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Unjust Suspicions

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Unjust Suspicions
by
Caseytlk

     
Chapter Thirteen

Luis was released from the hospital three days after Sheridan disappeared, and not a moment too soon as far as he was concerned. Despite the fact that Eve had made him promise to get plenty of rest he planned to begin his search for Sheridan immediately. "Stop at the station before we go home," he said on the way from the hospital. Theresa glanced over from her place behind the wheel of his jeep. "You told Dr. Russell you were going to take it easy Luis. I'm taking you home."

Luis scowled. "I'll just get back in the jeep and come myself then. Theresa, I have to find her. I can't just sit around on my hands here." Theresa sighed. "Alright Luis, but just for a few minutes. Promise?" Luis nodded. "Yeah, I just want to talk to Sam and the guys... see if there are any leads."

Theresa nodded and Luis relaxed in the seat. The thought of Sheridan alone... somewhere... well it tore him up inside. Especially knowing that it was somehow his fault. He wondered why she had spent all the time at his bedside. Did she still love him or had she been there simply for Pilar's sake? He needed some answers, that was for sure. There was no way he could get on with his life until he found her and knew for sure whether there was a chance for them to be together.

If she truly didn't love him then he would come home and find a way to deal with it. But if she still loved him... even just a little... he would bring her home and make sure that they worked things out. But first he had to find her.

He walked into the station, Theresa hovering with concern nearby, and his colleagues gathered around him welcoming him back. He managed to joke around with them a few minutes, but then he excused himself and headed for Sam's desk. Sam was on the phone and he smiled and held up a finger to Luis, indicating that he was almost done. Luis sank into a chair and drummed his fingers impatiently on the corner of Sam's desk.

Sam sighed indulgently as he hung up the phone. "Aren't you supposed to be in bed somewhere?" Luis shrugged, forgetting about his injury until the action caused a ripple of pain. "I can't Sam, I have to find her." Sam nodded, "I know. I'm trying Luis, but there just aren't any leads. It's like she just dropped off the face of the earth. With the kind of money Sheridan has it's possible to just disappear without a trace and never be found." Luis stood and planted his hands on Sam's desk, scowling down at his boss and friend. "Well I won't accept that Sam! I won't rest until I find her!" Sam looked at the determination on the man's face and nodded. "I know... and I'll continue to do what ever I can. Ethan has already made it official by declaring her a missing person." Luis looked confused. "How can it be official? She isn't missing if she left a note."

Sam smiled a little. "That note seemed a little suspicious to me and Ethan." Luis smiled back, knowing that Sam was simply overlooking the fact that the note was obviously written by Sheridan. There was no foul play involved in Sheridan's disappearance and they both knew it. "Thanks Sam... I appreciate the help. So... what have you done so far?"

Sam pulled out the file he'd started on Sheridan and tossed it on the desk. "We've done a search on her name... looking for reservations, tickets, credit card usage.... nothing. We've also done the same thing with various combinations of her name, her mother's maiden name, her middle name.... nothing. We've distributed her picture."

Luis frowned. "Well, she didn't just walk out of Harmony. Her car is still here. That means she had to either rent a car or leave on the bus, train or plane. All we have to do is find out what name she used to do it." "Is that all?" Sam asked with discouragement, thinking about the fact that there was a 48 hour window of time in which she could've left. That, coupled with the amount of cars rented, and buses, trains and planes out of Harmony... it was an immense task.

Luis sighed. I know it's a big job, but I've got plenty of time. It's not like I'll be coming to work anytime soon." At least a month according to Eve. "If you can get me the passenger lists I'll borrow Theresa's laptop and work at it at home." Sam nodded, "Yeah, I'll get them to you by tonight Luis. But right now you'd better let Theresa take you home... you look like hell."

Luis offered him a small grin. "It's great to see you too Sam. But you're right... I don't know how I look, but I feel like hell." He offered Sam his hand and Sam promised to get the lists to him as soon as possible. Luis went to Theresa, who was gazing out the window as though she were on another planet. He peered over her shoulder at the street, to see what had captured her attention. There was nothing out there... a few people he didn't know, and, just coming out of the shop across the street, Ethan Crane. Luis figured Theresa must just be daydreaming because there was certainly nothing outside the window to warrant her rapt attention. "Theresa? Are you ready to go home?" "Huh? Oh, Luis. Yeah, I'm ready." She followed him out to the jeep, hoping he hadn't seen her staring at Ethan.

Once in the jeep she glanced at him, "So, is there any news about Sheridan?" "No. But at least there's something I can work on. Sam's going to bring me the passenger lists out of Harmony. If I can use your laptop I can start tracing them, one by one." Theresa looked at him sympathetically. "That sounds like a long, slow job Luis, but of course you can use my computer. It's yours as long as you need it." "Thanks Theresa. This has to work..." his voice drifted off as his thoughts turned to Sheridan. They drove by the pool hall and he remembered the night they'd gone there. He'd meant the visit to be a test of sorts... certain that she'd fail... amazed when she didn't. She'd fit in with his friends better than he'd ever imagined, charming them all with her gentle wit and kind heart. Not to mention her proficiency at darts. He smiled now, as he remembered the way she'd blushed when everyone had cheered after she'd beaten Mac. He sighed out loud, causing Theresa to glance over. She didn't say anything, just smiled sadly at him. He remembered the last time he was in the pool hall. It was a couple nights before his accident... the night before the date he'd planned with Sheridan. Mac had asked him when he was bringing his beautiful lady back for a rematch. Luis had grinned and promised they'd come soon, not knowing Sheridan was going to blow up at him yet again. Now he wondered if he'd ever get the chance to bring her back to the pool hall... or anywhere else for that matter.

The next day Luis shoved Theresa's laptop away from him and ran his hands through his hair in frustration. He'd been working away at this for 7 hours straight and he was barely making any headway. He'd never realized how time consuming it was to track people down. It was going to take him days to get through the lists... maybe weeks. And even then there was no guarantee that he'd get a lead. Sam had been right... with the kind of money Sheridan had the possibilities were endless. She could have an identity created for her... one that would appear on paper trails wherever he looked, proving that she'd existed for 26 years. All he could do was hope that she'd made a mistake that he could catch.

She'd done a good job. Almost a week of plugging away at the computer and he'd found nothing. As the last name on the list scrolled over his screen and he stared at the photo of the woman he'd never seen before he cursed and pounded the table. A week wasted and he was no closer to finding her than he had been lying in the damn hospital bed. He had to get out of the house... he wasn't giving up, but he needed some time to think and figure out what to do next.

A half hour later he walked into the Book Cafe. There was no sign of Beth, but Chad was working behind the counter. Luis ordered a coffee and tried not to notice the way Chad looked at him. It was the same look everybody gave him these days... a mixture of compassion and pity. It seemed like the whole town knew that he was losing his mind and he hated it.

He took the coffee and moved to a table in the corner. He glanced around the room and he saw Gwen. He looked into her face, expecting 'the look' , but instead he found resentment and anger. As he stared at her she stood and approached his table, sitting across from him, without waiting for an invitation. "I hope you're happy with yourself Luis!" Bitterness dripped off her tongue.

"What?" "Ethan is miserable, Pilar is miserable, I'm miserable and it's all your fault. You drove Sheridan away!" Luis sighed. "If I drove her away I don't know how. I can't believe she left just because I was late for our date." Gwen looked at him, her eyes sliding over him the way one would look at something disgusting on the bottom of their shoe. "You don't know that Sheridan knows do you?" Gwen shook her head. "You didn't even have the decency to tell her about the baby!"

"The baby?" Luis scrambled to make sense of the conversation. "You mean Beth's baby? I tried to talk to her about it, but she didn't want to listen." "Of course she didn't! She already knew about it Luis!" "Okay, but I don't know why she got so upset." The look Gwen gave him would've frozen hell. "You think she'd get a laugh out of hearing about your baby?" "My baby? What are you talking about?" "Quit playing games Luis. She saw you here making out with Beth. It's obvious you're the baby's father." "Making out with Beth? What are you talking about?" "She saw you Luis... right here. You carried Beth to the couch and started making out with her." Suddenly Luis knew what Gwen was referring to. "The day of our date... I wasn't making out with Beth. She passed out and I carried her to the couch to lay her down. The morning sickness was making her dizzy." "Big deal! So you weren't making out with her then, but it's obvious you were making out in the recent past." "It is? But we haven't..." "The baby Luis! Or are you going to claim an immaculate conception?" "I'm not the baby's father... Hank is." Luis watched as the statement sunk into Gwen's mind. "Hank is the father?" Luis looked at Gwen earnestly, "I haven't slept with Beth for more than three years... long before I even met Sheridan. Since I met her... I haven't wanted anybody else Gwen. Do you know where she is?" Gwen shook her head. Once again it seemed that a misunderstanding had ruined Sheridan and Luis' relationship and she felt terrible. If she'd known where Sheridan was she would've told Luis in a minute. She had no doubt that he was telling her the truth. The look in his eyes said it all. He loved Sheridan more than anything in the world. "If I knew I would tell you, but I don't." She reached over and placed her hand on his. "I'm sorry Luis... so sorry." Luis was sorry too. Sorry that he hadn't seen the pain in Sheridan's eyes that day and known there was more to it than upset over a late date. He should have pressured her to talk to him... there was so much he could've done... and now it might be too late...

chapter 14

       
     

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