled out of the driveway. Only when she was certain that nobody could see her did she pull off her sunglasses and wipe her tear-drenched eyes.
If anything had come of this awful day, one thing was for certain: She was staying in Harmony.
Her father did everything for a reason, and Sheridan was absolutely dead-positive that he wanted her out of Harmony for a damn good one.

CHAPTER FIVE

The little girl had long brown hair and big eyes. Her nose was small and feminine—the kind of nose that women got plastic surgery to even slightly resemble. She was a very pretty little girl that could grow up to be a very beautiful young woman.
And Sheridan recognized her. She turned and she said Sheridan’s name, like every night, and something in Sheridan’s mind clicked. She knew this girl. She knew the window behind her; she knew the attic around her. Even more pleasing was that the dream had got this far, because never before had Sheridan been able to make out the little girl’s features. It was such an exciting moment that it woke Sheridan up.
She sat upright abruptly in an unfamiliar bed, glanced around in a moment’s confusion, remembered that she had rented a hotel room, and fell back against pillows that were just a tad too flat for her liking. It was definitely a low-budget motel—in fact, the name was the Budget Inn. A bunch of rooms were side-by-side in the shape of an unfinished square, and the main office was just off a little to the left. The room cost her exactly twenty dollars. It looked like something you would see in a horror movie, where the main character gets slashed to bits by the hotel owner.
The thought gave Sheridan goose bumps. She glanced over to make sure the door to her room was locked, and checked the time.
6:00 AM.
Always 6:00 AM.
Since she had managed to sufficiently scare the wits out of herself, she threw the covers aside and reached for the telephone. She would call Hank and have him meet her there, since he was the only one she could seem to count on in Harmony. Anyway, the Budget Inn was fifteen minutes out of Harmony, and so run-down and just plain ugly that no person, no paparazzo would ever suspect that she would get a room there. She had even used a fake name to book the room for the night.
Hank picked up on the second ring and agreed to meet her there. Satisfied, a little bit calmer after having spoken to him, Sheridan wrapped herself in a robe and went to wait outside on the only bench.
Ten minutes later, about five different cars pulled up to the Budget Inn and what seemed to be a thousand people poured out, snapping her picture.
She was frustrated—she was furious. She held back the urge to flip them off and ran into her room, throwing her stuff into a suitcase and changing into black slacks and a glitzy black top. Within five minutes, she was in her car, waiting for Hank to show up—and he did, within ten.
He walked around to the passenger’s side and climbed inside, looking bewildered. “What is going on?” was the first thing he asked, not bothering to greet her.
She shook her head, starting the engine. “I don’t know how the hell they found out I was here. I really don’t.” She had to drive at an incredibly slow rate to get out of the parking lot due to the overcrowding, and she was sure she would look just as annoyed as she felt in the tabloids the next morning.
“This is just great,” she went on, fuming. “Here you are with me, again. At a low-budget motel. Do you even know the kind of stories they are going to come up with?” She glanced over, looking apologetic—which was a huge step for Sheridan Crane, who never felt bad for anyone but herself.
Hank shook his head in dismissal. “Don’t worry about it. So what are we up to?”
Sheridan sighed and stared at the road, and a sign that said Welcome to Harmony came into view. “I have a feeling that my father doesn’t want me to find out who Ella is,” she blurted out suddenly.
Hank didn’t say anything; he just stared out the window ahead of him for a minute. Finally he asked, “What would make you think that, Sheridan?”
“I don’t know,” she said quietly. “Luis—Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald, that is—he said that my father was sort of…encouraging them to run me out of town. ‘I’m causing trouble.’” She spat the last part out, bitter. “Ridiculous. I’m a Crane, for chrissake. We, like, own this town.”
Hank glanced at her, but didn’t reply. She had the decency to blush. “I mean, that doesn’t excuse, you know…but I don’t know—I’m not doing anything. I’m just me; I can’t help it that I attract attention.”
“Well, maybe your father isn’t trying to run you out of town, Sheridan. Maybe he just thinks your efforts are futile, and he’s a little worried about you.” Hank shrugged. “We did cause a bit of a scene at The Blue Note, after all. Your career should be number one to you.”
Frustrated, Sheridan replied, “Now you sound like him. What, are you guys in cahoots are something?”
His face turned beet-red, as if he was embarrassed or insulted, but he only said, “I’m just looking out for you.”
They pulled up to the mansion at that second, which saved her from having to reply. Once they had stepped out of the car and were at the front door, Sheridan said to him, “It doesn’t matter, because I’ve solved one little mystery. Thank you, Milly.” She directed that last part to her maid, who had taken her purse and keys at the door, and then quickly headed over to the stairs. Hank followed.
“What mystery?” he asked, curious as they started up the stairs.
“Well, Ella DuBois. I don’t remember her, really, which is a given. But I’ve been having dreams about her—that’s what brought me back to Harmony in the first place.” They were at the stairs to the attic now, and Sheridan paused, staring up at the door that had haunted her dreams for so many nights. She finally got the courage to start walking again.
“Yeah?” Hank prompted.
Ignoring him, Sheridan bent at the photo album in a box on the floor where she had left it—the one that had held so many pictures of a mother she had hardly known. She glanced up at Hank after pulling out the picture of the girl with the long brown hair and big eyes. “This is Ella,” she said quietly, holding the picture out to him. “I found this while going through some pictures the first day I was back here, and I totally forgot about it—but I had a dream last night, another dream, and this is her. This is Ella.”
He took it, looked at the picture, and then looked back at her. “No, I don’t think so,” he replied. “I’m pretty sure Ella was a redhead.”
“What?” Sheridan felt like she had been slapped. “No, that’s impossible. This is Ella.” She grabbed the picture from him, completely defensive of her theory. “It has to be. I dreamt about her last night!”
“Sheridan,” Hank said patiently, “just because you’re having dreams about her doesn’t mean that it’s all true. I mean, they’re just dreams.”
“No, it’s Ella! I’m sure of it, Hank.” Desperate for him to believe her, she continued in a pleading voice, “I never saw her face before. That was the one thing that was always missing, but I saw her face last night. This is her, Hank.”
He looked a little bit torn as he pulled her in for a comforting hug. “Listen,” he said soothingly, stroking her back, “you said yourself that you completely forgot about the picture, and I know that this is weighing heavily on your mind lately, Sheridan. You’re under a lot of pressure—“
“But, Hank—“
“Listen,” he cut her off in a gentle voice. “Maybe subconsciously, because you’re so desperate to find out who she was and why she jumped, you attached this girl’s face to Ella’s name.”
She didn’t reply. She felt fourteen again—hysterical, sent off to boarding school with no answers; completely unaware of why she was so out of her mind. Because she’d lost her best friend. The thought nudged at her mind, but she wouldn’t let it break through. She couldn’t even remember Ella, yet somehow this girl had managed to uproot her whole existence.
She let Hank hold her for a minute, and tears threatened, but she pushed them back. Finally, she broke free from his embrace and shook her head rapidly at him. She couldn’t let people keep telling her that she was delusional, which is basically what Hank had just told her.
“Please, just leave,” she said in a choked voice.
“Sheridan, don’t.”
“No! Just get out.” She sucked in a breath, struggling to keep her tears at bay. “I need…some space. To think.”
“Sheridan, we left my car at the Budget Inn,” Hank reasoned.
“So then have the limo take you there. Tell them that Miss Crane asked them to.” Sheridan turned away and stared at the stained glass window. “Go, Hank.”
She didn’t hear him leave, but several minutes passed in silence before she finally turned around and realized he was gone.
“I’m pretty sure Ella was a redhead.”
She had been so sure, so sure when she’d woken up that morning that at least part of the mystery was solved. That simple sentence had crushed all of her hopes. Her defenses lowered, she sank to the floor and finally allowed herself to cry—all alone, in the attic where the nightmare had started.

~*~

She was drinking merlot alone that night, in a silent living-room. She had dismissed her maid, her driver, her bodyguards—she had told them to leave her the hell alone, and not in a sugar-coated way, either. Sheridan had sure learned a lot on her trip back to Harmony, but that mean girl still lurked at the surface, and she hadn’t quite mastered the art of shutting her off. Especially when she was in the foul mood she was in tonight.
She had put on some comfortable silk red DKNY pajamas, shut off her cell phone, unplugged the house phone, and turned down all the lights. The fireplace was her only friend that night, and she had been staring at it for hours, trying to figure out just what the hell was going on.
It was in this state that Luis found her. Milly had let him in, warning him that the mistress of the house was in a “terrible disposition” and it was “unwise to interrupt her”. Luis had shrugged off her warnings and made his way to the living-room, not quite sure what he was getting himself into. Sheridan glanced up when she heard the shuffle of feet, taking a moment to stare at him. He wasn’t in uniform. He was wearing plain blue jeans and a long-sleeved white top that contrasted with his skin in a very pleasing way. She had of course noticed before that he was handsome, and now she wasn’t sure if she preferred him in uniform or in casual wear.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, looking back at the fire, the flames dancing in her eyes.
Luis stepped into the room and silently handed her a manila folder. “Here,” he said, backing away after she had taken it. “I just wanted to apologize. You were right. I guess I was a little bit angry at you, but I shouldn’t have dealt with it that way.” He cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable.
“What is this?” Her tone had not changed—she appeared a little bit lifeless, and the wine was making her a tad unbalanced.
“Everything I could find out about Ella DuBois,” he answered.
Sheridan glanced up quickly, shocked. “Really?” She stood very suddenly, setting down her glass of wine and clutching the folder as though it were her saving grace. “Are you serious?”
He shrugged. “Look for yourself.”
Excitement shone in her face, a drastic change from the lifeless zombie she had been a moment ago. She opened the folder, flipping through pages and pages of information on Ella DuBois. “How did you find this, Luis? I couldn’t find anything.”
Surprise crossed his face momentarily at her use of his name, but he didn’t comment. “What can I say? I’m an officer.”
She didn’t respond. “Um, well,” he continued uncomfortably, “I just thought that I should apologize to you. You don’t have to leave town or anything. You’re welcome to stay.”
Still, she didn’t reply. She was so preoccupied with going through the pages of information that Luis started to walk away, unnoticed. It was only when he reached the entrance to the living-room that she looked up at him.
“Who is this?” she asked sharply.
He faced her again. “What? Who?”
She crossed to him quickly and shoved a piece of paper at him. “This. Who is this?”
He glanced at the picture and back to her. “That’s Ella. You don’t remember?”
Shocked, Sheridan took the sheet of paper back from him and stared at the picture. Staring back at her, her face permanently frozen in a serene smile that belied her tragic death, was a young girl with long brown hair, big eyes, and a sweet, delicate nose.


CHAPTER SIX

Sheridan sank to the couch, clutching the photo in one hand and the folder in the other. She was utterly confused, unsure whether to believe that Hank had innocently told her something that he honestly believed, or if he had purposely hid the truth from her. Luis stepped closer to her, not quite sure if he should be there or not.
“Miss Cra—Sheridan?” he said timidly. “You didn’t know that was Ella?”
She looked up, as if realizing he was there for the first time. “What? No, of course not, Luis. I wouldn’t have asked you so many damn questions if I remembered her, would I have?”
“Well, I’m sorry I asked,” he said, his voice going frosty. “I’m going to go if you don’t need anything else.”
She waved him away. “Whatever.”
Looking incredibly insulted, Luis turned on his heel and walked out of the living-room and towards the front door. A moment later, just as she heard the door opening, Sheridan looked up.
“Wait!” Her heart was in her throat. Another mistake, she realized—another stupid mistake. She jumped to her feet, tossing the folder on the couch carelessly, still clutching the photo in her hand. “Luis!”
She caught up with him at the front door. He had an irritated look on his face. “What?” he snapped. “Did you need to take out more of your frustration on me? Because if that’s it, don’t bother, Miss Crane.” He bit her name out like it was an insult. Sheridan shook her head.
“No. I’m sorry.” Her voice went a little quieter. “I’m sorry—honestly.”
She must have looked sincere, because Luis’ expression softened. “It’s okay,” he said with a shrug.
“I would like it if…if you would stay, please.” She backed away from the door to allow him to come inside. Luis hesitated a moment before obliging, staring at her as though she were a stranger. She may as well have been—the word “please” on her tongue felt incredibly foreign. Being polite all-around was not something Sheridan was used to. She was still trying to figure out if she liked it or not as they made their way back into the living-room.
“Hank told me that she was a redhead,” she said as soon as they sat down. It was a weird feeling to know that she wasn’t sure who to trust—even her father seemed to want this mission of hers to end, and she felt closer than she ever had before to solving the mystery.
“Hank?” Luis asked, surprised. “Really? He must have had her confused with someone else.”
Sheridan shrugged. “I don’t know, Luis. He seemed pretty sure.” She plucked the folder off the couch and flipped through the pages, scanning them. There wasn’t just information on Ella, but information on her mother—various charges of drug use, prostitution, public indecency. Sheridan cringed inside for the old friend that she couldn’t remember—the little girl who had to deal with a scandalous mother like Cindy. She remembered briefly that Luis had told her that nobody knew who her father was, and she felt even worse for Ella.
“God, this girl,” she mumbled as she stared at a line in bold: Cindy DuBois, 31, arrested on charges of DUI with nine-year-old daughter in backseat.
Sheridan lifted an incredulous gaze to Luis. “And no one knows where Cindy is?”
Luis shrugged. “Nope. She disappeared off the face of the earth when Ella jumped.” He leaned back into the couch, getting more comfortable. “It would have been nice to have her in for questioning, but she didn’t even stick around that long. Ella wasn’t even supposed to be in her custody, really, but they would stick her in foster homes and she would run back home to Mommy.” He gestured to the folder. “It’s all in there, Sheridan.”
Sheridan stared down at the folder. “Do you remember… Was I friends with her for long?”
He looked confused. “I don’t know, Sheridan. You didn’t even look my way back then. I was just a silly Lopez-Fitzgerald—middle-class, not worth the Cranes’ time of day.” Sheridan glanced away, feeling embarrassed, and Luis sighed. “Look, as far as I can remember, you were always friends with her. When I did catch glimpses of you, you two were connected at the hip.”
Sheridan looked even more frustrated at this news. “I just don’t get it, then. Why would they send me away instead of dealing with the issue?”
Luis stared at her. “What do you mean?”
As if suddenly aware of his presence, Sheridan grew uncomfortable and looked away from him. “Nothing,” she said quickly. “I was just thinking out loud.” Remembering her glass of wine, she picked it up, downed it in one gulp, and made a face. Then she called for Milly, who showed up looking nervous.
“Can I get more wine, Milly? And, uh, Luis?” She looked at him expectantly.
“I’ll have brandy if you have some.”
Milly bobbed a curtsy and said, “Yes ma’am, sir,” before departing. A moment later, she returned with a glass of wine and a glass of brandy, then disappeared again. Sheridan and Luis looked at each other, silent. Finally, Sheridan lifted her glass.
“Cheers,” she said with a weary smile.
Luis chuckled. “Sure. Cheers.”

~*~

Two hours later, Sheridan was sprawled out in a very unladylike manner on the couch, and Luis had slumped into the nearby chair. Neither of them were sleeping—just staring off into space. They had gone over the Ella files for most of the two hours, and then wandered off into the realm of the ordinary; then the less ordinary; and tomorrow both of them would be regretting the amount of alcohol they’d consumed.
“Do you think everybody hates me?” Sheridan slurred, turning her head only slightly to look at his face.
“No,” Luis answered automatically, and then laughed. “Well, yes.”
“Oh, great. Thanks.”
“I like you,” Luis comforted, sitting up straight in his chair.
Sheridan squinted at him, as if unsure whether or not to believe him. “You do?”
“For the most part,” he said with a shrug.
“’For the most part’?” she echoed, and then rolled her eyes. “Gee, thanks.” After a moment’s pause, she added, “Hank likes me.”
“Hank lied to you,” Luis said defensively.
“I thought you said that he must have mistaken her for someone else?” Sheridan reminded him, sitting up straighter to look at him. He lifted a shoulder.
“I don’t know. I’m just saying that even if nobody else does, I like you.” He looked away, as though suddenly uncomfortable. Sheridan smiled a little.
“Even though you were trying to kick me out of town?” she teased him.
“That was a mis—that was just a glitch.” He stumbled over his words, a combination of nerves and drunkenness, and finally sighed as he looked at her. “I was mad at you.”
“Because I told you to go away?” she chuckled.
“In so many words,” he said dryly. But he smiled a moment later and moved over to the couch to sit beside her. “I think it’s cute that you have no manners.”
“I have no manners now?” she demanded, looking insulted.
“I mean—well, no. No, you don’t.” He laughed, and so did Sheridan.
“I don’t think you do, either, Officer,” she said teasingly.
He laughed again. “I’m really slick tonight, aren’t I?”
“You sure are,” she said immediately with an amused smile. “Just how long has it been since you’ve been good and drunk, Luis?”
“Oh,” he replied on a sigh, staring down at her, “a while.” She smiled again, but didn’t say anything; and neither of them was quite aware of their close proximity until suddenly it just wasn’t anymore. They kissed—a sloppy, drunk kiss; not exactly the dreamy kiss either of them expected. But since they went from kissing to asleep only a few moments later, neither of them really cared too much. It wasn’t until the next morning, with pounding headaches combined with pounding on the front door, that they looked at each other in complete mortification as last night’s events slowly came back to them.
“Milly!” Sheridan called weakly, stumbling to her feet. “Dear God, who is that?”
“This is outrageous! I have to knock to get into my own home now? Where the hell is the maid?”
Sheridan stopped dead in her tracks and looked back at Luis, who was still rubbing his head and sitting on the couch. “Oh my God,” she whispered, looking back towards the front door. When her father’s looming figure came into view, she took a few steps back in response.
He waved a paper that he had clutched in his hand at her and growled, “Just what the hell is this? Were you drunk again last night, young lady? Who is this?”
He fired the questions at her so rapidly that she hardly had the time to take in what he was saying. “I…I… What is that?” She gestured helplessly to the paper.
“You tell me.” He threw the paper at her, and she caught it as it hit her chest. The same tabloid that had run the last controversial story on her had a field day with the photos that the paparazzi sent in to them of Sheridan coming out of the low-budget hotel with Hank. A headline blared at her, making her head hurt even more: Daughter Crane Chooses Unemployed Hank Bennett Over Family Fortune. The caption underneath read: And she stayed at a low-budget motel with him last night!
“You stayed at a motel with him?” her father demanded angrily.
Before she had the chance to answer, Luis spoke up. “With who?”
“And who the hell is this?” her father asked again, glaring at Luis.
Sheridan’s head was spinning. Not only had she wound up kissing the one person she very nearly hated in town, her career was in virtual shambles around her, and the only person that she did trust may have lied to her. She blinked a few times and looked at her father.
“I need coffee,” was all she could say, and she breezed past him and made her way outside. Again, a crowd of paparazzi awaited her, in all of her hung-over glory. She hadn’t even bothered to change out of her red silk pajamas or put on sunglasses. She stared around at the crowd, a million bulbs flashing in her eyes, and then shook her head miserably and walked back inside.
“Milly!” she called out, leaning against the door. “Or…somebody!”
A few seconds later, not only had her father and Luis appeared in the doorway, but her limo driver as well. She ignored the other two and addressed the driver. “Where the hell is Milly?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” he said, shaking his head. “I have no idea.”
She looked as annoyed as she felt. “Take me to The Book Café, please,” she said, stepping outside again. The bulbs went off as soon as she walked out the door. Luis and her father followed.
“Sheridan, young lady, you get back here right now,” Alistair growled. Luis didn’t say anything. His mouth was set in a harsh line, and he walked away without a word. Sheridan ignored her father and, with the help of her limo driver, made her way through the crowd.
Once she stepped inside the limo and locked the doors to make sure her father couldn’t get in beside her, she sighed and lowered her head into her hands. As her driver got inside, she heard her father’s screams: “I swear to Hades, I will have your job! You let me in that limo right now! I am Alistair Crane. I own you. Let me in!”
Her driver looked at her, flustered.
“Ignore him,” she said immediately, “and drive.”
Looking apprehensive, he did as he was told. When they pulled up to The Book Café a few minutes later, Alistair pulled up in a sleek black car behind them and shot the driver a look that could kill. Sheridan groaned and rolled her eyes, making her way inside. Beth dismissed her at a glance, but looked as though she might faint when Alistair walked in behind her.
“Hey Beth,” Sheridan sighed, sitting at the counter. “Can I get my usual?”
Beth was incredibly taken aback, not only by Sheridan’s friendly greeting, but by the man now sitting beside her. “S-Sure.”
“You slept at a hotel with him?” This was how Luis greeted her, now in uniform, and looking just as haggard as he had when he left the mansion.
“You’re an officer?” Alistair directed the question towards Luis. Sheridan groaned and lowered her head into her hands, ignoring the activity around her. Paparazzi were lining up outside The Book Café, a couple daring to make their way inside. Annoyed customers were leaving at a steady rate, mumbling something about the Cranes being “nothing but trouble.”
“I thought I made it clear that I—“ Alistair stopped talking immediately and looked at Sheridan, who said, “Whatever, Father. I know about you trying to run me out of town. Just why is that, anyway?” She looked incredibly grateful when her medium French Vanilla appeared on the counter in front of her. “Thanks, Beth.”
“Sure,” Beth replied, as that was the only word she could seem to get out. A moment later she added, “That’ll be $1.94.”
Realizing that she had forgotten her purse, Sheridan looked back at Beth and said, “Can I pay you later?”
“I don’t think so,” Beth said firmly. “I can hold the coffee for you while you go get your money, but otherwise…” She trailed off and looked out at the paparazzi. “You’ve cost me a lot of customers today, Sheridan.”
“I seem to remember that I own this café—Beth, is it?” Alistair gave her a deadly look. “Can we get back to our conversation now?”
Luis looked insulted for Beth and said, “I’ll pay.”
Both Sheridan and Beth protested at the same time, “No, Luis, you don’t have to—“
“I said I’ll pay,” he interrupted curtly, tossing Beth three dollars. “Keep the change.”
“Thanks, Luis,” Sheridan said quietly.
“You’re welcome.” He paused. “You slept at a hotel with him?”
“Yes, just what was that about, Sheridan?” Alistair demanded. “I came here to talk some sense into you, young lady. You have got to go back to Paris. Stop messing around here before your career dies altogether. Do you know that you’re seen as a joke in the fashion world now? Before, you could have been the best event planner that Paris has seen in ages, and now you’re just the daughter of Alistair Crane.” He stopped for a moment, staring her down. “Look at you, Sheridan. You look like death. You’re wearing your pajamas, and you haven’t got a trace of make-up on. Do you realize that these pictures will show up in tomorrow’s papers? They’ll be in the tabloids for years. You’ll be one of the fashion ‘don’ts’—and you work in fashion. What does that tell you about this nonsense mission of yours?”
Sheridan took a moment to take all of this in. She couldn’t stand the pitying look that Luis was giving her, the quick glances that Beth was throwing her—the video camera that a paparazzo was unsuccessfully trying to hide that was filming the interaction. She finally raised stubborn eyes to her father and said softly, “I did not sleep at a hotel with Hank last night, no matter what the tabloids are saying. He came to see me first thing in the morning because I was upset.” She paused and took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “As for what all of this is telling me—it’s telling me that you, Father, are trying awfully hard to get me out of Harmony. And make no mistake, I plan to find out why.”
On that note, she stood and grabbed her coffee. “Please get out of here. I have enough trouble on my hands without you flying across the world to cause even more damage.”
With that, she walked out—and pajamas or not, she did so with more dignity and poise than she’d ever had before.

CHAPTER SEVEN

The rest of the day went by in a blur. Sheridan sat on her couch at the mansion for the better part of the day with the paparazzi buzzing around outside, probably hoping to catch a shot of Hank walking through the front door. But she had ignored the phone all day, even after his fifth message asking to speak to her. She was simply fed up with it.
Luis had called as well, just to say that he didn’t feel that it was a good idea for him to be around her. “It’s bad for my image at the station,” he had reasoned over the answering machine. “But I hope that the folder of information I provided you with is what you needed, and I hope you get to the bottom of this.” Sheridan had stared at the answering machine, unfeeling. She was too hung-over and too confused to really care.
Her father had gone from yelling into the answering machine—“You pick up the phone this instant! It’s my house you’re staying at, young lady!”—to pleading with her to speak to him. Finally, she unplugged the phones, and wondered again where Milly was. It was lonely in the mansion that evening as the sun set and she turned the lights to low. She peeked out the windows at the paparazzi still scattered over the lawn, even as the security guard tried to usher them away. It was funny how she could feel so lonely and be surrounded by so many people.
Moving away from the window, she contemplated the folder of information for the hundredth time that day. She wanted so desperately to remember Ella, and maybe that was why she didn’t. She was trying too hard. She glanced around towards the living-room and hallway as she ascended the staircase, prepared to either go to her bedroom or go to the attic. It was only as she actually started walking, as she raised her head and lifted her eyes to the staircase ahead of her—it was only then that she stumbled and fell down a few steps.
Her heart seemed to jump into her throat—or maybe it stopped beating altogether—and a chill ran up and down her spine. It was one of those moments that she felt only at night, when she was thinking over the day’s events and wondering if she’d truly gone insane after some irrational act on her part. But this was not the middle of the night, and she had not done anything irrational. She was tempted to pinch herself to make sure it was actually happening, but she was too focused on the image in front of her.
It was Ella, clear as day, standing in front of her. She was transparent, like an image in one of Sheridan’s dreams, but she was most definitely there. She had a truly and heart wrenchingly sad expression on her face, as though she wanted to know what she had done wrong. Sheridan stared for just a few moments before she opened her mouth to speak. When she did, the voice seemed to come from someone other than herself; it was so choked and foreign.
“Ella?”
Ella, or the apparition, or whatever it was, did not answer. She hovered. She stared. She may have even shed a tear—but she did not speak.
“Oh my God. I must have really cracked.” Sheridan managed to lift herself up on shaky legs, but she held onto the railing for support. “Ella, is that…are you really… Oh, dear God.”
Ella kept staring at her. Sheridan stared right back. Finally, after what seemed like ages, she moved. She moved just a little bit, but Sheridan pulled herself closer to the railing, as if in a defensive manner, even though Ella was actually turning around. She didn’t float up the stairs like Sheridan expected—actually, Sheridan didn’t really know what to expect—but she walked, like a normal person. A normal person that hovered two inches above ground, that is.
Sheridan let her get to the top of the staircase before following. She followed her up the first flight of stairs, up the second, to the attic. Just like in her dreams. And when they reached the stained glass window that actually wasn’t stained glass at the moment, but rather like the way it used to be, Ella turned to her. She smiled sadly. And a second later, the window exploded.
Shocked, Sheridan cried out and threw herself to the floor, covering her head. The noise was like a bomb exploding right next to her. She was shaking and sobbing when she removed her arms and looked up to where Ella had been standing.
But Ella was gone, and the stained glass window was right back where it had been—good as new.
Trembling, she looked at the spot where Ella had been for a second longer before getting to her feet and literally running back downstairs to her bedroom.

~*~

It was two in the morning, and Sheridan was seriously considering getting a CAT scan. She really had no other choice. She must have lost it, she’d decided. How else could she explain her behavior lately?
How else could she explain the supposed “spirit” she’d seen earlier?
Honestly, she didn’t even recognize herself anymore. She was Sheridan Crane, all self-important and obsessed with the material world. She didn’t care about other people. Why should she? But she’d found herself listening to Luis when he told her she was being rude. She’d found herself actually being nice to people… No, not just to people; to Beth, for God’s sake! And she hadn’t even put on make-up when she’d left the house that morning. That never happened.
And now she’d seen a ghost.
A ghost.
She was clutching her knees tightly to her chest and staring ahead completely lost in thought when the doorbell rang and she nearly fell of the bed, she was so surprised. Standing up quickly, Sheridan stared at the door to her bedroom, wondering where the hell her guards were to tell people no, they may not call on Sheridan Crane at two in the damn morning. And of course, Milly was nowhere to be found, so she wouldn’t be answering the door.
Gathering courage that she desperately needed at the moment, Sheridan left her room for the first time since the “incident”. When she reached the front door and slowly opened it, she found Hank standing on the other side, smiling nervously.
“Hey you,” he said kindly, shifting his weight from one leg to the other.
“Hey,” Sheridan said, confused. There was a brief pause before Sheridan asked, “Hank, what are you doing here? It’s two in the morning.”
“Sheridan, listen,” Hank replied slowly, “I’m a little…concerned…about you.”
Sheridan’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Why?” she asked.
“The way you behaved…the last time I saw you.” He seemed to be incredibly unsure of himself. He stared at his feet, not daring to look her in the eye. “And, I’ve heard things since. Sheridan, I really think that you should consider maybe going away for a few days.”
Sheridan was staring at him like he was a complete stranger. She backed away from the door, and he must have taken this as a sign to enter, because he did so immediately—followed by two large men that Sheridan did not know, both white and balding and made of muscle.
“Hank, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said slowly. “I really think you should go. It’s two in the morning,” she reminded him, leaving the door wide open for him.
Hank turned to her, his mouth in a straight, grim line and said, “No, Sheridan. I think you should go. I know you barely know me, but I feel like we’ve sort of bonded over the last few days. Basically, I feel like I am the only one you can really trust in this town, Sheridan. This is why I think it’s so important for you to listen to me.”
Sheridan did listen. She did not agree with him, but she didn’t say anything—just listened.
“This is Mr. Lovell and Mr. Luftin, Sheridan. They’re here to take you to the hospital.” Sheridan’s mouth opened wide in protest, her eyes liable to pop out of her head, but Hank interrupted her before she could say anything.
“Listen, I care about you, and I feel like you may have snapped under all the pressure that your field of work tends to cause a person. You are very valuable to the fashion industry, Sheridan. And you’re very valuable to me.” He said these last words with such syrupy sincerity that Sheridan had to pause in her attempts to back away from him. “You seem to think that this girl that you’re trying to find is trying to send you some sort of message…. I think it’s a wild goose chase.”
“Hank, just shut up and listen to me,” Sheridan said frantically. “You can’t take me to the hospital against my will, first of all—“
“Actually, I can, Sheridan.” He handed her a slip of paper that Sheridan thought he must have magically pulled from his pocket. “Per request of your psychiatrist’s evaluation.”
“I don’t have a psychiatrist!” Sheridan protested.
“Yes, you do.” He said it with a little half-smile that Sheridan wanted to knock from his face. “It says so right there, in black and white.”
Sheridan shook her head at him. The two men had descended on her and were holding her tightly, despite her efforts to escape them. “You don’t understand, Hank,” she said desperately. “I know Ella needs my help. Why are you doing this to me?”
Hank gave her a sympathetic look that she knew he was faking. “Because I care, Sheridan.”

~*~

If Sheridan wasn’t crazy by now, she was pretty sure she’d go crazy at the madhouse that Hank had her tossed in. She went in kicking and screaming, trying to explain to anyone who would listen just who she was, how spectacularly illegal all of this was, and “Goddammit, I’m not crazy!” No one cared just as soon as Hank showed them the mysterious evaluation papers and explained, “You can call this number, but really—just do as I say.”
Basically, nothing was making sense to Sheridan. A day later, she was sitting on a couch in the main area on some floor or some level of some madhouse. She really had no idea where she was. Nobody around her was even remotely sane. She had the feeling that everyone had come in a lot saner than they were now. Even Sheridan was starting to collapse under the pressure.
It wasn’t a quiet day, per se—the nurses wouldn’t let Sheridan stay in her room like she wanted to—but it gave Sheridan a lot of time to reflect. So what if she saw some sort of apparition and basically “belonged” here? First of all, no one knew about the apparition; second, in all other areas of mental stability Sheridan was pretty sure she qualified for “sane”. So that meant that Hank was most likely in on some sort of plan to keep Sheridan from finding out the truth. She just had to find out who was hiding something and exactly what they were hiding.
She chuckled to herself, thinking that it was conspiracy theories like these that probably got her put away in the first place. Whatever. She would just have to keep things to herself from now on.
The hospital or madhouse, or whatever it was, was never quiet—the area she was sitting in alone was filled with a combination of crying, screaming, or swearing—but a ruckus at the front desk down a hallway from where she was sitting had Sheridan looking up suddenly. She recognized one of the nurse’s stern voices saying, “Now listen here!” And then a gunshot went off, and a whole mess of commotion ensued. Some of the patients who had been quiet were triggered by the chaos, and went off bawling or throwing things. Sheridan jumped to her feet and ran down the hall towards where the gunshot had come from.
Whatever she expected, she certainly didn’t expect to see a wild-eyed, red-faced Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald barging through security like some sort of madman.
“Sheridan!” he said as soon as he saw her. “Let’s go!”
The nurses all swiveled to look at her, momentarily forgetting their efforts to block Luis. Sheridan paused only a minute before throwing herself in their general direction, breaking her way through the human barricade they had formed. She grabbed Luis’s hand and took off—where, she didn’t know, but she knew she had to get away from Harmony.
At least for now.





You can visit my website at http://www.geocities.com/nessasfanfic if you want to see more of my fan fics... Chapter seven is the latest chapter to Love Me Tender. I will add another one soon.

Thanks for any feedback, I love to know what you guys think!

-Nessa