Luis and Sheridan could hear Hank moving around outside the bathroom door, trying to figure out a way to get the
door open, no doubt. Luis was reasonably sure that they were safe inside. The doors were steel and even the walls
were steel lined. Sheridan had explained that the fire room was created when the cottage was remodelled because
of a fear of fire that Ivy had. The mansion also had a fire room, although it was much larger.
Luis sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall and Sheridan settled beside him, close, but not touching him.
"How long do you think he'll stay out there Luis?" Her voice was still tinged with fear, but she was
calm and in control now.
"I don't know... probably for a while. Unless somebody comes looking for us I figure we'll have a couple days
at least until he gives up." "A couple of days?" Sheridan, couldn't even imagine being cooped up
in the bathroom for a few hours, never mind a couple days.
Luis heard her worry and gave her a small smile. "It won't be so bad... we have company at least." "That's
one of the things that worries me," she replied, thinking of the way they'd been fighting lately. "We
might as well let Hank shoot us... a few days locked in here together and we'll kill each other anyway."
Luis laughed. "Yeah, we might." He looked at her seriously. "I'm sorry Sheridan." "What
are you sorry for?" She furrowed her brow and gazed back at him in confusion. Luis sighed. "I left you
with him... I left him to protect you..." He thought about what his ex best friend had been about to do and
Sheridan reached out and lay her hand on his arm. "Luis, you didn't know. This is not your fault at all. And
he didn't hurt me." Luis gently traced the cut on her swollen lip and arched a brow questioningly. "Ok,
he didn't REALLY hurt me. You saved me Luis, from being raped and killed." Luis nodded. "I bet Hank doesn't
even think of it as rape... he thinks you want him..." Sheridan shook her head and said firmly, "It would've
been rape. I would never willingly sleep with Hank, not even when I thought he was one of the good guys. He was
just a good friend, that's all." Luis felt a flash of relief at her words and he gave her a small smile. Those
were the words he'd been wanting to hear for months now... that she had no interest in Hank romantically. "Well,
I guess the road is free and clear for old Warren then."
Sheridan considered simply agreeing with him, but suddenly the pile of lies that surrounded her and Luis seemed
to be large enough and she refused to continue building on them. "No, Warren is just a friend too. I'm really
not interested in anybody my family thinks is appropriate dating material. I prefer to cultivate my own love life...
as disastrous as that endeavor has been in the past."
Luis nodded. "Neither one of us has had much luck in the love department I guess." Sheridan gave him
a wry grin. "Yeah, but at least women don't latch on to you intending to use you for their own purposes and
throw you away." "You know, not every man is like that Sheridan." "Well, I've yet to meet one
that wasn't." She saw a hurt look cross Luis' face and she wondered why. He'd used her too... she'd heard
it with her own ears. Then why did he seem so hurt that she'd lumped him in with the rest of the users in her past?
"I would never use you Sheridan," he said sincerely. "I would never use any woman, especially not
you." "Why especially not me?" Luis winced inwardly. He should watch what he was saying more carefully.
"Uh, well, it's just that you've been used so many times... I wouldn't want to add to your pain, that's all."
"Oh..." Sheridan was disappointed... she had a feeling that wasn't exactly what he'd meant, but she let
it drop. She stood and opened the medicine cabinet, rooting through the tubes and jars until she found the antibiotic
cream. Peering into the mirror, she dabbed a small amount onto the cut on her lip.
"Are you supposed to put that in your mouth?" Luis' face appeared in the mirror over her shoulder. "I'm
not putting it IN my mouth. I'm just putting it here, on my lip." "Oh." He leaned closer, to inspect
the bruise, she figured. It hit her then, how intimate this was. They were together in her bathroom, sharing the
mirror over the sink. That was something couples did... something lovers did. She took a deep breath and moved
away, slipping to the side, leaving him looking into the mirror alone.
Luis had also been thinking about how odd it was to be looking at their reflections so close in the mirror. He
shook his head a little and turned to face her. "Does it hurt a lot?" Sheridan considered the question.
"A little... I think it's going to get worse though." She probed the bruise gently with her index finger
Luis felt anger like he'd never felt before. How anyone could hit such a wonderful woman... any woman, for that
matter, was beyond his grasp of understanding. Seeing her in pain was worse than having the pain himself and he
silently thanked God for letting him arrive in time to stop Hank from inflicting the worst kind of pain on Sheridan.
Luis imagined that there could be very little that a woman could experience that would be worse than rape. Even
thinking about it happening to Sheridan was making him feel sick. Sheridan was confused by the strange, intense
way that Luis was looking at her and she said, "What's wrong Luis? What are you thinking about?" "I'm
just thinking how glad I am that I got back here when I did... before it was too late."
Sheridan sobered as she remembered Hank's body pressed onto hers and his hot breath on her skin. "Yeah, that
makes two of us." She sat down on the floor again and waited until he did the same. "Luis?" "What?"
"I'm sorry Luis... sorry for being so stubborn. For refusing to believe that you were right about the drug
dealers not giving up..."
"It's ok Sheridan." "No. No, it's not ok. I was terrible to you, and I made your job harder because
of it. I am so sorry. If I hadn't been so stubborn we might not even be in this mess now." Tears gathered
in the corners of her eyes. "Forgive me?" Her lower lip trembled as she looked hopefully at him.
At that moment Luis could've forgiven her anything. "There's nothing to forgive Sheridan... we both made mistakes
here." A tear dripped off her cheek and Luis couldn't stop himself from wrapping his arms around her. She
snuggled close and they held each other, taking comfort from the closeness. A loud thump against the door made
them jump, and the closeness was lost. "Come on you two... get out of there! You might as well come out because
I'm gonna get you anyway." Hank's voice sounded even more irate than before. "Come on Buddy," he
spoke to Luis now, "I'll take care of Sheridan and then I'll split the take with you... she's worth a bundle
you know...$500,000 just to whack her... easy money Buddy!" Hank paused and continued. "Luis, you know
what you could do with $250,000? She isn't worth losing that kind of money is she? I know she's gorgeous, but let's
face it, there are a lot of gorgeous women. I know you never got a piece of her, but believe me, she ain't that
Luis glanced over at Sheridan and saw the humiliation on her face as she averted her gaze, unable to meet his eyes.
"He's lying..." she whispered, hating that Luis might believe that she had slept with Hank. "I know."
Luis replied softly. "I know he's lying."
Hank was continuing his tirade outside the door. "It's not like anyone would really miss her... Ethan would
be a bit upset, but other than that nobody will care. Even her family just looks on her as an embarrassment to
clean up after. Nobody loves her, and nobody ever will. She's nothing but a spoiled, rich piece of fluff and she'd
be better off if you let me put her out of her misery." Hank's voice trailed away as he wandered from the
door. Sheridan was huddled in the corner, tears streaming down her face. "He's right Luis... you should let
him kill me and save yourself. Think of what your family could do with all that money..." her voice was flat
and emotionless as she rattled on, "You're a lot more important than me... if he kills you your family will
be devastated... nobody would care if I die." Luis moved to her and took her by the shoulders, shaking her
gently. "Sheridan, snap out of it! You don't know what you're saying!" "Yes I do Luis. Nobody loves
me... I'm not important at all... not like you..." "You are important Sheridan! Hank is just trying to
play with our heads. I am not going to sacrifice you, so forget it!" "Fine!" Sheridan wrenched herself
away from Luis and stood, going to the door. "I'll do it for you!" She reached out to turn the lock,
but Luis grabbed her hand and roughly pulled her away from the door.
She raised her eyes to look at his face and she almost gasped at the fury she saw. His voice was tight with barely
contained anger as he ground out, "I will not let you die, do you understand me? I will not lose you! I need
you!" Sheridan's mouth hung open a little as she took in what he said. He needed her? Why did he need her?
It almost seemed like he really cared... like she meant more than just a job... could it be possible?