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Too Hot To Handle
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Too Hot To Handle
by Deanna Lynn

Chapter Twenty - Four

Luis had just closed his eyes when he heard the knock at the door. He wasn’t in the mood to see anyone right now. He wanted to wallow in his pity a little while longer. Besides, he thought opening his eyes to try and focus on the blue numbers illuminating from the VCR in front of him, who the hell would be knocking on his apartment door at two-fifteen in the morning? The only person who had ever dared to come by so late without calling first was Miguel and he’d only done it that once, the night he’d had his first heartbreak.

He forced himself to move out of his comfortable place on the couch then walk toward the door. The second he pulled it open, he knew he’d only been dreaming of the knock. Because there was absolutely no way Sheridan was standing on his doorstep still wearing that short blue dress that had wrecked havoc on his insides when she’d stepped inside the Lobster Shack earlier. No way at all. Unless of course, she’d come for the night of hot sex, they’d talked about earlier. He shook his head not willing to put anything past her.

"Luis?" She asked, uncertainly clouding her voice and making her seem almost… vulnerable. Ha, he thought narrowing his eyes in suspicion, Sheridan Crane didn’t do vulnerable. She kept her emotions too in check for that.

"What do you want, Sher?" He said unable to keep the anger and bitterness out of his voice. It didn’t help that the alcohol he’d consumed tonight had muttled his ability to think either. "I thought we said all we needed to say earlier."

She took a deep breath then peered around him into the living room of his apartment. "Can I come in? I don’t want to wake your neighbors."

He cursed realizing she was right and opened the door wide enough so that she could enter then slammed it shut behind her and leaned against it with his arms crossed over his chest. He watched through narrowed eyes as she glanced around the room. Trying to avoid looking at him, he supposed. His eyes followed hers around the room and when they landed on the beer bottles cluttering his coffee table, the reason for his fogged out brain came rushing back to him with the force of a Mac truck.

"Why don’t you state what you came to say?" He said pushing away from the door and walking toward the coffee table to grab his half-full bottle of beer. He turned to look at Sher and saw her eyes widen as they saw the beer bottles on the coffee table. When she raised them back to his, her eyes were full of questions and even more uncertainty than was in them before. He would have laughed had he been in a laughing mood. He raised the bottle to his lips and took a sip all the while never taking his eyes off hers. Once he was done, he lowered himself back to the couch and propped his feet up onto the coffee table. He figured he might as well get comfortable since she didn’t seem to be in any hurry to state the reason for her late night visit.

When she still didn’t say anything, he leaned his head back against the couch and closed his eyes then once again tried to get her out of his head. But then she spoke, soft and low, her voice barely above a whisper, and he knew getting her out of his mind was going to be a major feat, one that he would probably never accomplish.

"I’m sorry."

He raised his head and opened his eyes then locked them onto his. "Is that all you came to say? If it is I’m really not interested. What the hell does it matter anyway? You’re leaving Sunday. I’m not sure there is anything left to say other than goodbye and I was almost positive your silence earlier said that loud and clear."

He watched as she parted her lips in a silent o and wondered if maybe his anger had made his words a little too harsh. He went back over his words in his head, they were foggy, but he was pretty sure they were right on target. He’d told her he cared for her and that he didn’t want her to go. Her answer? Complete and utter silence, except for the look in her eyes, that look had told him all he needed to know, more than he wanted to know actually. It was the look that said he’d been a fool to think what happened between them was more than what they had agreed to – just a night of hot sex. He clenched his jaw as her voice saying those very same words played in his head and he knew his eyes reflected his anger at hearing them as well. He could tell that by the way she clutched her stomach and lowered her head.

"You’re still angry." She said her voice full of what sounded like defeat. "I… This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here."

She turned and started to walk back toward the door. Something inside him said to stop her, so he did – with his voice. "Maybe your coming here was a mistake, but you’re here now so you may as well tell me why."

Her shaking hand hovered a scant inch above the doorknob and he wondered if she was really going to leave. He closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the couch. He wasn’t going to say anything else. If she left it would be her decision not his. He felt the couch shift underneath her weight, but he refused to open his eyes just yet. He wasn’t sure he could handle seeing her looking at him with those blue eyes right now. He wanted to be angry with her – and he was – but if he looked at her again, his anger might fade and he did not want to deal with what was underneath the anger. He wasn’t ready to face that just yet.

Her slender hand touched his arm, but he gave no reaction. He refused to react to her touch tonight. He wasn’t going to give her an inch. If she wanted to make amends then she was going to have to work for it because he’d laid his cards on the table earlier tonight and he wasn’t about to give her another chance to break his heart. He couldn’t take it a second time.

"Please look at me." She whispered. "Please Luis. I have something I want to tell you and I need to know you’re listening to me."

"I’m listening." He said opening his eyes and staring into hers. "I’m just not sure what I’m listening for. I thought –"

"I know what you thought." She said interrupting him in a voice filled with quiet determination. "But you made a mistake in your assumption and I came to correct it."

He regarded her for a moment and when he saw the seriousness in her eyes, he lowered his feet back to the floor and raised himself up into a sitting position willing for the moment to hear her out. Even in his fogged out drunken brain, he understood the implication in her words. She was about to open up to him and there was no way in hell he was going to miss hearing one word of it, not one single word.

"I – god this is harder than I thought." She said running a hand through her short blond curls. His eyes followed the movement briefly, but then he forced them back to her face… to her eyes. He waited for her to go on. Something told him now was not the time to interrupt her. "For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told what to do, what to wear, who to like, who not to like. It’s been that way my whole life. I wore the clothes my mother picked out. I dated the guys my father picked. I did exactly as I was told. About three years ago, my father introduced me to a guy he wanted me to get involved with. He was friends with Mike’s father and they both wanted us to get together. In the social set my parents run with, it would have been the talk of the town and it was for nearly two years. The longer my relationship with Mike went on, the more of myself I started to lose. Instead of my parents, telling me what to wear, what to do, it was Mike and I let him."

"I let him control me just as I had my parents and I resented him for it. I resented them all for it. One night when Mike was supposed to be out of town, I went out with a friend of mine. We went to a nightclub and I ran into Mike. He was kissing some other girl and it wasn’t a peck on the cheek either. When he saw me, he didn’t even try to deny what had happened. He just yelled at me for going to the club and not staying home where I should have been since I was too innocent to be in a place like that. He made me so damn angry that I slapped him and told him it was over. He stared at me in shock because I had never voiced my opinion on anything before. Doing so that night I guess liberated me though."

She took a deep breath then continued on. "I got home and my father went ballistic that I had broken things off with Mike. He ordered me to call him and tell him I had made a mistake in breaking up with him. I was to beg him to forgive me. I refused and my father didn’t speak to me for two weeks. And once he did it was to tell me that I couldn’t go visit Ethan like I had been planning to do. Because I was tired of doing what everyone told me to do, I told him he couldn’t stop me, that I was going and that was all there was to it. He didn’t say anything else to me until right before I left. He told me to spend the summer with Ethan and when I came back he expected me to try and make up with Mike. I told him it wouldn’t happen, but he seemed to think it would. He would have been right had I not…"

"Had you not what? " He asked when she didn’t go on.

She swallowed hard and he was surprised when her eyes filled with tears. "Had I not met you."

"What are you saying?" He asked refusing to let his heart jump to conclusions. He wanted to make sure he understood what she meant before he made a comment about it.

"I mean that… Luis, I…" She closed her eyes briefly and when she opened them again and spoke, his heart stopped beating. "It meant more to me than just a night of hot sex. You mean more to me than that. I… I care about you too, Luis. More than I wanted to. More than I planned to. But the fact is I do."

He let out a breath that he hadn’t been aware he was even holding then reached for her and pulled her into his arms. She came willingly, her hands resting on his chest. He searched her eyes and he saw no doubts in what she was saying at all. She meant every word she had said and he had never been so glad to hear anything in his life. The only thing that could have made it better was if she said she loved him. He figured that was a little too much to hope for, but he planned to work on it. Except she was leaving in three days. No, he thought shaking his head, there was no way she would leave now. Would she?

"Sheridan?" He asked in an uncharacteristically nervous tone. "Does this mean… does this mean you’re going to stay in Harmony?"

He saw the surprise in her eyes and when she spoke she dashed all the hope she had just given him and then some. "No." She whispered closing her eyes. "I’m still leaving."

He should have known, he thought releasing her and getting up off the couch. She had once again managed to do the impossible. Something no one else had ever done to him before. She’d managed to break his heart twice in one night.

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