Hellooo...first of all, thank you for reading. This chapter is incredibly laid back. I wanted to delve more into what Sheridan was feeling and what it meant to deal with their different moods. I really wanted to express how they balance each other out, so I hope that came across in this chapter. I also had some deeper stuff that I needed to get into that is relevant in future chapters. I hope I'm keeping your interest. I truly appreciate any feedback I get... I like to know that I'm not boring the crap out of you guys!


Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. I just thought they deserved a better chance than JER ever gave them.

CHAPTER NINE

Sheridan awoke abruptly from a particularly vivid dream about Ella. She was so sad in front of that window; the window that was never stained glass for Sheridan, but always just a window. It exploded as she fell from it, but Sheridan never quite caught why or how. Ella’s big brown eyes haunted and pleaded; and Sheridan’s cheeks were drenched when she awoke. The dream, combined with the fact that she couldn’t remember the last time she woke up crying, gripped at her heart. This alone put her in a terrible mood first thing in the morning.
But as she rolled over and caught Luis sitting up in bed, smiling into his cell phone, and the events of last night came quite suddenly to her, her mood darkened even more. She looked away as she sat up in bed and turned her back to him. He chuckled at whoever he was talking to.
“Okay. Great,” he said cheerfully. “I think tomorrow afternoon, but I’ll call you when we get there. Miss you, too. Bye.”
Sheridan glanced back towards the clock, which read 6:26 AM, and started towards the shopping bags they had picked up yesterday afternoon. She’d never made it from her day clothes to her night clothes. She hadn’t even had a shower, in fact. She felt sticky and dirty, and just completely miserable. Grabbing the black BCBG sweats she had picked out yesterday, she started towards the bathroom without a word.
“Good morning,” Luis said amiably.
Sheridan cast dark eyes at him. “Yep,” she replied grumpily, never breaking stride.
“Did you sleep well?”
She realized then that he wasn’t going to let her just take off to shower, so she turned towards him when she reached the bathroom door. “No,” she said simply, and she gave him a pointed look that told him just how bad of a mood she was in.
To her surprise, he laughed at her. “Well, you’re looking well,” he teased.
She gave him a foul look. “Thanks,” she said shortly. “I’m going to shower.”
“I was thinking we could leave tomorrow morning,” he continued, ignoring her. “That should be enough time to keep anyone who tried following us off our tracks. We could leave my truck at a rental place somewhere near Harmony. I was just on the phone with Beth, and she said she would pick it up in Bangor.”
Sheridan’s mood grew even darker at the mention of Beth. “Great,” she grumbled.
“I figured we could take a rental from there. Once we get to the Castleton/Harmony road, we can park and walk the back roads to your house.” He was rummaging through the bags she had just left, completely oblivious to her sarcasm. “Beth will park my truck in her garage, take her bike to the rental, and bring it back to Bobby’s. Bangor has a Bobby’s, too; that’s where we’ll get our rental. She said she’ll rent to drive to Bangor. They won’t care which station the cars are returned to, as long as they’re returned. I figure it’ll be like a swap. They’ll be okay with that, if I know Bobby.”
Sheridan shifted her weight and dropped her clothes on the bathroom floor, growing even more irritated the more that Luis talked. “Beth—is she your girlfriend or something?” she blurted out, annoyed.
Luis’s head snapped up in surprise. “What?”
Sheridan’s cheeks turned crimson with embarrassment and anger. “Nothing,” she said quickly. “I have to shower.” She turned away and started to close the door, but Luis’s voice stopped her.
“Beth is just a friend.”
Sheridan peeked out from behind the door. “I didn’t sleep very well,” she said by way of explanation. “I don’t mean to be snappy.” It was still new to her, having to give an excuse to be rude, and she grew even more embarrassed as Luis stared at her in amusement.
“You were pretty restless for the last hour there,” he agreed. “I didn’t want to wake you, though.”
Sheridan looked down, fidgeting a little, annoyed with herself for being so shy. “You and Beth seem pretty close.” She glanced back up at him. “I guess you’ve known each other for a while.”
His smile almost recaptured that arrogant smile she used to know, back when he constantly annoyed her and seemed to be a complete mystery to her. Could it really only have been weeks?
He approached her and leaned against the doorjamb. “We’ve known each other all our lives. It’s a small town…at least to those of us who have to work for a living.”
Sheridan’s expression became grumpy again, but he chuckled and lifted her chin with his index finger. “I’m teasing you, Sheridan. Beth and I are close, but she’s not my girlfriend. She’s dating Cory Hull, another officer that I work with. We’re all very close.”
“Oh,” was all Sheridan could seem to say, and Luis chuckled again. Irritated by the whole situation, Sheridan pulled away. “I need to shower,” she griped once more.
“All right. Shower then.” Luis smiled at her in amusement and left her to close the bathroom door in his face.

~*~
By the time Sheridan had finished showering, she was feeling pretty embarrassed about the whole situation. She was all-too-aware of the fact that she had sounded incredibly jealous over Beth and was behaving like a grumpy child. She was also curious about Luis’s sudden shift in attitude from last night, when he’d all but growled at her on his way to the bathroom. Part of her almost attributed this to his conversation with Beth this morning, and that made her even more jealous.
She stared at herself in the mirror now, freshly bathed, dressed in her comfortable black sweat suit, make-up applied just so, and she vowed that she would just plain get over it. There were much more important issues at stake, she reasoned with herself, such as staying out of the mental hospital and figuring out if Luis’s theory was, in fact, correct. Taking in a breath for courage, Sheridan turned and slowly exited the bathroom.
Luis was nowhere to be found.
Disappointment shot through Sheridan. Just when she was ready to face him, he decided to go and disappear on her, without so much as a note to say where he was going.
“So much for sticking together,” Sheridan muttered, sinking onto her chosen bed. Oh well, she thought, turning on the television. Alone time might be just what she needed to clear her thoughts. She had come a long way from those days of planning fashion events in Paris; and the stress of being back in Harmony, of dealing with ghosts of the past and her conflicting feelings for a certain officer, hardly ever gave her a chance to just sit back and think about it all.
So that is exactly what she proceeded to do.
~*~
Two hours later, Sheridan was livid, perched on the edge of her bed, wondering exactly where Luis had gone. Just when she was about to get up and do a sweep of New Haven to find him, he walked through the door.
She didn’t even give him the chance to close the door behind him before she was practically on him demanding to know just where the hell he had been.
“I have been sitting here for two hours worrying about you!” she yelled. “I thought maybe my father had sent someone to the room while I was showering. I didn’t know what to think,” she amended. “I just knew you weren’t here. Goddammit Luis, where have you been?”
Luis looked every bit as shocked as he felt. Without answering, he lifted a Blockbuster bag and a tray of hot coffee for her to see.
Sheridan did not look impressed. “You could have left a note,” she reasoned.
Luis sighed and finally closed the door behind him, making his way into the bedroom. He set the coffee on the nightstand and the movies on the bed, and then faced her. “You seemed to be pretty edgy this morning. I figured I would give you alone time. I didn’t think you would mind. I have my cell phone on me,” he added, taking it from his pocket and waving it around. “I thought you would call if you were worried.”
At that, Sheridan’s cheeks grew hot. “Oh,” she said stupidly. “Right.”
Luis smiled and saved her from dwelling on that issue by continuing, “I thought we could just sit back today and watch movies. I picked up some popcorn and coffee, too. French Vanilla milk-only, right?” His eyes were teasing as he quoted her usual. “I figured we could both use a rest.”
The idea did appeal to Sheridan, she found. She shifted her weight uncomfortably and said, “What did you rent?”
Luis’s smile grew almost impish. “Well, since I’m keeping company with a lady, I rented the latest chick flick.” He pulled 27 Dresses out of the Blockbuster bag and tossed it at her. Sheridan looked at him like he was crazy.
“And that will be a last resort,” she replied, tossing the movie back at him. “Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I like ‘chick flicks.’”
Luis chuckled and pulled the next movie out of the bag. “Cloverfield,” he said. “It looked pretty interesting.”
Sheridan nodded her approval. “Nice. What else?”
“Well…” Luis slowly pulled the last movie out, his eyes dancing. “No movie night is complete without—“
Die Hard,” Sheridan groaned, rolling her eyes. “Of course.”
Luis tossed the empty bag into the trash can and faced her. “I’m going to put the popcorn in. So what’ll it be, lady? Which movie are we watching first?”
Sheridan shook her head, slightly amused at his mood. She plucked Cloverfield off the bed and put it in before situating herself on her own bed with her cup of coffee. The idea of a whole day of movies, popcorn, and coffee sounded just like heaven. She stared at Luis as he ripped open the box of popcorn he had picked up and put one of the baggies into the microwave. The more and more time she spent with him, watching carefully exactly how considerate he was of everyone, not just her, the more she found herself adoring him.
She couldn’t remember the last time someone remembered her order of coffee, let alone thought to consider the fact that she might like chick flicks. However misguided that notion was she appreciated the gesture. In fact, she had been so rude and inconsiderate of everyone her entire life, she really didn’t expect anyone to care about her feelings.
She was so engrossed in these thoughts that she didn’t even notice Luis was sitting next to her with a bag of popcorn and his own coffee until he said, “Sheridan?”
“Oh.” She was surprised at his closeness, and then realized it must be because he didn’t want to pass the popcorn back and forth over the nightstand. “Um. What?”
He laughed at her. “You ready for this?”
Her smile was only half-hearted. “Yeah. Sure.”
~*~
It was a relaxing day. Sheridan and Luis did end up watching all three movies, with 27 Dresses as their last resort, just as Sheridan said it would be—and when it was finished, she rolled her eyes and muttered, “Predictable.”
Now they were sitting comfortably on her bed, watching a Friends rerun and glancing at each other every so often. The empty bag of popcorn was perched precariously on the very top of the trash can, and Sheridan had long ago put down her empty coffee cup, and was fervently wishing for more.
“You know what’s weird?” Sheridan started casually, looking at Luis. He lifted his eyebrows in response.
“My maid has been missing for a while now. She didn’t even leave a note. I haven’t been great to her over the years…but you know I’ve kind of missed her.” She looked away thoughtfully, focusing on Friends once more. “She was probably my only friend, if you could call her that.”
“Wait. Wasn’t she missing that morning…when I woke up there?”
Sheridan looked at him once more. “Yeah. That’s the day. I haven’t seen her since.”
Luis stared at the television, but he was seeing beyond it. “Do you think something happened to her?” he asked.
Sheridan looked surprised. “I hadn’t really thought about it like that. I just assumed she’d left. I don’t even know how I would get hold of her.” She sat up straight now, completely alert. “Do you think I should do something about it?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, does she have family that she visits or anything?”
Sheridan thought about it for a minute before answering, “No. She’s with me all year. On her days off she pretty much just relaxes around whatever place I’m staying at, or she goes shopping. Even during the holidays, she’s with me.” Looking worried, she locked eyes with Luis. “I should report it to the police. Should I call the Harmony PD now? What should I do?”
Luis sighed and squeezed her hand comfortingly. “Don’t worry about it just yet. I don’t want to call anybody in Harmony or let anyone know where we are. Tomorrow when we’re on the road you can use your cell phone to call. But yes, you should definitely report it, especially if you’re the only one that Milly hangs around.”
Sheridan looked surprised that he’d remembered Milly’s name, but after she thought about it, she realized it wasn’t such a shock. This was, after all, Luis. He was Mr. Considerate. She would remain surprised about the fact that he hadn’t let go of her hand yet, however. But she didn’t say anything about it—she didn’t even acknowledge it to him. She simply relaxed against the headboard of her bed and mulled over what a complex person Luis was.
Eventually, she fell asleep like that, her thoughts jumping back and forth between the anxiety she felt towards returning to Harmony tomorrow, and the quiet excitement she was feeling over simply being in Luis’s presence.
TO BE CONTINUED...