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Too Hot To Handle
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Too Hot To Handle
by Deanna Lynn

Chapter Twenty

It had been almost a week since Luis had last seen Sher and yet the moment she entered the lobster shack, it was as if they’d never been apart. She was wearing a flower covered yellow sundress that flirted with her ankles. She looked beautiful. He finally found the courage to raise his eyes to meet hers and as they did, something electric passed between them, much as it had the first time they met when he’d dove into the pool and splashed her with water. He smiled at the memory then frowned for letting her get to him yet again. He’d promised his father during that dreadful conversation six days ago that he would stay away from Sher and he planned to do just that. His father had been angry, more than angry actually. He had exploded like a stick of dynamite. He’d hollered for a good fifteen minutes and then he had made him promise not to go near Sheridan Crane again. Once he remembered the pain and heartache Beth caused him, he had agreed, figuring it would be the smartest thing for him to do anyway.

Luis knew Sheridan had gotten to him in some way and he also knew that by spending more time with her the feeling would only get deeper. He couldn’t allow that to happen. He had told her the night before their ‘date’ that his heart was off limits and he meant it. Right now she only held a tiny miniscule piece of it and he refused to give her access to more. He wouldn’t set himself up to be hurt again. After his father had reminded him of what was at stake - his friendship with Ethan and his family as well as the rest of his families relationship with the Crane’s - he knew he couldn’t allow himself to see her again. It would only cause more trouble for all of them. No, the best thing for him and for everyone else involved was for him to keep his distance from Sheridan Crane. He only prayed he had the will power to do it.

"Why don’t you just go talk to her?" Miguel asked breaking into his less than pleasure filled thoughts.

Luis shook his head. "No way. I already told you why I can’t do that."

"Because dad said to stay away from her? Yeah you told me that." Miguel asked waving his hand through the air in a dismissive gesture. "But when did that ever stop you from doing anything you wanted to do? Hell, Luis you never listen to anyone before so why are you going to start now?"

"Dammit Miguel layoff already! You’ve been harping on this all week! I’ve told you I don’t know how many times that I have my own reasons for staying away from her!"

"Yeah, I suppose you do. The main one being so you can avoid dealing with your feelings for her."

Luis sent his little brother a withering glare. "Go to hell Miguel. You have no idea what you are talking about!"

"No?" Miguel asked raising a brow. "Then answer me this. Why haven’t you been able to get her out of your mind? It’s been almost a week now and you’re still as upset as the day it happened. Why? If you didn’t care about her, Luis, you wouldn’t be so upset about what she did or about staying away from her. You’ve never given two cents about what anyone said about you and here you are running away because her father thinks you aren’t good enough for her. News flash big brother – no father ever thinks any guy is good enough for his little girl."

"How in the hell would you know that?" Luis shot back angrily. "You got a little girl running around out there somewhere?"

"Very funny," Miguel replied with a hard look. "And don’t try and change the subject. You care about her and that scares the hell out of you so you’ve taken to running away. I never thought I’d live to see the day that Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald was actually afraid of something, least of all a girl!"

A girl? Ha! Sher was more than just a girl. She was… she was Sher. There were really no words to describe her. Just when he thought he had her pegged, she’d pull a one-eighty on him. She definitely kept him on his toes. At times that was a definite turn on, but like the other day, it was a definite turn off too. Why couldn’t she be like the other women he had known? The less complicated ones? Because, his brain answered, if she was like those other women she wouldn’t be Sher. She wouldn’t be the Sher he knew and lo-

Luis froze as the implication of what he’d almost said hit him. It wasn’t true. There was no way that could be true. Hell, outside of the biblical sense, he barely knew her so there was absolutely no possible way he could be in love with her. No way at all. A voice inside his head called him a liar, but he refused to pay attention to it. He knew what he felt and what he didn’t. And what he felt for Sheridan Crane was definitely not love. It was just pure and simple good old American lust.


Sheridan wasn’t sure what was going on between Luis and his brother but Luis certainly didn’t look happy. In fact, he’d been frowning and glaring at Miguel for the last fifteen minutes. And she should know. After all, she’d only been staring at him ever since she walked in the door. He’d looked at her when she first came in but Miguel had said something and he’d quickly turned his attention back to his brother. She knew he was still angry with her. She'd seen it in his eyes. But she also knew that for a split second he had been happy to see her. She’d seen that too. The only problem was it had disappeared far too quickly for her liking.

How was she going to get him to forgive her? It wasn’t like she had meant to tell her and Ethan’s parents that she’d slept with him. She hadn’t. Her temper had simply gotten the better of her and she’d lashed out. In retrospect, she knew she’d lashed out that way because it was the quickest way to get her father to see she wasn’t a little girl anymore. But she regretted doing it now. Her father had hardly spoken to her over the past week and when he did it was only to tell her how disappointed in her he was.

Sighing, she turned her attention away from Luis and looked at her father, who was currently glaring in Luis’ direction. The last thing she needed was for her father to confront Luis like he’d threatened to do ever since Luis had walked out of the Julian and Ivy’s house six days ago. Julian’s dismissal of his working on the pool house hadn’t been enough for her father evidently. He wanted Luis to lose his job altogether and had even threatened to call his father to make sure that happened. It had taken her mother and her a good two hours to talk him out of it. It certainly hadn’t been easy. In the end, the only way her father had given in was for her to agree to go back to New York with them.

Tears started to well in her eyes as she glanced back over at Luis. He wasn’t looking at her, but she knew he felt her looking at him. She could tell by the tenseness in his body. He had said he never wanted to see her again and after tonight he probably wouldn’t. Something inside her broke as the revelation of what she had agreed to started to sink in. In four days, she would return to New York with her parents. Her summer of fun was going to end earlier than she had planned thanks to her big mouth and now she would go back to her boring life in New York.

She knew her father expected her to get back together with Mike and she was going to fight him on that every step of the way. She did not want to be the trophy girlfriend of Michael Bryant. She knew if she got back together with him that her father and his father would have them married in a few short months and that was definitely not what she wanted. She wanted more out of life than Mike could give her. She wanted passion and excitement. She wanted… love.

Tears burned her eyes and fell silently down her cheeks as the realization that she would never have that finally sunk in. The minute she returned to New York she knew what would happen. She would return to the same person she had always been – the dutiful daughter. She’d sacrifice her happiness to avoid creating a ripple in her relationship with her father. She would no longer be the person she had been over the last two weeks. She would no longer be the free spirit she had wanted to be all her life. She would be a robot and her father would once again be the controller.

She closed her eyes in the hope that she could get her emotions under control and when she opened them again, she found herself staring into Luis’ questioning brown gaze. He raised a brow when he noticed her tears and when he started to get up, she shook her head no. He sat back down but she knew he didn’t want to. She could see the worry in his eyes and she knew that worry was for her. More tears slid down her cheeks and she knew if she didn’t get out of there right now, she was going to cause a scene, a scene in which she did not want to be a participant in.

Sheridan backed her chair up and stood on somewhat shaky legs. When her father questioned where she was going, she merely shook her head and walked out the front doors of the restaurant. She knew she would have to answer for her behavior later and she would, but right now she needed some time to think. Once outside she sucked in a deep breath and began to walk down the sidewalk toward Lighthouse Park. She had gone there a lot over the last six days and it always seemed to help her get her perspective on things. She desperately needed that perspective tonight. She had to figure out what she wanted to do. She knew she had promised her father that she would stay away from Luis, but she also knew that by doing so she would be going back on the promise she made to herself. The promise to live her life the way she wanted to instead of living it the way her parents wanted her to.

When did her life get so complicated?
When you turned sixteen and realized your parents didn’t care who you were as long as you did what they wanted you to do, her mind answered. As long forgotten memories floated into her brain, memories she’d tried to bury long ago, she began to cry harder and walk faster. Pretty soon she was running, running in the hope that she could escape the memories. But the more she ran the more the memories followed.

Lost in her haze of memories, she failed to hear the voice yelling her name. In fact, she didn’t even know Luis had followed her until he caught her by the arm and swung her around to face him. Her hands landed on his broad shoulders in an effort to steady herself and when she looked up she found herself staring into his intense brown eyes. Looking into those dark eyes made her realize just what her promise to her father meant and as the truth hit her like a bolt of lightening, all the tears she’d never let herself shed fell. She cried for the little girl that never had the chance to find herself because her parents, her father in particular, had always told her who she was. She cried for the woman that had been forced to pretend she loved a man she couldn’t stand to be around. She cried for the daughter that could never seem to please her father and she cried for the woman that she wanted so desperately to be but would never be allowed to become. And through it all Luis held her, comforted her, and soothed her with his deep voice and soft words.


Luis didn’t know what to do. He’d never seen someone in so much pain before. He didn’t know what was going on with Sher but he knew whatever it was it was killing her inside. He could see it. He could feel it. He held her as she cried and wished more than once that he could make all her pain go away. He knew he would gladly take it upon himself if it meant she would be rid of the pain that was breaking her heart right now.

She continued to sob against his chest and he ran his hands lightly over her back as her tears drenched the front of his black button up shirt. Then with his voice soft and low, he tried to reassure her. He didn’t know what he was trying to reassure her of, but he knew he had to try.

"It’s okay, Sheridan." He said whispering into her hair. "It’s okay. Whatever it is, it’s going to be okay."

"N…n… no it won’t." She cried her voice thick with pain and heartache. "It won’t be all right. It never will be again."

"What do you mean?" He asked pulling back and placing a finger under her chin so he could look in her tear filled blue eyes. "What do you mean it won’t ever be all right again?

Her eyes were swollen and puffy but they still had the ability to take his breath away. They were so intense… so filled with such raw emotion that it was hard for him not to get lost in them. "What is it, Sher? Tell me. Maybe I can’t help."

"You can’t." She cried pulling away from him and turning so that her back was to him. "You can’t help me, Luis. The only think you can do is say goodbye."

Say goodbye? Surely, she didn’t expect him to just leave her here? There was no way he was going to leave her alone right now. Not in the shape she was in. No way. "I’m not leaving, Sheridan. I’m not going to leave you alone so you may as well tell me what’s bothering you."

She shook her head then turned back to face him, her bright blue eyes were filled with tears and laced with regret. "I know you’re not leaving Luis. But… but I am. I’m leaving this Sunday. I’m going back… back to New York with my parents."

The breath left his lungs as her words filled his ears.
Leaving. Sunday. Back To New York. Leaving… NO! She couldn’t be leaving! She was supposed to stay until the end of the summer. Why would she change her mind now? Why did she suddenly want to go back to New York? The place that she had in not so many words said that she hated? It didn’t make any sense. Unless… "Are you parents forcing you to leave because of what happened between us? Is that what this sudden talk of leaving is all about? Because if it is I swear I’ll talk to them. I’ll straighten it out."

She shook her head again then walked closer and placed her hand against his cheek. "There’s nothing to straighten out Luis. They aren’t forcing me to leave. It was my decision."

Her decision? She chose to leave? Why? Because of him? Because of what he’d said about never wanting to see her again? If that was the case then he could clear it up right now. "Sheridan, when I… when I told you I never wanted to see you again… Well, I… I didn’t mean it. I was angry and hurt, but I swear I didn’t mean it."

She gave a slight smile. "I know, Luis. I know you didn’t mean it. My leaving has nothing do with what you said."

"Then what does it have to do with?" He asked locking his eyes with hers. "Why are you leaving, Sheridan? Why are you cutting your summer of fun two months short?"

"Because I have to."

Because she had to? What the hell kind of answer was that? He could tell there was more to it than she was willing to say but he had all night and he wasn’t about to leave the park until he got some answers to his questions. He was going to find out why she suddenly decided to go back to New York and once he did, he was going to do his damnedest to change her mind. Because there was no way he was going let her walk out of his life as easily as she’d walked into it.

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