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A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 27

After a quiet weekend of Christmas shopping, Sheridan and Angel spent much of Sunday wrapping presents and getting them ready to ship back east. Sheridan had it much easier than Angel; Angel had a hell of a time buying presents and trying to organize a surprise present for Nick. On the one hand, she wanted to be sure he didn't feel left out on Christmas morning. And on the other hand, one of the presents she planned on giving him would have to wait until they were in LA. She decided that she would plan a little Christmas celebration of their own when they returned home.

Angel ended up filling in for her friend, Mike on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening at the bar. Therefore, she had to cancel her dinner plans with Nick all weekend.

Nick wasn't too happy, but he understood. Well, to a point he understood. He sometimes wished Angel didn't need to work at the restaurant but he knew that she was an independent woman who had financial responsibilities. He admired her ambition. She was highly motivated and she never stopped looking for a job in her chosen field. Nick had often wondered why she kept newspaper clippings in her bedroom. One day, he finally picked one up to read it. He saw all of her notes in the margins and chuckled; she was definitely going to make a name for herself in the industry, whether it started with this film or not.

Monday morning, Sheridan decided she needed to get back to work; she couldn't let Tom influence her job negatively. She left Angel a note knowing she would worry when she realized she wasn't home. Sheridan looked at the clock as she headed out the door, 'Seven fifteen. Damn, I must be crazy going into work this early.'

Sheridan was the first one to arrive at work and began catching up from her week's absence. By 8:30, other employees began coming into the office. Sheridan thought that people would be talking about her behind her back, but no one seemed to care. They all asked her how she was feeling. She felt so relieved and was able to catch up on most of the work that had piled up on her desk before lunchtime. The best part was that Tom didn't appear to be coming into the office until later that afternoon. Sheridan had an interview at one o'clock, so she quickly ate lunch at her desk, and then slipped out for her meeting.

Slamming the door as she walked through the living room, Sheridan threw her bag on the couch. Angel walked out of the bathroom while pulling her hair up in a ponytail. "Hey Sheridan, what's the matter?"

Sheridan plopped down on the couch with a thud and mumbled, "Nothing."

Angel tried to hide her smirk, "Nothing huh? Then why are you pouting like a five year old?"

Sheridan's cheeks burned red, "Okay, so I'm pouting. Everyone deserves a good pout, right? You always say you deserve a good cry. Well, I decided everyone deserves a good pout."

"Oh goodie. Just don't tell Nick your new theory, okay?"

Sheridan busted out laughing, "Good point. I won't."

"So, you going to tell me what's wrong with you or do I need to bribe it out of you with a nice home cooked meal?"

Sheridan's eyes lit up, "You're not going over to Carter's tonight? I thought for sure you would since you haven't seen him all weekend."

"Well, he's coming here after he finishes up at the studio if that counts."

"Oh yeah, I got an email from either A.J. or Howie and they mentioned they were going to be in the studio this weekend working on the soundtrack." Sheridan said absentmindedly as she took off her sneakers and socks. "Has Nick said anything about the music to you?"

"Nothing. You'd think being his girlfriend, I'd get a few perks," Angel winked at Sheridan.

"You get other perks woman! Stop complaining."

Pretending to be shocked, Angel gasped, "I'm not complaining." Angel laughed to herself thinking, 'Fine. I'll surprise you with my perks. I won't tell you who else is coming to dinner.'

Angel walked back into the kitchen to resume cooking. Shouting out to Sheridan, "So, how did it go today? You know, the whole first day back at work with Tom and your job interview thing?"

A knock on the door, interrupted their conversation. Sheridan opened up the door and her mouth dropped open. Trying to recover, she cleared her throat, "Hey Nick, Kevin. Come on in."

"Hi Kevin," Angel came over to greet her guests, "Hey Babe. You're early," she spoke as she greeted Nick with a kiss.

Quietly he whispered, "I've missed you."

Blushing, Angel replied, "Ditto."

Kevin had heard Angel's question to Sheridan just before they knocked and was curious to hear the answer. He loved that Angel had a loud voice. "Hey Angel, Sheridan. Are we too early?"

"Nonsense. Make yourself at home. Dinner's almost done." Angel's hands motioned them to the living room as she retreated into the kitchen.

Looking down, Sheridan noticed she had taken off her socks and sneakers, which were now thrown on the floor in front of Kevin. 'Please don't be able to smell my sweaty socks.' "I'll be right back. Make yourselves at home." Sheridan practically raced into the living room to retrieve her items then ran into her bedroom to change.

Both Nick and Kevin watched in amusement. Nick said to Kevin, "Guess Angel didn't tell her we would be coming over, huh?"

Kevin smiled, "Well, she may have known about you, but I think I may have been a surprise to her."

Nick whispered, "Hey that reminds me. Did you get a hold of your buddy last week?"

Kevin looked back over his shoulder to see Sheridan's bedroom door still closed and Angel keeping herself busy in the kitchen. "Yup, I sure did. He's going to call me first thing tomorrow morning. He's got some great stuff too." Kevin was quite pleased with himself.

Nick was still unsure about this plan, "Well, be sure to keep me out of it, okay? I need to be able to get along with her during the holiday break."

"Don't worry little man. It's cool."

Neither of the men heard Sheridan return to the living room, "What can I get you guys to drink?" Sheridan asked trying to maintain her composure. Nick jumped in surprise, causing Kevin and Sheridan to laugh. "No caffeine for you Carter."

"I'll have a beer."

"Make that two please." Kevin looked at Nick, "Where are your manners boy? Don't forget to use them at Angel's house. They may think you are a spoiled little pop star."

"They don't know who I am, yet." Nick gave a sheepish look to Sheridan, "Please?"

"I'll be right back." Sheridan said as she stormed into the kitchen looking for Angel. "What the hell? Why didn't you tell me we were having company?" Sheridan was gritting her teeth together to keep from yelling.

Angel looked at Sheridan while she tossed the salad, "I did."

Sheridan hissed under her breath, "NO, NOT EVERYONE."

"Oh, it must have slipped my mind I guess," Angel was highly amused.

As the couples sat down for dinner, the conversation flowed much more smoothly.

Angel remembered Sheridan hadn't answered her question about her day, "So Sheridan, how was your first day back at work?"

Kevin glanced at Angel, giving her a wink. Turning his eyes toward Sheridan, he waited for her answer.

After Sheridan chewed her steak, she carefully answered Angel's question, "It was fine."

"Did you see Tom?" Angel was being nosey.

"I saw him briefly this afternoon," Sheridan shrugged it off not offering any more information.

Angel took the hint and went another route, "How did the interview go today?"

Kevin decided to join in on the conversation, "Oh yeah. How did that go?"

Nick eyed him suspiciously. He knew Kevin was up to no good and wondered how he knew about the interview.

Kevin noticed Nick's expression and decided to explain, "When we were out to eat last Wednesday, Sheridan mentioned it."

Sheridan's facial expression was one that none of them could quite read. "It went okay, but the job is definitely not for me. I don't think I'm picky,"

Angel interrupted by coughing *bullshit* into her napkin, then gave her roommate a sweet smirk causing Nick and Kevin to chuckle.

"As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, the job was fine, but the guy would be a nightmare to work for, he's totally disorganized and a slob. I would love to find the perfect job."

Kevin thought back to his conversation with Marybeth on Friday. He couldn't help but smile the rest of the night, even well after he and Nick had left the girls' apartment.

Tuesday morning, Kevin read his email. One email in particular from his buddy, Trevor, the private investigator who had been trailing Tom since last Friday evening, was most enticing.

Kevin took great joy rereading the report and seeing the pictures in Trevor's email. An evil smile crossed his lips as Kevin picked up the phone.

"Hi Tom, it's Kevin Richardson. I was wondering if you were free to meet me tomorrow morning?"

Kevin could almost picture Tom leaping out of his chair. Tom stuttered in complete shock, "Hey Kevin, ah…um…yeah. I'd love to."

"If you're free, why don't we meet for breakfast at nine o'clock at the International House of Pancakes on Sunset?

Closing his eyes to keep from screaming, Tom tried to keep his voice under control, he didn't want the little scream to come out of his mouth, "Sounds great. I'll be there."

Kevin ended the call quickly, "Wonderful. Do me a favor - don't mention this to Sheridan either. See you then."

Tom avoided Sheridan all day Tuesday. He didn't want to see her in case he slipped up and talked about Kevin. Of course, Sheridan was doing the same so it suited her just fine.

At lunchtime, she left the office to go on another interview. When she arrived home, she didn't have much time to talk to Angel before they headed out to their group meeting. In the car, Sheridan gave Angel a reader's digest version of her day. Angel thought Tom avoiding her was a bit odd. The man had been pestering her since the initial confrontation.

The meeting was routine. A film schedule was handed out for January with location shots, actors who would be needed, etc. There was a week left open so that some of the crew could travel to the Sundance Film Festival. Sheridan made a mental note to book as many interviews in that time period as she could. That would give her ample time to find the right job.

Wednesday morning, Tom arrived at the International House of Pancakes fifteen minutes early. He couldn't drive around the neighborhood to pass the time away though. He was so nervous, he was afraid he might crash his car. Tom had been up half the night wondering why Kevin called him, hoping the attraction was mutal.

Kevin had already arrived fifteen minutes before Tom. He had his file, photos, and tape recorder all set up in his briefcase. Kevin was excited about this confrontation. He felt like a spy and it gave him a thrill. He kept telling himself that he was just polishing up on his acting skills. He noticed Tom arriving early and watched him sweat it out. Kevin observed Tom looking nervous and decided to cut him some slack. Standing up he waved Tom over. Just then, Kevin noticed someone else, and gave another little wave. The man returned the gesture and sat back at the counter to watch.

By the end of their meeting, Tom looked as white as a ghost. He didn't feel like going into work, but he had no choice. Kevin made it perfectly clear what the consequences would be if he didn't do what he was asked to do. Kevin's buddy being there only reinforced the seriousness of Kevin's threat. "You have my word Kevin. I'll leave Sheridan alone."

Kevin smiled knowing he had Tom in the palm of his hand. "Good. Now go back to your office and do what you need to do, okay?"

Tom gulped, "Yes." He left with his legs feeling like Jello. This hadn't been the type of meeting he had wanted to have with Kevin, not even close. Tom was dazed, he thought Kevin was a nice guy from Kentucky, but he was just a Hollywood player and a snake.

Kevin packed up his belongings and moved next to his friend at the counter. "All set boss?" Trevor asked.

Kevin smiled back at him, "Yup. You did good man. Thanks a lot." Kevin then handed Trevor a manila envelope and picked up Trevor's dining check, walked to the cashier, and paid for both meals.

Sheridan was in a great mood when she woke up. She knew it was going to be a long day since she and Angel had a meeting in the evening with the guys about the project, but nothing could ruin her good mood. Well, almost nothing.

Tom walked up to Sheridan's desk around eleven thirty. "Could I talk to you for a moment in my office please?"

Sheridan didn't even bother looking up at him, "I don't think that's a good idea."

"It's business Sheridan and I expect to see you in my office in fifteen minutes." Tom voiced his disapproval, leaving her as he walked back into his office, slamming the door shut.

Sheridan was stunned. 'Who was this man? And where was her so-called boyfriend, or rather, ex-boyfriend?' He had never talked to her like that before.

More pissed than ever, Sheridan banged on his door at exactly 11:45AM. "You wanted to see me Boss?"

"Yes, shut the door Sheridan." Tom stood up in front of his desk. He crossed his arms and ankles before continuing, "Take a seat. I need to talk to you about your behavior over the last few months."

Sheridan sat down. She didn't think her jaw could possibly drop open farther than it had, "What?"

Tom continued, "I have gone back over all of our employee's sick and vacation time records. I just can't keep you on the payroll Sheridan. You aren't pulling your weight around here and are not reliable to this company anymore. You've been out sick 10 days in the past two months alone."

Sheridan was wrong. Her mouth could drop open wider, "Are you serious Tom?"

Tom pulled together all the strength he had in order to face her. Looking directly into her eyes coldly, he replied, "Yes Sheridan, you are fired. You've got ten minutes to empty out your desk and clean up your computer before you are escorted out of the building by security. I wish you luck."

Tom turned around and walked behind his desk, "Close the door on your way out too."

Sheridan gathered what was left of her pride, and quietly left his office, returning to her desk to quickly empty it out. Tom wasn't kidding. Ten minutes later, two security guards escorted Sheridan out of the office. She was humiliated. She had never been fired before; she had never been escorted out of a building before; she never wanted to relive this day again.

She barely remembered the drive home as she slammed the front door closed, Sheridan raced into her bedroom. She immediately booted up her computer and began searching for jobs. She thought she would have a few more weeks' pay. She never expected to be fired. Now, she was panicking; she had no time to wallow in self-pity. Hurt, indignation, and humiliation were her driving force now. After almost two and a half hours of searching for jobs and sending resumes via email attachments, Sheridan realized she hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. It was now 3:00 PM. As she walked into the kitchen, she broke down in tears. Her sobs wracked her body and she couldn't get her breathing under control. She was alone, and she didn't want to be. She wanted her friend to comfort her and tell her everything was going to be okay. Because at this particular moment, nothing felt like it was going to be okay.

Reaching for the phone, Sheridan dialed Angelina's cell number.

"Hey Angel, your cell is ringing," Nick yelled from the living room.

"Could you answer it for me please? It may be the bar."

Nick thought about it for a second and almost let it go to voicemail, but he decided he better answer it. "Hello, Angelina's phone."

"Ni…Ni…Nick? Is that you?" Sheridan was trying to maintain a steady voice so he wouldn't think something was wrong.

"Yes, it's Nick. Sheridan, is that you? What's wrong?"

Angel walked out of the bedroom where she finished getting dressed. When she saw the look on Nick's face, she started to worry, "Who is that?" she mouthed.

"Nothing Nick. I need to talk to Angel though. Is she around?" Sheridan's voice was a bit stronger.

"Yeah, she's right here. Hold on Sheridan." As Nick handed Angel the phone, he covered the mouthpiece, "I think she's crying. She's definitely upset about something."

Giving Nick a kiss on his cheek, she took the phone. "Hey Sheridan. How are you?"

"I've been better," was all Sheridan said before she broke down in tears. Angel couldn't understand a word she was saying. She looked over at Nick with concern written all over her face.

"Hang on Sheridan. I'll be right home. We can talk then, okay?"

"O…..Oh….Okay. Thank you. I'm so-sorry if I'm ruining your time with Nick. Tell him I'm sorry. Bye."

"Don't worry about it Sheridan. Bye."

Angel disconnected her cell and bit the inside of her cheek. She couldn't figure out what could have made her roommate this upset. She turned towards Nick, "I'm gonna get going home Babe."

Nick walked up to Angel and gave her a strong hug, "I understand. Call me when you can, okay?" Nick captured her lips in a kiss that made Angel sees stars.

Breaking the kiss, she stepped back and answered in a raspy voice, "Of course. You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

Nick's sly grin gave him away as he blushed. "I love… to get you worked up." Nick's mind screamed at him, 'What are you doing? You could have told her how you feel!' His rational side chimed in, 'Now is not the time.'

Angel's heart leaped into her throat. Then she cursed her brain for thinking Nick might have said something else. 'You are an idiot!' her subconscious scolded her.

"I gotta go Nick. I'll call you later." Angel left as quickly as she could. As she started her car, she was grateful that Sheridan's problems would probably distract her own thoughts from what she thought Nick was going to say.

As Angel got out of her car, she began walking towards the building when she noticed Patrick coming out of his apartment. "Good Afternoon Angel. Haven't seen you around lately. How are you doing?"

She faked a smile, "Hello Patrick. I'm good thanks - just getting ready for the holidays. How are you?"

Patrick couldn't contain his excitement as he actually got Angel to say more than a sentence or two to him. "I'm great thanks. Have a good day."

"I wouldn't count on it," she mumbled as she unlocked her door.

When she walked in, she took in the view of her roommate in her bathrobe and fuzzy-wuzzy slippers, surrounded by Kleenex on the couch. Sitting down on the other end of the sofa, Angel began to cajole her into telling her what happened.

"I've been… I was… I can't believe it," Sheridan struggled between tears and anger.

"What Sheridan? I still don't understand." Angel decided she needed to set her overnight bag on the floor; her shoulder was killing her.

"That little pansy prick, you know what he did to me?" Sheridan's voice raised a couple of octaves.

"Tom. I should have known. What did Tom do?"

"HE FIRED ME!" Sheridan finally said the words aloud, or rather screamed them. She proceeded to blow her nose as Angel went to hug her.

Seeing the positive in every situation, Angel began her cheering up speech. "I'm sorry Sheridan. But think of it this way, you won't have to deal with his drama anymore."

"I am UN-employed Angel! I didn't care about the drama in my life just as long as I was able to make a living. What am I going to do now?"

"Well, you still have one job that pays fairly well. Maybe this happened for a reason Sheridan. I believe everything does happen for a reason. Maybe this will help you find your perfect job."

"God, stop being so optimistic. Life isn't all sunshine and roses Angel!" Sheridan blew her nose again.

Feeling the sting of Sheridan's words and being a bit emotional herself, Angel lashed back, "I KNOW that Sheridan. Life sucks and then you die. We are all going to hell in a hand basket." Beginning to calm down, she continued, "Now is that what you want to hear?" Angel gave a little grin to show she was somewhat kidding and to cover up her own emotions.

The result caused Sheridan to laugh. "Yeah, I guess you're right, in a way. But, I'm not as positive and cheerful as you are. Don't expect Suzie Sunshine anytime soon."

Angel burst out laughing, "No worries. Now, tell me what happened."

Sheridan gave her a recap of her morning at work, the conversation with Tom, and then her marathon job hunt on the internet. "I must have sent out over a hundred resumes, filled in job applications, and made contacts. I don't even remember half of what I applied for, just that I thought I could do the job. A paycheck is a paycheck."

Meanwhile, across town, Kevin had been walking on clouds all day. He returned home from the studio, deciding to call it a day early. He needed to stop being a perfectionist and let the producers do their job without him standing around. The Underdogs were working on a song the boys had recorded earlier that week.

As soon as Kevin got home, he went straight to his computer. He clicked on his email and a smile, a mile wide, crossed his face. "Perfect."

Picking up the phone, he dialed an all too familiar number. "Hello, I'd like to speak to Marybeth Cromwell please."

"Hold on while I connect you."

"Good afternoon, this is Marybeth Cromwell."

"Hello Marybeth, it's Kevin. I wanted to thank you again for all your help Friday night. Could you do me another favor and take down that job description we posted on the web?"

Marybeth smiled and questioned, "She bought it? I mean she answered the ad?"

"Hook, line and sinker," Kevin was smirking, his spur of the moment plan had gone off without a hitch.

"Remember Kevin, I had nothing to do with this." Marybeth warned him. "If this plan does or doesn't work, I don't want to hear my name mentioned anywhere in it, got it?"

"Don't worry, Sheridan will never know, especially if you take down the job ad now. Also, could you arrange to have that actor meet with me tonight to go over my plan? I'm writing her back to schedule an interview with him tomorrow."

"Not a problem. Jacob will be at your place at ten tonight, after our meeting, so you can prep him."

"You're the greatest Marybeth. I owe ya one. See you tonight."

"Bye Kevin," Marybeth hung up the phone and smirked as she thought for a moment. 'I know what you could do for me Kevin.'

As soon as Kevin hung up, he opened up his Microsoft Word program, looking for the document he had saved earlier. Being the perfectionist, he had his response for Sheridan all ready to go. All he needed to do was cut and paste it into the reply email from the dummy email account he had set up.

Sheridan heard the familiar new email ring coming from the computer in her room. She bounced off the couch to see who it was from.

Her eyes lit up. It was from one of the ads she had answered that afternoon. "Oh my God, I have NO idea what job this is for." Sheridan began to panic, "ANGEL, HELP!"

Angel was talking on her phone to Nick, letting him know that all was well when Sheridan screamed.

"That doesn't sound like she's okay Angel," Nick listened to see what was going on.

"Well, she was fine ten minutes ago. Hold on," Angel walked into Sheridan's room with a loud sigh. She could see Sheridan's fingers flying across the keyboard as she searched through her history file on Internet Explorer. "What's wrong?"

Sheridan turned to look at her roommate, "I don't know what job this is for!"

In the same whiney tone, Angel replied, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Nick couldn't help but laugh. Ever since he heard from Angel, he felt so much better. He had a weird feeling ever since Angel left his apartment earlier that day. There was an uncomfortable pause between them that he thought was going to cause problems. Hearing his girlfriend being her sarcastic, witty self, he pushed those thoughts from his mind. Everything was fine; he was just overreacting.

Sheridan read the email response distinctly to Angel. "Dear Ms. Anderson. Thank you for inquiring about the open position, for what I would call, 'the perfect job'. I would like to set up a meeting with you at the Ivy Restaurant for lunch tomorrow at 1:30PM. Ask the Maitre'D for Jacob. You will be dining informally with my assistant. I'd also like to set up a tentative interview with you for Monday, December 22nd. Does 10 AM work for you? If you pass Jacob's assessment of your skills, I will write to confirm or deny our tentative meeting on Monday. I hope all goes well tomorrow. I look forward to a one on one meeting with you personally. A prompt reply is appreciated." Taking a deep breath, Sheridan looked up at Angel, "There's no signature. What the hell? Who in their right mind sends email and hires people without a damn signature?"

Angel read over Sheridan's shoulder, "That's really strange."

Nick started laughing again. This reeked of Kevin Richardson. Nick would need to talk to Kevin to confirm it. "Hey Angel, I'll see you in a little while at the meeting. Are you planning on staying over tonight?"

Angel couldn't tell if Nick actually wanted her to or not. Casually, she replied, "If you want me to. I have no other plans."

'What the hell?' Nick thought. 'I guess I deserved that. I wasn't too inviting.'

"Yes Angel. I was planning on watching a movie with you. Your kind of movie too."

Angel softened. "Really? Which one?"

"You'll have to come over and see."

"You got a date," Angel said with a goofy grin on her face.

Sheridan overheard part of the conversation and shouted loudly, her intended target being Nick, "Want me to drive to the meeting so you can go with Nick to his place?"

Nick replied in Angel's ear, "Sounds like a plan to me." Angel nodded her head with a smile.

The crisis seemed to be over for the moment.

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This is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

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