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Return of the Prodigals
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Return of the Prodigals
by Twig

Crane Cottage

"So they're finally leaving," Luis breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps now his sister would get her mind off of William Crane…
"Don't look so relieved," Sheridan scoffed, "William has decided to stay home."
Luis froze, "He what?"
"I know you're not deaf," she smiled and flopped down on the couch next to him, "William has decided that the best way to continue torturing his family and dragging the Crane family name through the mud is to stay at home."
"But—"
"Looks like you're going to have a LOT of in-laws named Crane."
He narrowed his eyes, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Sheridan quickly backpedaled, "Ah…nothing…"
"Are my sister and Ethan engaged or something?"
"Well…not technically…"

He crossed his arms and stared at her, "Out with it."
"All right…I got a phone call from Ethan this morning."
"Did he tell you where he was? Because he and my sister vanished without a trace and when they get back I'm going to wring his neck—"
"Luis!" Sheridan interrupted with a laugh, "Stop it! Ethan and Theresa are in Bermuda again—"
"Again?"
She sighed, "Long story. Anyway—"
"Why am I afraid that I'm not going to like this?" Luis sighed.
Sheridan took a deep breath, "Ethan and Theresa are considering getting engaged."
He sighed and buried his face in his hands, "Good grief."
She grinned and ruffled his hair, "You're taking this quite well."
"Do I have a choice?"
"Nope," she smiled, "No choice at all."
He laughed softly and leaned over to kiss her lightly.
"So you may still have a while to go until you have to put up with all those in-laws," Sheridan said with a smirk, wrapping her arms tighter around him.

"Oh, I don't know about that," Luis said coyly, pulling out of her embrace and standing up.
Her eyes followed him as he paced across the room before turning around and walking back to stand in front of her. He tugged nervously at the collar of his shirt and before she even realized what was happening he had dropped to one knee in front of her and was holding out a small velvet box.
He sighed, "I'm not too good at this…um…Sheridan…will you marry me?"
Her jaw dropped and she stared at him with wide blue eyes. She tried to speak but her throat was completely constricted.
Luis stared at her, wondering if she could hear his heart pounding. He'd never been so terrified in his entire life.
"Sheridan?" he finally asked in a small voice.
Slowly her face changed as her lips turned upwards into a brilliant smile, "Of course I will," she said, leaning over and hugging him as tightly as she possibly could.
Luis let out a huge breath of relief, "Yeah?"
"Yeah," she beamed at him as he slipped the ring on her finger. Then their lips met, sealing their future.




Crane Mansion

Julian, covered from head to toe with red blotches, that were in turn covered in pink calamine lotion, sat at his desk, sipping a cup of brandy.
"Ivy!" he yelled, "IVY!"
She stomped in, "WHAT do you want?!"
His frequent demands had been driving her nuts. It was one thing when he was laid up in bed from a near-death experience, and quite another to expect to be waited on hand and foot because of a measly case of poison ivy.
Julian glanced up at her, "I just wanted your opinion on when these…children…are going to be out of here."
Ivy took a deep breath, "Yeah, Julian about that—"
"I honestly don't know how much more of William's rebelness I can take! There is no way that boy can be a true Crane…he's nothing like his older brother…"
"Yeah, you could say that again," Ivy muttered under her breath, enjoying the irony in Julian's comment.

"So when is he leaving?"
"He's not," Ivy said with a sigh.
Julian spit his precious brandy out all over the desk, "WHAT?!"
"He's decided to stay in Harmony. I believe his exact reasoning was that it would be torture for us."
Julian narrowed his eyes, "I am changing the lock on the door to the study. I do NOT want a repeat of what happened in here before."
Ivy poured herself a glass of brandy and downed it, thinking about what had transpired that fateful night in the study, "Neither do I. Believe me, neither do I."
Suddenly, Julian glanced up, "Ivy, did you shut the door?"
"Nope. Why?"
Ivy followed Julian's gaze to the shut door and suddenly had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, "Oh not again."
She sprinted to the door and tried the doorknob.
"Let me guess," Julian sighed, "We're stuck."
"WILLIAM!" Ivy screamed, "COME ON! I'm sorry about what I said before! Come on William, just let us out!"

Julian sighed and meandered over to the couch, "Ivy my dear, I'm afraid you'll be sleeping on the floor this time around. I doubt you'd want to be SHARING the couch with one in my condition."
Ivy glanced at Julian's highly contagious case of poison ivy, "That is exactly why YOU should sleep on the floor."
Julian rolled his eyes and ran over to the door, pounding on it, "WILLIAM! This isn't funny! WILLIAM! If you want to EVER see ANY of your inheritance you will unlock this door right now! WILLIAM!"
There was no reply.
Ivy shrugged and delicately patted Julian on the shoulder, "There there. I hear that the carpet does wonders for skin lesions."
Julian narrowed his eyes, "I am NOT suffering alone, my poisonous little Ivy."
"Excuse me?"
Julian grabbed her arms, rubbing them with his hands, "A-ha! Now you've got poison ivy too!"
Ivy drew back in horror, scratching at her arms, "JULIAN! DAMMIT!"
Julian smirked, "Guess we can share that couch after all."




On the other side of the door, Pilar smirked to herself, pocketing the key. Everyone would blame the event on William. She was above suspicion.
Laughing to herself, Pilar headed for the door.
"Perhaps THIS will get your mind of Sam Bennett, Mrs. Crane," she muttered to no one in particular as she let the door to the Crane Mansion slam behind her.




Lighthouse Park

Amanda bent down, the small white envelope clutched in her trembling hand. With a sigh, she picked up the rock and carefully placed the envelope beneath it. Then she touched the rock sadly and stood up. Giving her and Noah's special place one last look, she turned and headed for the exit to the park.




Not fifteen minutes later, Noah hurried into the park, holding a small box. Inside was a necklace he had spent countless hours in the jewelry store looking for. As he approached the rock with a big smile, he noticed the flap of paper sticking out from underneath it. With a grin, he opened the envelope and began to read the note:

Dear Noah,
By the time you read this letter, I will be gone. I am so sorry I didn't have the strength to tell you this to your face. I hope you will understand my reasons for returning to England. Every time we were together I wanted to tell you about how I was going to leave, but I had such a wonderful time with you that I couldn't bring myself to do it. I am so sorry Noah, and I hope you can find a way to forgive me. I think…no, I know that in the time we spent together in this summer, I felt something for you that was more than just simple affection. I fell in love with you Noah Bennett, and I need you to know that. Please, know that you will always be in my heart.
Love,
Amanda

Noah felt himself crumple as he finished reading the note. Gone…she was gone. And he'd never even gotten to say goodbye to her. He shook his head. This couldn't be possible…she wouldn't have just left without telling him. He loved her, dammit.
"No," he shook his head again. There had to be a way to stop this. Turning on heel he bolted out of the park.




Harmony Airport

"Why am I not surprised that Mother and Father aren't here?" Stephanie griped as she headed towards the baggage check.
"Ah…no one cares about us," Elizabeth chuckled, "Why should it surprise you?"
"I think they mean well," Amanda sighed, her heart not ready to leave Harmony behind just yet.
"So how did we fare on this summer excursion?" Stephanie asked with an evil grin, "I had some fun."
Elizabeth shrugged, "I think…I think that if I can get back here next year I have a lot of good things in store for me."
"I think that a Crane-Hotchkiss merger will indeed happen," Stephanie said mischievously, "Gabriel is a wonderful person."
"Glad one of us is living up to expectations," Amanda muttered with a grim smile.
"The only thing we REALLY have to work on is getting Grace Bennett some new cookbooks. There is no way I am going to spend any more time at that woman's house eating pea soup pie and tomato soup cake," Elizabeth shuddered.

"Yeah, that was my biggest complaint too," Stephanie chuckled, "Would someone get that woman out of the kitchen before she hurts someone?"
"Oh you should talk, Miss Let's Poison Father with a Cake."
Stephanie shrugged, "Ah, it was fun."
"Certainly not fun for Father," Elizabeth sighed.
"Nah, but I sure was amused," Stephanie giggled.
"Hey, I think our flight is boarding now," Amanda pointed towards the sign.
The trio of blond sisters made their way slowly across the airport.
"I have to say," Elizabeth sighed, "For all my complaining, I actually had a wonderful summer."
"Me too," Stephanie grinned.
"Me too," Amanda echoed, a wistful look on her face. Her mother's words echoed in her mind. *Follow your heart*
She wasn't following her heart, she was following her head. But somehow, she knew that this was the life she'd been born into, and this was the life she needed to uphold. But it was so hard…

"I want the isle seat!" Stephanie skipped ahead down the corridor, curly blond hair waving behind her.
Elizabeth sighed, "Only because you like to trip the stewardesses."
"So?" Stephanie challenged with a grin.
"You coming, Amanda?" Elizabeth asked.
"You go ahead. I'll be there in a minute," Amanda said with a forced smile.
"No you won't," a voice said from behind her.
Amanda turned and found herself face to face with Noah, "Noah, I…"
"You weren't even going to say goodbye," his face was unreadable, "You were going to leave me and you weren't even going to say goodbye."
"Noah, I couldn't," she whispered sadly, "I didn't want to fall in love this summer. I didn't count on you being there. And now that I did…"
"You're leaving and going to England," he said flatly.
"I have to. I have to finish law school, and then maybe I can come back—"
"Answer me this," Noah said desperately, "If I told you that right here, right now, we could be together forever, would you say yes?"
"Noah, I can't—"

"Is it because I'm not a member of your class?" Noah sighed, "Because if it is there's nothing I can change. I'm staying in Harmony and joining the police force. That's probably all I'll ever be. And if that's not good enough for you—"
"Don't you understand?" she yelled, "It IS good enough for me! It's TOO good! There is nothing in this world that I would like more than to stay here with you, Noah, but—"
"Did this mean anything to you?" he asked.
"Excuse me?"
"This summer. Did it mean anything to you, or was it just a fling?"
Amanda stared at him, "Noah, I told you. I fell in love with you."
"Then stay."
"Don't…don't do this to me."
"Don't do this to me," he echoed, staring into her eyes, "You made me fall for you Amanda Crane. Don't leave me standing here."
Amanda was crying now, the tears streaming down her face, "Noah—"
"Stay," he whispered.
She nodded slowly, realizing that for the first time since she'd woken up that morning that she actually felt alive. "All right. I'll stay."

She took a deep breath. So this is what her mother had meant by "follow your heart". It was a pretty simple concept once one got past all that excess baggage. And she was amazed by how wonderful it felt, like all the weight had been lifted off of her shoulders and the air around her was light and bubbly. SHE felt light and bubbly.
"I love you Noah," she whispered, kissing him softly.
"I love you Amanda," he whispered back, "And don't you ever forget that."
"I don't think I ever could," she smiled and leaned into his embrace. They stood like that, holding on to each other for dear life, as the plane took off, carrying the two younger Crane sisters back to life as they knew it.




The Wharf

Paloma, eating an ice cream cone, strolled down the docks and was not in the least bit surprised to spot William skateboarding across a freshly painted section of the pier, leaving black tire treads in his wake.
"Hey rebel," she said with a bright grin.
He turned to face her and rolled his eyes in an exaggerated gesture, "Hey PALOOSA."
She giggled at his recollection of her brother's slip up a few weeks ago.
"You're in an awfully good mood today," William commented, bringing his skateboard to a halt, "What happened? Did someone die?"
She narrowed her eyes, "Amazing what a high opinion you have of me."
"Amazing what a high opinion you have of yourself."
Paloma sighed, "contrary to popular belief, I didn't come here to fight."
He raised an eyebrow, "and what DID you come here to do?"
"To eat my ice cream. And to pick up on some skateboarding tricks."
"I see," William nodded, "Well, to be honest, I'm glad you stopped by."

"You ARE?" Paloma playfully felt his forehead, "Are you feeling all right?"
"Always the sarcastic one," he sighed.
Paloma dropped her hands to her sides, "So what did you want?"
"To give you a present."
"A present? To ME? Now I KNOW you're not feeling well. Did you have any of that tomato soup cake recently?"
"Would you just shut up and accept my peace offering?"
Paloma gave him an amused look and reached out her hand to take whatever it was that he was holding out. She felt something soft be pressed into her hand.
"What is it?" she asked without looking down.
"Look," he said with a grin.

Paloma glanced down at her hands. She was clutching a baseball cap.
"To be worn backwards, of course," William smirked.
Paloma threw back her head and laughed, "Only you."
"Come on, Mrs. Rebel."
"Sure thing, Mr. Rebel."
The two of them headed off down the wharf, side by side.

THE END

               
     

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