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You've Got Mail Passions Style - Part One
by JSP

     

Chapter 15

Sheridan walked into the book cafe to find Jay already there sipping on a cup of steaming coffee while reading the morning newspaper. "Good morning Jay" Sheridan said cheerily.

"Hi Sheridan" Jay greeted with a smile as she folded her paper. "I see youíre in a better mood today."

"Nothing will get me down today Jay" Sheridan said happily. "Not even that ego maniac you call a friend."

"Itís too bad you and Luis got off on the wrong foot Sheridan" Jay said. "Once you get to know him, youíll see he really is a good guy. The best in fact. I couldnít ask for a better friend."

"Well, he certainly has a strange way of showing it" Sheridan said trying to keep her anger in check. "I guess as long as your name isnít Crane heís wonderful, is that it?"

"Something like that" Jay admitted ruefully. "Sheridan I know there is no excuse for Luisí behavior yesterday, but youíve been gone from Harmony for a long time and Iím sure there are a lot of things you donít know."

"Which is exactly why he had no right to attack me the way he did. Whatever grudge Officer Lopez Fitzgerald is holding against my father and brother has nothing to do with me."

"I agree with you, but in Luisí mind if your last name is Crane, youíre guilty until proven innocent. And according to Luis, he has yet to meet a Crane that is innocent."

"What exactly are you saying Jay?" Sheridan asked.

"Luisí father disappeared when he was still a kid. Not too long afterwards, his older brother Antonio also disappeared... Antonio either went in search of his father or else skipped town because he couldnít handle the responsibilities as the oldest son. Those responsibilities soon became LuisĎ responsibilities."

"Let me guess" Sheridan said dryly, "Mr. Macho sacrificed everything for his family."

"Thatís exactly what Iím telling you Sheridan" Jay said. "Luis gave up college scholarships and his personal dreams for the future to became a cop. Working as a housekeeper for the Cranes wasnít exactly enough to pay a mortgage and feed five children, not to mention the lack of medical insurance for all the kids."

"Well, Iím sorry he had to sacrifice so much, but why blame my family? What does his fatherís disappearance have to do with Julian or Alistair?"

"The last night Luis saw his father he overheard Martin Fitzgerald on the phone with Alistair Crane. Luis had no idea what was being said except that his father was upset. He made plans to meet Alistair in the morning at Crane Industries. The next morning he left for work at Crane Industries and was never seen or heard from again."

"I see" Sheridan said thoughtfully. She was beginning to understand Luisí hatred of her family... a little. "Ok Jay, I think I understand now. It doesnít mean he has to take it out on me though. All right, weíve discussed Officer Lopez Fitzgerald enough for one day. I was in a good mood when I walked in here and I want it to stay that way."

"Are you ready to head over to the Youth Center and start your first day?" Jay asked with a big grin. She could tell by Sheridanís reaction that she was softening ever so slightly towards Luis. It was a start.


Jay showed Sheridan the ropes for most of the morning while Buzzy introduced both of them to the kids. He was grateful to have two extra pair of hands around for the next few weeks, as things had been crazy since Beth left. Sheridan was pleased to see Tammy again and the little girl smiled when she saw Sheridan was there that morning. She greeted her with a hug which left Buzzy speechless.

"Sheís not once done that in all the time Iíve known her" Buzzy remarked. "Usually she just stays to herself clutching her rag doll for dear life."

"Sheridan and Tammy met yesterday afternoon" Jay explained to Buzzy.

"Well Sheridan" Buzzy grinned happily, "It looks as if youíve already made quite an impression on one of our toughest customers."

Sheridan blushed slightly. "I didnít do anything really. I showed her how to play jacks yesterday is all I really did. Iím guessing we connected somehow because we have something in common."

"Really?" Buzzy said wondering what a Crane could possibly have in common with someone like Tammy.

"I was just about Tammyís age when my own mother passed away" Sheridan said wistfully. "I didnít know it at the time, but I probably recognized the sadness in her eyes and knew how to relate."

"Well, whatever it is, just keep on doing it" Buzzy encouraged. "That little girl is showing more signs of life than she has in ages."

Sheridan was pleased that her presence seemed to be having such a positive effect on the girl. She spent much time this day with her, encouraging her to join the other children her age in activities as well as showing her how to participate with them. By the end of the day, Tammy was joining in with the other children without being prompted. She still hadnít spoken, but she was definitely coming out of her cocoon.


One of the projects Buzzy was more than happy to completely hand over to Jay and Sheridan was the end of summer party which was coming up in only a few weeks. School would be the first week in September and the Youth Center would be changing back to after school activities only. The last week of August was usually set aside for fund raising and a clothes drive so all the less privileged kids would have everything they needed for a new school year. This gave Jay and Sheridan only two weeks to get this party underway.

"Is there a theme set for the party yet?" Sheridan asked wondering where to start.

"Not yet, IĎm afraid" Buzzy shook his head frowning. "Last year it was a Hawaiian theme. The kids all made grass skirts and we carved up what seemed like hundreds of coconuts to use as drink holders. We held it at the Harmony beach and had a pig roast. It really was a lot of fun."

"I remember Luis telling me about that one" Jay laughed. "He told me a bunch of the teen age girls decided to make bathing suit tops out of some of the left over coconut shells and their tops kept falling off."

"Oh youíre kidding!" Sheridan giggled as she imagined the sight."

Buzzy laughed. "I donít know if you would exactly say their tops were falling off. It was more like a few of the boys were going around cutting their strings. They wanted to know if the coconuts would hold up on their own."

"I take it from your reaction they didnít?" Sheridan asked highly amused.

"By the end of the night there was only one person at the luau who still had their coconuts intact" Buzzy grinned. His grin soon turned into a fit of laughter he could barely control.

"Out with it Buzzy" Jay asked. "Tell Sheridan exactly what happened."

"You know Hank Bennett, donít you Jay?" Buzzy asked.

"Do I ever" Jay remarked while watching Sheridan for her reaction to what she was going to hear next.

"Hank is Luisí closest friend here in Harmony, well when heís here that is" Buzzy told Sheridan. "Anyway, Hankís always been a bit of a prankster. Well, it seems that there was a scene from a movie Hank always wanted to act out."

Sheridanís eyes widened. "Donít tell me South Pacific?"

Buzzy couldnít control his laughter. "Give that lady a cigar!" Buzzy chuckled. "He always found Ray Walston hysterical in anything he did, so he decided to dress in a grass skirt and top just like the girls. He had everyone trying to grab him when he did his dance number. It was the funniest thing Iíve ever seen."

"I remember Luis describing it to me!" Jay said. "I can just see Hank now. I bet big brother Sam was mortified."

"Mortified isnít the half of it. Luis was none too pleased either when all the guys at the station began teasing him about his new "girlfriend."

Now Sheridan began to roar. "I can just see the look on Mr. Machoís face now! It must have been priceless."

"Oh, believe me it was. It definitely was."

"It looks like weíre going to have our work cut out for us competing with that party Sheridan" Jay said, still quite amused by the tales from last years party.

"I donít know about that" Sheridan smiled. "I bet we can come up with another memorable party."

"I hope youíre right" Jay remarked. "Any ideas?"

Sheridan thought for a moment. "Actually I do have an idea. What about a Spanish theme? Iíve been to Spain a few times and I can tell you they really know how to throw a party. We wonít need to go anywhere else for it, we can use the gym right here and decorate it. Itíll be easy and I bet the kids would love it. There seems to be a large Hispanic population here and maybe if the kids each want to share a custom with us we could incorporate it into the party."

"Thatís not a bad idea!" Buzzy said with enthusiasm.

"I bet Luis will love it! Heís always wanted to go to Spain and maybe we could bring a little Spain to him."

"Well, actually I already discussed the idea with Luis and Pilar and Luis loved it" Sheridan said "But that was before he found out I was a Crane."

"Donít you worry about Luis" Buzzy told Sheridan. "Heíll love the idea and before you know it, you two will be getting along fine. Just give him time."

"Well, Iíll believe that when I see it" Sheridan remarked.

"So it is settled? We go with a Spanish theme?" Jay asked excitedly. "We do need to start planning this party you know."

"Itís a go by me" Buzzy readily agreed. "Iíll tell you what. Thereís a new kid in town thatís quite talented in the musical sort of way and I think heíll be perfect to DJ the party. His name is Chad Harris."

"Great! Letís get him!" Jay said. "Come on Sheridan. Letís go make a list of things weíll need for the party."

Sheridan and Jay went back to the Book Cafe for lunch where they discussed what they would need for the party. So far Sheridan had had a great day. She was all geared up now to plan the end of summer fiesta at the Youth Center. This is what small town life was all about.


Luis couldnít remember a slower summer day in Harmony since he joined the police force. Summertime was usually a smorgasbord of petty crimes, broken ordinances and general nuisances, but today all was quiet.

Luisí shift patrolling the wharf had just ended and he found himself hurrying back to the station. He cursed himself when he realized how much of a hurry he actually was in. After all, the sooner he finished at the station the sooner heíd have to go to the Youth Center and face the high and mighty Ms. Sheridan Crane.

Though he would rather eat nails than spend two minutes in the company of the spoiled princess Sheridan, he was willing to do it in order to get to the end of the day. Once heís checked out things at the center, making sure Jay had Ms. Crane under a tight reign, he was free to go home.

Home... all day long Luisí thoughts were of KC and her mysterious clue. Though he still hadnít had the time to look up the word "unison" he knew what it meant, but something told him if he looked the word up in the dictionary heíd find out more than just the meaning of the word.

Luis walked through the station house barely aware anyone else was there. He acknowledged his friends with a smile and a nod, but his thoughts were elsewhere. Sensing Luisí distraction, Marty and Cal decided to follow him into the locker room.

Luis absentmindedly changed into his street clothes and never heard Marty and Cal approach.

"So Luis" Cal said with a sly grin, "Whatís this I hear about you beating up on a woman?"

"Yeah Luis" Marty chimed in, "I heard you really let her have it."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Luis asked with a scowl.

"Yesterday at the Youth Center" Marty answered. "Your fight with Sheridan Crane is all over town. We heard you really let her have it."

"For your information" Luis retorted angrily, "I never laid a hand on her. Despite what you may think of me I would never lay a hand on a woman. We had a few words, thatĎs all."

"A few words?" Cal said in surprise. "Is that what you call it?"

"Sheís a damned Crane Cal" Luis seethed, "How was I supposed to react?"

"Is it true that sheís working at the Youth Center now?" Marty asked in surprise.

Luis groaned loudly as he gathered up his belongings. "Did you have to remind me of that Marty?"

"Oh God, it is true" Marty exclaimed. "I never would have believed it. A Crane working at the Youth Center."

Luis found his anger building. He knew his friends were trying to get a rise out of him and he was doing everything he could not to let them know they were getting to him. "Look guys" Luis said in a slow deliberate tone, "You know very well I am extremely short handed at the Youth Center right now. My mother has assured me that Ms. Crane is nothing like the rest of her family. She hasnít even lived in Harmony since she was a kid. Besides, this way I get to be the boss of a Crane instead of the other way around. A little poetic justice wouldnít you say?"

Cal and Marty looked at each other and then at Luis. Now they werenít sure what to believe. Luis had made a very good argument but they still didnít know if they should believe him or not.

"Sure thing buddy" Cal answered, not knowing what to say next.

Luis smiled and walked out of the locker room leaving a very confused Marty and Cal in his wake.


"Jay, can you believe our luck this afternoon?" Sheridan asked with enthusiasm as she pulled up in front of the Youth Center. It had started raining again a few minutes ago and was now coming down hard.

"Yeah! We really hit pay dirt with all this stuff" Jay remarked quite pleased with their haul. "Luis will definitely be impressed. "Sheridan, why donít you pull around to the back of the building and park in the loading zone. Iíll go get Buzzy to help unload the car. It doesnít look like the rain is about to quit anytime soon and we donít need to have everything get soaked now do we?"

"No, that would ruin everything!" Sheridan laughed. She pulled up to the loading zone at the back door of the Youth Center. Sheridan put her car in park and shut off the engine. She bent down and pulled an umbrella out from underneath the seat of the car. "Use this Jay" she offered.

"Thanks Sheridan" Jay smiled. "Donít go away, Iíll be right back." Jay quickly got out of the car and ran as fast as she could to the doors of the Youth Center. The rain seemed to be coming down harder with each passing second.

Sheridan leaned back in her seat and turned the radio on. She heard a song that reminded her of Pezz and couldnít help but smile. The card sheíd received from him this morning was probably the sweetest gesture anyone had ever made for her. She closed her eyes and imagined hearing his voice call her angel. She could see the word in her head, but desperately wanted to hear him call her his "angel" in person. Every time he referred to her that way, she felt her heart do a flip and the feeling was unlike anything sheíd ever experienced before in her life.


"Damn this rain" Luis cursed as he fought to see the road in front of him. Not an hour ago the sun had been out and shining brightly and now it was as if the heavens opened up and completely let loose. "Itís a good thing I know the way to the Youth Center like the back of my hand" he said as he pulled into the centerís driveway. Thunder began rolling loudly soon followed by a huge flash of lightening. "I sure hope this lets up soon" Luis sighed in frustration. All he could think about was losing power again and not being able to talk to KC tonight. Just the thought of it caused him to feel a sense of loss he couldn't begin to describe.


"I had Sheridan park in the loading zone so we could unload everything without it getting soaked" Jay said as she led Buzzy to the rear doors of the Youth Center.

"You had her park in the loading zone?" Buzzy asked, concern in his voice.

"Yeah, I did, is there a problem with that?"

"Well, itís just that no one ever parks there and anyone coming around the corner might not see Sheridanís car sitting there, you know with this weather and all."


Without thinking, Luis took his usual path behind the Youth Center, wanting to get this chore over with so he could get home. "Iíll just pull up behind the Center and run in quickly to make sure Ms. Crane hasnít destroyed the place" he said to himself. As he swung his car around the last corner into the loading zone, he didnít see the car that was parked there...


"I wouldnít worry about it Buzzy" Jay laughed. "Who would be coming around the back way anyhow? The kids parents all pick them up in front."

Just as Jay said that they both heard a loud crash and the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass.

Buzzyís face contorted. "Luis would, thatís who."


Before he knew what happened he heard the sound of crunching metal and realized heíd hit a parked car.

"What the hell?" He asked in confusion. "Since when do we get deliveries at this time of day?" Luis couldnít believe it. Never in his life had he expected to hit something in the Youth Center parking lot.

Peering through his windshield he made out the outline of a dark colored car, but that was all he could see. "Who in their right mind would park a car in a loading zone? Donít they know they canít do that?" Luis was extremely agitated as he opened his car door to inspect the damage to his car.


"That guy must be crazy!" Sheridan said out loud as she gathered herself together. "Why didnít he look where he was going? Couldnít he see I was parked here?" She continued mumbling to herself as she reached for her license and registration. She groaned when she looked outside and saw that not only had the rain not let up, but it was coming down harder still. The rain was pouring from her windshield in sheets. "And Jay has my umbrella" she said rolling her eyes. Whoever hit her car was becoming a major thorn in her side. Grabbing a notebook on the seat next to her, she placed it over her head and opened the door, stepping out into the pouring rain.


Jay and Buzzy ran to the door and quickly stepped outside just in time to see Luis and Sheridan face off. "Oh no!" They said in unison.

"YOU!" They both yelled at the same time when they saw who the other party involved was.

"I should have known it was you parked illegally in a loading zone. What the hell were you parked there for? Canít you read that sign!" Luis yelled pointing to a sign that read,

Loading Zone
No parking Cars towed at owners expense.

"Well, excuse me officer, but I was unloading something from my car" Sheridan shot back heatedly. "How was I to know youíd come barreling around that corner like a bat out of hell in the middle of a rain storm?"

"I was not barreling around the corner!" Luis yelled a notch louder than the last time. "No one EVER parks here. They know how dangerous it is to park illegally."

"Yeah, dangerous because you donít care what you plow into! I bet you hit a dozen people parked here before word got out you were a menace. Youíre the big bad director of this Youth Center, therefore you have the right to hit anything you want."

"Buzzy, we better get out there and see if we can put a stop to this before it gets totally out of control!" Jay said completely frustrated.

"I agree Jay" Buzzy said frowning. "Those two look like theyíre about to kill each other." Jay and Buzzy walked over towards the sparring duo hoping to stop them

"As the DIRECTOR of this Youth Center, itís my responsibility to keep this entire area safe. Part of that is making sure people like YOU do their part and park in designated spots. This isnít the Crane mansion sister. We follow rules here."

"RULES? You want to talk about rules? Well, thatís just fine with me Officer" Sheridan shouted. She was now completely soaked as was Luis, but the rain did nothing to put out the fire that was building in both of them. There was just something about this man that got on her last nerve. She couldnít remember the last time sheíd been this angry. When she found out Jean Luc had was married sheíd been more hurt than angry and she couldnít remember another person getting to her the way Luis Lopez Fitzgerald did. She was glad he showed his true colors when he did, because sheíd been quite taken with him on their first meeting. Just thinking about how sheíd been attracted to this man at one time made her that much angrier.

"Howís this for a rule Officer" Sheridan seethed. "Donít hit other cars! Hereís another one for you, look where youíre going!"

Luis was so mad right now he couldnít see straight. Who did this woman think she was anyway, trying to tell him the rules of the road? "Why you...."

"Luis!! Enough already!" Jay shouted. "Itís not Sheridanís fault."

"The hell itís not her fault" Luis screamed. rain dripping from his soaked head. "She had no right parking in the loading zone."

"Luis, if youíd shut up and listen for a minute Iíll explain to you why itís not her fault" Jay said.

Luis took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. He did manage to keep silent and wait to hear what Jay had to say.

It's not Sheridan's fault, it's my fault! I'm the one who told her to park in the loading zone. We needed to unload some stuff we picked up for the Youth Center from Sheridan's car," Jay said in a calm voice. "I told her to park here while I went inside to get Buzzy to help carry everything. Luis, it's my fault Sheridan's car is parked here."

What stuff are you talking about anyway?" Luis asked, still angry but beginning to feel like an idiot. He still didnít want Sheridan to know he was wrong however. There had to be a way to make this her fault.

"Sheridan and I were out doing a little shopping and got a great donation for the Youth Center. If it gets wet itíll be ruined and we wanted to get everything set up tonight since it looks like itís going to rain again tomorrow."

"Jay, please stop being so cryptic, what on earth did you get?"

"Movies, Luis. Old movies, new movies, any kind of video you want."

"Movies? How?"

"Can we go inside and discuss this please? I really donít want to spend the rest of my time in Harmony fighting a summer cold."

"Thatís a good idea" Buzzy chimed in. "Sheridan, would you like me to park your car for you?"

"Thank you Buzzy, that would be very nice" Sheridan smiled. "Itís nice to see there is at least one gentleman here." She shot Luis a look that could shatter a mirror.

"Come on Luis" Jay called distracting Luis from glaring angrily at Sheridan as she walked away, Help me take these tapes in big guy."

"Sure thing Jay" Luis answered, still not taking his eyes off the very beautiful Ms. Crane. "Iíd be glad to help YOU." Even though he was talking to Jay, he was still captivated by Sheridanís beauty. Despite her rain soaked appearance and the anger in her stride she was still the most beautiful young woman heíd ever laid eyes on and he couldnít get over the attraction he felt for her. He quickly snapped himself out of his trance reminding himself she was a Crane, nothing but a damned Crane. These feelings he had just made him angrier at himself than he already was.

Jay watched Luis closely. She couldnít help but notice the change in his demeanor as he stared at Sheridan walking into the Youth Center. At first she was surprised seeing Luis give Sheridan the once over, in a way she rarely saw him do. Jay was surprised because it was a look he reserved only for women he was extremely attracted to. Jay then remembered what Pilar said about Luis and Sheridan initially hitting it off, that is until he realized her last name was Crane. She knew now Luis was struggling with his feelings for Sheridan, his hatred of her family causing him to act in a manner that was not the Luis Lopez Fitzgerald she knew.

Luis picked up the large box of videotapes while Jay held Sheridanís umbrella over them, so they didnít get wet. Together they walked into the Youth Center in silence while Buzzy shook his head and parked both vehicles.

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