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

     

Chapter 17

Jay walked back to the corner of the gym sheíd temporarily set up as a tape library grinning, after settling the little kids down with their movie. She couldnít believe the number of classic childrens movies theyíd gotten along with everything else. Jay couldnít help but remember how excited sheíd been as a child the first time sheíd seen "Lady and the Tramp" and from the looks of it, most of these kids hadnít seen it before. It didnít taken long before every little pair of eyes was glued to the screen.

Sheridan strolled into the Youth Center humming a very upbeat tune wearing a far way grin. Jay noticed it immediately and couldnít help but chuckle. As for herself, the dreary weather of the past few days had really dampened her spirits, but Sheridan seemed completely unaffected. If anything, her mood seemed lighter and more relaxed than Jay had seen it since they met.

"Good morning Jay" Sheridan greeted with a contagious smile. "I see youíre checking out those movies. Today would make a great day to watch some of them."

"I agree, movies are the perfect thing on such a dreary day. Iíve already got the little ones watching
Lady and the Tramp. IĎve also already separated all the childrenĎs movies out of the boxes so we should be able to keep the kids entertained all day today."

"Sounds like fun. ThereĎs nothing like watching old movies when itĎs raining outside" Sheridan said, focusing on the positive. Nothing could lower her spirits today.

"Weíve got quite an assortment" Jay said holding a cassette in her hands. Mr. Riley was definitely right about that."

"It really was nice of him to donate all these tapes to the Youth Center" Sheridan smiled.

"Yes it was" Jay grinned. In fact when I got here this morning Mr. Riley was waiting with another full box of tapes. You certainly charmed the heck out of him, Sheridan. I donít think the poor guy had any idea what hit him.

"I just showed him the benefits to donation. Besides, he wanted the extra shelf space for newer movies" Sheridan laughed as she began picking up tapes looking at titles. You know, we really should categorize the rest of these."

"I agree, but it looks like the natives are getting restless" Jay said as she glanced over at the kids who were beginning to get antsy in their seats.

"What do the kids want to see?" Sheridan asked. She didnít realize anyone else was listening to her when she asked that question, but within seconds a half dozen teens had descended on her.

"Can we look?" Simone Russell asked.

"Of course Simone" Sheridan smiled. Simone, her best friend Kay and a few others sifted through the dozens of tapes on the table.

"Hey check this out! Itís
The Rocky Horror Picture Show! I remember hearing my mother talk about this. She said it was a cult classic when she was in college! Can we watch this one?" Tommy Parks asked.

Sheridan and Jay looked at each other, hiding the grins on their faces. Somehow I donít think thatís a good idea Tommy" Sheridan said with a warm smile. "Why not find something else?"

Tommy frowned and put the movie back. The teens were shouting out titles for dozens of movies, most of which were horror movies or just plain horrible. Finally Simone picked one up. "Hey, I recognize this name, but itís mislabeled."

"Mislabeled?" Jay questioned as she took the tape from Simone. She looked at the title and a smile crept onto her face. She handed the tape to Sheridan, who also smiled when she saw it.

"I think the label is correct Simone" Jay said kindly.

"But I saw that movie and Christopher Reeves was in it. Who the heck is Jimmy Stewart anyway?

"Simone Russell, are you really going to stand there and tell me that youíve never heard of Jimmy Stewart?" Jay asked in surprise.

"Of course Simone knows who Jimmy Stewart is" Kay said as she nudged her friend. "He was in that movie our parents make us watch every Christmas."

"Thatís right Kay" Sheridan said. "Itís a Wonderful Life."

"Yeah, thatís it" Kay agreed, recognizing the name.

"Right, I guess I forgot" Simone said sheepishly. "Anyway, donít you have the
"Rear Window" with Christopher Reeve in it? That movie was so cool!"

"I know that Christopher Reeves did a marvelous job with the remake, but personally I like the original better" Sheridan said matter of factly.

"Youíre kidding, right? That movieís gotta be what, 100, 200 years old?" Kay asked rolling her eyes.

"Not exactly" Jay answered. "For what itís worth, I agree with Sheridan. I like the original version better."

"Donít tell me itís in black and white?" Simone groaned.

"Donít ask and I wonít tell" Sheridan grinned. "Come on everyone, movie time! Popcornís on the house!" Sheridan smiled when she heard cheers erupt from the restless crowd. Buzzy had been busy popping corn for the last hour and was now distributing it to the kids.

Sheridan popped the movie into the VCR. This is a Hitchcock classic everyone. And in case any of you wonder who Hitchcock is, he makes Stephen King look like an amateur." Sheridan walked away from the kids, while Jay dimmed the lights as the movie started.




With the small children in one corner of the gym and the teens in another, Sheridan and Jay quietly made themselves comfortable in yet another area while they began to sort movies.

Jay glanced at Sheridan and couldnít get over her cheerfulness. She couldnít imagine what could have her so happy this morning unless it was a man. "Iíve been meaning to ask you something Sheridan" Jay asked quietly. What made you come back to the States after being abroad all these years?"

Suddenly the smile that had been all but plastered on Sheridanís face disappeared. She looked at Jay and Jay immediately decided she shouldnít have brought the subject up. "Iím sorry Sheridan" she apologized. "Forget I asked."

"No, donít be silly Jay" Sheridan answered, trying her best to hide her discomfort. "Itís a perfectly valid question." Sheridan took a deep breath as she decided how to best answer. "Truthfully, I was engaged to be married and found out my fiancé was a first class jerk. I broke things off with him and decided it was time for a change. Iíd lived in Paris most of my life, but it never truly was home to me."

"But why Harmony? There are so many other places in this world you could have gone that would be more exciting, not to mention warmer than Harmony!"

"Well, for one reason, my family is here. Ethan and I have always been close and I wanted to spend some time with him Iíve also always loved the idea of living in a small town and Harmony seemed like the perfect place to try. If I decide I donít like it I can always move someplace else later."

"So is life in Harmonyís small town atmosphere what has your mood getting better by the day?"

Sheridan grinned. "Iíd like to say being home is the reason for my happiness, but itís only a small part of it. As a matter of fact I was tempted to leave after my run in with Officer Lopez Fitzgerald, but I decided to stick it out."

"So ... what is it? I'm curious. What could be so wonderful to have you floating on air? Is it a man? That has to be it. It's gotta be a man. Have you actually met a man here in Harmony?"

"The only man Iíve met since Iíve come back to Harmony is Luis Lopez Fitzgerald and youíve seen first hand how that meeting turned out" Sheridan said with disdain.

"Well, Pilar did tell me you and Luis hit it off when you first met. It wasnít until he found out your last name was Crane that he turned into Dr. Jeklyll. So, tell me all about your first meeting with Luis."

Sheridan raised her brow. "Do you really want to know?"

"Yes, Iíd love to hear what you REALLY thought of Luis before he found out you were a Crane."

"Thatís a tall order" Sheridan said. "Itís hard for me to remember that meeting without his arrogant, egotistical, condescending, supercilious manner tainting my opinion."

"C'mon, humor me. Besides we've got plenty of time to kill today and I want to hear all the details"

"All right" Sheridan agreed. "I was on my way to meet Pilar at the Book Cafe when I had a flat tire. Luis was just finishing radar patrol and he saw me struggling on the side of the road with the tire. He stopped and changed the tire for me."

"That's Luis, always the hero" Jay said.

"I thought so at the time" Sheridan admitted. "I also thought he was about the most handsome man Iíd ever seen." Sheridan remembered her first meeting with Luis fondly for a brief moment until she shook her head and brought herself back to reality. "That was of course until I met the real Luis."

"I have to agree with you on one account. Luis is ab-so-lutely the most handsome and well-built man I've ever met. Gorgeous, incredible, sexy, you name it. Women generally fall all over him and it never ceases to amaze me that he doesn't let it go to his head."

"He seems to have a pretty good idea if you ask me" Sheridan remarked sarcastically

"OK, Youíve told me about your first meeting with Luis, but how about your second? Didn't Pilar set up a meeting for the two of you to talk about you working at the Youth Center? What did you think when he showed up at the Book Cafe, when you saw Luis again?"

"As I said before, my judgment is clouded where Officer Lopez Fitzgerald is concerned now, but I vaguely recall I was attracted to him before he turned into The Creature from the Black Lagoon." Sheridan sighed. "I really donít want to spoil my mood by thinking about RoboCop if you donít mind."

"No problem" Jay chuckled. "That will just bring me to my earlier question. Whoís the guy that has you floating on cloud 9?"

"Why do people always assume itís a guy thatís responsible for an incredibly good mood?" Sheridan asked curiously.

"Because it usually is a guy that's responsible and in your case, I'm definitely getting a vibe that says it's all about a guy."

Sheridan laughed. "You are something, you know that Jay?"

"So, who is he Sheridan?" Jay asked. "Some golf fanatic from the Country Club?"

"Are you kidding me?" Sheridan grinned, rolling her eyes. "Those country club sorts are about the most boring men Iíve ever had the misfortune of meeting."

"So who is it then?" Jay asked
again.

"Heís just a guy I met on the internet. Itís nothing really, not yet anyway. We started emailing each other while I was still in Paris and now we email and chat as often as we can. He really is the most incredible person Iíve ever met."

"So youíve met him?" Jay asked, her curiosity piqued.

"Actually no" Sheridan grinned shyly.

"Sheridan, are you sure this is a good idea?" Jay asked in concern. "I mean there are a lot of weirdoes out there just praying on vulnerable women. As a cop IĎve seen and heard too many Internet horror stories."

"No, itís not like that at all Jay" Sheridan insisted. We met very innocently, by accident in fact. Itís not like we were in a chat room looking for a cyber love affair. We have so much in common itís actually scary."

"Do you know anything about him? His name? Where he lives? What he does for a living? Does he know anything about you, like maybe the fact that youíre from a rich family?"

"Jay, it really is sweet of you to worry, but Iím telling you itís not like that" Sheridan tried to assure Jay. "We talk about things such as what we want out of life, how weíve overcome past relationships and traveling the world. I canít explain it in a way youíll understand, because Iím not sure I even understand it all myself, but I feel connected to him and Iím pretty sure he feels the same way about me. I know it sounds crazy, but heĎs all I can think of these days. When IĎm talking with him I feel as if nothing can hurt me. HeĎs fun, charming, witty and we both want the same things out of life. ItĎs almost as if there is a force out there wanting us to be together. Can you believe we met while I was living in Paris and I came home to Harmony not knowing where he lived, only to find later we live in the same state?"

"Sheridan, this really sounds wonderful, it does, but you should still be very careful of cyber relationships. Besides, have you ever stopped to think that while you're spending so much time alone in your house on your PC you might be passing up a chance at a relationship with the most incredible, hot ,sexy, gorgeous, muscular, intelligent, fun and "LIVE" specimen of a man in New England?"

Sheridan couldnĎt help but laugh out loud at JayĎs description of Luis. "Why do I get the feeling youíre trying to sell Luis on me?" Sheridan asked.

"Because I am trying to sell you on Luis!"

"Jay, if you think Luis is such a wonderful guy and so incredibly hot, why arenít you dating him?"

"Lots of reasons, Sheridan, lots of reasons" Jay explained."For one, most of the past 10 years Luis had a girlfriend and there are rules about going after another woman's man, even if you don't like the woman and you know she's wrong for the guy. In this case, I knew that they weren't right for each other, but when Luis commits to someone he is a one woman sort of guy and I respected that commitment."

Sheridan listened attentively as Jay explained herself. She respected Jayís honesty. "Go on" Sheridan encouraged.

"I first met Luis at the Police Academy. We got thrown together there and became good friends. After the Academy, when we both joined the Harmony P. D., Chief Bennett assigned us to be partners and it is never a good idea to get romantically involved with your partner. It will probably surprise you to hear this, but Luis and I actually talked about our relationship and possibly being "involved." We both agreed that we weren't the right romantic partners for each other. Besides that, I wanted to live in a warmer climate. Luis is Mr. Harmony. He's a small town kind of guy and he loves his life here in Harmony, lousy weather and all. No one will ever get him to leave Harmony. That's what finally broke him and Beth up. She was constantly pushing Luis to leave Harmony for the big city and when he refused, she left without him."

"Iím surprised anyone could stay with that man for almost ten years" Sheridan smirked. "She deserved a medal of honor."

"I have to disagree with you on that one Sheridan. You and I don't see eye to eye on Luis right now, but Beth was not the one who deserved a medal in that relationship."Anyway, having Beth leave town and hearing that Luis could finally move on with his life was the best news Iíve had in ages."

"Iíll have to trust you on that one."



The morning flew by and Jay and Sheridan managed to categorize all the movies. The kids were having a great time, and the Jimmy Stewart version of "Rear Window" won when put for a vote against itís more contemporary counterpart. Jay and Sheridan gave each other knowing grins, but didnít dare tell the teens "I told you so" as they knew it would be the last time they ever be able to show a classic movie.

After lunch and the movies all put away, Jay and Sheridan decided to have the kids work on decorations for the upcoming End of Summer dance. On her way to the Youth Center that morning, Sheridan had stopped at the
Matushek and Company department store with the intention of purchasing the needed crafts so the kids could make the decorations for the party.
As luck would have it, she ran into the store's manager, Alfred Kralik. When he saw how excited Sheridan was about the party and she told him what the event was, he graciously donated all the needed supplies.

Part of the fun, Sheridan knew from her time in Spain was making the decorations yourself. As a Crane, one would never have the opportunity to do such a thing, which was probably one of the reasons she enjoyed spending time with her friend Marianna in Spain.

Jay was impressed with Sheridanís coup and equally impressed with her knowledge of making decorations for a party with a Latin theme. She was very surprised a Crane would be involved in such menial tasks, never mind be good at them. She then remembered that Sheridan had spent much of her life away from the Cranes and also Pilarís insistence that Sheridan was different from the rest of her family. The Sheridan Crane she was seeing was anything but a stereotypical Crane and she was going to make sure one way or another that Luis knew that.

Jay watched with interest as Sheridan directed the younger children in cutting the colorful tissue paper into different shapes and sizes and then stringing them all together. The older kids worked diligently in making the paper maché piñatas.

"Where on earth did you learn to do this?" Jay finally asked.

"In Spain" Sheridan grinned as she helped Tammy cut out her designs. "Where else?"

"Still, Iím impressed you can do all of this. Somehow if I think of you in Spain, I picture you in the penthouse suite at a five star resort in Madrid. I doubt they teach guests how to make decorations for fiestas."

"Well, itís true" Sheridan answered. "I did spend one trip to Spain in such a resort, but the best times Iíve had there were spent in Costa de Marbella with a host family. I spent a summer there once with that family and it was wonderful. Marianna, my host took me to all the local festivals and all the people from the village help plan the fiesta, decorate it and cook all the food. Iím a culinary disaster, so I spent most of my time helping with the decorating." Sheridanís eyes seemed to sparkle as she talked about her experiences in Spain.

"Sounds wonderful" Jay remarked.

"It was wonderful" Sheridan offered. "Iíll never visit Spain again from a big city. Thereís nothing like spending time in the small villages with the locals learning their customs. Itís an absolutely beautiful country and the villagers welcomed me with opened arms. Marbella is probably my favorite place in all of Europe."

Jay had the feeling of déjà vu. There was something so familiar about this conversation, but she couldnít place it. She continued to watch as the kids made row after row of brightly colored decorations. The older kids made three colorful piñatas, a parrot, a pony and bear. They were hoping to help fill them with the toys and candy, but Jay informed them that would be done right before the party.



Sheridan and Jay were stacking the chairs from the "movie theatre" as the last of the children were picked up. Buzzy had gone much earlier, it was his sonís birthday and heíd bought tickets for the two of them to see the Red Sox. Buzzy had been praying all day for the rain to stop and it looked like he finally had his wish, at least in Harmony. Sheridan and Jay both hoped for Buzzyís sake that Boston would be the same.

"Sheridan, Iíll finish putting these chairs away if you want to start gathering up the decorations. Iíve cleared off a shelf in the storage closet for them" Jay yelled across the gym.

"Sure thing" Sheridan returned, as she headed over to the decorations corner. Quickly, she began piling the beautiful artwork the children made so she could put it all into he storage closet. The rest of the supplies were still sitting in bags and boxes on the floor, while the piñatas sat on their own table to dry. So involved with her task, she nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard a male voice say "Hi" from across the room.

Almost dropping what she was carrying, she looked up to see those handsome penetrating brown eyes staring right into her deep blue ones. "Hi" she responded without thinking.

"Whatís all this?" He asked as he stared at all the decorations in front of him.

"The kids were making decorations for the party" Sheridan told him. "Arenít they great?"

"Well, yeah" Luis said quite impressed. "They certainly are, but where on earth did all these supplies come from? I didnít realize we had this much stuff laying around."

"You didnít actually" Sheridan began. "I bought them at
Matushek and Company."

"What are you crazy? Why did you go to
Matushek and Company? Donít you know theyíre the most expensive store in town?" Luis yelled.

"And the best" Sheridan reminded him. She now had her hands on her hips and was prepared for the fight that would ensue. By now she was used to them.

"The Youth Center doesn't have the money The Crane Empire has Sheridan!" Luis shouted. "We work off a budget. Now because of your thoughtlessness, weíll have to do without something else. I know what Iíll do. Iíll just tell the kids, Sorry kids, but we canít fill these pinatas because we spent too much money decorating them, or maybe youíd like it if we decided that 20 of the kids canít eat that night because thereís not enough food to go around or maybe..."

"Oh give it a rest!" Sheridan seethed. "Just who the hell do you think you are anyway? For your information
OFFICER, I didnít spend any of the Youth Centerís money on these decorations, so get over it!"

"Donít even tell me you bought this stuff with
CRANE money?" Luis asked already having made up his mind thatís indeed what sheíd done. "I donít believe this!" He shouted throwing his hands up in the air. "Havenít I made myself perfectly clear that we donít WANT anything from the Cranes? We donít NEED anything from the Cranes. You need to take this stuff back, all of it."

Sheridan was absolutely fuming. "I will do no such thing!" Sheridan shot back. The two were merely inches apart and both looked as if theyíd kill the other one given half a chance. "Now look
OFFICER" Sheridan shouted angrily, "If youíd ever shut up and listen instead of always assuming you know what a person is going to say next, youíd have HEARD me say that I didnít use any of the Youth Centerís money because Mr. Kralik the storeís manager DONATED all of the supplies." Sheridan turned away from Luis and walked over to the table to grab an envelope sheíd left sitting there.

"Here!" She hollered, shoving the envelope in his hands. "He told me to give you this." Making sure Luis had the envelope in hand, she gave him one last icy glare and walked out of the gym. Jay shot her an apologetic look as sheíd come back in time to here most of the conversation. She walked over to Luis who was reading the letter from Alfred Kralik.

"Good going Luis" Jay said quietly. She knew better than to say much more just yet as she could already see remorse on Luisí face. Luis didnít respond to her, he just handed her the letter and walked away.

"Where are you going?" Jay asked.

"I guess this time I need to apologize" he said simply.

Jay glanced down at the letter in her hands and read,

Dear Luis,
Please accept these decorations on behalf of Matushek and Company for the Youth Center. I can not begin to express my gratitude for everything the Center has done for my family. My granddaughter Tammy has been completely lost since her mother passed away last summer and it has only been recently that she has begun to return to us. My son Robert heard her talking to her rag doll last night and cried. It is the first time heís heard her sweet voice in a very long time. Please thank that Angel you have working for you, again for me. I didnít tell her about Tammy when we met this morning, as I wanted to tell you first. She has the most beautiful spirit Iíve met in a very long time and I feel as if she truly is an angel sent to help those of us in Harmony. We should all be grateful to have Sheridan here with us.
Sincerely, Alfred J. Kralik

Jay looked up from reading the letter in total disbelief as she watched Luis go after Sheridan.

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