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Too Hot To Handle
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Too Hot To Handle
by Deanna Lynn

Chapter Twenty – Six

Sheridan woke with a start and for a moment forgot where she was, but then, as the events from last night came rushing back, she remembered. How could she have left Luis like that? He was sleeping so peaceful and she had snuck out on him like a coward. What had she been thinking? She hadn’t been thinking, she thought with a frown, and that was the problem. If she had been she would still be sleeping peacefully wrapped in his warm embrace.

She looked around the small apartment she was in, but saw no sign of the lady that had taken her in last night. Was she still sleeping? Glancing at the clock and seeing that it was only eight, she figured Tabitha was probably still sleeping. Sighing, she lifted the beige wool blanket off her body and slowly stood up. The shirt Tabitha had given her to sleep in last night hit just above her knees, much the same length of the dress she wore last night.

Sheridan turned her head to the right and noticed her blue dress lying over the back of a white wicker chair. An image of that same dress falling to the floor flashed in her mind and her pulse sped up in remembrance. The look in Luis’ eyes had been seductive and… loving.

I love you, Sheridan. The words were spoken in the heat of the moment, but she knew without a doubt that he meant them. That was what had given her the courage to say them back, but then she had fallen asleep and had that awful nightmare. Her father had showed up and dragged her away from Luis, vowing to make good on his threat about blackballing The Lopez-Fitzgerald Construction Company. She had begged him not to do it, but he refused to listen to her because she had broken her word to him. He hadn’t understood when she said she loved Luis and that he loved her. He had said he would never allow the two of them to be together. She would marry Mike and that would be the end of it. The next thing in her dream was her being forced to marry a man she didn’t love. She could hear Luis’ yelling outside the church and when she tried to go to him, her father blocked her path. That was when she had woken up.

She had taken one look at Luis and broke out in tears, knowing her nightmare had every possibility of coming true. Because of that she decided to leave so she could figure out what she was going to do. She had gotten dressed and left Luis’ apartment, but just as she got to the stairs a feeling of panic came over her. Something had told her if she took those stairs she would be saying goodbye to Luis and that was something she did not want to do. She couldn’t go back inside his apartment because she had locked the door on her way out. She didn’t want to wake him by ringing the doorbell because she wasn’t ready to talk about her feelings with him. She needed to sort them all out first. So she did the only thing that had made any sense to her, she lowered herself to the ground, buried her face into her hands, and let her tears of confusion fall. That was how Tabitha found her.

The old woman had taken one look at her and said she could tell her heart was breaking. Then Tabitha had helped her up off the floor and led her into the apartment two doors down from Luis’. She told her to get some rest and that everything would look better to her in the morning. She said that if she wanted they could talk in the morning and maybe she could help her to sort out whatever it was that was bothering her. Sheridan hadn’t been sure that was possible, but she was willing to try it. She had said a prayer last night before falling asleep that somehow she would find the answers that would solve all her problems. Would her prayers be answered? She hoped so because she knew getting her father to change his mind about her and Luis was going to take a miracle that could only come from God above.


Luis reached out expecting his arm to come into contact with the woman he loved, but when his hand came up empty, his eyes shot open in surprise. He listened for the space of two heartbeats, but when all he heard was quiet – he knew. She had left. Judging by the coolness of the sheets underneath his fingertips, she’d been gone for quite some time too.

Damn, he thought throwing back the covers and getting to his feet, he couldn’t believe she left. After the night they shared…after the declaration of love… she had left? In the middle of the night and without a goodbye no less? Well, if she thought he was just going to sit back and let her go she was very mistaken. He might have a few days ago, but not now. Not when he knew she loved him just as much as he loved her. No, he was going to fight for her and he was going to win, because he knew their love was stronger than any doubts she had. All he had to do was make her realize it.

He took his shower in record time then quickly threw on some clothes, grabbed his wallet and keys off his dresser, then made his way into the living room and out his apartment door. He practically flew down the stairs and outside to his truck. As he unlocked the door and started the engine, he froze in the realization of what he was about to do. If he just showed up at Julian and Ivy’s to talk to Sheridan there was no way her father would let him. Hell, he wouldn’t be at all surprised if he called the police, but it was a risk he was willing to take. He had to talk to Sheridan and he’d be damned if he let anyone get in his way.

Luis put his truck in reverse then backed out of his parking place. Once he placed the truck in drive, he tore out of the parking lot and out onto the street. If Sheridan still planned to leave Harmony then why the hell did she tell him she loved him? He knew she said the words. He hadn’t dreamed it. She had said she loved him and he knew she meant it. And yet she still left him. They had made love last night and sometime shortly thereafter she left him. He should have seen it coming, but he hadn’t. When he heard her admission of love, he’d just assumed she had changed her mind about leaving. He’d assumed wrong evidently.

Maybe going after her wasn’t such a good idea, but it was the only idea he had. He couldn’t just give up, not without trying everything that he possibly could to change her mind. Luis shook his head then realized he’d just about missed his turn. He whipped into the driveway that led to the Crane house then came to a stop just behind Ethan’s red convertible. As he shut off the engine and got out of the truck, he wondered again if he was making a mistake. He hadn’t been here since that day Sheridan told her father they had slept together and for all he knew, he could be walking in on the same scene.

No, he thought shaking his head and stepping onto the porch, Sheridan wouldn’t do that a second time. He knew she’d only done it the first time out of anger. After hearing about her life, he even understood. She had wanted to make them see she wasn’t who they thought she was because she wanted them to let her lead her own life. He could certainly understand that. It was the whole reason he’d moved out of his own home over two years ago. His family hadn’t approved of his lifestyle and he hadn’t approved of their interference. He knew they only wanted what was best for him, but he couldn’t stand seeing the disapproving looks on their faces every time he did something they disagreed with. He wanted to be his own man and make his own mistakes. He’d certainly accomplished that task, he thought jamming his finger against the doorbell and praying Sheridan answered the door. No such luck.

The door swung open a second after he pushed the button and Luis found himself staring into the angry eyes of Sheridan’s father. He swallowed hard then raised himself up to his full height and stated his case. "I need to see Sheridan."

He caught a flicker of confusion in the older man’s gaze, but it was gone so quickly he was sure he’d only imagined it. "You expect me to just let you see my daughter? If so you are sadly mistaken. She obviously doesn’t want to see you. If she did she would have contacted you by now."

Luis hated the tone of voice her father was using, but he refused to react to it. "I’m not leaving until I talk with her so you may as well let me in."

"You’re going to have a long wait then, because there is no way in hell I’m opening this door and letting you in."

Shaking his head, Luis took a step forward and pushed right past the man then ran up the stairs toward Sheridan’s bedroom. He froze when he found it empty. Where the hell was she? Her bed hadn’t been slept in. Maybe she was downstairs? "Sheridan?" He yelled running back down the stairs and coming to a halt at the end of the them when he found himself face to face with Sheridan’s mother. It just gets better and better, he thought with an inward groan. "Where’s Sheridan?"

"I thought… I thought she was with you."

"You knew she came to see me then?"

"Yes, we talked last night and she –"

"You allowed her to go see this hooligan?" Sheridan’s father roared in the background.

Luis ignored him. "Do you mean she didn’t come back here last night?"

"No, she didn’t."

If she didn’t come back here last night then where the hell was she? "Do you have any idea where she could have gone?"

"No, what happened? When she didn’t come home last night, I just assumed you two worked things out and she decided to stay with you."

Before he could answer her, Sheridan’s father grabbed him by the arm and glared at him. "What the hell did you do to my daughter?"

"Nothing!" Luis said emphatically. "The only thing I did was tell her I loved her."

Luis watched in shock as the anger in her father’s face slowly started to fade. "Do you really mean that?"

"Hell, yes I mean it."

"Does she love you?" Her father asked raising a brow.

"Yes, she told me she did."

"Then why did she leave you?"

He didn’t have an answer to that one. That was the whole reason he’d wanted to talk to her. He figured out part of the reason, but he wasn’t sure it was the whole reason. "I think mainly it’s because she thinks you won’t except us being together. I’m hoping she’s wrong. I’m hoping you love your daughter enough to let her make her own decisions. She doesn’t want to go back to New York. I think the only reason she’s going is because of you. Am I wrong?"

The man released his hold on his arm and in an instant Luis knew he was right. He’d thought so but he hadn’t been entirely sure. He still thought there was more to it, but he knew the main reason she was leaving was because she feared her father.

"No, I’m afraid you aren’t wrong. But if she truly loves you and you truly love her then I won’t stand in the way of your being together. Julian has been telling me what a fine young man you are and so have Ivy and Ethan. You’re coming here today, even after I threatened to have your father’s company shut down if you continued to see my daughter, proves to me that you really do love her."

Realization dawned and as it did, the anger he had kept in check since her father grabbed his arm came barreling out. "What the hell do you mean you threatened to have my father’s company shut down? Is this the reason Sheridan agreed to go back to New York? Is this the reason she was so intent on leaving? To protect me? To protect my family? From you?"

When the man nodded, Luis let out a string of curses then started to pace the room. Everything was starting to make sense now. The tears she’d shed when he’d found her in the park. Her saying she cared about him, but still being determined to leave. Her coming to his apartment last night… her leaving him in the middle of the night. She’d been afraid.

Luis turned to Ethan who stood just off to the side of the stairs. "Do you know where she could have gone?"

"No." Ethan said shaking his head. "Your place is the only place I know she would be. It’s where I assumed she was when I found out she was gone this morning."

Luis nodded then walked toward the front door, before opening it and walking out he turned back to her father. "I hope you know that there is no way in hell I’m allowing Sheridan to leave now. You can try to have my father’s company shut down too, but I’ll fight you on it every step of the way. My father worked hard to build that company and there is no way I’ll allow anyone to take it from him."

"You have nothing to worry about." Her father said with a rueful smile. "Sheridan’s leaving is entirely her decision and as for your father’s company… if its any consolation to you, I never intended to follow through on my threat. I wouldn’t do that. If Sheridan had told me she was in love with you and that you were in love with her, I would have told her that too."

Luis started to turn and walk out the door, but Julian stepped in his way. He held out a hand and Luis took it without hesitation. "I’m sorry Luis. I shouldn’t have treated you the way I did. I know you’re a good man and I know you wouldn’t have gotten involved with Sheridan if you didn’t truly care about her. I hope you’ll forgive me and that you’ll come back to work on the boathouse. That guy your father sent is good, but I want the best."

"I don’t know." Luis said dropping his hand as Julian released it "I have to say that depends on Sheridan and what she decides to do."

"I understand." Julian said with a smile. "Perhaps you should go and find her then?"

"Yes, I think I should. If she comes back here…"

"Well have her call you." Sheridan’s mother said from the stairway. "She does love you Luis."

"I know." Luis said favoring her with a small smile. "I just hope that love is strong enough to change her mind." That said he turned and walked out of the mansion, intent on finding the woman he loved.

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