View Full Version : Luis' Wish (shuis)

8.11.08, 3:36 PM
As Sheridan drew the faded card from the little old box, she sank back on her heels, running a finger along its tattered, heart-shaped edge, emotion filling her throat. She'd been 13 when Luis had given her the valentine. Eighteen when she had told him goodbye, promising to return to him. Blinking back tears, she turned the card over and traced a nail along the words scrawled on the back. Love forever, Luis.
Forever, she reflected sadly. Did anything last forever?
She sat at the book café, maybe subconsciously waiting for Luis to enter. She knew he was in Harmony and that thought scared her. Would she be able to leave him again?
“Luis.” She said more as a statement. And yet hearing his voice made her knees go weak, her stomach to get butterflies, and her heart to pound. She wasn’t supposed to feel anything. She had a fiancé back in New York waiting for her to return while she went to her old cottage to get some of her belongings.
Luis walked over to her. She felt the warmth of his touch on her hand and squeezed her eyes shut as his fingers closed around hers. Memories surged through her, old ones that filled her with an unexpected longing to turn into the familiar warmth of his arms.
"What's this?"
She opened her eyes just as he turned her hand over, exposing the forgotten valentine she held.
Embarrassed, she gestured vaguely toward the box on the floor. "I found it while I was going through my closet."
He stared at the card a moment, then angled his head to peer at her, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Odd, the things we hang on to, huh?"
Her cheeks flaming, she tugged her hand from his and turned away, stooping to place the card in the box again. "Mother always said I was a pack rat, never throwing anything away."
"You didn't seem to have a problem tossing me aside."
She kept her head turned away, shamed by the reminder. "That was years ago, Luis."
"Not so long ago that I don't remember. Do you?"
She squeezed her eyes shut again, trying to block the memories, the promises made, the love they'd once shared. "Yes," she whispered. "I remember."
"I heard you're getting married."
She tensed at the reminder, then stood, self-consciously smoothing her sweater over her hips, still unable to meet his gaze. "Yes. In a couple of weeks."
He didn't respond, leaving only silence to hum between them, silence that stretched her nerves tighter and tighter until she finally turned to look at him. The fierceness of his expression stole her breath.
"Do you love him?"
She gulped at the anger in the question, the accusation, then lifted her shoulders in what she hoped would appear to be a careless shrug. "Isn't that why most people marry?"
Before she realized he'd even moved, he had grabbed her arm and was whirling her around to face him. His hands gripped her upper arms tightly, forcing her to look up at him.
"That isn't an answer. Do you love him?"
Furious with Luis for demanding an answer to a question that she'd been asking herself for weeks, Sheridan jerked free of his grip.
"My feelings for my fiancé are none of your business."
Scowling, Luis took a step back, his gaze narrowed on her.
"No, I guess they're not." Without another word, he turned and walked out of the café.
Luis couldn't sleep. Not when he knew that Sheridan was back in town and less than a mile down the road. But for how long? And this time when she left, he knew it would be for good.
He swore, dragging a hand through his already finger-spiked hair.
Why had he asked her if she loved the man she was planning to marry? What business was it of his, anyway?
He sank wearily down onto the side of his bed and dropped his head into his hands. Because he loved her, he admitted miserably. Always had and always would, in spite of the fact that she had chosen a life with the rich over a life with him.
With a sigh, he pushed himself to his feet and crossed to the window, bracing a palm against the frame as he stared out across the dark moonlit night that. He imagined her there in her cottage, asleep in her bed, her short blond hair spread out on her pillow like a halo around her face.
How many times as a teenager had he stood just so, thinking about her and yearning for her, then finally giving in to the urge to see her, hold her, and sneaking out the window? The spot by the lake, he remembered, rubbing a hand over the sudden ache in his chest. He would race across the dark streets, run up her driveway, throw rocks at her window to awaken her, then she'd slip out, too, and meet him at their special spot.
The memories attached to it were too strong...too sweet. Their special little cove by the lake. Sheridan. His sweet Sheridan.
He couldn't lose her, he told himself, feeling the panic growing to tighten his chest. Not again. With a growl, he turned from the window, grabbed his shirt and shrugged it on as he headed outside and into the darkness.
Restless, Sheridan lay in her bed, her eyes stubbornly closed, but her mind racing, refusing to let her sleep. She loved Brian, she told herself for the 100th time since Luis had left. He was the perfect man for her. They had dated for two years, shared the same interests, the same group of friends. They enjoyed an uncomplicated and comfortable relationship.
Comfortable? Had she mistaken comfort for love? Was it enough to base a marriage on?
She listened, staring at the window, her heart pounding against her ribs, as rocks once again clattered against the glass. Luis! She leaped from the bed, ran to the window and threw back the musty drapes. She caught a glimpse of him in the moonlight, just as he disappeared around the side of the cottage.
She stood, staring, her fingers fisted in the musty drapes. The rocks were the signal he'd used when they were teenagers to signal her to meet him at their cove.
Memories swamped her of other times Luis had come to her in the night. The wild, breathless races through the shadowed darkness to their cove. The hours they would spend in each other's arms, enveloped by velvety darkness, a silvery moon offering the only light. She shivered, remembering the excitement, the passion that filled those moonlit nights.
Passion, she thought again, gulping as she continued to stare into the night. Had she ever experienced that level of passion with Brian? The answer was quick...and negative. No, she'd never experienced with any man the passion she'd known with Luis.
She strained to peer into the darkness, knowing that Luis was long gone and had probably already reached the tree by now. Should she follow him? No, she told herself and gripped the drapes more tightly, as if to hold herself in place. She was engaged to Brian. She had no business chasing through the night to meet another man. Especially Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald.
Sheridan remained at the window, her fingers clutched in the folds of the musty drapes, her gaze fixed on the spot where she'd last seen Luis. She knew that by now he'd have arrived at the beach. She could imagine him there. Waiting. Pacing. Stopping to peer in the direction of her family's estate, his eyes narrowed in impatience, watching for her, just as he had so many times in the past.
A smile would spread across his face when he saw her running toward him. He'd open his arms wide and she'd run into his embrace, enveloped by his strong arms, crushed against his muscular chest. She could almost hear the sigh that would flow between them when their lips met, taste the heat, the need. Tremble at the passion that would follow.
God, how she'd missed him, she thought, tears blurring the moonlit scene beyond her window. The passion, the excitement. The comfort and warmth she'd always known with him.
A thousand times over the years, she'd told herself her memories of Luis were nothing but youthful infatuation, a romance captured at its height and cherished for its innocence... She had been sure that their romance would not have lasted the test of time. But seeing him again earlier that evening...every feeling and emotion she'd ever felt for him was there, as if the years and the choices she'd made had never separated them.
On a strangled sob, she whirled from the window and grabbed a sweater, tugging it on as she ran from her cottage. She all but flew across the lawn, her heart racing ahead to guide the way.
Just as she reached the clearing where the sand met the grass and seeing the cove to her right stood like a sentinel, beckoning to her, the moon slipped behind a cloud, shrouding the area in sudden darkness. She stopped, her chest heaving, her legs trembling as she searched the shadows for a sign of Luis.
He's gone, she thought, her heart sinking, as she realized she'd waited too long. Dropping her chin to her chest in disappointment, she turned away.
She jerked to a stop at the sound of his voice, then spun, her heart leaping into her throat. She searched the shadows for him, while above, the clouds continued to drift lazily across the velvety night sky, masking the moon. At last a sliver of moonlight bled through. The silvery glow grew, spreading slowly across the clearing, until it finally reached Webb where he stood in the cove.
Long seconds stretched into what seemed like a lifetime as they each stared silently at the other. Then, as if in slow motion, he opened his arms. Sheridan took a hesitant step toward him. She gulped, then took another. Then she was running, laughing, her cheeks drenched with tears of joy as she raced across the distance that separated them.
With each step she took, the years fell away, and she was 18 again, innocent, free, and impatient to meet her lover. She threw herself against the solid wall of his chest and his arms enfolded her, crushing her to him, just the way she'd always remembered. With their chests pressed tightly together, she felt the thundering beat of his heart, the relief that shuddered through him, the warmth of his breath as he turned his lips against her hair.
"Sheridan," he whispered, his voice husky. "My Sheridan."
Choked by emotion at the familiar endearment, she leaned back in his arms to look up at him. The heartbreakingly familiar features. The deep brown eyes filled with so many questions, yet so much hope. She drew her hands from around his neck to frame his cheeks with her palms.
"Luis," was all she could manage to say.
He lowered his face and his lips brushed hers. Once. Twice. Warmth spilled through her in waves, leaving her weak, and her eyes shuttered closed as emotion thickened in her throat. "Luis," she whispered. "I —"
Whatever else she might have said was lost as he closed his mouth over hers completely. The hunger was instantaneous, sharp and jagged, like a knife ripping through her. Moaning, she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave herself up to the moment...to him.
Yes, she thought dizzily, as he thrust his tongue between her lips. Yes, her mind screamed as he brought her hips up hard against his and she felt the stiffness of his erection. He slipped his hands beneath her sweater and the silk tank top it covered, and sent her nerves skittering wildly as he smoothed his hands up her back.
The palms that caressed her bare skin were wide, strong, and roughened with calluses. The fingers that curved around her sides to knead at the fullness of her breasts were thick, blunt-tipped, and sure. And when he covered her breasts completely, desire lashed through her like the crack of a whip. Moaning, she fisted her fingers in his hair, clinging to him to remain upright, bringing his face closer, his mouth more firmly against hers as she melted against him.
With one hand still closed over her breast, he dragged his other hand down her middle, setting her flesh on fire. Her breath caught in her throat and burned there as sensations swirled through her body like a thick, heavy fog. She couldn't breathe, couldn't think. She could only feel. Heat. Passion. Desire. They wove themselves together low in her belly, a twisting knot of impatience, of need.
Need, she thought fleetingly. She needed Luis. She'd always needed Luis. Loved him, even when she had turned her back on him. Tears burned behind her closed lids and her heart twisted painfully in her chest, as she realized how much she must have hurt him in her greedy chase for fame and fortune. How much she herself had lost. How much more she stood to lose by settling for comfort, instead of passion and love.
Even as her fiancé's name slipped unwanted into her mind, Luis cupped his hand over her femininity. Instinctively, she arched against the delicious pressure and her mind went blank. He curled a knuckle against her center and she exploded, a million pinpoints of light bursting behind her closed lids.
He tore his mouth from hers and she blinked open her eyes to stare up at him, gasping.
"I want you," he said, the look in his eyes as unrelenting as the tone of his voice. "I want to make love to you, Sheridan. Here. Now."
Sheridan’s pulse roared in her ears, her heart pounding like a symphony of drums within her chest. With her gaze riveted on Luis’, she framed his cheeks with her trembling hands, drew his face down to hers, and gave him the answer he wanted.
Their lips met and molded, fused by a common need, an invisible bond that had held them together throughout the years. His groan vibrated against her mouth as he gathered her tighter into his embrace, and she absorbed the sound, her lips curving slightly at the relief she heard in it, the impatience she felt snake through him.
Slipping her arms around his neck, she sank down with him to the thick bed of sand on the beach. He pressed her back against the ground, stretching out over her, and the little bit of water in the cove quickly seeped through her sweater and tank top. But the heat and familiar weight of his body more than compensated for any discomfort the cool dampness created on her back.
She closed her eyes against the swell of tears that rose as he swept his lips across her face. Oh, Luis, her heart cried out to him. I've missed you so much. Though she hadn't voiced the words out loud, he somehow must have sensed them, because he drew his head back to look down at her. The passion, the tenderness she found in his brown eyes, melted whatever doubts remained about her decision to make love with him. This is right, she told herself. This. Him. The two of us together again.
Even as her heart and mind accepted him, he was peeling her sweater back and pushing up her tank top, his mouth finding and opening over her bare breast to draw her in. A shiver shook her as he suckled, the sensations spreading warmly through her body and settling to swirl low in her belly. With each stroke of his tongue across her aching nipple, her need for him grew. Impatiently she tugged at his shirt, fumbled at the buttons on his jeans, until his hands joined hers in their frantic rush to free them of the clothes that separated them.
When the last article of clothing was tossed aside and flesh at last met naked flesh, he slipped a knee between her thighs and spread her legs, creating a nest for himself. She felt the stiffness of his erection as he pressed himself against her center, gloried in the strength and thickness of it, yearned for it. Hungry for more, she lifted his head from her breast and guided his face back to hers.
At the exact moment their lips met, he pushed inside her. She gasped, arched at the exquisite pleasure that lanced through her, then melted on a sigh, while he held himself perfectly still, waiting for her acceptance of him. Then he began to move — slow, rhythmic thrusts that urged her to follow in a dance as old as time.
Need rose sharper, greedier while the moonlight washed over them, and she sank her nails into his shoulders, arching higher and higher to meet each new thrust, racing with him toward the satisfaction that awaited. "Luis," she sobbed. "Please…"
Even as she begged for release from the demons that held her in their grip, he rose to his knees, bringing her with him. With their gazes locked, their chests heaving, he gripped his hands at her waist and, with a low growl, pushed her hips down hard against his, filling her completely.
Lights exploded in her head. Bright glorious lights that melted into a rich rainbow of colors as her body convulsed around him in a shimmering climax. He shuddered once, twice, as he pumped his seed into her. Then, spent, he slipped his arms around her waist and guided her back down to the ground, covering her body with his own once again. He laid his head in the curve of her shoulder, his breath hot and fast at her ear.
"Sheridan," he whispered, drawing her face to press his lips against her cheek. "My precious Sheridan.”
Sheridan opened her eyes, squinting at the bright sunlight that suddenly blinded her. Momentarily disoriented, she turned her head and found Luis stretched out beside her on the sand, watching her, his face only inches from her own. With a slow smile, he lifted a hand and brushed tendrils of hair from her cheek. "Good morning."
Warmth flooded through her at his touch, as memories of their lovemaking pushed themselves into her sleep-clogged mind. "Good morning," she murmured, suddenly feeling self-conscious. "What time is it?"
"Way past time to get up." He rose and offered her a hand, seemingly unfazed by his nudity, as he tugged her to her feet.
Sheridan stood, shivering at the coolness of the early morning air, watching as he gathered their clothes, her breath all but stolen by the beauty and majesty of his body and his movements. Comparisons formed quickly as she mentally contrasted Luis's body with Brian’s. Brian. Guilt flooded through her.
Luis handed her her silk tap pants and tank top, which she quickly put on while he tugged on his jeans. "Cold?" he asked, teasing her with a smile, as he slid his gaze to her chest and her erect nipples pushing against the thin fabric.
She hugged her arms beneath her breasts and looked away as she shook her head, hoping to hide from him the guilt she was feeling.
He quickly closed the distance between them and slipped his arms around her waist. "Hey," he murmured, drawing her hips to his. "You aren't having second thoughts, are you?"
Drawing in a deep breath, she braced her palms against his chest and looked up at him. Though the guilt was still there niggling at her, as she met the concern in his gaze, felt the steady beat of his heart beneath her palms, she realized she had no regrets. Not with Luis, at any rate.
"No," she said honestly and pushed to her toes to kiss him. "No second thoughts." She laughed softly and stepped back, looping an arm around his waist. "Just cold."
He hugged her against his side as he walked with her across the beach toward her house, both lost in their own thoughts for the moment. Sheridan's were fixed on her departure, scheduled just two days away, wondering how she could possibly leave Luis again.
"I won't let you leave me this time, Sheridan."
She glanced up at him, wondering if he had read her mind. "Oh, Luis, I…"
But before she could say more, a voice called to her from her house. "Sheridan!"
They both turned to stare at the man walking toward them.
"Brian!" Sheridan dropped her arm from around Luis' waist and took a guilty step to the side, putting distance between them. "What are you doing here?"
Luis glanced down at Sheridan, noting the sudden rush of color to her face, the nervous twisting of her hands, then turned to narrow his eyes on the man who approached.
"I flew down to help you finish up your packing." Brian reached them and stopped, his smile dipping into a frown as he took in Sheridan's rumpled appearance. He turned his gaze on Luis. "What's going on here?" he asked angrily.
Sheridan quickly stepped between the two men. "Brian, this is Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald. A neighbor and —" she glanced at Luis, then quickly away, unable to meet the expectancy in his gaze as he waited for her to continue "— an...old friend."
"Sheridan?" Luis spoke with hurt and anger in his voice.
Though she couldn't look at Luis, she felt the hardness of his gaze, the anger that emanated from him in waves. He spoke only her name, yet there were a thousand questions in the simple word. Questions that demanded immediate answers.
"Sheridan," Luis said again, more forcefully this time.
Sheridan stood between Luis and Brian, trembling uncontrollably. She felt as if she were being ripped in two, torn between her love for one man and her duty to the other. She knew that to bluntly confess to Brian her love for Luis, as Luis wanted her to, would be cruel, an unkindness Brian didn't deserve. Yet, if she didn't...
She turned to Luis, beseeching him with her eyes to understand. "Luis, please try to understand. I —" But before she could say more, he took a step back, setting his jaw, his brown eyes hard with accusation as he glared at her. Then, without a word, he turned and strode away. Sheridan watched him go, wanting desperately to run after him, but knowing that it was best this way.
"Sheridan, just exactly what is going on here?"
With her gaze still on Luis, watching as he slowly disappeared from sight, she drew in a deep breath and turned to Brian. Forcing her lips into a semblance of a smile, she looped her arm through his and started with him toward the house. "Come inside and I'll explain everything."
Bryan sat at the round oak table, his forearms braced on its scarred top, his hands clasped into fists as he listened to Sheridan. Though his gaze never veered from hers and the intensity of his expression never once wavered, she sensed his shock, the hurt her explanation caused him.
When she was finished, she held her breath, waiting in strained silence for his response.
Finally, he reached across the table and closed his hand over hers. "It's okay, Sheridan," he said, his expression softening. "I forgive you."
Stunned, she stared. "Forgive me?" she repeated.
With a weary sigh, he dragged his hand from hers and rose to cross to the sink. "Yes.” He drew a glass from the cupboard and gestured with it vaguely. "Sorting through your things. Dealing with a lot of what I'm sure must be painful memories. I should have been here with you," he said, frowning as he filled the glass from the tap. "You needed someone for support, someone to lean on, and this Luis person was here."
Slowly, Sheridan rose. "No, that's not it at all. I love Luis."
He turned, bracing his hips against the sink, and offered her an indulgent smile. "You think you love him," he amended, then lifted a shoulder. "In your current emotional state… Well, it was only natural for you to turn to someone familiar, someone you had a past with, for comfort and strength."
Sheridan rounded the table, her legs trembling with fury. "You're wrong, Brian. I do love Luis. I always have. I —" When he started to interrupt her, she lifted a hand. "No. Please. Hear me out." She drew in a deep breath, struggling for calm, for just the right words.
"I care for you, Brian," she said carefully, "and I always will. But what I feel for you, what I've always felt for you, is friendship, not love." She watched his jaw slacken in surprise. Slowly, she pulled her engagement ring from her finger, tears filling her eyes. "I'm sorry," she said and held it out to him. "I can't marry you. Not when I'm in love with another man."
Luis paced his house like a caged animal. She'd denied him. Sheridan. His sweet Sheridan. The woman he'd always loved, even when she'd chosen a life of glitz, glamour, and more money over a life with him. She'd denied her feelings for him, as well as his for her, with her refusal to tell Brian that she loved him.
He stopped at the memory and dug his fingers through his hair, then fisted them to squeeze against his head, as if he could hold in the fury, the disappointment...the pain. Sheridan, his heart cried. He'd lost her again.
He dropped his hands and spun, looking wildly around. He couldn't watch her leave him a second time. He had to get out of here, he told himself. Away from this town. Away from her.
He strode to his room, grabbed a duffel bag from his closet and stuffed in some clothes. Crossing to the bathroom, he threw in his shaving gear, zipped the bag closed and headed for his truck.
Sheridan watched as Brian drove away, her heart heavy with regret. She hadn't wanted to hurt him. But she couldn't marry him, either. Not when she loved Luis. She turned to peer in the direction of Luis' house, her eyes filling with tears. She'd always loved Luis. Even during the years they were apart, she'd kept him with her, tucked away into a special place in her heart.
As she stared, the landscape blurred by an unexpected rush of tears, she started for the street that separated her family's estate from his house. Her steps were slow at first, hesitant. Then she was running, the sun warm on her face, the fragrance of the flowers, she walked by the houses, filling the air.
Reaching his house, she raced up the steps to the front porch and pounded on the front door. She waited, pressing a hand over heart, as she struggled to catch her breath. She heard the roar of an engine start up and whirled around just as Luis truck appeared on the drive at her right.
Waving a hand over her head, she leaped down the steps, shouting, "Luis! Wait!"
He slowed at the sound of her voice and his gaze met hers through the truck's passenger window. She stumbled to a stop, shocked by the anger she saw in his brown eyes.
"Luis?" she whispered, unconsciously reaching out a hand, as if to touch him.
Luis stared at her for a long moment, his expression hard, unforgiving, then tore his gaze from hers and stomped on the accelerator. The truck shot forward, its tires kicking up a cloud of dust behind it.
Sheridan stood on the drive, her hand still outstretched, her heart feeling as if it were tethered to the trailer hitch on his truck and being painfully ripped from her chest. Suddenly, the brake lights flashed a bright red and the truck slammed to a stop, then reversed, careening crazily back down the drive toward her. Sheridan stood, rooted to the spot, until Luis braked to a screeching halt again beside her.
But he didn't look at her. As desperately as she willed him to do so, he kept his eyes narrowed on the drive ahead. She stared at his profile through the open window, at the hard set of his jaw, unsure what to do, what to say. Angrily, he braced a hand against the steering wheel and shot the gearshift into park.
"If you've got something to say," he growled, "then say it."
The harshness in his voice, the impatience in it frightened her. Realizing how much she must have hurt him by sending him away, she took a step closer to the truck and laid a hand on the open window, silently praying she could make him understand.
"I'm sorry, Luis," she said, her voice trembling. "So very sorry. I wanted to tell Brian about us…. But I couldn't. Not with you there. It would have hurt and humiliated him if I had." She dropped her chin to her chest, remembering the look on Brian's face as he'd driven away and knowing that, in the end, she'd done both, anyway. "He's been nothing but kind to me," she said, lifting her head. "I couldn't hurt him that way. He didn't deserve that kind of treatment from me."
If possible, Luis’ jaw tightened even more. "But I do," he replied flatly. "Well, not any longer." He jerked the gearshift back down into drive.
"But, Luis —" she began frantically, and reached for him.
He shrugged free of her grasp. "Not this time, Sheridan. Twice burned is enough for me."
He stomped on the accelerator and Sheridan stumbled back a step as the truck shot forward. She stared, wide-eyed, watching as he sped away. The fissure working its way painfully through her heart finally split open, the tear a rending pain that dragged her to her knees. She huddled on the driveway , her shoulders hunched in misery, her hands fisted against her knees, tears streaking down her face, watching as Luis disappeared from sight.... and from her life.
It took Sheridan two hours to compose herself enough to tackle the job she'd returned to her hometown to do. Several more hours to complete the sorting and packing of her possessions.
After calling to give final instructions to the moving company, to transfer to storage the boxes of items she wanted to save, she carefully locked the front door behind her, carried her suitcase to her car, and climbed inside. With a last, long throat-burning look at her cottage, she started the car's engine and headed down the drive, her airline ticket on the seat beside her.
Halfway to the highway, she slowed, her gaze on the stretch of houses that separated her cottage from Luis’. There, tucked among a large gathering of trees, stood the beach and she could see the cove. She eased on the brake and gradually brought the car to a stop.
Tears crowded her throat as she stared, remembering the times she'd spent inside that cove with Luis, both the old memories and those more recent, and regretting that she had bungled things with him so badly.
She loved Luis. Always had, though she'd denied those feelings for a very long time. And, by his own admission, she knew now that he loved her. Or had. But now, through her own clumsiness in trying to spare Brian's feelings, she'd destroyed that love... a second time. As he'd said, twice burned was enough.
Knowing it was foolish, that she didn't have time to dawdle, she reached for the door handle and stepped out of the car, giving in to the desire to see the cove one last time. The sun shone warmly on her face as she walked across the sand, serenaded by children playing in the sand. Their laughter almost bring happiness to Sheridan…almost.
She breathed deeply of the clean air of the beach, filling her senses with the familiar scent of the water that always settle inside the cave. She wanted, no, needed, to capture the scent, the beauty of the scene for those lonely nights she knew awaited her in the city.
As she reached the clearing to go to the cove, she stopped, hugging her arms around her waist as she lifted her gaze to make sure nobody saw, turned to look inside and let her heart remember. The laughter. The warmth. The love. The man who had so unselfishly given to her all those things. The man who had given her a second chance. "Oh, Luis," she whispered, and closed her eyes, choked by tears.
Startled, she flipped open her eyes to find Luis sitting on the sand of the cove. She took a step toward him, then stopped, remembering his anger with her, and knowing that she'd destroyed whatever feelings he might have felt for her.
"Where's Brian?"
"Gone. He left this morning after I told him about —" The words dried up on her tongue, and heat burned in her cheeks as she remembered telling Brian about making love with Luis in a secret cove, and sleeping there wrapped in his arms. Quickly she said instead, "After I broke off our engagement."
"You broke your engagement?"
Not trusting her voice, she nodded. "That's what I was trying to tell you earlier." She glanced behind her at her car parked on the drive in the distance. "I was on my way to the airport, but I... I stopped," she finished futilely, not wanting him to know how desperately she needed to see the cove one last time, to gather as many memories as she could.
"You're leaving."
Though his comment was a statement, not a question, she felt compelled to respond. "There's no reason for me to stay any longer."
"Yes there is."
She tensed, fighting the hope that surged within her. She searched his face for some indication of what he was thinking, what he was feeling. "What?" she whispered.
"Me. Us. I don't want to lose you, Sheridan. Not a second time."
Tears welled in her eyes, in her heart. "Oh, Luis."
He opened his arms and Sheridan flew into them, burying her face against his chest as he folded his arms around her.
"I'm sorry, Sheridan," he murmured against her hair. "I was mad. Hurt. Scared that I was going to lose you again. I wouldn't listen."
"No," she argued, clinging tighter to him. "It was my fault. If I had explained everything to Brian from the first, as you wanted me to, this would have never happened."
He tipped her face up to meet his, his eyes filled with an endearing blend of tenderness and regret. "No. You did the right thing. The kind thing. It was my ego that wanted me there to hear you tell him that it was me you love."
"I do love you, Luis. I always have and I always will."
"Sheridan," he said, and drew her close to his heart. "We've got a lot of lost years to make up for."
Smiling through her tears, she cupped his face between her hands. "Then let's not waste any more," she said as she drew his lips to hers.