Copyright

A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 34

Sheridan woke up feeling quite refreshed, better than she had in days. While being at her parents' home allowed her to catch up on her sleep and try to refocus, she still partied more than she had in months. After two good nights sleep, she now felt like she was back to her old self. Stretching, she shuffled out of bed into the kitchen to begin her morning routine. While the coffee brewed and the computer was booting up, she went to the bathroom to clean up. Suddenly, the phone rang.

Sheridan moaned, "Dear Lord, that better not be Kevin or I'll have to hurt him." She finally talked to him last night and knew he was flying back to LA today.

Picking up the phone, she could tell whoever it was, was talking on a cell phone. "Hello?"

"Hey Sheridan. How are you feeling this morning?"

Rolling her eyes, a sarcastic comment flew out of her mouth. "I'm feeling just peachy Angel. How are you?" Hearing Angel breathing, she asked, "Where are you?"

"Oh Sheridan, I'm fantastic. What a beautiful day this is going to be! I'm on my way to work, just finished going for a jog with Nick. We needed to take separate cars though. He just left. I'm waiting for traffic to slow down before I turn off on to the road."

"A Jog? Why didn't you go to the gym?" Sheridan walked out to the kitchen to prepare her coffee.

"It was too nice to stay inside. I wanted to enjoy the sunshine." Sheridan pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it strangely.

"What the hell have you been smoking or drinking Angel? You sound awfully cheery this early in the morning." Before Angel could respond, Sheridan growled, "Never mind. I figured it out. You had great sex with Nick last night."

Giggling, Angel replied, "You could say that."

"Okay, I don't need details."

"Fine. I'll fill you in tonight if you are going to be home. I'm headed off to work part of James' shift so he can go to another audition."

Sheridan's ears perked, "You're coming home tonight? Great. What's for dinner?"

A frown formed on Angel's face, "You just use me for my culinary skills, don't you?"

Sheridan could sense the pout on Angel's face. Trying to make her feel a little bit better, Sheridan responded, "Sorry Angel, I just thought I wouldn't see you 'til New Year's, that's all. I'm psyched you're going to be home. Nick has had you long enough. I've been feeling like I live by myself lately."

"Well, you were somewhat correct. I'll be cooking dinner and he'll be coming over to eat with us too."

"Sounds like a plan to me. I'll talk to you later when you get home. Have a good day at work"

"I will. You enjoy your peace and quiet until Kevin's plane lands," Angel busted out laughing.

"BITCH!" Sheridan yelled as she laughed and hung up on her roommate.

Angelina walked into Barefoot's around 10:30AM. Craig looked up from his paperwork that was scattered around the bar and greeted her with a huge smile, "Nice to see you again before the New Year."

"You too. And before you ask, I can't work the 31st or the 1st, under any circumstances," Angelina winked as she put on her apron.

"Let me guess, you've got a hot date."

Angelina smiled, "You could say that."

Looking around at the bar stock, she noticed it was quite bare. "How did the bar do last night in sales? This place is a disaster area."

Craig chuckled, "The bar area has been ridiculously busy. I have no idea why. Before I forget, a few people have been looking for you recently."

Angelina eyed him, "Really? Who?" Suddenly, an uneasy feeling came over her.

"Don't know. But I heard James say something last week and then yesterday afternoon, a patron asked me for your full name." Angel's face paled. Craig quickly answered her unasked question, "And NO, I didn't tell him anything. It appears they don't know your name, but are trying to find out. They just described what you looked like, that's how I knew it's you they were talking about."

"Was it a male or female? Do you think it was the same person?"

"It was a man. But Angel, please don't worry. I've added additional security cameras just to keep an eye on things since business has increased so much over the past few months. One of the cameras had been added to the bar area. If it makes you feel better, we can take a look at the tapes and I'll show you who it was."

"Okay," Angel mumbled as her cell phone rang.

Angel pushed the green talk button. "Hello," Angel's shaky voice squeaked.

"Angel? What's wrong baby?"

Visibly relaxing, Angel blew out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "Oh nothing. I'm being silly and paranoid. I'll tell you later tonight."

"Actually, I was calling because I'm going to Malibu with some friends and I may not be back until late. Would you mind if I took a rain check on dinner?"

"Nick, of course it's fine. You haven't seen some of your friends since before the holiday. I've had you for almost a week. Go and have fun."

"You're not mad?" Nick asked skeptically.

"Why would I be mad Nick? Besides, I'll be with you tomorrow night, right?"

"I wouldn't miss ringing in the New Year with you babe."

Angel smiled hearing his low sexy voice. "So you talked to A.J. about the plans he arranged?"

"Yup. We're going to have a blast. Be sure to wear something sexy."

"Sexy? Oh lord Nick, please tell me we aren't going to the Playboy mansion or something."

Nick laughed. "No, no meeting Hugh, this time anyways."

"Is Kevin coming with us?"

"I think so, as long as Mama Richardson lets her baby leave Kentucky."

Looking at her watch, Angel told Nick she had to go and get ready. "Why were you so weird when I first called Angel?" Nick asked with concern.

"I was just being paranoid. Craig just told me some patrons have been asking about me. It creeped me out, but I'm fine Nick."

"I don't like the sound of that Angel."

"It's fine Nick. Craig is going to show me the guy who asked about me yesterday using the security camera tape, after my shift is over so I can see if I recognize him from somewhere. Don't worry about me. I'm perfectly safe."

"Okay, but if you need me for anything Angel, you call me okay?"

"I'll be fine Nick. If I need you, I will call."

"I mean it Angel. I know you 'Ms. I-can-handle-myself'."

Angel chuckled. "I promise Nick. I'll call you as soon as I get home from work, okay? Now go and have fun with the guys."

"Okay babe. I love you."

"Love you too, bye." With a goofy grin, Angel clicked off her cell phone and went about the bar stocking up on supplies.

Nick shut his cell phone thinking about what Angel told him. Looking at his watch, he realized he was running late himself. He needed to pack up his SUV and head off to Malibu.

"Heaven's to Betsy what could he want this time?" Sheridan answered her ringing telephone. "Hello Kevin."

"How did you know it was me?" Kevin's face sported a quizzical look.

"It's the caller ID," Sheridan laughed. This would really get him going, his name and number always showed up private name and private number, but then he was the only one that called the apartment when that message was displayed so it had to be him.

"My name and number are blocked. You'll need to check into that when you start work." Kevin stared at the phone as if it had revealed a great unknown secret to the entire world.

Sheridan closed her eyes and then laughed, "It's just says Private Name and Private Number. You are the only one that calls here that it comes up that way so I know it's you."

"Oh," Kevin rubbed his chin as he checked the flight board. "It's snowing so I'm late getting out of here. I don't want you to pick me up at the airport, I'll get a cab."

Sheridan giggled, "That's good because I didn't know I had to pick you up anyway."

Kevin closed his eyes; her laugh could cause little flutters in his stomach. Leaning on the corner of the couch in the executive section of the airport, he smiled. "Just one of your duties Sheridan. Are you ready for New Year's?"

"Um about that, is this social or business?" Sheridan chewed her bottom lip with the thought she may be a tad out of line. Kevin didn't seem to like to have questions posed to him, especially personal ones but this involved her.

A waitress in the airport lounge watched a tall dark haired man smile with satisfaction and then suddenly frown, which then turned into a grimace. "Did you ask the fellas that when y'all went clubbin' when I was in London?"

Sheridan's eyes widen, she had just hit a sensitive spot with her new boss. "Um… no. I was just asking so I knew what to wear. Something business, casual, or ummm."

"It's fun Sheridan. All of us getting together and having fun. No business on the first but you better not drink too much, you start on the second." A hand patted him on the shoulder to alert him that his flight was going to leave soon. "Listen I gotta go. I'll call you when I get in and settled. Don't bother going to the grocery store, I'll do it tomorrow. I forgot to leave you a list."

Grabbing his carry on, he was directed to his boarding gate. Normally he would have been seated last after the coach section had been ushered onto the plane. After the first delay, he had requested to have his seat change to the far side by the window and to board first. The flight attendant informed him it wouldn't be a problem. Getting settled, he checked his palm pilot while the others boarded. He needed to get organized and review his schedule for the next few weeks.

Mentally, he reviewed the list he had stored. He had the New Year's Eve party and was glad he didn't have to dig up a date. It was a group gathering and everyone was just hanging out. With his feelings growing stronger for Sheridan, he didn't really want it to be a date; he just wanted the chance to get to know her better. After the party, Sheridan would start working for him and then filming would start on the 3rd. To start, the crew would meet with the director and his crew. Costume designers will touch up wardrobes where need be and the scenes at the University would commence the first week in January since most of the faculty and students are gone. The boys were also scheduled to be in the studio on January 26th to work on the CD. Sundance and A.J.'s birthday were squished in between all of this.

A light touch from the flight attendant told him it was time to turn the palm off for take off. Settling back in his seat, he concentrated on his first set of scenes that were scheduled to be shot the week of the 19th, after he returned from Park City, Utah. His thoughts lingered on that subject until they were in the air and he could go back to work. Meetings for the album would be tucked around everything else. When they returned from Sundance, the real filming would begin.

Swallowing hard, he glanced out the window. The big love scene with Jaime Pressley would come not long after they returned. It made him nervous and he felt awkward about it. It was one thing to act; it was another to make love to a woman. But it was something entirely different putting the two together and putting it on film in front of an audience, or rather a film crew. The mere thought of it made him break out in a cold sweat. All those people around, the guys, and the girls. He groaned as he thought about it. He groaned loud enough that the person sitting next to him asked if he was okay. Turning he smiled, "I'm fine, just fine. Thank you."

Kevin scanned the woman's magazine, it was a gossip paper and he gritted his teeth hoping so many things: one, that none of the guys or him were in it; and two, that people didn't actually believe the crap that was printed on the pages.

Kevin shuffled his paperwork and placed the palm back in his backpack. Grabbing the novel he had bought in the airport, he began to lose himself in the pages. He found himself surprisingly critiquing the work and then laughed. The girls must have somehow managed to set a standard with him. Chuckling he returned the book to his pack and settled for just closing his eyes and getting some extra sleep until the plane landed at LAX.

Craig kept his eye on Angel as the bar area was mobbed with an unusual luncheon crowd for a Tuesday. She was holding her own, but definitely was running her ass off. Part of him was making sure that no one was bothering her.

Angel walked back into the kitchen area to pick up some food. On her way, she grabbed an ice tea, and chugged it down then wiped the sweat from her brow.

"Remind me next time I'm asked to fill in to decline. My feet are killing me." Angel rattled to Tony.

"Aw Ditzy, just think of the money you've made. James is going to be jealous again when he sees how busy it was during his shift and he had to go to an audition. It's almost like the crowd knows you're working and decided to come to lunch."

"That's absurd Tony. I have worked so sporadically since I started working at my other job, there's no way anyone would know that I was going to be here today."

"True. But it sure looks that way sometimes." Angel shook the thought from her mind, 'that's impossible.'

James walked in around 2:30PM and noticed Angel stocking the bar. "Hey Angel, thanks again for helping me fill in at the bar."

"Not a problem. Glad it was worth my time money-wise," Angel said with a wink.

"Damn girl, it must be your boobs! This never happens to me. Look at your tips." James' eyes were glued to Angel's hands as she counted her money.

As he began to get ready for his shift, he mumbled, "Must be nice." James returned from the break room, only to find the bar completely restocked and cleaned. Angel returned from the kitchen and passed on her good wishes that he busts his ass as bad, if not more, than she did.

She sat down next to Craig as he filled in the luncheon report, "Okay Craig, I'm ready whenever you are." Part of Angelina was scared to see who this person was, but the other half was dying to know.

They walked into Craig's office where he had the tape all set up and ready to go. Grabbing the remote, he clicked play. Angel sat and watched the tape a couple of times but didn't recognize the man at all. "I'll keep an eye out for him next time he comes in." Craig tried to reassure her that she wasn't alone.

Angel smiled, "Thanks Craig, but I'm pretty sure this man is harmless. I just find the whole situation strange, that's all."

"Well, I definitely think it's strange since this has happened more than once Angel. The guy that asked James about you last week was a different man."

"Are you sure? I mean, is James sure?" Angel felt a chill run up her spine.

Craig nodded his head, "Yeah, I'm positive. I had him take a look at the tape to verify him right before he relieved you from your shift."

'Shit.' "Thanks Craig. I'll be careful. I've got my can of mace and I still remember my self-defense moves." Looking at her watch, Angel felt the need to race home, put on some pj's and order a pizza for the night. "See you next year," she added with a wink.

Craig laughed as he watched Angel leave his office. He sat back and sighed while staring at the man's face frozen on the screen. This was too odd, even for Hollywood. Craig hoped this guy wasn't a stalker.

Nick sat on the dirt bumming around with his friends on the hillside. It was too cold to go surfing so they sat and talked. He told them about his family situation and how his relationship with Angel was going. They knew he really liked this girl and hoped to meet her soon. They were laughing their asses off as Nick told them about his Christmas vacation in Pennsylvania. They drank from a brown paper bag while enjoying each other's company. Although in the back of his mind, Nick was worried about what Angel said about some people asking about her at work.

Angelina arrived home and Sheridan was never so happy to see her. She was trying to decide what to wear for New Year's Eve and needed another opinion especially since she knew Kevin would be there.

"Hey Angel, how was work?"

Angel shrugged her shoulders, "It was alright. How was your day?" Angel walked into her room and looked around making sure everything was where it was supposed to be. 'God, now you're paranoid. Get a grip Angelina,' she scolded herself.

Poking her head in the doorway, Sheridan asked, "Are you alright? You're acting kind of weird….well, more weird than usual."

Sighing, Angel replied, "Yeah, I'm just being paranoid. Guess what Craig told me today at work?" Angel filled in Sheridan and even Sheridan felt like the situation was very odd.

"I'm ordering a pizza. You want anything?" Angel announced.

"You mean you're not going to cook dinner tonight?" Sheridan pouted. "I thought Nick was coming over. When did all the plans change?"

"I'm exhausted. Nick's hanging out with his buddies in Malibu and I'm taking a long, hot bath, putting on my pajamas, and then eating pizza while watching TV, I'm not moving one muscle."

"Did you guys have a fight?"

Laughing, Angel answered, "No, quite the opposite actually." Angel had a silly, lopsided grin remembering last night. Pulling her thoughts back to the present, she questioned, "What makes you think we had a fight?"

Sheridan mumbled, "Nothing I guess. Just that he chose his buddies over you."

"Uh-huh. You're just pissed that I'm not cooking and you're trying to make something out of nothing in order to get your way."

Sheridan sighed, "Okay, I'll split a pizza with you."

"And a salad too!" Angel yelled from the bathroom.

Sheridan groaned, "Oh, alright. A salad too. To bad you can't order chocolate from a pizzeria."

Once Sheridan knew Angel was in the bathtub soaking, she contemplated calling Nick to see if he knew about this. 'If Angel didn't tell him, he'll wonder why. Then he'll end up worrying too. Angel will kill you for gossiping.' Sheridan's mind had a conversation with itself.

The phone ringing made Sheridan jump. "Hello?"

"Hey Sheridan, is Angel home yet?"

"Yeah, just got in a few minutes ago Nick. She's running a hot bath for herself. Hold on, I'll go get her." Should I or shouldn't I rolled around in her head.

"No, that's okay. She'll call me after she gets settled in," Nick sounded disappointed.

"Everything alright Nick?"

"Yeah, she told me she'd call me as soon as she got home. When I didn't hear from her, I started to worry."

Smiling, Sheridan knew. "She told you about the people asking for her at the restaurant?"

'Yeah, and I'm afraid I know who they might be,' Nick thought to himself. "Yeah. I don't want her to feel like I'm checking up on her. She'll call when she's ready. Thanks Sheridan."

"No problem Nick. Talk to you later." Sheridan thought about her conversation with Nick. He seemed odd as well, more so than usual.

Emerging from the bathroom, a refreshed and relaxed Angel snuggled up on the couch with a glass of wine. "Did you order yet?" she yelled to Sheridan.

"Yeah, should be here in 5 minutes." Sheridan walked out of her room in her pajamas and sat across from Angel. "Guess who I spoke to today?"

"Kevin?"

Rolling her eyes, Sheridan replied, "Besides Kevin."

"I don't know, A.J.?"

"Close. Marybeth."

"Oh, how did the Christmas dinner, meeting the parents thing turn out?"

"She had a wonderful time. She was glad she went and guess what A.J. got her for Christmas?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Angelina didn't have a clue.

"A pair of gorgeous pearl earrings and a gift certificate for a spa someplace, I don't remember where, but you should see these earrings. They are beautiful."

"What did she get A.J.?"

Sheridan sat and thought about it. She couldn't remember, "I'm not sure. She's coming over in an hour, you can ask her then or wait and ask him tomorrow. Has A.J. talked to Nick since Christmas?"

"Yup. I was told to wear something sexy for New Year's, but I have no idea where we are going. I've ruled out the Playboy Mansion." Angel laughed at Sheridan's facial expression.

"God, I hope not! Shit, I was hoping you would know. Kevin didn't tell me either. He just said not to drink too much because I would be starting work bright and early on the 2nd."

"So, how's that going?"

Sheridan looked at Angel skeptically, "What do you mean?"

"I mean, how is it working for Kevin, the man you've dreamt about for so long, the man you fantasized about in and out of your bed, the man you've written about "performing" in bed, how is it going working for him?" Angel asked casually.

Sheridan gave her a look, "It's not like I asked him to hire me. And it's not like I've actually worked for him yet. I officially start on the 2nd." Sheridan crossed her arms over her chest triumphantly.

"Uh huh, and how many times have you talked to him since he officially hired you?"

As Sheridan's cheeks turned red, she mumbled, "He's called about every other day… BUT it's to check on some of my preferences for my office and to tell me not to do things that I'm supposed to be doing for him."

"Uh huh, you keep telling yourself that," Angel said as she got up off the couch to refill her wine glass. She certainly needed it after the day she had at work.

The doorbell rang. "Dinner is served," Sheridan yelled as she brought their meal to the dining room table.

"I can't believe we are eating Pizza," Sheridan muttered as she stuffed a slice into her mouth.

"Oh, c'mon now, this isn't that bad. Besides, I haven't had pizza for a while."

"You're kidding right? Didn't you just spend yesterday with Nick?"

"Yeah, so what's your point? Do you think we only eat pizza?" Angel started laughing at the absurdity of Sheridan's allegation.

"Yes, I do."

"For your information, we both prepared our dinner last night. We had steak, potatoes, and salad. It was a very relaxing dinner," Angel smiled remembering it.

"I bet it was," Sheridan half snarled, she didn't get a decent meal unless Carter was hanging around. "Okay, enough about your wonderful, romantic life. What am I going to wear tomorrow night? And, before I forget, you need to help Marybeth find an outfit as well."

Angel could tell Sheridan wasn't in the mood to hear her good news about Nick and last night, so she didn't bring it back up. She would tell her some other time. "Good question. I was thinking of maybe wearing a dress, either black or red."

"Are we going shopping for this stuff or are we tearing apart closets?" Sheridan asked, "Because Marybeth will be here in an hour."

Angelina groaned, "I don't want to go out shopping tonight. I'm too tired. Why don't we go to the Grove tomorrow to find something?"

"Are you planning on staying at Nick's tomorrow night?" Sheridan questioned.

Angel pushed Sheridan's buttons. Either Kevin or Sheridan would need to make a move soon. The heat that rolled off the couple when they were in the same room would melt glass. "Why? Are you planning on inviting company over to the apartment?" Then again, she would need to see how Sheridan was going to handle things, she would make a decision after the big party.

Giving Angel the evil eye, Sheridan replied abruptly with a "NO" then took a huge bite of her pizza indicating the subject was to be dropped.

For several minutes, each was lost in their own thoughts.

The ringing of the doorbell brought the women back to the present. Getting up, Sheridan mumbled, "That must be Marybeth, she's early." Flinging open the door, she motioned the person in without looking and then shut the door. "Pizza's on the table, wine is on the table, help yourself. We have to get Angel up and on her feet. She's spending too much time on her back lately."

"Hardy-har-har, you're very funny today. Funny, pissed-off, and jealous too, I might add." Angel gave Sheridan a cocky grin.

Marybeth stood rooted in her spot; she hadn't known the girls to be this mean to each other, ever. "Hello."

Two grunts acknowledged her arrival.

Sheridan opened her mouth only to have it closed when Angel began thinking her very thoughts.

"I know you're pissed off because I haven't been around to cook and you're starving. You're jealous because I'm spending way too much time with Nick. Add to the fact that you have to fly three thousand miles to get laid over Christmas vacation when what you really want is your boss… would put me in a pissy mood too." Angel grinned.

"I hate you some days," Sheridan grabbed for another slice.

Angel munched and then talked with her mouth full, "No you don't and you know it."

"Do too," Sheridan poured a second glass of wine, while Angel cast a glance at her. "I can handle two glasses of wine."

"Okay," An evil plan unfolded in Angel's head. Getting Sheridan tipsy before shopping would make shopping a lot more fun. Maybe she would get a little daring. An enticing outfit possibly. The plan just unfolded faster than she could get a handle on it. "By all means, drink up Sheridan, then we'll all go shopping."

Looking at Marybeth standing next to the front door with a shocked look on her face, Angel went into hostess mode. "C'mon in Marybeth. Help yourself to dinner. Would you like some wine?"

Marybeth looked at the pizza and salad put on a plate by Angel and replied, "Yes please." Coming back from the kitchen, Angel placed the wine glass on the table in front of Marybeth and filled her glass.

"I'll be right back ladies. I need to make a phone call." Angel said as she skipped into her bedroom.

Marybeth and Sheridan exchanged a look of confusion. Sheridan looked back at Angel's bedroom door and said, "She's been acting a bit strange today."

Marybeth laughed, "Oh, she's acting like somebody completely, totally, head-over-heels in love. She wears it well too."

Sheridan's jaw dropped, "How do you know? Did she say something to you?"

"Nope. It's written all over her face, especially in her eyes." Marybeth and Sheridan continued eating in silence waiting for Angel to finish.

Angel picked up the phone and hit the speed dial number. Nick's cell phone rang in his hand as he was staring at it, almost willing it to ring.

Nick smiled when he saw the caller ID. "Hey baby. How did it go today?"

Curling up on her bed and snuggling in her pillows, Angel smiled, "It was wicked busy, but the time flew by. James' convinced I make better tips because of my boobs."

Nick laughed uneasily, "I hope he doesn't look at your boobs often Angel. You be sure to tell him they're mine."

Angel began giggling like a school-girl, "I'll let him know."

Nick didn't want to bring it up, but it was killing him not to know. "So, did Craig show you the tape? Did you know him?"

A frown formed on Angel's face, "Nope. And I found out more bad news."

Nick ran a hand through his hair, "What?"

"The man who asked Craig about me yesterday wasn't the same man who asked James about me last week."

"Great," Nick mumbled, "Angel, I know you don't work that often there, but maybe its time to quit." Nick held his breath as he waited for her answer. He knew this was not something she would do.

"Are you kidding me? I can't do that. Besides, it could be just a coincidence. I hardly doubt these men are harmful in any way. It's a pretty respectable restaurant & bar I work in. We have celebrities in there all the time. I'm completely safe and besides, I work the day shift. If I worked the night shift and got out at all hours of the morning, then maybe I'd consider it for my safety, but I'm fine Nick."

Nick bit the inside of his cheek, 'She didn't yell. This is good, communication.' "I know you can handle yourself Angel. I just worry, that's all. Especially after last night, I don't want anything to happen to you."

Angel smiled, "I'll be extra careful."

Sheridan's loud voiced boomed through the door, "Hurry up Angel. Let's go shopping."

Nick's ears perked up, "Where are you going shopping?"

"I'm not too sure. We need to find someplace to buy clubbing outfits for tomorrow night. Marybeth, Sheridan, and I are going to hunt for some sexy clothes."

Nick and Angel said their goodbyes. After getting dressed, Angel walked into the living room, all dressed and ready to go. "Let's go girls."

Sheridan and Marybeth had finished off the wine bottle and started on another. Angel grabbed her keys, "I'm driving. Be sure you have your credit card ladies. This is going to be fun."

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