Sheridan couldn't imagine why Luis thought he needed her... unless it was to use her, like he'd said on the docks.
Suddenly paranoia set in and she wondered, once again, just what it was he was using her for. It had to be something
pretty important and lucrative to warrant all the trouble he'd taken to keep her alive. He'd even flown to Paris,
for goodness sake, to keep harm from coming to her. People just didn't do things like that for no reason and even
though several people had told her that he must have done it because he loved her, she knew that it wasn't true.
Luis didn't love her. Most of the time he barely tolerated her. Hank was a criminal and a creep, but he was right
about one thing... she was essentially unlovable. Oh, she knew that Ethan loved her, in that friendly familial
way, possibly Pilar loved her too, but it just wasn't the same. She had longed all through childhood, and still
did truthfully, for the paternal love that her father consistently withheld. She had consoled herself through those
years with the dreams of the man who would love her when she was grown... a man who would love her unconditionally
and lavish her with the simple acts of kindness and affection that she craved.
Now, at 26, she realized they were dreams, pure and simple, and dreams didn't come true. At least not for her.
Her life was more like a nightmare than a dream.
She stood there, looking at Luis, who was still glaring at her furiously, after stating that he wouldn't let her
die because he needed her. She was confused and she didn't know what to say to him, so she took the easy way out.
"Fine Luis... we will both stay in here and needlessly die together if that's what you want." She moved
away from him, granted, only a few feet given the close quarters and sank back down to the floor.
Luis shook his head. He couldn't believe she would actually sacrifice herself to Hank in order to spare him. She
was really something. Still, he had to admit that it felt good to know that she would do that... for him! That
had to prove that she cared didn't it? Or perhaps it wasn't that at all. Sheridan seemed to value her life very
little and it wasn't the first time he'd noticed that fact.
She regarded herself as being of very little importance to anyone, which was really off base. Other than her lousy
family, Ethan perhaps notwithstanding, everyone she came into contact with was charmed and taken with her. His
buddies at the pool hall were a good example. They had instantly taken a liking to her, even though she was obviously
out of her element.
Hank had really done a number on her with his little tirade a few minutes ago. Her self-esteem was too low to resist
buying into his harsh and off the mark statements and Luis could tell she was still thinking about them, accepting
that they were true.
Luis moved and sat on the floor a couple feet away from her, but she barely seemed to notice. "Sheridan?"
She glanced up, quizzically "yes?" "Are you ok?" Sheridan gave him a weak smile. "Yeah,
I'm fine." "You know that everything Hank said was a crock... right?"
Sheridan considered agreeing with him simply to avoid the lecture and keep the peace, but she wasn't feeling all
that peaceful at the moment. "Some of it was a little overblown perhaps, but basically he was right about
most of it."
Luis sighed. "You can't really think that. He's nuts Sheridan. He just wants to trick us into betraying each
other so he can kill us both you know." "No..." Sheridan shook her head. "He offered you half
the money he's getting to kill me. He won't kill you... you're his best friend."
"He's no friend of mine. I could never be friends with anybody who would try and hurt you... I mean who would
hurt anybody." "Even still," she said quietly, "that's a lot of money. I know what money like
that could do for your family..."
"Do you really think I could ever do that? Sacrifice you, or anybody else for blood money?" It hurt Luis
that she had such a low opinion of him. "I know it would be hard for you... but Hank will kill me anyway.
Even if he doesn't, someone else will try. It's like you said... they won't give up until I'm dead. I believe that
"Sheridan, no amount of money is worth your life." "Apparently it's worth $500,000." She replied
sadly. "Well, not to me!" He replied firmly. Sheridan didn't say anything for a while. Then she looked
over at him, her eyes looking strangely distant, although she was very aware that he was there. "Did you know
I was kidnapped when I was a child?" Luis shook his head. "No... that's terrible..." "When
I was ten I was walking home... I don't even remember where from. This man grabbed me and dragged me into a van...
I was so scared..." her voice trailed off for a moment, then came back stronger. "Anyway, The man sent
a ransom note to my father, but father didn't pay it. At the time, being a naive child, I assumed that the price
was simply more than my father had. There was no way that he would let me be kidnapped unless there was no way
to gather the money."
Luis felt his blood boil. Alistair Crane was beyond heartless and Luis wished that the man were right there in
the bathroom with them. He would like to wrap his hands around the man's neck...
Sheridan was still continuing with her story. "Luckily for me, the man that took me was really not such a
bad guy. He was simply in need of money and he didn't wish me any harm. When my father didn't pay he decided to
let me go..." "Thank goodness." Luis said. Sheridan continued, her voice still flat and emotionless,
"Before he left me he gave me the note my father had left him in reply to his request for the money. I sat
there, on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere and learnt the truth about how my father really felt about
me. I had always known Father to be a cold and distant man, that was his nature, but inside I always maintained
that he really did love me."
"What did the letter say Sheridan?" Luis asked gently, feeling that she needed to tell somebody. "It
wasn't a very long letter... it said that while the man had a good plan there was a fatal mistake... the hostage
he chose wasn't worth the price of the ransom..." She looked up at Luis, and suddenly her eyes softened and
her voice broke as she asked, "Do you know how much the ransom was Luis?"
Luis figured the question was rhetorical, but she seemed to be waiting for an answer. "Ten million?"
He guessed, knowing that the Cranes were worth far more than that. Sheridan smiled, the saddest smile Luis had
ever seen in his life. "Ten million... that's a drop in the bucket... father could've raised that in a few
hours. But no, it wasn't ten million... it was ten thousand." Luis was stunned... the meaning of what she
was saying, or implying, sunk into his mind. "He was willing to sacrifice you for ten grand?"
Sheridan nodded, and her voice took on the hard, emotionless tone from before. "As a child I really didn't
have a grasp of how wealthy my family was, but I knew that ten thousand was not an impossible amount of money for
my father to gather. It was the way he wrote it... the hostage isn't worth the Ransom price... that shattered any
illusions I had that he cared for me at all. It wasn't until years later that I realized the full implications
of the event. He cared so little for me that he was willing to use this kidnapping as a plausible way to eliminate
me from his life... with no repercussions to himself."
Luis was unable to believe what he was hearing. "You think it was an effort to have you killed?" Sheridan
nodded. "He always considered me a bother... he wouldn't miss me... nobody would miss me. Somebody picked
me up on the side of the road and took me home. I can still see the look of shock on Father's face when he walked
into the living room and saw me there... he had never expected to see me again, except perhaps to identify my body
at the morgue. He never said anything to me... in fact it was close to a week before he even spoke to me again,
and then it was only to yell at me." She sighed, and turned away from Luis, getting up and moving to the sink,
where she stared at her reflection. "So, you see, Hank got a really good deal... $500,000 is an excellent
price for me... I guess I've really appreciated over the years..." Her voice broke and so did the dam that
was holding back the tears and she began sobbing. Luis went to her and held her close. She hung limply in his arms
and bawled as Luis' heart was breaking for her.
"Sheridan..." he whispered into her hair, "$500,000 is not a good price for you... you're priceless...
if you were mine I wouldn't give you up for 5 billion dollars."
Sheridan looked up at him, searching his eyes for sincerity. To her surprise she found it... she actually believed
that he meant it. Luis gazed back into her eyes and slowly he bent his head closer to hers. Sheridan's breath caught
and her heart began to pound... he was going to kiss her...