"I canít believe all the thought you put into this"
Luis remarked. "I am truly impressed."
"Thanks Luis" Buzzy grinned. "Iíve been tossing around some of these ideas even before we found
out the Youth Center was slated to close. I was trying to think of some fun things for the kids to do the last
few weeks before school."
"You certainly do have a variety of activities lined up" Sheridan mused. "It sounds like fun."
"It will be fun" Buzzy announced. "Iíll make sure of that!" The group laughed as Jay organized
her notebook. She wanted everything written down with the day each activity would take place.
"All right everyone" Jay said, "I want to get this all down so I know whatís happening. Some of
these days I may not be able to make it. Donít forget the reason I am here is to help Mom with Grandma."
"Of course Jay" Luis said understandingly. "Letís get it all written down and then we can find chaperones
for the days one of us canít make it."
"OK, tomorrow we go bowling in the morning and then we visit the paint-your-own ceramic shop," Jay said
as she wrote. "What's the name of the ceramic place, Buzzy?"
"Kaseyís Kiln" Buzzy grinned. "Itís on Fifth Street."
"Did you say KCís Kiln?" Luis asked, a lump developing in his throat.
"Yeah, thatís right" Buzzy said. "It just opened. The owner and her husband just moved here from
Europe recently. Sheís very artistic and he takes care of the business end. I guess Kaseyís wife lived here as
a child and always wanted to move back home so her husband finally agreed. Several parents of our kids have already
gone there and have given it rave reviews."
Sheridan looked at Jay with utter surprise on her face. She saw that Jayís reaction was similar to her own. She
then glanced over at Luis who was looking like someone had just kicked him in the gut. "Have you met this
KC and his wife?" Luis asked, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer.
"No, not yet" Buzzy said, "but we all will tomorrow. I talked to her on the telephone and sheís
thrilled to have the kids from the Youth Center coming."
Jay saw the pained look on Luisí face. She wanted to tell him that she knew for certain that there was no way this
woman was his KC, but she couldn't without giving herself and Sheridan away.
She just prayed that KCís wife didnít turn out to be a blonde haired blue eyed beauty. "Luis, Iím sure itís
not the same person. Your KC would have mentioned if she was opening a business in Harmony. Itís just a coincidence,
thatĎs all" Jay offered trying to reassure Luis.
"Yeah, a coincidence" Luis muttered not really knowing what to believe.
"You think this the woman you know from the internet?" Sheridan asked quietly. "The one with the
Luis shot Sheridan a dirty look. "No, I donít think that" Luis snapped back. He then remembered his promise
and took a deep breath. "Iím sorry I yelled Sheridan. Itís just that my friend has the same screen name as
the Ceramic store, KC and she just moved back to Harmony after spending most of her life in Europe."
"Luis, I bet there is more than one person in Harmony that spent time in Europe" Sheridan answered. "Does
your friend have an interest in ceramics?"
Luis looked at Sheridan in surprise. "Sheís never mentioned it" Luis admitted. "She goes to work
every day, but I have no idea what she does."
"Maybe you should ask her?" Sheridan suggested nonchalantly. "Ask her if she likes ceramics? Ask
her what kind of work she does?"
This conversation was making Jay very nervous. Her arm swiped Luisí mug slightly making it rattle on the table
slightly. Jay reached out and steadied Luisí prized Top Cop coffee mug. She was so afraid Sheridan was going to
say something to give herself away, she was now almost breaking cups. Sheridan was treading on very dangerous ground
right now. Jay decided to ask Buzzy another question. "Any idea what part of Europe she is from?" Jay
asked hoping he wouldn't say France.
"Iím not sure" Buzzy admitted, "but Kasey sounded like he had a British accent, so if I had to guess
Iíd say England, but you canít tell for sure." Buzzy was very confused right now. He had no idea what was
Luis felt a wave of relief, but he wasnít going to be completely relieved until he met this KC and his wife. Not
wanting to dwell anymore on this new development, Luis decided to change the subject. "OK, what else in on
"We have a trip to Lighthouse Park for a softball game and picnic, a day at the community pool, Miniature
Golf World and a trip to Bobbyís Rollerway and finally a day at the beach with a cookout for dinner."
"Bobbyís Rollerway?" Jay asked in surprise. "I thought that place closed years ago."
"It did" Buzzy grinned, "but with the emergence of rollerblading it just reopened a few months ago.
Theyíre remodeling it, but they decided to open it in June when school got out. They didnít want to lose all the
business from kids being off all summer."
"That makes sense" Sheridan remarked.
"That might be a day I skip" Luis announced. "Iíve never been rollerblading before."
"Luis, itís just like ice skating except with wheels" Jay told him. "You wonít have any trouble
with it at all."
"Weíll see about that" Luis smirked.
"Thereís one thing I forgot to mention" Buzzy said as an after thought. "The fair. As you know,
the Youth Center has several booths in this yearís summer carnival. So far we havenít had much trouble manning
the booths, but we do need volunteers for a few time slots."
"Iíd love to help with that" Jay piped up happily. "I think Iíve missed that Carnival more than
just about anything else in Harmony."
"Summer Carnival?" Sheridan asked, never having heard of it. "It sounds interesting."
"You havenít heard about the Harmony Summer Carnival Sheridan?" Jay asked in wonderment. "Itís a
Harmony tradition! You just have to go to it."
"Well, Iíd love to help at the Youth Center booth anyway. Maybe I can look around while Iím there."
"You'll love it, Sheridan!" Jay exclaimed. "There is something for everyone there. You have all
the traditional things you might expect to see at a local fair. There are rides, bands playing live music, tons
of food and all kinds of booths. The Youth Center always has at least one booth to help raise money for the following
year. Pilar always cooks and Grace Bennett makes desserts for both the church and Youth Center booths. There are
raffles and contests. Everyone in town joins in, natives and summer tourists. It's a really great time. It's the
last two weeks in August every summer."
"It really sounds exciting" Sheridan grinned.
"You really mean to tell us that you grew up in Harmony and never went to the Summer Carnival?" Luis
asked in disbelief. "Jayís right, itís a Harmony tradition."
The smile Sheridan wore faded. "My father didnít believe that the Cranes should mingle with the locals. He
always told us that Cranes donít take part in such foolishness."
"Sheridan, Iím sorry" Jay said sympathetically.
"Itís all right Jay" Sheridan said, feigning a small grin. "You know, now that I think about it,
I do have a recollection of going someplace with Pilar one day when I was very small. It was right after my mother
died and she had to go set up a table at a local festival. I donít remember much except it all seemed very exciting.
There were people everywhere laughing and playing games. I remember seeing a Ferris wheel and there was carnival
music playing." Sheridan started to laugh as the memory became clearer.
"Pilar bought me some cotton candy to eat while I waited for her to finish setting up her table. It was the
first time Iíd ever had it. Pilar and I decided to keep it out little secret because if Father ever found out he
would have been very angry." The faraway look on Sheridan's face seemed to disappear as she came back to the
Luis shook his head. ĎJust like a Crane to think that wayí he thought. Yet, he couldnít help but feel for Sheridan
having to grow up in such an atmosphere. Part of him was satisfied that his mother was the person to at least give
her a brief moment of happiness.
"I canít wait to go to it" Sheridan said excitedly. "I bet it was the same Carnival. So, tell me,
what kind of booths does the Youth Center have?"
"Iím not sure what we have this year, but last year they had a pie throwing contest" Jay answered. "I
heard that some lucky volunteer got to have a whipped cream pie tossed in their face fifty times a day."
"Not this year" Buzzy grimaced, remembering his day as the "volunteer". "Even making them
do it blindfolded last year, it was too easy. Whoís idea was that anyway?"
"If I recall it was Bethís idea and she didnít even take a turn" Luis said shaking his head. "I
agree, that was way too easy."
"So what is it this year Buzzy?" Luis asked. "Iíve been so busy lately I have to admit I missed
out on the planning this year."
Buzzy grinned mischievously. "Well then, youíll just have to wait and see."
"Excuse me, Miss Crane?" A man asked as he approached the table.
"Iím Sheridan Crane" Sheridan answered as she turned in the direction of the voice. As soon as she saw
the recognizable brown uniform and package he was carrying she knew immediately what it was. A small grin appeared
on the corner of her mouth.
"I have a package for you" the UPS delivery man announced. He handed Sheridan a fairly large box wrapped
in brown paper and asked her to sign for it." Sheridan placed the box on the table and signed the manís form.
"Thank you" Sheridan said with a gleam in her eyes. "Iíve been waiting for this." Sheridan
grabbed a bill from her purse and tipped the delivery man.
"Thank you Miss Crane" the man smiled. He then left as quietly as he entered. Luis, Jay and Buzzy looked
at her with great curiosity. "Do I dare ask how he knew to track you down here?" Jay questioned.
"ESP?" Sheridan said whimsically.
"Funny!" Buzzy grinned. Luis just shook his head and fought the urge to make a nasty comment. He could
tell not mentioning Sheridanís family was going to be harder than he thought, but so far heíd kept his promise.
"Does that mean youíre not going to tell us whatís in the package?" Jay asked. She was dying to know
what was in the box.
"Youíll probably find out later today or tomorrow Jay, but for right now itís a secret."
"I can be patient when I have to." Jay said in defeat. She made a mental note to ask Sheridan about the
box the next time she saw her.
"Well, I for one think we had a very productive meeting" Jay said with a satisfied nod.
"We did accomplish quite a bit" Luis admitted.
"I have to run" Jay said as she looked at her watch. "I have to help Mom. Grandma has a doctor's
appointment and it takes both of us to get her there."
"Good luck Jay" Sheridan smiled as Jay stood up to leave. "Iíll see you tomorrow."
"Bright and early" Jay grinned. "Have a great evening everyone."
Buzzy stood up to leave as well. "Time for me to go as well. Iíll walk you out Jay. See you tomorrow"
he waved as he walked out with Jay. Sheridan and Luis said their good-byes and then it was just the two of them
at the table.
For some reason, Luis suddenly felt anxious being alone with Sheridan and had no idea why. "Well, I guess
thatís it for today" he smiled nervously.
Sheridan returned the smile and went to stand up. Without thinking Luis jumped out of his seat and helped her with
her chair. "Thanks" she said demurely. She wasnít expecting it and his action took her totally by surprise.
"I guess Iíll see you tomorrow" she said as she turned to leave.
"Donít forget your package" Luis reminded her as he stared curiously at the box.
Sheridan saw the box and couldnít believe she almost forgot it. "Oh! I canít believe I almost forgot this"
she said picking up the box. She stared at it for a moment and then held the package out for Luis to take. "This
is for you Luis" she said as she placed the box in his hands.
"For me?" He asked in confusion. "I donít understand."
"Itís just a little something that I thought you might like. I wanted to say thank you for saving my life
last night. I know how difficult it must have been for you to put your life on the line for someone from a family
you hate and I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it."
Luis was floored. "Sheridan, I was just doing my job" Luis insisted. "You donít need to get me anything,
really." He fought the urge to tell her he didnít want anything bought with Crane money.
"Why donít you just open it and then you can tell me you donít want it" Sheridan suggested.
"All right" Luis agreed. That was the least he could do. He opened the box wondering what Sheridan could
possibly have gotten him that he wouldnít want to send back. His eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw
it was a Boston Celtics team jersey with the number 33 on it. It was autographed to Luis from Larry Bird and there
was a letter that went along with it. Luis stared at Sheridan with an incredulous look on his face as he opened
the letter and read.
Sheridan called me last night and asked me if I had a spare jersey I could autograph for you. As Iím sure you can
imagine, I donít do this for everyone, but when she explained to me what happened to her and how you saved her
life from that mugger, I couldnít refuse her.
Sheridan is very special to me. Weíve worked together
on several charity events and she is one of the finest women Iíve had the pleasure to meet, not to mention one
of the most beautiful. You have done a great service by protecting her precious life and I canít thank you enough.
Sheridan also told me about the Youth Center you
run that she has been volunteering at since she arrived home. It sounds like a wonderful place for young people.
She mentioned your love of basketball so Iíd like to include two scholarships for any kids of your choosing to
attend my basketball camp next summer. Iíd love for you to come with them and meet you in person. We can always
use another hand working with the kids and she says youíre pretty good. That Iíll have to judge for myself!
I hope you enjoy the jersey. It always brought
me good luck when I wore it on the court. Take care of that wonderful woman for me.
Luis was totally and utterly speechless after reading the
letter from Larry Bird. He had no idea what to say. "Sheridan, thank you" he finally said with genuine
emotion. "This was a really nice thing to do."
"The scholarships were Larryís idea" Sheridan admitted bashfully. "But I agree, it was very kind
"You know, you really shouldnít have done this" he said, "but I have to admit, I love the jersey
and I canít tell you how much the scholarships will mean to whichever kids get them. Itís fantastic."
"Well, as I said, itís just a small token of thanks for saving my life" she smiled. Sheridan was relieved
that Luis was pleased with the present. She wasnít sure if he would accept it, since it was her being a Crane that
gave her the opportunity to work with Larry Bird and get to know him.
Luis smiled at Sheridan, still in awe of the wonderful gift heíd received. It amazed him that she took the time
to find something so personal, something that would hold deep meaning for him for a long time to come. "Thanks
again Sheridan" Luis said. Without thinking, he walked close to her and held her arms gently. He gingerly
placed a kiss on her cheek before he had a chance to realize what he was doing. Sheridan felt her face turn hot
as she felt his lips lightly caress her cheek. She shyly looked up and swore she saw Luis blush, but he turned
and left so quickly, she couldnít tell for sure. She sighed happily as she watched Luis disappear from the Book
"Hi Mama" Luis said cheerfully as he kissed his mother on the cheek. Pilar was surprised at the good
mood Luis was in considering everything that had happened to him.
"My, you are certainly in a good mood Luis" Pilar commented as she just stared at her son as he grabbed
a can of coke out of the refrigerator. She saw a box tucked under his arm that he didnít seem to want to let go
"Actually I am in a pretty good mood today" Luis admitted.
"Would it have anything to do with the contents of that box?" Pilar asked curiously.
Luis couldnít keep the grin off his face. "You got me Mama" Luis laughed. "Yes it does have everything
to do with the contents of this box." Luis placed the box on the kitchen table and opened it, gently removing
the precious jersey from the container. He held it up in full view for his mother to see.
Pilar looked on in surprise. "Luis, Iím not an expert but isnít 33 Larry Birdís number?"
"You tell me Mama?" Luis requested as he turned the jersey over so she could see the autograph on the
"Mijo, this is wonderful! Where on earth did you get this?" Pilar asked.
Luis took a sip of his soda and handed his mother the letter heíd received with the jersey. Pilar read the letter
and she was in almost as much shock as Luis had been earlier when he read it for the first time.
"Luis, this was a very nice thing Sheridan did for you" Pilar commented. "I certainly hope you thanked
her for it and didnít make any rude comments about...."
"Yes I thanked her for it Mama" Luis interrupted. "And I had a long talk with Sheridan last night.
I promised her I wouldnít even mention her family in front of her. Iím doing my best to get along with her."
"I am very pleased to hear that Luis. Sheridan truly is a wonderful person and I hope you will learn that
if you can keep yourself from thinking of her as a Crane."
"I know Mama" Luis said. "Iím really trying to overcome the fact sheís a Crane. As long as I donít
think about that she does seem like a nice person."
"She is a nice person Luis" Pilar told him, whether her last name is Crane or not. "What she did
today just reinforces what I have been telling you."
"Yes, I will admit this was a very nice thing she did" Luis agreed. "Until I saw what it was, I
was thinking up nice ways of giving whatever was in the box back to her."
"Luis, you need..."
"I know Mama" Luis said. "I told you, Iím trying. Rome wasnít built in a day."
"I understand mijo" Pilar answered. "I am pleased to see you are at least making an effort where
Sheridan is concerned.
"Iím going to go put this jersey away" Luis said as he packed up his box.
"Fine Luis" Pilar said. "Iíll call you when dinner is ready."
Luis sat down to his computer after hanging up his prized jersey and pinning his personal note from Larry Bird
on his cork board. He laughed to himself when he thought about actually framing that letter. He felt silly at the
idea, but after all this was Larry Bird, not just anyone. He hadnít had a chance to check his mail this morning
and hoped there would be a note from KC. He was pleased to find there was mail waiting for him.
I am so sorry that you had such a terrible experience. Youíre right, youíve never told me what you do, but I can
only imagine how difficult it must be for you regardless of your occupation to take another life. It sounds to
me as if you did what had to be done, still my heart goes out to you. I imagine the woman whose life you saved
will be grateful to you forever. I always believed you were the hero type Pezz and this just proves it.
I hope you are still getting paid on administrative
leave. Iím not an expert, but it seems to me thatís the type of suspension when they do pay you? I sure hope so.
It would be a disservice to the people of Harmony if they didnít. I for one feel safer knowing you are out there
protecting me. It is a credit to the force to have someone as dedicated and caring as you out there.
Iím grateful youíve decided to forgive me Pezz.
I donít know how well I would have taken it if you hadnít. As I mentioned before, your letters mean the world to
me as do our chats. I will be home tonight and would love to chat with you. As sorry as I am that you are unable
to work for the time being, part of me is glad as weíll be able to spend more time together. Talking or emailing
I have a busy day ahead of me. As before, my days
will be pretty full, but I should be home in the evenings. Iíll be on the computer after eight tonight if you feel
the need to chat.
Take care Pezz and keep the faith. Everything
will work out for you. I know it will.
Luis looked at his watch. It was still quite awhile before
KC would be online, so he decided to send her an email while he waited. He wanted answers to a few simple questions.
Sheridan paced her living room floor in deep thought. Her mind was filled with thoughts of Luis, Pezz and everything
that had happened in the last few months involving both men. "Both men" she said as she paced. "Both
men are really one man" she mumbled. She stopped in front of her couch and threw her hands in the air. "What
am I going to do?" She asked herself as she lowered herself to the couch.
Even though Sheridan was torn, she knew one thing. She didnít want to lose Pezz. She cherished the friendship sheíd
developed with him and until she discovered he was Luis was sure they would develop a much deeper relationship.
Now that she knew Pezz was Luis, she needed to rethink everything.
Luis had hurt her with his cruel words, but she honestly believed he felt badly for his behavior. Heíd apologized
to her and told KC how terrible he felt. During the time sheíd spent with him since the botched meeting, Luis had
done everything he could to be considerate of her as well as make an effort to get along with her. She also felt
something every time she was in his presence. It was something she couldnít quite explain, but she was pretty sure
Luis felt it too. Her mind thought back to all of her pleasant moments alone with Luis and she felt her heart flutter
just thinking about them. Despite the fights sheíd had with him, sheíd also seen some of the qualities in him that
she knew Pezz possessed and she wanted to learn more about him.
She closed her eyes and remembered the feeling of being wrapped in his arms during the dance they shared, the feeling
of safety and security she felt after the mugging and the feeling of how soft his lips felt when they brushed her
cheek just a short time ago. The feeling was incredible and that simple gesture left her wanting more.
"I must be crazy" she said out loud standing up again, "but I think I want Luis. I want to get to
know him, the person I know he really is when heís not prejudiced by the Crane name. I wonder if Jay is home yet
from taking her Grandmother to the doctorís office?"
Sheridan picked up the phone and dialed Jayís motherís house. She was relieved when she found Jay was home. She
quickly explained to her that she wanted to meet and discuss Luis and couldnít hold back her smile when Jay told
her that "Sheridan and Luis" were her favorite topic. Jay agreed to meet her in half an hour by the water.
Sheridan decided that since she had a few minutes before meeting Jay, sheĎd email Godis and BabyShuis and bring
them up to speed. When sheíd written them her last email sheíd been vague and didnít tell them much except that
she and the man she saw was Pezz didnít get along.
When she signed on line, Sheridan saw she had at least a dozen emails from BabyShuis and Godis. She hadnít really
felt like reading much mail before and now she didnít have time to read it, but she managed to read the most current
note from each and then began to reply.
Iím sorry my last email was such a downer, but as I told you, my almost meeting was anything but what I expected.
I told you that the man who turned out to be Pezz and I donít get along, but I didnít tell you that he is the same
man that Iíve already told you about. The one person who has made my life miserable since my return to Harmony.
I mentioned that I didnít meet Pezz, but I did
talk to him, but not as KC, as the woman he despises. It was a very disturbing meeting and he said some very cruel
and hurtful things were said. I was hurt beyond words.
Initially I was heartbroken. How could my Pezz
turn out to be the one man in Harmony that hates me because of something my family may or may not have done to
his family in the past? I was still reeling from it all when I was faced with another devastating situation. I
was mugged and held at knife point. I truly thought I was going to die when a local police officer came to my rescue.
He saved me from the mugger and was forced to shoot the assailant in the process. Any guesses who this man is?
If you guessed Pezz, youíre right.
I am in a state of confusion right now. Pezz has
no idea that KC and I are the same person. He has also apologized to me for his hurtful remarks. I donít know if
I am explaining this clearly or not, but then again, this is not an everyday situation. I wouldnít believe it if
I were not stuck right in the middle of it.
What I need you to understand now is that Pezz
and KC are friends again, though we still havenít met and I am about to make a decision to change my whole life.
Iím on my way to meet a woman who has become a very good friend to me who is also best friends with Pezz. For some
reason I canít get Pezz and his alter ego out of my head. I think I want to try to get to know him better, despite
everything that has happened. There is just something about him....
I promise Iíll write more later and try to explain
this more clearly. For now, all you need to know if I do decide to go follow my heart and not my head, things will
be very different for me.
Sheridan quickly hit the send key on her computer. She
grabbed her sweater which was hanging on the back of her chair and headed out the cottage door to meet Jay. She
was about to make the biggest decision of her life.