When Luis and Sheridan arrived at the Lopez-Fitzgeralds everyone was waiting there to welcome them. For once Miguel
was home from the Bennetts and he gave Sheridan a shy smile and told her he was glad she was feeling better. Theresa
and Pilar both gave her huge hugs and everybody made her feel like an honored guest. Sheridan felt a little unnerved
and uncomfortable with all the attention and she told them she didn't need all the special treatment.
"Sheridan, we just want you to know how special you are to us. And how happy we are that you are alright."
Pilar explained. Sheridan looked around at their smiling, caring faces and she almost started to cry.
"You are the most wonderful family I know..." She whispered. "As far as I am concerned you are part
of this family... in my heart anyway." Pilar told her. Luis leaned over and whispered in Sheridan's ear, "And
one day Angel, we're going to make it official."
Sheridan's heart pounded as his words sunk in. That was practically a proposal... it hinted at one at any rate.
She looked at him and smiled, her love for him radiating from her eyes.
"Well," Pilar said, "I will get dinner started... Theresa, you can help me. We'll let Luis get Sheridan
settled." Theresa nodded and followed Pilar to the kitchen and Miguel grinned sheepishly and said, "I'm
going over to the Bennetts for a while... I miss Charity already."
Luis shook his head and grinned and Sheridan smiled. "Those two are nuts about each other. Miguel is over
there at least 12 hours a day." "I think it's cute." Sheridan replied.
"Yeah, I guess it is." Luis had to agree. "Well, let's get you settled in. You can have my room."
He took her bags and led the way. "Luis, I can't take your room. I can sleep on the couch, really, that will
be fine." She trailed along behind him, protesting.
"No, you'll sleep here." Luis entered his room and deposited the bags on his bed. "I'll bunk in
with Miguel. He's got two beds in there. Besides," he grinned naughtily, "I like the idea of you sleeping
in my bed."
Sheridan smiled wistfully, thinking too of the one time they'd made love, in the bathroom. "I like that too.
I'd like it a lot better if you were there with me..." Luis moved to her, wrapping his arms around her and
kissing her sweetly. "I would like that too Angel, but Mama wouldn't approve."
"I know Luis. And I understand. It's not a problem." "That's right... we have all the time in the
world to be together." Luis kissed her again, then held her close, relishing the feel of her in his arms.
Dinner was a madhouse. Miguel had returned with Charity and Whitney was there visiting Theresa. It was loud and
busy and Sheridan loved it. She was used to family dinners that were rigid and controlled, where people spoke calmly
one at a time about boring subjects.
Now she smiled as Charity and Miguel told everyone what they'd done that afternoon. She loved hearing about their
youthful adventures, and she loved hearing Theresa and Whitney discussing some soap opera actor they thought was
the bomb. These were things she'd missed growing up, thanks to Alistair and she was envious of the Lopez-Fitzgeralds
for having the life she'd wished for as a child. A houseful of love and the freedom to enjoy the good things in
life. She knew that peoples idea of 'the good things' varied, but in her mind most of the good things were right
at the table this very moment.
Luis saw that she was a million miles away and he reached for her hand, giving it a little squeeze. She looked
at him and smiled, a brilliant, genuine smile and he smiled back.
After dinner everyone gathered in the living room and watched a movie Whitney had brought. It was a romantic love
story and Sheridan loved it. She sat, cuddled in Luis' arms on the couch, with everybody else gathered close around
the TV. Sheridan felt like part of a family, for the first time in her life and it was a feeling she treasured.
She couldn't remember ever being in a room full of people who cared about each other, smiling and laughing with
one another. It was certainly not a Crane type of evening, but Sheridan couldn't think of a place she'd rather
Later that night she lay snuggled in Luis' bed. The sheets were freshly laundered, but she could still smell Luis'
scent in the room... the crisp, clean, slightly spicy smell she loved so much. She held the extra pillow tightly
to her, wishing it could be Luis she held instead and drifted off to sleep.
Luis lay in Miguel's spare bed, listening to the steady breathing of his brother, who was already asleep. He imagined
Sheridan in his bed down the hall, curled up on her side like he knew she usually slept. He'd watched her sleep
many a night when he was guarding her at the cottage and then at the hospital. He knew exactly what her head looked
like nestled on a pillow, her hair spread like a halo.
He rolled over onto his side and punched the pillow into the shape he liked it. He was never going to get to sleep
if he didn't stop thinking about her. He was just about to doze off when he heard it... a soft moaning. Sheridan.
He flew from the bed and down the hall into his room. She was flailing on the bed, moaning in distress, still deep
"Sheridan," he called her softly, approaching the bed and sitting on the edge. He took her arm, gently
shaking her. "Sheridan, wake up Angel..." She started to wake, saw him leaning over her and let out a
stifled scream. "Sheridan, it's me! It's Luis." She stared at him a moment, with huge frightened eyes
before flinging herself in his arms. She clung to him, her whole body quivering. "I thought... I thought you
were him..." she whispered. "I know... it's OK Angel. You're safe here with me. I won't let anybody hurt
you again, I promise." "I know Luis." She whispered, drawing a shaky breath. Luis moved, getting
under the covers with her and holding her close again.
"Luis... we can't... Pilar..." Sheridan protested, as much as the thought of being alone scared her.
"It's alright... I'm just going to hold you... Mama will understand. You shouldn't be alone tonight."
Sheridan relaxed and settled against his chest. She felt so safe and secure with him. Nobody else had ever had
the power to make her feel so comfortable and relaxed and safe, all the while making her nerve endings tingle and
her pulse race. She drifted back to sleep, soothed by the way his fingers stroked up and down her arm and by his
warm breath on her cheek. Safe in the arms of love.