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Unjust Suspicions

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Unjust Suspicions
by
Caseytlk

     
Chapter Twenty-eight

The next few days were very hard. Luis tried his best to ease Sheridan's pain, but nothing he did could make her stop missing Jennifer. All her plans to find a house and start her new life were put on hold. She spent the days at the Lopez-Fitzgerald house, doing mindless chores for Pilar and cooking. She was a terrible cook, but nobody had the heart to refuse her efforts. The nights were the worst. She lay in Luis' arms, sometimes crying, other times just lying there unable to sleep. Even she didn't understand how she could've become so attached to Jennifer after only five days. She knew it was crazy and she wished she could get over it, but she couldn't seem to pull herself out of her mood.

Three days after Jennifer had been gone Luis was sitting in the living room, trying to watch the ball game, but unable to concentrate. He'd just been in the bedroom where Sheridan was. She had been asleep but Luis knew she'd been crying by the tear stains on her cheeks. He'd never felt so helpless in his life as he did these days around her.

A knock on the door jarred him out of his reverie and he went to answer it. It was man he didn't know... dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase. He introduced himself as Dirk Andrews and he was a lawyer. Beth's lawyer, to be precise.

Luis invited him inside and he settled his briefcase on the coffee table and opened it, withdrawing a stack of papers.

"I am representing Beth Wallace's estate, of which you are the sole recipient." "Me?" Luis was surprised. "Yes Mr. Lopez-Fitzgerald, you. That consists of her business, not including the actual building, which is of course a holding of Crane Industries. Also her personal effects, her bank account and one other thing..."

The lawyer rooted through the briefcase and withdrew another document, presenting it to Luis. "She left you as guardian of her then unborn child." Luis took the paper, staring at it but not seeing it. The baby... she'd left him Jennifer. "Of course you are not obligated to accept the guardianship... you may refuse and turn her over to the state. She'll be given a good home." Luis couldn't think. Was he ready to be a father? He'd always planned on sticking by Beth and being a part of the baby's life, but to actually be her parent... that was a big commitment. But this was Hank and Beth's baby. Beth had entrusted him with her most precious possession and he couldn't refuse in the face of such blind faith.

"Of course I accept... Beth wanted me to have her baby, so of course I'll take her." Luis heard himself saying. The lawyer smiled and continued to tell him the legal aspects while Luis slowly adjusted to the fact that he was about to become a father. Not in the way he'd always expected, but he felt a budding excitement just the same.

Just as he was closing the door behind the lawyer Sheridan appeared in the foyer. "Who was that?" She asked, peering at the man's retreating back through the curtain.

"That was Beth's lawyer. She left me the business and the rest of her assets." Luis didn't mention the baby. God forbid, if something didn't work out and he didn't get custody she would be devastated all over again. Sheridan nodded. "The Book Cafe... what are you going to do with it?" Luis shrugged, moving to the sofa, drawing her with him and settling her in his arms. "I don't know. I was thinking maybe you'd want to do something with it. What do you think?" Sheridan thought about it for a minute and gave him a weak smile. "If you want me to I will." "Sweetheart, I don't want you to do anything you don't want to. If you don't want to do it I'll let Chad manage the place. I'm sure he could handle it."

Sheridan considered it again, more seriously. "Maybe I'd like to do it. It would be nice... meeting people... and all the kids are always hanging out there." She smiled a genuine smile now. "I think it would be good for me. Take my mind off... well, other things."

Luis cuddled her close and kissed her softly. "I think it would do you good too."

Sheridan knew Luis was keeping something from her. He was acting strange and when she asked him why he was evasive. She wasn't worried really... he wasn't acting 'bad' strange. She was intensely curious though.

She tried to ignore it and the hole in her heart, and focus on the Book Cafe. She'd been going over the receipts and ledgers Beth had kept and the business seemed sound. She was slowly getting a grasp on the day to day running of the place too, thanks greatly to Chad. He had his hand right on the pulse of everything and was eager to help her out.

One evening a couple days after they'd taken over the Cafe she returned home to see Luis and Miguel unloading some boxes from Luis' Jeep. Curious, she headed to the garage, where they were putting the cartons. Luis met her halfway across the driveway and embraced her, kissing her softly. "What's that?" She tried to peer over his shoulder. "Never mind." He said firmly, with a huge grin. "I want you to forget about it and stay out of the garage...ok?" "But..."

"No buts. Please Sheridan? You'll ruin my surprise."

"Alright Luis. I promise." She cast another glance over her shoulder as Luis led her to the house. Miguel stood by the Jeep with a huge smile on his face. Sheridan could hardly stand it. Before it had been just Luis hiding something. Now, at dinner, Pilar, Miguel and Theresa sat there, looking like they were about to burst with excitement and it was driving Sheridan crazy. "Alright! I want to know what's going on!" She demanded.

The three of them all looked at Luis who tried to look innocent. "What do you mean?" "You guys have a secret and I want in on it too." Sheridan said firmly. "Sorry Angel. You'll find out soon enough." Luis said, turning his interest to his dinner.

"When is soon enough?" "Oh, probably tomorrow." Luis said benignly. Sheridan sighed. She knew she wasn't going to get anywhere so she gave up. She could wait until tomorrow she supposed.

Sheridan didn't sleep well that night, getting up several times to sip water and pace the dark living room. Theresa had found her there when she got up for a drink about 2am and they had sat on the sofa together for a while. Sheridan liked to talk to Theresa. The girl always seemed glad to listen and she had a refreshing outlook on the world.

Theresa seemed to understand about her feelings for Jennifer. She was the only person who didn't keep telling Sheridan to put it behind her and move on. The day after Jennifer had been taken away she had told Sheridan that if it was meant to be then Jennifer would come back to her.

Now, in the dark living room Theresa was even more encouraging to Sheridan. "I sense that fate wants you to be with Jennifer Sheridan. You've had so many bad things happen in your life I just know things are going to turn around for you."

"Things have already turned around for me Theresa. I have Luis, and all of you, in my life now. I need to forget about having Jennifer in my life and focus on the plans Luis and I were making before. I'm going to tell Luis it's time we start looking at houses."

Theresa just smiled. "I just know good things are going to happen for you guys. I just know it!"

Now it was late morning and Sheridan began to stir in bed. She could hear Jennifer crying... it was the same dream she'd had every night. Jennifer was crying for her and she couldn't find the baby. Sheridan ran frantically up and down a maze of hallways, trying to follow the baby's wails, but never getting any closer. She rounded a corner, finding herself on the edge of a great, black hole. Her arms flailed wildly, trying to catch her balance, but failing and then she was falling... falling down into the darkness, still hearing Jennifer crying for her...

Sheridan woke up with a gasp, sucking air desperately, as her heart pounded. She could still hear Jennifer and she choked back a sob. "My God," she whispered to the empty room, "I'm losing my mind..."

chapter 29

       
     

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