Disclaimer: I Do Not Own Passions
Pilar walked silently into the empty, yet, open church and took a seat at one of the pews; sliding to kneel she bowed her head, closed her eyes and began to pray.
Miguel had been released and cleared of all charges but her eldest son, her Luis; her darling boy was going to be executed tomorrow. She loved all her children equally, she did, but Luis was the child she was most proud of. She saw all the best traits of his parents in him and she respected him more than anyone.
Luis touched the life of every person he encountered. He had a presence that she didn't know an equal to. Except perhaps Alistair, as awful a comparison as it was, Alistair, when he walked into a room was always the person looked to.
Yes, completely opposite personalities but their strength, their purpose, their importance was equal. It was one of the reasons, Pilar believed, that Alistair tried so hard to break up Sheridan and her son. Luis was a cop of a small town, however, Alistair, one of the most powerful, ruthless men in the world felt threatened enough by him being so close to Crane Industry dealings that he stopped at nothing to tear them apart.
Of course, that was also at a time when her son thought Sheridan an earth bound angel. Her daughter, Theresa, had changed her tune completely from talking about Luis and Sheridan as soul-mates to Fancy and Luis having a fresh, true love.
Pilar respected her son far too much to ever dictate whom he should love but privately she thought that Luis was being deliberately blind. He needed a break; at least, that was how it appeared to her. She liked Fancy, sort of, Sheridan was far better suited to Luis. At least, she had thought so.
Sheridan was a difficult person not to love. She radiated a kindness and light but it was tempered with worldly eyes. She wasn't naive. She was Luis's other half. Luis was a hard person to stand beside for the sole reason that he usually dwarfed his companion. The only one Pilar had ever seen hold her own against him, effortlessly, was Sheridan. She also was one who drew people in. Her charisma and charm were attributes which had both helped and hindered the woman.
She drew people like a moth to a flame, Luis countered and complimented her. Unlike when they were in other relationships where each of their personalities ended up overwhelming their partner, Luis and Sheridan fit and satisfied each other.
Pilar had always found them wonderful to be around when they were together.
That's why she was having such trouble these past few weeks. More than perhaps anyone, she understood what it felt like to be undercut, as it were. She had been able to tell that Sheridan was reaching a breaking point, but even she hadn't seen Fancy coming, or what Luis and everyone in Harmony's reaction to their new romance would do to her.
But it didn't matter did it? Pilar bowed her head further so that her brown hair fell forward and covered her red eyes and tear stained cheeks. Her darling boy, her Luis, was going to leave them. She could hardly get past her bitterness, Luis hadn't done anything, everyone knew he was innocent and still...he was going to die.
"Excuse me, Pilar, is that you?" A soft voice called.
Pilar hastily wiped her eyes and cleared her throat. "Father, yes, it's me. I didn't expect anyone to be up this late."
The priest smiled gently and carefully felt along the pew for a grip before lowering himself into the spot beside her.
"It is difficult to sleep with such a tragedy on our doorstep, Pilar. I can't imagine how difficult Luis's situation is on you and your family. Is there anything I might do to help in some way?"
Pilar shook her head violently and opened her purse to grab a tissue. "No, Father. Nothing could make this better." She said sharply.
Hearing the emotion and warning in that tone Father Lonnigan waited a few moments, listening as Pilar blew her nose, rearranged her hair and generally got a hold of her-self before venturing to speak again.
"I'm sorry if my words upset you in anyway Pilar, please know, that was not my intention."
Pilar exhaled loudly, a small corner of her mouth curling up without humour. "I know, Father."
The silence between them stretched, but not uncomfortably. "I wonder, Pilar, if I might ask you a question?"
"You may as well, Father, I can't see myself getting much rest tonight."
"No, I can't imagine so. I wanted to enquire after a matter which has been causing me both concern and consternation."
"Yes?" Pilar asked.
"A number of my parishioners have come to me in recent weeks with an alarming lack of sympathy and anger, I think, for one in our community who always been very much liked. I wonder if you might be kind enough to explain the situation to me."
Pilar frowned. She could only imagine one person Father Lonnigan might bring up with her. "Are you referring to Sheridan Crane?" she asked tightly.
He nodded slowly. "I am."
Pilar drew in a deep breath. "I can't say that I'm surprised. I'll begin by saying that I have been startled and taken aback by Sheridan's actions in the past months, when she spoke her testimony in Luis's trial her words were...unhelpful."
"In what way?" He interrupted, concerned.
Pilar tilted her head to the side. "What she said was not damaging, it was more her body language and obvious reluctance to be there. But I do remember one question and her answer in particular. She was asked whether she thought Fancy Crane fickle with a short attention span. Obviously, the lawyer was trying to show that Fancy's assurance that the man that raped her was not Luis couldn't be trusted. All Sheridan had to do was answer with a quick and decisive 'no'. But she didn't, Sheridan just sat there looking panicked for long moments before she finally shook her head."
"Ah." Father Lonnigan nodded in understanding. "You too hold great anger in you for Sheridan" he observed.
Pilar clenched her teeth tightly. "I thought she cared for Luis. She knows him to be innocent, everyone knows him to be innocent and she contributed to his sentence."
"That isn't true Pilar and you know it isn't." He pacified. "It seems clear to me that you and a few others are looking for someone to blame. This illusive blackmailer isn't enough without a face. You all have so much anger for the injustice which has captured Luis that you need to find a place to place it. Unfortunately for Sheridan, that scapegoat seems to be her."
Pilar could feel the truth and wisdom of his words but she needed to voice all of her suspicions, suspicions that she knew fuelled the anger others were feeling for Sheridan right now, deserving or not. "But Father, Luis is with Fancy now, what if her response in court was motivated by revenge? What if she purposefully did that so as to punish Luis? When Fancy was raped Sheridan used her good reputation as a kind and decent woman to influence people into thinking Fancy was imagining the attacker!"
"Pilar," he replied sternly. "These are simply theories, not fact, Sheridan using her reputation to influence? It sounds to me that Sheridan was stating an opinion and because of others knowing she is a good person, that opinion was taken seriously and, unfortunately she was wrong. It just happens that Sheridan's mistake was one which was in a terrible circumstance. However, Sheridan did not commit these crimes, she was not the only one with this opinion as I have heard, it was a difficult situation for all and for you to call it purposeful manipulation Pilar..."
Pilar could feel her heart sinking even further in her chest as the Father gently reprimanded her. But he was right. It was their choice to listen to Sheridan and Sheridan merely offered an opinion that was wrong, and she wasn't the only one to see it that way. Pilar knew, in fact, that the person most willing to believe her, Luis, thought Fancy had imagined the attacker too.
"It's because her opinion matters to Luis so much Father." Pilar whispered, defeated. "I know that my son, everyone, didn't believe Fancy really saw the attacker. It was the Crane mansion, party downstairs, security was crawling everywhere and victims often live in fear and suspicion for the rest of their lives after such an attack. But Sheridan was one of the ones who spoke up and her words seemed to settle any lingering doubts, small as they were, about the situation."
"And for Fancy to later be attacked once again..." Father Lonnigan added, nodding sadly.
"It was so easy to blame her, Father. It makes it harder, not having someone to be angry at..." Pilar cried.
"I know. And I don't think you really blame Sheridan for her less than confident answer in court, am I correct, Pilar? The anger harboured by others seems to be over Sheridan's opinion that Fancy might have been exaggerating, dreaming of past horrors. That, and her influence over Luis, however small it was."
"Yes." Pilar confirmed. "She swore to tell only the truth and I know, having worked for the Crane's that Fancy was fickle, it is a cross which the spoilt must often bare. Sheridan knows that Fancy has improved much since her return to Harmony but I can understand her momentary loss of words."
They both sat in silence, simply listening to the wind sing through the church until Pilar once again broke down, the Father comforting her with silent strength.
"I will see you before tomorrow, Pilar. Please, pray, God may yet deliver Luis safely away from danger."
"Thank-you Father." Pilar hoped with all her heart that their prayers would be answered.
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