The days went by too fast for either of them as they passed through state after state. They took their time, stopping
occasionally at points of interest along the way and spending their nights loving and learning about each other.
Finally they were in New Hampshire and Sheridan's apprehension grew.
Harmony had never been good for their relationship and she had a sinking feeling that nothing would be different
this time. The only difference was that now they both knew exactly how the other felt. Mostly Sheridan was worried
about her family. She had no illusions about the way they would react but she was willing to face their anger for
a life with Luis.
She thanked God she'd had the good sense to invest her inheritance from her mother into things that Alistair couldn't
touch because she knew she would be cut off from the family funds almost immediately. She almost smiled at the
thought of Julian. If he ever disgraced the family he'd be living in his car in the park, because he had wasted
every penny he'd ever truly owned. Luis was driving along, the radio playing a song that he liked and he glanced
over at Sheridan. She was the most wonderful thing to ever happen in his life and he intended to hold onto her,
no matter what. He would stand up to the Cranes without hesitation, and he knew he would probably have to. As they
got closer to home he could feel her nervousness increase and he felt helpless to ease it, because he knew as well
as she did that their future was going to be far from smooth sailing.
Sheridan looked over at him and smiled. She took his hand where it rested on his leg and held it in hers. She
saw the sign ahead, announcing that they were about to cross the border into Maine and her hand tightened. In a
few hours they would be home in Harmony. Their road trip was almost over and suddenly Sheridan wished they could
just turn around and keep driving for ever.
Although she'd been gone almost nine months nothing appeared to have changed in Harmony, but the weather. It was
fall and the area was beautiful, full of color and the air was cool and fresh. They drove slowly through town,
Luis silent, allowing her to take everything in. They had already decided that
they would go to his house first. Nobody knew they were coming. Sheridan felt him watching her and she smiled
at him, looking more confident and relaxed than she felt.
Luis pulled into the driveway and they got out of the jeep, walking hand and hand up to the door, which Luis opened
and they stepped inside. "Mama? Theresa? Miguel? Anybody here?"
They were all there and there was a terrible commotion as they gathered around Luis and Sheridan, smothering them
both in hugs and kisses. Pilar, Theresa and Sheridan were all in tears and Pilar was berating Luis happily for
not warning her. Theresa called Ethan and told him only to come over, because it was very important. When he arrived
a few moments later the whole scene was repeated again. Finally everybody calmed down and settled in the living
room while Luis and Sheridan explained all that had transpired and their plans for the future.
It wasn't until later, after Ethan had left and Miguel and Theresa were out that Pilar came to Luis and Sheridan.
"I have some bad news..." she said. "What is it Mama?" "It's Hank. He is dead Luis..."
Luis felt like he'd just been kicked in the gut. He couldn't breathe and he sank into a chair. Sheridan sat on
the arm of the chair, sliding her arm around him. "What happened Pilar?" she whispered.
"Hank was involved with some terrible people... he was in a lot of debt. They killed him a week ago tomorrow.
I'm sorry Luis." Pilar hugged her son and left them alone.
"Oh, Luis..." Sheridan bent to hug him too and he pulled her into his lap, holding her tightly. He shook
his head. "I can't believe Hank would get involved in something like that..." he whispered. "Poor
Beth..." He had told Sheridan that Hank and Beth had been starting to come together... for the sake of the
baby probably, but he'd been with her, helping her.
"She must be devastated." Sheridan's heart ached for the woman, who only a week ago had been her greatest
enemy. They stayed that way for almost two hours... Luis holding her and Sheridan letting him borrow her strength.
Finally Luis stood, with her still in his arms and started toward his bedroom. "Uh, Luis... I don't think
this is such a good idea. Your family..." Sheridan just didn't feel right about it. "I just need to
hold you... we'll even leave the door open if you want..."
Sheridan nodded and kissed him softly. A few moments later Luis was in his boxers and Sheridan was wearing a huge
T-shirt of Luis'. They were snuggled together in his bed, the door open so there would be no question about the
innocence of the sleeping arrangement. Sheridan smiled up at Luis. "This is how I want to fall asleep every
night for the rest of my life..." she whispered.
Luis tightened his hold on her and whispered back, "Good, me too. I love you so much Angel." "I
love you too Luis."
Luis couldn't seem to stop thinking about Hank and Sheridan knew it. "I am so sorry Luis... I know how special
he was to you." Luis nodded. "He was my best friend as long as I can remember. Man, we did everything
together... what am I gonna do without him Sheridan?"
Sheridan looked up into his pain filled eyes and wished she had the perfect answer, but she didn't. "You're
going to keep him alive in your heart... and when his baby gets older you're going to tell him or her all the stories
about him. And we're going to stand by Beth and help her out... I think he would've wanted that."
Luis knew her feelings for Beth weren't exactly the best and he loved her all the more for wanting to help the
other woman. "You are the most wonderful woman in the world, you know that?" "If I am, it's because
I have the most wonderful man in the world in my life. "She replied, kissing him gently. She snuggled closer
and he cuddled her to him and they drifted off to sleep.
"Mama..." Theresa whispered. "Come here..." Pilar joined her daughter in the doorway of
Luis' room and saw what Theresa was so excited about. "Aren't they just the cutest thing Mama?" Theresa
Although she didn't exactly like the idea of them sharing a bed, even innocently like this, she had to admit they
were adorable. They were wrapped in each others arms, identical smiles of pure bliss on their faces. They were
so much in love, there was no denying that. "Come Theresita, before we wake them." She herded Theresa
into the kitchen.
Luis had heard them outside the door, and pretended to still be asleep. After they left he shifted a little so
he could gaze down at his love. She was the most exquisite creature he'd ever laid eyes on, and he swore she was
even more beautiful every day. He bent down and kissed her cheek, then her jaw, and finally her lips.
Sheridan moaned softly and started to stir. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. "Good morning Love..."
"Good morning Angel." he replied. He chuckled. "We had an audience... when I woke up Mama and Theresa
were watching us."
Sheridan blushed. "Oh no. What did they say?" she was almost mortified. "They thought we were
cute." he told her with a grin. "Come on... as much as I'd love to spend the day here with you I can
smell Mama's pancakes..." he was gone before she could protest, inside his bathroom. She flopped back against
the pillows and sighed happily. If only everyday could be this easy.
Miguel was out with Charity so it was just the four of them around the breakfast table. Sheridan had been afraid
it would be awkward, but they treated her as if she ate breakfast there every day. Luis was putting away pancakes
like he hadn't eaten in days and she promised herself she would learn to make them for him.
As they sat there, discussing plans for the day, the phone rang. Theresa answered it and returned a moment later
with a smile. "That was Chad... Beth just went into labor... the baby is finally coming! She's was asking
for you Luis..."
Luis glanced over at Sheridan, but saw no traces of jealousy, only sympathy and concern. "Come on Angel...
let's go welcome this kid into the world." he held out his hand, wondering if she would want to come, but
she didn't hesitate to take his hand.
Sheridan wasn't jealous, at least not much. When he immediately assumed she was going with him the last trace
of jealousy trickled away and she was more than happy to take his hand. They went hand in hand to the jeep and
once at the hospital he took her hand again as they walked inside.
Luis saw Chad in the waiting room and the younger man hurried over, not looking very happy. "Something's
wrong... They don't think Beth's gonna make it man."