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Unjust Suspicions

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Unjust Suspicions
by
Caseytlk

     

Chapter Twelve

Luis had been awake for a full day and he was beginning to feel like his old self. He scowled at Theresa when she walked into his room. "Where is she? Did you find her?" He was, of course, talking about Sheridan. He couldn't understand it... she had apparently sat by his side for a week, and now that he was awake she was gone?

"No Luis, I didn't find her. I've been calling her cottage and cell phone all morning. I called the mansion too, but nobody knows where she is." Theresa sat gently on the edge of the bed and tried to smile cheerfully. "She'll be here Luis... she wouldn't just disappear." "Well, it seems like she has... why can't anybody find her?" Luis was frustrated... and worried. What if they had missed some of those drug cartel guys and they had come after her again? What if she had an accident and she was lying somewhere hurt? Luis struggled to sit up and swung his legs off the bed. The pain in his chest made him groan, but he continued trying to get out of bed. "Luis!" Theresa said, "What are you doing?" "I gotta find her..." Luis grunted. "You can't get out of bed yet... Luis, you're gonna rip your stitches or something!" Luis didn't care... but his body was weak and he fell back onto the bed.

"Fine Theresa... but you go to Sam... I want her found today! Go now." "Alright Luis, I'll go talk to him. I'm sure she's fine though..." Theresa picked up her purse and kissed his cheek. "I'll be back later." Luis watched Theresa leave and leaned back against the pillows. He cursed his injury and lay there thinking one horrible thought after another. He envisioned Sheridan in a multitude of situations, each one worse than the one before it, and here he was, laid up in bed helpless to protect her. He knew there was something wrong... it wasn't like her to disappear without telling anyone. Especially Ethan. Luis reached for the phone...

Ethan came into the hospital room and hesitated at the door. His past encounters with Luis had been, for the most part, unpleasant and he wasn't too hopeful about this one being any different. Luis looked up from the magazine he was looking at and flung it to the side. "Did you find her?" he asked anxiously.

"No," Ethan said, coming closer to the bed. Luis indicated the chair and Ethan sat down. "But after you called I went to the cottage and I did find a note though..." "A note?" Luis sat up straighter. "What kind of note?" Ethan didn't answer, just handed Luis a folded sheet of paper. Luis held it, feeling a connection to her. It was her personal stationery... pale lilac and scented with her perfume. He unfolded it and read the words it contained...

Dear Ethan
I am leaving Harmony for good. Too much has happened here and I need to get some distance. Don't bother looking for me because you won't find me. I've closed out my bank accounts and assumed a new identity. I will find a way to let you know I'm alright from time to time. Give everyone my love and try to understand that this is for the best. Always know how much I love you and you will always be in my heart.
Sheridan

Luis let the paper fall silently through his fingers onto the bed. He felt pain worse than any that had resulted from his shooting. He thought his chest was going to split right open. He looked over at Ethan... "It's because of me that she left isn't it?" Ethan had no knowledge of what had transpired between them, and Gwen hadn't mentioned Beth or the baby to him. So Ethan simply shrugged. "I don't know Luis... she's been here every day sitting with you... I thought you two had patched everything up?"

Luis sighed. "We did... but then something else happened." Ethan wasn't surprised... their relationship always worked the same way. "What happened?" Luis shook his head. "Damned if I know. Near as I can tell she was mad because I was late for our date."

Ethan frowned. "That doesn't sound like Sheridan at all. She doesn't get upset over things like that." "That's what I thought," Luis agreed. "Do you think she means it? That she really intends to stay away forever?" "It sounds like it Luis," Ethan replied. "You have to find her... surely you know where she went? At least some ideas? Right?"

Ethan nodded. "Yes, there are some places I can look, but if she's changed her name it won't be easy." Luis swore and scowled. "Damn it! If I wasn't stuck in this bed..." "You'll be out soon enough," Ethan said. "Meanwhile I'll get busy doing what I can. With any luck I'll have found her by tomorrow."

Luis nodded... there wasn't much else he could do. "Yeah, thanks Ethan. Let me know what you find out." "I will." Ethan shook his hand and left. Luis tried to think positive thoughts, but it was hard. Sheridan was gone... out there somewhere... alone. The number of places she could be was mind boggling. She could literally be anywhere in the world... using any name... it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Scratch that... it would be like finding one grain of sand on the bottom of the ocean.

Hopelessness and helplessness washed over Luis like a wave. They were quickly followed by emptiness and despair. What was he going to do without her? He loved her and he knew that there was no other woman in the world for him. Without her he would be alone for the rest of his life.

Angela Baker let herself into the hotel room she'd just acquired and dropped her suitcase on the floor. She flung her body down on the bed and sighed deeply. The flight had been long and the cab ride to the hotel was a series of stops and starts in one block intervals. Leave it to her to arrive in Seattle during rush hour.

As she lay there she asked herself for the millionth time if she was doing the right thing. She weighed the options she'd had once again. Stay in Harmony where she was unloved and watch Luis begin his life with Beth while she remained alone. She would sit around the mansion while Julian and her father reminded her of what a failure she was. Perhaps she would go on a few dates... men from the country club eager to pad their already impressive holdings with a chip of the Crane empire. Men who would look at her and see only dollar signs and perhaps a good time. Certainly they wouldn't see someone to love, to build a relationship with. No, Sheridan Crane wasn't that kind of girl. She was someone to be used and thrown away, like a tissue. Then there was option number two... leave Harmony, but allow her family to know where she was. Retaining her name and therefore encouraging a different lot of men from a different country club. They would all have the same goals though... acquire the Crane holdings and power through her. On top of this, father and Julian would continue to harass her over every little thing she did, accusing her of sullying the family name and continuing to tell her how hopeless and worthless she was.

No, this was the only feasible option. She might be alone, but she wouldn't be lonely. She would make friends... ones that were interested in her and not her bank account or her name. She would build a life independent from the Cranes and she might even be happy eventually.

She knew she would never marry though. She wouldn't, couldn't marry for anything but true love and she knew she would never find that again. She would always love Luis no matter how long she lived. She would never forget what they could've had. She would survive though. She would manage to build a new life and get through the days one at a time until thoughts of Harmony and Luis no longer brought forth the pain she felt now.

"Lord, give me the strength to do it... I really don't know how I'll manage." She whispered as a tear dripped down her cheek. It was soon followed by many more and Angela Baker fell asleep, the first night of her new life, crying and wishing she had jumped off the overlook railing that night last week.

chapter 13

       
     

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