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Unjust Suspicions

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Unjust Suspicions
by
Caseytlk

     
Chapter Eighteen

Luis sat in a booth in the Double D Diner, in the little town of Port Orchard. He offered the waitress something resembling a smile when she came to take his order. He ordered a burger, fries and a large Coke and the he smiled again and asked if she knew an Angela Baker. The waitress was only a young girl and she scrunched her face up, trying to remember. "Oh yeah, there's a lady named Baker that works at the library... I don't know where she lives though." The girl gave Luis a beaming smile and went off to get his food.

Luis sighed and stared out the window at the people passing on the street. He wondered if one of the women could be Angela Baker. A woman in the booth behind his stood and went to the jukebox in the corner. She deposited her money and the song choice began. It was the same Reba McEntire song he'd heard in the car and once again he felt his heart aching. He forced himself not to listen and continued to watch out the window, dreaming about the day he finally found Sheridan... he knew it would happen eventually... he just didn't know when.

Angela glanced at her watch with irritation. The woman that was supposed to take her place at the checkout desk at the library was late again. Angela was more irritated because this was her half day... she should be on her way home by now. She leaned back in her chair and gazed around the main section of the library. There were only a few patrons there, some Angela knew and some she did not.

The gentleman in the corner reading the paper came in every day and sometimes he brought Angela a flower from his garden. He wasn't hitting on her or anything... he was about 80 years old and said she reminded him of his granddaughter.

The door opened and a woman named Marjorie came in with her two daughters. She waved and smiled at Angela before heading to the stairs that led to the children's section. Angela smiled and waved back, sighing at the sight of the woman's precious little girls. Finally Barbara arrived, full of apologies that Angela didn't really believe and she was able to go home. She walked down the street toward the parking area at the end of the block. She hesitated in front of the Double D, debating on whether to get lunch before heading home. She was about to go in when she remembered she had dry cleaning to pick up so she continued down the block, rooting through her purse to see if she had enough cash to get her clothes.

Luis stood at the counter, waiting for the waitress to come and take his money. She appeared and Luis asked for directions to the library. It made sense that Angela Baker would be at work at one o'clock in the afternoon so he would try there first. He stepped out of the diner and headed toward the library down the street. Just as he entered the library Angela emerged from the dry cleaners with her clothes and headed back to the Double D.

Luis stepped up to the desk at the library and smiled at the middle aged woman seated there. "Hello. Is Angela Baker here?" Barbara squinted her eyes and frowned. "Who's asking?" "I'm Officer Lopez-Fitzgerald." Luis pulled out his badge. Barbara took it from him, pulling it close to her nose to inspect it. "She isn't here. She's gone for the day. She in trouble or something?"

Luis smiled to put the woman at ease. "No, she isn't in trouble. She's an old friend I went to school with." That seemed to satisfy the woman because she nodded and looked a little more friendly. "Do you know where Third street is?" Barbara nodded and gave him the directions actually smiling at him once. Luis thanked her and left, heading back to his car. He'd left it in the parking lot at the end of the block.

It was parked next to the same red Cherokee that had been there when he'd arrived. He glanced at it appreciatively. He'd always wanted a new red Cherokee... someday maybe. He got in his rental car and headed for Third street, hoping for better luck this time.

Angela had settled into a booth... the same one Luis had been occupying a few minutes ago. She'd been staring at the menu, not even noticing the dark, handsome man from her past as he walked right by the window. Now she ate her salad and gazed out the window, deep in thought. For some reason Luis was on her mind even more than usual today. Everything she saw or heard reminded her of him and she was getting more dejected by the minute. She hurried to finish her salad, wanting to be home... at least at home she didn't have to pretend to be happy or normal.

Luis pulled the car to a stop in front of the charming, yet modest ranch style house. It was a far cry from the Crane estate, that was for sure. Lining the walk were rows of happy faced pansies and the porch was surrounded by mounds of coral impatiens. Luis knew what they were... Mama planted them and Sheridan had admired them once, claiming to hate the pretentious lilies and orchids and other expensive hothouse flowers that Julian and Ivy were partial to.

Seeing those impatiens there made Luis strangely hopeful. Never mind the fact that every second house on the street had mounds of impatiens in their gardens. He raised a trembling hand to the door and knocked. No answer... he knocked again, harder. Nothing. He dropped to the step and sat to wait. He'd spent months searching for Sheridan... another couple hours wouldn't kill him. He sat there, looking around the neighbourhood. Across the street a young mother was sitting on the grass with a young boy. They were playing with little cars, while a baby lay in a carrier beside them. Luis could squint his eyes and make the woman turn into Sheridan. He did that for a several minutes, imagining the family he longed for.

Then, as he was shaking his head to bring himself back to reality a red Cherokee pulled into the driveway and stopped.

Angela didn't notice the car or the man until she'd already turned off the engine and was about to get out of the jeep. Then she saw him and her breath caught as she whispered "Luis..." Her first instinct was to start the vehicle and leave, never looking back, but she couldn't do it. She couldn't leave without Snowy.

She took a moment to compose herself, watching as Luis stood, waiting.

Luis couldn't see inside the jeep, the windows were tinted. He prepared himself for the probable sight... a perfect stranger. He wondered why the occupant wasn't getting out. Perhaps Angela Baker was afraid to get out of the jeep while a strange man waited on her porch.

Then the jeep door opened and then it was Luis' turn to stop breathing. Sheridan... it was really Sheridan... He broke into a smile, but was frozen in place on the walkway. "Sheridan..." he gasped happily. But she wasn't smiling... she frowned sadly. " What are you doing here? I don't want to see you." she said coldly, avoiding the front door and going around the house. By the time Luis regained use of his legs and rounded the house the high gate was closed again, firmly locked with Sheridan on the other side. Luis felt like crying...

Sheridan was crying. She hurried inside the house, gathering Snowy in her arms and sobbing into her fur. "Oh, God, what am I going to do?" It had been all she could do to stop herself from running right to Luis, burying herself in his arms and never letting go. Only repeating Beth's name silently to herself made it possible for her to walk past him to the gate.

Now he was pounding on the front door and calling her name. She wanted to open it, but knew she couldn't. "Please," she whispered into the cats neck, "please just go away Luis... I can't go through this again..."

The pounding stopped after a few moments and Sheridan went to peek out the curtains. He was sitting in his car and she sighed. It was hopeless... she knew he was too stubborn to leave. He would sit there and wait until she emerged. Well, she was stubborn too and she was much better prepared for a stand-off. She had food, water and a bathroom. She'd wait until he left and she would take Snowy and they wound disappear again. It was that simple.

chapter 19

       
     

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