Sheridan woke up feeling refreshed from a relatively good
night’s sleep. Luis could see that some of the sparkle was back in her beautiful blue eyes. Luis reminded himself
that he couldn’t get carried away with thoughts like that, at least, not until Sheridan was safe from the drug
Luis observed Sheridan during breakfast and noticed a definite change in her demeanor and her attitude. They actually
had a civil conversation during a meal for the first time since Luis had moved into the cottage. While he didn’t
want to get overconfident, Luis felt optimistic that his plan was working. He thought that Sheridan was beginning
to change in response to his having changed how he dealt with her.
After breakfast, Luis began clearing the dishes from the kitchen table, when Sheridan surprised him by offering
to help him clean up. Luis accepted her offer and it spurred him to take the next major step in his plan. When
they had finished the dishes, he said to her, "Sheridan, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about."
Sheridan sat back down at the kitchen table and asked, "what now, Luis?"
Luis was still standing near the sink when he stated, "I am going to be going into Harmony today and I was
wondering if you’d like to go with me." Luis paused to let the idea sink in with her. "Of course, if
you come with me, you’ll have to wear the vest. And you’d have to agree to even more conditions than you had to
agree to for your walks on the grounds here." Luis continued speaking quickly so she couldn’t interrupt him.
"I just wanted to let you know. You can think about it and if you decide that you want to come, we can discuss
the specific ground rules later."
Luis started to leave the kitchen. He didn’t make it out the door before Sheridan stopped him. "Luis wait!
I want to go with you. Just tell me what I have to do besides wear the vest." Luis looked at Sheridan and
was surprised to see that she was smiling at him.
Luis smiled back at Sheridan and sat down across the kitchen table from her. "First of all, we go only where
I say we go. Second, you never leave my sight. I need to be able to see you at all times, understood."
Sheridan was so excited at the idea of getting out of the cottage, that she readily agreed to Luis’ conditions.
"Fine Luis. That’s fine with me. I’ll go along with whatever you say."
"It’s not that simple, Sheridan." Luis continued. "There’s more. Once you hear the rest of the ground
rules, you may change your mind about coming with me."
Sheridan sighed, "okay, tell me everything that I’d have to agree to in order to get out here for a while."
"Before I tell you the conditions, I want to explain the reasons why they are necessary. First, the cartel
could have someone watching us at any time. Second, they could have someone listening to us at any time. Third,
I could get instructions from the FBI that would require us to take immediate action."
Sheridan just looked at him, "I understand. Go on, Luis. I’m listening."
Luis was nervous. He knew that Sheridan’s reaction to these conditions would be the definitive sign as to whether
his plan to get her to trust him with her life was going to be successful or not.
Luis looked Sheridan in the eye and held her gaze. He wanted there to be no misunderstanding on her part.
"When we are in Harmony, you must agree with anything I say. If I say it is seven o’clock and you know it
is two o’clock, you can’t disagree with me. You must agree with me that it is seven o’clock. If I call an old man
a young girl, you can’t try to tell me he is an old man. You have to just agree with me and call him a young girl.
If I look up in the sky and comment on the moonlight in the middle of the day, you have to agree that there is
moonlight. And if I change my mind after you’ve agreed with me and I begin to talk about the sunlight, you have
to agree with me that there is sunlight. Sheridan, you can’t disagree or argue with me about anything, not even
for a second. Your life and mine could depend on this."
Luis paused. He was waiting for her reaction. Actually, he was waiting for her usual over-reaction. Luis was shocked
and surprised to see that Sheridan was still holding his gaze and waiting for him to continue.
"If I say we have to leave someplace. We leave. No, ‘wait a minute’. No excuses. We leave when I say we leave."
Luis was pleasantly surprised that Sheridan wasn’t yelling or calling him a control freak. She was still looking
at him waiting for him to finish laying out the ground rules for a trip to Harmony. "That covers it. That
is all of the conditions and ground rules. They probably seem unreasonable to you and maybe they are, but like
I said before, these conditions are necessary to keep you safe and alive. And your protection is the most important
consideration. So, do you still want to come to Harmony with me?"
Sheridan looked away from Luis. She got up and poured herself a glass of water. She took some time to drink about
half the glass and poured the rest down the sink. She kept her back to him for a few minutes.
Luis was dying inside. He didn’t know what he would do if Sheridan threw a temper tantrum at this point. He was
frantically trying to formulate alternate plans, when Sheridan faced him and her voice was filled with resignation
as she said, "I understand the ground rules and I agree to abide by your conditions."
Luis was thrilled by Sheridan’s response. It meant his plan had worked and she trusted him with her life. But he
had to be certain. Her safety was too important to him to not be absolutely certain. He had to press the issue
just to be sure. "Do you really understand what this means Sheridan? Have you thought about what might happen?
I’d like to be able to tell you that I’ll be in a position to give you a sign or a signal before I do something
to embarrass you, but that just may not be possible. They could be watching us or I might not have time to warn
you. You could be placed in an embarrassing or humiliating situation in front of people that you know and care
about. Are you really prepared to do that?"
"I’m not going to lie to you Luis and tell you that I like these conditions. I don’t like them at all. Not
one bit. But I believe that you are sincerely trying to protect my life. I’m willing to go along with what you
say is necessary, even if I have to endure a little public humiliation in the process. While we are in Harmony,
I’ll agree with whatever you say, right away, no arguments."
"Okay then. We’ll leave in a half an hour."
Sheridan was curious, "Luis, where exactly are we going?"
"We’re going to the Police Station. Actually, we are going to the gym at the Police Station. I spoke to Sam
this morning about coming in. I really need to work out. You are welcome to work out of you want to – there’s several
weight machines, free weights and an exercise bicycle. And there’s a treadmill too, if you just feel like running."
"A run on the treadmill sounds great."
"I’d recommend that you wear what you want to work out in and pack a change of clothes in a bag. I’ll ask
one of the female officers to stay with you in the women’s locker room."
The trip to Harmony was uneventful. Luis got his workout.
Sheridan had a nice run on the treadmill. Both stole several looks at the other while in the gym. There were no
embarrassing events. Luis was thrilled with Sheridan’s cooperative attitude. Sheridan was happy to have been able
to get out of the cottage for a while.
The type of civil conversation that they had over breakfast was repeated during the car ride back to the cottage.
The conversations continued throughout the day and during meals. Sheridan even came into the kitchen to talk with
Luis while he was cooking dinner. Each conversation that they had was more relaxed and less formal than the one
preceding it. Slowly, Luis and Sheridan were establishing a new and different way of communicating with each other.
Later that evening, after dinner, Luis let Sam inside the
cottage. Sheridan poked her head out of her bedroom to see who had arrived. When Sam saw her, he suggested to Luis
that they speak outside.
Luis looked at Sheridan and said, "I’ll be right outside the front door talking with Sam."
Sam stared at Sheridan. He was waiting for an explosion similar to the one he had seen two days ago.
Sheridan smiled and said, "thanks for letting me know, Luis" as she went back inside her bedroom.
Luis looked at Sam and smiled as he said, "let’s go outside."
Sam looked back at the cottage with a confused expression on his face. It seemed that a lot had changed in a very
Luis was uncomfortable with Sheridan being out of his sight. He wanted to get back inside the cottage as soon as
he could. "I need to get back inside. So what’s up Sam?"
"The FBI sting is going down tomorrow night. I wish I could give you a full breakdown, but I’m still being
kept in the dark. They haven’t told me very much about what is planned. The only thing they’ve told me in any detail
is what you are supposed to do."
Sam gave Luis his instructions from the FBI. His final comment was that Sheridan was not to be told anything about
the plan until it was over. Luis didn’t feel right about keeping something so important a secret from her, but
Sam convinced him to follow the FBI’s orders. As soon as Sam left, Luis went back inside the cottage.
Luis knocked on Sheridan’s door and asked her to come talk with him. He was feeling guilty about having to keep
the sting a secret, so he decided to try to do something nice for her.
"Sheridan, I’m going to the Youth Center tomorrow morning. I’d like it if you would come with me. I need to
check on the preparations for the dance Saturday night. I’d appreciate your input. Would you mind coming with me
and taking a look at things?"
"I’d love to go to the Youth Center with you Luis. I’ve really missed the kids."
"Well, we’d be going after breakfast and the kids should be in school. So, I don’t think we’ll see any of
them. But, they’d be thrilled to know that you helped plan the dance."
Sheridan was excited. "It sounds wonderful. I’d be happy to help with the dance."
Luis cautioned her, "you understand that you’ll have to abide by the same conditions as our trip to gym today,
"I understand that Luis. I still don’t like it, but I’ve agreed to the conditions and I’ll keep my promise."
"Okay then. We’ll be party planning at the Youth Center tomorrow morning."
When she went to bed, Sheridan left her bedroom door unlocked. Luis went in for his "security check"
earlier than he had on previous nights. Sheridan had been so cooperative that for the second night in a row he
let her get several hours of uninterrupted sleep.
For the first time since Sunday night, Luis was having trouble sleeping. He couldn’t stop thinking about Sheridan.
His thoughts were not focused on protecting Sheridan. Rather, his thoughts of her were about a beautiful woman
that had gotten under his skin.
Luis forced himself to concentrate on his nightly review of the progress of his plan. His first thought was that
Sheridan hadn’t yelled at him in over 24 hours. When he thought about the past 4 days, he realized that his plan
had succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. Sheridan now trusted him with her life and he would do everything
in his power to live up to that. He would do whatever was necessary to protect Sheridan.
When his thoughts drifted back to Sheridan, the woman he cared about, Luis discerned that he and Sheridan hadn’t
changed who they were; their personalities were still the same. But, when Luis changed how he communicated with
Sheridan, Sheridan had responded by changing how she communicated Luis.
Luis thought that the past day had been wonderful. He was greatly enjoying the easy rapport that now existed between
them. But, Luis was also sad because he now knew that his new relationship with Sheridan was going to have to come
to an end so quickly. He calculated that he and Sheridan would have about two days of peaceful coexistence, before
it would all end the next night.