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Too Hot To Handle
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Too Hot To Handle
by Deanna Lynn

Chapter Twenty – Two

Luis knew he needed to calm down, but his Irish temper was getting the better of him. For the second time in his life, he'd broken his own rules. He’d let himself get emotionally involved with a woman and now he was once again paying the price. She may not have cheated on him like Beth had, but her cavalier attitude about their relationship hurt just the same. Sure they had both agreed up front that they wanted a no strings attached affair, but he’d thought after the incredible night they’d shared that she knew that what happened between them had been more than just sex. But apparently she didn’t know and thanks to her whispered agreement to his jackass suggestion, he now knew what a fool he was in thinking it had meant more.

Luis turned from the image of her tear-stained face and stared off into the distance wondering how in the hell he’d let himself fall in love with her. He’d promised himself after his disastrous relationship with Beth that he wouldn’t ever give another woman his heart, but his heart hadn’t lasted five minutes alone with Sheridan Crane. He had taken one look at her and dove right in. Now he was treading in water up to his eyebrows and there was no way out. It was either sink or swim and right now he was sinking. He was sinking into the pain that he was sure would forever be his home.

"Luis?" Sher called from behind him. "Please say something."

What was he supposed to say? Her words of agreement to another night of hot meaningless sex pretty much said it all. Meaningless to her not to him. Damn, what a predicament he’d gotten himself into. He’d spent the last couple of years, since his breakup with Beth, avoiding getting emotionally involved with a woman and then he met Sher. She was unlike any woman he had ever met before. She said what she wanted… she went after what she wanted and to him that was the biggest turn on of all. She didn’t keep her feelings hidden and that was why he knew that what happened between them meant nothing to her. She had said it was just sex and she meant it. If she hadn’t meant it, there was no way she would have agreed to what he had proposed. In all likelihood, she would have slapped him and he would have deserved it.

"Luis?" She asked again this time her voice sounding a little closer than before. She placed a hand on his back and he felt the heat from her skin through his black shirt. He was surprised he wasn’t on fire. She was the only woman that affected him this way. No one in his life had ever gotten to him the way she did and he knew no one else ever could.

Shaking himself from the direction his thoughts had gone, he took a step forward then turned back around to face her. His eyes met hers and he was surprised to find tears trickling silently down her cheeks. The ache in his chest got tighter and it was all he could do not to walk toward her and take her into his arms. But he couldn’t do that. It would only hurt that much more when she walked away and he had absolutely no doubt that she would walk away. She’d already told him as much.

"Sher –"

"Luis –" she said simultaneously. She shook her head then cast her eyes toward the ground. "Go ahead."

"Tell me why." He asked with a slight begging tone in his voice, a begging tone he inwardly cursed himself for using. He couldn’t remember ever in his life begging anyone for anything. "Tell me why you’re leaving. I at least deserve to know that much."

The second the words were out of his mouth, Sheridan’s eyes flew to his in surprise. He had shocked her. He could see it on her face. For once, she actually looked kind of speechless. That fact would have made him laugh had it been under entirely different circumstances.

He watched as she took a deep breath then let out a curse when she closed her eyes and tried to shut him out. He’d be damned if he’d let get away with it though. He wanted some answers and he wasn’t leaving until he got them. He walked toward her and placed a finger under her chin then forced her to look him in the eyes. "Tell me Sheridan. Tell me why you’re leaving. Tell me why you’re saying goodbye."

"I… I can’t." She whispered as the tears continued to slide down her cheeks. "I can’t tell you."

"Why?" He asked moving his hand to her cheek and wiping away her tears. "Why can’t you tell me? Don’t I deserve to know?"

She shook her head. "The reason doesn’t matter Luis."

"Yes, it does." He said taking her face in his hands and forcing her to meet his eyes. "It matters to me, Sheridan. It matters to me."

"Why?" She asked her blue tear filled eyes searching his. "Why is the reason so important to you? What difference could it possibly make to you?"

How in the hell was he supposed to answer that? If he told her the real reason, then he’d be setting himself up for a rejection. But if he gave her a reason other than the real one, he would feel as if he was lying to her and he did not want that. He did not want to lie to her. He just wanted her to talk to him. He wanted her to open up to him. Why couldn’t she do that? Why couldn’t she just open up to him and tell him what was really going on? He really wanted to know. No, he didn’t just want to know… he needed to know. "It makes a big difference because… because I know that you really don’t want to leave. I can see it in your eyes, Sheridan. It’s written all over your face. You don’t want to leave Harmony."

"And why is how I feel about leaving Harmony so important to you, Luis? What difference does how I feel about leaving Harmony mean to you?"

"I… I care about you." Luis said his voice slightly cracking on the words. "Is that what you want to hear? I care about you and I don’t want you to go."

He waited for her to respond… to say something, anything, but she didn’t. She didn’t say a word. She just looked at him with eyes that showed him nothing, but told him all he needed to know. He released her in a flash then turned and without another word, he walked away. He wasn’t going to give her another chance to hurt him. It was time for him to take a hint and this time he’d gotten it loud and clear. She wanted him in her bed, but she didn’t want him anywhere near her heart and he would never, not in a million years, admit how much that fact hurt. It hurt a hell of a lot more than he would have thought possible, which only went to show that love caused nothing but heartache.

He had been right to steer clear of it and he would have kept clear of it, had a certain blond not walked into his life and stolen his heart right out from under him. She should be arrested, he thought as he unlocked his truck and threw open the door, stealing something that didn’t belong to you was after all a crime. He wondered if that law pertained to crimes of the heart? Somehow he doubted he would find it in any of Antonio’s law books and it really should be in there, he thought bitterly as he put the key into his truck’s ignition and started the motor, after all, crimes of the heart often caused the most damage. At least, they did in his experience anyway.




Sheridan wanted to call after Luis and tell him to wait, but she didn’t. She simply stood where she was, her feet glued to the ground, and watched him walk away into the darkness. If he had looked back he would have seen her fall to her knees and bury her face in her hands, but he didn’t. He didn’t look back and she couldn’t blame him. She had hurt him tonight. She had seen it in his eyes and yet she hadn’t been able to say a word to ease the pain. Her throat had been too tight with raw emotion to get a word past her lips.

"I care about you and I don’t want you to go."

Luis had no idea how much hearing those words meant to her and she could never tell him. She could never tell him how she really felt about him because that would give him the power to hurt her and she swore a long time ago that she would never give anyone that kind of power over her. But she had come close to telling him tonight and that was the reason she had to go. She couldn’t take the chance of allowing him access to her heart, because in the end he would break it, just like Theresa said. He may care about her, but he could never love her. His heart was off-limits. He had told her that much himself.

He had put himself on the line tonight, she had seen what it cost him to open up even that little bit, and what had she done? She’d done nothing, thereby basically telling him whatever he felt was one sided. It wasn’t, but she couldn’t allow herself to fall in love with him. Love hurt too much. She’d learned that the hard way.

Sheridan heard someone call her name and she’d just managed to pull herself up into a standing position when Ethan came into view. "I saw Luis getting into his truck and he told me where to find you. He said you were upset. I told him he didn’t look so hot himself. He didn’t react, he just shook his head. What happened between you two Sher? I haven’t seen him look so down since…"

"Since when?" Sheridan asked as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Nevermind." Ethan said wrapping his arm around her shoulders and steering her out of the park and back toward the lobster shack. "It doesn’t matter. "

Yes it does, she wanted to scream. But deep down she knew Ethan was right. It didn’t matter because in four days she was going to leave Harmony and she would never see Luis again. She closed her eyes as the pain slowly worked its way into her heart. She might be leaving on Sunday but she knew she was taking a part of Luis with her. She also knew she was leaving a part of herself behind… a part of herself that she had never known existed until the day she met him. Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald had given her something for which she could never repay – he had given her a glimpse into the kind of woman she wanted to be and for that she would always be grateful.

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