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Thread: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

  1. #9

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 8 - "Company"

    Sheridan stood up in the pit and slowly walked over to the crumpled form lying on the ground. He was lying on his stomach, so she couldn't tell who it was. Bending down, she carefully turned him over and looked at his face. Squinting to see in the dim light, she studied the features on the man's face. In an instant she knew who it was - Julian!!!

    "Oh my God, is he dead?!" she cried, trying to feel for a pulse.

    Just then, he started to stir. Lifting his head up off the ground, Julian opened his eyes and tried to focus. "What - where am I?" he muttered.

    "Oh, Julian, you're alive!" Sheridan cried, throwing her arms around his neck. Julian winced in pain.

    "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, "I shouldn't have touched you. Julian, maybe you shouldn't move. You might be injured."

    "No, I'm all right," he said, managing to sit up. "I think I just got the wind knocked out of me, that's all." He felt a surge of pain shoot across his upper back. "Ouch!" he grimaced, rubbing his back.

    "What happened?" Sheridan asked. "How did you fall down here?"

    "I think I took a nasty hit in the back," her brother replied. "I don't know what was worse - being struck in the back or falling down into this God-awful pit."

    Sheridan sat down beside her brother, trying to make sure he was indeed all right. "Julian, what are you doing here?" she asked. "How did you find me?" Then, as if the realization suddenly dawned on her, she said, "You came to rescue me!" Jumping up, she exclaimed, "You must have brought Luis!" Sheridan smiled broadly as she yelled, "Luis! Luis! I'm down here! We're both down here in this pit!"

    "No, Sheridan," Julian said soberly. "Luis isn't here. It - it's just me."

    "Just you?!" Sheridan said incredulously. "You mean you didn't bring Luis with you? Or anyone else?"

    "I'm sorry, Sheridan," he said sadly. "There wasn't time. Looking back, I should have called him, but I was afraid I'd lose her." He relayed the events of the day to Sheridan, hesitating when he got to the part where he arrived at the door. "I...I thought I heard something inside - a scream or something - so I just came on in. The door was unlocked. Imagine that - a kidnapper leaving the door unlocked. Some mastermind, huh?"

    "A psychopath is more like it," Sheridan said. "Julian, you thought that was me screaming? You were worried about me, weren't you?"

    "I - well, I thought you were in trouble," he said. "I mean, who knows what that clown could be doing to you?"

    "Clown is the correct word here," Sheridan said. "You don't know how right you are." She got up and leaned over him, putting her arms around his neck from behind. She hugged him gently. "Oh, Julian, you really care about me," she said. "Thank you for trying to save me."

    "Yes, well, anybody would have done it," he said a bit uncomfortably.

    "Awww, such a touching scene!" a voice bellowed from above. "You break my heart!"

    Julian looked at the top of the pit. Leaning over the edge was someone in a clown mask! "What the...?" he said.

    "This, Julian, is the clown I was talking about earlier. She is the one who has been keeping me in these wonderful accommodations - feeding me three square meals a day - you know, I think she deserves a tip!" Sheridan surprised herself with how nervy she had become. It was good having someone here to share in her predicament, she thought. It gave her courage.

    "Don't get smart with me, Blondie," Charlie said. "I can just cancel your room service anytime." She then turned her attention to Julian. "So, Mr. Whoever-you-are, what's the story? Why did you follow me to my beautiful abode?"

    Julian thought about making up a story but decided against it. He and Sheridan were in this together. They might as well stand together, as one. "I'm Julian Crane, Sheridan's brother," he said. "I saw you peeking into her cottage and decided to follow you. I wondered what you were up to."

    "Well, I guess you found out," she said. "And it's too bad for you because those that enter my clean, comfortable hotel don't ever seem to leave. HA, HA, HA, HA!" With that, Charlie moved away from the edge of the pit.

    Sheridan shivered at the hideous sound of the kidnapper's laugh. "That laugh gives me nightmares," she said.

    "You always did hate clowns, didn't you?" Julian said sympathetically.

    "Ever since I was a little girl," Sheridan admitted. "I've always been frightened of them. Lately I've been having these terrible nightmares..." She relayed every detail of her dream to Julian, even the part where the clowns took her baby.

    Julian shuddered at the thought of the baby being stolen. It brought back all the memories of his child with Eve possibly being abducted from the hospital. "Sheridan, I'm not going to let that happen to you," he vowed. "I'm not going to let anyone take your baby."

    Sheridan smiled a little at the declaration from her brother. She had never seen him like this - actually caring about her and standing up for her. She knew he was being sincere, but she just didn't know how much he could do. He was no hero, like her Luis, but right now, he was all she had.

  2. #10

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 9 - "Hassled"

    Beth arrived home from her visit with Luis and slammed the door shut behind her.

    "What's wrong, Bethie dear? Trouble in paradise?" asked Mrs. Wallace.

    "Nothing's wrong, Mother. Everything's fine between me and Luis."

    "Yeah, I'll bet," Mrs. Wallace responded. "I hope you're not having hormone problems then. I never knew sugar could give you that kind of trouble, though." She laughed, enjoying her little jab at Beth.

    "Shut up, Mother," Beth fired back, "or I'll have to call that nursing home again - you know, the one with the rats crawling all over the patients."

    "No!" her mother cried. "You can't do that, Bethie. I'll be good, I promise."

    "There, that's more like it," Beth said, smiling. Looking around, she asked, "Where's Charlie?"

    "Oh, wait till you hear this one," Mrs. Wallace said, suddenly remembering the little problem in the basement. "It seems we have a new guest - courtesy of your Charliegirl."

    "What are you talking about, Mother? What guest?!" Beth exclaimed, her eyes widening in fear.

    "Well, it seems Sheridan's brother - you know, that rich guy Julian Crane - the one who treated me so terribly at that party - well, he came looking for Sheridan, and now he's in the pit too."

    "In the pit?!" Beth shouted. "What do you mean he's in the pit?!"

    "Just what I said, Beth. I thought I was the deaf one!" Mrs. Wallace replied in a defensive tone. "Your pal Charlie just threw him in there too. Before we know it, half of Harmony's going to be in that pit! Then the rest of the town will come looking for their friends, and what are you going to tell them? Everyone just happened to slip and fall in while they were admiring our basement décor? No, you're going to pay, Bethie. It's going to happen. There's no getting out of it now."

    "If I pay, so will you, Mother. You'll be wearing stripes right alongside me for this," Beth insisted. Then, looking worried, she said, "There's got to be a way we can handle this."

    Down in the pit, Julian tried to survey his surroundings. "There's got to be a way out of here," he said, feeling the walls of his subterranean prison.

    "There isn't, Julian. I've tried everything. We're not getting out unless someone lets us out, unless someone comes to rescue us." Sheridan's face suddenly lit up. "Julian, they'll figure out you're missing. Then, maybe someone will put two and two together and realize that both of us have been kidnapped by the same person."

    She looked at him then, a thought suddenly coming to her. "Julian, someone has to know you came looking for me!"

    He shook his head. "The security guard knows I have the videotapes, but he won't say anything. He's too afraid of Alistair."

    "Alistair!" Sheridan cried. "Maybe Father knows something. You know how he always seems to find out everything that goes on in town. Maybe he knows where we are."

    "If he did, I wouldn't hold my breath," Julian said. "Alistair Crane certainly would never win any Father of the Year awards."

    "But, Julian, he's our father. We're his only children. Surely he wouldn't want us to die down here in this horrible place."

    "Oh, Sheridan," Julian thought. "If only you knew..."

    "It's too bad you couldn't tell Luis about that woman," Sheridan said, thinking of the man she loved. "I miss him so much. Is he all right? Is he taking the news of my kidnapping well?"

    "Luis has been working night and day to find you. Some of the others think you just ran away, that you couldn't handle all the stress in your life and wanted to protect your baby from it. Luis doesn't buy it though."

    "He wouldn't." Sheridan smiled. "Luis and I are so in tune with one another. He would know I was in danger. I just wish you had a chance to call..."

    "My phone!" Julian yelled. "Sheridan, I forgot I had my cell phone on me!" Hurriedly he got it out of his jacket pocket and pushed the power button. "Damn!" he shouted, shaking the phone. "It's not working. It must have been damaged in the fall." He threw the cell phone down on the floor.

    Tears came to Sheridan's eyes. "We were so close to getting rescued...a phone call away."

    "It's going to be all right, Sheridan," her brother said, putting his arms around her hesitantly. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you. Not ever again."

    "Are you sure you two are brother and sister - the way you're always hugging and stuff?" the familiar voice taunted from the top of the pit.

    "Somebody needs to put an end to that clown," Julian whispered to Sheridan, putting his arms at his sides.

    "What's that you've got there?" Charlie cried in fear. "A phone? Give that to me now!"

    "You want it, you're going to have to come and get it!" Julian countered defiantly.

    "Julian," Sheridan whispered, "just give it to her."

    Charlie picked up a large rock and aimed it at Sheridan's head. "Your sister's head is going to be smashed in if you don't cooperate."

    Julian moved protectively in front of Sheridan, shielding her from the kidnapper.

    "Julian, just give it to her. It's not worth it," Sheridan pleaded. "It doesn't work anyway."

    Her brother reluctantly picked up the phone and tossed it to the kidnapper above. "Nice catch," he told her. "Didn't I see you in a circus act once?"

    "Cut the crap, wise guy," Charlie hissed. "Now the keys too."

    "What keys?" Julian asked, feigning ignorance. "Oh, my car keys! I don't have them. They must have gotten lost somewhere in your house. Maybe if you search the place on your hands and knees..."

    "I've had about enough of your mouth, rich boy!" the giant woman blared. "Your sister needs to be kept alive - for the time being. You, however, are expendable."

    Julian turned to look at Sheridan, wondering what the kidnapper was talking about - him being expendable, but not her. They were both worth a lot of money...

    Sheridan looked at Julian, her eyes pleading with him to give in.

    Finally, he removed his set of keys from his pocket and hurled them as far as he could above the top of the pit.

    Charlie ran after them, temporarily leaving the edge of the pit. She returned, waving the car keys above her head. "These just might get us out of the mess we're in because of you," she said, glaring at Julian. "Oh, yeah, these may help us write off the great, powerful Julian Crane once and for all!"

  3. #11

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 10 "Missing Person"

    Luis walked down the hospital corridor, looking for Eve Russell. He turned the corner and spotted her outside of the emergency room. "Dr. Russell, I want to talk to you about Sheridan."

    "Sure, Luis, what is it you need to know?"

    "I was wondering about her last check-up with you. Was everything OK? I wasn't able to be there with her; Antonio came. I just couldn't bring myself to ask him about it. I have a feeling he wouldn't tell me, even if there was something wrong."

    "Luis, you know I'm not supposed to talk about patients' medical conditions with anyone," she said, noticing his disappointment. "But since Sheridan is missing, I'll tell you whatever I can."

    "I know you told me recently that Sheridan's condition is delicate - that her life and the baby's could be in danger if she continued to be under too much stress."

    "Yes, that's right," Eve replied.

    "So I guess I want to know two things. First, did you tell Sheridan anything at her last visit that would make her want to leave town on her own - like if she didn't, the baby would be in trouble?"

    "I didn't say anything like that, Luis. I would never suggest someone in Sheridan's condition just up and leave town. Travel itself would not be good for her."

    "OK," he said, "I figured you were going to say that, but I just had to check. I don't believe Sheridan left on her own accord. I mean, Beth says she ran away, but I don't think she would stay away like this. I believe someone took her - after she left the estate grounds. I just know she would have come back by now otherwise."

    He continued, "Now for my second question: I want the truth, Eve. Do you think that Sheridan and the baby's lives are in danger if she was kidnapped and is being held somewhere? I mean, if otherwise she's being treated all right?"

    "I...I don't know, Luis. I've never been kidnapped, but I can guess it would put someone under a lot of stress - tremendous stress. That wouldn't be good for..."

    "Oh, Luis! Luis!" The two looked up to see Rebecca coming down the hall, out of breath. "I just came from checking on Gwen. She's OK, but Luis, I have to tell you I am very worried about my Pookey."

    "Your what?" Luis asked, confused.

    Eve looked at Rebecca intently, worry showing on her face. "What's wrong with Julian?" she asked, unable to wait for Rebecca to explain to Luis just who her "Pookey" was.

    "He...he didn't come home last night!" Rebecca revealed. "Look, Luis, you've got to do something - file a missing person alert or something. Please."

    "Hold on now, Rebecca," Luis said. "How long has Julian been missing? When was the last time you saw him?"

    "He was in his bedroom yesterday afternoon, watching some videos. I couldn't see why he was even watching them - I mean they didn't look that good if you ask me, but Pookey has been having some problems lately, if you know what I mean - so maybe they will help him, I don't know."

    Eve felt herself blushing at Rebecca's story.

    "Listen, Rebecca," Luis explained, "I don't think we need to get into all of Julian's uh, troubles, not right now anyway. Can you just tell me what time you last saw him?"

    "I guess about three o'clock yesterday afternoon. He gave me his credit card to go shopping with. I bought the neatest costumes, but when I got home to try mine on for him, he was gone."

    "Is his car missing?" Luis asked.

    "Why, yes," Rebecca answered. "It had been parked out front when I left."

    "I don't think I'd worry just yet, then," Luis said. "Julian has been known to - how do I put this delicately - visit other people sometimes, am I right? He likes the company of ladies in general, and maybe..."

    Again, Eve could feel her cheeks getting hotter. "Good thing the two of them aren't looking at me," she thought.

    "Oh, no," Rebecca declared. "Pookey wouldn't go behind my back with another woman. Not unless..."

    "Unless what, Rebecca?" Luis asked.

    "Well, not unless she came back to him," she said, raising both hands in the air.

    "Who is 'she'?" Luis inquired.

    "Well, there's this woman that Pookey's been pining after his whole life. Lately, he's been thinking about her a lot. He's hardly been my Pookey," Rebecca said, her voice pained from the thought of Julian's heart belonging to someone else.

    "And you think that just maybe, he's with this woman? That they might be together?" Luis asked.

    "I guess it is possible," Rebecca admitted, looking like she lost her best friend. "But I never imagined that's what it was."

    "Luis, don't you think you should take Rebecca's statement anyway, and go looking for Julian?" Eve asked, knowing that she was the woman they were speaking of, and Julian wasn't with her...

    Luis checked his watch. "From what you're saying, Rebecca, it looks like Julian has been missing for eighteen hours at the most. I'll have to wait another six hours to officially start the case, but I guess there's no harm done in taking your statement a little early. Let's go somewhere to talk in private." Luis led the shaken Rebecca to the waiting room.

    Eve stood frozen in the corridor, worry about Julian taking its effect on her. "I hope he's OK," she thought. "I can't lose him again."

    She carried on with her duties outwardly like nothing was wrong the rest of the day. But inside, Eve was sick with fear...

  4. #12

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 11 - "Togetherness"

    Charlie motioned for Beth to come toward her in the living room. She wanted to speak to her in a hushed tone so that Mrs. Wallace couldn't hear what she was saying.

    "OK, Bethie, last night I put Mr. Crane's car in the garage and shut the door, like you said - that way it's hidden," Charlie said. "We still need to come up with a plan for getting rid of it though - and Sheridan's brother."

    "All right, let me think about this for awhile," Beth said. "I'll come up with something."

    "Wha-What are you two whispering about over there?" Mrs. Wallace called out.

    "Nothing, Mother, just mind your own business," Beth responded.

    Mrs. Wallace started heading toward the pair, ignoring her daughter's command.

    "Listen," Charlie said to Beth, "there's something I need right away - a gun."

    "A gun!" Mrs. Wallace cried, fear rising in her voice. "What do you want with a gun?!"

    "Mother, why don't you go into the kitchen to check on dinner? Now!" Beth ordered.

    Mrs. Wallace carefully made her way toward the kitchen door with her walker, but went as slowly as she could to pick up what was being said between the conniving pair.

    "It's too hard to control two of them without a gun," Charlie explained. "Blondie's not too bad, being pregnant and all. But her brother's a different story. I don't like the looks of that guy. He doesn't seem trustworthy, you know."

    Mrs. Wallace chuckled as she headed into the kitchen. "And you do?"

    "That's it! One more word out of her, and she's in the pit too!" Charlie exclaimed, looking at Beth.

    "Mother, I told you to get going! Now do it!"

    "OK, OK, I'm out of here," Mrs. Wallace said, mumbling under her breath about how what goes around, comes around. She shut the kitchen door behind her.

    "Charlie, are you sure you need a gun?" Beth asked. "I've never liked guns."

    "It's necessary," Charlie said, "for your safety - and mine."

    "OK, well, why don't you go to a gun shop tomorrow and get one?" Beth suggested.

    "See, I can't do that," Charlie said. "They have some useless law now that says you have to have a background check to get one. That means I'm out."

    "Why?" Beth asked, somewhat fearful about finding out the answer.

    "Oh, some little mishap from my past. It's nothing," Charlie answered.

    Beth, however, looked worried. "What crime had Charlie committed in the past?" she wondered silently. "What have I gotten myself into?"

    "I guess I could get one," Beth said finally, "but isn't there a waiting period on guns?"

    "On a handgun, yes," Charlie replied. "That's why you need to get me a rifle."

    Beth let out a deep breath. "If you think you really need one, I guess I'll have to get it. I'll do it first thing tomorrow."

    "Thanks, Bethie," Charlie said, smiling. "Now any ideas on what to do about the car in the garage?"

    "Well, there's something I saw in a movie once," Beth began, her partner in crime nodding, a devilish grin on her face.

    Julian awoke and sat up, rubbing his hand against his neck. "Blasted dirt floor!" he cried.

    Then looking toward Sheridan, he noticed that she was already awake, sitting up on the lawn cushion, a far-away look on her face.

    "Sheridan, how are you feeling?" Julian asked, his voice revealing his concern for his pregnant sister.

    "I'm all right," she replied. "I guess I'm pretty used to these accommodations by now. You, however, can't be yet."

    "Oh, I'm OK," Julian said. "I've been through a lot worse."

    "When?" Sheridan asked. "Julian, your whole life has been nothing but upscale mansion living and first-class hotels."

    "Yes, well, some of them weren't so first class," he responded. "Listen, you needn't worry about me. You've got your baby to think about."

    "That's always on my mind," Sheridan revealed. "Luis's and my baby - always."

    "Sheridan, did you find out the baby was Luis's? I mean, I don't want to hurt you, but I thought you didn't know if it was his or his brother Antonio's."

    "Oh, I know now that Luis is the father of my baby," Sheridan said. "I just feel it. When you have a connection like we do, between two people who are deeply in love, you just know things - like Luis knew that I didn't run away. You probably wouldn't understand. Most people don't."

    "No, probably not," he said wistfully, his eyes fixed on the ground. Then changing the subject, he said, "I think we need to tell each other everything we know so far about these kidnappers. We need to put all our cards on the table, so to speak. Maybe we can come up with something."

    Sheridan nodded. "I already told you there are at least two of them - the large woman who you've seen, plus another woman, more normal size. Both were wearing clown masks."

    "Yes, that's right," Julian said. "Is there anything you recognized about them? Anything about their voices maybe?"

    "Well, I only heard the large one talk," Sheridan said. "Come to think of it, the other one didn't say anything to me. Do you think that means something?"

    "It could," her brother answered. "Maybe she thought you'd recognize her voice."

    "Hmmm..." Sheridan pondered the idea. "Maybe that's it. Maybe I know her from somewhere! Julian, we could be onto something!"

    "When did you see this silent woman?" Julian asked. "How many times?"

    "Only once. It kind of seemed like she was in charge. The other one - the big one - kept going over and whispering to her, as if she was asking her advice or something."

    "So the other woman, the small one, might be the boss," Julian said. "Interesting."

    "Why so?" asked his sister, her eyes now vibrant with excitement that her brother might be onto something.

    "Well, Sheridan," Julian replied, "kidnappings where women are in charge - where women are the only ones involved - are very rare. This just doesn't seem like a normal kidnapping. You heard what they said - that I'm expendable. I'm a billionaire, for God's sake, but they didn't ask for a ransom," he said slowly. "And they didn't ask for a ransom for you either, Sheridan. They're not after money."

    "Then what could they be after?" Sheridan asked, her voice becoming alarmed. "What could they possibly want from me if not money?"

    "That seems to be the question of the day," Julian said softly. To himself, he wondered, "My God, what could they be after?"

    Julian didn't let Sheridan see his worry. "We'll figure something out, Sheridan. You and me together..." he started to say, and then stopped.

    "You and me together what?" she asked.

    "I was going to say, you and me together can't be beat," he said softly. "That's what Mother used to say when you were really little, do you remember?"

    Sheridan shook her head sadly. "I can't remember much about our mother - except what she looked like, and how sweet she was - how much she loved me."

    "Oh, she loved you," Julian said, "so much. She used to tell us that apart, bad things could possibly happen to us, but together, we couldn't be beat."

    "I never knew that," Sheridan said, smiling warmly.

    "I just hope our mother was right," Julian thought to himself. "God, how I hope she was right about that..."

  5. #13

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 12 - "Escape Attempt"

    Charlie entered the Wallace's front door and glanced around the living room. Seeing no one there, she headed for the kitchen, where she found Mrs. Wallace preparing lunch for herself.

    "Where's Bethie?" Charlie asked.

    "Do I look like my daughter's keeper?" Mrs. Wallace questioned. "If I were, Bethie would not be doing all the terrible things she's doing to Sheridan right now."

    "Oh, get over it," Charlie huffed. "That blonde deserves everything that's coming to her, and then some."

    "Sheridan is sweet. She's an angel. She and Luis deserve each other."

    "You may be right there," Charlie responded. "If the pit wasn't already so full, I would just love to put Luis in there with her. Then I could really see her suffer as he slowly starved to death! Yeah, that would be a riot!"

    Mrs. Wallace got a sick look on her face as she saw the gleam of excitement in Charlie's eyes. "This psycho is a real nutcase," she thought. "Bethie, I think you finally found someone nuttier than you!"

    Out loud, she simply said, "You should suggest that to Bethie, but I don't think she'd want you to put Luis in the pit - him being a cop and all."

    "Oh, I can handle him, cop or not. Just wait until Bethie gets me that gun tomorrow! Then you'll see how I handle our prisoners!"

    "Speaking of those poor people in the pit...what are you going to do about Sheridan's brother? You're not going off him, are you?"

    "Not right away," Charlie said. "Not unless he gives me trouble. No, Bethie and I decided it's best to take care of the two of them together when this is all over."

    "But what if they come looking for him?" Mrs. Wallace asked. "People may realize then that Sheridan was kidnapped too - that she didn't run away."

    "Oh, Bethie thought up something good so they won't come looking for him - something she saw in a movie once. Oh, Bethie's a sharp one, she is! She always comes through for us!"

    "Yeah, Bethie's sharp, all right! She will come certainly through for us," Mrs. Wallace said. To herself, she added, "She'll get us all thrown in the slammer - that's how she'll come through for us!"

    Down in the pit, Sheridan and Julian continued to discuss what they knew about their abductors.

    "So, you think I may know who one of them is - the woman who doesn't talk?" Sheridan asked.

    "It's possible," Julian replied. "This other lady - the behemoth nutcase - doesn't seem familiar to you at all?"

    "No, not at all," Sheridan answered. "Believe me, I'd never forget someone like that!"

    "Neither would I," Julian said. "My back still hurts from that blow she delivered when I found you in this pit."

    "You've got to be careful of her, Julian. She would like nothing better than to have an excuse to pummel you to death," Sheridan said worriedly.

    "Oh, I'll be careful," Julian promised. "But I will also do whatever I can to get us out of here - even if it means risking a beating from our friendly bat-wielder. Really, I get beat up enough by TC Russell. I'm kind of immune to it."

    "Why is he always after you, Julian?" his sister inquired.

    "Oh, old grudges," Julian shrugged. "Nothing really; just some scores we never settled."

    "Well, hopefully someday you can work out your differences," Sheridan said. "Look at us...we're getting along much better than we have in years."

    "We are, aren't we?" he said, smiling a bit. "I wish it was under different circumstances though."

    "Me too," Sheridan agreed. "You know, Julian, I just thought of something! You told me when you first came down here that you didn't really know where we were at - that you didn't recognize the house or even see the street sign."

    "I didn't," he said. "If I had only looked, maybe we would be able to figure out where we are."

    "Maybe we can anyway," she suggested. "Why don't you tell me everything you remember about the chase - every place you made a turn onto another street. Maybe if we put our heads together, we can figure out where we are."

    Julian began relaying every detail he remembered about the car chase.
    "It sounds like you were in one of the eastside neighborhoods, near the wharf or the Book Café," Sheridan deduced.

    "It's not right by either of those places, although it could be within walking distance," he admitted.

    "What was the neighborhood like, Julian? The houses - were they mostly one- story or two? What colors were they mainly? What materials were they made of?"

    "I don't know," he said. "It's just your typical boring peasant class neighborhood."

    "Julian!" Sheridan exclaimed. "That's hardly being politically correct."

    "Political correctness is on its way out," Julian said. "Anyway, I wouldn't worry about offending these people. After all, they did kidnap us!"

    "OK, back to the houses...were they mostly wood, siding, brick, or stone?"

    "Wood, I guess," he shrugged.

    "And what color was the house, Julian? Didn't you tell me before it was brown? What shade of brown - was it tan or dark or...?"

    "I don't know, Sheridan, honestly. Brown is brown!" her brother responded. "I've never had an eye for colors, really. Ivy always handled those details when we were married."

    "All right then," Sheridan said, "maybe we have enough information already. Let's see now...a lower middle class, eastside neighborhood; a brown house on the middle of the block. It could be any place, really. Heck, it even describes Beth's place." Sheridan laughed. "And of course, I know it's not hers!"

    "Beth? You mean Luis's old girlfriend? Hmmm..."

    "Julian, you don't know Beth. She's been such a good friend to me and Luis. She would never be involved in..."

    "Din-din time, my basement friends!" the familiar voice interrupted from the top of the pit. "Wonder what goodies are in here for you today?"

    "Sheridan, follow my lead," Julian whispered.

    "What are you talking about?" she asked. "Julian, don't do anything stupid!"

    "I'm not," he whispered. "Just stay back, OK?"

    Charlie lowered the picnic basket down into the pit with the rope pulley.

    "It sure smells good today," Julian said in a kind voice, moving toward the basket.

    "Ye-yes, it does," Sheridan added. "We sure have enjoyed your cooking. It is so kind of you to..."

    As she was speaking, Julian suddenly grabbed hold of the rope and began to pull himself up it!

    "Why you...!" Charlie yelled. "Damn, where's that axe when I need it?" She left the edge of the pit to retrieve her weapon.

    "Here's our chance!" Julian cried breathlessly as he neared the top of the pit. "Whatever happens, just stay back!"

    "Oh, God, Julian - be careful!" Sheridan cried.

    Julian pulled himself up over the edge of the pit. As he stood up, he saw Charlie, baseball bat in hand, looming toward him.

    "I couldn't find my axe, but this will do nicely!" she hissed. She raised the bat over her head and swung it forward. Julian reached his hands up to protect his head as the bat came at him through the air.

    Charlie suddenly changed direction with the bat, and with a tremendous force, cracked the bat against his ribs. Julian doubled over in pain. A second blow to the legs knocked him backward into the pit!

    "NOOOOOO!" Sheridan screamed, as her brother hit the hard floor of the pit.
    She ran over to him, desperate to see if he was all right. "Oh my God, you've killed him!" she cried. "You've killed Julian!"

    "Good!" Charlie blared. "He deserved to die, trying to escape like that! And anyway, it saves me from having to put my little plan into motion tonight..." She backed away from the pit, leaving Sheridan to cry over her brother's motionless body.

  6. #14

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 13 - "Luis Confesses"

    "Julian!" Sheridan cried, putting her arms underneath her brother's neck and cradling his head against her chest. "Just when I thought we were finally getting close..." She began sobbing uncontrollably. "I...I need you, Julian! I can't take it here without you. I'll die in this place!"

    A sound could be heard coming from Julian's chest. Sheridan's eyes widened in surprise and delight as she watched her brother's chest move up and down, providing his body with the air needed to live.

    "You're alive! Oh, Julian!" Sheridan exclaimed with joy. "Thank God, you're alive!" She bent down and kissed her brother's forehead.

    Julian's eyes opened and then closed as he lapsed on the verge of consciousness. "Eve..." he mumbled softly.

    "What, Julian? I'm right here; it's Sheridan. I can't understand what you're trying to say."

    Julian again opened his eyes, trying to fix his gaze on the woman leaning over him. "Sher - Sheridan, is that you?" he asked, his voice a faint whisper.

    "I'm right here, Julian," she sobbed. "Just don't talk, OK? You had another bad fall."

    "This one - worse." Julian mumbled. "The pain..."

    "Shhhh, you're going to be all right," Sheridan said with overwhelming compassion in her voice. "Everything's going to be OK." She continued to hold onto her brother as he lay in agony in the bottom of the pit.

    "Here you go, Luis, the new missing person's file on Julian Crane," the young officer said, laying the file on his superior's desk. "Any ideas where Crane might be?" he asked.

    "Probably out on a drinking binge with some young thing," Luis said, a slight smile creeping up on his face. "I wouldn't worry about Julian Crane if I were you, Kevin. He can take care of himself."

    As the young officer turned and walked away, Luis picked up a second folder on his desk - the one containing information on Sheridan's disappearance. Sheridan, I know you can take care of yourself too - and the baby," he said to himself. "But I wish I could be there for you. I want to protect you, to help you through this awful time."

    His mind replayed all the adventures they had had together - all the times where he had helped rescue her, barely, from danger - first in New Mexico, then Paris, and when she was buried alive...

    Luis paused at the next memory that flashed in his mind. "Not Bermuda though," he said bitterly. "Why couldn't I have been the one to find you in the sea after the boat exploded? If I had found you, things would have been so different..." He shook his head, not letting himself imagine what course their lives would have taken. "Antonio," he muttered. "You definitely wouldn't be married to him now."

    What they had been through this past year! Sheridan having amnesia, falling for his brother; then Antonio being sick, the wedding - it was all a nightmare for Luis. The worst part of it all for him had been that they could never tell Antonio the truth. Every time they had tried, something had always stopped them - first Antonio's illness, then Sheridan's delicate pregnancy. How he had wanted to tell Antonio the truth and remove that burden from her, but it had not worked out.

    Luis thought about the whole situation with his brother - how Antonio believed that Sheridan had run away. Luis knew that wasn't true; he knew Sheridan so well. Maybe she did need a little time to herself, but she would never had stayed away this long, not without contacting him. He couldn't say that to Antonio, however. He couldn't reveal his true feelings for Sheridan in front of him...let him know that she was his soul mate, and he knew in his heart that she would never leave him.

    "I can't take this now," Luis declared to himself. "With Sheridan missing, and her and the baby in danger, I can't take this whole idiotic mess with Antonio anymore." He considered an idea that had just come to him - an idea that actually had been in the back of his mind for a long time. Luis nodded his head and jumped up from his desk. "I'm going to do it," he said firmly. "I'm going to tell Antonio the truth."

    He walked out of the police station with his head held high in determination, as if a big weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.

    Sheridan smiled as Julian once more opened his eyes; this time they were focused better. The dazed expression was gone from his face. He tried to move, but Sheridan cautioned him against it. "Don't move yet, Julian. Just rest."

    He smiled at her. "I can't believe you're doing this for me, taking care of me, after all the things I've done to you."

    "That's in the past, Julian," she said. "The imposter business - all that's in the past."

    "But there's so much more," he insisted, "so much you know nothing about. I don't think I'll ever be able to make it up to you."

    "You already have, Julian," Sheridan assured him. "You risked your life to try to save me. You protected me from that evil woman. I'll never forget that."

    "I just wish I could have done more," her brother said softly. Then, half smiling, he said, "I'm no Luis, am I?"

    "No," she admitted sadly, "but then, there's only one Luis."

    "You miss him, don't you?" he said suddenly.

    "Of course," she answered. "He's all I think about."

    "Hold onto those thoughts," Julian said. "If you can't be together, those thoughts can be your treasures."

    "I never knew you were the sentimental type, Julian," Sheridan joked.

    "There's a lot about me you'd probably be surprised to know," he said simply. Then, moving his head slightly to look into her eyes, he added, "Thanks, Sheridan."

    "Everything's going to be all right," she said. "Remember what Mother said? 'Together, we can't be beat.' "

    Luis pulled his car up to Sheridan's cottage and took a deep breath. "Well, here goes nothing," he said. He exited the car and headed for the front door.

    Without knocking, he opened the door. Antonio was just walking out from the kitchen. He stopped when he saw Luis. "What's going on, Luis? You look upset. Have you found out something about Sheridan?"

    Luis shut the door behind him and looked straight into his brother's eyes. "No, it's not about Sheridan's disappearance," he said. "There's no new information."

    "OK, well then, what's up? Why are you here?"

    "Antonio, listen, there's something I've been meaning to tell you for a long time...and I'm just going to have to come right out and say it."

    "Go for it, brother," Antonio said, a strange look suddenly appearing on his face.

    "All right, here it is," he said, taking a deep breath. "Antonio, Sheridan and I - we're in love. We have been for years." Luis exhaled slowly, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Antonio sighed and hung his head for a moment. Then, raising his head once more, he stared directly into Luis's eyes, his own blue eyes so piercing that Luis felt like they were cutting into his very soul.

    "So," Antonio said after a long pause, "you finally decided to tell me the truth."

  7. #15

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 14 - "A Brother's Betrayal"

    Sheridan sat on the floor of the pit, continuing to hold her arms around her ailing brother's neck. "Are you feeling any better at all?" she asked, leaning over to look into his eyes, which she could barely see in the dim light of the basement.

    "I think I'm going to make it, if that's what you mean," Julian answered softly, trying to smile. "We Cranes are a tough breed, aren't we? Look at all the things we have escaped in the past."

    "Yes, especially me," Sheridan said. "There have been so many times I have almost died - from the gangsters in Paris, being buried alive, and the boat explosion in Bermuda."

    Julian winced at the mention of the incident in Bermuda. A wave of guilt overtook his whole being as he remembered what he had tried to do to Sheridan. "Sometime when I'm better, there's something I need to talk about with you, Sheridan. Some things I need to tell you."

    "It can wait, Julian," Sheridan said, not sure what her brother was referring to. "You probably shouldn't even be talking now at all - you should just rest." She got up and gently laid Julian's head down on the floor of the pit. Sheridan retrieved a blanket and folded it up neatly. She then lifted his head up and put the blanket underneath as a pillow. Then she knelt down beside him.

    "You're being a very good nurse," he said. "I don't deserve all the kindness you are showing me, but I am thankful for it."

    "Julian, you're my brother. No matter what's happened between us in the past, you know I'll always be there for you when it counts."

    "God, how did I ever deserve a sister like you?" Julian asked. "If you weren't so much like our mother, I would say you couldn't possibly be a Crane. There's not a trace of Alistair in you."

    "You're not exactly a chip off the old block either, Julian," she replied. "I see a lot of Mother in you too - like when you were worried about my safety earlier. I'm sure that's something our mother would have done too."

    "Yes," Julian admitted, "but I do have some of our father's traits as well, unfortunately. I think it's high time I stand up to Father, though...high time I start being my own man, no matter what our dear old dad has to say about it."

    "I'm impressed," Sheridan said. "I've never heard you talk like this before, Julian. Has being down here changed you that much?"

    "I suppose it has, along with some other recent events," he answered thoughtfully. "I believe my epiphany came when everyone believed I was dead. I realized where my life was headed, and I didn't like it."

    Sheridan nodded slowly. "Being close to death can change people, usually for the better. I know with me, it made me more determined than ever to be with Luis, the man that I love."

    Julian smiled in agreement. "Just like I realized who I wanted to be with too."

    "But you are with Rebecca already," Sheridan said. "There's nothing standing between the two of you is there?"

    "So, Blondie's brother didn't die after all!" the hideous voice bellowed from the top of the pit.

    Looking up, Julian and Sheridan could see the masked female leaning over the pit's edge.

    "No thanks to you!" Sheridan cried, as Julian tried to motion her to stop.

    "Well, well, Blondie does have a backbone!" Charlie yelled. "And it looks like you're going to need it!" She laughed in a loud voice. "Of course, it won't do you any good," Charlie continued. "And now that that brother of yours is alive, I'm going to have to go out of my way to make people think otherwise. It would have been easier just to throw his body off a cliff."

    "What are you going to do?" Sheridan asked fearfully. "You know, Julian is worth a lot of money - billions. I'm sure our father would pay a lot to get him back."

    "It's not money I'm after!" Charlie declared angrily. Then in a calmer voice, she said, "I just want a happy life - a peaceful life, with someone I love. You, Blondie, are going to allow that to happen."

    As the masked kidnapper left the edge of the pit, Sheridan and Julian looked at each other in utter confusion. "What on earth was that insane woman talking about?" they both wondered.

    Luis stared at his brother, completely speechless. He had just told Antonio the truth about him and Sheridan, and his brother's reaction was far from what he had expected...

    Antonio had said, "So, you finally decided to tell me the truth!"

    Luis couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You knew?! All this time, you knew and you said nothing?! You bastard!" He lunged at Antonio, grabbing him by the shirt with both hands. "I ought to kill you for what you've put me and Sheridan through!" he declared, pushing Antonio back against the living room wall.

    Antonio forced Luis's hands away with his own. Luis backed up and swung his fist at his brother, striking Antonio in the mouth.

    Antonio wiped the blood from his lip with his right hand. "I deserved that," he said simply.

    "What the hell have you been up to - lying to us all this time, pretending you didn't know anything about Sheridan and me?"

    "I didn't know the whole time," Antonio insisted. "I didn't know until Sheridan and I came back to Harmony."

    "That was eight months ago," Luis said. "You've known for eight months and you said nothing?" He lunged toward his brother again.

    "Listen, Luis, I can explain," Antonio said, "if you just give me the chance."

    "Oh, this ought to be good," Luis sneered. "Go ahead, big brother, explain. Explain how you have put Sheridan in jeopardy, and the baby..."

    "I didn't mean to hurt Sheridan," Antonio insisted, "or the baby. Look, Luis, this goes back a long time ago, to the night I left town."

    "You mean back to the time that our father disappeared? What did you have to do with that?"

    "Nothing!" Antonio insisted. "It's not what you think. Alistair Crane had something on me, and he had Julian force me out of town."

    "Force you out?!" Luis yelled. "You mean he bribed you, don't you? What the hell for? What did you do, Antonio, huh? What kind of crime did you commit that had the Cranes after you?"

    "It wasn't a crime," Antonio said. "I don't want to get into that now. It's not what's important."

    "You let me decide what's important," Luis retorted.

    "OK, Luis, the important thing is Sheridan, right? It's finding her and the baby."

    "You bastard! If you had anything to do with Sheridan's disappearance, I swear I'll kill you - brother or not!"

    Antonio held his hands up in front of him. "Luis, just listen... I had nothing to do with Sheridan's disappearance - honest. I truly believe she left town on her own, just like Beth said."

    "All right, Antonio," Luis said, folding his arms. "Tell me what it is you do know then."

    "It started a long time ago," his brother revealed. "The Cranes made me leave town. I left the country - went to Mexico first, then hopped around all the islands in the Caribbean. Finally I landed on St. Lisa's, where I found myself, really. I became a pretty good fisherman."

    "Keep going," Luis urged, not impressed with his brother's tale of how he 'found himself.'

    "Then one day I fished a beautiful woman out of the sea - you know all about that. I had no idea who she was, Luis. You have to believe me. I had no idea until I came back to Harmony."

    "How did you find out then?" Luis demanded.

    "It was Alistair. He called one day - said he had to talk to me. He told me everything, all about you and Sheridan. I couldn't believe it at first - that my own brother would lie to me. Finally, he convinced me he was telling the truth."

    "That bastard!" Luis yelled. "He never gave a damn about Sheridan."

    "He told me to keep quiet about everything, to not let on," Antonio said. "What he wanted me to do seemed easy enough - just stay with Sheridan, the woman I love."

    "Why would he accept you with her and not me?" Luis demanded. "Because you were his stool? Is that why, Antonio? Because he could control you?"

    "I guess," Antonio shrugged. "As I said, it seemed easy...but it wasn't. I knew how much I was hurting the two of you, but I did it anyway. Inside, it was killing me."

    "Oh, I bet it was," Luis said angrily. "You were the victim in all of this, of course. What about your illness? Was that all faked too - part of the plan?"

    "No, Luis," Antonio said. "I really was sick. That part was true."

    "The wedding - how could you go through with that? How could you do that to Sheridan, knowing she was in love with me? Don't tell me you ever loved her. You couldn't."

    "I did love Sheridan; I still do, Luis. I wish she really was mine, completely - she and the baby."

    "The baby?" Luis asked. "What do you mean you wish the baby was yours completely?"

    "There's something I need to tell you about the baby, Luis," Antonio said softly. "I guess I owe you that much."

  8. #16

    Re: Pit of Redemption (Evian, Shuis)

    Chapter 15 - "The Truth"

    Luis couldn't believe his ears. "You know something about the baby? What is it? Tell me!"

    Antonio looked down at the floor and started moving his right leg back and forth uneasily, scraping the carpet with his foot. "Luis, I know you're never going to forgive me for not telling you I knew about you and Sheridan...for letting you believe that Sheridan had to stay with me because I was sick, because you thought the shock would kill me."

    "That's right," Luis agreed. "I will never forgive you for that, Antonio...for all the time you've cost me and Sheridan."

    "I loved her too," Antonio insisted. "I still do, even though I know her heart belongs to you."

    "Then why, Antonio? Why'd you do it? Are you that scared of Alistair Crane that you would sell your soul to him? If so, you don't really love Sheridan. You can't. I wouldn't have done that - not in a million years would I have made a deal with that bastard."

    "It wasn't like that," Antonio said. "I didn't make a deal. Like I told you, Alistair and Julian made me leave town when I was just out of high school - they had something on me, OK? Something that doesn't concern you now. It's not important."

    "You just let me say what's important," Luis said. "So you ran off, lived a carefree life for all those years while Mama and I were struggling to make ends meet. Then you rescued my fiancée, fell in love with her, and brought her back here to Harmony. Am I right so far?"

    Antonio nodded. "We've been through this, Luis."

    "Now we get to the really interesting part," Luis said, "the part where you stabbed your own brother in the back."

    "It wasn't like that," Antonio insisted. "I wasn't trying to hurt you, Luis. God knows, I owed you a lot for everything you went through when I was gone."

    "You weren't trying to hurt me? You allowed Alistair and Julian to make you play dumb..."

    "It was just Alistair. Julian wasn't involved this time around."

    "Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it."

    "It's true, Luis. Alistair called me and brought up what he had on me from the past. He said if I didn't go along with his little game, he would make trouble for me and my family."

    "So you sold your soul to the devil!" Luis yelled.

    "Luis, listen, I didn't mean to hurt anyone, especially Sheridan. I wanted to be with her - that's all Alistair said I had to do - just be with her. He even said if I didn't go along with him on this, he would hurt you. I didn't want that, Luis."

    "Don't pretend you did me any favors," Luis said angrily. "You're more of a bastard than I thought if you believe that."

    "All right, I won't say anything else about that," Antonio said. "Really, Luis, I figured it wouldn't be that bad for you. You had Beth after all - heck you were engaged to her. I kind of thought you two had made your way back to each other."

    Luis shook his head, incredulous. "You just aren't taking the blame at all, are you? You aren't sorry one bit, not the way you're trying to turn this around on me."

    "Luis, I am sorry, really - especially with the way Sheridan ran off from all the stress I put on her. If anything happens to her or the baby..."

    "The baby!" Luis shouted suddenly. "I want to know what you said you had to tell me about that. Sheridan always said you and she..."

    "We did, Luis," Antonio said, "on the island. Not here in Harmony, I swear."

    "You would have liked to though."

    "You're right, I would have - but I didn't," Antonio said. He lowered his head once more, his eyes staring at a spot on the floor. "I always wanted a family, Luis. I always saw myself as a father."

    "Antonio, look, I know you hope this baby is yours, but it's not," Luis declared. "It's mine and Sheridan's. I know you're probably mad that that's even possible, but I don't give a damn. Sheridan's mine, and so is this baby."

    "You're right, Luis," Antonio responded, looking into his brother's eyes. "The baby is yours."

    Luis looked in disbelief at his older brother. "But I thought you just said..."

    Antonio nodded. "Sheridan and I did sleep together, Luis, several times on the island."

    "Then how do you know you're not...?"

    "The father?" Antonio asked. "Because I can't have kids, Luis."

    "What are you talking about?" Luis asked, not believing his ears.

    "It was a racing accident I had several years ago on the island. I was paralyzed for awhile. Physical therapy helped me, and Liz took good care of me - but there was one thing that couldn't be fixed. The doctors told me I could never have children; there was too much damage. I can, you know, sleep with a woman...but I can never be a father." Tears came to Antonio's eyes. "I just thought this was my one chance to have a family. I thought I could be a father to Sheridan's baby."

    "My God, you make me sick," Luis cried. "I ought to beat you to a pulp for what you've done, for making me wonder all this time - making Sheridan have doubts too. So help me, if this costs us our baby..."

    "It won't, Luis. Sheridan will come back; you'll see. Everything will be fine...even better for her than before because I won't be here when she gets back."

    "Now that's the one smart thing you've said all day," Luis said. "Just see that it's soon."

    "It will be. I'll call and make the arrangements. Then I'll go see Mama and tell her goodbye."

    "She'll miss you," Luis admitted, "but she's the only one."
    "I know there's nothing I can say that's going to make you forgive me, Luis. I just want you to know I did it for the family - for all of you."

    "Tell that to Mama; I'm not buying it," Luis said. He walked to the front door and opened it. "Just so you're clear on something - I never want to see you here in Harmony again. Have you got that? Because if you try to come back and cause trouble for Sheridan..."

    "I won't, Luis; I promise. I'll let the two of you live your life in peace - with your baby."

    Luis turned and walked through the door, slamming it shut behind him.

    Charlie drove the Crane sports car out of town. "I could get used to riding in this thing," she said dreamily. She pictured herself and Beth riding along the coast in it on a warm summer's day, the baby in a car-seat in back. "Now that's life," she said, smiling.

    "Ah, well, you can't have everything you want out of life," she sighed as she parked the car along the side of the road, the front end pointed toward the edge of a cliff. Down below was the Atlantic Ocean in all its glory.

    Charlie left the engine running with the car in park. She felt around the floor of the passenger's side of the vehicle and retrieved a large object. The massive woman got out of the car and looked down at the water below her. It was dark, but the moon was full, so she could just barely see the waves lapping up against the rocks. "Nice night for an accident," she said, and then let out an evil laugh.

    Charlie held the object up and examined it. It was a piece of driftwood that she had retrieved from the beach that afternoon. "Oh, you'll do fine," she told the piece of wood, smiling broadly. "You'll do just fine." She put the piece of driftwood on the accelerator and rolled down the driver's side window. She stood up beside the car. "Now all we have to do is wait."

    Five minutes later, a car could be seen in the distance, heading along the quiet road toward town. Charlie smiled excitedly as she leaned in the open window. She slipped the gear into drive and quickly headed toward the woods on the other side of the road.

    Julian Crane's sports car rolled over the edge of the cliff into the ocean as the other car approached the scene. The driver of the car slammed on his brakes.
    From her hiding place in the trees across the road, Charlie watched as the driver exited his car and looked over the edge of the cliff, shaking his head.

    "Oh, Beth, you come up with some of the best plans," she said to herself as she hurried through the woods back to town. "Now nobody will think Julian Crane was kidnapped, and no one will think someone has both him and Sheridan. They'll still think Sheridan ran away. We're safe now, Bethie. It's smooth sailing from here."


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