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View Full Version : Tell Me Why (Sheridan and Luis)



UAgirl
8.4.07, 9:44 PM
Since I'm posting prequels (I have a lot of them, don't I? LOL), I thought I'd post this story so that those who might be reading Where the Heart Is right now can get a little backstory if they don't already have it.

Hope you enjoy the repost.










Part One





"Why Luis? Why did you come all the way to Paris? To show me this," she said. Pointing at the piece of paper in her hands. A piece of paper she refused to believe. Sure, Jean-Luc was a jerk. But she didn't believe for a moment he was involved in what Luis suggested. A drug ring. "A phone call would have sufficed."

"Well.you see. There was a little problem with that method seeing as you hung up on me!" he yelled in exasperation. "You hung up on me and blocked all my calls. What else was I supposed to do? Let you die?"

Her blue eyes flashed dangerously, and she tapped her finger against her chin as if in thought. "Um.I don't know. Maybe called the police, Supercop," she jeered.

"You are impossible. You know what? I don't know why I wasted my hard- earned savings buying a ticket to fly over here. You are too stubborn to listen to a word I'm saying."

"Oh the nerve! You calling me stubborn. Why you.you.ugh! Why don't you go back to where you came from? As you can see, Officer," she sneered, "I am perfectly fine. I don't need you interfering where you're not wanted or needed," she spat. Getting right in his face.

"You are S-T-U-B-B-O-R-N! Even if I'm way off base here, what's the harm in being a little more careful? Until you know for sure your life's not in danger. What do you have? Some death wish?" he asked incredulously.

His words struck her dumb. But only for a moment. "For your information, the only wish I have is not to see your face. Ever again. You're just like the rest of them. Users. No-good, dirty users. Pretending to be interested in me when all you wanted."

"What?" he asked. Grabbing her by the arms and shaking her lightly. "What did I want, Sheridan? How did I use you? I thought I told you I wasn't like those other men. The ones who hurt you. Where is this coming from? Be honest with me, dammit."

She looked into his eyes in surprise. He almost sounded sincere. Like he had never said such hateful things about her. Such hurtful words. Almost. The memory of the pain she felt hearing him brag about how easy it'd been to fool her still stung. It was still too raw. "Why should I be honest with you? When all you've done is feed me a bunch of lies? Go back to Harmony, Luis," she pleaded in a strained voice. All her heart wanted her to do was beg him to stay. Convince her he didn't mean it. It was all a mistake. A misunderstanding.

He looked at her. Really looked at her. And saw the sadness in her eyes. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out what had put it there. He wanted to know. So he could fix it. Make things better between them. Somewhere in the farthest reaches of his heart, he knew he couldn't live with himself if he let her walk out of his life forever. But what good would that do when she could barely stand him? "Sheridan, tell me. What did I do? Please. I need to know what I did to cause you so much pain," he whispered. His grip on her upper arms loosening. He reached up a hand to wipe away the tear that slipped down her cheek. He hated to see her cry.

She closed her eyes. Willing her emotions not to get the better of her. She wanted so much to throw herself into his arms. Pretend that night never happened. She could almost believe...But her father's and Julian's words echoed in her brain. They'd warned her. And she hadn't listened. She wasn't going to give him another chance to make a fool out of her. With new resolve, she made her decision. "You don't need an explanation because you already know what you did. Cut the innocent act, Luis," she said. Yanking her arm from his hold. "I never want to see you again," she lied. And turned her back on him. Running again.

Her words stung, but he couldn't just leave her. Not until he was sure she wasn't in any danger. He followed after her. Almost losing her in the crowd. Something didn't feel right. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he scanned the surroundings. Looking for the source of his unease. His dark eyes catching the sunlight glinting off metal. He barely had time to register what was happening before the first shot rang out. "Sheridan!" he screamed frantically.

Panic rose in her heart at the sound. "Luis!" Her screams were lost in the rush. As people scrambled to get to safety. She turned around. Her eyes desperately searching for him. All she could think of were her words from just seconds ago. It was a lie. The biggest lie of her life. And she was afraid she'd never get to tell him that. "Luis!" she cried. Then he was there. In front of her. And she threw her arms around him. "Oh, Luis."

"Come on," he said. Taking her hand and pulling her after him. "We've got to get out of here." She didn't argue. Didn't complain as they ran down an alley. Hoping to find some escape. Somewhere to hide. They ran. Not stopping until the terrible scene was far behind them.

"I think we've lost them, Luis. Don't you?" she asked. Stopping in her tracks. And it was then she noticed the paleness of his face. He clutched his abdomen in pain and staggered forward. Her eyes widened in horror as she watched him move his hands away. "Oh my god! Luis!" she exclaimed. Rushing to his side to support him. "No," she cried as he slumped against her. This isn't happening, she tried to convince herself as she stared at her hands. "No," she sobbed as she stared at her blood covered hands.









Part Two







"Sheridan," he gasped. His face pale. Sweat on his brow. "Get out of here," he said. Imploring her with his eyes to listen. For once. She could still be in danger. His gut told him she was the intended victim of the shooter. And that shooter couldn't be too far behind. "Now. Before they catch up with us."

"Who Luis? Before who catches up with us? If you think I'm leaving you here, alone, you must be out of your mind, Officer. No. I'm not leaving," she said. Brushing her knuckles tenderly across his cheek. Resisting the powerful urge to kiss him. Throw herself into his arms.

He stared into her blue eyes. His own brown eyes filled with confusion. "Why go through all the trouble for me?" he asked. "A 'user'. You said yourself you never wanted to see me again. So why the sudden change of heart?" he asked. Clutching her hand and refusing to let it go. Willing her to look at him. Give him some clue to what she was really feeling. She was a complete mystery to him.

She couldn't do it. Couldn't look him in the eye. There was only one reason for her actions. And she wasn't ready to admit it to herself. If she did, she was afraid all her hard work would be for nothing. All her carefully constructed walls would crumble. Fall to the ground. And there'd she be. Once again with a man who was only using her. She couldn't take that chance again. How many times could a heart shatter before it was impossible to put it back together again? She took a wavering breath. "Don't flatter yourself, Luis. I'm not cruel. It's not in my nature to do what you're suggesting."

He released the breath he'd been holding. She was lying. Not telling him the whole story. He could feel it. Tell it. He grabbed her chin. Forcing her to look him in the eye. "I'm on to you, Princess. You can't lie to me forever. I'm a pretty persistent man." She jerked her chin from his grasp and moved away from him. Determined to put some distance between them. She couldn't think clearly when he was touching her. She gasped in surprise when he pulled her back against him into the shadows and covered her mouth with his hand. Every muscle in his body tense. Her blue eyes searched his for answers. Filling with fright when she heard it. The sound of a gun being cocked.

She trembled in his arms. Not daring to breath. He removed his hand from her mouth and put a finger to his lips. Signaling her to keep quiet. She nodded her head. Slipping her hand into his and squeezing it tightly. Praying they wouldn't be found. They heard two men conversing. In French. She looked to Luis in surprise. They were after her. The realization that Luis was telling the truth made her feel faint, and she sagged against him. Issuing a relieved sigh when the two gunmen finally gave up. Leaving them. Safe for now. "They were after me," she whispered. A look of astonishment on her pretty features. "Why Luis?"

He shook his head and took her hand in his. "Not now, Sheridan. We don't have time for this. We don't want to take the chance they'll come back. You know Paris better than I do. Think. Do you know of any place where we'll be safe? Somewhere I can see a doctor?" he asked. His tired eyes boring into hers.

She tugged her hand free. Running a hand through her golden curls. Where could they go? Where would they be safe? Luis needed to see a doctor. Soon. But they couldn't go to a hospital. She racked her brain for possibilities. Solutions to their current dilemma. "Marie!" she said excitedly. "She and I roomed together at boarding school. She has an apartment here in the city. Her husband is a doctor, Luis. They'll help us. I know they will. Come on, Luis. The appartment's not far from here."

He stopped her with a hand on her arm. "Sheridan. Wait. Are you absolutely certain you can trust this woman? And her husband? Are you sure they won't ask questions? We need to keep a low profile. At least until I'm sure you're out of danger. I can't be much help to you like this," he said.

Her eyes drifted down to the spreading crimson stain on his shirt, and she was reminded again why time was of the essence. Marie had been the closest thing to a friend she had had her entire time spent at boarding school. She was positive she could be trusted. But Jacques...Jacques she wasn't so sure about. She shook those thoughts from her head. It would have to do. They had no other choice. "Marie won't let anything happen to us, Luis. I trust her," she said. Easing an arm around his waist. Aiding him as they emerged from the shadows. If Luis noticed her failure to qualify Jacques as someone that could be trusted, he failed to indicate it. She sighed in relief. She wasn't altogether sure what to expect. But right now...she'd take her chances.






Part Three







She smiled slightly in Luis's direction as she raised a shaking hand to the door. Taking a deep breath and knocking. Please, Marie, she thought. Please be home. She couldn't deal with Jacques alone. He set her nerves on edge. She couldn't explain it. But she had a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with his treatment of Marie's four-year-old daughter. Catherine. Her god-daughter. He was so.indifferent towards her. Almost cold. Truthfully, she'd never understood what Marie saw in him. He wasn't even a good father figure. And if there was love there, she'd never witnessed it. She took a deep breath. Trying to will the disconcerting thoughts out of her head. Glancing once more Luis's way. The opening of the door startling her. "Catherine," she smiled.

"Sheri!" Catherine squealed. Launching herself into Sheridan's arms. Squeezing her neck tight. And jabbering a mile a minute. Sheridan laughed at the look on Luis's face. Sobering at the look on Catherine's face when she discovered they were not alone. "Sheri?" she whispered. Her green eyes widening at the sight of the blood on Luis's shirt. Her little body tensing with apprehension.

"Catherine! Who is at the door?" Marie yelled. Stopping in her tracks when she lay eyes on her childhood friend. "Sheri!" she exclaimed. Kissing Sheridan's cheek. "I didn't know you were Paris. What a pleasant surprise! Oh," she gasped. A hand covering her mouth. "You're not alone," she said. Studying Luis curiously. Her face paling when she saw the blood on his shirt. "What happened?"

"Marie, can we discuss this inside?" Sheridan asked. "Someplace more private," she said. Nodding at the elderly woman walking slowly down the hall. Trying to be inconspicuous. And failing miserably. It was the third time in as many minutes she had walked past them.

"Of course," she said. Ushering them inside and shutting the door behind them. "Catherine," she smiled brightly. "Why don't you go in your room and draw Sheri one of your masterpieces? I'm sure she'd like one to go with the picture of her you drew last summer," she said. Tucking a loose dark curl behind her daughter's ear. Catherine eyed Luis with suspicion for several seconds. Then smiled at him. "I hope you feel better soon, Monsieur."

The smile on Marie's face faded as soon as Catherine was out of sight. "Sheri, what is going on here? Who is this man?" she asked. Indicating Luis. "And who shot him? Why is he with you?" she finished breathlessly. Her dark eyes searching Sheridan's.

Sheridan took a deep breath before speaking. "His name is Luis Lopez- Fitzgerald. He's a...friend...from Harmony. You remember. The small town I grew up in," pausing to let Marie digest the information. "Luis came across some information linking Jean-Luc...linking Jean-Luc with a drug ring. He tried to warn me over the phone that I might be in danger, but I refused to listen to him. I wouldn't take his calls," she confessed. Her cheeks burning with embarrassment. "So he flew to Paris to warn me. Only I ignored him again. Until someone shot at me. They shot at me, Marie, but they hit Luis instead. He needs help," she said. "I'm sorry," she said. Lowering her head. "He needs help, and I couldn't think of anywhere else to go. We shouldn't have come here."

"Sheri," Marie said softly. Taking Sheridan's hands in her own and squeezing them reassuringly. "I'm your friend. Don't think that way. You did the right thing. Luis," she said kindly. "My husband Jacques is a doctor. He can help you. And in the meantime," she said. Returning her gaze to Sheridan. "You and Luis can hide out here. Luis can have the spare bedroom you usually stay in, Sheri. And you can stay in Catherine's room with her."

"No!" Luis said suddenly. Making them both jump. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "But until I know for sure there's no more threat on Sheridan's life, she's staying with me," he said. Not even flinching at Sheridan's shocked expression. "No arguments," he warned when Sheridan opened her mouth. "I'm not letting you out of my sight," he said. His mouth set in a grim line. Not breaking his gaze with Sheridan. A slight smile coming over his lips at the fire in her blue eyes. She was going to fight him every step of the way.









Part Four







"Ugh! Can you believe the nerve of that man? I swear.if Jacques hadn't have walked through that door.I would have.Argh!" Sheridan huffed. "Marie!" she exclaimed. Staring at the shimmering blue gown in her hands. "Don't you have anything else? Anything less.revealing? I can't wear THIS. I can't," she said. Thrusting the satin gown back into Marie's hands. "That jerk in there," she said with a nod of her head, "might get the wrong idea."

"Sheri," Marie said. An amused smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "That man is so out of it right now.he doesn't know you from his mother. Luis doesn't strike me as the type to come on to his own mother, non? Your worries are silly, Sheri. The drugs Jacques gave him.let's just say your friend will feel no pain," she laughed. "Besides," she continued, "I don't think he's a jerk at all. He saved your life, Sheri. That has to count for something."

The look in Sheridan's blue eyes softened. But only momentarily. "He saved my life because it's his job, Marie. Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald has no personal interest in me," came her muffled retort as she slipped the gown over her head. "So you can stop it with those looks. And secret smiles. Luis has an image to protect as one of Harmony's finest. That's all. Now," she said. Kissing Marie's cheek. "I'm off to wish Catherine good night. Good night, Marie," she whispered. Studying Marie's dark eyes. "I know you mean well. But please. For me. Let it go."

"Okay," Marie sighed defeatedly. "If you insist. But Sheri," she said with a shake of her dark head. "Sheri, you're lying to yourself. And Luis." You can't keep it up forever. You've finally met your match. Someone just as stubborn as you. And you're more afraid to trust yourself than you are him. Wake up, Sheri. The man has more than a passing interest in you. You are so much more than a job to him. How she wished she had the courage to say those words aloud to her friend. But as long a day as she'd had, Sheridan's had been even longer. "Tell Catherine I'll be in to read her a bedtime story later. I'm going to check on Jacgues and Luis."

She met Jacques outside the door to the guest room. "How is he?" she asked. Looking past his shoulder to where Luis lay. The lamp casting a soft glow over his features. Peaceful in slumber. "Jacques?" she repeated. "Is he okay?" Jacques ignored her. Stalking off in the direction of their bedroom. She followed him silently. Cringing when he practically slammed the door behind her. Bracing herself for whatever happened next. In a quiet voice, she asked a third time. "Is Luis going to be alright?"

"Luis?" Jacques said. Acid in his tone. "Luis is it? Tell me, Marie, what right do you have to open our home to a complete stranger?" he asked. His arms stretched wide, motioning to their surroundings. His mouth set into a tight line. "I thought I told you your friend," he said with barely disguised disgust, "wasn't welcome here. Anymore. That extends to the people with her, you understand?" he ground out. Grabbing her by the arms and pulling her to her feet.

"You just don't like Sheridan because she sees you for what you are," Marie hissed. "You're nothing but a bastard, Jacques. I don't know why I married you in the first place. You don't care about me. And I think disdain is the kindest word I can use for your feelings for Catherine. And Jacques.Sheridan is my friend. I know you don't understand the meaning of the word, but I do. That means when she needs help, I do whatever I can to aid her. Luis saved her life today. I think the least I could do was extend my home to him. Help him in whatever way I could to repay him. It is MY home, after all, Jacques. You may have the upper hand on a lot of things in this marriage, but not this one. It's my home. So.if you have a problem with what goes on within these walls, get out. NOW!" she shouted. Wincing as his grip on her arms tightened. Then he released her. Throwing her back down on the bed.

He took his suitcase out of the closet and started opening drawers. Emptying them. Hurling the clothes in the case in anger. "I'm going to stay.I'm just getting out of here for a few days," he said. "And when I get back.those two," he said. Pointing down the hall toward the guest room, "better be out of here. I mean it, Marie. And you're right," he shot back over his shoulder as he opened the door and strode down the hall, "this is your home. But other than that, you are nothing without me. Nothing. Where would you be now if I hadn't have walked into your life all those years ago? Hmm? Non," he said. Caressing her cheek with the back of his hand. Smiling evilly when she shied away from his touch. "I didn't think you'd want to revisit that time in your life. So you see, cherie? You're stuck with me. This home is the only thing that you will ever call your own again. Oh.and that little brat of yours, too. Her father was smarter than you think, Marie. He knew what he was doing when he abandoned you both. He knew all along," he laughed as she slammed the door in his face.

Sheridan quietly slipped the door to the guest room shut. Her heart in her throat at what she had just overheard. She closed her eyes against the tears. She'd felt all along Jacques was as false as they came. But she'd tried to squelch those feelings. For Marie and Catherine's sakes. Now, instead of the triumph she'd always thought she'd feel when proven right, she only felt heartache. For her friend and her goddaughter. How could he say such things? Jacques did NOT possess a heart in that miserable body of his. She was now sure of it. She swiped at the tears on her cheeks. Exhaustion invading every cell in her body as she walked over to the bed and crawled under the cool sheets. She propped herself up on her elbow and watched Luis. Reassuring herself that he was indeed okay. She ran her fingers through his dark hair tenderly as she watched the rise and fall of his chest. Then she kissed his forehead sweetly with a sigh. And turned around. Shutting her blue eyes. To the world. To all the pain. Not seeing Luis's dark eyes open once he was sure she no longer watched. Not hearing his soft whisper full of longing. "Sheridan."

UAgirl
8.19.07, 10:02 PM
Part Five





He scarcely dared to breathe. She felt too good in his arms. If this was the last time he'd ever hold her..he wanted to make it last. Her golden hair tickled his chin with every breath he took. Her hand lay over his heart. Appropriate, he thought as he stared up at the ceiling. Willing his mind to overrule his heart. Because if he followed the yearnings of his heart, there'd be no turning back. He trailed his fingertips up and down her silky back in feather-soft strokes. Stilling his movements when she sighed contentedly in his arms. Snuggling deeper into his embrace. How had they ended up in this predicament, he wondered as he remembered the night before. Her tears. The distance she'd put between them. He didn't know what to make of the woman in his arms. He wanted so much to understand her. Erase all her past hurts. With a pang, he realized he wanted to do this. Hold her in his arms. Every day for the rest of his life.

Without thinking, he placed a kiss to the top of her head. Breathing in the scent of her hair with a sigh. Give it up, Luis, his mind reasoned. You've finally met someone more stubborn than yourself. But his heart wasn't listening when he found himself gazing into her sleepy blue eyes. Devoid of all the hurt. The pain. For the time being. She said nothing. Only stared at him. And he could no more fight what happened next than he could stop the sun from shining. He traced the contours of her beautiful face. As if memorizing them. Lovingly. He felt the breath leave his lungs as he watched her blue eyes change hues right before his very eyes. Her lips were a whisper against his as he delved his hands into her hair. Pulling her closer.

He rolled them over. Never breaking the tentative connection they shared. Brushing his lips along the line of her cheek. Feathering kisses tenderly across her brow. Her closed eyes. "Sheridan," he whispered as she slipped her arms around his neck. "Sheridan. Look at me," he pleaded. Threading his fingers through hers. "I have to know," he said softly. Her eyes were cloudy with confusion and something else as she tried to make sense of his request. No, dammit, he cursed inwardly as he realized she was doing it again. Shutting herself off to him. And her feelings. Whatever they were. "Please, don't do this again," he whispered. His brown eyes shut tight against the reality. She didn't trust him. That's what it boiled down to. She slid her hands from his grasp. Turning her back on him. Again. He pounded his pillow in frustration as she silently left the room. Startled when he heard a tiny curious voice. "Do you love Sheri?"

He looked up. Beckoning her forward. Catherine's green eyes studied him warily. She clutched her rugged old teddy bear in her arms like it was a talisman. Luis couldn't help it. He couldn't stop the laughter that was bubbling up within him . "I thought you decided you liked me," he teased. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Catherine giggled. "Oui," she answered. Coming to a stop right in front of him. "Does it hurt anymore?" she asked. Reaching out a tentative hand and touching the white bandage. "Oh, that," Luis said. "Not too much. Your Papa made it all better." The smile on Catherine's sweet face faded and her entire face fell. "Hey," Luis said. Tipping her chin up with his fingers. "That's a great looking bear you have there. What's her name?" "HIS name," Catherine giggled at the feigned look of astonishment on Luis's face. "He has lots of names," she said. "Well.aren't you going to tell me one? What? No?!?! Why not?" "Okay," she said. Leaning up on tiptoe and whispering in his ear. "But you got to promise not to tell anyone," she said solemnly. "You promise?" "Promise," he swore. Grabbing her and tickling her tummy. Making her squeal helplessly.

"You didn't answer my question," she said sometime later. As they lay back against the pillows watching the rising sun make patterns on the wall. He was amazed she remembered. He was just amazed with her. Period. "Well.are you?" she singsonged. And it was funny. He could lie to everyone else. Hell, he'd even lied to himself. But he couldn't look into her green eyes and deny it. Not outright anyway. "I don't know," he settled. Tugging at one of her dark curls. "You do," she giggled with an impish grin. Bolting off the bed and running down the hall. He just held his head in his hands and groaned. Muttering under his breath. "Am I THAT transparent?" Cursing when another voice intruded on his private thoughts. "It's clear to everyone but the one you love," Marie sighed. Settling down on the bed beside him. "Wipe that shocked look off your face, Monsieur. Don't even try to deny it. Especially after what happened this morning." "She told you," he said. "Why so surprised, Luis? I am her friend. And she needs one terribly right now. Our Sheri is so confused. And it's all because of you." "She isn't the only one," Luis laughed. Mirthlessly. "I don't think I'll ever understand what makes Sheridan Crane tick."









Part Six





"No," Catherine giggled from her seat on the kitchen counter. Huffing in exasperation as another dark curl escaped from the ribbon in her hair. "That's not how you do it, Sheri. You put that in first," she said. "Catherine," Sheridan laughed in amazement. "How did you get so smart?" Adding the rest of the ingredients in the mixing bowl. In proper order, of course. Sheridan rested her forehead against her goddaughter's and gazed into her green eyes. Catherine looped her arms around Sheridan's neck. "Je ne sais pas," she said with a quirk of an eyebrow. She wrapped her little legs around Sheridan's waist as she lifted her in the air. And they began dancing. Twirling around and around until they were dizzy. Breathless. The sound of their laughter floated in the air. "Sheri, Sheri," Catherine squealed. "Stop. Please. I'm dizzy," she giggled. Green eyes sparkling.

"Oh, Catherine," Sheridan smiled. "You're my favorite goddaughter. You know that?" "But Sheri.I'm your ONLY goddaughter." "C'est vrai," Marie laughed. Entering the room with a smile. "Glad to see you're feeling better," she whispered as she hugged Sheridan close. The light in Sheridan's eyes dimmed as she remembered. She'd almost made a terrible mistake. Almost let Luis back into her heart. She couldn't let that happen again. "So." Marie said. Changing the subject in an effort to bring back the earlier lighthearted atmosphere. "Should I be afraid, Catherine?" she asked her daughter with a wink. "I'm offended," Sheridan huffed in mock indignation. "Look. At least this time your neighbors down the hall aren't beating down the door afraid the apartment's on fire. I had help from this wonderful little chef here," she said. Tweaking Catherine's nose and setting her back on her feet.

Luis watched the whole exchange unnoticed. She was wonderful with Catherine. A natural. So happy and carefree. Unguarded. He missed that. Before..before whatever happened between him, he felt like he was getting to know THIS woman. The real Sheridan Crane. Would she give him another chance? It didn't seem likely, he thought in disappointment when Catherine yelled "Luis!" And she transformed right before his very eyes. Her blue eyes shifted away from his as he slowly crossed the room. He cleared his throat. Willing the tension to dissipate. "Good morning," he said. "Something smells good." "Luis," Catherine said excitedly. "Sheri made it," she said. "Oh she did, did she?" he said in a teasing voice. "I thought Sheri," he said, adopting Marie and Catherine's name for her, "didn't know how to cook." "I didn't say I don't know how to cook at all," Sheridan explained. "I'm just not very good at it. That's all," she said. Taking a seat at the kitchen table.

Catherine took the heaping plate of chocolate chip pancakes from her mother's hands and trudged over to the table. "Viola!" she said with a flourish. Grinning mischievously at Luis before taking the seat next to Sheridan. Marie smiled to herself. Catherine rarely took to strangers so well. It looked like her little daughter had a crush on Monsieur Lopez- Fitzgerald. And she didn't blame her. "Mmm," Luis said. Taking a bite. "Not bad, Princess." Smiling on the inside when Sheridan's blue eyes flashed in irritation at the nickname. Growing alarmed as the look in them started to change. "Princess?" Catherine asked curiously. "Why does he call you Princess, Sheri?" "Catherine," Marie warned. Sensing Sheridan's discomfort at the question. "No, Marie. It's alright," she said. Looking at Luis the entire time. Hurt clouding her blue eyes. His words echoing in her mind. Spoiled princess. "I'm sorry, Catherine," she said. Getting up from the table and escaping the room. The conversation. The company. "Luis," Catherine said sadly. "Go after her."

He waited only a few minutes before granting Catherine's request. "Sheridan," he said. Knocking on the door to the guest room softly. "Sheridan. Let me in. Please." He leaned against the door wearily. He was so tired. Of it all. "Look, Sheridan," he called. "At least tell me what I said that was so wrong. So I can apologize." He clenched and unclenched his fists in frustration when he was met by silence. "So don't tell," he said. His heart heavy as he sighed. His shoulders sagging in defeat. "Look. Whatever I did...whatever I said to hurt you...I'm sorry. Sheridan? Did you hear me? I'm sorry. Dammit!" he swore. "Would you at least let me in so I can apologize face to face?" His anger rose when still he was met with...nothing. "I'm coming in. Whether you like it or not. On the count of 3. 1.....2.....3" He twisted the knob. And the door squeaked on its hinges as it swung open. "Sheridan?" he said. Scanning the room for her. No sign of her. Maybe she was in the bathroom, he thought. Stalking across the room. She was going to listen to him. Willingly or not. He was ready to lay all his cards out on the table. He flung the bathroom door open and found it empty. And his heart hammered in his chest as he realized she was gone. "No!" he yelled. As he saw the drapes from French windows flapping in the breeze. They were open. She had done it again. "Luis!" Marie called. Startling him. "What happened?" "Where is Sheri?" Catherine asked. Worry in her green eyes. "She's gone," he said tonelessly. "Sheridan's gone."








Part Seven





Her blue eyes darted back and forth suspiciously each time someone new came through the café's doors. She sighed heavily. Bringing her cup to her lips, but setting it back down as she realized she wasn't thirsty. Not at all. The cup was just a prop. She didn't want to advertise to the whole world how pathetic she was. How Sheridan Crane's heart had been broken yet again. Her face was too recognizable around here. The last thing she wanted was to give them more fodder. Something else to chew on.

Guilt rose within her as she thought of the worry Marie and Catherine must be going through. She held her head in her hands. Tears lurking just behind her lids. She didn't want to concern them. But she couldn't take it anymore. Couldn't be so close to him. His kisses made her weak, and she hated herself for that. He was wearing her down, and the only thing that had saved her this time was the awful reminder of his words from that night on the wharf. Then at breakfast. Princess. He'd called her a spoiled princess that night.

If he hated her so much.only wanted to use her.why did he even care if she lived or died? What was it to him? She felt like her world was spinning out of control. She threw some money down on the table and stood up. Walking to the door and leaving. She wasn't fooling anyone, she realized. Least of all herself. She wandered desolately down the streets. Aimlessly. Startled when an old man jumped out in front of her. Wordlessly offering a single red rose and a kind smile.

She searched in her purse for money to pay him with, but he refused her money. Disappearing again into the throng of people. It was almost like he was never there, she thought. Looking at her reflection in the mirrored window in front of her. If it weren't for the red rose she held as proof in her hand, she might have started to question her own sanity. You're not going crazy, Sheridan, she reassured herself. Smiling sheepishly. Her smile faded quickly, and her heart started racing when she glimpsed a man standing behind her. Watching her every move intently.

Sheridan, she said to herself. Maybe you ARE losing your mind again. But she didn't really believe it. Something about the man just felt wrong. And her suspicions were raised even more when she slipped inside the door to the next store. A boutique. The man followed her. She watched him. Afraid her heart would pound right out of her chest as he narrowly missed seeing her. She exhaled in relief when he left the boutique, and she remained unscathed. "Merci," she said to the young woman behind the counter as she paid for the hat. Her disguise.

She stepped outside. Praying he wasn't out there. That he wouldn't see her. Her mouth went dry as he passed her by. Nary a flicker of recognition in his small dark eyes. Oh my god, she thought. Covering her heart with her hand. Willing it to slow down. That was too close. What now, Sheridan? Think. Think. You have to get out of here. Back to Marie's. Without being followed. She couldn't bear to think of anything happening to her friend. Or her precious goddaughter. A crowd is better. Don't let him get you alone, she thought.

By some miracle, her legs supported her trembling body as she walked the rest of the way to Marie's building. With a shaking hand she pulled the hat off. Revealing her blond hair again. Almost there, she told herself as she took the stairs. Straining her ears to listen for any signs she was being followed. Fighting the urge to scream when she heard footsteps echoing. Always pausing when she stopped. I can't do this, she panicked. I can't. I never should have run away again. He's going to kill me. A single tear seeping from beneath her closed lids and trailing down her cheek as she took a deep breath and stepped around the last corner. Screaming in horror as a pair of arms grabbed her. She was going to die.







Part Eight







She struggled against him. Determination shining in her blue eyes. She bit the hand that covered her mouth, and her eyes widened when she heard her captor swear in pain. "Dammit! You stupid woman!" She paused. Her hand on the door knob. And slowly turned around. "Jacques!?!?" she gasped. "What are you.why did you grab me like that? You scared me," she said. Meeting his cold stare with one of her own. "Because," he ground out. Holding his hand gingerly. "Marie called me in a panic. Your friend wouldn't let her call the police." She lowered her head in embarrassment. "What's going on in there? Jacques? Is everything okay?" she heard a male voice call out. Luis, she thought. Shutting her eyes. She didn't want to see the look on his face when he saw her. "It's fine, Monsieur Lopez-Fitzgerald," he answered. Stepping out into the hall and pulling her with him.

"Sheri!" Catherine exclaimed. "I was so afraid," she pouted. Throwing her little arms around her neck. Sheridan gently wiped the tears away from her green eyes with her thumb. "Don't you ever do something like that again," Marie warned harshly. Hugging her tightly. "You had us ALL worried." Sheridan's gaze slowly shifted from Marie's concerned dark eyes to Luis's. His dark eyes were unreadable. His jaw set in a tight line. "I'm sorry," she whispered guiltily. Her blue eyes never leaving his face. He said nothing, and she felt her heart sink. "You're forgiven," Marie said. Placing an arm about her shoulders and leading her inside the apartment. "Are you coming, Luis?" Catherine asked. Holding out her tiny hand. "Soon," Luis promised. "I need to do something first," he said. Staring at Jacques.

"Was she being followed?" Luis asked. His dark eyes searching Jacques. He didn't trust this man. Just a feeling he had. "Non," Jacques answered. Averting his dark eyes from Luis's penetrating stare. A little warning signal went off inside Luis's head, but he chose to ingore it for the time being. She was back. Safe and sound. And right now that's all that mattered. He turned to leave. Not failing to notice that Jacques declined to follow. He gave him a curious look. "It's none of your concern, Monsieur, but I have a patient to attend to. The one you and my wife dragged me away from with your silly concerns. I must be going now. I want you and that crazy woman to be out of here when I return tomorrow. You understand me?" he said in a menacing voice. "Crystal." "It's good we understand each other, Monsieur. Au revoir."

"Sheridan," Luis said quietly. Stopping in front of the chaise where she sat. Sipping from a cup of tea. Marie looked up. Stilling the soothing movements of her hand upon Sheridan's back. "She's been through enough, Luis. I think that's punishment enough. Someone was following her." Luis drew in a surprised breath. Gratitude swelling within him that she made it back to him in one piece. But also anger. That she had done such a foolish thing in the first place. "Sheridan," he said again in a carefully controlled voice. "We need to talk. Now," he said. Not meeting her blue eyes. Sheridan rose from her seat and silently walked down the hall to the guest room they shared. Catherine watched her go with solemn green eyes. "Be nice," she warned. And Luis felt a smile small come to his lips as he knelt at Catherine's feet. "I thought you knew I was a nice guy," he said. Tapping her nose. Catherine giggled. "Oui." And you, too, Marie, he thought. Staring into her dark eyes. I'd never intentionally hurt her. Despite what she thinks. Marie smiled at him as he passed. And Luis was happy Sheridan had a friend who cared so much.

He found her staring out the French doors she had made her escape through earlier. She looked as weary as he felt. He fought to control the urge to take her in his arms. Tell her everything. "That was an incredibly stupid thing you did," he said as he slipped the door shut behind him. "Especially after yesterday. What will it take, Sheridan?" he asked. Grabbing her by the shoulders and spinning her around to face him. "It seems bullets aren't enough. Apparently you think you're invincible. You were followed. Do you honestly think the person following you had innocent thoughts and intentions?" She shook her head weakly. And he felt a tug at his heartstrings seeing the tears collect at the corners of her blue eyes. But he continued. She needed to hear this. Even more than he needed to say it.

"You selfishly ran away. Worrying us for no good reason. Can you imagine how devastating it would have been to Catherine or Marie if you hadn't been so lucky?" Or me, he thought as he shook her lightly by the shoulders. "Can you?" he demanded. "I'm sorry," she whispered. Tears falling freely now. "I was selfish. And stupid. There was no excuse for the way I behaved. You should never have saved my life in the first place, Luis. I didn't deserve it. You should have just let me." He cut her off. Covering her lips with his own and kissing her passionately. As if his life depended on it. He pulled away. His breathing ragged. "Don't you EVER say that again," he said. Leaning his forehead against hers. "Never," he whispered in a gruff voice. Pulling her into his arms and hugging her tight. Sheridan's eyes fluttered shut. Reveling in his strong, safe embrace.

Outside in an alley, the man with the small dark eyes looked suspiciously from side to side as he hissed, "Jacques. I thought you were on our side. I thought you wanted Ms. Crane dead as much as we did." Jacques brought the cigarette to his lips. Then said. "I am. But I have a better idea. You ready to hear it, little brother?" "Oui," Pierre answered with an evil smile. "I'm all ears. Tell me all the details. I can't wait to hear your plan. Soon, Sheridan Crane will be dead. And no one will be able to point a finger at me and Roger. Tell me about this perfect plan." "Well," Jacques began, "I have the perfect way to get rid of Ms. Crane. And my wife and her brat of a daughter." Pierre smiled appreciatively as Jacques filled him in on all the details.

UAgirl
9.3.07, 12:05 AM
Part Nine







"Sheridan," he whispered. As he lay in bed beside her. He knew she wasn't asleep. He didn't know how. He just knew. "How'd you meet Marie?" he asked curiously. He felt the bed shift under her weight as she turned to face him. He drew in a quick breath at the beautiful picture she presented in the moonlight. Her blue eyes staring at him. "I met her at boarding school when I was very young," she said softly. "When Father sent me away. Marie was wonderful. She drew me out of my shell and made all those long years bearable. I don't know what I would've done without her. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. I'm a cop. It's in my nature," he laughed. The sound echoing in the quiet room. For a few minutes, all that could be heard was the sound of their breathing. "If you don't mind my asking." he hesitated. "Go ahead, Luis," she encouraged. "What happened to Catherine's father? I don't see how anyone could abandon someone like Marie. Or such a beautiful little girl. I know I wouldn't." He could see Sheridan smile slightly at his last statement in the pale light. "I don't know," she admitted. "They seemed so in love. Philippe adored Marie. At least I thought so," she said. "I'm not exactly the best judge of character. I've been involved with more losers than I count."

Am I one of those losers, he wanted to ask. But he didn't. Instead he just lay there. Facing her. Waiting for her to continue. "Marie's always had tons of guys after her," she said with a smile. "No surprise, really. She's beautiful. But she never let anyone get close to her, you know. Until Philippe. Marie's parents died when she was very young. She only had her grandmother. But Rose was in her early forties when she had Marie's mother. So by the time Marie's mother had her, Rose was in her seventies. Rose died when Marie was sixteen. After that, Marie wouldn't let anyone too close. But like I said, Philippe changed all that. They were so in love, Luis," she said. Blue eyes shining with unshed tears. "I can't possibly imagine what happened. Why he left her and Catherine. And now Marie's stuck with a bastard like Jacques. He doesn't love her or that precious little girl down the hall. I don't think Jacques has it in him to love ANYBODY."

The silence between them hung heavily in the air. Until Sheridan said in a tiny voice. "I used to think that there was someone out there. Someone that would love me like I thought Philippe loved Marie. A man to share my life with. Who'd love me for me. Not my name or money. I never gave up hope. No matter how foolish Father told me I was," she laughed bitterly. "Maybe he was right," she whispered. Looking deep into his brown eyes. For what, Luis didn't know. But he wanted her to find her answer. He wanted to be that someone for her. The man that would show her that her dreams weren't foolish. That they could become a reality. If only she'd tell him. Tell him why she left Harmony. And him. Without so much as an explanation.

"Luis?" she asked. Her words soft. The sound of her voice making him shiver. "Yes, Sheridan," he said simply. Reaching out and trailing a finger across her graceful features. Tracing the path of her tears. "Why?" He stopped his motions. Looking at her strangely. Waiting for her to say more. "Why did you do it? Why did you say such awful things? I don't understand how the man who risked his own life for mine-the man who's so wonderful with Catherine-and the man I heard on the wharf that night can be one in the same." "Sheridan," he said wearily. Shutting his eyes against the pain in hers. "Tell me. Tell me what I said. Please. If you'd only tell me.then we could move on. I want to move on, Sheridan. I want you in my future," he admitted.

Her breath caught in her throat at the look in his eyes. At his touch as he gently rubbed his thumb back and forth across her lips. Then brushed the hair back from her face. "I heard you that night. On your cell phone. Talking about how you were only using me," she choked. "How you had me fooled. The spoiled Crane princess. Using me to get back at my family for what you think they did to your father," she cried. Not understanding the look on his handsome face. The shock and disbelief. Like he had no idea what she was talking about. "Sheridan," he began. "I never said such things." He grabbed her by the shoulders when she tried to turn away from him. Her face falling when he denied any knowledge of that night.

"Look at me," he demanded. Pulling her close. "I would never do something like that. I swear. I'm not like those other men in your life. Those men you used to know. Yes, I want to find out what happened to my father. And yes, I think your father and brother had something to do with his disappearance. I admit I thought you were just like the rest of your family. In the beginning," he said. Searching her eyes for any sign that she believed him. "But then I got to know you. What I thought was the REAL Sheridan Crane. And I realized I was wrong. You're nothing like your father and brother. If I didn't know better, I would never believe you had the same blood running through your veins as Alistair and Julian Crane."

For the first time, hope rose in her chest that she had been wrong. But that would mean.that would mean she was imagining things. "But Luis," she said haltingly. "If you never said any of those things, if you never had that conversation, how do you explain what I saw? I saw a man.a man I wholeheartedly believed was you.talking on his cell phone that night. Am I to believe that I imagined him? I can't do that, Luis. I saw him. I heard him. I'm not crazy." Luis studied her for a moment. His brain desperately trying to come up with a plausible answer for her. But the only answer he was positive of.the only thing he could truthfully say to her.was it wasn't him.

So he did just that. "Sheridan," he whispered. Taking her hand in his. "I don't know. I don't know who would want to hurt you like that. Hurt you so much you felt you had to run away from me. From Harmony. But I do not for a moment believe that you're crazy. And I can honestly say it wasn't me. Sheridan.before all this happened.I thought I was beginning to feel something for you. Something in here," he said. Placing their joined hands over his heart. "I still think we could have something special. If you'd only believe me. Trust me. Do you, Sheridan?" he asked.

She wanted to. Wanted so desperately to believe him. In her heart she believed him. But her head wouldn't let her take such a leap of faith. She'd been burned too many times. "I want to believe you," she said. "So much. More than anything in the world, Luis," she whispered. "I'm so confused, Luis. I...on some level, I DO believe you. My heart says to believe you. But then my head tells me not to be so foolish again. So stupid. I'm afraid, Luis. I don't think I could take it...I'm afraid of being hurt again. I need time. Can you give me that? Will you give me the time I need, Luis?" she asked.

Luis's heart fell and soared in a matter of seconds. She hadn't completely given up on him. And he could live with that. For the time being. "Time," he repeated. Tucking a strand of blond hair back behind her ear. "If it's time you need, Sheridan, I'll give you time. Time to learn to trust your heart again. This time it's telling you the truth," he said. Smiling at the relieved smile on her beautiful face. "All you have to do is listen to it." "Thank you," Sheridan whispered. Relaxing in his embrace. A feeling of peace washing over her as they settled back against the pillows. A feeling that was short-lived. Because a few minutes later...a scream pierced the night air.



Part Ten







"Non!"

Sheridan's heart stopped at the sound. It was Catherine. Catherine was screaming. A terrible, anguish-filled scream. Luis bolted off the bed. Flattening himself against the wall. Motioning for her to stay put. But when had she ever listened to him before? She followed him as he crept down the hall. Neither daring to breathe. Sheridan felt a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach as she heard Catherine whimpering from the room just ahead. Marie's room. Something was terribly wrong. She closed her eyes and held on to Luis's hand tightly. Praying to God. Praying that the little girl she loved so dearly and her mother were okay. Luis raised a finger to his lips and stopped in front of Marie's room. The door was slightly ajar, and the pale light from the moon spilled out in the hall. "Catherine," he whispered. "Catherine? Are you alright?"

They could hear Catherine's gentle sobbing inside the room. Fear gripped Sheridan's heart like a vice as Luis slowly eased the door open, and the sight before her made her weak. Sick to her stomach. "Sheri," Catherine cried pitifully. "Oh Sheri." Tears pooled in Sheridan's blue eyes at the sound of her little voice. The horror in her once sparkling green eyes. Blood soaked her once snowy white nightgown. Marie's blood. Her mother's blood. "Luis," she cried. "Help her. Help her," she wailed. Reaching for him with her blood-stained hands. Luis grabbed her up in his arms. Clutching her close. His brown eyes filling with water. "Shh," he soothed. "It'll be okay," he whispered. But in her heart, Sheridan knew things would never be okay for Catherine again. Never. She'd had her childhood stolen from her in one blinding moment.

With a shaking hand, Sheridan felt for a pulse. Hoping against hope she would find one. But it was too late. Her beautiful friend was gone. Silenced forever. "There's.there's nothing to do," she whispered. Shaking her head in disbelief. Who had done this? Who would want to do something so terrible, she wondered, as she felt her legs begin to fail her. Luis caught her in his arms before she fell, and she clung to him as if her life depended on it. Burying her face against his chest. Her tears wetting his shirt. Luis cursed whoever had done this. Taken the life of the mother of the sweet little child in his arms. He felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and a strange feeling in his gut. They needed to get out of here. Quick.

"Sheridan," he whispered. Kissing the crown of her golden head. "Sheridan," he repeated. Staring into her sad blue eyes. "We have to get out of here. NOW," he insisted. And the sadness in her eyes was replaced by fear as she took Catherine's limp body from his arms and listened to his instructions. "I want you to get some clothes for you and Catherine," he said. Stroking her face with his thumb. "Remember how you left the other day?" She nodded her head slowly. "I want you to take Catherine. Be very careful. Wait for me at that cathedral nearby. Stay there until I come for you. Okay?" he pleaded. His brown eyes not shying away from her gaze.

"But Luis.I can't leave you here. What if something happens to you? What if whoever did this." "Don't say it," he warned. A finger to her lips. "Don't even think it. Sheridan, please. For once. Do what I say. Forget your stubborn ways and listen to me." Her blue eyes glittered with unshed tears as she whispered, "Okay, Officer. I'll do it. But don't you dare not come back to me. We still have a lot of unfinished business between us." Luis smiled at her despite the circumstances and pulled her against him. Meshing his lips with hers. "There," he whispered. "Something to remember me by. Now.off with you. You get Catherine out of here. Somewhere safe." He watched her as she disappeared from sight. And he sent a special prayer to God, to his father if he were up in Heaven above, asking them both to keep her and Catherine safe. Not let anything happen to them.

He counted silently. Willing his heart to stop hammering against his chest. Willing himself to stay calm as he searched the rooms in the apartment. Looking for evidence, any evidence he could find, to alert him to the identity of the sorry excuse for human beings that had perpetrated this horrendous crime. Turning the place upside down in his quest. And finding.and finding nothing. NOTHING. But he couldn't ignore the feeling in his heart. The feeling in his gut that told him Marie had only gotten in the way. Gotten in the way to Sheridan. His gaze caught a familiar object tucked away under the edge of Marie's bed, and he knelt down to retrieve it. Catherine's teddy bear. He grabbed the ragged old bear in his hands. Stilling his movements when he heard a creaking sound. A creaking sound that sounded close by. The teddy bear fell from his hands when the blow landed to his head. And darkness swallowed him up.




Part Eleven



"Sheridan," Luis moaned. Blinking his eyes against the harsh light. His head felt like someone had used it as a bass drum. He squinted. His eyes traveling the length of the legs that stood before him. "You," he gasped. Clutching his head in agony. "What did you hit me with? You bastard," he hissed in disgust. "I didn't know you had it in you. Tell me, Jacques. Did you really hate your own wife that much? Or did she just get in the way to Sheridan?"

"Monsieur Lopez-Fitzgerald, you think you're clever, don't you?" Jacques smirked. "I have to admit," he continued. Pacing around the small, dirty room. "You're much smarter than I gave you credit for. Much smarter, indeed. But every dog has its day. Let's just say this is the end of yours," he laughed evilly. "Pierre! Bring her in."

Luis's heart stopped beating as this man, this Pierre, stepped into the room. Dragging Sheridan behind him. "You see, Monsieur," Jacques said. Stalking around Sheridan. "You are not as clever as you thought. You put your trust in this stupid woman here," he said. Grabbing Sheridan by the chin and forcing her to meet his eyes with her own. Sheridan's blue eyes shone with hatred for the despicable man in front of her.

Luis flinched when Jacques jerked Sheridan up against him unexpectedly. And brought his lips down roughly on hers. He pulled against the ropes that bound his hands. Outraged. Shocked at how much he wanted to kill the man in front of him. For laying a hand on Sheridan. Forcing himself on her. Sheridan whimpered when Jacques yanked her head back. His hands tangled in her hair.

Sheridan's eyes glittered with unshed tears. But she wouldn't give Jacques the satisfaction of seeing her cry. "Sherie," Jacques whispered. Tracing Sheridan's jawline with his finger. "Maybe we should have a little fun with you before we kill you. What do you think, Pierre?" Pierre didn't answer. Only leered at Sheridan suggestively as Jacques crushed his mouth to hers once more.

Luis shut his eyes tight. Unable to watch anymore. His dark eyes shot open, though, when he heard Jacques swear loudly. And a second later.a sickening crack as his hand connected with Sheridan's face. "I'll kill you!" he yelled. "I'll kill you if you touch her again!" he warned. Jacques shoved Sheridan toward Pierre and lunged for Luis. Jerking him up by the collar. "Is that a threat, Monsieur?"

"You're damn right it's a threat," Luis ground out between clenched teeth. "If you so much as touch a hair on her head, I'll tear you apart. Limb by limb." Jacques' eyes gleamed with madness as he taunted Luis. "You will, will you? Go ahead. I didn't think so, Monsieur. You can't do anything to help your Princess," he jeered. Luis's eyes locked with Sheridan's across the room at Jacques' words. And he felt his heart sink as he thought about how much time they had wasted.

"Don't underestimate, Monsieur Lopez-Fitzgerald," another masculine voice interrupted. His French accent heavy. "He is quite resourceful," the man said. Jacques immediately rose to his feet without a word. And Luis's dark eyes narrowed at the man in front of him. The mastermind behind this whole affair. The man who had a price on Sheridan's head. The man stared at him for a moment. A strange look in his eyes.

"Leave her," he ordered. Stalking out of the room. "Mademoiselle, you should be thankful," Pierre said as he untied the restraints on Sheridan's hands and shoved her forward. "Roger is not always so generous. He's giving you one more night. One more night to live." "In the morning, we will kill you," Jacques said menacingly. "Both of you," he called. Slamming the door shut behind him. It was not until they heard the lock click in place that the dam finally burst. And Sheridan cried.






Part Twelve



"Shh," he soothed. Running his hands through her soft hair. She'd freed his hands from the ropes earlier. It seemed like hours. He'd held her in his arms since them. In an effort to comfort her. But she wouldn't be calmed. The tears wouldn't stop falling. "This is all my fault," she said quietly. Raising her sad blue eyes to his. "If I hadn't been so foolish.if I hadn't run away again.this never would have happened. Marie would still be alive. Catherine would still have her mother. Oh my god," she gasped. "Catherine! Luis! What if they find her? What if they find her and kill her, too?" she asked in a terrified voice.

"Sheridan. Listen to me," he said. His hands cradling her face. "They're NOT going to kill us. I promise," he whispered. Staring into her eyes. "Do you believe me? Do you trust me with your life? I would NEVER let something happen to you. I care about you too much," he admitted. Lowering his hands and averting his gaze. Missing the flicker of happiness in Sheridan's blue eyes. "I believe you," she said softly. Her fingers entwining with his. "I trust you," she said. Smiling through her tears. "I trust you, Luis." With my life.AND my heart, she thought as he lifted his shining eyes to her. "Good," he said. Pulling her close again. "I won't let anything happen to you. We're going to make it out of here. Safe and sound. And Catherine's going to be alright. She's safe with the Sisters. They won't let anything happen to her. I still wish you had stayed with her, though," he said as he trazed lazy circles on her back.

She shifted in his arms. And stared at him. With a look he had never seen before in her eyes. A look he'd never dare hope to see. "I couldn't," she said simply. "I couldn't leave you. I couldn't bear the thought.I.Luis, I care about you, too," she whispered. Leaning her forehead against his. Her eyes fluttering shut. "So much," she said in a strangled voice. "So much," she whispered. Nuzzling her nose against his. Her lips meeting his with a gentle sigh. I love you, she thought as she pulled away. And lost herself in his dark brown eyes. She could finally admit it to herself. And to him. "I lo." "Shh," he said. A finger against her lips. "Don't."

He traced her lips with his finger. Teasing her. Before leaning in to kiss her again. He'd never tasted anything else so sweet, he thought as he threaded his fingers through her hair and opened his mouth over hers. Never. He groaned when she returned his kiss with fervor, and he felt her hands working the buttons on his shirt free. His mind was screaming for him to tell her to stop. This wasn't the place. The time. But his heart wouldn't listen. His heart had other plans. They broke apart. Breathless. And Sheridan slid the shirt off his shoulders. Smiling against Luis's lips as he pulled her to him again.

She gasped when his hands slid under her shirt. Onto her bare skin. Tickling her ribs as he pulled it upwards. Then over her head. "You're beautiful," he whispered. Easing the strap of her bra off her shoulder and placing a kiss there. "So damn beautiful," he repeated. Claiming her mouth with his once more. Delighting in the moan that rose in the back of her throat as he pulled her more firmly against him and their heated flesh met. "Luis," she hummed against his lips. Her arms around his neck. "Make love to me," she whispered. Her blue eyes staring into his soul.

He cupped her jaw in the palm of his hand and searched her eyes. Wanting to make sure she meant it. That she was certain. "Are you sure?" he whispered. His dark eyes glittering. Sheridan's eyes filled with tears at his concern. His kindness towards her. How could she have ever believed he said those things on the wharf that night? How? When he looked at her with such.such caring? She kissed his palm gently. If there was even the smallest chance they wouldn't get out of here.the tiniest chance.she wanted to die knowing the feeling of making love. Truly making love with someone she cared about that cared about her. Not a man whose heart was empty of any feeling for her. Not someone who wasn't Luis, she realized. He was the only person she wanted to give herself to. Heart and soul.

"Yes," she breathed. A glorious smile on her face. A smile Luis soon matched. "But Sheridan," he answered in an uncertain voice. "This," he said. Taking another look at their dismal surroundings. "This is hardly the kind of place I wanted to." "It's okay," she smiled. "All I need is you, Luis. All this doesn't matter," she said. Motioning to their surroundings. Reminded once more of what awaited them in the morning. "I trust you, Luis," she whispered. Caressing his cheek. "But who knows what tomorrow will bring?" she said. A tear escaping and slipping down her face. If tonight's my last night to live.if I never see the light of tomorrow.I want to spend it in your arms, she thought. "I'm sure, Luis." She sighed in pleasure as Luis's lips trailed down her cheek. Kissing her tears away. And met her lips again. There was no turning back. No one else but him and her. They'd worry about tomorrow. Later.

UAgirl
9.7.07, 10:32 PM
Part Thirteen



She stumbled as he shoved her forward. Through the woods. Where were they going? The wind howled. Ringing in her ears as she trudged forward. The twigs and small branches snapping underneath her feet. Jacques pushed her again. And this time she wasn't so lucky. Losing her footing and crashing to the ground below. She cried out in pain when her head struck a rock. Luis was at her side immediately. "You bastard! Why did you do that? Her hands are tied, you idiot. You're sick, you know that? You're enjoying this way too much," he glared.

His brown eyes softened as he looked at her. Longing to touch her. Take away her pain. "Are you okay?" he asked gently. "What does it matter?" Pierre asked in irritation. Hauling Sheridan to her feet. Indifferent to her soft moaning. "You and Mademoiselle Crane will be dead in a matter of minutes," he said cruelly. "Not if I can help it," Luis muttered under his breath as Pierre nudged him forward with his gun.

"I don't know why Roger couldn't have done this himself," Jacques whined breathlessly. Ten minutes later. "If I didn't want to see you dead so much, Sherie, I would have never agreed to this," he laughed evilly. Taking great pleasure in the stricken look on her pale face. "Have I told you yet how good it felt to plunge that knife into your precious Marie? Over and over again. And the look in her eyes. I'll never forget the look in her eyes when she realized it was me. I should have killed her and that stupid brat years ago. The same way I did her lover," he said. His dark eyes shining with malice.

"The coward begged for his life. Just like she did. Just like Catherine will when I find her, Sherie. I WILL find her. I promise you that," he hissed. His hot breath against her neck making her shudder uncontrollably. He's just baiting you, she told herself. Catherine's safe. She'll stay safe. You and Luis will get out of this impossible situation. Have faith. Think about last night. When he held you in his arms and promised he wouldn't let anything happen to you. And for a brief moment she felt better. Remembering the look in Luis's eyes as he'd made love to her. Promised her he'd keep her safe. Forever.

Her resolve was shattered when they came to a small clearing. And to a shallow, freshly dug grave. Oh god, she thought. A tear slipping down her cheek. This is it. We really are going to die. There's no way out. "Any last requests, Mademoiselle?" Pierre asked. Raising his gun to her head. Pulling back the trigger. "Please," she pleaded. "Let me say goodbye." "Let them have their fun, little brother. It's only fair," Jacques laughed. Looking off in the distance boredly as Sheridan stepped forward. Gazing at Luis with tear-filled blue eyes.

She leaned her forehead against Luis's and with a shaky breath said the words that had been in her heart the whole time. "I love you," she cried. "I'm so sorry it took me so long to realize it," she apologized. The tears slipping down her cheeks full force as he placed gentle kisses on her cheeks. Her hairline. Traveling down her jaw and whispering in her ear. Before giving her a lingering kiss on the lips. He could taste the salt of her tears. "Trust me," he whispered. "You ready?"

She nodded her head slowly. Almost imperceptibly. Then he turned around. Taking Jacques off-guard and tackling him to the ground. "Run Sheridan! Run!" he yelled as they struggled. She ran as fast as she could. Her heart pounding in her chest. Her breath short as she crashed through the woods. Desperately trying to elude capture. She could hear Pierre closing in on her. Closer and closer. "Dammit," she swore softly as she stumbled once more. Almost falling to her knees. Keep running. Don't let Luis down. Don't look back.

She kept running full speed ahead even when she heard the Frenchman in pursuit of her swear loudly. She chanced a look back to see Pierre on the ground. Clutching his arm in pain. Aiming his gun at her. She breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the gun off and realized she was fine. He had missed. Still she ran. Finally stopping at the edge of the woods. Gasping for breath as she leaned heavily against a tree and closed her eyes. Her eyes shot open an instant later. When a gunshot rang through the air. Followed by her screams.

"Luis!!!"





Part Fourteen



"Luis!" she screamed. As another gunshot echoed in her ears. "No!" she cried. Racing towards the sound without a second thought. He has to be alright, she thought. He just has to. Tears cascaded down her cheeks as she thought the worst. She was going against everything he had told her. But she had to know. Had to see him. Make sure he wasn't hurt. "Luis," she panted. Breaking through the heavy brush. Into the clearing once more. "Luis! Where are you?" she called frantically. Rushing to the grave's edge and peering down. She gasped at the sight. Jacques lay at the bottom. His eyes permanently fixed in an expression of horror. Blood staining the short he wore. If Jacques was the one who got shot.

"I'm curious to Monsieur Lopez-Fitzgerald's whereabouts, aussi, Mademoiselle Crane," Roger said. Startling her. She flinched when she saw the gun he held in his hand. Oh god, she thought. I've done it again. Way to go, Sheridan. He crept closer. An evil smile on his face. "I can't say I'm sorry about the loss," he said. Glancing at Jacques's body down below. "I was planning on killing him and his stupid brother anyway," he continued. Staring at her with cold eyes. "Such a pity," he uttered softly. Cocking his gun and trailing it down her jaw. Delighting in her shiver. "But some things can't be avoided, Mademoiselle. Sorry," he lied in a whisper. "I'm going to kill you now." "Not if I have anything to say about it," Luis roared. Lunging at Roger and knocking him to the ground. "Sheridan! Please! Listen to me this time! Get out of here!" Luis yelled between punches. She stood rooted to the ground. Unable to move. Horrified when Roger caught Luis by surprise. Flipping him on his back. Then scrambling to his feet. Luis grabbed him once more. Pummeling him. She went pale at the sight of more blood. She'd seen enough blood in these last few days to last her a lifetime.

"Sheridan," Luis gasped. And she realized Roger had his hands wrapped around Luis's neck. Slowly suffocating him. "Sheridan," he repeated. She followed his gaze. Roger's gun lay only a few feet from where she stood. Roger eased up on his iron grip. Threats and mockery spewing forth from his mouth. "You are a weakling, Mademoiselle. Too frightened to hurt me. Too timid to help your lover. I WILL kill Monsieur Lopez-Fitzgerald. Then there will be no more escape for you," he laughed. "No more of your pathetic tears," he said. Returning his attention back to Luis. Anger overrode her fear, and she darted the few feet to the gun. Roger saw the movement out of the corner of his eyes. Luis fell to the ground in a heap. Clutching his neck in agony. "Give me the gun, Mademoiselle," Roger demanded with crazed eyes. "Give me the gun now, and I promise.I will make your death quick and painless."

Sheridan brandished the weapon in front of her. With trembling arms. "Why would I do that?" she laughed nervously. Aiming directly for his heart. "Don't say I didn't warn you," Roger said sinisterly. Knocking the gun out of her hands. And hauling her to the ground when she tried to go after it. "Not so fast," he said between clenched teeth. "Now I have you," he said. Squeezing off her air supply as she clawed at his hands. "No escape," he said coldly. I'm sorry, Luis, she thought as she felt herself losing consciousness. Falling into a pit a darkness. I love you, she thought. Closing her eyes. As a final gunshot rang out.






Part Fifteen



"Sheridan," she heard a hoarse voice say. A voice that sounded so far away. "Come on. Wake up, Princess. You can do it. Open your eyes for me." She moaned softly at the pain. Blinking her blue eyes against the sun. "Luis," she croaked. Horrified at the sound of her own voice. "That's it," Luis said. Stroking her cheek with the back of his hand. And pulling her deeper into his arms. "You're going to be okay. It's all over now," he said softly. "You're safe," he smiled.

"But Roger?" She followed Luis's dark gaze and realized that Roger wasn't going to be bothering her or anyone else ever again. She sighed. Relaxing in his arms. But only momentarily. "Pierre," she panicked. "Luis! He's still out there. What if he.?" "Shh," he soothed. A finger to her lips. "I won't let anything happen to you. I promise. We're going to get out of here. And call the authorities. Tell them everything. And then.then I'm going to take you home."

Home. He wanted to take her home. To Harmony. With him. The thought made her indescribably happy. But then she remembered."Luis," she said. Not looking him in the eye. "I'm sorry. But I can't. I can't go with you." "What are you saying?" he asked uncertainly. "Are you saying you don't want to go back to Harmony with me?" he asked. Letting go of her abruptly. And the loss of his warmth, his embrace made her heart ache.

"You lied when you told me you loved me, didn't you?" She tried to stop him. Tell him he was wrong. "Lu." He cut her off. "It was just the fear talking. You know Sheridan.I thought I was seeing a different side to you. One that I could.one that I did.forget it." "You were," she said in a pleading voice. But he ignored her. "I don't understand you, Sheridan Crane. And I don't think I ever will," he said bitterly.

She ached inside to think he thought of her in such a way. And she couldn't keep the tears from escaping. "I guess you don't understand me, Luis. I DO love you," she whispered. Wiping carelessly at the tears that streamed down her cheeks. "I would never lie about something like that. The reason.I can't go back to Harmony with you, Luis, because of Catherine," she admitted. In a hurt girlish voice.

"I may be her godmother, but there are legalities involved. I can't just whisk her out of France like that. And if you had let me talk before you attacked me like that.We don't really know each other at all, do we?" she asked. Her question hanging heavily in the air as she struggled to stand. Luis hung his head. His heart heavy as he watched her walk away sadly. "I guess we don't, Sheridan," he said. Following her. He had the feeling he had just made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. Just how much it would cost him remained to be seen.




Part Sixteen



"We don't really know each other at all, do we?"

Her words echoed in his head. Over and over again. She was right. They DIDN'T know everything there was to know about each other. But that didn't mean he didn't want to find those things out. He wanted her in his life. By his side. Going back to Harmony.ALONE.wasn't going to make that dream come true. A dream he didn't realize he'd had until it was too late.

He sighed heavily. Blinking open his dark eyes and gazing at the ocean's blueness below. Pulling the teddy bear out of its hiding place. Catherine's enormous green eyes had been so sad. So solemn as she'd presented her prized friend to him. "Keep him," she'd whispered. Clutching Sheridan's hand tight. "Catherine," he protested. But she laid a tiny hand on his arm. "He'll watch over you."

He was going to miss that little girl. He hoped.it didn't matter what he hoped anymore. Because he had thrown it all away. With a few careless words. A blink of the eye. Catherine was staying in Paris. With Sheridan. And he might never see either of them again, he thought miserably.

"Do you trust me?"

What a hypocrite, Luis. You asked her for the world. And she gave it to you. But then you went and broke her heart. Because.because why, dammit? She possessed an amazing strength within. But her heart was so fragile. And you shattered it into a million pieces.

Goodbye wasn't supposed to hurt so much. Was it? He could still hear the flutter of her heartbeat. Still feel the her warm body against his as he hugged her in farewell. Tears glittered in her blue eyes. He wanted so badly to kiss them away. Kiss her until he wiped away the scars. The reminders that this "thing" between them.this thing that consumed them never really stood a chance. Without trust. But he didn't. She'd trembled as he leaned in and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. And sobbed. "Luis."

"We don't really know each other at all, do we?"

Those words stabbed him in the heart. Again and again. He clenched his jaw. The frustration too much. The ache overwhelming. Stop it, Luis. Just stop it. What's done is done. Now you have to move on. "Move on," he mumbled. Shoving his hands in his pockets with a sigh.

He pulled the crumpled paper out slowly. Barely breathing as he recognized the familiar scrawl. The simple word. His name. Enough to make hope rise in his heart again. With shaking hands, he unfolded the note. And began reading.

@@@

Luis,

You're leaving tomorrow. Leaving us. And I realized I don't want to let you go. But I also know it has to be this way. For now at least. Luis.I can never thank you enough. You've saved my life a thousand times over. And for that, I'll be forever grateful. I just know your good deeds won't go un- rewarded. Next time I see you, you'll be Detective Lopez-Fitzgerald. I don't know anyone who deserves it more. Harmony is lucky to have you. You'll see me again, Luis. I think Catherine will like Harmony. I love the sleepy little town. It's home. Where my heart is. Believe me when I say this.I LOVE you. And I'm not willing to give up so easily. NOT without a fight. I want to learn every little thing about you. My heart just needs time. I think you can understand that. I guess this is where we part ways, Officer. Think of me.

Love,

Your Spoiled Princess

P.S. You never told me why.

@@@

Luis smiled. Folding the paper carefully and putting it his jacket pocket. Close to his heart. He couldn't wait to tell her why.

THE END



To read more about Luis, Sheri, and Catherine, check out Where the Heart Is.

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