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Unjust Suspicions

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Unjust Suspicions
by
Caseytlk

     
Chapter Twenty

They stood there, Luis still on the porch and Sheridan blocking the doorway. Sheridan was trying to make sense of what Luis had just told her. "Hank's baby..." she whispered. "Yes, it's Hank's baby... not mine. I know I shouldn't have gotten involved maybe, but Beth is an old friend and I do care about her. I couldn't just abandon her..."

Sheridan's gaze drifted over Luis' shoulder and across the street, where she saw Carly Wilkins peering out her window at them. Sheridan moved back from the doorway and silently let Luis in. She went into the living room and sat on the sofa. Luis followed her and hesitated, before sitting cautiously on the other end of the couch. He saw Sheridan stiffen and he was sure she would move to the chair across the room, but after a moment she relaxed again. "Sheridan, please say something..." Luis said after they had sat there in silence a while. Sheridan raised her eyes and met Luis' gaze. She really didn't know what to do... or what to say. She had been hurt so many times and now he wanted her to just believe him, based on nothing but blind faith. What if he was lying? What if she allowed herself to accept what he was saying and it was another elaborate lie? She would be forced to tear herself from the man she loved once again and she really didn't know if she could do that and survive.

Time... that was it... she needed time. "Luis," she said finally, "I need to think... I need some time to sort this out..." The last thing Luis wanted to do was leave, but he knew that if he pressured her now he would lose her for sure. "Alright Sheridan, I can give you time. I've spent months searching for you... another day won't kill me."

He stood and went to the door, Sheridan drifting after him, looking a little lost. He opened the door and went onto the porch, turning to face her. "You have to believe me Sheridan... it's the truth. If you don't believe me call someone in Harmony... everybody knows about Hank now."

"Alright Luis, we'll talk tomorrow..." Sheridan began to close the door slowly and the last thing she heard before the face of the man she loved disappeared was "I love you Sheridan..." Tears streamed down her face and she wanted to throw the door back open and leap into his arms. Instead she forced herself to go to her bedroom and she sank onto the bed.

She opened the drawer to her night stand and peered inside at her little Luis shrine. With a trembling hand she reached inside and pulled the items out. She read the ad from the paper... the one asking her to come home. She wondered know if she should have done just that. The dried rose felt so brittle and delicate in her hand, as though a small puff of air could blow it to pieces. Sheridan's heart felt about as strong as the rose looked. She drew it to her nose, amazed that there was still a scent to it after all this time.

She unfolded one of the newspaper clippings, the one the Harmony Herald had picked up off the wire service after he'd saved her life in Paris. The photo was a couple years old, one taken at some police function and it showed Luis posing for the camera. He was wearing his dress uniform and he beamed at the photographer, showing his perfect smile. He was the most attractive man she'd ever seen and Sheridan ached to reach through the picture and touch him. She put the items back into the drawer, except for the one she hadn't yet inspected. She slid the drawer closed and lay back on the bed, holding the silver compact close to her heart as tears continued to stream down her cheeks. She wanted so much to believe him... more than anything in the world she wanted to believe that he truly loved her. In the morning she would do as he suggested and call Harmony.

Luis sat in the rental car once again, staring at Sheridan's house. He saw her shadow moving through the house, ending in her bedroom and he wondered what she was doing. He knew that it was going to be hard for her to accept what he'd told her as truth. After all, if he was the baby's father, but still wanted Sheridan, if he wasn't a stand-up kind of guy, he would probably lie and tell her the same things he just had.

He pulled down the visor and turned on the dome light. Clipped to the visor was a picture of Sheridan... the one Ethan had given the police when they were searching for her. It was a beautiful picture... nothing compared to the real thing of course, but achingly beautiful. Luis gazed at the photo... at the bright blue eyes gazing back at him. He really didn't know what he would do if she sent him away. Living without her all these months had practically killed him and he didn't think he could deal with it again.

He looked back over at the house. The light was still on in her bedroom and he wondered if she was still awake. Was she agonizing over this situation they were in too? Luis sighed as he started the car and pulled slowly away from the curb...

She was... perhaps even more than he was. She had decided to phone Harmony in the morning and see what she could find out from Ethan or Gwen. She had to know for sure about Beth's baby. But now as she continued to lay in bed, still clutching the compact, she was doubting the wisdom of that move. If what Luis was saying was true and she doubted him enough to call and check up on him what kind of base did that create for a relationship? If she couldn't trust him enough on his own word than she should just send him packing and be done with it.

The question was, did she trust him? She thought back and every time she thought he had been dishonest with her it had turned out to be wrong. Major case in point... the Luis impostor. Now that was a disaster for sure. The whole thing could've been avoided if she'd only had faith enough to talk to him about it instead of closing down and refusing to see any side but her own. A coldness rushed over Sheridan, causing her to shiver as she realized something. Every misunderstanding they had, well, most of them anyway, was her fault. It was not Luis who was untrustworthy... is was she who was untrusting. Never once did Luis do anything to deserve her mistrust, yet she was quick to accuse him every time.

Sheridan shook her head in confusion. How could he love her? She wasn't worthy of his love. She was a horrible person, who wouldn't know the truth if it bit her. She saw Luis, the look on his face earlier as she'd stepped out of her jeep and he'd realized it was her. Pure, unadulterated joy and relief. He loved her... he loved her enough to search for her all over the country for months. He'd placed ads in papers all over the country too she suspected. She thought about how thin and pale he looked and guilt coursed through her as she knew her suspicions and mistrust had made him that way. She had made him miserable and all he had ever done was treat her with more kindness and respect and honesty than all the men in her life put together. And somehow... by some miracle, he still loved her and wanted her in his life.

Sheridan jumped off the bed threw on some clothes. She practically ran down the hall in her eagerness to see him again. She flung open the front door and was halfway across the lawn to his car before she skidded to a halt and fresh tears streamed down her face... the car was gone. Luis was gone...

chapter 21

       
     

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