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Haunted Love
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5

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epilogue


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Haunted Love
by SheridanC

     

Chapter Seven

"So...now that you know..." Sheridan's voice trailed off as she lowered her head and clutched her glass of hot chocolate tighter.

Luis brushed a curl from her cheek and smiled gently. "No, I don't think you're insane."

Sheridan looked up at him and offered a weak smile.

"If you were insane," Luis added, pulling to his feet, "then I'd have to be insane."

Sheridan gave him a confused look and set down her hot chocolate, rising to her feet as well. "Why?"

"We both saw the...ghost-thingy." He chuckled lightly. "Whatever it was."

The whisper of a smile traced Sheridan's lips. "Yeah. I guess."

They gazed at one another for a minute, as if entranced, until a pounding permeated the room, startling them out of the moment.

"Sheridan, open up!"

Sheridan groaned at Julian's voice and sauntered over to the door, pulling it open. "Julian," she droned.

Julian stood in front of her, clad in a black dress suit, with a glass of brandy in his hand. Sheridan glanced it, then dismissed it, used to the sight of Julian with a brandy clutched in his hand.

"What do you want?" she snapped. Luis came up behind her and gave Julian a hateful look.

"Why, to converse with my dear sister, of course," Julian replied sweetly.

"Sorry. No can do. I have to see Paloma, and Sheridan's coming with," Luis interceded, grabbing Sheridan's hand protectively.

Julian lifted an eyebrow at the hand-holding. "You don't think I'd let any harm come to my sister, do you?" he asked, turning his gaze on Luis. "You can go. She can stay. We do have guards here, you know."

"Julian, what are you up to?" Sheridan demanded suspiciously. "These last two days, you've been hanging around me far too much...oh, the torture." She breathed a sigh for emphasis.

"You're my sister," Julian harrumphed. "I think the brotherly thing to do would be to get to know you better..." He pouted. "It's been far too long."

Sheridan rolled her eyes. "Fine," she responded flatly, and turned to face Luis. "I'll be fine. You go ahead. I think I can stand another few hours of discussing...politics...with Julian."

Luis couldn't hold back a grin. "Politics," he sputtered, and then turned away, laughing hysterically.

Sheridan pouted and said to his back, "It's not funny."

"You and Hank have this thing with--politics," he concluded, laughing harder.

"Do not! It's Julian who--"

"Okay, enough laughing, Super Cop," Julian muttered. "Sheridan and I are family. We have to discuss
something...and politics seems plausible enough."

Sheridan rolled her eyes, biting back a remark that was on the tip of her tongue. Luis turned to face Julian and Sheridan again, his eyes teared up from his brief bout of laughter.

"If you let any harm come to her," he said, his tone now serious, "I'll ring your neck."

"Don't worry," Julian assured. "I'll keep her safe from any harm." He grinned. Ice cold shivers ran down Luis's spine, but he dismissed the uncomfortable feeling and grabbed his police jacket and belt.

"Good," he said tersely. "I'll see you later, Sheridan," he added, warmth seeping into his voice.

She smiled and said a goodbye.

Luis approached her and whispered a, "Be safe," before leaning forward and brushing a kiss against her cheek.

He didn't know why he did it. It was on instinct, he supposed, or it just felt natural. Sheridan was as stunned as he was.

She watched him leave before blushing and bringing a hand to her cheek, touching the spot where his lips had been. Julian glared at her.

"Let's talk, shall we?" he suggested frigidly, breaking her from the reverie she'd been in.

Sheridan nodded mutely, grabbed her jacket, and left the cottage with him.


"No! No, Hank--Hank! Stop!"

Paloma giggled hysterically when Hank threw her over his shoulder and traipsed to the door with a grin on his face.

"Hank," she laughed, "please -- I don't want to go out in the rain. Hank!"

Hank shook his head and tightened his grip on her legs. "C'mon. I thought the song went 'Girls just wanna have fun'."

Paloma giggled. "Getting pneumonia would
not be fun." She slapped playfully at his back as he opened the front door and stepped out into the pouring rain.

Squealing, she wriggled out of his arms and bolted for the house. Hank caught her from behind before she could get very far.

Spinning her around, he said, "Let's dance."

Paloma let out a laugh. "Dance? In the rain? You're nuts!"

He grinned at her, his hair soaking wet as the rain pounded down onto the pavement and he and Paloma.

"Please?" he replied with a pout.

Paloma laughed again, but moved in and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Fine," she responded, grinning.

Hank held her by the waist. They swayed under the dark clouds and the steady beat of rain, laughing and shivering.

After a moment of dancing, Paloma glanced up at Hank and let a slow smile slip over her lips, her eyes sparkling and full of warmth. Her smile faded away after she saw the intense look in Hank's own eyes. Dark with desire.

Swallowing hard, Paloma said, "Should we, ah, go inside?"

He nodded slowly.

Paloma pulled away from him and started towards the door, but Hank suddenly clutched her hand and spun her.

And his mouth descended upon hers.


"So, Sheridan..." Julian stolled alongside his sister through the front yard of the Crane mansion. Sheridan looked more than a little annoyed.

"Tell me. Are you and Luis...together?" He cast a look in her direction. "That kiss on the cheek...how sweet." He said the words with venom.

"No," Sheridan replied irritably. "Luis and I are
not together. And I'm as surprised as you were about that kiss on the cheek." She smiled inwardly just thinking about it, and unconsciously touched her cheek. Julian caught the action and scowled.

"Good. I wouldn't want you mixed up with that...
cop," he muttered.

"And just why not, Julian?" Sheridan demanded, stopping in her tracks. Her brother faced her in surprise.

"Why don't you want Luis and I together?" she asked suspiciously.

Julian fidgeted nervously with the collar of his suit jacket. "Er, well...he was using you," he said simply.

The wind swayed a nearby tree, and some leaves fluttered across yard. Julian yelped when one flew straight into his glass of brandy.

The discussion forgotten, Sheridan burst out laughing.

"I think someone's trying to tell you not to drink so much," she sputtered between giggles.

Julian shot her a withering glare and plucked the leaf from his brandy. He pulled out a small bottle and took a swig of the liquid inside, grinning at Sheridan.

"I have more, dear," he replied smugly, after swallowing.

Sheridan's laughter died away. She shot him a smirk and began walking again. Julian kept up with her pace until they were dead center in the middle of the yard. Then, he stopped her.

"Julian?" Sheridan looked around. It was the exact same spot she'd been in yesterday, when she saw the headless horseman. She shivered thinking about it.

"Why did we stop?"

Julian fanned himself, offering a sheepish grin. "I'm an old man. I'm not as healthy as I used to be."

"Could be because of how much liquor you drink," Sheridan muttered. She gazed around, hugging herself as the wind sped up and the rain came down in sheets.

A movement where the horseman had been yesterday caught her attention. She looked over, afraid of what she would see.

She swallowed hard when she saw the same horseman trotting by. Tapping Julian's shoulder, she pointed to the spot.

Julian looked, then turned a confused gaze on her.

"What?"

"Th-th-the...horseman..." The words barely escaped her lips.

Julian gave her a strange look, turned his gaze on the spot the horseman was trotting at, and then said, "I don't see anything."

"I knew it."

The new voice brought them both whirling around. Luis stood there. He leveled a hard gaze on Julian.

"I knew you were up to something."

"What? Me?" Julian nervously pulled at his collar. "What are you talking about?"

Luis looked over his shoulder to the spot where the horseman was. He shook his head grimly.

"Why are you telling her you can't see it? Are you trying to drive her nuts?"

Sheridan blinked. Julian cleared his throat nervously.

"What?"

"The horseman. Plain as day, Julian. It's there." He gestured towards the trees, where the horseman suddenly disappeared into thin air.

"Was..." Sheridan corrected.

"Julian, what are you up to?" Luis neared him, his movements ominous. "What are you doing to Sheridan?"

Sheridan only darted her eyes back and forth between her brother and Luis, trying to make sense of things.

"How dare you accuse me of doing anything to my sister?" Julian harrumphed.

"You said you couldn't see it...but it was there." Luis narrowed his eyes. "What's going on?"

"Fuzz," Sheridan suddenly said, her eyes widening. "That's it!"

Julian slowly backed away when Luis turned to face Sheridan again. His movements were seen by Luis, who reached out an arm and clamped his hand on Julian's shoulder.

"You," he said, "are staying here."

Julian bit his lip.

"Fuzz?" Luis asked Sheridan.

"Paloma said she saw
fuzz the night we saw the ghost, Luis. Like fuzz on a television screen. I was thinking..." She looked at Julian. "Would it be possible to project an image, thereby creating a vision that seems real?"

Luis's grip on Julian's shoulder tightened. "Yes."

"It would explain the fuzz," Sheridan mused. "And Julian's reaction to seeing the headless horseman."

Her teeth gritted as she looked at her brother.

"Did you do it?"

"I-I have no idea as to what you are speaking of," he stammered. It was obvious that he did.

"Why?" Sheridan asked, hurt. "Why did you do it?"

Julian pulled at his collar again. "Er..."

Angrily glaring at Julian, Luis took his arm firmly and said, "We're going to the mansion.
Now."

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