Luis went through the house, securing the locks on the windows
and doors as he did. Sheridan trailed behind him, silent, but he could feel her anger. "Sheridan, if you're
going to follow me around stop glaring at me like that, it's unnerving."
"This is my house!" She replied stubbornly. "I can walk wherever I please and look at you any way
that I want to!"
"Fine." He scowled and moved on to her bedroom. She continued to follow him like an ominous black cloud.
He moved into the bathroom and she hovered in the doorway.
"Why are you in there?" Sheridan frowned. "There aren't any windows in there." Luis grinned
and reached for his belt buckle. "Nature calls. Feel free to stay and observe."
Sheridan blushed six shades of red and fled the bathroom. Luis threw back his head and laughed as he did his buckle
back up. She was such an easy mark. "Sucker..." he called out to her.
Sheridan sat on the edge of her bed, embarrassment rapidly turning to anger as she realized he'd had no intention
of actually dropping his pants. She'd been had. She sighed out loud.
Luis staying here to protect her was like living in Hell. She wondered what the point of being a Crane was when
the name couldn't even save her from living with such a tyrant. She'd never understand what she did to deserve
a punishment like this. Sometimes she thought it might be preferable to just let the drug cartel have her... at
least she wouldn't have to deal with Officer De Sade any longer.
The thing that infuriated Sheridan the most, although she'd never admit it, was that Luis was most often right,
making her wrong. It was her own stubbornness that caused a lot of the problems and she knew it. Hell, she would
argue that the sky wasn't blue if he said it was. She seemed powerless to stop it. Everything he said to her was
just automatically contradicted by her mouth.
They had always argued and sparred with each other from day one, but never this much. People kept telling them
that they acted like an old married couple. Maybe they did, but those old married couples kissed and made up eventually.
Is that what she wanted? Was that the secret to getting along with him?
She knew she was attracted to him... who wouldn't be? That Boston cop, Tina, had summed it up perfectly... "sex
on a stick"... that was Luis for sure. If it was just the sexual attraction she would brush it off as being
nothing more than a combination of hormones and loneliness. But it was more than that. She dreamed of a future
with Luis, as impossible as that seemed. She was embarrassed to admit to herself that she'd even named their children
in her mind. She longed to be held in his arms and to be told how special she was and how much he loved her...
"Sheridan!" Luis bellowed from the other room, "Get in here!" Sheridan shook her head viciously,
trying to clear her thoughts as she went to see what he wanted. That was the problem right there... he didn't love
her. And the only kind of special he thought she was was a special pain.
A week passed, each day becoming harder for them to live together without killing each other. Now Sheridan sat
in her room, half undressed, changing from her gown. Luis had totally ruined her evening at the Seascape. It had
started when he'd refused to let her go to the dance, forcing her to sneak out of the cottage. He'd followed her
and the evening had gone downhill from there. Granted, she hadn't really been interested in pursuing a relationship
with her old acquaintance, Warren, but that wasn't the point.
Luis had persisted with his quest to protect her from imaginary hitmen, going so far as to actually carry her through
the woods in an effort to confuse a non-existent hitman he thought was following them.
So, here she was, having just removed her ruined gown, hiding in her bedroom, wearing only her panties and an unbuttoned
blouse. Luis was gone... checking up on a report about the prom boat being in danger. The only reason he'd left
was because his family was on the boat, and because Hank was there to guard Sheridan. Sheridan was fine with that.
She trusted Hank and it wasn't like she was really in any danger.
Still, Sheridan didn't want to go out into the living room with Hank. He really was a nice guy... just tonight
he'd filled her bedroom with flowers. But he kept touching her, assuming she liked it, and she didn't like it at
all. There was only one man she wanted to touch her and it wasn't Hank Bennett.
Luis prowled the dock, looking for any sign of the prom boat, but there was none. The harbour master assured him
that there was no danger, that the boat was fine. Still, there was something wrong... Luis felt it in his gut.
He knew Sheridan was fine... she was safety at the cottage with Hank, so the danger must be the prom boat.
If anything happened to Miguel and Theresa he didn't know what he would do. He raised the binoculars the harbour
master lent him to his eyes and scanned the horizon. No sign of the boat, or a storm. Perhaps the guy was right...
the call that had been received was nothing but a prank.
Luis turned and went back to return the binoculars. He would head back to the cottage... he hated leaving Sheridan,
even in Hanks capable hands.
As he drove back toward the Crane estate he couldn't shake the feeling that there was something wrong. Instinct
told him to hurry and he pressed his foot down harder on the accelerator. He felt sick to his stomach as he thought
of Sheridan, and the things that could happen to her when he wasn't there. She was so damn stubborn and refused
to believe that she was in danger. He had to get back there and fast... something wasn't right.
Hank paced the living room nervously after hanging up his cell phone. He was torn up inside over the order the
Boss had just given him... kill Sheridan. How could he kill her? She was so beautiful, and rich. She was his meal
ticket to the good life. But on the flip side, how could he disobey the order? The Boss had explained in no uncertain
terms that if he didn't comply then his family would pay.
Hank wasn't the most upstanding guy in the world and he'd done many things he wasn't proud of, but he did love
his family. Especially Jessica and Kay, his nieces. The thought of what the Boss could do to those sweet girls
made his blood run cold.
No, he couldn't risk it. Sheridan was a delicious morsel that he hated to lose, but compared to the welfare of
his family she was nothing. He would comply with the order.
Sheridan was startled when Hank opened the bedroom door and walked right in. "Hank! What are you doing?"
She had her blouse on, but still unbuttoned and she clutched the sides closed over her chest and scowled at Hank.
"Please wait in the living room Hank. I'll be right out."
Hank gave her a strange look, one she'd never seen before and didn't care to see now. "Sorry Sheridan, there's
no time for that..." He eyed her bare legs from where they emerged from the bottom of the blouse, and his
gaze traveled upwards to the generous display of cleavage above where her hands held the garment closed. Sheridan
could almost feel his eyes on her and she shivered. Hank sighed. He would comply with the order, but not before
he had a taste of what he would be losing. She was far too beautiful to pass up on.
Sheridan saw the lecherous look in his eyes and her heart began to pound in fear as she backed away from Hank.
"Hank, please don't do this... you don't want to hurt me..."
"I'm not going to hurt you gorgeous... this will be sweet for both of us..." He advanced on her until
she was backed up against the wall.
"Never!" Sheridan's chin rose and she stared right into his eyes. "It won't be sweet... it will
Hank's hand rose and backhanded her across the mouth. She gulped and bile rose in the back of her throat as she
detected the metallic taste of blood. Hank began running his hands over her body and she struggled to get away.
He forced her tighter against the wall and ripped her blouse off. He had her arms forced back over her head and
he was roughly nuzzling her chest and neck, his hot breath making her shudder with repulsion.
Tears dripped down her face as she pleaded with him to stop. Inside her heart screamed for the man she loved...
'please Luis, save me... don't let him hurt me... I need you...'. "Luis..." she sobbed his name out loud
and Hank raised his head from her chest and sneered.
"Luis..." he mimicked nastily. "Forget it... he won't help you... he's gone. He won't be back until
it's too late. Besides, even if he was here... who do you think he'd side with? You or his best buddy Hank? He
doesn't care about you... not the way I did. If you had come to me instead of mooning after him things would be
Sheridan sobbed, "Why Hank? Why are you doing this?"
"Because I can't let you die without having you... without knowing you were mine..." He began planting
wet, sloppy kisses down her neck.
"What do you mean 'let me die' ?" Sheridan asked, fearful of the answer.
"Ok, 'let you die' was a poor choice of words. I'm going to kill you after we're done."
Sheridan gasped as she realized what that meant. "You? You're the new hitman?" "One of them."
Hank nodded. "And unlike the others, I know how to get the job done. I won't be killing any lounge singers
by mistake or taking out any tree branches. Don't worry Sheridan..." He smiled an evil grin. "I'm not
completely heartless... your death will be quick and relatively painless..." His voice drifted off as he resumed
kissing her neck.
Then, abruptly he stopped, twisting her around and pulling her hands behind her back. Sheridan felt something soft
being used to bind her wrists together. Then Hank shoved her to the bed, pushing her down on it and kneeling on
her legs so she couldn't kick him as he bound her ankles together too.
Sheridan lay there, paralyzed with fear, her eyes wildly scanning the room for anything that could help her, but
she saw nothing. Hank climbed on top of her, straddling her body and pressing himself on her. Sheridan sobbed,
fighting the urge to vomit as he roughly tore her bra off and started groping her again.
Vaguely she wondered if Hank was right about Luis... would he stop Hank? Would he side with his best friend and
let Hank simply obliterate the thorn from his side that she was? She knew he didn't love her... nobody did... "Sheridan?"
She thought it was a dream... her imagination creating the best sound in the world... Luis' voice. But then Hank
snatched a scarf from her night stand and stuffed it into her mouth, effectively silencing her, and she knew Luis'
voice was real.
Hank climbed off her, drew his gun and quietly opened the bedroom door, sneaking out to ambush Luis.
Sheridan lay there, terrified that Hank would kill Luis, but helpless to do anything. She heard a sound behind
her, and she turned, expecting to see Hank, but it was Luis, emerging from her bathroom.
He hurried across the room, pulling the gag from her mouth. "The bathroom... it's a fire room... steel lined
walls and doors..." she whispered. Luis understood that it would also be bullet-proof and he scooped her up,
carrying her into the bathroom. Once he had the door to her bedroom and the one to the hallway both securely locked
he turned to her and unbound her wrists and ankles.
Luis stood, gazing into her eyes and silently thanking God for allowing him to get to her in time. "Sheridan..."
he ground the word out, his voice full of emotion, and pulled her into his arms.
Sheridan wrapped her arms around him almost painfully tight and Luis felt her hot tears on his neck. He pulled
back and looked at her, seeing the bruised, swollen cut on her mouth from Hank's hand. "Where's Hank? He was
supposed to protect you."
"Oh Luis, it was Hank... he's the hitman. Hank did this." "What? No." Luis couldn't fathom
this information. Hank was his best buddy... there's no way he could hurt Sheridan.
"I know Luis... I was shocked too." Sheridan reached up to touch his cheek... "I'm sorry Luis."
Just then they heard Hank pound on the door to the hallway. "Open up dammit!" he yelled. Both Luis and
Sheridan winced as they heard bullets hit the door, but the fireproof steel door did its job. "Well, you can't
stay in there forever!" Hank screamed furiously.
Sheridan shivered and Luis just then realized that she was wearing only a pair of pink silk panties. He snagged
her robe from the back of the door and helped her slip it on. Then he firmly hauled her back into his arms. As
he held her, he suddenly had a thought that shook him to his soul. "Sheridan..." he whispered into her
hair. "did he... I mean, he didn't..." He couldn't say the word, but she understood.
"No, no he didn't. He was going to..." She pulled back and gave him a tremulous smile. "But you
saved me... again. If you hadn't come just then..." her voice cracked and her lip trembled.
"Thank God..." He murmured, reaching up and stroking her cheek softly. "If anything had happened
to you..." He couldn't finish his thought and he simply held her close.
Sheridan snuggled close into his embrace, loving the feel of his arms around her... feeling so warm and safe. She
wished she could just stay like this forever, but she knew it was impossible. "What are we going to do Luis?
He has a gun and he's going to wait there until we come out."
Luis pulled back from her, still keeping her tucked under one arm as he surveyed the small room. No windows...
there was a skylight, but it was up twenty feet high and there was no way they could reach it. "I don't know...
maybe someone will come looking for us..."
"Hank will shoot them... Luis, what if Ethan or Pilar show up and Hank kills them?" She asked tearfully,
her eyes piercing his, begging him to get them out of this mess.
Luis would've given anything to be able to do just that, but he knew they were at Hank's mercy. They had to rely
on the hope that somebody else would save them or that Hank would eventually get scared and leave. "It'll
be ok Sheridan... he won't kill anyone else." He wished he was sure of that. They stood, huddled together
in the middle of the bathroom, while outside, Hank stood waiting, his gun in hand. He was very patient... he had
nothing to lose. If he didn't kill Sheridan his life was as good as over anyway.