The blush of dawn painted the skies outdoors as the sun rose above the hill behind Sheridan's cottage, illuminating
it with glittery sunlight. Birds flew southwards, intent on getting away from the cold winter weather, their cries
singing out into the air.
Inside the cottage, Sheridan yawned sleepily and rolled onto her side. Her eyes fluttered open, and then she squinted
as the first of the sun's rays filtered through her bedroom window and the sheer curtains that covered it.
Groaning, she pulled her pillow out from under her head and covered her face with it, not yet wanting to wake up.
"Wake up, sleepyhead," Luis's voice sang out as he entered her bedroom. "It's a beautiful, beautiful
Sheridan groaned again. "Go away."
"Nuh-uh-uh. I made you breakfast, and I intend for you to eat it." He seated himself in a chair beside
her bed. "Wake up, or I'll tickle you awake."
Sheridan uttered another protest, but finally relented and flung her pillow to the side. She blinked away sleep
before casting a wary look in his direction, and sitting up.
"Why are you being so nice?" she asked him suspiciously.
Luis shrugged innocently. "Because I'm your bodyguard, and I don't want to make your life a living hell."
Sheridan stared at him for a long moment before finally accepting his answer. She glanced at the tray of food in
his hand, consisting of orange juice, eggs, and bacon.
"Just...let me get dressed."
"Ever heard of breakfast in bed?" he chuckled, shoving the tray into her hands. "Eat."
She offered him a surprised look. "Who are you, and what have you done with Luis?"
He only smiled sweetly at her.
Standing, he yawned, and said, "I'm going to go take a shower. See you in a bit."
Sheridan gazed after his retreating figure before looking down at the tray and shaking her head.
"I must be dreaming."
A car rolled along the street in front of the Lopez-Fitzgerald house. Several kids spent their Saturday morning
playing catch in front of their houses, their cheery voices ringing out along with their laughter.
A thin blanket of snow had covered the grass and the roofs of houses during the night, which the sun now cast a
glow off of.
Hank peered into the rear view mirror of his car, checking his appearance self-consciously. He ran his hands through
his light brown hair, then fiddled with it for a moment before deeming his appearance worthy.
He glanced at the front of the Lopez-Fitzgerald house, and heaved a long-suffering sigh. Damn, but Paloma had really
He had been exceptionally surprised to see that the chubby little girl he'd so often teased in his school days
had grown into a thin young woman -- a very beautiful thin young woman. He had ached to touch her dark black tresses,
to weave his hands through her hair and kiss her passionately.
The feelings were a new thing to him. He'd been attracted to a lot of women before, but never had any captured
his interest like Paloma did.
He wondered about her. Her eyes had reflected pain, but she remained locked up inside. She was too mysterious for
But she was also down-to-earth, light, fun, bubbly.
She was so many things that he didn't know what she was.
She definitely wasn't the Paloma he used to know. Sure, they'd picked on each other a lot before. But it was all
in good nature, and he had enjoyed spending summer days with her and Luis.
But, he thought with a frown, he'd never been attracted to her.
He was playing on dangerous territory. Luis would never approve of a relationship between his sister and his best
Hank suddenly wondered about it. But he shook his head only a second after the thought invaded his mind.
What did he care?
Sighing, he climbed out of his car and headed towards the front door of the Lopez-Fitzgerald house.
"What?" Luis exclaimed, dropping the mug of coffee he held in his hand. It fell to the floor, shattering,
and Luis jumped backwards.
"Uh," he said into the receiver of the phone he held in his hand, "hold that thought."
Sheridan came racing into the kitchen, and stared with wide eyes at the floor, covered with coffee and pieces of
"Stay there," Luis instructed. "Let me clean this up."
"What the hell happened?" she demanded shrilly as Luis reached for a broom beside the refrigerator.
"Calm down," Luis scolded. "It's only a glass. It's not like you don't have millions of those running
Sheridan merely stared mutely at him as he bent and swept the pieces of broken glass into a dust pan, then deposited
the shards in a nearby trash can.
Afterwards, he kneeled with paper towels clutched in his hand and cleaned up the puddle of coffee that had formed
in front of the counter, put the soggy towels in the trash can, and picked up the receiver of the phone once more.
"Okay, repeat that," he ordered the caller. His eyes went wide at the words of the caller, then he burst
into a grin.
"Great! I'm coming over!" He nodded at something the caller said and added, "Right now."
Sheridan stared in confusion at him, wondering what was going on as he said a cheery, "Goodbye!" and
hung up the phone.
"Uh, Luis?" she questioned as he breezed past her and into the livingroom. She followed him, irritated.
"Luis?" she tried again. He ignored her, snatching his coat and police belt and heading for the cottage
"Luis!" she finally shrieked. It got his attention.
He spun around, as if startled to find she even existed, and uttered an, "Oh."
"What the hell is going on?" she demanded irritably, approaching him at a rapid pace.
"Oh! Oh, I'm sorry," he chuckled. "That was Mama. Paloma's in town."
She came to a halt in front of him, folded her arms over her chest, and raised an eyebrow. "And just who is
He grinned at the twinge of jealousy hinted in her voice. "My sister, Sheridan."
Her jaw dropped. "Oh. Oh! Oh...uh..."
He laughed and patted her shoulder. "It's okay. I know you were jealous."
She turned beet-red. "Was not!"
He winked at her. "Sure."
Shifting, she said, "Well, uh, you're my bodyguard! You can't just leave me here." She huffed triumphantly
and offered a smug grin.
"I know that. You're coming with."
"That's not what you were implying before," she replied, rolling her eyes. "In fact, if I didn't
know better, I'd say you forgot I even existed."
He sighed. "Get your coat."
Chuckling, Sheridan turned and headed towards her room, shutting the door behind her as she entered.
Several seconds later, a loud scream cut into the air. Luis dropped his coat and police belt, and went racing towards
"Sheridan!" he yelled, pounding on her door. He tried the knob. Her room was locked.
"Sheridan!" he shouted again, knocking even louder. "Sheridan, open the door!"
The door finally flew open, and Sheridan raced into his arms and hugged him so tightly he was sure she'd cut off
his blood flow.
As he glanced towards her bed in the room, he could have sworn he saw the same ghostly apparition he had seen the
night before fading away.
He held Sheridan even tighter in his arms.