|posted on 15-Jul-2002 10:19:52 AM by lisabehr|
|Kim has graciously agreed to allow me to finish this fic...I have always loved it and she is very busy. This is my first attempt at this, so be patient and specific in your critiques as I am learning.|
I am posting all her parts and will have the first update in a day or two.
I hope we all enjoy this as I am waiting to see what happens as much as your are.
Ps....Dreamer, Candy and Stargazer Insurance Policies are in effect and premiums paid through the end of this fic...although it may not seem like it at times....
Author: Kim aka kjsparkles
Rating: PG-13 at the most to R .....
The Space Between - DMB
You cannot quit me so quickly
Is no hope in you for me
No corner you could squeeze me
But I’ve got all the time for you love
The space between
The tears we cry is the laughter that keeps us coming back for more
The space between
The wicked lies we tell that hope to keep us safe from the pain
Will I hold you again
These fickle fuddled words confuse me
Like will it rain today
We waste the hours with talking talking
These twisted games we’re playing
We’re strange allies
With warring hearts
What a wild eyed beast you be
The space between
The wicked lies we tell that hope to keep us safe from the pain
Will I hold you again, Will I hold
Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster
You know you went off like the devil in the church
In the middle of a crowded room
All we can do my love
Is hope we don’t take this ship down
The space between
Where you smile and hide
That’s where you’ll find me if I get to go
The space between
The bullets in our fire fight
Is where I’ll be hiding waiting for you
The rain that falls
Splashed in your heart
Ran like sadness down the window into your room
The space between
Our wicked lies is
The hope to keep safe from pain
Take my hand
Cause we’re walking out of here
Right out of here
Is all we need dear
The space between
What’s wrong and right
Is where you’ll find me hiding
Waiting for you
The space between
Your heart and mind
Is the space we’ll fill with time
The space between
The tears we cry is the laughter keeps us coming back for more
The space between
Our wicked lies where we hope to keep safe from pain
The space between
The space between
Part 1 – The First Letter (September 2012)
Sitting in her fifth grade classroom, Elizabeth Anne Parker felt completely out of place, again. Her parents had insisted that she attend a public school, but these kids had nothing in common with her. Not that she was a snob, but the other kids treated her that way. At first it had been ok because she had not told the kids who she was, but once they saw the men walking around in black suits talking into ear pieces, their curiosities were raised and she had to admit it, she was the President’s daughter.
Jerked out of her daydream by her teacher, Mrs. Deluca, Liz heard her say that they would be starting a pen-pal program with another class.
‘Great.’ Liz thought. ‘Another kid to be rejected and made fun of by.’
“Ok class, I will now pass out the names, addresses, and some details about your pen-pals. Girls are matched up with other girls and the boys with boys. We had an odd number though, Elizabeth, would you mind being paired with a boy?”
“No, Mrs. Deluca,” Liz said unenthusiastically. Liz reached up and took the card from Mrs. Deluca and read it:
Name: Max Evans
Hobbies: Reading, Sports, Video games
Address: Antarian Montessori School
A collective gasp went throughout the class as they read their cards and realized their new pen-pals were the aliens. As everyone knew, rumors of aliens on Earth had been floating around since the “crash” of 1947, but true confirmation hadn’t occurred until two years ago in 2010. Liz’s dad wasn’t President then, some other guy that her dad doesn’t like was.
As she sat staring at her blank computer screen, a thought popped into Liz’s head, ‘Why do I have to tell this person who I really am, I can just be plain Liz Parker to him?’ She started writing her letter then.
Dear Max Evans,
My name is Liz Parker. I am also 10 years old and in the 5th grade. I like to read and play with my kitten, Alex. I do well in school, I get A’s. Mrs. Deluca is a cool teacher, she doesn’t give us much homework. How are you? What do you enjoy doing? I’m sorry I’m a girl, but there wasn’t another boy in our class.
Your new friend,
‘Perfect,’ she thought, ‘He’ll never know who I really am as long as I don’t talk about my parents.’
Millions of miles away sat a boy who was going through the same thing as Liz. Maxwell Phillip Evans was the son of King Phillip and Queen Diane of Antar, and he was being groomed to take their place. He only wanted a normal life, but that was never going to happen. As he sat in his private school, his teacher was saying something about pen-pals on Earth.
‘Whoopee!’ Max thought, ‘Someone else to fall all over themselves just because I’m the King’s son.’ His teacher then handed him the card containing some information on his new pen-pal.
Name: Elizabeth Parker
Hobbies: Reading, and Playing games
Address: George Washington Elementary School
‘A GIRL!’ Max thought, ‘Why would I want to be pen-pals with an Earth girl? They have cooties!’ The teacher brought the class back to order and told them they had to have their first letters done by the end of the day so they could be sent.
Dear Elizabeth Parker,
My name is Max Evans. I am 10 and in the 5th grade. I don’t like my teacher, he picks on me. My best friend is Michael, he’s in my class. I have a sister named Isabel, I hate her. For fun I play video games. How long do we have to write to each other?
‘Good,’ Max thought, ‘that should keep her from getting any ideas.’ And he handed his disk to the teacher.
That night in the palace, the King told Max a bedtime story about Antar and Earth.
“Son, we have known that there was life on other planets for many, many years; however, we did not know how to communicate with them, we had no idea what kinds of technology they had. So we decided to send some diplomats to talk to them, but something went very wrong. Their ship crashed and before they could talk to the American government, the government took their ship, but didn’t know that there was a message on board the ship, or how to get our message out of it. For years the Earthlings were scared that people from other planets were going to invade them and take over their planet, which was so far from the truth. Finally we did figure out how to send them a message through their satellites, but then the mass hysteria began. Those crazy Earthlings built shelters, stored food, and made weapons, thinking that their world was going to end! Two years ago we sent more diplomats to assure the Americans that we wanted to set up trade relations and share information for better learning, but they are still leery of us, son. This is why we need to be cautious about what is said and done now; we need their exports to survive economically.”
“Thanks Dad, great bedtime story, I’m so sleepy now,” Max said sarcastically.
At the same time, Liz was in her bedroom hearing from her father on how they had to be careful of the aliens because they had more technology and were a threat to our national security because of it. Liz just shook her head and wondered why adults had to be so complicated, why couldn’t they just sit down and talk about stuff like this so they wouldn’t have to live in fear? Liz thought all of the paranoia was uncalled for. She had great instincts and she didn’t see anything wrong with the Antarians. All they seemed to want to do was trade goods and information, what was bad about that?
At midnight in the White House Situation Room, the President was having a conference with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They were meeting to discuss what could be done in case the Antarians attacked and tried to take over Earth. They decided that a mass warning system needed to be in place, to warn the people if a fleet of alien ships were headed toward Earth and that some sort of weapon needed to be created to destroy those ships while still in space.
Part 2 – February 2013 (six months later)
Liz Parker sat in her classroom again writing a letter to the mean, ill-mannered, rude Max Evans. He had numerous times told her she has cooties and that she is stupid. ‘Why do I even bother,’ thought Liz. She decided that she was going to set Max Evans straight, he had no right to treat her this way; no one had ever been this rude to her. For a moment she contemplated telling him exactly who she was, but then she figured she could do this without giving it up.
Dear Max Evans,
We have been writing to each other for six months and I have had it! I have been nothing but completely nice to you and you are just rude. My teacher said that we have to keep these pen-pals for the rest of our academic careers, which means that I am stuck with you for at least 7 more years. Will you please be nice and not torture me for that long, I could really use a friend.
Max flinched as the new message waiting screen popped up on his computer. ‘Another message from the oh-so-annoying one,’ he thought. He read it and felt bad at the end. ‘Why doesn’t Liz have any friends? She’s seemed nice to me.’
I guess we could be friends. You would be my first friend who’s a girl, but not girlfriend, get that straight! I don’t even let my sister talk to me very much, so you should feel privileged. I got into a fight in school today. This dork named Khivar (where did his parents come up with that one!) shoved me and said that I am a nobody! I said that I am so somebody and decked him. Is there anyone who gives you problems? Why did you say that you could use a friend?
Liz was surprised to see that she had mail back from Max so soon, usually it took a couple of days, but this was only an hour after she had sent her letter. She almost started to cry when she read how sweet he was being, she knew it was a stretch from how he usually was. Liz decided to write right back so he would know what she was thinking.
That Khivar kid sounds like a moron. You are somebody; you exist don’t you? Did you get into trouble for the fight? I hope not, it sounds like he deserved it. No one in my class gives me problems like that; I’ve never been in a fight. I’m just different from the other kids in my class and they treat me that way. Not “bad” different, I’m just not like them. I only have one friend, her name is Maria, and she’s my teacher’s daughter. We are complete opposites, but we get along really great. Was that nice letter just a one time thing or can we really be friends?
‘I hope that makes him feel better. At least now he knows that I’m not too desperate, I mean, I have friends, just not a lot, and I could always use one more,’ Liz thought as she sent her letter to Max.
That night, the King and his advisors were having a meeting in their royal conference room.
“Our natural resources are almost gone; soon we will have no way to heat our homes and power our transportation.” The King said. “We would need Earth’s help for only ten years, maximum. After that, the technology we are developing will be able to manufacture the resources we need. How do we make them understand that we want to trade that technical information for supplies of their natural resources; not to take over their planet? I do not understand their paranoia; we have shown no hostility towards them.” “Your Highness, maybe if we made some goodwill gestures, they might understand us better and open up to us.” Rath, the King’s highest advisor, said.
“What sorts of goodwill gestures are you thinking of, Rath?”
“Well, we could start a student exchange program, like the ones they have on Earth. We could send some of our students to Earth and they could send some of their students here. We could also offer to send some of our farm produce to them, they do not have the same kinds of fruits and vegetables that we have, maybe they would like to try some of ours. We could also give them our space travel technology so that they can travel into space and visit us. That should help, since their paranoia is based on their fear that we will invade them. If they have the power to do the same thing, they will see that we cannot use it to hurt them.”
“Good ideas, Rath; have the staff do research on these ideas and send me the reports, then I will make my decision.”
“Yes, your Highness.”
A week later the King received the report and decided to go ahead with the technology-sharing and student programs. They were deemed to be the most likely to be successful. He then thought about the criteria for the students who would go to Earth. ‘Maybe we should send Max; then he would understand that foreign relations are an important part of the job.’ The King thought to himself. ‘My wife will never go for that one; she will say that the Earthlings impact on Max will be detrimental to his mental well-being. I do not think it would be though; they would not dare treat a King’s son, badly.’ He immediately forwarded the reports to the American President for him to look over and approve, along with a memo asking the President if he believed sending the King’s son to Earth would be a good idea. ‘Not that I need his approval to send him, but I want an opinion from Earth. Max is very important to this planet.’ He did not realize how right he was.
Part 3 – The American President
The White House Residence was in complete darkness, when a knock sounded on the President’s bedroom door. Jeffery Parker was jerked from his sleep. In that fleeting moment every morning he had the false thought that his late wife Nancy was still there with him. She had died during his first campaign of cancer and he had gone on, regardless, because she made him promise to, as her dying words.
Jeffery got out of bed and mumbled, “This better be good.”
He knew it would be important; he was never disturbed after 11 p.m., if it was not. He opened the door and saw his assistant, Sam. Sam handed him a think folder and told the President that he better be ready to discuss it with his advisors first thing in the morning.
‘Great.’ The President thought. ‘No sleep tonight.’
He stayed up all night reading the report that had been sent to him by the King of Antar. The President had to give the Antarians kudos for their ingenuity, but he was fairly certain that his advisors would advise him against any of these plans.
‘Why wouldn’t we want to open up relations with these people?’ He thought. ‘All they have done is be congenial towards us and they have shown no signs of aggression. By all accounts, they just want to trade their technology for some of our natural resources. I think I’ll tell my advisors that we will start with the technology-resources trade and work up to the student programs after we develop the means to get them back by ourselves, if anything bad happens.’
The next morning the President told his plan to his advisors who swiftly told him that it would not work. The American people just would go for it; they were too paranoid.
“Don’t you think we need to set the example here?” The President yelled to them. “If we show the American people that there is no need to be afraid, their fear will disappear. Our rejection of all prior plans is exactly what has fueled their fear. We will start with the technology-resource trade, but until we are sure that it is completely safe, no one is going to Antar. We cannot close them off, but we do not want to appear too overeager either. Is that understood?”
Many “yes sirs” went around the room, as they all shrugged in compliance with the President’s orders. The President got up from his chair and realized that it was time for Liz to be leaving for school. He raced to the Residence to wish her a good day. He found Liz in her room, with her nose buried in a book.
“What are you reading?” He asked.
“Romeo & Juliet” She answered.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit heavy for a ten year old?”
“No, I understand it. Once you get the iambic pentameter, it’s no problem.”
“Good, the agents are ready to take you to school now, I’ll see you tonight.”
Liz headed out the door toward the agents waiting to escort her to school and her father headed towards the Oval Office. That day at school Liz received her answer letter from Max.
I guess I could be nice to you from now on especially since we’re stuck with each other, but you better consider this a gift because I don’t like being nice to girls. My sister Isabel made me go shopping with her yesterday, it was torture. My parents said that it makes them feel better to know that I am going with her, but she ends up trying on everything in the store! Five hours later we finally got home and then she wouldn’t even play video games with me! I have to go do my math work. Bye.
Liz laughed at how frustrated Max sounded in his letter. ‘Poor kid,’ she thought. She knew she had plenty of time before the next lesson, so she wrote him back.
How old is your sister? For all the time spent there, I hope she got some good outfits! Do you like math? Math and science are my favorite subjects. I had recess with my friend Maria today; we played on the swings and talked about the other kids. I like it when I get to see her, we’re in different classes and don’t get to do much stuff together. Well, I guess that’s all I have to say for now!
“Love, Liz,” heckled Max’s best friend Michael. “She signed it Love, Liz. Is she your girlfriend now? Huh, Maxiepoo?”
“Shut up, Michael. She isn’t and you know it! Just because you’re the son of my father’s best friend doesn’t mean I have to be your friend too, so you just better watch your mouth!”
“Yeah right,” Michael countered, “She’s gonna be your girlfriend. You’re gonna get in on with an Earth girl!”
Max blushed and walked away from the computers. ‘I don’t have to put up with this,’ he thought.
Part Four – August 2013 (six months later)
Liz walked around the Rose Garden with her favorite Secret Service agent Kyle Valenti. His father had been one of her father’s good friends and when her father won the Presidency last year, he had come along to protect Liz. Liz was so glad that he was here. He was the only link back to her old life that she had left. She had known him all her life, since she was a baby. He was 24 years old now and for being a boy, she thought he was kinda cute. Liz was walking her kitten Alex in the garden, the cat didn’t really like being outside, he would just lie around in the warm sunlight. So she ended up standing in one spot for about an hour, growing weary of this, she asked Kyle if they could go inside and they did.
On their way back to the Residence, she asked if they could stop off in her dad’s offices so she could check her email. Kyle told her that it was against protocol, but for her, he would make an exception. At this point Liz felt like she could tell Max anything, except who she really was, because they would never meet, he was millions of miles away. She was ecstatic to have a letter back from Max.
Could you not sign your letters “Love, Liz”? My so-called friend, Michael has taken it upon himself to make fun of me when you do. Thanks. Since we’re so far apart (how many millions of miles is it?), do you think we could talk like we’re never going to meet? Like we could tell each other everything? I don’t really have anyone to tell everything to here. I don’t like my sister. Michael makes fun of me, and my parents are too busy. Please?
‘Everything?’ Liz thought, ‘He wants to tell me everything? Great, now I’m going to feel guilty because I can’t tell him everything about me. I can’t tell him who I really am; I’ll loose him as a friend. No one who knows who I am wants to be my friend because of my personality; they just want to know me because I am the President’s daughter.’ Jerking her out of her thoughts at that point was Mrs. Bennett, her father’s secretary.
“Liz, dear, your father wants to have a conversation with you tonight. He said he’ll be up in your room at about 7, is that ok dear?”
“Yes, Mrs. Bennett”
In the meantime the President was in the Oval Office in a meeting with his Cabinet. “How is the technology transfer coming along?”
“Sir, we are almost finished. The military personnel have been working around the clock for six months to complete this. They have built everything the Antarians gave us blueprints for and we are now running tests on animals to make sure the technology is safe for human use,” The Secretary of State, Madelyn Albright said.
“Good, how soon after these tests can we send humans to Antar?”
“Within a week or two. We should probably discuss who the first Americans to go to Antar, should be. I believe they should be diplomats, to help establish good trade relations.” She replied.
“Yes, I would like your top aide to go, along with a complete staff, to set up an embassy on Antar. They will need to know everything that we do, about the Antarians and exactly what we need to accomplish there,” The President said.
“Yes Sir, we realize this. I’ll start having them briefed immediately so they will be ready for departure,” Ms. Albright stated.
That night in the Residence, the President caught up with his daughter just as she was finishing dinner. “Hello sweetheart, how was your day at school?”
“Fine dad, how was your day?”
“Good, I have been talking to my advisors about the Antarians. We almost have all of the technology stuff done; pretty soon we can send people there.”
“Cool, who’s going?”
“Some people from the State Department, first; later on we’ll send some average Joe’s, probably rich tourists. The report, which the King of Antar sent us said that they would like to have some students from Earth travel there and study on their planet. What do you think about that, Lizzie?”
“It would be so cool to see another planet. They seem like okay people, we have pen-pals at school from Antar. I would love to study science there, I could learn so much!” Liz gushed.
“Hold on sweetie, I didn’t ask if you wanted to go, I just wanted your opinion on the program as a whole.”
“But dad, it would be so cool. I could learn so much! I wanna go, please, pretty please with sugar on top! Don’t make me beg too much, Dad, come on!
“We’ll see, Liz.”
Being very hopeful, Liz finished her dinner and went to her room to finish her homework for the next day. Kyle stopped by as his shift was ending to say goodnight to her and Liz told him all about the conversation she had with her father at dinner.
“Kyle, I want to go so bad!”
“Liz, we have to make sure it’s safe up there before you go. Just think of the great hostage position they would have if the American President’s daughter went there unprotected. They could force the United States to do whatever they wanted us to. You better just be patient about this. I’m sure if everything there checks out, your dad will consider letting you go.”
“All right Kyle, goodnight.”
Part 5 – School Days
The next morning, Max received a new letter from Liz. He could feel her excitement as he read her words.
Yesterday I had a talk with my good friend Kyle and my dad. My dad told me all about some technology that your planet has given mine. He said that soon some people from our planet will be coming to your planet to talk. Then he said that the government officials are talking about doing a student exchange program with your planet. I am begging my father to let me go. I would love to see your planet. One of my favorite subjects is science; I would love to study science on Antar and learn everything there is to learn from your people there. My dad said that if the State Department says it is safe to send more people, then he will consider sending me there. How cool would that be? I guess I’ve rambled enough for today. What did you mean by “everything” in your last letter?
‘Wow,’ Max thought, ‘What if she does come here? Would I meet her? Would she be in the same class as me? She doesn’t know I am the King’s son. What if that influences our friendship? Well, this is just too much to think about. I think I’ll go play.’
Max had a rough day at school that day. On top of learning that Liz may be coming to Antar, Khivar also gave him even more problems. At recess Max and Michael were playing on the jungle gym when Khivar and his gang of goons decided to start trouble. The goons grabbed Michael and held him down on the ground while Khivar beat up Max. Michael tried to yell and get away but four guys on one weren’t good odds. Five minutes later one of the teachers finally broke up the fight, but it was way too late in Max’s opinion. He had a bloody nose, split lip, and black eye, and this was on top of many other bruises on his arms, legs, and chest. He spent the rest of the day in the school nurse’s office getting cleaned up.
‘My parents are going to kill me for this one.’ Max thought. ‘They told me to stay away from Khivar and his friends because my parents know they are trouble. And now looked what happened, I look like I was put through a meat grinder! Hopefully they will believe me when I tell them Khivar started it and not me. I can’t believe how mean he is! The things he said to me were awful. First there was, “You’re a nobody.” Then “I’m going to be King someday, not you.” And finally “I’m going to kill you and your whole family someday and live in your palace.” I just can’t believe him. What gives him the right to insult me like that? He’s the nobody. He’s only in this school because he got a scholarship and with his fighting record that is about to be revoked. I hope it does; then he’ll be out of my hair.’
That night at the palace, Max’s mom, Queen Diane, was inspecting the damage that had been done to her son.
“I cannot tolerate this sort of violence at your school, Max. Maybe we should look into switching your school. There are many good ones here in the city.”
“No Mom, I like this school. Khivar is the only problem there and the principal doesn’t like his behavior either.”
“Well, that gives me an idea. Why don’t I go and have a little chat with the principal tomorrow and we’ll see what can be done with Khivar. I want him kept as far away from you as possible, Max. He only causes trouble when nothing has been done to provoke it. He is at your school because of a scholarship, correct?”
“Yes, Mom. If he looses the scholarship he will no longer be able to attend my school. It is too expensive for his family to afford. They can barely afford the school uniforms. The school has to give him all of his pencils and paper; they can’t even buy him those.”
“You get a good night’s sleep tonight dear; it will help your wounds heal. I’ll see you at breakfast.” Diane said as she kissed him goodnight on the cheek.
“Thanks Mom, goodnight.”
Queen Diane was a Max’s school first thing in the morning, even before the students were supposed to be there. Her conversation with the principal went very well and they decided that the funding for Khivar’s scholarship should disappear. The principal told the Queen that without the scholarship there was no way for Khivar to stay in the school. He had a copy of Khivar’s family’s financial records and they had been living at the poverty line for many, many years. Queen Diane felt a pang of guilt over ruining this boy’s academic career, but she realized that he had cooked his own goose when he decided to pick on a prince. One little nobody was not going to derail the future King. She decided that she would make sure that Khivar got into a good public school.
Max wrote Liz a letter that day describing the events of the previous day.
Yesterday Khivar decided to pick another fight with Michael and me. His friends held Michael down and he tried to beat me up. I fought back really well, but I still got hurt. My mom came to school today to talk to the principal about him, and now he is gone. I saw his parents in the office earlier and they left with him. His mother was crying and yelling at him about keeping his temper in check and how she had such great plans for his future but now they were all gone because he wouldn’t be going to school here anymore. Kinda sad, huh? My dad told me about the student exchange program too. I don’t think I want to go to Earth, but it would be cool if you came here. We probably shouldn’t tell each other anything more about ourselves than what we already have. It will be better that way.
When Liz read Max’s letter the first thing that popped into her mind was, ‘What are you hiding that you don’t want to say anything else about yourself?’
Part Six – Christmas 2014 (one year, four months later)
Merry Christmas! We have a huge tree and lots of decorations around our house. I love this time of year, there’s snow on the ground and everything is a beautiful white. At my old house it was hot all year ‘round and we never got snow. I can’t believe that I’m 13 already. It seems like yesterday that we started writing to each other. My friend Maria a.k.a. the Hurricane said that we’ll start to get zits soon. I hope I don’t get them badly, that would suck! My dad and I had a long talk last night. He said that the ambassadors to your planet loved it there and thought it was perfectly safe for others to visit! Our government has decided to go ahead with the student exchange program. Now all I have to do is convince my father that I should go. As you know, I don’t have any brothers or sisters and my mom died a long time ago, so my dad clings to me. I hope he can see through his emotions and see that this is a good opportunity for me to learn more about science. I’ll talk to you later!
Max had an impending sense of doom as he read Liz’s letter. ‘I never thought she would actually get this far in coming here! I don’t want to loose my only true friend! But maybe she really isn’t a true friend because she doesn’t know everything about me. If she tells me that she is coming here for sure, I wonder if I should tell her who I really am. It would make it easier on me once she gets here because I wouldn’t have to tell her in-person and she would have time to think about it before she gets here, but that could be bad. She could end up deciding that she doesn’t want to meet me because I have lied to her. But if I wait until she gets here she might get so mad at me for keeping this from her she may never want to speak to me again. I don’t want that to happen, I want to keep Liz as a friend. I better stop rambling like this in my head before I get committed.’
Max decided to talk to Michael about his dilemma. Although Max knew it could be a bad idea to confide this much in Michael because he was giving Michael more ammo to make fun of him with, Michael did come up with some good advice from time to time. Max found Michael at lunchtime and they talked.
“Michael, I have a problem. Liz, my pen-pal from Earth, doesn’t know who I really am. Now she’s talking about coming here on an exchange program. What am I suppose to do?”
“Go to Earth on the same program,” replied Michael snickering.
“That’s not funny. You know my dad won’t let me go; he’s too anal retentive about protecting me, there’s no way he would let me go there. He would be too scared that the Earthlings would do experiments on me or something.”
“Well, in that case, I think that if she does come, you should just avoid her and not talk to her. That way you don’t have to deal with it.”
“So typical Michael, you always avoid your problems, but I don’t, I want to deal with this.”
“Then tell her before she comes, that way she has the choice of what to do next.”
“You think that’s best?”
“Totally, Max. If she knows before she gets here; she has the choice of meeting you or not. She also has the choice of still coming here knowing that she has been talking to a future King. You better set her straight though and tell her about your future. You can’t have her coming here thinking she could be the future Queen.”
“I know. Thanks Michael.”
“No problemo, Maxiepoo!”
“Don’t call me Maxiepoo, Mikey-wikey.”
After lunch, Max decided that he would sit on his decision until he got the final word from Liz about the exchange program. If she was coming to Antar, he would tell her the truth as soon as possible, if she wasn’t, he wouldn’t tell her, he would just keep things going like they had been. He wrote her back after his afternoon recess.
Where I live on Antar, we don’t get snow, and we don’t really celebrate Christmas either. We do have a holiday when we kids get lots of presents, it’s my favorite holiday. I have liked being 13 so far. No zits yet, I hope I don’t get them very bad either. Maria sounds like a lot of fun, kind of the opposite of my friend Michael. He’s way serious all the time, and rarely cracks a joke unless he’s making fun of me. How do you know all this stuff about our technology and the program? Is your government just releasing it all to the public or does one of your parents work for the government? Be sure to tell me as soon as you know whether or not you’re coming here. I’d like to know.
Liz read Max’s letter in shock the next day. ‘Oh no, was I think obvious that I tipped him off that my dad is the President? No, he just asked if one of my parents works for the government, he doesn’t know about my dad. What should I tell him? I don’t want to lie, but I can’t tell the truth either. What do I do?’
Part Seven – The Decision (about six months later)
“Lizzie, are you in there?” asked the President as he stood outside his daughter’s bedroom.
“Yeah Dad, come on in,” Liz replied.
“Good. You know, Liz, I’ve decided to run for a second term.” Jeffery looked nervously at his daughter waiting for her reply.
“I’m aware, Dad.” Liz said coldly as she kept staring at her book.
“Good, well, this means that I have to keep up a good image and with the student exchange program starting next fall, I might not look very good to the public or build up their confidence in Antar if I didn’t let my own daughter have a chance to go, that is if she still wants to go.”
“OH MY GOD, do you really mean it Dad? I can go? Yeah!” Liz said as she bounced up and down on her bed, smiling wildly. “I can’t wait! I should start packing. I have so much to do! When do I leave?”
“Not until August, you’ll start school with the rest of the kids on Antar then.” Jeffery Parker left the room then to give Liz some time to calm down.
Liz went running into the hallway to find Kyle, he was on duty, she knew it, she had just seen him an hour ago. She went into the office area the Secret Service people kept and found him there. She was completely out of breath and still so excited that she couldn’t talk. Kyle, seeing this, panicked thinking something was really wrong.
“Liz, what’s going on? What happened?”
“My. Dad. Said. I. Can. Go. To. Antar.”
“That’s great! I can’t believe he’s letting you go.”
Finally catching her breath, Liz could talk normally. “I know, he said that it was my choice and that he would let me if I still wanted to go. Of course I said yes. I can’t wait to go Kyle; I know I’m going to learn so much! I’ll be one of the first people from Earth to go over there, what an honor!”
“I know Liz; you’re going to have to be on your best behavior. You have to represent the children of Earth and make us look good to the Antarians. You’ll also still have Secret Service protection. Guess who gets to come with you?” Kyle told her.
“You, you do! Kyle, this is so cool. I get to go study on another planet and my favorite agent is coming with me. We’ll have so much fun, I promise!”
“Yes, and now it’s late, so you better go to bed. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Bye Kyle.” Liz said as she headed back to her bedroom knowing that she was still so excited that sleep was hours off.
The next day at school Liz couldn’t wait to tell Maria and Mrs. Deluca her news. Maria was so excited that she almost passed out. She started to hyperventilate and then started crying when she realized that she was losing her best friend for a year or two. Liz tried to comfort her by telling Maria that they could write to each other and use the school’s web-cameras to talk and that a year wasn’t really that long; Maria had other friends she could hang out with in the meantime. Maria finally calmed down and Mrs. Deluca had the time to congratulate Liz on going. At recess time that day Liz decided to stay inside and write to Max to tell him of the new developments.
I have great news! My dad finally said yes! I’m coming to Antar next August to attend school and study your planet! I’m really happy, can you tell? I really didn’t think my dad would let me go since I’m an only child, but he did. My friend Kyle is also coming. He’s really nice, a little over-protective, but great. What is the name of your school? I think it may be the same one that I will be attending. Write back soon!
After reading Liz’s letter, Max’s head hit the table. “What’s wrong, Maxwell?” Michael asked.
“Oh, do you think that’s good or bad?”
“I don’t know. Now I have to tell her who I really am, and I’m not sure if it’s going to go over well or not. I don’t want to loose her as a friend, she’s been really cool.”
“Why do you have to tell her? No one here at school addresses you any differently, the only way she would find out is if she came to the palace.”
A light bulb went off in Max’s brain. “I won’t tell her. You’re right Michael, I’m not treated any differently here, and even if she does come to the palace, I can hide or play sick and then she won’t find out.”
“Sounds like a plan, Maxwell.”
“It is, Michael.”
Back on Earth, Liz was thinking about her upcoming trip in her bedroom. There was a knock at the door and her father entered with a piece of paper in his hands.
“Liz, I got a message from the King of Antar today. When you arrive in a couple of months, he would like for you to stay at the Royal Palace and to go to school with his son and daughter. I think this is a good idea sweetie. This way I will know that you are safe and well cared for and you’ll have kids right there to be friends with.”
“Sounds okay to me, Dad; how big is the palace?”
“About 300 rooms; it sounds huge.”
“Cool, what’s the name of the school I’ll be going to?”
“He said it’s the Antarian Montessori School.”
“Awesome. Goodnight Dad.”
Part Eight – Conflicts
Liz had an in-depth talk with Maria the next day at school. She didn’t know whether or not to tell Max who she really was before going to Antar, or not.
“Maria, I’ll feel really bad if I get there and he finds out who I am and doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. He seems like such a cool guy. I don’t want to loose him as a friend, but if I tell him ahead of time, he may decide that he just wants to be my friend just because I’m the President’s daughter.”
“I don’t know, Lizzie, I think being honest is the best policy. It’s going to be quite a shock if you get there and he hears that the President’s daughter is there and her name is Elizabeth Parker.”
“I know Maria, but I’m so scared. What if he doesn’t want to be friends anymore?”
“Then you’ll be down one friend. You’ll still have me, Lizzie. I’ll always be your friend. And when you get to Antar I know you’ll make more friends there.” Maria said as she hugged her best friend in the world.
“But even there I can’t be sure whether or not they like me because I’m me or because I’m the President’s daughter. I hate this; I just want to be a normal girl.”
“Liz, you have to tell him. Giving him more time to adjust to all this will be better than just springing it on him when you get there.”
“I guess you’re right Maria. I’ll write to him today and tell him; the sooner, the better, right?”
“Can I have another hug?”
“Sure!” Maria said as the two friends hugged and the end of recess bell went off.
Two hours later Liz sat in front of her computer station trying to think of the right words to tell Max who she really is. ‘How do I tell him that I have been keeping the truth from him for three years? This is so hard. I guess I’ll tell him everything that affects this. I hope it will all help him to understand where I am coming from.’
You already know that I am totally excited about coming to Antar, but there is something that I haven’t told you since we have been writing to each other. I think the best way to say this is to just come right out with it. Here it goes; my father is the President of the United States. That is how I got into the exchange program and knew about the technology from your planet. The reason I didn’t tell you this before is because it is so hard for me to make friends when people know who I am. I can never tell if they are talking to me because they really want to know me or because they want something from me because of who my father is. I really hope you’re not too mad at me for keeping this from you, but I wanted you to know the real me before I told you about my dad. I’m telling you now because I think you would have figured out who I am when I get to Antar anyways, and I wanted to make sure that I have at least one friend while I am there. Will you still be my friend?
Max sat starring at the screen as he read Liz’s letter. ‘Wow, and I thought I had a secret. She was keeping the same thing from me that I was keeping from her. I wonder if I should tell her who I am now that she came clean with me. I think I’ll just write her back and make sure that we’re still friends before I tell her about me.’
What a shock reading your last letter was! So you live in the White House? What’s it like being the President’s daughter? Of course I’ll still be our friend. I have really enjoyed writing to you over the past few years. Being in your place and having the courage to tell the truth is really admirable. I don’t think I would have done the same thing in your situation. Have you heard anything else about your trip here? Where are you staying? What school are you going to? Where will you be visiting?
Your friend forever,
Relief flooded over Liz as she read Max’s reply. ‘Thank goodness he understands, or at least is trying to. I was so scared I would loose him. I wonder where all these questions came from, he’s never asked that many before?’ Liz then decided to write him back with the answers he was seeking, it was the least she could do after keeping such a big secret from him.
My Dad sat me down the other day and told me all about my trip. Here’s what I know. The King as extended an invitation for me to stay at the palace with his family while I attend school at the Antarian Montessori School. Isn’t that the same school you go to? The only other thing I have been told is that I will see the whole planet and be studying science most of the time. Has anything been said about the exchange program on your planet? Thank you so much for being understanding about my secret. I wanted to tell you so many times, but I was so scared. Maria finally said that telling you before I got there would be better than just springing it on you later. I guess she was right. I can’t wait to get to Antar and meet you, your sister, and your friend Michael. That Khivar guy hasn’t been around, has he? I don’t think I would like to meet him. Thanks again for understanding.
Part Nine – Departure (August 2015)
The entire White House staff and press corps gathered to see Liz and her entourage off to Antar. Months of preparation had gone into this and they were all excited to see their hard work pay off. Liz, her father, and Kyle all stood together waiting for the final call to tell them that Kyle could depart. He would be leaving a couple of minutes before Liz to make sure there was no imminent danger for her.
Jeffery Parker couldn’t believe he was letting his only child go to another planet. He knew he had to keep up a good front with the press corps watching and that wasn’t making this any easier. He just wanted to take her into his arms and keep her safe forever, but he knew that was unreasonable. Especially since Liz was so independent. He knew Kyle would have his hands full trying to keep track of her; she wanted to go so many places and see so many things. A call over the radio jerked him out of his thoughts as he heard a voice saying that everything was ready for Kyle to leave.
Kyle stepped forward into the machine. It was a huge sphere with a chair in the center, which he would have to sit in and poof, he would just disappear before everyone’s eyes and reappear on Antar. He didn’t exactly understand how it worked, but he trusted it because twenty people had gone before him with no injuries. He heard the countdown start:
“5, 4, 3, 2, 1,”
And bang, he opened his eyes to see the Antarians waiting to greet him. They looked friendly enough and they weren’t armed, as far as he could see, so he sent back the signal that it was okay for Liz to come through too.
Liz was starting to get nervous. Kyle was gone and her Dad was starting to freak out. She was hoping that he wouldn’t change his mind at the last minute and pull the plug on her trip. He was squeezing her hand way too tightly. She was overjoyed when the signal came back that she was clear to go. She stepped up to the chair and waved goodbye to her dad. She was starting to second-guess her decision of going to Antar when she was whisked away.
‘What an awesome feeling! It’s like I’m floating. How cool… I wonder why this is all happening.’
Once again, she found herself sitting in the chair. Kyle was standing in front of her and she saw some Antarians on either side of him. Her first instinct was to look up where she saw a crystal blue sky. Their sun looked just like the Earth’s sun, but Antar appeared to be closer to their sun than Earth is. Everything seemed so surreal. The grass and trees were bright green and flowers bloomed everywhere.
‘This place looks like something in a movie. It’s too perfect. All the buildings are white and clean; there are no weeds in the soil. With the countryside looking like this, I can’t wait to see the city and palace. This is so awesome.’ Liz thought as she headed toward Kyle and the Antarians.
Liz had come to Antar a week before the other students. The King had insisted that she have extra time to look around and get adjusted. He had also told the President that dignitaries from some neighboring planets were coming for a conference and he would like Liz or someone else from Earth to meet them. The President had agreed and sent Liz.
The Royal escort took Liz and Kyle directly from the landing site to the palace. The palace was even bigger than Liz had imagined. The outside walls were white with a coral trim and roof. Each side of the palace had huge towers that each housed a member of the Royal Family’s bedroom. Liz and Kyle were met by the King and Queen when they arrived at the palace.
“Hello Elizabeth. I am King Phillip and this is Queen Diane. This must be your guard, Kyle?”
“Yes Your Majesties, he is. I am so pleased to meet you. You can call me Liz, everyone else does.”
“So are we, Liz. I’m sorry our children aren’t here to greet you too. Isabel decided to go shopping and took her brother with her. They will be here for dinner though.”
“That’s fine. If you don’t mind, I would like to get settled in my room.”
“Of course dear,” replied the Queen, “I’ll show you to them.”
They headed up a grand staircase and took a left turn. Liz’s room was at the end of the hallway on the left; Kyle’s was the room just before it.
“Liz, your room is right across the hall from my daughter’s. I thought you might like to be near another girl.” The Queen said.
“Yes, that’s fine ma’am.”
The Queen then left telling them to be down to dinner in two hours. Liz looked around her room like she had hit the jackpot.
“Can you believe this place, Kyle? It’s all so beautiful. These rooms are huge and look at this furniture; it looks like something out of a fairy tale.”
“I know Liz, it’s almost too good to be true,” Kyle replied, skeptically.
“Lighten up Kyle, enjoy yourself.”
“Not a chance Liz.”
“All right, just don’t bring my mood down.”
In the meantime Max could not believe the torture he was being put through. This was the third time this week he was being made to go shopping with his sixteen year old sister, Isabel. Each shopping trip got longer and longer with Isabel buying more stuff for him to carry. He couldn’t believe how much stuff she already had and where did she find the room to put even more stuff? Isabel handed him another bag and broke his train of thought.
“Come on Max. We’re on a tight time schedule today. We have to be back at 7pm for the big dinner with the new Earth girl.”
“I’m well aware of that Isabel. Could you shop faster please?”
“I’m trying; just take this bag. Come on; let’s go to the next store.”
‘Great, the big dinner is tonight. I get to meet Liz. She still doesn’t know who I really am. I wonder if she’ll put two and two together and figure it out when they introduce me. What if she doesn’t like me? What if she’s ugly? What if she thinks I’m ugly? I have to put up with her for the next year. We’ll be living in the same house and going to the same school so there’s no way I can avoid her. I hope she’s cool about all of this. I can’t believe I’m this nervous over a girl. When did I stop thinking they have cooties? I guess it was a year and a half ago. I think it was because I started to see Liz as a person and not just a girl. Wow, where did that deep thought come from? Oh well, I better stop talking in my head before I go crazy.’
“Come on Max. We have to go now or we’ll be late. Dad will be really mad if we’re late. This is an important dinner. Do you think you could make it through without belching, burping or farting?” Isabel asked her brother.
“Yes oh darling sister, I think I can. Can you make it though without talking about zits, clothes and boys?”
“Whatever, Max. I’m leaving are you coming?”
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Part Ten – The Dinner
“Isabel, Max, I am very ashamed of you. We have already been seated for half an hour. Our guests probably think you are the rudest kids in the universe!” The Queen yelled as she intercepted her children at the front door.
“Sorry Mom, Isabel was shopping and you know how she gets when she shops.” Max replied as he scooted by his mother and headed toward the formal dining room.
‘Great, now Liz’s first impression of me is that I’m late. This is SO not how I wanted to start this relationship off. Isabel will pay for this one later.’ Max thought as he walked. Max felt like he was on a death march as he headed down the long hallway to the formal dining room.
Liz and Kyle had been sitting at the table making small talk with the King for nearly half an hour. Liz kept thinking that this must be what hell is; stuck indefinitely at a dinner table with a King who only talked about politics. At least her dad talked about other stuff like sports and movies. Liz heard the Queen’s voice echo down the hallway, then a young male’s and female’s. She figured the kids must be back from shopping. Liz looked up as she heard footsteps approaching the door. A boy about her age walked in and bowed to the King.
“Thank you for joining us, Max. These are our guests; Liz Parker, the President’s daughter and Kyle Valenti, her bodyguard.” The King said.
Max stared at Liz knowing this was the girl he had been talking to for three years. She still didn’t know he was her pen-pal. He knew he should tell her as soon as possible, as soon as he could get her alone. Liz looked at Max, mesmerized. He had shiny black hair with clear auburn eyes and eyelashes any girl would kill for. Their staring contest lasted for what seemed like forever but was broken up by the King who gave them permission to return to their seats. Max sat down in a chair and waited quietly for his mother and sister to join them. After ten minutes of awkward silence in the room, the Queen and Isabel entered.
“Finally, we’re all here.” The King said and then told the servants. “We’ll have our dinner now.”
There was even more awkward silence that was only broken up by the Queen asking the kids questions which were answered with one-word answers.
‘This is gonna be one heck of a year.’ Liz thought.
After dinner, which ended two hours later, everyone retired to their rooms. Isabel, Liz and Kyle walked together to their wing of the palace. Isabel told Liz they could go shopping anytime with an unlimited budget. Kyle just rolled his eyes hoping Liz wouldn’t take Isabel up on that offer. Liz went to her room to read her favorite play Romeo & Juliet one more time. She would never get sick of it.
An hour later there was a faint knock at her door. She wondered who it was, Kyle would be using the adjoining door and she didn’t think Isabel would come over to talk to her. When she opened the door she was surprised to see Max standing there staring at her again.
“What are you doing here?” Liz asked him hesitantly.
“We need to talk,” Max replied.
“Ok, come on in.”
“Here goes nothing.” Max muttered under his breath.
“What did you say?” Liz asked.
“Nothing; I guess I should just say this, but please don’t interrupt me until I’m finished, ok?”
“All right, go ahead.”
“We will both attend the Antarian Montessori School this fall; I’ve been going there since kindergarten. We’re both in the eighth grade. My class has been in a pen-pal program for the past three years. I was tortured by my sister who requires I shop with her. My pen-pal came clean with a really big secret several months ago. Do you see where I’m going with this Liz?” Max asked frustrated because he was unable to just come out with the words. He needed her to figure it out.
“You’re my pen-pal aren’t you?” Liz replied to him.
“Yes, I am.” Max admitted.
Liz was in shock; she couldn’t believe he had kept this a secret. She decided that yelling would be the best thing to do to make her feel better. “Why didn’t you just tell me who you were when I came clean with you? Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to tell you who I am? I risked everything! You just sat back and laughed, didn’t you? You thought all of this was funny?”
Max thought it was now best to stop her. “No, I don’t think this is funny. I was shocked when I got your letter that told me who you really were. I had been terrified up until that point to tell you who I was too. Then once you told me, we only exchanged a few more letters and I didn’t get a chance to tell you. Look, I would still like to be your friend. Come talk to me when you have calmed down if you would still like to be my friend, ok?” And with that, Max exited the room.
Liz stood in the middle of her room trying to figure out what was going on. She walked over to her four-poster bed and thought about what had just occurred. ‘In Max and Isabel I have found two people who understand what I have gone through. Maybe I should give Max another chance to be my friend. But for not being totally honest, he does deserve to be toyed with a little. Maybe I should take Isabel up on her shopping offer?’ Liz thought.
Liz walked across the hall to Isabel’s rooms and knocked on the door.
“Enter.” Liz heard come from inside Isabel’s room. She walked in and saw Isabel sitting at an elaborate dressing table brushing her hair. Liz couldn’t believe how beautiful Isabel was. She had perfect blonde hair that fell in perfect shiny waves. Her complexion was perfect, too; her make-up was simple yet it fitted her. Liz wondered how Isabel’s clothes looked unwrinkled and seemed to fit Isabel to a T. Liz could never find clothes that fit her that way.
“Hi, Isabel; I was just wondering if we could go shopping tomorrow. I didn’t get to pack much, so I could use some new clothes and some advice. I’m never sure what to wear.”
“I’m all over that one,” Isabel replied, “The stores open at 9am, we’ll start then, taking one half hour lunch break at approximately 1pm, we’ll continue until 6:30pm which will get us home by 7pm for dinner. I’ll call Max over the intercom and tell him to be ready.”
“Thanks Isabel!” Liz said as she smiled at the older girl who she was sure was going to be one of her new best friends. Liz had to laugh to herself as she walked back to her own rooms. ‘Max is going to get what he deserves tomorrow.’
The next morning Liz, Max, Isabel and Kyle met in the front foyer to go shopping. The royal limousine pulled up to the front door and they all hopped in. Max was the first to talk.
“So Isabel, we just did a marathon shopping day yesterday. Why do we have to do this again?”
“Because dear brother, our new friend Liz didn’t get to pack many clothes and needs my infinite amount of fashion advice.” Liz and Isabel gave both of the boys, huge smiles which told them that they were in for it; the girls weren’t just doing this because Liz needed new clothes. There was something else behind Liz’s smile.
“Great.” Both Max and Kyle groaned.
‘This is going to be the day from hell.’ Both Max and Kyle thought at the same time.
Three hours later Liz and Isabel gave in to the boys’ whining and went to lunch. Both of them were weighed down with five bags in each hand.
“If you boys don’t whine through lunch, I’ll allow you to take the bags back to the limo so you won’t have to carry them plus everything else we buy this afternoon, too.” Isabel said trying to shut them up for awhile.
“Deal.” Both Max and Kyle replied.
Lunch was uneventful, and the afternoon shopping spree was very productive. The girls ended up buying Liz an entire wardrobe including shoes and accessories. Max and Kyle both had blisters on their feet from walking so much and on their hands from holding so much weight.
‘This is not what I signed up for.’ Kyle thought, as they finally walked toward the limo to go back to the palace.
The King met them at the door. He wanted to see what kind of shape the boys would be in when they got there. He laughed hysterically at them, as they hobbled out of the limo. He was laughing so hard that he couldn’t even say anything. He just walked away to calm down before dinner. The rest of the group entered the palace and headed to their rooms. Liz and Isabel went to put away their new clothes with Max and Kyle heading to their bathrooms to take care of their blisters.
The day was a success. Liz was happy that Max had suffered enough. She felt bad for Kyle though, she hadn’t meant for him to get caught up in this. He and Isabel seemed to be getting along well though, that made the trip worth it. She was also happy that she had gotten to see most of the city today. All of the buildings looked the same as the other buildings she had seen with all of the landscaping being just beautiful. She wished the people in America could make their houses look like these. All of the people were friendly; she hadn’t sensed that anyone had wanted to hurt her. Liz liked it here. Now she just needed to apologize to Max and Kyle.
Part Eleven – The Apologies
Liz decided Kyle would be the easier of the two of them to apologize to, so she would start there. She knocked on Kyle’s door and entered without waiting for a response.
“Kyle, where are you?”
“In the bathroom Liz, come on in.”
Liz flinched when she saw the blisters on his hands. ‘Gee, maybe we went a little too hard on the guys.’ Liz thought.
“Look, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for everything Isabel and I put you through today. I promise I won’t make you go through this again. I just wanted to get back at Max for not telling me who he was through the pen-pal program because I had been honest with him and he didn’t tell me, get it? Can I be forgiven?” Liz finally stopped when she realized she was rambling.
“Sure Liz, I was just doing my job.”
“Great, see you at dinner!” Liz said as she hugged Kyle and headed out the door towards Max’s room.
Liz took a moment to compose herself, before knocking on Max’s door. She knew this was going to be gut- wrenching and she didn’t want to get too mushy. She finally felt ready to knock and did so. She had to wait a second before she heard Max.
Liz walked into Max’s room. It looked like a typical boy’s room. The carpet and walls were in different shades of blue with the rest of the room decorated with sports and car memorabilia. She saw Max sitting at his desk typing on a computer.
“Hey Max, what are you doing?”
“Oh, it’s you,” Max said disappointedly. “What pain do you want to inflict this time?”
“None, really; I just wanted to say that I had fun shopping with Isabel, but I don’t think I want to do it again, at least when you and Kyle are there. It was wrong for us to have you guys carry all those bags for so long and to make you walk so much. There was no reason for it except to get back at you for not telling me the truth. But I don’t feel better now that I did that, I feel worse. I should have just accepted your apology and become your friend again, but I was immature and decided I had to get revenge. So I just wanted to say that I’m sorry, okay?”
“All right, I’ll accept your apology if you agree to be friends now. We have to get along Liz, or it’s going to be a really long year.”
“I know; I was hoping for that too. Since we’re going to be in the same class at school and around the palace all the time, it would be hard not to get along. So I’ll see you at dinner, okay Max?”
“Yup, see you there.”
Dinner that night was relatively quiet except for the King talking about a summit that was occurring between Antar and the other planets around them. He said the only thing that would concern the children was a formal gala, which was happening in two nights. He wanted all three of them to attend along with Kyle. He kept stressing how important it was, which made Liz wondered why. She had made appearances at all sorts of functions at the White House but it was never that important she be there, it was just a formality. She decided to ask Max what was going on with the gala, after dinner. She found him back in his room, in front of his computer.
“Hey Max, I was just wondering. Why is it so important that we be at this gala? Nothing like this ever happened on Earth.”
“Well, to make a long story short. My father will be making a big announcement. Our royalty system is much like it is on Earth. We don’t marry anyone who is too much lower in social standing than ourselves, which means Isabel and I pretty much have to marry other Princes and Princesses. Since Isabel is sixteen now, it’s time for her to get married. My father will be announcing her engagement at the gala.”
“Who is she marrying? Does she know him? Isn’t this a bit cruel?”
Max laughed as Liz fired questions at him. He knew his parents believed strongly in these marriages because they helped to strengthen the royal family, but he wasn’t exactly looking forward to marrying someone he didn’t know.
“She has met him, but she doesn’t really know him. They have met twice, I think. His name is Nicholas and he’s the son of the King of the planet next to ours. Yes, I think this is a bit funky and I’m not looking forward to it, but Isabel seems to be handling things fine. She has always been preparing for this.”
“I guess I can be okay with this as long as she is. Do you know who you’re going to marry yet?”
“No, that should be decided in the next year. My parents had to get Isabel married first.”
“Ok thanks for the info.” Liz said as she exited Max’s room. She decided the best thing to do was just go with the flow and not make waves. If everyone in the palace seemed okay with this, she would be too.
‘I can’t wait to attend the gala. I get to wear one of my new dresses. Maybe I’ll meet a cute alien here and end up staying. Yeah right, like my dad would ever let that, happen. He would die before he’d let me stay here for the rest of my life. Life here might not be too bad though, everything is so beautiful; even Max. Wow, did I just think that? No, I couldn’t have. Max is my buddy; he’s going to marry some alien princess, as if I would even have a chance with him.’ Liz thought as she sat in her bed that night. She was right; it would be an interesting night.
Part Twelve – The Gala Begins
Max was bored out of his mind the next day. He couldn’t go outside and play because his hands still hurt too much from the shopping incident, yesterday, so he decided to try out the new computer game his mother had given to him. He soon got lost in it and didn’t realize the hours were passing so quickly. He was completely focused on the computer and didn’t hear anything else.
She snuck into his room and crept up behind him. Liz put her hands on Max’s shoulders and scared him witless! Max jumped about a foot off his chair.
“What the hell?”
“I need company and I am worried about Isabel, she’s been withdrawn.”
“I noticed it too.” Max said. “But there really isn’t anything we can do about it. My father will announce the engagement tomorrow night and they’ll be married in a year. She just has to deal with it. It’s been the destiny of my family members for a thousand years, to have marriages like this and just look at my parents; they’re happy, they’ve had great lives.”
“I know all of that, but something still tells me that this isn’t right. I can’t believe that you have just blindly accepted all of this. You’re just going to spend the rest of your life with someone your parents pick? What about true love? Don’t you think it exists? What if you run into your dream girl one day, but you’re married to some other girl your parents picked? Would you be selfish enough to make her your mistress, or just give up on love? That’s not a real life, Max; that is just existing!”
“I know that Liz, and it is kind of hard to swallow, but I just deal with it. I hope that I will have a relationship like my parents have. They were lucky and I hope I am lucky too.” Max said.
It was what he always said. ‘Maybe if I say it enough, I’ll believe it,’ he thought as he looked at Liz. At first, he had thought she looked plain, but now seeing her upset like this he realized there was more to her. She had a fire about her he liked. Her big brown eyes were even bigger and her cheeks were flushed from talking without breathing. She looked so desperate to get her point across that Max felt bad. The whole arranged marriage thing was something he had grown up with; he had always known that when he was 15, his parents would pick his wife, probably for political reasons. They had waited until Isabel was 16 since she is a girl. They needed Max to get married and have kids earlier than Isabel because he would be King, Isabel would always be a princess. Max didn’t necessarily want to be married and have children; he was having lots of fun being a normal kid. But duty called and he had to step up and accept it.
“Max, I just don’t understand, I don’t know if I ever will. Things are different on Earth. We date people and then if there is love, we marry the person and have kids. We haven’t had the arranged marriage stuff for like a hundred years.” Liz said as she paced back and forth in Max’s room.
“Why are you telling me this?” Max said to her. He was getting annoyed. Feelings he had been fighting down were coming to the surface and he didn’t like it. He wished she would just shut up.
“Because you’re the only one available; I was bored and got thinking and wanted to talk to someone.” Liz said defending herself against Max’s question.
“Well, are you finished? I’d like to get back to my game.” Max snapped.
“Fine, I’ll leave you alone. So I guess I’ll see you at the gala tomorrow then?”
“Yes.” Max said as he watched Liz stalk out of his room.
Once she was gone, Max sighed and went into thought. ‘Why am I so annoyed? I’ve always known this was going to happen to me. I still have a little over a year before I’m engaged and a while after that before I’m married. Why do I feel like I’m being cheated? I need to get over this. It’s going to happen whether I like it or not.’ Max thought as he turned his attention back to his computer game.
The next day was uneventful for Liz. She spent the morning reading and the afternoon writing in her journal. She thought about Max’s situation and decided there was nothing she could do about it. Her father had written to her and said when she returned to Earth he would be in the middle of his reelection so he would need her help. He had become President after the former President had been assassinated. He had served the remaining two years of that term, run for election, won, and was near the end of his first four-year term. Liz knew it was very important for him to win, he really loved his job.
At around 4pm she began to get ready for the gala. She chose one of her new dresses to wear. It was a deep hunter green floor length dress with short sleeves. The skirt was kind of puffy and the bodice was made of velvet. It looked very classy, and it made her look older than she was. She changed into her robe and waited for the royal hairdresser and make-up artists to come. When they did, they started work right away. They swept her hair up, pinned it down and made the ends curly. There was no order to it, it looked kind of messy, but like it was supposed to be that way. The make-up lady just put powder and lip gloss on her saying that Liz was young and naturally beautiful enough that she did not need much make-up. When they left, Liz put her dress and shoes on and waited to be told it was time to go down.
Half an hour later Kyle knocked on Liz’s door and escorted her downstairs to the Grand Ballroom. Liz was amazed at how many people there were in the palace. The ballroom was packed, the doors leading to the gardens were open and Liz could see people walking around out there too. As she neared the top of the Grand Staircase, the butler announced her name and home planet. Heads turned when they heard her name and planet. Everyone was curious about her. Kyle led her down the stairs and people besieged them. Kyle kept them from getting too close while Liz tried to be gracious and answer their questions as best she could.
After an hour of this, Kyle pulled her away so they could get some drinks. It was then Liz realized neither Isabel nor Max were here. She asked Kyle about this and he told her Max would be down in 15 minutes, Isabel would not be down for another hour; when her parents would make the announcement. Then Kyle asked Liz to dance, to keep her away for the crowd that kept forming around her.
Two songs later Liz heard Max’s name called. She looked up to see him descend the staircase and her mouth dropped open.
‘Oh. My. God.’ Liz thought as she stared at Max, ‘He can’t be real. He looks so good in his tux. I wonder if I’m drooling. Goodness Liz, you have to stop this. Raging hormones are going to make things worse. He’s so not available. But what if…?’
Part Thirteen – The Big Night
Max sat in his room bored to tears. He was in his tux, which was custom-made for him by the royal tailor. He was supposed to go down to the ballroom 45 minutes ago, but no one had come to get him yet. He was starting to think they had forgotten him when there was a knock on the door. His valet was there and together they walked to the top of the grand staircase. He gasped as he saw how many people were in the ballroom. He had never seen so many people in the palace before. He scanned the room for people he knew, but didn’t see anyone. His name was announced and he descended the stairs as quickly as possible.
Once at the bottom, Max was flooded with people wanting his attention. He had expected people to be curious about his sister’s engagement, but all they kept talking about was the Earthling. He assumed they were speaking about Liz. They kept saying how enchanting she was and how nice she looked in her dress. Max kept scanning the ballroom for her, but she was not in sight. By this time he was in a corner, completely surrounded by people. They all wanted to know about Liz. Max thought quickly and just kept saying the same thing to everyone.
“She only arrived last week. We’ve talked a couple of times, but I don’t know her that well. Please feel free to talk to her if you would like to know her better.”
Once he said this about a thousand times, he was able to get away from the crowd. He had thought that this would be like all of the other balls; boring. People usually danced and talked and ignored him and Isabel. Now he seemed to be the center of attention, or at least Liz was. As he left the crowd, he kept looking for Liz. Max walked toward the dance floor when he heard a feminine giggle. He turned around and stopped.
‘Wow!’ Max thought as his mouth hung open. ‘I can’t believe Liz looks that good. She’s smiling and laughing at Kyle. They are having fun dancing together. I don’t like that. She should be dancing with me! Wow where did that come from? I don’t like Liz, I can’t like Liz. I have to do the arranged marriage thing and it won’t be with Liz, unless I’m lucky. Now where did that come from? She has really gotten to me. I’ve never been this off before. I need to get it together.’
“Max, do you need a tissue for your drool?” Liz asked.
Max looked at Liz, mortified. “Um, ah, no I don’t. Thanks for asking.”
“So you finally came down here, I thought you weren’t going to show.”
“Yeah well, I got here as soon as they told me it was time to come down. So you’re glad I’m here now?” Max asked as he smiled at Liz. He had completely mistaken her meaning on the last question. He thought she was totally eager to see him, whereas she was just asking what took so long.
“I guess so; I’m getting tired from all the people asking me dumb questions about Earth. Why don’t they just buy a book about it?”
“Oh, I guess they could.” Max replied shyly, wondering what Liz was thinking. Was she feeling the same things he was?
“Since Kyle left me to check security, would you like to dance?”
“Um, sure.” Max said as he led Liz to the dance floor. She was graceful in his arms as he led her into a waltz. They stared into each other’s eyes, not looking away. Two songs later the music stopped because the orchestra was taking a break. Max and Liz kept dancing not realizing the music had stopped. Liz finally stopped.
“Max, I think the song ended.”
“Oh yeah, it did.”
“I don’t know.” Max said as he leaned into Liz, tilting his head, ready to give Liz her first kiss. Liz did the same, tilting her head the other way. They were a centimeter apart when a high-pitched, shrill voice broke their trance.
“Maxie-poo, I’m so glad to see you! I missed you so much!”
Part Fourteen – The Gerbil Cometh
‘Oh God, not her!’ Max thought as he slowly turned around. Putting a fake smile on his face he decided it would be best to be nice to his parents’ best friends’ daughter.
“Hello Tess, how have you been?”
“I’m much better now that I found you!” Tess replied in her annoying way of talking.
‘Oh great, she’s flirting with me. Won’t she ever get the hint?’ Max thought.
“This must be that lowly Earthling everyone is talking about. I don’t see what’s so great about her.” Tess said, as she looked Liz up and down. Liz stared at her with her mouth open wondering where this girl got her nerve. Liz calmly walked away from Max and Tess hoping to find Kyle and get out of there.
“Liz, wait!” Max yelled after her to no avail. Turning back to Tess his anger boiled over. In a harsh whisper he told her exactly what he thought of her.
“Tess, I don’t like you in any way shape or form. I don’t even want to be your friend. Seeing the way you treat other people makes me sick. Because our parents are friends, I feel the need to at least be nice to you in public, but things will never go farther than that, understood?”
“But Max, my mother said that we are to be married. I’m going to be your bride. I always get my way. You’ll marry me whether you like it or not.”
“We’ll just see about that one Tess.” Max said as he stormed off to find Liz.
As Max was leaving the ballroom to find her, his parents stopped him. Letting out a loud sigh, he asked what was going on. They wanted to know why Tess was in the ladies room crying her eyes out. Max decided the best course was to talk on their level.
“Mom, Dad, Tess said bad things that I am not comfortable repeating, to Liz. I don’t think you should allow her around Liz, it could make our relations with Earth worse.”
“Goodness son, we didn’t know. We’ll be sure to do that. You need to stay in the ballroom though, we are about to introduce Isabel and her husband-to-be.”
“Okay, Dad.” Max said as he turned back into the ballroom.
A few minutes later Max and his parents got up on the stage and greeted their guests. They then introduced Isabel and made the announcement that she was engaged. The crowd knew this announcement was coming but there were still some gasps, along with applause. They then brought out Isabel’s fiancé, Alexander Charles Nichols. Max was surprised to hear his whole name, he made a mental note to tell Liz Alexander’s name since he had told her the wrong one.
Max fidgeted on stage wanting to go find Liz and explain what happened with Tess. When he saw a chance to duck behind the stage, he took it and headed down the long hallway toward Liz’s room. He reached her door and knocked. Max waited for a minute and did not receive an answer from inside. He decided to open the door since Liz was probably mad and wouldn’t open the door for him anyway. He found her rooms empty.
‘Where could she be?’ Max thought as he headed back down the hallway. He was careful not to draw attention to himself and get sucked back into the gala. He then realized that there were people in the gardens and that Liz might be out there. He took the back way to get there and began to search the gardens. He didn’t have to search long when he found Liz sitting on a bench with Kyle. Kyle had his arm around her and she was leaning into him. Max was immediately jealous and didn’t like the feeling. He watched them for a minute and decided to break in to explain what had taken place.
“Excuse me, Kyle, could I have a minute with Liz please?”
“If she wants to have a minute with you, you can.” Kyle replied sarcastically.
“It’s ok, Kyle, I’ll talk to him. So Max, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“You need to understand about Tess, Liz. She’s the daughter of my parents’ best friends. I’ve known her since I was born. I don’t like her. I think she’s really rude and superficial. What she said to you was totally wrong and I told her that. She thinks she’s going to marry me and become queen, but I told her that would happen over my dead body. I don’t think I could handle that.”
“Thanks Max, I feel a little better. I need time to think. I thought everyone’d better receive me, but I’m just a curiosity to them. I’m going to my room now, okay? I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Please make my excuses to everyone so they don’t think I’m rude.”
“No problem, I’ll see you tomorrow. We’re still friends, right?”
“Yup, see ya!” Liz said, smiling at Max.
Liz went back to her room and decided to check her mail. She was surprised to see a letter from Maria. Liz opened it and squealed with delight.
‘Oh my God; Maria’s coming to Antar! She’ll be here next week! I’m so excited! I’ll have my best friend here. Yeah!’ Liz thought as she jumped around her room.
Part Fifteen – Maria’s Arrival
Liz had hurried around for the next week without much time to talk to Max or Isabel. She had noticed Isabel seemed happier since the gala. Liz had talked to the King and Queen and received permission for Maria to live at the palace too. Liz got Maria’s rooms ready while Kyle made sure they were safe. He had also headed out to the arrival site to make sure that it was secure as well. It was finally the big day.
The Royal Family, Liz and Kyle were standing on the arrival platform waiting for the new arrival. The King and Queen were glad Liz’s friend was coming. They hoped she would make Liz more comfortable on Antar. Max was dreading another girl in the palace, as it was he was outnumbered, did they have to make it worse? Finally, the group heard the beeps and bang and right in front of them stood a girl with short, blonde hair and bright green eyes. She had a smile plastered to her face and when she saw Liz they both went nuts, jumping up and down, screaming and hugging each other.
Liz finally broke away from her and introduced Maria to the group. They all shook hands and headed to their cars. Isabel insisted on riding with Liz and Maria for some “girl bonding time.” Max groaned and ran to his parents’ car. Once in the car, the girls began their girl-talk.
“Maria, wait until you see our rooms! They’re huge and beautiful. They’re nothing like it on Earth. We can shop whenever we want with an unlimited budget! We have promised the boys we won’t make them shop with us anymore though, so we have to carry our own bags.” Liz began.
“God Liz, this whole place is unbelievable. And to think, two weeks ago I was at home with this normal life. Then some kid drops out of the program and my mom got me in. She said that I was moping too much over you and it would do me good to get some culture.”
“So let me tell you more about the people you’ll be living with.” Liz continued. “This is Isabel, she’s a princess and she has an arranged marriage to a guy named Alexander; he seems okay. I have only seen him once; it was at the gala last week. He was in the hall and I bumped into him. Max is Isabel’s brother. He’s our age and a pain in the butt.”
“Liz, is that something other than dislike I hear in your voice? Do you like this Max kid?”
“No, Maria; absolutely not!” Liz said blushing.
“I think you do! Lizzie, are you holding out on me? Come on, this is me you’re talking to, spill.”
“I don’t know what’s going on. All I know is that I had a great time dancing with him at the gala and I think we almost kissed, but some blonde ditz broke in.”
“You mean Tess?” Isabel asked.
“I think that was her name, I wasn’t really paying attention.” Liz replied.
“I hate her. The only reason I put up with her is because I have to. She has been all over Max since we were kids. Talking about how it’s their destiny to be together as King and Queen. It makes me sick. Max hates her too, but our parents seem to like her. That scares me. I hope they can see through her and don’t make Max marry her. We’re already on good terms with her planet, we always have been. There are other issues with other planets that could be settled by Max’s marriage.” Liz was happy Isabel was finally giving her opinion. She always seemed so perfect to Liz; she didn’t seem like the type of person to talk badly about anyone.
“So Isabel, how do you feel about your upcoming marriage? Do you like this Alexander guy?” Liz asked.
“He’s okay, a little skinnier than my taste, but he’s smart and funny. I like that he makes me laugh. He’s kind of dorky, but I think I can deal. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I still have a year until the marriage, to get to know him.”
“That’s good. I was worried about you for a couple of days. You seemed so out of it. I don’t mean to change the subject, but we’re going to have to take Maria shopping. She didn’t get to bring much either. When do you want to go?”
“We’ll have to go tomorrow since school starts the day after that.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Liz said with a smile.
The next day of shopping was a blast. The three girls bonded right away. They each had their own styles, but they were able to come together and get Maria just the right clothes and a few things for Liz and Isabel too! At the end of their day, they began to discuss the next school year.
“Maria, here’s the deal. You, Max and I will all be in the same class. Since Isabel is older, she’s in a different one. Max said something about one of his friends, Michael; I think, also being in our class. I’m kind of nervous; I was the smart kid in our school. What if everyone here is smarter than I am?”
“Oh Liz, calm down. You’ll always be the smart one. I’m a little worried about being accepted, but I have you here, so it doesn’t matter too much to me. As long as we’re together, I can deal with anything.”
“Maria, that was so sweet! I think it’s time for a group hug.” The three girls hugged in the middle of the store gaining the attention of the other shoppers.
“I think it’s time to go home. Dinner is waiting and we should get a good night’s rest tonight.” Isabel said.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Maria said as they headed out to their car.
Part Sixteen – The First Day of School
The next morning, the palace was in a flurry. It always was on the first day of school. Isabel was screaming about her hair not being just right. Max was complaining about getting up so early in the morning. Liz couldn’t find her backpack and Maria was stressing over something no one could really figure out. Maria took a vial out of her pocket and started smelling it. Just then the Queen walked over and stopped suddenly.
“Goodness my dear, whatever are you doing?” She asked Maria.
“It’s cypress oil, it relieves stress. I do this all the time, it really helps.”
“Well, do what you must dear. We’re glad to have you here.” The Queen said humoring Maria, not quite sure if Maria was handling the transition well or if she was going off the deep end.
“Thank you Your Majesty.” Maria said as she walked toward Liz’s room. When she got there she knocked and went in to see if Liz was ready to leave. Five minutes later they headed to the main doors to get into the car to go to school.
Liz had never been so nervous in her life. She usually loved the first day of school. School was the place she felt most comfortable. She fit in there; the teachers loved her because she always did and understood her work and the rest of the kids respected her because she was always willing to help them. Her hands were clammy and shaking as the stepped into the car. Max and Isabel were already in the car. They looked calm. Liz didn’t understand how they could be calm, it didn’t make sense. Suddenly Isabel reached out and grabbed Liz’s hand. It had a great calming effect on her. She still had her fears, but knowing she had Isabel and Maria to back her up made her feel much better.
Liz was surprised when they arrived at the school. No one looked at them like they were weird. Max had told her they were treated like the other kids, but she thought he was just blowing smoke. Why wouldn’t a princess and prince be treated differently? They were different. Max ran off to find his friend while Isabel showed Liz and Maria to their classroom. There they met their teacher who seemed nice enough. They heard the first bell ring and kids came running into the room like their lives depended on it.
They had assigned seats. Maria looked to Liz who was seated next to Max; then she looked to the empty seat next to her. The name tag said “Michael” and Maria wondered who this kid was and why he didn’t come in when the rest of the kids did.
A loud bang and other loud sounds came from the hallway along with a young male voice. He let out some expletives, which the teacher obviously did not like since she immediately got up and went out into the hallway. She entered a minute later holding a boy by his ear. She escorted him near Maria, which made her nervous and she backed up in her seat as far as she could. The teacher set the boy in the chair next to Maria while Max just looked at him and smiled disapprovingly.
“Well, Mr. Guerin, the next time you decide to be late to class; try not to make such a disturbance. The class and I do not appreciate it. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Ms. Hardy.” The boy named Michael said back to the teacher.
‘This kid looks like a real problem.’ Maria thought as she looked closer at him. His hair was spiky and unruly, his clothes were wrinkled and untucked and he slouched in his seat like he didn’t care about anything.
The rest of the morning was uneventful as Ms. Hardy went over the classroom rules and what they would be doing for this school year. She told them she had several field trips planned with one of them requiring an overnight stay because they would be traveling so far. The class cheered at the prospect of traveling. Liz was excited because it was a trip to look at the craters and springs on the other side of the planet. She had heard of them, and really wanted to see them. The next bell rang at noon to signal lunchtime. Everyone headed to the cafeteria to get their meals.
Liz and Maria headed in, got food, and sat together at a table. They saw Isabel enter with her group of friends and she waved to them as they walked by. Then they saw Max and Michael get done in the food line and head toward the girls.
“Oh great, here comes the reject from this morning.” Maria said.
“Chill Maria, he’s Max’s friend, so he can’t be that bad.”
“Wanna bet on that?”
The boys sat down and Max introduced Michael to them. Michael half-smiled at Liz and glared at Maria. Maria couldn’t believe he was being so rude to her when they had just met.
“Do you have a personality?” She asked Michael.
“Yeah, but you obviously don’t.” He countered.
“You are so rude! What have I ever done to you?” Maria shrieked as Michael looked away. “Are you listening to me or are you learning impaired?”
“Okay fighters, to your corners.” Liz said breaking them up. “Just chill, you just met. Can we eat lunch in peace, please?”
“I guess so.” Maria replied.
‘This is going to be one bumpy relationship, I just know it.’ Maria thought as she finished her lunch.
Here's two more parts, I'm on a break from studying right now. Enjoy!
Part Seventeen – The Visit
Isabel stood in the front of the palace with a suitcase by each leg. Her parents and brother stood behind her in silent support. She had been visibly upset all day, but was trying to hold it in. She had never felt more completely alone than at that moment. She felt as though she could scream all of her fears out and no one would act on it, that no one cared how she really felt or what she wanted out of life. Her brother just kept telling her to get over it and accept what was happening. Her father was to the point where he wouldn’t even talk to her and her mother sometimes seemed to care, but when push came to shove the Queen always sided by the King too. Liz and Maria had tried to talk to Isabel, but they just didn’t understand what she was going through and couldn’t make it better. They knew they had long love lives ahead of them and they would be able to choose any man they wanted for a husband. Isabel was not allowed that luxury.
The Queen looked down at her daughter and wondered if they were doing the right thing. At first she had thought a visit with her husband-to-be would be good for Isabel. It would help her adjust to the idea and get to know him better. But now seeing her so upset; the Queen wondered if they shouldn’t have waited several months before sending Isabel to Alexander’s planet. It was all too late now, with the escort on its way and the King so set in his ways. She just wanted her daughter to know she was there for her no matter what.
Liz stood in her bedroom window watching the scene below. She knew this was sort of a “family moment,” so she and Maria had stayed upstairs. She still felt bad for Isabel. Liz couldn’t imagine being in her position. She thought Max was being too idealistic in thinking that he would be lucky and be forced to marry someone he actually liked. What were the chances of that actually happening? Just then Liz saw a motorcade pull up to the palace with several men getting out of the cars and picking up Isabel’s luggage. Isabel was leaving for a week. It was the major holiday on the planet her fiancé was from and she was joining him and his family, to celebrate. He would then travel back to Antar with her and spend a week here to “bond” with her family.
Isabel swallowed her tears and stepped forward into the waiting cars as she had been trained to do. “Never cry or show your bad emotions in public” was what she had always been taught.
It would be a five-hour trip to the planet ruled by Sero, Alexander’s father. They would take the cars to the launch pad and then board a cruiser to get them over to the other planet. They did not have to use the newer technology because Sero’s planet was so close; Earth was thousands of times farther away than the planet Isabel was going to. Isabel tried to relax during the flight but just couldn’t. She was having a problem identifying where her troubles were coming from. She wasn’t dreading her time with Alexander, she kinda liked him. There was something deeper and more evil she sensed. Isabel always trusted her instincts, and she just knew Max was going to be in some kind of trouble when she was gone. She decided to contact Max as soon as she reached her destination.
Alexander’s planet looked a lot like Antar except the colors of the building were shades of blue instead of white. As Isabel headed toward the palace, she thought to herself that she liked this better than the colors on Antar. She had to keep her mind on trivial things such as this or she thought she would go crazy. Her feeling of dread was getting worse. As she got even closer, she knew it wasn’t a bad feeling about being here, it was her brother. Isabel didn’t think he was in immediate danger, but something was coming.
As Isabel got out of the car, she spotted Alexander with his goofy smile fixed right on her. ‘He has such a great smile; I can’t believe I’m calming down so much.’ Isabel thought as she walked toward him.
Alexander, or Alex as he preferred to be called, extended his hand to Isabel and escorted her into the palace. “So nice to see you again, Isabel; may I show you to your rooms?”
“Yes, thank you Alexander.” Isabel said formally.
“Right this way, ma’am. And call me Alex, all my friends do.” Alex said with a wink.
Isabel’s rooms in Alex’s palace were much larger than her rooms on Antar. She couldn’t believe it. She didn’t think anything could beat her rooms in her palace, but these definitely did. All of the furnishings were in her favorite shade of pink and were accented by dark woods. Her bathroom here was twice as large as her old one.
“Why Alex, these rooms are beautiful.”
“But of course, I was trying to woo you. Hee hee, that rhymes, woo you. Actually I was just showing you to the rooms my mother picked out for you.” Alex said as he mentally slapped himself. ‘You moron, here’s a gorgeous girl next to you and you blow it by making yourself look bad.’
“Oh, okay, well I…” Isabel started as Alex cut her off.
“I really want you to feel special, I do. Would you like some time to get cleaned up before dinner? Maybe afterwards we could take a walk in the garden?” Alex rambled, getting even more frustrated with himself.
“Sure, that would be great Alex.” Isabel said as she straightened his collar. “Just relax, everything will be fine.”
“Okay.” Alex said in a high-pitched voice as he turned and ran down the hall towards his own rooms.
‘So Alex isn’t very confident around women. We’ll just have to change that, won’t we Isabel?’ She thought as she headed into her bathroom to take a really steamy bubble bath.
Part Eighteen – The First Dinner
Isabel sat in the bath, trying to relax further. Alex had calmed her down tremendously without even trying; by just being himself.
‘Maybe that means we’ll make a good team. My confidence along with his intelligence and humor could be good.’ Isabel thought. ‘I should really talk to Max and find out what’s going on over there. There I go worrying again. He’s a big boy, Isabel; he can take care of himself.’
Ten minutes later Isabel exited the bath, wrapped herself in a fluffy robe and called Max. He was at his computer, so Isabel didn’t have to wait long for a response. He told her that everything was fine. He was doing his homework and hanging out with Liz and Maria. The Antarian palace was busy with preparations for the next holiday, but nothing bad had happened. Isabel told him to be careful and that she knew something bad was coming. Max thanked her and cut her off.
‘How rude; Liz must be near or something. He has such a crush on her, and she likes him too. Maybe they will be my next project when I get home. The hardest part will be convincing dear old dad that Max shouldn’t marry Tess. God, I hate her! I guess everything’s okay on the home front for now. I should just concentrate on this dinner and Alex’s parents. I need to wow them.’
Thirty minutes later Isabel walked into the formal dining room on Alex’s arm.
“Oh my dears, what a cute couple you make; I knew we were doing the right thing, Sero.” The Queen gushed to the young couple.
“Yes dear, you were right. Now let’s sit down and enjoy dinner, shall we?” The King replied as everyone took their seats and started in on the first course.
After six more courses, dinner ended and the King and Queen retired to their chamber. Alex extended his arm again and let Isabel out to the gardens.
Meanwhile back on Antar, Max was not having a good night. He had been having trouble in science. He had figured out quickly that science was Liz’s specialty, so he politely asked her if she would tutor him. Liz was now milking this for all it was worth.
“His Royal Highness needs a tutor? I thought you could do everything by yourself? You’re asking a girl to help you? I can’t believe it. The World must be ending, this is impossible.” These were just a sample of the comments Max had heard that night.
‘Maybe I should have told Isabel about this. Maybe this is what she was sensing. No, from the sounds of it, what she thinks is going to happen is worse than this, but what could be worse than swallowing your pride like I’ve had to do tonight?’
Max left his room to find Liz and get this studying over with. He knocked and entered without being asked to. He figured he needed to be in control and waiting out in the hallway was not going to make Liz think he was in control. Liz was sitting at her desk writing in some sort of book.
“Hey Liz, what are you doing?”
Liz jumped and slammed the book shut. “Oh, nothing; just writing.”
“Like a diary or something?”
“A journal, thank you very much. We scientists call them journals. They help us reflect and find things we may not have noticed the first time we thought about them.”
“Sounds hokey to me.” Max said with a smile, not really understanding a word Liz was saying.
“You would think that.” She replied as she rolled her eyes.
“Could we just drop this and study?”
They opened their books and notes and started talking. Once they got comfortable on the floor, they unconsciously moved closer and closer together.
[ edited 3 time(s), last at 29-Aug-2002 8:08:58 PM ]
|posted on 15-Jul-2002 10:26:43 AM by lisabehr|
|Part Nineteen – This Kiss, This Kiss|
Alex and Isabel walked around the gardens for an hour before stopping and sitting on a bench.
“This is my favorite spot out here.” Alex told her. “This is where you can see the most stars up in the sky. It’s neat to come out here on a clear night and look at them all.”
“That’s really nice, Alex. I don’t really have a special spot at my house. I just hang out in my room and look out the window a lot. I have a great picture window with a bench by it”
“I think that’s really sad, Isabel. Don’t you have more of a life than that?” Alex said and then realized his comment was rude. ‘God Alex, get it together, you’re supposed to be wooing, not insulting.’
“Huh? I have a life. It’s just complicated with my parents and all. They don’t let me get out too much; they think it’s too dangerous. All I’m allowed to do is go to school and shop. I can’t have many people over to the palace, so I don’t have many friends and I guess my only true friend is my brother even though he’s a 14 year old mutant, he listens to me even if he doesn’t have much to say back. I’d like to do more, like help my dad out, but he thinks I’m just an airhead.” Isabel said, as she was half insulted by Alex’s remark, then realizing he just meant well. She couldn’t believe she was confiding in Alex so much, but he really seemed to care and put her at ease, something no one else had been able to do.
“I can’t believe that anyone would think you’re an airhead. I could tell just by looking at you that you’re really smart. Have you tried talking to your dad about this?”
“A couple of times, but he just pushes me away like he doesn’t care. All that Max and I are to him are political pawns to be married off to the royalty of other planets to secure the safety of our planet.”
“Isabel, that can’t be true, he loves you, he just has a funny way of showing it to you. And you’re not just a pawn to me. I think there could be more to this than just an arranged marriage. Don’t you?” Alex asked. He held his breath and waited for her answer. ‘Maybe you should have waited on this one, Alex. She’s freaking about her father and you’re asking her life-altering questions. Oh well, it’s out there now, let’s just wait for the answer.’
“Wow, I don’t know what to say… I mean, I guess so, I don’t really know you, and I have no idea what will happen in the future, but I guess it’s what I want… I mean I don’t want to be in a loveless marriage that doesn’t go anywhere. I want to be happy and have kids and do important things with my life; I don’t just want to be a trophy. Did that make sense, I feel like I’m rambling.”
“Sure that makes sense. I want the same things, you know, to have kids and stuff…” Alex said as Isabel interrupted him.
“This conversation is getting too heavy; will you walk me back to my rooms please?”
Startled, Alex responded. “Oh sure, I can do that, no problemo.”
At that they head toward Isabel’s rooms, which were on the other side of the palace. After several minutes of walking, they arrived at her door, both of them feeling very awkward. Isabel decided to be formal since that worked for her most of the time when she was dealing with people and didn’t know how else to act. She straightened herself out and said:
“Well Alex, thank you very much for the nice evening. I’ll see you in the morning at breakfast.”
“Whoa Isabel, you’re not pulling the Ice Princess act on be, I don’t buy it, it’s not you and I can prove it.” Alex said as he quickly leaned down to Isabel and wondered what he had gotten himself into.
Isabel was experiencing the universe’s sweetest kiss. Alex had completely shocked her when he reached down and touched his lips to hers. He wasn’t rough, yet he let her know he had control. Fighting her first thought to break away, Isabel decided to stay. Alex wrapped his arms around her while she put her arms around his neck. The kiss grew slightly deeper and passionate, yet not too far into oblivion. Alex did not want to hurt her or scare her. He decided to break off the kiss just as Isabel stepped forward to deepen it and she moaned at the loss of his lips.
“I think that’s enough for tonight, Isabel. I’ll see you in the morning.” Alex said as he mentally gave himself a high-five. ‘Good one Alexander Charles, you are the man!’ He thought as he walked back to his rooms leaving a shocked Isabel standing with her mouth wide open.
At the same time on Antar, Max and Liz were still studying. Once they settled in and got into the material, they did not argue or make fun of each other. Max found that Liz was a natural teacher, she could explain everything in ordinary terms, and Liz found that Max really wanted to learn their science homework. After two hours of studying, they decided to take a break and get a snack. Since it was late at night, they had to tiptoe around the palace or they would be in trouble. They decided to eat in the kitchen so they wouldn’t have to sneak back and put stuff away.
Sitting at the counter, Liz and Max just stared at each other, not sure what to say. This continued until they were done eating and put their stuff away. Then the awkward moment had to end.
“So Max, what do you want to do now? We could go back and study, just hang out, or go to sleep.” Liz asked.
“I guess we should go study more, we still have lots of material to cover. I need to be ready for the test next week.”
“Okay, let’s go then.” Liz said as they snuck back to Max’s room. When they were about half way back, there was a sudden “BOOM” just to their left. Max tackled Liz as the world around them went black.
Part Twenty – It Has Begun
Max and Liz awoke to Kyle picking them up and yelling for them to run with him. Not realizing what was going on around them, they followed him. They ignored their pain, Liz, her head, and Max, his ankle, and hurried after Kyle toward the secret underground tunnels where there were safe rooms built for the royal family in times of emergency. Once they were in the tunnels, Max stumbled and fell.
“Ooh, my ankle, I can’t walk anymore. We have to stop.” Max said.
“We can’t stop, Max. We don’t know what’s going on up there, but something just exploded. I need to get you two to the safe room down here.” Kyle replied to him.
“Come on, Max, get up, let’s just get there, then we can rest.” Liz said. She was starting to get woozy and didn’t want to stop until they were at their destination for fear she wouldn’t make it.
Max got up, put his arm around Kyle’s shoulder and the group kept walking. Several minutes later they reached the safe room. It was a huge underground room built in case of an attack. It had powerful communications equipment and enough rations for months stored in it.
Kyle sat Max and Liz in two chairs and waited for word of what was going on over the radio. In the meantime, he grabbed a first-aid kit and took a look at Max’s ankle. It looked bruised, there was no blood, and Max could still move it, so Kyle didn’t think it was broken. He wrapped it tightly in a bandage and elevated it.
Neither of them were paying attention to Liz who was feeling even more faint. The room was spinning around her and she didn’t feel like she could talk. She felt herself slipping away into blackness again, she tried to fight it but it was a losing battle. The blackness overcame her again as she slumped over in her chair. This caught Kyle and Max’s attention as Kyle rushed over to her.
“LIZ, LIZ, WAKE UP!!! Oh my God, Liz, come on, you have to wake up for me.” Kyle said frantically. Then he yelled into his radio, “I need a doctor down here! NOW! We have injuries that need attention NOW!”
A voice over the radio replied to him, “We have one on the way to you, Valenti. It looks like this wasn’t an attack on the palace. Just an explosion in the pipe work; some gases built up and exploded.”
Kyle breathed a sigh of relief at the last comment. Thank God they weren’t really under attack. Now they just had to help Liz.
Isabel, still on Alex’s planet was having a panic attack. She knew something was wrong, she just knew it. She got out of bed and ran to the computer in her room. She logged on and tried to contact Max. He had his computer set so that an alarm would go off when she or his other close friends sent a message, so she knew he would wake up for her message. She sent the message and waited…waited…and waited. No message came back from Max. She sat staring at the computer for hours. It was the middle of the night, what was Max doing out of his room? She knew something was happening but had no way of finding out what. She had a feeling that Max and her parents were alive, yet something was still wrong. What was it?
The doctor finally arrived to look at Liz. She had a gash on her forehead, but no other visible signs of damage. The doctor told Kyle that he needed to move Liz up to his office in the palace. He needed to do tests on Liz that could only be done there. Kyle radioed to the other guards to make sure it was all right to leave the safe room. They told him their original suspicions were correct, the palace was still secure and not under attack. Kyle and the doctor picked Liz up and carried her up to the office with Max trailing behind.
An hour later the doctor had more to tell them. Liz’s brain had been bruised and had started to bleed. On Earth this would be a very critical injury, but Antar had more technology and was able to stop the bleeding. Now they just had to wait for her to regain consciousness. He said it could be hours or days, but he thought she would make a full recovery. Max was sent up to his room because of his injury, but told Kyle to alert him when Liz woke up. As he walked into his room he heard a beeping coming from his computer.
‘Oh my God, Isabel! I totally forgot that she told me she had one of her “feelings” today. I guess she was right. Something bad did happen to me.’ Max thought as he hobbled to his computer and answered Isabel’s message hoping to make his sister feel better by telling her what happened and that everyone would be okay.
Isabel broke down and cried when she received Max’s message. ‘Thank God they’re okay. What would I ever do if I lost one of them?’ Isabel thought to herself. She finally calmed down and went to bed knowing she would only get two or three hours of sleep. She had a busy week ahead of her, meeting more people from Alex’s planet and right after that, he would be coming back with her to Antar, to spend a week. She couldn’t believe that she would now look awful in from of them, and it was all for practically nothing. What a couple of weeks it would be.
Part Twenty One – Hurricane Deluca and Sleeping Beauty
Maria was grouchy. After being rudely awakened by the explosion, she had spent the rest of the night with Kyle outside of Liz’s room. It was now 9am and she had only gotten one hour of sleep. She headed to the dining room to get some breakfast after which, she planned on going back to bed. Liz still wasn’t awake. The doctor said he could be a couple of days before she would awaken. No matter how much Maria loved Liz, she wasn’t about to stay up that long for her.
Arriving at the dining room, Maria saw Michael seated at the table. ‘Great, just what I need.’ She thought, she stood in the doorway and watched him scarf down a bagel in one bite.
“Don’t you chew?” She asked.
“Not if I don’t have to.” Michael replied.
“Gross.” Maria said as she rolled her eyes at him and sat down.
Maria grabbed some cereal and milk and started to eat. She was quietly slurping the milk when Michael decided to speak up.
“Do you have to make so much noise? Its just milk.”
“Look here, space boy, I only got one hour of sleep last night because some moron maintenance guy didn’t do his job. Now my best friend is unconscious and I’m cranky. I WILL SLURP MY MILK IF I DARN WELL WANT TO!” Maria screamed at him before throwing her bowl of milk at him, beaming him right on top of the head.
Maria stormed out of the dining room toward Liz’s room and found Kyle still waiting outside. “What gives him the right? I cannot believe he would be so rude to me. He’s a Neanderthal! He’s a complete moron, what a jerk! He knew darn well what happened here last night and he still had to be a major ass about it!”
“Whoa, Maria, what are you talking about?” Kyle said, finally getting a word in edgewise.
“That jerk, Michael, you know, Max’s supposed best friend, he-who-has-no-personality or a decent bone in his body! He insulted me when he knew I’d be grumpy about what happened last night. All I wanted was a breakfast in peace for Pete’s sake and I had to deal with him instead!”
“Okay, Maria, calm down. I’m sure he didn’t mean anything bad by his remarks. Maybe you just need to look at things from his point of view and then maybe you’ll understand where he’s coming from. Like I remember when I was your age, when I liked a girl I picked on her until she wouldn’t take it anymore, are you getting where I’m going with this?”
“Look at things from his point of view?!?!?!? That would be the jerk point of view. I can’t believe him! I can’t believe I am freaking out this much over him! There’s no way he likes me, he’s done nothing but be mean and rude and cruel. I really must need sleep. I’m going to bed now. See ya later, Kyle.”
“See ya, Maria.” Kyle said as he watched her walk back to her room. He had been sitting with Liz or outside her room ever since she passed out. It was almost twelve hours ago, last night, and he still hadn’t been to bed. ‘I couldn’t sleep now, even if I tried. I have to make sure Liz is okay, if she isn’t then I have failed her and I couldn’t face her father after that, I just couldn’t. She has to be okay, she has to be. I’m getting desperate here’
During all of Maria’s commotion, Max sat quietly in his room. He hadn’t been to bed either. All he could do was stare at her books, which were still spread out on his floor, just waiting for her to come back to them. Finally his mother knocked on his door and came into his room. She gasped out loud when she saw Max.
“Goodness Max, you look awful! Why are you so upset dear?”
“Because I didn’t even notice she was hurt, Mom. I kept complaining about my ankle when she must have been in more pain than I was. Kyle paid more attention to me because of it and she passed out without us noticing. She might be awake and talking right now if it weren’t for me.” Max said in a whisper.
“Oh sweetheart, that’s not true. Kyle treated the injury he could see, he couldn’t see Liz’s injury; it was inside of her. The doctor has fixed it now, and he says she’ll be okay; it will just take some time.” The Queen replied to her crying son.
“Thanks Mom, I feel a little better now. Can I go to see her now?”
“Sure, go ahead.” The Queen replied as they both exited Max’s room.
Max walked past Kyle and entered Liz’s room. She looked like Sleeping Beauty to him. One of the maids had dressed her in a long white gown and brushed her hair so that it framed her face. She looked so peaceful. Liz was so small compared to the large four-poster bed with curtains on the posts that she was in. Her face did not reflect any of the pain she went through last night. Max walked up to her and sat in the chair next to her bed.
“Hey Liz, it’s me, Max. I had to come in here and see you because I feel really bad about what happened last night. I was really selfish when I complained about my ankle. If I hadn’t complained then maybe we would have seen that you were really hurt too. Then you wouldn’t be lying here unconscious. I left your books and notes where you left them because we still have some studying to do; we can’t have a future King fail science now can we? So you have to wake up soon Liz, I need your help, I need YOU.” Max said as he got up from the chair and kissed Liz’s forehead. Just as he pulled away he heard a little moan and saw Liz’s eyes flutter open.
“I need you too, Max.”
Part Twenty Two – The Aftermath
The next several days were a whirl of activity. Liz was stuck in her room recovering, Max, Maria, and Michael went to school and helped out with Liz; well, Max and Maria helped. Michael just stood back and watched, throwing the occasional smart remark at Maria. Upon entering Liz’s room, Maria decided to ask Max why he was friends with Michael.
“So Max, why do you put up with that troglodyte out there?”
“Huh, what’s a troglodyte?”
“Men are so stupid! A troglodyte is simple person, without a complex thought in their head. Get it now?”
“Ohhhhh, you’re talking about Michael again?”
“Ding, ding, ding, chalk one up for the future King! So how can you be friends with him?”
“He’s really not that bad, Maria. He’s a good listener, but doesn’t always give the best advice, but sometimes it’s good, though when you just need to hear yourself think out loud. He plays a mean video game. Just give him a chance, Maria, he has a rough exterior, but inside there is a good person, really.” Max replied to Maria, hoping to get through to her.
“Yeah, right, we’ll see about that one. So how has my Lizzie been today?”
“Good, she just fell asleep. She has a slight headache, but she was up walking today, and she’s eating like before. She’s going back to school at the beginning of the week. She said she’s going to try to come with us later to pick up Isabel and Alex, but she’s not sure if she’ll feel well enough.”
“Wonderful, why don’t you take a break and I’ll stay with her. Don’t you need to do your science homework?” Maria asked.
“I guess so, I don’t like leaving her, but I should go get some homework done before we pick up the two lovebirds.” Max said as he got up and left Liz’s room.
Maria sat with Liz for another hour and then woke her up so they could go greet Isabel and Alex. Maria couldn’t wait to get to know Alex better.
‘He had better not be like the other guys around here. He better treat Isabel right, or he’ll have to answer to Maria Deluca, and that is not a pleasant thing.’ Maria thought.
Liz arose and got ready to go to meet Isabel. ‘It’s a long trip to the front porch. I don’t know if I can make this one.’ Liz thought sarcastically.
A couple of minutes later Liz and Maria headed out to the porch where Isabel and Alex were being dropped off and met up with the King, Queen, and Max. Max immediately headed over to Liz and put his arm around her waist to hold her up.
“Max, you really don’t need to do that. I can stand by myself. I feel a lot better now.”
“That’s okay, Liz. I don’t mind.” Max said as he kept his arm around Liz.
The Queen shot the King a knowing look. He told her they would talk later about them. Just then the royal escort pulled up. Isabel exited the car holding Alex’s hand. Liz and Maria looked at each other and thought that they needed to have some girl-talk with Isabel! Everyone smiled and did the appropriate polite things, then entered the palace.
Maria grabbed Isabel’s arm and whispered in her ear, “We are talking later, girlfriend!”
Dinner went fine with the group discussing the rest of the week’s events. Plans had been toned down a bit because of the explosion. Security was still wary of having a lot of people in the palace until everything was checked over, twice. So there would just be several dinner parties, which the kids were not obligated to attend. The King and Queen knew they would just be bored through the whole thing. They would just need to make appearances.
Alex was exhausted from traveling all day, so he excused himself to go to bed early. Maria, Liz and Isabel went to Liz’s room to have a mini-girl’s night, since Liz wasn’t up to an all-nighter yet. Maria dove right into the conversation by asking Isabel how far she and Alex had gone.
“God Maria, don’t you have any tact? I don’t kiss and tell.” Isabel replied to her as Liz laughed.
“Well that just confirms it, you guys did kiss; otherwise you would have told us if you hadn’t!” Maria exclaimed.
“Maria, if she doesn’t want to talk about it; don’t make her.” Liz said.
“It’s ok, Liz, I’ll talk about it. He’s a great guy. He cares about what I think and how I feel. We had a great night in his gardens. We stargazed and talked for hours. At the end of the night, he kissed me. It was really sweet. I could tell he didn’t want to hurt or scare me; he just wanted to show me he cared. Anything else you would like to know?”
“What did it feel like? Did he cop a feel?”
“God Maria, no, he didn’t cop a feel! I told you he’s a gentleman. And it felt wonderful; he really knows what to do with his lips! I can’t wait to see what he can do with his hands!” Isabel giggled.
“Now this is getting good!” Maria shrieked.
Max sat in his room all night, worried about Liz. ‘What if they wear her out? What if something happens to her and I’m not there. I can’t deal with this; I have to go see how she’s doing.’ He thought as he left his room and headed to Liz’s.
Once he reached her door he heard the girls giggling and thought better against going in. ‘If I go in there, I could end up wearing make-up or with ribbons in my hair. That is a picture I don’t want people remembering for the rest of my life.’ Max thought. ‘I can hear her voice from here and she sounds fine. I have to quit this worrying about her. Why AM I worrying so much? It’s not like anything could ever happen between us, I have to marry who my parents say I have to. I don’t get a choice like she does.’
“So, Liz, what’s up with you and my brother?” Isabel asked.
Liz blushed and put her head down on her pillow. “I don’t know. He’s been really sweet lately, but I think it’s just because I was ill. We’re friends; we don’t have what you and Alex have, that’s for sure.”
“I’m not so sure about that. I saw the way he was protective of you this afternoon. Maybe all he needs is some time.” Isabel replied.
“But time is something we don’t have, I go back to Earth in ten months and Max’s engagement will be announced next year.”
“Okay Liz, here’s the deal. I’ll help you out with Max, but most of that work is going to have to come from you. I’ll handle my parents and the engagement thing; it shouldn’t be too much of a problem; deal?”
Liz thought for a moment and then smiled. “Deal.” She said, as the girls started talked furiously about their plans for Max and Liz.
Part Twenty Three – The Plan
The next morning Operation Love Slaves went into action. Despite knowing this would be difficult, Liz agreed to let Maria and Isabel try to set her and Max up. She thought she would just humor them for a few months and when everyone realized this was hopeless; life could go back to normal. Liz thought the plan was ridiculous, but hey, who was she to say what would work and what wouldn’t? Their plan went like this: Max and Liz were to be pushed together at every possible moment; every time the group was hanging out together, they were to sit by each other; well, you get the picture. On top of this, Isabel was working on their parents. She needed to make them see that Tess would not benefit Antar in any way as Queen whereas Liz would, since they needed good relations with Earth.
So the next week was interesting for Liz. At first Maria and Isabel were so transparent in what they were doing, that Alex and Michael caught on. They were confronted and try as they might, the girls had to give in and tell them what was going on.
“No way you two; we’re not keeping this a secret. This is too good. Max needs to know, it’s awful that you’re setting him up like this.” Michael said.
“I agree with my amigo over here, the man has to know.” Alex said, backing Michael up.
“Boys, boys, boys, we are doing this in the spirit of true love, you guys believe in true love, right? Well, Maxwell just doesn’t realize he’s totally in love with Liz yet, and Liz is in a little state of denial herself. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to show those crazy cats they belong together, you dig?” Maria replied with a hopeful smile.
“No, I don’t dig, Blondie. It isn’t fair to Max that you set him up without knowing. I won’t do that to my best friend, I just won’t.” Michael announced.
“Come on, Michael. Don’t make me exert power over you, you know I can do it. You may just wake up one day and bam, only one nut.” Isabel proclaimed with a sly smile.
“I don’t like the sound of that one, Michael. I think she means what she says.” Alex warned.
“Fine, I’ll stay quiet for a little while, but if this little plan causes any sort of embarrassment or humiliation, I’m telling Max.” Michael voiced as he stalked out of the room.
“Deal, space boy.” Maria accepted.
“That went well.” Isabel said. “I guess we need to start moving on this. Come on Maria, let’s go. Alex, we’ll catch up to you later, okay?”
“Yeah, later.” Alex replied.
Isabel and Maria headed for Max’s room to have a little chat. They needed some info on how he was feeling, what he’d be doing in the near future, and what he thought of the Liz situation. They stormed into Max’s room without knocking and found him in front of his computer.
“All right Maxwell, it’s time for a little girl-talk; well, girl-girl-guy-talk, but you get the picture. Sit down and spill to your lovely sister and I.”
“Right on Maria, I couldn’t have said it better. Max, we haven’t had a chance to really talk lately, so I figured we could take this opportunity to bond with our new friend here. So tell us, what have you been up to lately?” Isabel asked.
“Well, dear sister, since I was so rudely intruded on, I’m not really feeling like talking, but, I know you and you won’t leave until I do talk, so I might as well just get this over with. All that has been going on is school; homework and recovering from the explosion; anything else?”
“Of course there’s more, silly. What’s up with you and Liz?” Maria asked.
“Me and Liz?!?!?!? There’s nothing going on between Liz and me. She’s my science tutor and a friend, that’s it.”
“Yeah right Maxwell, give us the good stuff, what’s really going on in that beautiful heart of yours?” Maria continued to ask.
“Maria, there’s nothing going on. I like her as a friend, we’ll probably be friends for a very long time, but there’s nothing more.”
“Well Maria, this is clearly going nowhere. My brother obviously doesn’t care about me enough to tell me about his life, so we’ll just go. See ya, Max.” Isabel said, hoping to get through to Max.
“Wait Isabel, I’ll tell you, but you have to keep this between the three of us, Liz can’t know.” Max replied.
“Agreed, go on.”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, since the explosion, and I think I really like her, maybe even love her. At first I thought it was just guilt because she got hurt worse than I did, but that strange feeling is still there. I know I’ve been really protective of her, just last night I stopped by her room to make sure she was okay.”
As Max said this, Maria and Isabel shot each other a look, wondering if he heard their plans. Then Max continued. “So once I heard her voice, I knew she was fine and I headed back to my room. I spent last night thinking about the whole situation. Girls, I don’t know what to do. I know Liz and I can’t be together, I have to deal with the arranged marriage thing, probably to Tess. I want to gag just thinking about it. Do you guys have any ideas on this one?”
“Oh boy, do we dear brother! For now just stay close to her, okay? Hang out, get her to tutor you more, act like you care and want to be around her. Well, we need to go now, talk to you later Max!” Isabel said as she and Maria exited Max’s room.
|posted on 15-Jul-2002 10:29:26 AM by lisabehr|
|Part Twenty Four – The Field Trip|
After a week of “group bonding,” Alex went back to his planet to continue with his schooling, and life got back to normal on Antar. Liz and Max were completely healed from their injuries and everyone returned to school. Their teacher had told them at the beginning of the year that they would be taking a class field trip to the other side of the planet to study the geology of the crater and fresh spring fields, and that since it was so far away they would be staying overnight in some on-sight dorms.
Now the time was upon them to start getting ready for their trip. Liz and Maria went clothes shopping since they needed stuff they could wear to camp out and explore nature, in; Isabel went along to co-ordinate the effort, of course. Max studied up on his geology, with the help of Liz. The night before they were leaving Liz was finally packed and went to Max’s room to make sure he didn’t need anything else from her that night.
“Knock, knock, Max, where are you?”
“In the closet, I’m trying to find my sleeping bag.”
“That’s a lost cause if you ask me.” Liz replied sarcastically.
“Well, I didn’t ask you, did I?” Max said with a smile.
“No, but I’m such an important person in your life; you should want my opinion on everything.”
“Oh is that so? What makes you think you’re so important to me?”
“The fact that you would be failing science class without me; that you crave my attendance at all group functions and if I’m not right by you, you just look around the room for me until you find me; the fact that you do ask my opinion on everything, all the time. I’m your best friend, who’s a girl and you know it.”
“Fine, maybe that’s true and I did say maybe. I could have found another tutor and Michael serves every purpose you do as a friend. I don’t need you, I just put up with you because I have to.” Max said, very proud of himself for standing up to Liz.
“I…can’t…believe…you…just…said…that…to…me. I’m…so…hurt!” Liz barely managed to get out in between sobs. She turned and ran out of Max’s room to her own.
‘Great, what’d I do now? I just don’t understand girls. One minute she wants me to be the strong King and command everything and the next she wants to be in control. I don’t get it. What’d I do wrong? I just said what I was thinking.’ Max thought as he watched Liz leave the room. ‘Maybe I should go after her. That would be the right thing to do, I think. Maybe I should give her some time to cool down, Maria can help her. Right now she’d probably just bite my head off and I’d end up getting reamed out and hurt too. Yup, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll let Maria handled her until she’s cooled off, then I’ll apologize.’
Maria had spent all night in Liz’s room after she heard Liz crying last night. Now it was early morning and she was ticked off. Max supposedly liked Liz, a lot, yet he was treating her like scum. He was going to get a good talking to right now. Maria found him in his room. He didn’t look like he got much sleep last night either, and for a fleeting second Maria kind of felt sorry for him, but that passed quickly.
“Maxwell, what in H.E. Double Hockey Sticks did you say to Liz last night? She is so devastated that she still can’t talk. She just stares at the wall and cries, although there are no tears left now, she just kind of sniffles. But that’s beside the point, Max. You were a jerk and now you need to apologize. So what’s your plan for the great apology?”
“I don’t really have one, Maria. I was hoping you could advise me on that, since you’re so beautiful and wise.”
“Oh don’t get smart with me! I can see right through you. This needs to come from you, Max; so she knows it’s genuine.”
“Okay, I guess I could come up with something.” Max replied looking dejected.
“Well you better do it soon. I don’t like seeing my best friend like this. So hop to it!” Maria said forcefully as she exited Max’s room.
Part Twenty Five – The Field Trip Begins
Several transports lined up outside of the school, waiting for the students to board them. All of their luggage had been sent, earlier that morning. When the second bell rang, fifty kids went running for the vehicles, trying to get the back seats or window seats. Liz and Maria sat together in the middle of the first transport. Max and Michael got the back seat on the first vehicle.
Liz looked at Maria and said, “Please tell me he isn’t looking at me. I really don’t like the fact that he could stare at the back of my head for the entire ride. Five hours, Maria, five hours that he could stare at me and I wouldn’t even know.”
“Chill Liz, I have it from a very reliable source that Max feels horrible about what he said and that he will try to make it up to you soon.”
“Did Michael tell you that, because he isn’t always completely reliable.”
“No, someone else did.” Maria said while she was thinking, ‘Max did.’
“All right, I’ll try to keep it together until the little weasel decides to speak to me again.” Liz replied.
“Good, now onto happier subjects. What do you think about Isabel and Alex?”
“They are so cute together, Maria. They compliment each other so well. Where Isabel gets stuck up and snobby sometimes, Alex comes in, makes fun of her and breaks the façade. She loosens him up too when he gets too nerdy and wrapped up in the computer. They also seem to be attracted to each other, you know, the famous stargazing kiss? How cute was that story?”
“I totally agree, Liz. They are great together. We helped those crazy cats find true love. We rule.” Maria said as she shot a look to the back of the transport.
“Did you have to do that, Maria? You wrecked the moment. I went a whole five minutes without thinking about him.”
“Sorry, Liz; I just had to see if he was staring at you, which he is by the way.”
“Info I don’t need to know” Liz interrupted.
“Fine, let’s just sit here in peace then and wait for this ride to be over with.” Maria replied.
Meanwhile in the back, Max and Michael were also having a deep conversation. Max started off by telling Michael the Liz situation.
“Michael, I just don’t get it. I was being all male and powerful and she freaked. Why did she do that?”
“Max, in all my 14 years of wisdom, I have figured out that it is best not to ask why. We men will never understand the opposite sex and many other things in the universe. Like why there is violence, why people get killed, why wars start. It is best for our sanity to just accept that things happen and move on.”
“Michael, I think that is the deepest thought, I have ever heard come out of your mouth. I’m impressed.”
“I know, Maxwell. This is the new, deep Michael. He has replaced the shallow, self-serving Michael. I’m a new man.” Michael said with a completely straight face.
Max wasn’t sure whether or not to believe Michael. “We’ll see about that one, you may be counting your chickens before they hatch.”
“So Max, what are you going to do to apologize to Liz?” Michael asked, thinking it was best to change the subject.
“Well, I’ve been to the craters and springs before and at dusk the sunset is beautiful with the steam rising up, so I figured I would take her out there and show her that and have a long talk. Does that sound okay to you?”
“She’ll totally fall for it. You really know how to reel them in, Maxwell.”
Part Twenty Six – The Apology
Upon arriving at the hot springs and craters, the transports were unloaded and the students picked their dorm rooms. Each pair of best friends were obviously rooming together. On the way to the cafeteria for dinner Max caught Liz by the arm.
“Hey Liz, we need to talk, could you meet me by the main entrance in an hour?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Liz grumbled.
“Great, see you then!” Max said with a smile as he headed off toward the cafeteria.
An hour later Max sat on the steps by the main entrance. Liz came up behind him and announced herself.
“Hey Max, so what the heck is going on? Why did you want to meet me?”
“You’ll see in a couple of minutes, come on; let’s go.” Max said as he got up off the steps and started to walk away.
Liz followed Max wondering why she even agreed to this. Here she was with a guy she was really in love with, who was being a jerk to her, who was now leading her into the middle of nowhere and steam was coming out of the ground all around them.
“Max, is this safe?”
“Totally, I’ve been here a couple of times, nothing bad will happen, just stay on the paths.”
“Okay.” Liz replied hesitantly.
Several minutes later Max stopped walking and sat down on a large rock. Liz just stood and looked at him wanting to know what he expected her to do.
“Have a seat Liz. Let’s talk.”
“Fine; what do you want to talk about?”
“How about the other night, when you stormed out of my room?”
“Because of your mean comment!” Liz blew up at him.
“Chill, I’m trying to be nice to you. I want to say that I’m really sorry about that comment. We were joking around and I went too far. I really didn’t mean it, Liz. I do need you around.” Max said hoping to calm Liz down and get back on her good side.
“All right, you’re forgiven. But I still don’t understand what we’re doing out here.”
“Just look over there.” Max replied.
They sat and watched the sunset. It wasn’t like anything Liz had ever seen before. The sun was going down below the horizon line like every other night, but what was making this so special was the steam and mist coming off the ground. It magnified the colors of the sunset by a hundred, spreading them everywhere. It lasted twenty minutes with Max and Liz sitting in silence the entire time. Neither one wanted to break the spell that had come over them. Liz finally felt as though she should break the silence.
“Wow, Max, that was unbelievable! I didn’t know anything like that could even exist. How did you find out about this?”
“The first time we came here, my mother brought Isabel and I out here to watch the sunset. She said her mother had done the same thing for her. I’ll definitely bring my kids out here. This is too great to miss.”
“No kidding.” Liz said still amazed.
“I just wanted to say again how sorry I am for the comment. I need you around Liz, I like having you here.”
“Well I like being here Max, and being around you. This is such an unforgettable trip.”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” Max said as he reached for Liz’s hand. ‘I can’t believe I just did that! I’m holding her hand now. No way, she didn’t pull away she just squeezed my fingers. Oh God, now what does this mean? Does this mean she’s my girlfriend now? Maybe I should ask her? Maybe I shouldn’t because that would give her the opportunity to say no. Maybe we should just head back to the dorm; then I can talk to Michael about this. Yup, that’s what I’ll do.’
“Ready to go back to the dorms, Liz?”
“I guess so.” The disappointment was evident in her voice.
Once back at the dorm, they went their separate ways. Liz immediately went to find Maria. In their room, Liz shrieked and jumped up and down.
“Liz, what the heck? You never act like this. What happened tonight?” Maria asked.
“Oh my God, Maria; it was so beautiful! We watched the sunset and talked. He apologized for the comment and I accepted it. Then after all that he held my hand! Now I’m trying to figure out what that meant. Am I his girlfriend now? I’m too scared to ask him. What do you think?”
“You need to talk to him more, Liz. Find out what he’s thinking. He’s probably just as scared as you are.”
“Maybe you’re right. I’ll talk to him first thing tomorrow. I need to know what he’s thinking, I can’t live like this.” Liz said.
“Sounds like a plan to me, Liz.”
Part Twenty Seven – The Talk
The next morning Liz set out to find Max. She had exactly one hour to find him and talk before they were swept away for a day of geology classes and exploration. Liz found him sitting with Michael in the cafeteria eating breakfast. As Liz approached, Michael got up and left the table without saying a word. At first Max did not realize what was going on, but he soon caught on when he spied Liz. Liz sat down across from him and started right in.
“Max, we need to talk about last night. I appreciate your apology and watching the sunset was great. It was so beautiful. But then things got confusing, you know; when you held my hand. What did that mean, Max?”
“Wow, Liz, you ever hear of starting off with a ‘good morning’? Obviously not. Well, moving on…I don’t know what that meant Liz, what did it mean to you?”
“I asked you first, you were the one who grabbed my hand. Why did you do it?”
“I guess because I wanted to, it felt right at the time.”
“Ok, I would have given the same answer. That was kind of generic, Max. Can’t you do any better? I really want to know what’s going on here. Where do we stand with each other?”
“Instead of a scientist, you should consider becoming a journalist! Talk about hard-hitting questions. We’re at least friends, especially since we made up last night. I don’t know about anything else, it’s really hard to say since I have to be ready for the arranged marriage thing, I don’t get a say.” Max said wishing he could just say, ‘Yes, be my girlfriend, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ But he knew he couldn’t; ultimately, he had no say in who his parents chose, as his wife. Or did he?
“Look Max, I should be totally honest about everything. I feel really bad about keeping this from you, but I didn’t take it seriously. Maria and Isabel came up with this little plan to set you and I up, but I completely understand about the arranged marriage thing, so maybe we should just play along so they will stay off our backs. What do you think?”
“That explains why they gave me the third degree a while ago. Yeah, we should play along, that’s a good idea. What were their ideas for getting around the arranged marriage thing?”
“Isabel thought she could talk your father into the idea of a representative from Earth marrying you to help with the trade relations. It could actually work, but it’s a long shot. She seemed confident that she could convince your father that Tess would be a bad match because Antar already has great relations with Tess’ planet.”
“Wow; that is a good plan. I think my dad could fall for it, it would just take a while.” Max replied.
“If you say so, I still don’t think it could work, but oh well. So you never really answered my question Max, what are we to each other now?”
“Would you like to be my girlfriend, Liz?” Max said nervously. He sat watching his hands wringing in his lap.
“I thought you’d never ask!” Liz exclaimed as she grabbed him in a hug.
“Okay…Liz…I can’t breathe…you’re hugging me too tight!”
“Oh, sorry Max; I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Liz replied.
“That’s okay; we better get to class now before we’re late.”
“Oh yeah, I didn’t realize what time it was. Let’s go!”
They headed to class, completely oblivious to Michael and Maria who had just witnessed the little scene. Maria was overjoyed, jumping up and down and saying “Goodie, goodie.” Michael didn’t look as thrilled. He felt like he was losing his best friend. Max was all he had; his father was always working with the King while his mother had died when Michael was born. He knew he’d loose Max one day when Max got married, but not this soon. Michael started to walk toward the classroom when Maria stopped him.
“Look space boy, Isabel and I worked very hard on this little project and you’re not going to break this up. Is that understood?”
“Blondie, what you guys are doing is wrong. Max has a destiny to marry whoever his parents deem best for him to marry and that’s going to be Tess. That’s been an understood fact many years around here. To get their hopes up; that they could have something more, is just wrong. It will end in heartbreak and I don’t think that’s what you want, is it?”
“Of course not, but we’re working on the parental units. We have a plan for them too and everything will be just fine, you’ll see! So why are you in such a bad mood this morning, anyway?” Maria asked.
“I’m just not a morning person.” Michael said as he entered the classroom.
|posted on 15-Jul-2002 3:01:22 PM by lisabehr|
|Your wish is my command...but these are still Kim's parts...|
Part Twenty Eight - Moving On
The rest of the trip went by without incident. The kids couldn't believe the natural beauty they were surrounded by. They were also very happy by how their relationships were coming along. Maria and Isabel continued to talk about their plans for winning over the King and Queen, so that Max and Liz could be together. They knew it was going to take a long time, but they were willing to put in the effort.
Upon returning from their field trip, the King and Queen wanted to have dinner with all the kids to find out how it went. Of course the obvious Max and Liz relationship couldn't be brought up; it was way too soon for the parents to know about that. So when the friendships were brought up, all the kids got silent and just nodded their heads to agree that everything was fine. When dinner was almost over, Kyle came bursting through the dining room doors.
"Liz, you need to come with me right away. There's an urgent call from your father." Kyle stated as he struggled to catch his breath.
"Okay…" Liz replied hesitantly, not knowing what to expect. She headed down the long corridor to her bedroom to take the call.
In the dining room, since everyone was through eating, the King and Queen decided it would be best to retire for the night. As they were leaving the room, Isabel grabbed her father's arm and asked to talk to him alone. He led her to his private office and asked her what she wanted to talk about.
"Well Daddy, I just wanted to say that I'm really happy with Alex. I think we'll have a great life together, I really do. At first I was so scared that you would choose someone who was mean and didn't understand me, but now that I know Alex, I know that my fears were unfounded. So I wanted to thank you for that, really, I mean it." Isabel said, not quite getting to the real point of the conversation.
"That's great sweetie, your mother and I were really worried about you for a couple of weeks, but I see that everything has turned around now, that's really wonderful."
"And Daddy, the real reason I wanted to come talk to you is Max. We've talked a couple of times about his arranged marriage even though we don't know who his wife will be. He's really scared Daddy, even more than I was. So I was wondering if you could tell me what the current status is, of your search for Max's wife, so I can help Max."
"Sweetie, I really shouldn't be talking about this, but I'm afraid it's already been decided. Your mother and I have known for quite some time that Max's wife will be Tess. We need to cement our relations with her planet. With our lack of resources that relationship has been strained. Her people are great warriors, but they don't fight for the greater good, they only fight for money and that is something that is in short supply to us. We're very scared that one of our enemies will employ them to make war with us and that would be disastrous, they know everything about how we work here and they could knock our entire planet out very quickly. You see my point, don't you sweetheart?"
"Yes Daddy, I understand. But aren't our relations with Earth very important too? We need them for resources, if we loose that relationship our planet will fail."
"Isabel, this is not up for discussion; it has been decided, end of discussion." The King exclaimed sharply as he stormed out of the room. In the meantime, Liz headed to her room where she saw her father on her computer screen.
"What's up, Daddy? What's going on?" Liz asked nervously.
"Lizzie, I need you to come home right away. I've already arranged a transport for you, Maria, and Kyle. I can't say any more baby, you just have to trust me." President Parker replied to his daughter.
"Daddy, that's not fair! I like it here, and I have school to finish! I don't want to leave; I still have so many things to do here!" Liz cried. 'And what about Max?' She thought.
"Honey, you need to trust me and get on the transport first thing tomorrow morning, okay? I have to go sweetie, I'll see you soon." And with that, the image of President Parker disappeared. Liz slowly turned to look at Kyle who was staring at the floor.
"What's going on, Kyle? I know you know something!" Liz said as she got up and walked toward him with her hands on her hips. She wasn't taking no for an answer.
"I can't say, Liz. But it's big, and you need to get out of here like your dad said." Kyle replied as Liz's lower lip started to quiver.
"Oh, come on, Liz, don't start that, you know I'm a sucker for a crying girl."
"Come on Kyle, tell me, please!" Liz said as tears started to run down her cheeks.
"No way, Liz." Kyle stated flatly as he walked out of the room.
'I cannot believe he just left me standing here. What am I supposed to do now? I need to compose myself; I can't go back to the dining room looking like this. How am I going to tell Max and the others? This is going to be bad. There has to be something huge going on for my father to do this. Why won't he tell me? Why won't Kyle tell me? It must have something to do with Antar, otherwise the secrecy wouldn't be necessary. I guess I should only say the basics to the King and Queen, I don't want to do anything wrong.' Liz thought as she stood in her room.
and the last of the fabulous Kim's parts....give her great feedback and a standing ovation...
Part Twenty Nine - The Big Upset
A lot of time must have gone by because a few minutes later there was a knock at Liz's door. Liz heard Maria yell through it.
"Lizzie, open up. What's going on, Chica?"
"Coming, Maria." Liz replied as she headed to the door. As soon as she opened it, Maria barged right in past Liz.
"So? Spill it, what's up?" Maria said with her usual tenacity.
"My father wants us three humans home first thing tomorrow morning, he's arranged for a transport." Liz said in one breath and with a straight face.
"WHAT?!?!?!?!" Maria yelled. "This can't be true, Liz. Why is this happening?"
"I don't know, Maria. Kyle knows something, but he won't tell me. I even cried in front of him." Liz replied. "Maria, how am I going to tell Max? We just got together and now, baam, I have to leave." Being completely frustrated, Liz flopped herself on her bed.
"I don't know, Chica. But we're going to have to come up with something fast since we're leaving so soon. I need to pack. How am I going to get all the stuff I've bought into a transport? This is a nightmare, Liz!"
"You're telling me. Don't you think I know? I need to talk to Max tonight, he deserves to know about this, now." Liz stated, getting her usual resolve back.
"Okay, Lizzie, you do that. I'm going to my room to pack. Good luck, babe." Maria said as she hugged her best friend.
"Thanks Maria, you're the best friend I'll ever have."
"No prob., Lizzie." Maria said while she left Liz's room.
Liz sat in her room for several more minutes trying to compose herself and figure out how she was going to tell Max. Finally coming to a decision she headed off to his room. When she knocked on his door she started to have second thoughts. 'Maybe I could just wait until tomorrow, by then someone else will have told him about this and then I won't have to break the news…'
"Come in." Liz heard coming from inside Max's room.
'Darn, I was hoping he wouldn't hear that knock.' Liz thought as she opened the door.
"Hey Max, I thought I'd come and tell you what happened earlier, when I had to take that call. Please don't interrupt me because I know exactly what I need to say and how I need to say it and if you start to talk it may throw me off, okay?"
"Okay Liz, I can do that."
"Good, well, I had to take a call from my Dad. He seemed really worried and told me that us three humans, you know, me, Maria, and Kyle, need to come home tomorrow because of some sort of emergency. My dad and Kyle won't tell us what the emergency is. Okay, there it is, what do you think?"
"Huh? What are you talking about, Liz? Why could your father possibly want to recall you guys? We don't know of any emergency." Max replied out of shock.
"I don't know, Max, but it must be something big because they won't tell me about it. My father trusts me with a lot of America's problems and for him not to trust me is really bothering me. Now all of a sudden I have to leave, when I was just starting to build relationships here; which I'm not very happy about, if you couldn't tell already by the way I'm crying." Liz said, getting more and more emotional. Liz sniffed her tears up and waited for Max's response.
"I can't believe this Liz, I don't want you to leave yet. We were just becoming friends or more. So what happens now, Liz?"
"I leave first thing tomorrow morning; that's what happens. Going back is like coming here, we can't pack too much, so I need to leave most of my stuff here. At least I won't have to spend too much time packing. I'd like to spend some time with you tonight, if that's okay with you."
"That's fine, Liz. I think I'm still in shock over all this, but I would love to hang out with you tonight, since it’s your last here."
"I'm in shock too Max, I feel like I'm floating right now or something."
In the meantime, Maria was in her room trying to shove all of her new belongings into one small suitcase and working up a good sweat while doing it. Isabel walked to Maria's room to tell her of the King's message about Max's marriage to the gerbil and knocked on the door.
"Come…..in." Maria called, in a really breathy voice and Isabel entered the room.
"Maria, what is going on here?"
"To make a long story short, Liz's dad has recalled us to Earth; we leave tomorrow morning and it's because of an emergency no one will tell us about."
"Oh great, this day is just getting better and better." Isabel replied with a sigh.
"Why? What else has happened?" Maria asked.
"After dinner was cut short, I had a little chat with my dad and he said that it is pretty much a done deal that Max is going to have to marry Tess. I have to have the gerbil as a sister-in-law, this sucks!"
"Oh god, so what else could go wrong?" Was all Maria could say.
|posted on 15-Jul-2002 3:19:02 PM by lisabehr|
|Ok, so there is the last of Kim's parts. You may see a shift in styles...well, cause we're totally 2 different people.|
So here is a tiny teaser and I will post again by tomorrow.
Max smiled and waved to Liz as she left his room to go pack. They had plans to spend most of the evening together, and she wanted to get it done as soon as possible. As the door closed, his smiled faded and all the emotions he had held at bay since her announcement slammed into him full force. He turned and leaned against the door to steady himself, trying to grasp the fact that his friend was leaving. He laughed at himself. "That girl will Never be just your friend, so give it up", he thought as he made his way to his desk. He opened and reread the email from Alex he had disregaurded not an hour before, and shook his head in disbelief. He then took out a small picture of Liz he kept hidden in his drawer and contemplated it carefully. Finally he sadly touched her smiling face and whispered, "I'd do anything to keep you and your world safe."
|posted on 21-Jul-2002 3:37:39 PM by lisabehr|
|Yes, I am sooo sorry...I make all these promises and disappear!!! My hard drive on my laptop crashed and I need a new one...it's at Best Buy as we speak, so at the soonest I will post on Friday.|
I am wking. on new parts, so they will be out then...
Again, I am sorry...and give me a bump if ya think about...I almost could'nt find this!!!
|posted on 30-Jul-2002 8:07:45 PM by lisabehr|
|Liz Parker ran to her room and quickly grabbed her small satchel from the closet. She began looking through all the wonderful things she had bought or been given during her time on Antar, contemplating each article of clothing, every picture, every memento, trying to decide what stayed and what precious few things she could fit into such a small case. She decided to scan and email all her pictures home to earth, and take only Antarian clothing and treasures with her. She could replace any Earth things she left upon her return. She agonized over the many wonderful gifts she would have to leave, and was making the final selections when she heard a knock at her door.|
“Come in,” she called in a small voice, turning to see who her visitor was. “Oh, it’s You.” she said flatly as Kyle came through her door. “Nice to see you too, Liz.” He smiled softly knowing how upset she was with him over this whole ordeal." I've brought a peace offering…if you’ll accept it.” She turned and wrinkled her forehead in confusion at seeing his “gift”.
“You want to let me carry your luggage. How sweet of you to think of me.” She said dryly, turning to open her case to see if she could just squeeze in the Antarian silk scarf the Queen had given her.
“Very cute Parker. But the suitcase IS the gift. I brought only suits, which I have plenty of at home, and have only bought two small souvenirs in my time here. I THOUGHT you may want to take a few more things back with you….but if you insist on being stubborn I…” Kyle was cut off and nailed to the floor by a very small, very happy Liz hugging him and yelling “Thank you, thank you, THANKYOU!!!!” He looked up at his charge beaming down at him and had to laugh. She looked so carefree and happy; he hated having to take her away from the place she loved so much. He remembered her as a child and was struck by the fact that she had in her time here, blossomed into a very striking, very beautiful young woman.
And it steeled his resolve to take her away from this place as soon as possible.
|posted on 1-Aug-2002 2:15:11 AM by lisabehr|
|Ha...wouldn't we ALL like to know Chrissy!!|
Just kidding...I think I know....I definatly know that Alex knows, so I'm gonna ask him. K??
Thanks for the feedback guys...it's very encouraging. Kim has big shoes to try and fill. I am grateful to her for writing such an inspiring piece that a lot of us could not get out of our heads.
I am still learning all this posting and writing stuff, so please be patient with me, and I promise to finish it.
Part....um...I better go count them....well...it's the one after the last one...ya know...where Liz got all happy and Kyle got all worried.
Isabel heard the insistent beeping of her computer as she walked out her bathroom. She continued to towel off her hair as she went to see who was being so rude, and what the fire was all about. As she reached the monitor, she saw that her vidoechat link was being bombarded with messages from Alex.
"Izzy. Call me."
Izzy..Are you there, it's me Alex."
"Isabel...please. I really need to talk to you."
Iz..Ya know it's me right? The guy your gonna marry. I would think you'd remember me..."
ISABEL EVANS SOON TO BE NICHOLS- WHITMAN YOU BETTER TURN THIS LINE ON SOON OR I AM GONNA HOP THE FIRST TRANSPORT TO ANTAR AND TURN YOU OVER MY KNEE....NOW CALL ME!!!!!"
Isabel stood stunned looking at the face of her very frustrated, very.....what was the word she was looking for?...Oh gosh...totally Hot and in control...never looked sexier fiancé. She was so engrossed looking at the Man she realized would soon belong only to her, that she didn't hear the monitor beep on again. This time, as he recorded his message, he was the old Alex she was used to.
"Look, Isabel, I am so sorry for the messages I left you. I don't know what came over me....I ...I have no excuse, except that I REALLY need to talk to you. It is truly an urgent matter and I would Never, EVER treat you in the manner I said I would...I would never touch you in a way that was less than respectful, and I hope you can forgive me." His shoulders slumped and he looked so ashamed that her heart went out to him and she reached for the answer button on her keyboard.
"Just call me when you ca...." "Alex."
Alex looked into the monitor, stunned to see she finally answered.
"Isabel. I ....I am so sor.."
"No Alex...it's ok."
"Yeah." She said quietly and smiled shyly at him, falling just a little more under his spell at the knowledge he could not only be funny and sweet, but would be the one to wear the pants in their marriage. It gave her a sense that she would be safe with this man, and he was never more attractive to her now that he was humbling himself in apology.
"What is it Alex?"
"What have you heard about the humans leaving?"
She sat down, tightened her fuzzy robe around her and eyed him carefully.
"How do you know about that already, Alex? Maria just told me an hour ago and she had just heard herself. What’s going on?"
"I knew this morning, Isabel. I overheard my Father talking to yours, urging him to allow some sort of special alliance with the Earthlings. He said some things I couldn't hear, but it was clear he was not only worried, but most insistent. I have never heard him, or any one for that matter speak to King Philip in such a manner. He was almost belligerent, saying that the Summit had not gone well and that Antars’, and the very galaxy’s survival depended on good relations with earth. He demanded that King Philip think of the galaxy's political structure before his own planets or families needs or wants. It was unsettling to say the least."
Isabel took a moment to think about what Alex had said.
The summit didn't go well.
The Political structure of the galaxy was at stake.
Someone wanted to make an alliance with earth and needed her father’s approval....
The pieces were NOT falling into place.
What could a tiny little planet like Earth have, that anyone in this, one of the most highly evolved galaxies in the quadrant, want?
It was puzzling to say the least.
She was pulled out of her revere by Alex voice.
"Is? Did Max get the e-mail I sent him?"
"I don't know. He might have. I saw him going into his room earlier, but then Liz went in, so I don't know if he has checked it or not. Why?"
"I just was curious." He hated lying to her. He didn't want her to know the details of the situation before he had a chance to talk to Max himself. “Well, if you hear anything else..."
"I will call you. Thanks Alex. I...I really appreciate you keeping me in the loop. Most Royal men don't, and it, well, it made me feel as though all the things we talked about and you said you wanted for me..for us.. were real. You know..that night..."
"…In the garden."
"I meant every word."
"I see that."
She stared at the monitor, just gazing at the man she was to be married, bonded....mated to for life. And as she looked into his eyes, Isabel Evans learned what it was like to begin to fall in love.
"Goodnight Alex." She smiled shyly as her Royal title became a cherished pet name.
Alex sighed as he turned off his computer after his talk with Isabel. He hated having to pump her for information, but he was still trying to figure out all the pieces to the puzzle that lay in front of him.
He got out a piece of paper, and made a rough sketch of the V constellation that formed their galaxy. He placed the names of the Royals and their heirs in order of first sucession to the thrones. At the apex was Antar, with King Philip and Queen Diane, Maxwell, and Isabel. To the right was His planet, Natar, with King Sero and Queen Annel, he as the heir and his older sister Courtney, who at 20was still not betrothed. On the other side of Antar was Katara with Lancel and Amelia at its head and Larek as its only heir. Next to them was Nadir, with King Philips oldest and dearest friend Nacedo as King, and his wife Queen Margret. Princess Tess Avana would more than likely be betrothed to Max…if the rumors were correct. That left Mator next to his own planet, with a council who ran things after the Royal family was wiped out in a civil war centuries before. They operated democratically like the Earth nation of America, and a few others who had followed suit, and their people were peaceable and kept mostly to themselves. They were considered the “quiet” neighbors of the Whirlwind Galaxy.
He looked over the map trying to figure out what it was he was missing in all of this.
Was the Galaxy really in for a time of upset like his father seemed to think? He was Not a man to jump to conclusions, or to let his emotions get the better of him, which was why Alex was concerned; And he certainly would never go toe to toe with king Philip, the leader of their Galaxy and Keeper of the Granoliths knowledge and wisdom.
He put the map in his desk drawer and checked to see if he had a reply from Max yet.
Sighing he decided to get a little rest and try again in an hour or so.
What ‘cha think????
Ya know... this part seemed much longer when I was writing it...
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-Aug-2002 2:30:16 AM ]
|posted on 1-Aug-2002 3:28:34 PM by lisabehr|
|Teaser...very short part. Am leaving til next week tomorrow, will TRY my best to post a longer part tomorrow, but if not...sorry.|
Max sat at his desk still thinking about Alex's e-mail. It didn't make ANY sense, but in a weird way, it did.
It certainly explained why Liz's father, President Parker was recalling her home. He was a bit wary of their culture as it was. He knew that he was puzzled by the mixture of technological advancement and strict adherence to tradition. They were of the most highly intelligent species, but chose to live in ways that earthlings considered "old fashioned" or "backward". Judging by Liz's reaction to he and Isabel’s arranged marriages, he could not imagine her father’s reaction to the terms of the treaty set forth by one of the governments in their galaxy.
He decided he needed to speak with his father right away.
Maria heard a knock at her door as she snapped her suitcase shut.
“Come in” she called, and was greeted with the sullen face of Michael Guerin.
“What do want, Spaceboy?” She tried to sound light, but he tended to get under her skin and she was already in no mood.
“I heard you were finally going back to where you came from.” He smirked.
Maria’s face flushed and her anger seethed through her entire body.
“Did you just come to ruin my final night here? It’s bad enough that I have to leave my new friends, and my very first adventure before it’s barely begun, but now you have to intrude upon my final hours of…”
“Don’t interrupt me!!!!”
“I have to, or you’ll never shut up!”
That was IT! She had had it.
“YOU are the most horrible, rude, smelly….UCKY boy I have EVER had the displeasure of knowing!!!! I will certainly NOT miss having to deal with you, that's for sure!” And she crossed her arms, and nodded her head for effect; just to show him she could was washing her hands of his kind.
Michael cocked his head and raised his eyebrows at her attempt to dismiss him.
“Let me tell you something Earth-Girl. I am the ONE thing you will miss most about this place. I will be in your thoughts and your dreams, and you are Never gonna forget me.”
“Yeah, in my nightmares maybe”
She began to step backwards as he approached her until she was pinned to the wall. He got in her face, making her flush from the sudden nearness. She started to form an insult in her mind when their eyes met, stopping her cold.
“Is there Ever going to be a moment when you don’t irritate the crap outta me? I came to say a nice goodbye and you had to get all….Maria on me and make me say things I hadn’t meant to.”
She opened her mouth to say something insulting, but closed it again as his eyes and his hands leaned on the wall on either side of her.
“I don’t want to go.” She said simply.
“And I think it’s best if you did. We are not alike, and earth is very wary of us. Maybe we are not meant to intermingle.”
She thought about his words, realizing that as a species, Earthlings didn’t trust the Aliens and as forward thinking as she and Liz’s parents were, the rest of the planet had a lot of catching up to do.
“I don’t want to accept that we all can’t be friends.” She said quietly.
“Well, are all your nations friends?”
“Then what makes you think they can accept us, if they can’t accept each other?”
This was NOT the Michael Guerin she knew. Where was the manipulative, condescending, cootie covered boy she had grown to despise? This 15 year old boy was being thoughtful and intelligent…and it scared her that he intrigued her so. She was so startled by his manner that she blurted out “Because I want them to.”
He threw his head back and laughed before shaking his head and looking down at her. His eyes danced as he smiled and said “You would make a fabulous Royal, Maria.”
Realizing how what she said sounded, she giggled and replied in a haughty voice, “Yes, I think I would. Do you know if the Royal family has any openings here?”
“Well, I hear they are looking for a mate for Maxwell….”he teased.
“Ew…to brotherish…way gross to think about kissing Max.”
“Well, as the only male heir in the direct line to the throne, that just leaves the Royal Guard, who are family you know. You can still get in that way.”
Maria was a little stunned at this bit of information.
“Wait, does that mean you are related to Max and Isabel?”
“Yes, we are cousins.”
“So, Rath is Max’s dads’ brother?”
“Yes, but we don’t speak of it in public. It is not good protocol…don’t ask me why…another tradition I don’t get.”
“Oh…..well that leaves me out of the royal family I guess…no one for me to marry…”She said in a teasing tone, trying to restore the bantering mood.
“Hey! My father has heirs, and the are 3 more Uncles with boys to choose from.”
“You father has heirs. Ha, there is just you."
“What’s wrong with me?” He said trying to keep in mind that she was playing and not purposely trying to be mean.
“Do I have to go over it again??? Smelly, Ucky…" She laughed.
“Yeah, yeah”, he laughed, “I have heard it all before.” He took her hand and said, “Let’s go for a walk. I want to show you some sites you wouldn’t want to miss. You may never be back, and I wouldn’t want you to feel cheated by your first adventure.”
Maria smiled and grabbed her camera from the bed. “Ok, Spaceboy. Let’s go see some Alien stuff. Got anything really weird up here?”
Max knocked on his fathers study door. He waited till he heard him call for him to enter. He watched his father working at his desk, and admired his dedication to his people, and hoped he would one day be as good a ruler as his father. After a moment he cleared his throat, and King Philip looked up, surprised to see his son standing there.
“Oh, Max. I wasn’t expecting you, is there something you needed son?”
“Just a moment of your time sir.”
Sir? When had his son ever called him Sir? He decided to play along.
“Is this an “official” visit from the Royal Heir? Or did you get into some mischief and get sent here by your Mother?” He laughed a little at their formality, until he heard…
“This is an official visit.”
King Philip looked up and saw the serious look on his sons’ face and became concerned. It was the tradition of the Royals on Antar to keep things informal in their personal lives. The business of the Kingdom was personal to them, but kept strictly to the offices. They knew well the meaning of the phrase “There’s a difference between making a living and living a life”, and wanted to keep the two as separate as possible so that their relationships didn’t become formal. They always stated when they wanted to talk business.
“What is the nature of your call, Prince Maxwell?” He said, going into his official, head of state mode.
“Sir, I would like to be made aware of the reasons the Humans have been recalled, and your involvement in it.”
King Philip saw the gaze his son and heir leveled at him and knew this was a turning point in their relationship. This was no boy coming to him. Maxwell was turning 15 in a week, and seemed to have begun to become a man. And the man inside him wanted answers to an official government situation.
“I think you had better sit down son.”
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Aug-2002 3:39:20 PM ]
|posted on 12-Aug-2002 3:47:08 PM by lisabehr|
Alex awoke an hour later to find his sister Courtney knocking at his door. After letting her in and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he noticed a sadness about her and felt terrible that he had been so preoccupied with Isabel and the current situation to notice she hadn’t been herself for days.
“What’s up Court?” He asked, worried she may be angry with him for his lack of brotherly affection lately.
“Nothing….why?” She replied, knowing that he wasn’t going to buy the act.
“Are we gonna play this game, or are ya gonna spill before I have to exert my extreme male power over you?” He joked as he reached for his pillow.
“Really, it’s nothing, I am just a little tired” She replied as the pillow hit her square in the head. Shocked, she went to retaliate, and found herself flat on the bed being tickled like she hadn’t been in years.
“OK, OK I give…I’ll tell you…I promise.” She laughed, unable to contain herself at his assault on her sides. She hadn’t seen her brother in this kind of mood in a long time, and she missed it. As she sat up, she brushed Alex’s hair out of his and sighed at how much she really relied on him in her life, and how much his marriage would take from it. She also realized that she would probably never find a mate at this late age. At 20 years old, she was already considered almost an old maid.
She lay back on her brother’s bed and looked at the ceiling.
Alex had become quite as he awaited her answer to his question.
“I want to be married too.” She stated. “I want a man to fall in love with me the way you have with Isabel. I know I shouldn’t wish for things that can never be, but it’s all I think about. Husbands and babies.”
Alex looked hard and long at his sister, wondering where all this had come from. Wasn’t she too busy for that sort of thing? Her parents had created a position in the government for her. Something about protocol or some nonsense. She threw lavish parties, and made dignitaries feel special. Heck, she had even made all the arrangements for his romantic moments with Isabel while she was here. She was an important Royal official. Marriage could come later.
“Why?” He asked.
Courtney looked at him in shock. Was he really that dense?
“Because that’s what most women want. Well, especially me. I am bored with working. I was raised to be a queen, or at least a royal courtier of some sort. I just wish it were possible for someone like me.” She lamented. “Isabel has it so easy. With her looks, she could land any prince in the Galaxy.”
“Where is all this coming from? Alex exclaimed, astonished at a side of his beloved sister he had never seen. “Why are you talking like this? You love your work, that’s why you have no time for marriage….everybody knows that!!”
Courtney sat up at looked Alex in the eye.
“I work so much because no one would Want to marry me.” She said firmly.
Flabbergasted, he yelled “What are you talking about??? What man wouldn’t want you? You’re smart and funny and beautiful, any planet would be blessed to have you as their Queen!”
“Alex, smart and funny I may be, but beautiful is Not a word one could use in describing me.”
Alex couldn’t believe his ears. Courtney was one of the most beautiful people he had ever known, and not just on the outside. The thought that she considered herself to be less than she was hurt him.
“Where did you ever get that notion?” He inquired.
Courtney looked at him confused. It was common knowledge that no suitable mate could be found for her, so why was he trying to get her to ignore the truth?
“Well, dear brother, everyone knows I am not fit to be mated. Father and Mother, the servants….even Isabel. Why are you trying to convince me otherwise?”
They had all made her feel unworthy? Ugly?
It must be some mistake.
“What exactly has been said to make you believe you aren’t worthy or beautiful enough for marriage?”
“Well, Father and Mother have always talked about how hard it would be to find a suitor for a girl like me. And I heard the servants saying how lucky you were to have someone as beautiful as Isabel to marry, and how some poor Princes get stuck with the frogs in the family, and then I overheard Mother telling Isabel what a trial it has been and how they have all but given up on me ever being bonded, and Isabel agreeing that it was a tragedy. So you see, it is all my fault. I’m the frog of the family, and Father is sparing some Prince of me.” She told him as tears ran down her face in sadness for the love she would miss out on and the children she would never have.
Alex took her into his arms, and resolved to get to the bottom of this.
Maybe Isabel Evans wasn’t the woman he thought her to be. Hadn’t he just had the most amazing conversation with her? Hadn’t he seen a light shine in her eyes that told him they would probably be very happy, if not deliriously in love when they married?
He had so many thoughts running through his mind that he almost missed the beeping of his email. He untangled himself from his sister, who went into his bathroom to wash her face, and clicked on the reply from Max.
I was really shocked at your email Alex. I had hoped to discuss this with you, but time seems to be of the essence, so I am going to my Father. If this is true, then everything is about to change, and maybe not for the better. I was really hoping to see what kind of man my sister was going to be marrying, and now I have. Thank you Alex. Maybe I can figure this all out and do some damage control before it all blows up in our faces.
Alex read, and the reread the email.
Just like Antarians. Vague and unrevealing. But, he liked them, and was going to be marrying one, and although his head told him to sit this one out and stay neutral and loyal to his family, his heart said to jump in with both feet and see what his friends needed from him. And, perhaps clear up this little matter with Isabel.
Courtney came out of the bathroom looking fresh and unburdened.
“Thanks for letting me vent Alex. It usually doesn’t bother me, you know…sometimes I…..”
“Ya wanna go to Antar with me?”
Courtney stopped midsentance and stared at her brother for a moment.
“You mean tonight? It’s already 8:30. It would take an hour to get there….”
“I am going. Do you want to go or not?” He stated grabbing his wallet.
“Um, sure. I’m game. Why though? Is this some silly romantic gesture to get Isabel’s attention, because if it is …”
“I will fill you on the way. Let’s go.”
And with that, they were on there way.
Liz knocked on Max’s door, nervously ringing her hands. He yelled for her to come in and she found him on the balcony looking out at the two amber moons of Antar, as they shown brightly in the sky.
She watched him for a few moments, taking in his stance, wondering what he was thinking about.
“Penny for your thoughts” She offered.
He turned and smiled at the sight of her, and asked, “What’s a Penny?”
She laughed at his question, realizing how different their two worlds really were.
“It’s a one denomination coin on earth, or should I say in America.” She said still laughing.
He gazed at her with new eyes and with the wonder of finding a treasure you didn’t know you had, until you realized you may not be allowed to keep it.
He walked up to her and pulled her into a behr hug. To say she was startled was an understatement. This boy was a confusing mess of emotions and she never could figure out if he was accepting or rejecting her. But, she cared for him deeply, and this was their last night together, for a while at least, so she went with it. That is, until her air supply ran out.
“Um. Max, I really am enjoying this, but I can’t breathe.” She said muffled against his chest.
“Oh, sorry” He blushed as he let her go, and looked down into her eyes.
“Max, what’s wrong?” She was starting to get really worried. The intensity of his eyes made her stomach flutter, but at the same time, a change had come over him and he seemed so much more in control than just an hour earlier. More, like a man than a boy, and it made her feel things she was afraid she was too young to feel at 14.
“I…I…” He began, but he couldn’t seem to find the words. There was so much to say and so many life altering decisions to be made in a matter of moments and he didn’t think he was ready for this, but his hand was being forced. Adults he barely knew were plotting all of their lives, and the traditions he had not only accepted, but embraced earlier that day seemed a burden and cumbersome weight to him this night. He felt like an unsure Romeo, about to ask his Juliet questions she was too fresh to answer, to naïve to understand. And he did the only thing he could. He blurted it out to his friend of many years, the way he would have if they were still emailing.
“I think I want to marry you, but I am not sure, and I feel like I have to make a decision and seal you, before its too late, and my parents are unreasonable and I have these feelings for you, and I just want to kiss you right now, and I want you to stay, and I want you to go, and I want to stay here and I want to go with you, and I want to have more time to figure out what this is between us….but…” He ended exasperated that he had so much to share, and no eloquence with which to do so.
Liz looked up at him stunned. She hadn’t ever thought he was capable of coming unglued and sharing so much, but here it was. The question was, what was she going to do with it.
She took his hands and smiled and quietly kissed his palms. The sudden intimacy calmed him, and he looked at her desperately, hoping she could make sense of his ramblings.
“I think I must have missed a few things while I was packing.” She said sweetly. “Maybe if we start at the beginning, we can figure this out. And then maybe you just might get that kiss…” She giggled as she made her way back into his room.
Max stared after her in amazement that she could take the most painful moment of his young life and turn it into a moment to treasure….and maybe even get his first kiss, and hers in the process.
He followed her into the room, and got comfortable to tell her the story. Not the whole story, but enough that she would understand what he was saying, without frightening her, or making her feel pressured, and he hoped she would have the answers he was seeking.
And she would.
It was Liz.
|posted on 13-Aug-2002 6:13:49 AM by lisabehr|
Secret? What Secret? there's a secret????
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 13-Aug-2002 6:14:15 AM ]
|posted on 29-Aug-2002 8:06:43 PM by lisabehr|
|Sorry I havent been here updating. I have been really sick for 3 weeks.|
Her's part 34. I hope you enjoy it.
Antar, trying to discreetly explain the situation to Courtney. He told her about the overhead conversation between their Father and King Philip, his emails with Max and his conversation with Isabel. Courtney looked at her hands nodding the whole time he spoke gently next to ear. At the end of his story, she looked at him with concern, and asked him if he was certain about all the facts. Alex nodded and she sat for a few minutes, contemplating the situation.
"Are you sure you want to get involved? Because, if this goes badly, it will make enemies for Father and our Planet. It will also drive a wedge between the two of you. Please consider carefully the actions we are about to take Brother, because they could change the course of all out destinies."
Alex sat looking at his sister.
"I don't see another way to handle this. Father has made it clear how he feels, but it is wrong. You can't play with peoples lives the way they have. You can't tell a planet to turn over one of its people, against their will to save yourselves. It's wrong, and it's just as wrong asking all of to intermarry the way we do. We are running out heirs...someone’s gonna end up with their brother at some point!" He tried to joke, but he was determined to draw a line in the sand, and this time, he would be opposing not only the other planets, but his own father.
Courtney nodded, and thought about herself. If things changed, maybe a common man might want her, and she could have a family....
She shook her head at the selfish thoughts and tried to concentrate on the matter at hand.
Her brother needed her, and she would stand with him....but Antar was a whole different story. They weren’t even sure what King Phillips decision had been. Or if Max even cared about the situation... Why put themselves out there, if there was no need?
"Alex, about Max..."
"Max cares Courtney. I know he does. You haven't seen him in a while. He's not like he was. He cares."
Courtney nodded again and thought about Max Evans. Brooding. Aloof. Unapproachable....and the kid was only 14. Well, almost 15, but still. If he had changed, this was something she wanted to see.The kid had been wound tight since birth. And, she wanted to see who could change a royal Brat into a caring young man.
"ok, Alex. so, what’s the plan? We just show up?"
"Do they know we are coming?"
"Do you know what we are walking into?"
"Are you SURE we should go?"
That was enough for her.
King Philip asked his assistant to get a video com link with the King Sero. When it was ready, he greeted his old friend.
Sero, unable to stand the wait, ask him plainly. “Did you sign the document?"
King Phillip sighed, and nodded sadly. "Yes, I did. I did so with reservation, but it is done. I warn you, I will not force this alliance with the Earthlings. They are free to choose whom they align themselves with. And, if asked, I will protect their planet with all my strength. I am the one who brought them into this, by even contacting them. I should have left them to themselves. They were quite content believing they were the only humanoids in existence."
Sero regarded him with displeasure.
"You are not responsible for them. They agreed to have dealings with outsiders, as they like to call us, and it is not your fault that everyone is not as noble as we Phillip. They were bound to be conquered at some point. This way, we all benefit, and they stay free."
Phillip shook his head at his friend. Were they all going mad? Did they believe it was survival of the fittest? Why couldn’t they all work and live together, and explore new relations? Why did everything always have to get complicated? Why did everyone always try to grab the power? It was tiring. All he wanted was to live in peace, instead having to work so hard to maintain these men’s egos. If they were smart, they would all renounce their thrones and go the way of Mator, with elected officials. But, as men will do, they all wanted to rule the whirlwind galaxy, and Earth had become a pawn in that game.He wasn't sure who to trust anymore, and his head ached at the thought of his conversation with Max earlier.
Philip sighed and returned his attention to Sero.
"You and I do not agree on this matter old friend. But, let us not forget the many things we do agree on. This should not cause a break with us."
Sero eyed Phillip warily and shook his head.
"I have a planet to protect Phillip, I cannot risk my people. Not even for you.I stand with the others."
Phillip nodded in understanding.
"It may not matter anyway Sero. Earth may agree and this will be a settled matter."
"Let us only hope, Phillip.Let us only hope."
after their goodbyes, Phillip went to the Royal chambers in search of his Queen. Finding her sleeping in their bed, he slid in next to her and kissed her neck softly. She stirred and smiled at her mate.
"And Where have you been my King? I have been waiting all night to serve you" she teased.
He looked at her with love and lust in his eyes and pulled her to him.
"As much as I would LOVE your services, my Queen, I need to talk with you."
Her smile faded, and she asked if they should go to the offices. He sighed and asked if this once, could they just lie here together and talk. He was tired of the office and wanted relax with his wife.
She turned to lie on his chest and then looked into his eyes.
"What is it my love? Is there a problem?"
He waited a moment and then said quietly.
"I sealed Max to the Granolith tonight."
Shocked, she sat up and gasped at his revelation.
"Phillip...I don't understand. That is a very sacred ceremony. He is not ready for his coronation yet. There are events to be planned, and protocol. Why would you do this? I...I ...I'm shocked."
"Please listen to me Diane. I felt I had to. Things are very complicated, and he needed the authority to make his own decisions. He came to me tonight. He knows about the treaty earth has been offered, and he knows that they mean business. He is becoming a man Diane. I can't treat him with disrespect, not the way my father did me. I listened to him, and the man he is becoming will be a direct result of MY actions. I am his father. I had to make the hard choice tonight and sign that damnable document, but I had to let there be a loophole, and Max is that loophole."
"Max is not old enough to make his own decision. He's a boy Phillip. He's my baby and I don't want you using him to help you out of a mess!"
Phillip looked at his wife and couldn’t believe his ears. His first instinct was to blow up at her. Put her in her place. But the husband in him saw a woman scared that her baby was going to grow up too fast."
He took a deep breath and looked into her eyes.
"Diane. I love you. I realize why you want to hurt me, but I love you too much to do this."
"To try and blame me for all this. I am doing this For him Diane. He is determined to be a player in this little political game, and I feel it's his right to have a say. He feels responsible for her being here, and to tell you the truth Diane, I can see he is as smitten with her as I was with you at that age. We were just lucky our mothers were as manipulative as they were, or you would be married to Nacedo."
Diane wrinkled her nose at the thought. Nacedo was a hard man and her father had wanted him as her husband. Somehow, their mothers had convinced him otherwise. It was the biggest miracle of her life.
Seeing her reaction, he picked at the sore spot a bit more.
"Do you really want the same for your son?"
Diane was stunned. Tess was perfect for Max. Beautiful, smart...Max would love her.
"Tess is her fathers’ daughter Diane. I realized tonight I was doing the same thing to Max that your father was doing to you."
"But Nacedo is your oldest and dearest friend Phillip."
"Oldest yes, but dearest? Haven't you heard the phrase to keep your enemies closer? The minute I married you, I became his Diane. He is still in love with you, you are just too much of Lady to see it. I see it. I see him watch every move you make, Diane. Do you know what it's like top have to be civil, let alone friends with a man who's every fantasy includes your own wife? I hate the insight the Granolith has bestowed on me when he is around. It makes me sick Diane. And I was going to push my own son in to this to keep him an ally."
Diane was shocked beyond belief.
"Because he has weapons and fighters we could never match. We may have the Granolith, and control of the Galaxy, but he has built and army and arsenal that could destroy us. That’s why I signed that document saying that the planets could all negotiate with Earth on their own. I may be at the steering wheel Diane, but Nacedo has all they keys."
Diane nodded, and watched her husbands face as the revelations of their true predicament came out.
She took his hand and led him to the bed, his face full of worry.
"Come lay with me Phillip. We will lock the door and all the worlds out tonight."
He gazed at her beautiful face and with a flick of his hands the door locked and the lights went out.