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Thread: Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

  1. #1
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    Post Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

    I hope to finish this fic someday (before 2010, lol) even though a quick re-read almost made me cringe at how saccharine sweet it is.

    Still, it bugs me to have so many unfinished WIPs still sitting around; that's why years later (truly, years) I'm still trying.

    Enjoy!






    Where the Heart Is


    Prologue


    “Sheri? How much longer?” Sheridan smiled at Catherine’s softly spoken question. “We’re almost there.” Catherine’s green eyes shone with excitement, and Sheridan felt her heart soar at the welcome sight. Slowly but surely the little girl she knew and loved was returning to her. Two months ago…two months ago she wasn’t sure if she existed anymore. Marie’s death had broken her heart. And hers. She’d never forget the haunted look in Catherine’s green eyes the night they found Marie…

    Catherine still missed her mother. Sheridan was sure she’d always miss her mother. She knew she missed hers. But she made a promise to herself she would never let her forget Marie. Or how much she loved her. She couldn’t replace Marie. She didn’t want to try. All she could do was be there for Catherine. She sighed and took the papers out of her purse. The adoption papers. Catherine was legally hers.

    “Will your family like me, Sheri?” Catherine whispered. “Like you?” Sheridan teased. Tickling Catherine’s sides and making her squeal with delight. “They’ll LOVE you. Especially Ivy and Ethan. And I know for a fact that Luis’s mother and sister and brother can’t wait to meet you.” Catherine’s green eyes sparkled hopefully. “I can’t wait to see Luis,” she said shyly. Neither can I, Sheridan thought with a smile. Neither can I.

    “Sheri…read me the letter again,” Catherine pleaded. Threading her tiny fingers through Sheridan’s. “Again?” Sheridan laughed. “Don’t you have that letter memorized by now?” Catherine giggled. “Sheri…” “Okay,” Sheridan relented. Taking the letter from Catherine’s hands. She carried that thing with her everywhere. The paper was faded and worn from so much handling. She cleared her voice and began reading. If she closed her eyes, she could hear his deep voice…

    @@@


    Catherine,

    Your fuzzy friend says hello. We can’t let his true identity be revealed, can we? Do you like to swim, Catherine? Maybe we could go to the beach sometime. Just you, me, and Sheri. If Sheri wants to. You’re going to have to help me work on her, Catherine. Our friend Sheri is very stubborn. Theresa helped me paint your room yesterday. Now I don’t know too much about little girls. But my l’il sis is sure you'll LOVE it. I hope so. And the new house, too. Are you going to invite me over? I miss you, Catherine (and Sheri, too—but don’t let her know how much). See you soon, lovely Mademoiselle.

    Love,

    Your Monsieur

    @@@



    “Sheri,” Catherine said worriedly. “I don’t know how to swim.” A smile threatened at the corners of her mouth as she caressed Catherine’s silky cheek and reassured her. “I’ll teach you how. And I’m sure Luis would love to help.” Yes, Luis WOULD love to help, she realized. Sighing happily. There were still a lot of things to sort out between them. Yet she was nothing if not willing to give it her all. Just to have Luis in her and Catherine’s lives. She just hoped he was willing to take things slowly. She loved him. Would that be enough to keep him around?

    “I can’t wait to see my new room,” Catherine said softly. Looking out the plane’s small window. “Tell me about the house again, Sheri. Please.” “Well…,” Sheridan smiled. Picturing it in her own mind. “Ethan said it’s beautiful. And old. Very old. It needs a lot of work. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it Catherine?” Catherine’s dark curls bounced as she nodded her head. “Your room’s upstairs. Down the hall from mine. You know what? I’m sure we’ll BOTH love it,” she said. Tweaking Catherine’s nose.

    The flight attendant announced it was time for them to put on their seatbelts, and Catherine was practically buzzing with excitement. “We’re almost there, Sheri.” “Yes, sweetie.” We’re almost there. Catherine held her hand tightly as
    the plane descended. And slowed to a stop. “Do you have everything?” she asked. Unbuckling Catherine’s safety belt and taking her small hand. “This is it, Catherine. Are you ready?” “Oui,” Catherine said with a nod of her head.

    Sheridan’s heart beat wildly in her chest as she scanned the crowd of people in the terminal. Where was he? She was sure he would be there. “Sheri,” Catherine said nervously. Sheridan lifted Catherine in her arms and hugged her tight. “It’s okay. Just a lot of people here. That’s all.” “Aunt Sheridan!” she heard a familiar voice call, and her blue eyes lit up at a sight for sore eyes. “Ethan!” Luis wasn’t the only person she had missed. She missed the companionship she and her nephew shared. “You must be Catherine,” Ethan grinned. “This is for you,” he said. Catherine took the pink rose from his grasp and brought it up to her nose. Breathing in the sweet, fragrant scent. “Merci,” she said shyly.

    Sheridan’s blue eyes still searched for him, and she sighed disappointedly when she didn’t find him. Ethan smiled slightly as he asked, “You ready to get out of here? Charles is picking up your luggage.” “Oh, Ethan,” she said. Hugging him tight. “Let’s go home.” Ethan placed him hand on the small of her back and led her outside. Into the vibrant sun. Catherine took everything in. Asking questions the whole way home. “Sheri!” she exclaimed excitedly. Pointing in the distance. “Is that it?”

    Ethan smiled at the little girl’s reaction. Sheridan looked to him for confirmation. “Yes, Catherine. We’re home,” she beamed. Falling in love with the place at once. “Ethan…thank you.” “I still don’t understand why you can’t just stay at the cottage anymore. But this place is definitely…you’ll like it. I’m certain of that,” he said. Taking her hand and helping her out of the car after it had slowed to a stop.

    “Sheri,” Catherine said anxiously. “May I…?” “Don’t go too far,” Sheridan smiled. Running a hand over Catherine’s glossy dark curls. “And be careful.” “Ethan,” Sheridan said after Catherine’s tiny figure disappeared into the house. “I have my reasons. Please respect them.” “I do,” he sighed. Hugging her close. In goodbye. “Are you not coming in?” she said. Somewhat disappointed. “You and Catherine need some time alone. To get settled. I’ll be back later. I promise,” he said. Opening the car door and getting in. “See you then,” she called after him.
    Watching until he was gone before she turned around with a smile. This was her home. Her and Catherine’s home.

    “Catherine! Catherine, where are you?” she yelled. Her voice echoing off the still rather bare walls. She would have to do something about that. Soon. She was growing more and more excited about the prospect of fixing up this place. Making it a real home. “Catherine!” she called. Still no answer, but she could hear the tinkling sound of her laughter in the air. She followed the sound. “Catherine…there you are,” she finished in a whisper. Her heart pounding when their eyes met. “Luis,” she breathed. “I thought…” “Welcome home,” Luis greeted with a breathtaking smile. “We’ve been waiting for you,” Catherine giggled. Kissing Luis’s smooth shaven cheek with a sweet smile. “For a long time,” Luis said as he took her hand in his and pulled her close. “Such a long time,” he whispered softly. Brushing her hair back gently from her face and taking her in his arms. Happy tears filled her blue eyes as she listened to the comforting thud of his heartbeat. Home. She was finally home.

  2. #2
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    Re: Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

    Part One



    “Sheridan,” Gwen said. Touching her bare arm gently. “She’s so adorable.” A happy smile lit up Sheridan’s face. Made her blue eyes sparkle as she glanced at Catherine. Currently squealing in delight and throwing her head back when Luis pushed her high in the sky. Her almost black curls blowing in the wind. The tire swing on the ancient tree already a favorite of hers. “Sheri,” Catherine called. “Watch me. Luis says I can touch the sun.” Luis shrugged his shoulders and grinned at her lazily. “Look at you,” Gwen laughed. “Catherine may be able to reach the sun, but you’re on cloud nine. You still love him, don’t you? Even after…” She sighed. Sitting down on the rustic picnic table. A relic left behind by the previous owners.

    Gwen hesitated for only a second before she joined her. Smoothing her silk skirt around her crossed ankles. “Even after,” Sheridan whispered. Her heart skipping a beat when Luis looked her way. “So…,” Gwen began thoughtfully. “Guess all my letters and phone calls trying to convince you otherwise were ignored. I’m offended,” she teased. Doing a very handy impersonation of her mother at that exact second, Sheridan thought with a laugh. “He made a mistake, Gwen. We all do. You have to admit…with my prior behavior, it was understandable.” “Maybe,” Gwen admitted. “What now?”

    Sheridan mulled the simple question over in her mind for a few seconds before answering. “We start over. If he’s willing, of course. Learn more about each other. So we won’t make the same mistakes again. And hopefully,” she paused. Waving at Catherine and blushing at Luis’s wink. “Hopefully, he’ll have the patience to put up with me. Take things slow. If I don’t scare him off first.” Gwen snorted. Very unlady-like. “Sheridan…do you hear yourself? Willing? Patient? Afraid? Look at the man. Most men would have run the second ‘I love you’ escaped your lips. And Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald hardly seems the type to be scared of anything. Or anyone. Especially you. Although…you are a bit of a challenge,” she smirked.

    “Well thanks for your vote of confidence. I feel so much better,” Sheridan scoffed. “And you’re supposed to be my friend.” “I AM your friend,” Gwen smiled. Jumping down from the picnic table. “That’s why I’m going to go help Ethan with that lemonade he promised us and give you and Luis and Catherine some much needed quality time. Alone,” she stressed. “Make the best of it,” she warned. Her brown eyes twinkling with mischief. Sheridan smiled after her as she sauntered toward the French doors that led inside. To the open, airy living room. Open and airy because it’s empty, Sheridan, she thought. You HAVE to go shopping for some furniture. Soon. Maybe tomorrow.

    “Sheri! Sheri!” Catherine shouted. “Look what I found!” she said. Skipping up to her and proudly showing off her sweet little bouquet of wildflowers. “Aww. Thank you, Catherine. These are so pretty,” she said. Bringing them to her nose and inhaling the scent. “Luis got you a flower, too,” Catherine grinned. Even her green eyes smiling. “He did, did he?” she asked. Biting her lip nervously as he produced a single red rose from behind his back. “Luis,” she gasped. “Where did you find this? It’s so beautiful.” “There’s a whole garden full of them,” he said proudly. His dark eyes shining. “A little neglected. But we can fix that.” We. He said ‘we’, she thought. Her smile growing even wider.

    “Sheri,” Catherine said excitedly. Tugging her forward by the hand. “Swing with me. Please,” she pleaded with a pout of her pink lips. A trick she had quickly perfected during their two months of living together. Catherine was well aware that her Sheri could not bear to say no to her at all. “Come on, Sheri,” Luis teased. “It’ll be fun.” She laughed aloud. The little sneaks. They were double-teaming her, she realized when she caught Catherine’s attempt at a wink out of the corner of her eye. “Okay,” she relented. “How does this work?” she asked in puzzlement. “Sheri,” Catherine rolled her eyes. And she’s having NO problem fitting in judging by that little maneuver. “Here. I’ll help you,” Luis offered. And her breath got stuck in her throat at his gentle touch. Slow was going to be torture. Pure torture, came the unbidden thought. “Thank you,” she whispered.

    “You ready?” he asked. His brown eyes twinkling. “Luis!” she screamed when he didn’t give her a chance to answer. Launching her and Catherine high in the air. Catherine threw her head back in abandon. Giggling. She on the other hand…she clutched the old tire with an iron grip. Her fingers bloodless and white from the effort. “Sheridan,” Luis laughed. “I can’t believe you’re afraid of this. After what we’ve been through. Relax,” Luis encouraged. “I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.” That was all she needed to hear. She let go of her fears. Relaxed. And had more fun than she had had in ages. “Isn’t it fun, Sheri?” Catherine said breathlessly. Sheridan’s only response was joyful laughter.

  3. #3
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    Post Re: Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

    Part Two






    "You can't catch me!" Catherine squealed. Racing up the steps to her room. Sheridan smiled after her. This felt...it was almost like they were a family. She glanced at Luis out of the corner of her eye. He looked so...content. "She already loves it here," she said softly. "And you?" Luis asked with a smile. His dark eyes shining at her. Taking in the sparse walls. The empty rooms. "There's a lot of work still to be done."

    "I love it here, too," she admitted. "This place is home. Mine and Catherine's home. I can't wait to make memories here, Luis. Fill it up with all the things that say Sheridan and Catherine live here." Only Sheridan and Catherine, he wanted to say. "Sheri! Sheri! Listen!" Sheridan and Luis laughed softly as Catherine's sweet voice seemed to bounce off the walls. "Sheri...I'm afraid of the dark," Catherine pouted. Wrapping her little arms around Sheridan's legs. Forgetting all about her earlier dare.

    Luis turned the light switch on then. Flooding the room with light. "Better?" he asked. Kneeling at Catherine's feet and tapping her cute little nose with his index finger. Catherine threw her arms around Luis's neck gratefully and whispered, "Better." Sheridan's heart swelled with happiness and love for both of them as she watched Catherine lay her dark head on Luis's strong shoulder and snuggle close. Luis carried Catherine to the middle of the room where a mound of pillows lay. "Luis," Catherine questioned. "Where will I sleep? There's no bed." Luis's rich laughter filled the room. "Here, of course," he said. Resting Catherine against the pillows and kissing her forehead.

    "Does Sheri's room have a bed?" "Nope," Luis chuckled. "Sheri doesn't have a bed either," he stated. Straightening up beside her. When his arm brushed against her side she nearly jumped out of her skin. Her cheeks flushed when he teased, "We'll have to do something about that, won't we? Sheri NEEDS a bed." It wasn't so much the words. But the devilish look in his dark eyes. Sure...slow and steady won the race, Sheridan. But are you sure you won't suffer heart failure before then? "Where will she sleep?" Catherine asked curiously. Sheridan scooped Catherine up in her arms and settled back against the pillows with a sigh. "With you," she smiled. Stroking Catherine's dark curls tenderly.

    "Luis," Catherine said. Her tiny mouth forming an "O" when she yawned sleepily. "Will you stay with me and Sheri?" "Catherine," Sheridan said in surprise. "Luis can't stay with us. He has to work tomorrow." "Actually," Luis grinned. "I'm on vacation. Two weeks. Starting yesterday," he said. Laughing at the expression on Sheridan's face. Her blue eyes flashed. "I'm sure Pilar will be happy to see so much of you. Catherine...Luis can't stay with us because he has to go home to HIS family." "Oh," Catherine responded. The hopeful sparkle in her green eyes dulling. Her little face falling with this latest news.

    "Hey," Luis whispered. Tipping Catherine's chin up and looking into her eyes. "Why the sad face?" "Nothing," Catherine mumbled. Twisting a curl around her pinkie. Luis held a finger to his lips. Motioning for Sheridan to keep silent. And walked out of the room. Returning seconds later. His hands behind his back. "Catherine," he called. "Catherine...I have a surprise for you. Close your eyes." Catherine crossed her arms and did as Luis instructed. Her full bottom lip jutting out in a pout. Sheridan smiled at him when she saw the surprise. "Now...open them," Luis said. "My bear!" Catherine squealed happily. Hugging the fuzzy creature close and placing a kiss on its button nose. "Merci, Luis," she cried.

    "That's not all," Luis laughed. Tickling the soles of Catherine's bare feet. Catherine giggled. Beaming with pleasure at the thought of more. "Sheri's wrong," he said. Ignoring her arched golden brow at his words. "I talked with Mama before I came to see you today, and she and I agreed I would stay with you two for as long as it takes to get you both acquainted with this old house. She doesn't want you to be alone," he qualified. Trying to read the look in Sheridan's blue eyes. "Yay!" Catherine clapped. Her green eyes dancing with delight when Luis said there would be a story, after all. She tucked her dark head under Sheridan's chin and listened attentively as Luis wove a tale of a beautiful Princess and a Knight.

    "...and the Knight told the Princess...'Because I love you'." His heart thudded in his chest. It was too quiet, he thought. Wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans. Too quiet. "Sheridan," he whispered. Tracing the lines of her palm. "Sheridan," he repeated. Catherine shifted against him in her sleep. Cuddling even deeper into his embrace, and Sheridan's hand fell from her waist. A sheepish smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he realized...she was asleep. Fast asleep. She hadn't heard a word of his confession. The story was about him and her, of course. Maybe she was trying to tell him something, he thought. Stifling the laughter he felt rising in his chest. He kissed the crown of her golden head and pulled her closer to his warmth. His smile stretching wider as she sighed softly in her sleep. "Luis," she breathed. "Love you," she mumbled against his chest. Me too, Princess. "Me, too," he said. And shut his eyes. Maybe tomorrow.

  4. #4
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    Post Re: Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

    Part Three






    She blinked against the sunshine. A smile on her face as she stretched her aching limbs. What a wonderful dream she had had. She hoped with all her heart it came true someday. Soon. Blue eyes opened. Only to see a sight that made her heart feel it were going to burst from her chest. Catherine proudly presented the tray in her hands. "Sheri," she singsonged. "Luis and I made you breakfast." She reached out a hand to brush a stubborn black curl from Catherine's forehead and tucked it behind her ear. "Wow," she smiled. "You made this for me?" Catherine giggled happily. "Oui. But Luis helped."

    Her eyes traveled up toned denim clad legs and his muscular chest before she reached his twinkling brown eyes. She bit her lip self-consciously. Oh why did she always have to get caught? Luis winked at her. "I don't know, Sheri. Catherine did most of the work. She IS an expert on chocolate chip pancakes, you know." "Yes, she is," Sheridan sighed. Taking a bite of the rich concoction and moaning in delight. "These are fantastique. Where's yours?"

    Luis sank back against the pillows. Leaning back on his elbows and pulling Catherine against his chest. "We're all going to share, aren't we Catherine?" Catherine's dark curls bounced as she nodded her head. Grinning from ear to ear as Luis picked up the fork and speared a piece of the sweet treat and made airplane sounds. "Luis," she giggled. "Whoa! Hold up, Luis. Looks like Catherine's had quite enough accidents for today," she teased. Wiping the smear of chocolate off Catherine's cheek with her thumb. "Luis," Catherine bubbled. Leaning her dark head against his chest contentedly. "It's Sheri's turn." Luis smirked as he deliberately stopped just a whisper from her lips. Teasing her.

    "Luis," she huffed. "Aww. The Princess is a little demanding this morning." Catherine's laughter filled the room as she watched them. "Luis," she pouted. Tracing her fingertips feather-light along his arm. "Don't be mean. I'm hungry," she whispered. "AHA!" she squealed in triumph when she seized the fork from him in a moment of distraction. "Piece of cake." Luis groaned and jumped to his feet. But not before mussing Catherine's curls and earning an engaging smile from the little girl. "Luis...I was just playing."

    Luis took the plate from her hands and handed it to Catherine. Then grabbed her hands and hauled her to her feet. "I know," he breathed. Flitting his thumb across her cheeks with a smile. "I thought we might go into town. Find a few things to fill up this place. What do you say? Are you up to it?" "Sheri!" Catherine squealed. "Oui! Say oui! I want to go into town. Please," she begged. Tugging on the tail of her shirt excitedly.

    "Okay," she smiled. Catherine jumped up and down in delight and clapped her hands together. "Yay!" Luis chuckled at her exuberance. "Are you as excited as she is to go get furniture?" he smirked. She shoved him playfully. "Get out, Luis," she ordered. "Us ladies need to get dressed." "Dressed? Who says you have to wear clothes?" A pillow chased him out the door.

    Thirty some odd minutes later, the pair emerged from Catherine's room. A lovely vision in matching pale pink sundresses. And Luis couldn't wipe the smile from his face when Catherine held her foot up for him to inspect. "Look Luis. Aren't my new sandals pretty? Me and Sheri match." He scooped her up in his arms. "Very pretty," he agreed. He held out his hand for her, and she took it trustingly. Savoring the feel of his hand in hers. "Ready?" "Ready," she whispered.

    Hours later, they trudged through the doors tiredly. But Catherine had energy to spare. "Sheri...can we go swimming now? You promised Luis would teach me." "Catherine," she sighed. "Sweetheart...it's almost dark. Maybe tomorrow." "Sheri," Catherine whined. "Tomorrow," Luis promised. "We have to keep our promises," he said. Looking at her out of the corner of his dark eyes. "Don't we, Sheri?" "Yes," she said reluctantly. Her feet were sore. Her whole body was sore. Shopping with Catherine was exhausting Shopping while pondering a future with the man in front of her...well, she got a little carried away and bought almost everything with Luis in mind. She couldn't even think about tomorrow OR swimming right now.

    "Okay," Catherine relented. "Tomorrow. Luis...I'm hungry." Luis laughed out loud. "Stop it, Luis," she warned. "So I'm not a master chef. I CAN cook a few things. And I'm willing to learn more." "Luis," Catherine divulged in a not so quiet whisper, "Sheri burns stuff a lot." "Alright, you two. Great. Not even two days in the same house together...Catherine! You traitor!" she yelled. Laughing despite herself. Catherine squealed and raced to Luis's waiting arms. Luis threw her over his shoulder and bounded up the stairs. "Takeout!" he shouted. To Catherine she heard him say, "Even Sheri can't mess that one up, mon amie."








  5. #5
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    Post Re: Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

    Part Four








    “Do you have everything?” Luis asked. Running a hand over Catherine’s glossy dark curls. The gigantic Tweety Bird beach towel dwarfed her tiny figure. Orange floaties were on her tanned arms. She even had Teddy. “Catherine,” Sheridan shook her head. “Sweetie…don’t you think Teddy should sit this trip out?” Catherine’s green eyes grew wide. “Oh no! Teddy just has to go.” Luis grasped Sheridan’s arm. “Yeah, Sheri. He HAS to go,” he grinned. “Okay,” Sheridan relented. “YAY!” Catherine squealed. “Merci, Sheri. Merci.” Sheridan smiled when Catherine placed a very loud kiss on Teddy’s fuzzy forehead. Catherine skipped out the front door. “Don’t you know? Teddy’s our guardian angel.” Sheridan’s blue eyes misted over as she remembered that night once more. “Maybe he is,” she whispered. Pulling her beach bag onto her shoulder. “Got your swim trunks on, Luis?” “Who says I’m not wearing speedos?” Luis teased. “Gotcha!” he laughed at her shocked expression.

    Catherine waved at the gatekeeper as Luis’s jeep crawled up the winding road leading to the Crane Mansion. “Sheri? Will Ethan and Gwen be there? Will Uncle Julian?” “Uncle Julian?” Luis mouthed with a tickled grin. “Luis,” Sheridan rolled her eyes. “We can still go to the public pool if you want to.” “Sheri,” Catherine said. “Why didn’t we go to the beach? You promised me.” Sheridan turned around in her seat to face the little girl. “Well…a pool’s better for your first swimming lesson, don’t you think Luis?” Luis nodded his head. “But the Crane pool,” he muttered under his breath. “Luis…are you sure you’re okay with this?” Luis linked his fingers with hers. “Sheridan,” he said seriously. “We’re going to MAKE this work. I can put up with Julian’s snobbery for a few hours. Besides…I plan to be around. So I can’t avoid your family forever.” Sheridan squeezed his hand. “Sheri! We’re here! Oh my goodness! Sheri! It’s so big! We won’t get lost, will we?”

    “Mijo! What are you doing here?” Pilar exclaimed in utter surprise when she opened the door. Sheridan slid her arm in his. “I invited him, Pilar. We’re giving Catherine swimming lessons today.” Pilar’s dark eyes lit on the tiny emerald-eyed child hugging her son’s leg shyly. “You must be Catherine,” she smiled. Kneeling down to Catherine’s level. “Luis has told me so much about you.” Catherine’s green eyes twinkled. “He said you’re a very special little girl.” Pilar didn’t miss the look of total adoration Catherine gave her son. The feeling was entirely mutual, too. She smiled slightly. She’d be seeing a lot of this little girl. She was sure. “Pilar,” Sheridan smiled brightly. “Where are Ethan and Gwen?” “They’re waiting at the pool for you,” Ivy announced. And Catherine’s pink, pouty mouth fell open. “Sheridan,” Ivy gushed. “She’s darling.” Luis lifted Catherine in his arms. “I’m Ivy,” she said. Cupping Catherine’s silky cheek. “You’ll have to visit me,” she smiled. “Sheri?” Catherine questioned. Sheridan nodded her consent. “Oui! I’d like that. Very much,” Catherine whispered.

    “Catherine! Don’t run! It’s not safe!” Sheridan called. As Catherine disappeared around the corner. Dark curls flying. Luis laughed. If someone had told him a year ago that he would be a guest at the Crane Mansion…Sheridan’s guest, no less…and that he’d be envisioning a future with the stubborn woman who had crashed into his police cruiser—twice, he would have never believed it. Sheridan caught him staring. “What? Too much sunscreen on my nose?” she blushed. “Luis.” “Sheri! Sheri! Vite! Vite!” Sheridan giggled. “Let me guess. Hurry?” Luis held the pool gate open for her as she passed through. “Sheridan!” Gwen cried. Hugging her shoulders. “Aunt Sheridan,” Ethan laughed “It’s not fair to make her wait. Look at her. She’s so excited.” “Luis! Luis!” Catherine squealed. Tugging on Luis’s arm impatiently. “I’m ready for my lesson now.”

    Luis stripped his tee-shirt off. Gwen’s elbow connected solidly with Sheridan’s ribs. “Slow, huh? Doll…I don’t think you’re going to last that long,” she teased. This time Luis caught Sheridan staring. And winked. Gwen snickered. “100 bucks says you won’t make it another week.” “Gwen!” Sheridan gasped. “Some friend you are. Ye of little faith.” Ethan grinned. “I’ll take that bet and then some. 200 bucks!” Sheridan slapped her nephew on the chest. “And this is my family and friends speaking here.” Catherine’s delighted giggles permeated the air, and Sheridan’s heart melted when she saw the two most important people in the world to her. Having the time of their lives. “Sheri! Sheri, aren’t you getting in?” “Yeah, Sheri.” Sheridan smirked at him. Her shorts and tee fell to the ground. At about the same time as Luis’s jaw. “Isn’t that against the law?” Luis breathed into her ear as she waded out to meet him halfway and Gwen enticed Catherine with a beach ball. “What?” she shrugged nonchalantly. Luis groaned as he stared into her deep blue eyes. Just how much longer was he going to be able to control himself?

    Ethan snored loudly in the chaise by the pool, and Catherine giggled. Her hand over her mouth. Gwen rolled her eyes. “You should have heard him last night.” “Ah!” Catherine squealed when Luis grabbed her up in his arms and jumped off the pool’s edge. “Again! Again!” she sputtered. Blinking against the water dripping into her eyes. “Catherine,” Sheridan smiled. “I think it’s time we tried it without the floaties.” Catherine’s big green eyes grew worried, and she wrapped her arms around Luis’s neck tightly. “I won’t let go,” Luis promised. Catherine held onto him trustingly as Sheridan pulled the slippery devices from her arms. “Ready?” “Oui.” Luis lay Catherine on her back. His arms supporting her. “Relax, Sweetie,” Sheridan encouraged. Brushing Catherine’s wet curls from her face. “You can do it, Catherine!” Gwen called. “That’s it,” Luis laughed. “You’re floating, Catherine.” Catherine sent a dazzling smile his way. But when she realized Luis was no longer holding onto her…her smile disappeared.

    “Luis,” she pouted. Choking up the water she had just swallowed. “You promised.” “He only let go for a second,” Sheridan said softly. Rubbing Catherine’s back comfortingly. Catherine hid her face in Sheridan’s shoulder. Refusing to meet Luis’s eyes. “Do you want to get out now?” “Oui,” Catherine sniffled. “She’ll be alright,” Gwen reassured. “That little girl adores you. Someone else does, too,” she said. Staring straight ahead. Watching Sheridan cradle Catherine’s towel-clad little body close. “Don’t hurt them, Luis,” she said. Pinning him with her golden brown eyes. Luis stared back at her unflinchingly. “Never. They mean too much to me.” Gwen smiled. “I’m glad we understand each other.” Luis watched her swim away with strong strokes. Then his eyes met Sheridan’s across the pool. Never.

    Catherine finally forgave him. Even let him coax her back into the pool. Without the safety net of her orange floaties. Luis thought the swimming lesson was a great success. They said goodbye to Gwen and Ethan as the sun was fading in the sky. Catherine slept the entire drive home. Curled up in Sheri’s arms, of course. She didn’t even wake as they tucked her in her bed. Luis looked around the house in wonderment. And smiled at Theresa’s scribbled note. Yeah…it was a good surprise. He walked Sheridan down the hall to her own bed. Goodnight was so hard to say. He knew his arms would feel empty tonight. But not for long, he thought as he kissed her. Gently, chastely, on the lips. Just a whisper of a kiss. Not for long. Sheridan leaned back against her closed bedroom door with a sigh and a hint of a smile on her lips. Slow seemed like an eternity. But nobody said it wasn’t sweet.



  6. #6
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    Post Re: Where the Heart Is (Sheridan/Luis, Theresa/Ethan/Gwen/Hank?)

    Part Five








    “Luis! Don’t you dare!” Luis grinned mischievously. Advancing on her. Paint brush brandished. “Luis! No,” Sheridan giggled helplessly as he swiped the brush down the front of the faded gray Harmony High tee she wore. His. Pilar’s dark head peeked through the door. There was more paint on those two than the walls. Catherine bounded up the stairs. Followed closely by Theresa. “Pilar,” she bubbled. Batting her thick black lashes and prissing for her. Pilar held a hand to her mouth. Theresa giggled. “I did her make- up.” “I…I can see that. Catherine,” she smiled warmly. “You look lovely.” Catherine threw the pink feathered boa over her shoulder and pranced down the hall. “Theresita…what will Sheridan think?” “Oh! Hush up, Mama. It’s just dress-up.” “OH MY…what happened to…Luis. Someone kidnapped Catherine and left a bona-fide movie star in her place.” “See?” Theresa grinned. Pilar could only shake her head. “Okay…but Theresita…absolutely NO talk of Fate.” “But Mama…” Theresa whined.

    “No buts,” Pilar said sternly.

    “Sheri! Sheri! Here.” Sheridan knelt at Catherine’s feet. “Yes, Miss Hollywood,” she teased. Catherine removed the sparkling tiara from her tangle of dark curls and placed it carefully on Sheridan’s golden head. “I always knew you were a ‘real’ princess, Princess.” Sheridan rolled her eyes. But Luis didn’t miss the affection in them. Neither did Theresa. “Theresa,” Sheridan smiled. “I haven’t had a chance to thank you for your wonderful surprise. So…thank you.” “Yeah, Sis,” Luis grinned. “It was kinda like walking into the Twilight Zone,” he laughed. “But what you and Whitney and Simone and Kay did…it was great.” “If it was so great why have you already moved most of it?” Theresa asked. A gleam in her brown eyes. Luis waved her off. “Sheridan’s furniture. She puts it where she wants it.” “Luis! That is such a lie,” Sheridan exclaimed. “Theresa…I’ll have you know we went back and forth on where the couch should be for almost an hour. I wanted it by the window. Luis said we couldn’t see the television as well from over there.” “Wow!” Theresa gushed. “It’s like you two are married already.” Luis choked. So hard Catherine asked in a worried whisper, “Luis? Are you okay?” Theresa found Sheridan’s red cheeks especially cute.

    “Theresa! There you are,” Whitney smiled. Waving at Luis and Sheridan. And Catherine, of course. “Terrorizing your brother again, I see,” she hissed. Theresa’s brown eyes went wide. “I am NOT,” she said incredulously. Whitney grabbed her arm and pulled her out into the hall. “You are SO lying. Listen…Luis asked you to back off because he’s determined to take things slow with Sheridan. For once in your life…listen,” she pleaded. “Aunt Sheridan? Are you up there?” Theresa’s face broke out in a glowing smile. “Ethan. Ethan’s here.” “Sheridan! We came to help.” “And Gwen,” Theresa grumbled. “Why did SHE have to come?” “I don’t know, Theresa. Maybe…let’s see…because she’s his girlfriend. Not to mention Sheridan’s friend. Wipe that scowl off your face. They’re coming.” “Hi, Theresa,” Ethan said politely. “I thought you’d be here. Mother’s been lost without you.” Gwen smiled at the two younger girls. “Hi. Where’s Sheridan?” “She and Luis and Catherine are in her room,” Whitney offered. “Thank you,” Gwen murmured. Brushing past them both. “So…,” Ethan said uncertainly. “What are they doing?” “Painting,” Theresa said as if in a trance. Ethan looked at her oddly. “Each other,” Whitney added. And Ethan’s lips quirked in a smile. “This I have to see.”

    “Gwen!” Catherine cried happily. Racing to Gwen’s outstretched arms. Gwen picked her up and twirled her about with a smile. “Good morning to you, too,” she laughed. Wrinkling her nose at the pink feathers. “I think I’m…I’m going to…” “Bless you,” Sheridan laughed when she sneezed. Catherine squeezed Gwen’s neck and slipped from her arms. Grasping one of her hands in the process. “Come see my room. Don’t look. It’s a surprise.” The door opened slowly. Creaking on its hinges. “Catherine,” she teased from behind her hands. “May I look now?” “Oui,” Catherine said. With more than a hint of pride in her voice. Gwen’s brown eyes blinked open. The walls were sky blue. With the illusion of fluffy white clouds. A miniature white wicker vanity set rested in the corner. Gwen smiled as she sank into the downy softness of the bed and picked up Catherine’s teddy. Angels of all kinds watched over them. “Angels,” she whispered. Gwen’s eyes were drawn to a photograph on the night stand. Of Catherine. Sheridan. And another woman…a beautiful, smiling woman she could only guess was Marie. “Sheri gave me that. She says Mama will always watch over me. Just like her.” “Of course they will,” she said softly.

    A gentle knock on the door made them both jump, and Gwen bowed her head in embarrassment at Sheridan’s amused look. “Pilar’s sending Ethan to the market for a few groceries, and since I obviously can’t go,” she laughed. Indicating her rather colorful appearance. “I thought you could go, and fill me in on all the details. Ethan’s never done his own shopping before.” Catherine’s green eyes grew wide with excitement. “Sheri…Sheri, may I go? Please?” she pouted. Sheridan hooked her finger under the pink boa around Catherine’s neck and pulled it free. “Oui,” she smiled. “But you can’t go out looking like THAT.” Catherine giggled and lifted her arms above her head for Sheridan’s assistance removing the equally pink ballerina tutu. Gwen drew the closet doors open and emerged with a pair of white capri pants and a lavendar tank top. “These are adorable,” she cried. Catherine held onto Sheridan’s shoulders for support as she stepped into the pants. Gwen pulled the heavy silver brush through Catherine’s silky dark curls and tied a matching lavendar ribbon in her hair. “Oh Whit,” Theresa bubbled from the open doorway. “I can’t wait to have kids of my own someday. Ethan would make such a wonderful father.” Even Whitney’s pinch on inside of her arm couldn’t bring Theresa back to reality. “Are you almost ready?” “We just have to get this make-up off and then Catherine and Gwen are all set to go.”

    Pilar let the curtain fall back into place after Ethan’s car disappeared down the drive, and she sighed. Her fanciful daughter…Theresita would not abandon her dream of becoming Ethan’s wife. Not even faced with evidence that he and Gwen were happy. That Gwen wasn’t the monster she wished her to be. Ethan didn’t need rescued as Theresa’s romantic dreams dictated. But instead of the desired effect…it only made her more determined to make Ethan fall in love with her. What was she going to do with her daughter? “Pilar.” “Hmm?” Pilar said softly. Turning around to meet Sheridan’s blue eyes. “I just wanted to tell you again how grateful I am for all…this,” she explained. Pilar smiled and finished pouring a second glass of lemonade. “You don’t have to thank me, Mija. You’re like a daughter to me.” Sheridan beamed. “But I’ll accept it anyway. Now…take this up to Luis. The other one’s yours. If you need me, I’ll be outside. Exploring those gardens of yours.” “Tha…” “Mija,” Pilar chided. Sheridan laughed and picked up both glasses. Brushing by. Pilar lay a hand on her cheek where Sheridan kissed it. Listening to the sound of Sheridan’s footsteps as she ascended the stairs. Then the happy laughter that soon followed. “I mean it, and I’m sure that soon Luis will make it official.”


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