Sheridan waved good bye one last time before closing the
door. She took in a deep breath as she rested her weary body against the cottage door and closed her eyes. She
hadnít done much more than take a short walk, but she was exhausted nonetheless. Between little sleep the night
before and the emotional drain from the events of the day, Sheridan had every right to be tired.
At Sheridanís request, Jay had stayed for two movies and a pepperoni pizza, but finally had to leave. Jayís mother
needed to run a few errands, so Jay had to go home to take care of her grandmother. Sheridan rather enjoyed the
company, though she understood why Jay had to leave.
Glancing at the grandfather clock in the corner, she noted the time as 9:00. It was time for bed. Sheíd make a
quick check of her email and then hopefully get some quality sleep. Though she was still reeling from the events
earlier in the day, she decided she was tired enough to sleep.
The minute Sheridan clicked on her mailbox, she knew it was a mistake. Staring her in the face was an email from
none other than PezzMan.
"Damn" she whispered. She knew she should just close it and forget about it, but for some reason she
couldnít. She just stared at it for what seemed like hours and kept rereading the same thing. The sender PezzMan,
the subject, What happened?
Sheridan's curiosity got the best of her and she finally opened the email.
I missed you today. I was so much looking forward to meeting my angel, I could think of nothing else from the time
I woke up this morning. It never even crossed my mind that you wouldnít come today.
"And it never crossed my mind that you would be Luis
Lopez Fitzgerald, Pezz" Sheridan said unhappily.
I have to believe that you have a good reason
for not being there.
"Oh, I was there Pezz. You just made it impossible
for me to acknowledge it to you."
You seemed as excited as I was to finally be able
to meet and I must tell you, it hurt me, but I keep telling myself that you would never deliberately hurt anyone.
There must be a good reason.
"Youíre right about that. I would never deliberately
hurt anyone, unlike you."
I wish I could say that your not being there is
the only thing bothering me right now, but unfortunately I canít. As I sat there in the park, anticipating meeting
you, a woman who has annoyed me since almost the moment I met her showed up instead.
"Oh no. Here we go again" Sheridan said in disgust.
"Heís going to tell KC now how much he hates Sheridan Crane. Does this man ever quit?"
This womanís family has been a thorn in my side
for years now and she had the unfortunate experience of catching my wrath when she showed up. In several short
minutes, I managed to hurt this woman as deeply as her family has hurt me over the years. I was cruel to her, KC.
"Youíve got that right Pezz" Sheridan agreed.
"Iím surprised youíre admitting it."
I treated her as if she was nothing but pond scum,
when in fact she is probably the one bright star her family has. I was so surprised to see her there and due to
my excitable state and not wanting you to see me with another woman, I said things to her I never dreamed in a
million years Iíd say to anyone. Subsequently I found out that saying those things didnít change anything, except
the fact that Iíd never felt worse in my life.
"Well good" Sheridan said softly. She was slightly
confused. "You should feel terrible."
I still canít believe that such cruel words actually
came out of my mouth. I have never in my life treated any woman like that. Whoever created the saying "Sticks
and stones... had no clue what they were talking about. Names do hurt. I can still see the hurt look in her eyes
as I called her some of the most deplorable names in existence.
"Thatís very true Pezz. Names do hurt. They hurt a
lot and Iím pleased you realize that" Sheridan said. "Why did you say them then Pezz? Why?"
Iím ashamed of myself KC. She did nothing to deserve
that. Despite what I think of her family I had no right to treat her that way. She has done nothing to me but help
me and how do I return the favor? By belittling her. By treating her as if she was less than human. No one deserves
to be treated like that and yet I did to her what I claim her family does to others. I acted superior. I treated
her as a non person, someone without feelings and as the words were flying out of my mouth I could see immediately
that she was anything but that. She is a person, a very caring person who I had no right to say those things to.
"Oh Pezz, I believe you. I really believe you. If
only I could believe that Luis honestly feels this way. Sometimes I think Luis sees me for who I really am and
then... Well then there is today. I donít know what to believe." Sheridan sighed in dismayed.
I plan on apologizing to her, but I donít expect
her to forgive me as I donít know as though I can forgive myself.
KC, I trust you are well and I do hope I hear
from you soon.
P.S. I really was looking forward to giving you
a real hug KC. Itís been on my mind almost constantly since I gave you that cyber hug several days ago. :)
"Oh Pezz" Sheridan exclaimed in quiet frustration.
"If I only I knew what to believe." Sheridan stood up and walked away from her computer. Her mind flashed
to the tango she danced with Luis the night before at the Youth Center. She tried not to think about it by going
to the kitchen and turning on the kettle to boil water for some tea.
It wasnít working. Sheridan placed her palms on the edge of the stove and closed her eyes remembering how it felt
being in Luisí arms during that dance. Sheíd never felt so alive in her life as she did at that moment. She closed
her eyes, her mind now a total whirlwind. Pezzís note had confused her. Sheíd been so hurt by Luisí insulting remarks
earlier she didnít think sheíd ever get over it, yet he seemed so sincere in his email and his memory of the cyber
hug reminded her of the wonderful man sheĎd written to faithfully for the last few months.
Sheridan felt closed in all of a sudden. She glanced at the clock and although it was late, she decided the only
way to deal with all the jumbled thoughts going through her mind at this point was to take a walk on the pier.
There was something about the smell of salt air and listening to the gentle lapping of water as it hit the sides
of the boats at the dock that comforted her. She turned the kettle off again, grabbed her keys and headed for the
Luis slowly patrolled the wharf, his eyes keenly darting back and forth, looking for anything suspicious, anything
at all. His cell phone was up against his ear as he talked to his mother briefly informing her of his plans.
"Yes Mama" Luis said into his cell phone. "I should be home shortly after midnight. The night shift
is covered, but when Cal tripped and broke his ankle chasing that mugger, Sam needed someone to fill in quickly."
"Donít worry Mijo" Pilar told him. "I understand. There will be a plate in the fridge for you when
you get home. How is Cal by the way?"
"Heíll be fine, Mama" Luis said with a slightly amused grin. "Fine that is until the guys all hear
what happened. Heís going to have a tough time living this down."
"Luis! Why would his fellow officers mock him over an attempt to catch a mugger?" Pilar asked in confusion.
"Theyíre not really mocking him Mama" Luis explained. "Theyíll just want to have a little fun with
him. Believe me, they wouldnít be doing this if it was something serious. Itís just their way of releasing tension."
"I think I will have to trust you on that one Luis" Pilar answered, still not sure if she approved. "Youíd
better get back to work Luis. Iíll see you when you get home."
"I will Mama" Luis said. "Iíll be home before you know it." Luis was just about to hang up
when he had another thought. "Oh, Mama?"
"Are Miguel and Theresa home yet?" Luis asked in concern.
"Not yet Mijo, Theresita is at the Russellís with Whitney and Miguel is at the Bennettís."
Luis glanced at his watch and saw it was nearly 10:00. "Mama, I think maybe you should call them and have
them come home. That mugger is still out there and there is no telling where he will show up next. The only pattern
he has shown so far is he attacks people when they are walking alone."
"Luis, havenít these muggings taken place down by the water?" Pilar asked with great concern.
"Well, so far they have, but since we havenít established a pattern, I wouldnít count anything out. Iíd just
feel better if I knew they were both safe and sound at home."
"I understand Mijo" Pilar answered. "Iíll call the Russellís and the Bennettís houses right now
and have Miguel and Theresa come home."
"Thank you Mama" Luis said gratefully. "Good night."
"Good night Luis."
Luis closed his cell phone and placed it back in his shirt pocket. He felt better knowing his family would soon
all be safe under one roof. He didnít even want to think about how heíd react if someone he loved were forced to
face the mugger who was currently stalking Harmony.
Sheridan found herself walking aimlessly along the Harmony Pier. She shivered slightly as the cool damp ocean air
reminded her that even in the middle of summer, Maine nights by the water were anything but warm. She hadnít been
swimming in the ocean since sheíd been home from Paris, but she vividly recalled the freezing temperatures of the
water, even in August. She was comfortable at her cottage, but the breeze now which was picked up from the sea,
dropped the air temperature by at least 10 degrees.
She vigorously rubbed her arms in an attempt to warm up and continued her trek along the boardwalk. She began to
wonder if this had been such a great idea, coming to the wharf so late at night. She knew Harmony was a sleepy
little town, but it was only 10:00 and already it was completely deserted. Shop after shop she passed was closed
up tight and there wasnít another person in sight. She walked over to the waterís edge and stared intensely into
the black ocean, as she leaned into the hand rail. The moon was new and the only light shed onto the water was
an occasional lamplight from the pier reflecting off the cold waters.
She heard the fog hornís mournful cry in the distance. Normally this would have been a comforting sound to her,
but the cold air was causing her to shiver too much to be comforted by anything. Sheridan now heard a small engine
whining in the distance, the sound growing louder with each passing second. She strained her eyes to catch a glimpse
of the small craft as it motored closer to its slip. She could vaguely hear the sounds of laughter coming from
the boat and finally saw two couples on board. Both couples were wrapped tightly in each others arms, as the boat
slowed until the driver finally cut the engine. The two men in the group, climbed out of the boat and tied it to
the dock and then helped their partners out. Sheridan smiled as she watched them, leave their craft, arm in arm
with the person they loved. The women were giggling as they nuzzled their heads into their lovers arms and stealing
Sheridan sighed dreamily. They looked so happy, so in love. What she wouldnít give to have a relationship like
that. A slight frown appeared on her face when her thoughts turned to what might have been. Until late last night,
she could have seen herself in a similar situation. She really thought that Pezz was going to be that special person
in her life. She was so caught up in her own thoughts, she never heard someone approach her.
Luis walked his beat diligently. Hearing laughter and footsteps,
his attention moved from the alley he was surveying to the approaching tourists. He nodded solemnly at them, watching
them do their best to straighten up, seeing a police officer. Luis knew they were a little drunk. It didnít take
a genius to figure it out from the way they were walking, but they didnít appear to be harmful to anyone. He chuckled
slightly to himself when he heard them take off running the minute they were out of his sight. "Kids"
he muttered as he continued walking his beat.
Luis found it eerie how quiet it really was tonight. Usually there was still a fair amount of activity on a Sunday
evening, but tonight there was barely a soul around. He reasoned that the cool weather had something to do with
it, though nights on the pier were never warm.
As Luis reached the end of the boardwalk and turned around, he felt a cold chill run down his spine. He shook it
off until he heard a blood curdling scream coming from the other end of the dock. The scream lasted only a second
and then seemed to be silenced. Without wasting a second, he took off sprinting towards the scream.
"Look lady" Sheridan heard a cold deep voice say to her, "All I want is your purse and jewelry.
"You give me that and I wonít hurt you. Do you understand?"
Sheridan nodded as best she could, but the cold sharp blade that was touching her throat made it nearly impossible
to move. She was afraid to move, afraid that if she did, her accoster might slip and cut her. Slowly, she raised
her arm that carried her purse so this man could take it from her. Her eyes were closed as she felt his strong
arm travel the length of hers as he slipped her purse from her hand. Sheridan felt bile rise to her throat from
the feel of this manís hand on her arm, but she held her position, not daring to move.
"Now the rings" the man demanded in a throaty voice.
Sheridan wanted to cry as she thought about giving this pig the ring that her mother willed her. It was the one
thing she had that reminded her of her mother. She felt tears well up in her eyes as she placed her hand on the
ring and gently began to remove it.
"Freeze!" Sheridanís heart nearly pounded completely out of her chest when she heard that word. She looked
up and saw the face of the one man she never imagined coming to her rescue. Luis Lopez Fitzgerald.
"Drop the gun cop or Iíll slice her" the gruff voice demanded.
Sheridan looked pleadingly into Luisí eyes for help. The knife this man was holding was pressing deeper into her
neck and she expected at any minute that he would indeed slit her throat.
Luis looked at the mugger and then back at Sheridan. He gave her an encouraging look with his eyes and then returned
his attention to her attacker. "You know buddy, if I were you Iíd relax my grip of this lady here." Luis
then glanced back over at Sheridan and looked into her petrified blue eyes intensely. "She looks like sheís
about ready to pass out and if she falls to the ground itís all over for you."
Sheridan knew exactly what Luis was doing. She looked at him for a split second longer for confirmation and then
closed her eyes. She allowed her body to go limp and at the same time, the mugger relaxed his hold of her slightly.
Sheridan fell to the ground with a whimper.
The mugger knew heíd been tricked and cursed at Luis. "Damn you" he scowled as he reached into his jacket
and pulled out a gun. The minute Luis saw the barrel of the gun aimed at him, he pulled the trigger of his own
weapon, discharging a bullet directly into the perpetratorís heart. The man dropped his weapons and clutched his
chest. His face contorted, turned a faint shade of blue as the life was sucked out of him. He fell to the ground
in a heap right next to Sheridan, who was crying softly.
Luis grabbed his two way radio from his hip and called the station as he checked the manís pulse and then went
to Sheridan. He requested back up and an ambulance.
"Sheridan, Sheridan, are you ok?" Luis asked in a gentle voice.
Sheridan looked up at him, fear in her eyes and her lower lip quivering. Her gaze then drifted to her side where
she saw the lifeless body of the man who she thought was going to kill her.
"Is he... Is he...dead?" She managed to ask.
"Yeah, he is" Luis said, his eyes downcast. "Iím sorry, but he pulled a gun the minute you dropped
to the ground. I had no choice."
"You saved my life" Sheridan whispered as she tried to sit up. Luis immediately placed his strong arm
gently around her shoulder to help her to a sitting position.
"Yeah, well, I was just doing my job. I couldnít let him kill you."
"Thank you" Sheridan said softly as she gazed into his dark brown eyes. She expected to see a look of
hatred, or at least indifference, but was surprised when all she saw was the kindest pair of brown eyes sheíd ever
encountered. She saw the eyes sheíd envisioned Pezz to have many times in her dreams.
She reached up to her neck to massage it as she felt a sharp pain under her ear. She gasped in horror when she
felt a hot sticky liquid trickling down her neck.
"Oh God Sheridan, youíre bleeding!" Luis exclaimed.
Sheridanís eyes filled with tears. "Did he cut my artery?" She asked, her voice cracking, afraid of the
answer she might receive.
Luis examined her neck and although there seemed to be quite a bit of blood, the color was too bright red to come
from an artery. "No, itís not the carotid artery, but I need to get the bleeding stopped anyway." Luis
looked around for something to stop the bleeding and found nothing. He thought as fast as he could and suddenly
an idea came to him.
Luis stood up and Sheridan nearly panicked. "Are you leaving me?" She asked anxiously.
"No, Iím not leaving you" Luis assured her. "Iím going to rip off part of my t-shirt and make a
pressure dressing to stop the bleeding from your neck."
Sheridan watched Luis carefully as he opened his uniform top and un-tucked his t-shirt. He made a small tear at
the bottom and ripped off about the bottom 3 inches of material from his shirt. He then made a makeshift pressure
dressing and gently placed it on her neck over the area where the blood was oozing from. She was surprised at how
gentle he was with her, his hands expertly holding the precise amount of pressure until the bandage was in place.
He then sat down beside her and pulled her closer to him. "Iím going to stay right here just like this until
the ambulance arrives" he said in a reassuring voice. "Itís just a small cut and they can put a proper
dressing on it when they get here, but I want to get the bleeding stopped as soon as possible."
Sheridan nodded. She felt safe with him somehow. She couldnít believe that Luis was doing all of this for her after
all of the terrible things heíd said to her earlier in the day. She reflected on Pezzís admission in his email,
but still wasnít comprehending it all.
"Luis, I really do appreciate everything youíre doing for me" Sheridan said hesitantly, "but Iím
not sure why youíre doing it when you hate me so much. Why didnít you just let that mugger kill me?"
Luis felt like heíd been slapped in the face, but he knew he deserved it. No matter what he thought about a person,
any person, he couldnít stand by and watch them murdered in cold blood, but after the way heíd treated Sheridan
he could see where she might think that.
"Sheridan, look, we need to talk" Luis began.
"Iím listening" Sheridan replied, staring into his handsome face.
"First of all, I am a cop and as a cop I would never stand by and idly watch a mugger kill anyone. Secondly
and more importantly, I donít hate you. I donít hate you at all."
"Well, you could have fooled me" Sheridan answered.
"I was going to tell you this tomorrow when I saw you at the Book Cafe, but since youíre here now, Iíll tell
you. "Sheridan, I really am sorry for the way I treated you at the park earlier today. I was completely and
utterly out of line. I had no business treating you that way. I said a lot of things that I could see truly hurt
you and I am sorry. From the bottom of my heart Iím sorry for everything I said."
Sheridan saw the look in Luisí eyes and he appeared sincere, but yet she couldnít forget the treatment he bestowed
upon her. Luis had lashed out at her one time too many for her to just forgive him. "I wish I could believe
you Luis" Sheridan told him after a long silence. "I truly wish I could believe youíre sincere, but I
just donít know."
Luis expected as much. Jay had warned him that Sheridan might not be able to forgive him this time. "I understand
Sheridan" Luis acknowledged. "I know I hurt you. There is nothing I can say to you that will explain
why I acted the way I did today. Just know, that Iím never going to speak to you again like that. I hope that in
time, youíll come to realize that I mean what I say. I know youíre not like the rest of your family. As a matter
of fact, I have no intention of ever mentioning that fact to you again. Iím hoping that at the very least we can
at least be civil to each other at the Youth Center."
The breeze picked up and Sheridan shivered as the cold seemed to go right through her. Goosebumps began to form
on her arms. "Iím not sure Iíll even be returning to the Youth Center, Luis" Sheridan informed him as
she tried to ignore the chilly weather.
"Are you cold?" Luis asked seeing the goose bumps appear on her arms and watching her teeth practically
"Yeah, a little" Sheridan admitted. "I was just about to leave when I was attacked."
Luis scooted over and moved behind Sheridan. He didnít have his jacket with him so he did the only thing he could
think of. He wrapped his arms around her, engulfing her small frame in his warm embrace. "Body heat usually
helps" he said quietly. Almost immediately Sheridan felt a surge of warmth flow through her veins. She couldnít
believe how safe and warm she felt in his arms. A flash went through her mind. She remembered the email Pezz sent
to her earlier in the night.
P.S. I really was looking forward to giving you
a real hug KC. Itís been on my mind almost constantly since I gave you that cyber hug several days ago. :)
"Does that feel better?" Luis asked.
Sheridan gazed into those kind eyes. "Much better" she whispered. "I canít feel the cold anymore."
"Good" Luis said flashing his signature grin.
The two sat in silence for a moment longer. The sound of the police cars and ambulance could be heard in the distance,
getting louder with each passing second.
"You know, Sheridan" Luis said, "Iíd like you to reconsider your decision of not working at the
Youth Center. The kids really like having you around and truthfully, Iím impressed with how well youíve managed
to fit in there. IĎd really like it if you stayed."
"Do you really mean that?" Sheridan asked in surprise.
"Yeah, I really mean that" Luis answered. "I want you to stay and I know the kids and Buzzy want
you to stay as well."
Voices could be heard getting closer as well as the sound of footsteps running on the wharf. "Iíll think about
it" Sheridan answered. She managed a very small smile.
"Over here!" Sam yelled to his crew as Sheridan and Luis were descended upon by police officers and paramedics.
Luis helped Sheridan stand up and she was immediately attended to by an EMT. Luis walked away with Sam, but looked
over his shoulder to make sure Sheridan was ok, only to find her staring right at him.
The EMTís having finished with her, Sheridan walked away from the ambulance with a police escort. She was brought
to a small bench where she gave her statement to them about what had happened and how it happened that Luis shot
the man. Sheridan told the officer everything that had happened. During the questioning, she found herself wishing
that Luis had been the one to do the questioning. When she realized what she was thinking, she shook her head and
asked herself where that had come from. She glanced over her shoulder looking for him and found him in an animated
discussion with his boss. She couldnít hear the words, but Sheridan knew by the body language that each man was
"What do you mean you have to take my badge Sam?" Luis asked defensively. "I had no choice but to
shoot that man. He pulled a gun on me and if I didnít shoot him he was going to shoot me and then most likely shoot
"Luis, I understand that" Sam said sympathetically. "This is an administrative leave, not a suspension.
Itís policy Luis and you know it. Anytime there is a death by shooting the officer involved is put on paid administrative
leave until Internal Affairs can determine the shooting was justified."
"But Sam, it was justified" Luis insisted.
"I know that Luis" Sam said. "Come on man, give me a break already, will you? This is federal and
there is nothing I can do to change it. Consider it a paid vacation."
"Yeah, right, a paid vacation" Luis hissed. "A paid vacation that lasts who knows how long and has
the boys and girls from I/A digging into every aspect of your life including how many times a day you go to the
"Whatís wrong with Officer Lopez Fitzgerald?" Sheridan asked the officer who was interviewing her.
The officer looked up at Sam and Luis and shook his head sadly. "Sam is probably putting Luis on administrative
leave, Miss" the man told her.
"Why? He didnít do anything wrong. The man was going to kill both of us."
"I understand that Miss, but itís procedure for any shooting when a police officer shoots a civilian with
death resulting, regardless of the reason. Luis knows the drill, we all do. Itís just hard to swallow when itís
yourself in the hot seat."
"It doesnít seem fair" Sheridan commented.
"I understand Miss, but donít you worry about Luis. Internal Affairs will do their audit and Luis will be
back to work in a week or so. Luis has nothing to worry about. This is as open and shut a case as I can recall.
They just have to go through the proper procedures and everything will be fine."
Sheridan nodded, but her heart went out to Luis, who she now watched hand his badge and gun over to Chief Sam Bennett.
As she sat there watching him, she suddenly realized that she cared about what happened to Luis, more than she
thought she ever could after the little display earlier in the day. She thought about Pezzís email and decided
she wanted to go home and read it again. Something told her, she wasnít going to be able to get Luis out of her
system very easily. He got to her and she needed to think long and hard and decide if she wanted him to get to
her even more.