posted on 11-Nov-2001 2:15:13 PM by dancepixie
Life’s Stories

Author: Nikki

Disclaimer: Sadly I’m only a poor college student…all I have is 6 Roswell posters and 1 Roswell calendar, and 2 cast pictures *tongue* okay, and even those arent just mine, that is what my roommate and I have between the two of ussad huh?*big*

Category: AU and CC, that’s mostly all I write. Mostly M&L, but of course there is some M&M (cause I’m a candygirl and couldn’t not write them) plus a little A&I and K&T for good measure. Liz’s POV.

Summary: Liz is 25 years old and lives in Florida along with Maria and Michael and Kyle and Tess whom she grew up with. They are all good friends. Tess and Kyle are together as are Michael and Maria. Isabel and Alex are together already too, but they don’t know anyone right away since they are just moving to town. Max is Isabel’s brother and he lives there too, but hasn’t met the others yet. Everyone has a story to tell, but this one belongs to Liz…follow her story through her eyes as she realizes what is really out there…

Author’s Note: Okay, Michelle has been bothering me about posting this story, so I figured since I have been working on it a lot lately that it would be okay to start posting it. I hope you guys like it, I don’t really know where the idea came from, but it’s kinda taken me over and made me get this out. Hope you like it. Feedback is a great thing, let me know what you think, kay? On with the story…

~Nikki~
*angel*



Life’s Stories

* * *

Part 1

* * *

I hear the knock at my door and wait a minute…sure enough I hear the key go in the lock and Maria comes in the door with a distinct huff. She always knocks before she uses the key, I guess she thinks she’s giving me fair warning or something, whatever. It might be my apartment, but honestly I wouldn’t mind if she just came in unannounced. She’s only been my best friend for like ever, when did she become polite or something?

“I’m in the kitchen Ria!” I call to her and in a moments time I can smell the tell-tale cedar oil scent that always means Maria is near.

“Lizzie, I missed you while I was gone!” She comes marching into the kitchen and envelopes me in a hug. I have to admit, I definitely missed her this last month while she was off having fun with Michael in Europe. She told me all about the museums and wonderful sights on the phone whenever she had time. It must have been incredible.

“I missed you too Ria. I just made some cookies, so why don’t you tell me all about everything,” I laugh as we sit down and she begins her tale.

“Oh! And Liz! You would not believe who I met there! We were in Paris and Michael took me sight seeing, and while we were out, guess who I met!” she paused for a moment before continuing not really expecting me to answer. “Max Evans! He is the cutest, sweetest guy ever.”

“Maria, who’s Max Evans?” I ask completely stumped by her outburst. I’ve never heard of this guy so why is she acting like he’s some big celebrity or something?

“Oh Lizzie, of course you’ve heard of him. He’s only like the biggest star in major league baseball right now…come on!” She shakes her head at me so that those dangly earrings of hers clang together…oh Maria… Okay, so now I do remember who this guy is…vaguely. I mean you can’t hear about baseball without hearing his name, I just wasn’t thinking of it before I guess.

“That’s great Maria, but isn’t Michael gonna get jealous if this guy is the ‘cutest, sweetest guy ever?’” I tease.

“Oh, hush! You know what I mean! And Michael will always be the only guy for me. We might argue once in a while but he’s all mine!” I laugh at her possessiveness. She might as well get a big tattoo across his chest saying ‘Property of Maria Deluca.’ on second thought, I better not give her any ideas. Poor Michael!

“Sure Ria. So, is your mother enjoying Italy with Jim?” Last year Amy and Jim got married, it was a big deal and all considering Jim is Jim Valenti, owner and CEO of Valenti International. Right now he’s working out of the Venice office. Jim and Amy have been there for over 6 months now. Michael and Maria spent the first week of vacation there with them before moving on.

“Oh, she’s as happy as ever. She asked about you, wanted to make sure you were doing okay and everything. Don’t worry, I assured her you were perfectly alright, but you know how she worries!” Maria babbled. Amy was always so sweet, she’s practically my second mother. I was probably at Ria’s house as much as I was at my own from the moment I could walk on my own! We were just inseparable. Those were the good old days…back when I was 5, 10, 15 years old and not a care in the world. Now I’m going on 25…but it’s not really so bad, just different is all.

“I’m glad to hear it. It was so weird here without you and Michael, no Amy, Kyle took Tess to visit her parents, and my parents are on the other side of the country practically.” I mean, why they felt the need to move to Roswell, New Mexico is beyond me…and they own this little café/restaurant type thing…tacky tourist attraction if you ask me. But they did it, moved away from their only daughter…okay, so I’m grown up, but still! “It’s been so lonely here without you! All I’ve had is Chocolate here to keep me company.” Chocolate is sitting up at my side the instant she hears her name. She’s such a good dog. She’s a chocolate lab, and as friendly and obedient as can be. Sometimes I don’t know what I’d do without her, she comes practically everywhere with me!

“Hey girl,” Maria gets that little kid voice as she bends over to play with my dog. Why is it people do that, anyways? I don’t know, I shouldn’t be talking, I know I sound like that too when it’s just me and her. Chocolate loves Maria, though probably only cause she always has a treat for her every time she visits. But hey, what’s the use in having a pet if you don’t spoil them? That’s always been my feelings.

“So, I was thinking shopping Saturday? We’ll make a day of it, you know lunch at a café or something, maybe take Chocolate to the park on the way back and let her run around with all the kids, you know how much she loves it. Come on, what do ya say?” Gees, she must be desperate for some girl bonding or something, I mean, she’s resorting to begging? I mean, Maria Hurricane Deluca, begging of her own free will, it’s just not heard of!

“Sure. Girl-time sounds great right about now.”

“Oh, did I tell you Michael’s cousin Laurie is coming to visit at the end of next week? She’s the sweetest thing, you’ll love her.” Ever notice how Maria just expects things? She expects me to love Michael’s cousin, she expects me to go with her Saturday…I mean I’m not complaining or anything. I mean if it weren’t for Maria I’d probably just go to work and come home and lay around the house all day never doing anything. She makes me get up and do things with her. She just always has her opinions and expectations. I wonder what would happen if I didn’t meet her expectations, but I’m not too sure I’d want to find out. Hurricane Deluca can be hell to deal with. I mean I’ve seen her in action when we were teenagers and she and Michael used to go at it…dear lord what that poor boy went through back then!

“Maria, you know how I feel about socializing with people…” and she does. I don’t like meeting new people. I just don’t. She knows that, now why won’t she respect that?

“Come on chica, its just Michael’s cousin. And she’s practically as shy as you are. What do you say, please?”

“Fine!” That whiny, begging, pleading voice…she knew I wouldn’t be able to refuse…damn her!

* * *

TBC...



[ edited 52time(s), last at 7-Feb-2003 10:12:50 PM ]
posted on 11-Nov-2001 10:22:49 PM by dancepixie
Hey guys, thanks for the feedback, I'm glad you are liking the story so far. I've been working on it so much lately. Whenever I have spare time I'm either writing this or Complicated Circumstances, my story that I'm writing with Michelle. (Shameless plug, I know!*big**tongue*) Anyway, hope you like the next part. And just remember, the more feedback I get the happier I'll be, and the more often I'll post the parts because I have a good amount written already!*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 2

* * *

It’s raining today. I’m still lying in bed but I can hear it outside. Not a heavy drenching rain, just a light shower. There’s just something about rainy days…some people don’t like them because they can’t go outside…whatever. I love rainy days. When I was a little girl I would curl up in bed with my blankets and a really great book.

I was such a bookworm. I read all the time. I guess in a way it was a look at the world outside my neighborhood. In second grade my teacher really didn’t like me because I read so much. I can’t even tell you how many times my mom or dad had to come into school to get one of my books back from my teacher because she confiscated it saying that I wasn’t paying attention in class. Like I actually learned anything from her anyways? My time would have been much better spent with my books. My parents never seemed to mind. Daddy loved the fact that his little princess loved to read. He said I would have a good head on my shoulders some day, and I’d like to think that that is true.

Grandma, dad’s mother, got me into writing. She started me on my first journal, and after that I wrote in one almost every night. Well, lately I haven’t, not for a while…three years to be exact. But she told me that writing things down was a great source of release. And it is very freeing. In high school I started writing stories. Of course writing wasn’t really my passion, science was.

Science. My first love. All throughout high school and college I was following my dream of being a molecular biologist, but it didn’t last. I graduated from college at 21 for all of my hard work. It all paid off I suppose. I was working in the best laboratory in the state doing something that I loved. And I really did love it. But it only lasted a year.

No, now I’m a writer. I love to write stories. Children’s fantasy books mostly. For the last three years I’ve been writing down the stories that I had imagined as a child. The stories that made me laugh, cry, and enjoy my childhood.

Now though, I’m working on something else. Not a children’s story. It will be my first big fiction novel. Wow.

So I’m happy with my life just the way it is. Why can’t anyone else see that? Maria is always trying to get me out to meet people. Now with Michael’s cousin Laurie, well okay, so maybe we will turn out to be friends. I suppose it couldn’t hurt to have a few more friends around. But at least she’s calmed down on the blind dates. I hated that. All throughout high school and college she was always trying to set me up with random guys who there is no way in hell I would have chosen to go out with. I mean it’s a sweet thought, but I don’t want to date some random guy. I was always kinda waiting for that special someone, you know, like in all those stories…yeah. But in the last few years, Maria has respected my wishes on that front thankfully. I think Michael’s kind of influenced her there.

Michael. He is such a great guy. I’m really happy for my friend. She deserves the best, and for her, that’s Michael. Sure they used to fight a lot, but now, they are just perfect together. Everyone seems to think so. I’m just waiting for him to propose. Then again, after she’s married she’ll probably want to marry me off…ahh! I don’t think I could handle that.

So it’s raining outside. What to do today? It’s a Monday…I know, rainy…Monday…it’s just bad all the way around. Grocery shopping? Nope, no fun in the rain. Can’t take Chocolate to the park, last time she got a little too happy with all the mud. That is one mistake I’ll never make again. It’s funny, animals can be a lot like little children at times.

Hmm…I could call my editor, but I really don’t like him, I need a new one…no, really don’t want to do that. Hmm…I could always just lie in bed and lounge around the apartment, yeah that definitely sounds like a plan.

Damn…so much for that idea. Yeah, that was the door. Who could it be though, I wonder. I mean it’s not Maria; she has a key. I really doubt its Michael…hmm.

We’ll see. I open the door and a little hand reaches out and grabs ahold of my leg. April. She’s a little girl that lives with her mother in the apartment right across from mine. She’s a sweetheart, honestly.

“I’m sorry to bother you Liz, honey, but I need to run a few errands and April wasn’t feeling too well this morning. Could you possibly keep an eye on her for a couple of hours? I’ll bring some lunch back with me for all of us. How does that sound?” Mrs. Cortez is the nicest lady. She’s always there for me to talk to when I need her. She’s a great mother to April and she’s kind of adopted me as a second daughter I think. April’s like my own daughter too. She’s seven years old and a bubble of energy most of the time. She’s not shy at all and just bursting to meet people.

“That’s fine Mrs. Cortez, I don’t mind at all. Hey darlin!” Kneeling down I wrap my arms around April’s tiny little body. She immediately wraps hers around my neck and kisses my cheek. I love this little girl. She moved in a year ago and she means so much to me. “We’ll be fine, won’t we darlin?”

“Yup!” her chirpy little voice is like music. I love children.

“Don’t worry, we’ll be fine. You take as long as you need.”

“Thank you honey! I owe you one.”

“Bye mommy!” April clings to my hand and we wave as her mother walks down the hall, the heels of her shoes clicking behind her.

“Come on Lizzie! Where’s Chocolate?” As I close the door I can already hear Chocolate running towards us from my bedroom. She must have heard her name, cause she always comes.

“I think she heard you!” We laugh and Chocolate soon joins us. I go to my room to change and the whole time I can hear the two of them playing in the living room.

“Okay, so what do you want to do darlin?” I ask as I sit in my favorite reclining chair. A moment later she sits down on my lap.

“Wanna tell me a story? You always tell the bestest stories.” I laugh at her childish chatter. If I ever have kids, I imagine having a little girl just like her.

April might not have been feeling too good this morning, but she seems fine now. This little girl is so special. She’s so accepting and loving and unprejudiced. It’s a very new and refreshing thing. She’s brought out a lot in me. She might only be seven years old but she has taught me a lot, and I’m sure I have more to learn.

* * *

Times like this are relaxing. It’s like I’m a little girl again all curled up at home, except I’m the parent here. But that’s the funny thing, I’m not the parent. I’m just a young woman with this little girl curled up at my side hanging on my every word. I’ve learned how to be a good storyteller. It helps when you have a captivated audience that will sit for hours begging for more. Young kids are amazing. Since I’ve met April and her mother I’ve discovered so much more about myself, about life, about everything that is out there.

The local library has a weekly children’s reading hour. April’s mom lets me take her every week. We sit there and I hold her on my lap as we listen to Miss Kay the librarian reading whatever the kids wish to hear. A couple times when Miss Kay has been sick she’s asked me to tell the kids one of my stories. I know them all by heart, they are all a part of me…some I haven’t even written yet, but will eventually. It doesn’t matter whether I’m listening to someone else’s story, or if I’m telling one of my own, it brings me back to a time when I was a child and everything was right in the world.

April might be my little sweetheart, but she’s Maria’s little chica-in-training. That’s what Maria likes to call her sometimes. It’s cute. April’s got the attitude down and the talking, god she could almost talk as fast as Maria at times…almost.

* * *

Okay, so I met Michael’s cousin Laurie, and she seems very nice. So Maria was right about that. It’s only once. We had lunch and it was great. She is shy, more so than me I think. I’m not really shy anymore, more like antisocial. But she is just plain shy. Once Maria introduced us she talked a little more, but she had this little quaver in her voice, I could just feel her insecurity. I used to be the same way, that’s how I can tell. I notice it because I know what to look for.

Anyway, she’s in town for a while so I’m sure I’ll be spending more time with her soon. Maybe I’ll get her to open up a little, bring her out of her shell. It’s hard to come out, but you have to eventually or else, I’ve learned, you are only cheating yourself out of a great life.

* * *

TBC...



posted on 12-Nov-2001 4:39:13 PM by dancepixie
Thank you for the feedback everyone, I just love hearing what you think about this story. You're all great! So here is part 3...enjoy, and keep the feedback coming!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 3

* * *

I’m sitting at my computer typing at the moment. Do you know that computers are wonderful things? They can bridge any gap. One of my best friends, Kyle, he’s a big computer genius. He’s designed my whole computer. Everything in it is his. It’s really cool. You might not believe all the stuff it can do. I have an audio read-back so that when I’m writing one of my books I can have it read back what is written and I can make changes orally by voice command. It’s really great and saves lots of time. Plus I can use that program for other things, internet sites, email, its very useful.

So yeah. I’m writing, or trying to write. I just can’t think too clearly right now. Why can’t I seem to focus? It’s like my head is in the clouds, but there is no reason for it to be there. Maria will be by in a few. The clock says it’s three in the afternoon. She’ll be coming by and we’re going for a walk or something; a lot of times in the afternoon we’ll go take Chocolate for a walk; it gives us time to talk and Maria likes getting me out of my apartment. I guess I can understand her. I mean, it really isn’t too healthy for me to lock myself away from the world all the time, but I can pretend can’t I? Okay, I guess not.

Sure enough I hear the knock followed quickly by her opening the door. My goodness that girl is loud. I don’t think she could be quiet if her life depended on it. Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t know.

“Chocolate, come here girl!” I call as I reach for her leash where I always keep it. I hear the paws pounding the ground as she runs full speed past me, and right at Maria. Yep, it’s like radar. Maria always has a treat for her. Okay, she’s had her treat so now she can come to me. Gee thanks dog, love you too! I’m just kidding though. I love Chocolate, and I know she loves me. She just gets a little excited sometimes about visitors. And hey, she’s only like three, so she’s still a little puppy in my opinion, she’s allowed to be wild.

“Hey chica! How’s it coming?” I know she’s referring to my story. It’s still open on my computer where I was sitting I think. I don’t remember closing it.

“Computer, shutdown!” I voice with my back to it while facing Maria. I can hear the computer thinking briefly before the gentle hum is gone. I love this voice-automated thing. Thank you Kyle! “It’s coming slow, very slow. I was sitting there for like two hours before you got here and maybe wrote a page or two. It’s just not coming like it was before. I lost my inspiration or something, I don’t know. It’s just like its all stuck up here in my brain and I can’t get it out.” So I’m more frustrated then I thought I was. Maria will understand though. She’s a great friend, the best friend a girl could ever ask for. How did I ever get so lucky?

“I’m sorry chica. Maybe you just need to take a break from it. Come on, we’re going out. Gotta give this sweet little puppy some exercise!” There goes that sickeningly sweet baby voice. Why is it people do that when they talk to animals? I mean, I know I do it too, but still…

“Sure, let’s go. Come on Chocolate. Let’s get this leash on you girl.” Do I have this dog trained or what? I have the leash in my hand and when I say her name she sits right in front of me and waits for me to put it on her collar. God I love this dog!

So we’re walking through the park. It’s nice and warm out today. I can just feel the sun on my back warming me as we walk this well-known path. I take Chocolate off her leash and let her run around a little as we sit on our bench. We call it our bench cause we always sit here. It’s on the top of this little hill and there’s a little playground not far to the right. Chocolate usually plays with the kids in the park while we sit and talk. It’s the only time I really let her off the leash outside of the house, when we are here in the park with Maria. But she’s really good about coming right back to my side when I call her.

“So Ria, how’s everything in your world?” I ask her. She owns this cute café that is getting pretty popular lately. It’s been keeping her pretty busy since she got back. I still haven’t figured out how she got Kyle to look after the place for her while she was gone for so long, but I don’t think she’ll be doing that again soon from what I’ve heard.

“God! Kyle is so dumb!” Gees, she makes me laugh. You’d think she didn’t love her stepbrother, wouldn’t you? But I know the truth, they are actually really close; it’s cute! “He screwed so many things up. I’ve been busting my ass to get the place back to normal for the last two weeks. Ahhh!” Now I’m laughing. I feel bad for all the extra work she’s been having to do, sure I do, but she’s just so funny when she gets like this.

“I’m sure it’ll all be fine, just give it a little time. Kyle was just trying to be helpful you know.”

“Yeah, but sometimes his helpful is just not very helpful. I mean, I know you’ve been through that. Remember in high school when you sprained your ankle in gym and Kyle was carrying you to the nurse? He hit your foot against like three walls before he finally got you there. That wasn’t exactly helpful, now was it?”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about that. Oh the good old days. That had been a very painful experience actually. To tell the truth it hadn’t been hurting that much until Kyle decided I should go to the nurse…yeah, three walls later…my foot was pretty bruised and swelled; not a pretty picture.

“Okay, I give! At least he was trying to be nice and help though. And hey, you did get your vacation with Michael, so you have nothing to complain about.”

“Hey, you want to come with me? I’m going to stop by the café for a minute, make sure Courtney the new waitress is doing okay. We can have some pie…it’s really good, fresh peach pie with whipped cream…your favorite!” Okay, she knows there is no way I can resist that! I mean, Michael does a lot of the baking and cooking at the café…and my god can that boy cook! His pie is by far the best I’ve ever had.

“Do you even have to ask?” I question as we stand up. “Chocolate!” I yell towards the playground. Some of the children yell their goodbyes to her as she comes racing over to my side. I love this dog. The children seem to love her too. And they are always good to her, so I don’t mind if they play with her, they’re actually doing me a favor.

The café, it’s in a semi quiet area, but it gets a lot of customers. Not many tourists find it, but all the locals love it. Which is actually kind of nice. You get to know a lot of the same people, or so Maria tells me. I’m actually not here that often.

“Hey Lizzie, guess who’s here!” Maria whispers into my ear as we walk in the door.

“What? Who?”

“Kyle, and he brought Tess with him,” she tells me as she pulls me further into the place. “Come on let’s go say hi. I haven’t seen her in ages!” She hasn’t seen her in ages…I think it’s been longer for me. How long has it been since I’ve even talked to Tess…too long. We were great friends in school and all throughout our childhoods. She lived next door to me since I was like five years old…

We walk over and their table is quiet. Maria says hi to them and Kyle responds with a hello. A minute later Tess says a quiet hi too. Kyle got up from the booth and gave Maria a hug telling her how good it was to see her before telling us to sit down while he sits next to Tess. Those two were always so cute together. I remember in high school they were always the couple that you’d see together. Some people wondered how it happened, but the rest of us knew…it was love, and nothing can get in the way…nothing.

You see, there is something you don’t know about Tess. She’s deaf. She has been since we were what…fifteen years old. Yeah, that was when the accident happened. She had been scuba diving with her uncle when she came up too quickly or something and her eardrums popped…she hasn’t been able to hear since. At first she was really afraid, but we all stood by her side and helped her get through it. She’s very strong. We all learned sign language for her, I mean, it’s the least we could do, right? At least she can still speak. Sometimes people that are deaf are afraid to speak because they can’t hear themselves, and aren’t sure if they are speaking too loud or too soft…there are so many ifs. But we always promised Tess that we would tell her the truth about something like that. We tell her that she sounds perfectly alright, and she does. If you heard her talking, you probably wouldn’t even know the truth. The doctor’s say its because she didn’t loose her hearing while she was really young, if she had then things would be different. I don’t care what they say; I’m happy that she is alright.

We talk for while. Its weird, because we speak as we sign, and Tess just speaks back to us. It all sounds like just any ordinary conversation…but that’s life right? Everything has its little twists and quirks…that’s what makes everyone unique. I know I’m unique…no one could have a story like mine…but that’s for another time, I won’t bother you with it now. You might know it already anyways, I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if Maria had told you by now. What? She hasn’t? Wow, I must say I’m surprised! Not that I don’t love her, but she’s not the best at keeping secrets. Not that this is a secret, cause lots of people know…I mean, most people know, everyone who knows me knows…well so they don’t all know the full story, but you will, if you stay around.

I’m just full of stories. Stories about my life, my friends and family. Stories of fantasies and stretching the imagination. Stories about how great life could be. Stories about love, true love, and what it might really be like. Stories of pain and adversity and overcoming all the odds. They are the stories that make up the world around us. The stories that we live everyday. The stories of life.

* * *

TBC...


posted on 13-Nov-2001 1:20:33 AM by dancepixie
lol! Okay, short little note here...I know, you're thinking Kyle is a computer genius? But okay, so I'm on page 40 something in writing this fic, and I forgot that I had mentioned Alex before in the story, so I added him in later as a different person, so when I was proofing this before posting it I realized that and had to go and change it, and since I didn't really feel like adding another character...you get Kyle the computer genius!*big* I thought it was funny too!*tongue*

~Nikki~
*angel*


posted on 13-Nov-2001 9:54:35 PM by dancepixie
Okay, here is part four...we're getting closer to meeting some of the others, so just stick with me here! Also, some things start to come to light after this so, enjoy!

Oh, and thank you to those of you who are leaving me feedback, I love hearing from you!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 4

* * *

So my book is coming along. Tess is my new editor/publisher. We just finished the paperwork crap yesterday. She’s built herself a thriving business. She is just amazing to me actually. To realize everything she has been through and still how she came out on top of it all…I don’t know, it’s just really remarkable. She might be deaf but that doesn’t mean she can’t live her life her way anymore. I’m very proud of my friend.

For the most part we talk through the computer…private chat rooms, email, that sort of thing, cause obviously the phone isn’t an option. She’s loving the latest chapters I sent to her. She’s asking for more, she’s much more demanding than my last editor, but that is definitely a good thing. She doesn’t just demand it of me, but she pushes me and inspires me and makes me push myself to write, to be, well as corny as this may sound, all that I can.

I still don’t have a name for it yet…I don’t know…nothing is coming to me. It’s funny, cause I usually have a good idea of the title before I even start writing it, but not now…hopefully it’ll come to me by the time I’m finished.

“Computer send latest update to Tess,” I give the command and wait. A moment passes and I can hear the computer processing my request.

“Message sent.”

Hmm…now what do I do? I’m not really sure. Wait, what time is it? Today is Thursday afternoon. I’m supposed to pick up April from school for her mother. Mrs. Cortez had to go to some small town not too far from here, I forget what it’s called, to see her son. Johnny lives there with his fiancée, and they just got engaged so she asked me to watch April for the afternoon. Of course I said yes. She knows she doesn’t even have to ask. I’d do anything for her or her daughter. They are my other family.

Chocolate must have heard me grab the leash cause I hear her running. Yep, here she is now, sitting at my feet waiting for me to put the leash on her. A minute later we are out the door. I tell her we’re going to pick up April and she’s off, leading me down the street. I know that she understands what I’m saying and I think she’s a tad excited. As we get close to the school I can hear the children laughing and playing. What it was like in elementary school…wow! That was so long ago…seems like another lifetime. I’ve changed so much since then.

Chocolate and I wait outside the school by the tree that we always wait under. She walks right up to it and sits down and waits. She’s such an special dog. It’s like she knows exactly what she’s supposed to do, I’m thankful I have her to help me.

April’s coming…sure enough, a second later her arms are wrapping around my waist and giving me a hug. I reach down to her and hug her right back.

“Hey munchkin! How was school today? Did you have fun?” She grabs a hold of my hand and we start walking down the street.

“Yeah, it was lots of fun. We’re getting a class pet, a bunny rabbit! Oh! And Mrs. Grimes said that I was reading very well. She told me that I’m one of the best readers in the class!” I can even hear the smile in her voice as she rambles on.

“Well, that deserves a special treat, don’t you think?” I ask. Like she would say no? “How about we go to Maria’s café and get a couple slices of pie?” I know that made her happy. She skipping at my side while still holding onto my hand, and giving me hugs. I love this little girl. I want one just like her someday…

April leads me into the café and sits up at the counter, it’s her favorite place to sit because she says it makes her feel like a big person. A minute later Ria comes over. Of course she’s here…why wouldn’t she be. I’d know the sound of those shoes anywhere, so I warn April that she’s coming before she comes out of the swinging doors. Yep, it’s her. Little miss April is giggling about how I always know, when Maria comes up to us.

“Hey chica, little chica!” That’s Maria for you. “What can I get you guys?”

“Pie!” April chirps up before I can even say anything. Now Maria’s laughing…and I find myself joining in.

“Sure, coming right up kid!” A minute later she’s back, and sitting on the other side of me as we all eat our pie. I’m waiting for her to say something, but she hasn’t yet…what’s she up to? “So Lizzie, got any plans tomorrow night?” I knew it! There’s always something.

“No, and I’m afraid to ask, but why?” I’ve given up trying to lie to her; it never works. She always knows, and besides, I just don’t like lying to my friends, it’s not fun.

“Well Michael ran into someone the other day and invited him to dinner at our place and I thought you’d like to come too. I mean, this way I can get you out of that apartment.” Oh, goodie, she’s trying to set me up with someone…and no offense to Michael, because he really is a sweetie, but one of his friends? Shoot me now!

“Maria-”

“No Liz!” Damn her, she interrupted me before I could defend myself! “You need to get out more. Please come…please please please please please!!!” Ahhh! I hate it when she does that! Can’t you just hear the sad little puppy dog eyes in her voice? Oh hell!

“Fine Ria, but only for you.” I sigh. It’s inevitable with Maria Deluca for a best friend…she’s the matchmaker queen I tell ya. She was the one who got Tess and Kyle together…they were her first project, and look how well that turned out! And then there was her mother…who is very happy at the moment in Italy. But one of Michael’s friends? This is really making me question my own sanity, let alone hers.

“Great! You won’t be sorry chica!” Oh yeah…show’s you what she knows. I’m regretting this already. “I’ll pick ya up around five tomorrow afternoon then we can talk for a while and you can give me pointers in the kitchen. I still don’t understand how you can be a better cook than me…” Leave it to Maria…

“You mean you aren’t letting Michael cook?” Michael always cooks cause it’s a well-known fact that Maria, well, can’t!

“Hey! And no, he’s not cooking. He promised he’d let me. But that’s why I have you to give me tips. I mean you always were pretty good at it, even if you haven’t done much cooking in a while, it’s still all up in that pretty little head of yours. So, I gotta get back to work but I’ll pick you up, be ready at five. Actually I’ll be there a little early, I’ll pick out something for you to wear!” Great…just what I want, Maria to play Barbie doll with me…yippee! “And I’ll see you there precious!” She always has to acknowledge Chocolate.

“Maria, don’t you dare give my dog any of that pie!”

“Oh Lizzie, it won’t hurt her, it’s just some of the crust! Besides she’d be mad at me if I didn’t give her some sort of treat.” And of course, she’s gone before I can say anything. Damn you Maria! Ahh!

“You done with your pie munchkin?”

“Yup! Thank you Lizzie, you’re the best.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie. Come on. Why don’t we head back to the apartment and if your mom’s not back you can practice some of your reading. How does that sound?”

“Okay!” She grabs my hand and we head out the door of the café. I used to love walking the streets of this city but it just isn’t the same anymore. I used to walk around alone just enjoying the sights, and now I hide in my apartment unless Maria or someone else, but usually Maria, makes me join the real world. I don’t like to venture out alone. Chocolate is always with me, but sometimes it’s still scary, you know? Maybe you don’t. Actually you probably don’t because you don’t know my story. But it will all be told in time, I promise.

* * *

TBC...


posted on 15-Nov-2001 2:37:56 AM by dancepixie
Okay, so it's a little later than I usually post but I got a little caught up in real life junk, and saddly it takes away from story time...but never fear, I always try to get back to post another part, and look I made it! Cause technically, my time it is only 11:33 pm, so it's still the 14th!*big* So, enjoy, and don't forget about the feedback, I love it, hint hint!*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 5

* * *

So here I am in a bathrobe standing in the bathroom blow-drying my hair. I can hear her rifling through my closet and I’m afraid.

“Please don’t mess it all up Ria, it’s all arranged where it’s supposed to be…” I know that she knows that. But I had to say something to stop this nervousness. In the beginning it was kinda rough on our friendship because she’d screw something up and I’d have a hissyfit. But we survived the rough patches and are stronger for it.

“I know chica. No worries, I found it.”

“And what is it?”

“It’s that really pretty burgundy dress with the halter tie, low neckline, and empire waist. You know you love it, and you look wonderful in it. And leave your hair down. I’ll curl the ends a little…actually, no, just straight down. You’ll be gorgeous.” I can just imagine the gleam in her eyes.

I turn off the blow dryer and set it on the counter as I finish brushing through my now dry, fluffy hair. Much better.

“Are you sure about this Ria? I mean, who is this guy? You’ve refused to tell me about him, but please?” Okay, so I’m really uneasy about this, more so then I’ve let on…why is this time so different than the others, I don’t know. It just is.

“I’m sorry chica.” She wraps me in a hug for a few minutes and rubs my back gently. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize this was bothering you so much. I mean…well, I guess if you don’t want to come you don’t have to, but I’d miss you.” Now I feel kinda bad.

“No, it’s okay Ria, I’ll still come, but could you at least tell me who this guy is? And do I have to wear that? It just seems kinda, I don’t know, fancy.”

“Okay try this instead. Your black jeans and that maroon three-quarter length top that I’ve been meaning to borrow…how does that sound?”

“Much better.”

“Let me grab it.” I can hear her rummaging through my closet again as I run the hairbrush idly through my hair. “Here you go, now you go get dressed.”

So as I get dressed she explains it to me.

“Well, you remember how I told you that Michael and I met Max Evans while we were in Europe? Well, he lives in town and he came into the café the other day. Michael and him were talking and they’ve become friends and stuff, so I thought it would be fun to invite him over for dinner, you know…”

“Yeah, but does he know that I’ll be there?”

“Yeah, I told him my best friend was coming over and that he should join us.”

“Oh…but does he know…” I let the question hang. I know that she knows exactly what I’m talking about. I mean it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what I was going to say.

“No.”

“Oh.”

Well this will be an interesting evening.

* * *

“So Maria, tell me about this Max Evans. I mean, you said he was a professional baseball player…but that was all you told me.”

“Okay, so what do you wanna know? I mean, I don’t know him that well either.”

“Well, is he nice, I mean, what’s he like?”

“Oh, he actually seems very sweet. He was always polite and courteous. And when he came in to the café he insisted on paying for his food when Michael and I told him it was on the house. He’s just a great guy, I think you’ll like him.”

Hmm…could he really be my Mr. Perfect? Yeah right. I’m beginning to think he isn’t out there anymore.

* * *

“Okay, so I sprinkled it with some garlic powder what now?”

“Do the same thing with the Onion Powder and very lightly with the seasoned salt, then stick it in the oven,” I direct her. I’m sitting at the table tapping my fingers on my water glass as I sit and direct her cooking. I must admit, it actually is starting to smell good in here. We just make a great team I suppose. Parker and Deluca…always a great team.

“Thanks chica, I owe you for this.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“So, how’s everything? Are you sure you’re ready for this? Cause I could have Michael take you home…I really could.”

“Thanks for the offer hun, but I think I’m alright, for now at least.”

“Okay. But if you change your mind, I’ll understand.”

“Thanks.”

You know how silences can be awkward sometimes? Well with my best friend, they never are. Sometimes we’ll just sit in silence and its like we totally understand each other. It’s not crazy, honest, it’s just that our friendship is so close, so incredible that nothing else really matters. We don’t have to be talking. We don’t have to be doing something. We can just sit and be quiet.

“Hey girl!” Chocolate decided the kitchen was a much more interesting place I guess cause she’s decided to join us. Maria and Michael are so great, they let me bring her over here and let her run loose in their house cause they know I’m more comfortable when she is with me. My friends are the best.

“Maria, please don’t spoil my dog too much tonight.” Okay, so I spoil my dog, but Maria does too, and she’s worse at it than me. I’ll only give her a little bit of table scraps every once in a while…Maria does it all the time if I don’t catch her. Sometimes I think she still does anyways, but I can’t prove it. I’m kidding of course, and Maria knows this, but it’s still fun to bug her about it. If Chocolate ever gets fat, I can tell Maria it’s all her fault. But I don’t think that’ll ever happen the way this dog runs around the park with the little kids. Just sitting on the bench listening to her barking and the kids laughing and running is enough to make me tired.

“Yeah yeah…like you never spoil her.” She knows me so well.

*Ding Dong*

The doorbell. Oh boy…feel those nerves coming back. I thought I had gotten this under control…maybe not.

“You okay chica?” Maria’s at my shoulder giving it a slight squeeze.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I hope she believes me.

“Come on, tell me what’s wrong. You never get this worked up when I set you up with someone.” She sits beside me and rests her hands on mine to try and calm me a little.

“I don’t know. I just…this just feels different than all those other times, you know? I mean, I don’t know how, it just does. I’m making no sense at all, am I?” What is wrong with me? I never act like this…oh god!

“Hun, are you sure you want to stay? Because if you want you could just go lay down upstairs or something. And I’ll bring you some dinner up there. Then if you’re feeling better later you can come join us or something.”

“Are you sure that would be okay?” I ask. Okay, I admit it, I’m nervous, and I’m just not ready for this.

“Sure, come on, we’ll take the back stairs cause I hear Michael at the front door.” She leads me up the stairs with Chocolate following us, and down the hall to the guest room that has always been mine to use when I’ve needed it. These two are so great to me.

“Now you just lay down and relax. Chocolate will stay with you. If you need anything just send her down and I’ll come up right away, I promise.” She gives me a hug and I can feel how much she cares about me and how worried she is with how I’m acting right now.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine Ria. Thank you!”

“No problem. Anything for you Lizzie. Now you relax. I’ll come up later, but I must go feed the two hungry boys waiting down stairs.” She’s laughing as she closes the door behind her.

Oh boy. Wow. So now I’m alone with my thoughts. I miss writing in my journal, but that would be kind of hard now, wouldn’t it? Yeah. Left alone…it’s like I didn’t even come tonight…but I did. Maria got me all pretty and I don’t even bother to go downstairs and meet this man that she claims is a real sweetheart. Hmm…what is wrong with me? Okay, I know what is wrong with me, but does it matter right now? I don’t know anymore.

I’m just…confused. I’ve been trying to hide myself away…avoiding meeting new people, and now I’m questioning it all. I always did it before when Ria asked me to meet some guys who turned out to be idiots and now when she claims this latest guy is a sweetheart, I just can’t bring myself to go downstairs. Yeah, something is definitely wrong with me…something that I haven’t realized until now. I’m afraid, afraid of the possibilities that are still out there for me. Afraid…just…afraid.

* * *

TBC...


posted on 28-Nov-2001 6:40:58 PM by dancepixie
Sorry I kinda took a break out of posting since the board was down. I promise to get another part out later today, okay?

~Nikki~
*angel*


posted on 28-Nov-2001 8:23:17 PM by dancepixie
Okay...my computer is being dumb...this is try number two at posting this...hope you enjoy, and I'm sure that if you all like this part I could very easily be persuaded to post another part tonight. After all, I left you guys with nothing for almost a week... Incase you didn't get that, it was a hint for feedback*big* I love it!

~Nikki~
*angel*

* * *

Part 6

* * *

What? I must have fallen asleep or something. Getting up off the bed I reach over and touch the clock that I know is always on the night table. Like I said, this is my room and always my room. My friends are too good to me. “7:45 pm.” Wow! I slept for like two hours. I didn’t think I was even really tired, but I guess I surprise myself sometimes.

“Chocolate,” I call softly but she doesn’t respond. Where is she? “Chocolate?” I ask again. Nope. Hmm…Walking over to the door I find out why she isn’t responding, she’s not here. Okay, this dog is smart, but smart enough to open the door? I didn’t think so. Maybe Ria came up to check on me and left the door open a little and Chocolate went out. I guess that means I have to go down alone if I don’t want to stay up here.

As I walk down the hall towards the front stairs I can hear voices coming from the lounge.

“And who is this?” a rich, deep voice asks.

“This little angel is Chocolate. She’s Liz’s dog, she goes with her everywhere.” Maria. Yep, she must’ve brought Chocolate downstairs with her, probably so she could feed her table scraps.

“Oh, aren’t you so sweet. You’re such a beautiful girl, you know that?” He’s playing with my puppy. At least he obviously likes animals. So why was I so afraid of this again? I can do this, I tell myself as I walk the five steps to the top of the stairs. Once I reach the bottom of the stairs the lounge is on the right and they’ll be able to see me. Do I go down or not? But there’s really no decision cause I’m already half way down. Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. There, one last stair and I’m there. Here I go…

“Lizzie? Hun, are you alright?” Maria asks as she comes over to me. I didn’t even walk into the lounge yet, I’m barely to the doorway and she’s at my side.

“Yeah, I’m fine Ria, thanks. I’m feeling much better now.” Chocolate gives a little bark and is at my side licking my hand. “Hey girl!” I bend down and scratch behind her ears, letting her lick my face. Yep, Ria gave her table scraps…dog breath! “I was wondering where you got to when I woke up.”

“Oh, I’m sorry chica, hope I didn’t scare you or anything. But she seemed hungry, and since you were sleeping, I thought I’d bring her down and feed her.”

“Don’t worry about it. Thanks for spoiling my dog.” We both laugh as she leads me further in the room and we sit on the couch.

“Oh, Lizzie, I’m sorry, this is Max Evans; Max, this is my best friend in the world, Elizabeth Parker.” Maria introduces us and whispers in my ear that he’s a little to my right in front of me. I hold out my hand to shake his before he can because it works better that way. Then he won’t figure it out and ask questions. This is always how my mind works incase you haven’t noticed yet.

“It’s nice to meet you Liz. Maria’s told me a lot about you.” How did I know? He shakes my hand and I get the shivers. His hand is big, it completely surrounds mine, but it’s gentle and warm at the same time.

“It’s nice to meet you too. Hi Michael.” I know he’s here, he’s always here.

“Hey Lizzie. Glad to see you’re feeling better.”

“I am, thanks.” I give a little smile and hope that everyone’s not looking at me anymore.

We talk for a while about lots of random things. I’m not really sure what anymore. I was kind of caught up in the feel of being with people and feeling normal again.

“Liz?”

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry, what did you say?” Oops! I guess I really should pay attention to what everyone is saying. I guess I missed something.

“Max was just asking if you needed a ride home tonight Lizzie,” sure Maria, keep giggling, we’ll see what I do to you later…

“Umm, actually I was just planning on crashing here tonight if that’s okay Ria.” Please say yes, you better say yes…

“Yeah, that’s fine. You know you can always stay here.” Thank you Ria! She’s a lifesaver.

“Oh, okay.” Is it just me or did Max sound kind of sad about that? “Well, it was nice meeting you Liz.”

“Yeah, you too.” And I honestly mean it. Now I’m kicking myself for being afraid. This guy is really sweet and I could have spent more time with him, but I ran upstairs and hid for two hours, and then I said I was staying the night with Ria. What is wrong with me?

“I hope to see you again some time, I really do.” Oh, did I mention how really sweet this guy seems?

Everyone says their goodbyes and Max leaves.

“So, what’d you think of him chica?” Maria asks right away. I was waiting for it, I know her too well.

“Do you think I could get some of your fabulous food first? I’m starving,” I tell her as I start for the kitchen.

Wow, this food is really really good. I guess my advice while she was cooking really did help! I’ll have to help her more often if she’s going to keep cooking.

“So…are you going to tell me now?” No use in avoiding it forever.

“He seems very nice Ria.”

“Nice? Oh come on, you have to give me more than that! I mean, come on!” She’s so funny when you push her buttons.

“Okay, so he seems like a really great guy.”

“And…”

“And…I guess I wouldn’t mind spending more time with him.” How does she always know when there’s more?

“I knew it! See, I told you it wouldn’t be so bad…but would you listen? No! Seriously though, he’s a great guy, you should just give him a chance.”

“Thanks Ria, I think I will.”

* * *

Okay, so I was never really into sports too much as a kid. I was more the sit at home and read kinda person. I studied and was intrigued by science. Sports just weren’t my thing; I was really pretty bad at them anyways. So why am I bringing this up right now you ask? Simple. I’m doing something I never thought I would be. I’m listening to the baseball game on the radio. Why you ask again? Aren’t you getting a little too demanding? That’s okay, I’ll tell you anyways.

Two words.

Max Evans.

Since I first heard his rich, deep voice at Maria’s last weekend I haven’t been able to think of anything else. She’s told me time and time again that I need to let other people in as well. And I have, I mean, I’ve gotten really close to April and her mother, but this is different. This is a guy. And I could get hurt.

So what if I am afraid? It’s only natural, right? I’m afraid because everything is different and new and I know it will never be like I imagined it as a child. So I’m afraid…

Back to what I was saying before, I’m listening to the baseball game on the radio. Max Evans, star of the team…that’s all I hear every time he’s up to bat or makes a great play. I try to imagine him in my mind, playing baseball…but it’s hard…I always wonder…and I guess I always will, now won’t I? Oh, wait, you still don’t understand, well, we’ll get back to that later.

Maria’s convincing me to come over Thursday night to dinner. Max will be there. I’m going…I told Maria I would. And I also promised her no scared disappearing acts. Max seems nice enough from what I can tell. She wants to know if I’m going to tell him. I don’t even know him and she wants me to tell him my secrets? No! No way. Then she asks me how long I think I can keep it a secret and leaves it at that. Damn her. Why does she have to actually make sense once in a while? So I know that I can’t live in my fantasy world forever, but am I ready to meet the world head on?

* * *

TBC...


posted on 29-Nov-2001 12:40:32 AM by dancepixie
Hey everyone! Thanks for all the great feedback, I love hearing what you all think. I'm not sure if I said this before or not, but to answer some questions, no, Max is not an alien, there are no aliens in this story...at least not that I'm planning as of yet...but who knows what can happen. And you will find out what all is going on with Liz, and how much Max knows. And you do find out what happens to Liz, I know I've written that part already, but I don't think we are quite there yet...stick with me though, we'll get there. Anyway, ask and you shall recieve, hope you like part 7, let me know!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 7

* * *

“Thanks Maria,” I say as we walk out the door. She came to pick me up so that we could have a ‘talk’ before dinner tonight. Great, just what I wanted to do!

“No prob, chica! Now…” Oh, I knew this was coming! Now what’s she going to do, give me the rules or something, or beg me to behave? Hello, hasn’t she figured out that I like this guy. I’m just scared…and…and lost…and this is all just new to me because I haven’t let this happen in three years and hell yeah I’m nervous!

“Maria, I think I can handle this.” Can she see that I’m lying through me teeth here?

“Oh you can? You sure as hell couldn’t handle it last time chica.” She stops walking and grabs onto my shoulders, turning me to face her. “Look, I just want what’s best for you. I love you like a sister and I hate seeing you alone all the time. I just want you to be as happy with someone as I am with Michael.” I can hear the sincerity in her voice and it makes me realize what a great friend she really is. I’m so lucky to have her in my life.

“Thank you Maria.” I pull her closer and we hug each other until Chocolate decides she’s not getting enough attention and jumps up to join our hug. Aww…group hug, how cute! We laugh and break apart and continue towards the car. I wonder for a moment where would I be without Maria in my life? Nowhere happy, that’s for sure. Probably alone in a dark room feeling sorry for myself.

“Come on chica. So…how was the game last night I missed it.”

“Oh, it was really good I guess. Max hit a homerun!” I smile. Wait, this is so weird…I don’t act like this…like some giddy little teenager or something. Someone tell me what is wrong with me!

“So you were listening to it! I knew it!” Great…now she’s all giddy. Can’t you just imagine that sickeningly evil smile crossing her face in the ‘I told you so’ fashion? Oh yeah…that’s my best friend for ya.

* * *

“So Liz, you’re a writer aren’t you?” Max and I are sitting in Maria’s lounge talking while she helps Michael with dinner.

“Umm, yeah, I am.”

“So what do you write?”

“Mostly children’s stories…all the tales that I imagined in my own childhood. But actually right now I’m working on my first long novel. But it’s coming along kinda slow actually.”

“So you enjoy writing children’s stories?”

“It’s so much fun, I really do enjoy it. Sometimes I try out ideas on the kids at the library’s reading hour. If the librarian is sick or just not feeling well I get to tell the kids a story, and I try out new ideas on them before they become my new projects. It’s great to hear the responses straight from their mouths. I can feel their excitement for the characters and it’s just…amazing.” I know I’ve got a big silly grin on my face now, but I can’t help it when I think about my little munchkin and her little friends that are regulars at the reading hour.

“I can see why you enjoy it so much. Maybe I’ll have to come down some time and listen in.” Okay, now I’m blushing…I think. Is this what it feels like to blush? My face feels warm all of a sudden. I’m not used to compliments like that…not from guys who actually seem sincere about it. It’s weird, but you know what? I think I could get used to this.

It’s silent. I don’t really know what to say or do…so I just listen to the silence. I hear Maria in the kitchen. She’s trying to get Michael to add something to the chicken and he’s refusing…smart boy Michael! I hear Chocolate’s tags jingle as she sits up at my feet, licking my hand. She wants attention.

“Hey pretty girl. You think you need some attention, huh? That’s my good girl.” You know how people talk in little kid voices to pets? Yep, I do it too. What can I say, she’s my baby! I’ve had her since she was just a pup and I love her so much. I can feel Max’s eyes watching me. It used to be creepy, I’d always feel people watching me, but you get used to it, refined senses and all, you know?

“She’s a beautiful dog. Have you had her long?”

“Since she was puppy, about three years.” I can’t help but smile when I talk about my dog.

“Does she always listen to you? I noticed earlier how it was like she was waiting for you to say something to her. That’s incredible.”

“Yeah, I’ve been really lucky with her. She listens really well, comes whenever I call her, and it even seems like she reads my mind at times. It’s silly I know, but that’s what it feels like.”

“Dinner’s ready!” Saved by Michael. I don’t know where that conversation was going, but it was hitting dangerous waters.

Maria came over and said she’d put out a bowl of Chocolate’s dog food for her so she could eat while we are. Yes, Maria and Michael always have a bag of her dog food here cause they are the best friends in the world!

Maria and I walk into the dining room arm in arm chatting about nothing.

“Grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and baby carrots, hope you guys like it, Michael cooked, and we all know how wonderful he is at that!” I sit down and she’s standing right behind me. She leans over in my ear and silently whispers, “Six, ten, and two.”

I smile at her. Always so thoughtful. What would I do without her? Make a fool out of myself.

Have you ever felt self conscious while you were eating? You know, like people were watching you, like maybe you were doing something wrong? The uncertainty? Maybe not. I suppose you wouldn’t understand. But isn’t that why you are here, to understand? Well that’s how I feel. I constantly wonder if I’m doing something wrong…

“Michael that was wonderful,” I compliment him after dinner.

“Thanks Lizzie. I’m glad you liked it.” Lizzie? I think Michael’s been around Maria too much lately.

“Oh, Lizzie, I almost forgot, are we still on for Saturday?” What’s Maria talking…Oh! Now I remember.

“Yeah, the little munchkin is so excited about it. When I picked her up from school this afternoon that was all she was talking about. She can’t wait.” I smile. It seems like I’m doing that a lot more often now, and it feels wonderful. I can’t help but smile when I’m talking about April. She’s a sweetheart, and she’s become such an important part of my life.

“What are you girls up to this weekend?” Did Maria honestly not tell Michael about this?

“Oh, we’re just taking little April to the symphony with us Saturday afternoon. We thought she’d enjoy it, you know, playing dressed up and all.”

“That’s sweet. Give her a hug for me, and why don’t you bring her by the café or something afterward.” Michael’s always so sweet.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 30-Nov-2001 12:42:20 AM by dancepixie
Back to posting every day! I'm having so much fun writing this story...it's just sort of grown a mind of its own and run away with me! Okay, guess what? Here come Alex and Isabel! Yeay! I told you they'd all be in this story eventually.*big* Enjoy, and remember, I love hearing your thoughts!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part Eight

* * *

“Chocolate! Come on girl, time to go pick up April from school!” On schedule she comes racing down the hall and is sitting on my feet moments later. I think she loves April as much as I do.

Mrs. Cortez got a job as a secretary in a local law office and so she’s working in the afternoons and can’t pick April up from school, so I offered to. There isn’t any reason why I can’t. I decide my own hours for writing and whatever. And if I’m in the middle of an idea, it can wait because picking up my little munchkin is more important anyways. So now everyday Chocolate and I pick her up from school, and Mondays and Fridays we go to the library for reading hour, and the other days we come back to my apartment and usually she lets me work on my stories while she does her homework, but only after I hear all about her day. She’s a very animated storyteller in her own right, and I’ve told her that.

“Lizzie chica!” I hear my munchkin squeal as comes running up and wraps her arms around my legs. Okay, now I know that she has been spending too much time with Maria. Maria just seems to be rubbing off on everyone lately.

“Hey doll! Since when do you talk like Maria?” I ask with a laugh. Now she’s laughing too. “Come on, let’s get to the library. Miss Kay is busy with an inventory so she asked me to do story time. How does that sound?”

“Really?” Can you hear the excitement flooding her voice? “Do you have something new for us this week?” She’s bouncing along at my side, holding tightly to my hand.

“Don’t I always have something new for you?” I know that I’ve never told them the same story twice…I always find something to make it new; some sort of new twist, or something.

“Well yeah, but since you tell me stories sometimes at home, I thought maybe you’d tell one of those…but I like new ones!!!”

* * *

“Thank you Miss Lizzie,” a small high voice says as tiny arms wrap around my neck.

“You’re welcome Ashley honey. Did you enjoy the story today?”

“Uh huh. I always love your stories!” The little girl is now sitting on my lap as she tells me how much she loves coming to hear me or Miss Kay. This is exactly why I love doing this. This is why I come back all the time.

Her mother calls her and she scrambles off my lap with a quick goodbye.

Ever get the feeling that someone was watching you, or that something was around, about to happen, but you just couldn’t place it? I feel like that right now. I wonder what that is.

“April, honey, you ready to go?” I ask as I grab my little voice recorder off the table beside me and click it off. I record the stories I tell the children so that if I need them, I have records of them. It comes in handy sometimes. They are all special; I don’t want to lose any of the stories.

“Lizzie, I made a new friend. This is Katie Whitman. This is her first time here cause she just moved from Colorado.” I smile. It’s always nice to have new children come and get caught up in the magic of the library.

“Well its nice to have you with us today Katie. Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah, it was great! I’m gonna make uncle Max bring me here more often!” Oh, that is just so cute…

“Well, every Monday and Friday its story hour, so you just come whenever you can get someone to bring you. You’re always welcome here.” I smile at her. It’s such a great feeling to have brought another little person into the world of books. There is just so much out there that books have to offer, and when children realize that, it’s wonderful.

“Thank you.” She and April are giggling together. They sound about the same age. I guess April has a new friend. I wonder if they’ll be in the same class if Katie lives in the neighborhood. Well, I’m sure I’ll be hearing a lot more about her if she is.

“Liz?” Max? Oh…wow… Katie did say her uncle Max, didn’t she…but who would’ve thought that he’d be that Max? Not me! But that’s so sweet he brought his little niece to story time after I was telling him about it yesterday…oh!

“Max? Hi! I take it this is your uncle Max, Katie?”

“Uh huh! He’s the bestest uncle! He always takes me to do all the fun stuff.” She’s giggling, that sweet childish laughter. That’s so cute that they seem close.

“How nice of him.” I smile…I wonder if they know… Most of the children that come here know me, they know about me. Children can just tell sometimes, it’s really amazing, but it’s true.

“Sorry, Katie, its time to go. Your mom made me promise to have you back so that we can get to the airport in time.” Max is really good with children, I can just tell from the way he talks to his little niece. He’s very calm and gentle and not demanding. He’ll be a great father someday…Woah! Where on earth did that come from? What am I thinking?

“Do you have to go uncle Max?” Can’t you just hear the sadness in her voice? Poor thing, she must be really attached to her uncle. “We just got here yesterday and you haven’t spent much time with me.” How sweet.

“I’m sorry Katie-girl…but I have to. My team is playing in San Diego this weekend sweetie, I told you that. But I promise we’ll do something really special when I come home on Wednesday, okay?”

“Okay.” That is just so adorable. They are so close. “Bye April, Miss Lizzie.”

“Bye honey, I hope you come again sometime,” I tell her. But somehow, I know she’ll be back, I just know that I’ll be getting to know this little girl much better.

“Bye!” April called as the girl and Max walked out of the library, the door closing hard behind them.

“Wasn’t she nice?”

“Yeah, she was very nice April. So you have a new friend now, huh?” I smile, this girl just has a way of bringing out the best in me.

“Uh huh! And guess what? She’s the same as age as me, and she’s going to my school too! I hope she’s in my class, cause that would be so much fun!”

“Well I’m glad April. Now, what do you say we head out of here? Your mom should be getting home soon and I don’t want to take you away from her all day since I’ll have ya all day tomorrow!”

“Oh! I can’t wait till tomorrow! I’m gonna wear that pretty purple dress that Maria gave me last week. She told me that I should wear it. And she said she’d do my hair, cause she loves playing with my hair since it’s soo long…” I just let her babble on in her excitement as I grab Chocolate’s leash and the three of us head out of the library. It’s still pretty warm outside, which is nice.

* * *

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! That was so neat!” April squeals as we are walking out of the symphony hall. I’m so glad that she liked it. I have come to love the symphony over the years. The first time I ever went was in the fourth grade, my class came on a field trip. The place was so big and I was so small, I was mesmerized by everything. It’s still a great place. Maria comes with me now, and we leave Chocolate at home cause it just works out better that way, you know? Yeah.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it munchkin.” I give her a great big hug and enjoy the way she holds onto me so tight and trusting. This little girl amazes me more and more everyday by just being herself.

“What do you guys say we head over to the café. I think Michael might have something for you little chica if you ask really nicely.” Maria is so great.

“A surprise for me? Oh, lets hurry! Come on, come on! You guys are slow! Hurry up! Come on!”

Maria and I just laugh as April pulls us towards the car.

* * *

“Hey kiddo. How’d you like the symphony?” Maria, April and I are sitting at the counter and Michael’s making April one of his special sundae’s. That was his surprise for her.

“Oh, it was fun. And did you know that place is huge? And the music just echoes…its cool!” She’s spinning around in circles on her stool, making it squeak.

“Well, I’m glad to hear you liked it.” I can hear the truth in Michael’s voice. He’s so sweet towards April. It’s actually kinda funny, because at first when I started bringing her around, it was like he was afraid. He didn’t know what to do with some little child around. Maria and I got a lot of laughs out of that. But he’s really great with her, he just had to learn to relax and be himself, she’s just a little person after all. I wonder if he and Maria have thought about having kids. I know they aren’t like actually married yet or anything, but they’ve been together for a good while now. It won’t be much longer until they’re married I’m sure. They would make great parents…

“Lizzie?”

“What is it munchkin?”

“Katie, the girl I met at the library yesterday. She just came in with some people. Can I go say hi to her?”

“Of course you can April, just don’t bug them for too long, alright?”

“Thanks!” I hear her jump off her stool and run to a table not to far from us since I can still hear them.

“Hi Katie.”

“April?” the other little girl asked.

“Yeah, its me. I just thought I’d come and say hi since I saw you come in.”

“Katie hun, who is this?” I hear a lady ask. It must be her mother.

“Oh, mommy, remember I told you that uncle Max took me to the library for story hour? This is April, she was there with the story lady, and we became friends.”

“Oh, well its nice to meet you April. I’m Isabel Whitman, this is my husband Alex, we’re Katie’s parents.”

“It’s nice to meet you Mr. and Mrs. Whitman.” April is so polite, I’m so proud of her.

“Are you here with your parents dear?” Isabel asked her.

“No, just Lizzie and Ria cause mommy’s at work.” I smile to myself. This child…I decide that maybe I should go over and say hi before she makes herself at home and they can’t get rid of her.

“Maria, why don’t we go say hi?” I ask her, cause I don’t think I could get over there without her or Chocolate. There are just to many people in here and the chairs are never in the same place when people are here. I need her by my side.

“Sure, come on chica. She links her arm in mine like we used to do as children and we walk over. I was right; their table is just a short distance from where we were sitting at the counter.

“April, want to introduce us to your new friends?” I ask with a smile.

“Okay,” but before she gets the chance Isabel is introducing herself.

“Hi, I’m Isabel Whitman, and this is my husband Alex, and our daughter Katie.”

“She already knows me mommy. She’s the story lady from the library.” I smile because she remembers me.

“Hi Katie. I’m Liz Parker by the way, and this is my friend Maria Deluca. This little munchkin is with us. Sorry if she was bothering you or anything…”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. She wasn’t bothering us.” That must be Alex. He seems very friendly.

“Yeah Lizzie, I was just being friendly!” I can’t help but laugh at that, and neither can the others.

“So you guys are new in town?” Maria asks as she pulls over two seats. Well, it’s her café, she can do what she wants I suppose.

“Yeah, we just moved from Colorado.”

“Wow, that’s a big change…Colorado to Florida!” Maria’s got that one right.

“So is Katie going to Coral Tree Elementary?” I’m curious to know if she’ll be in school with April.

“Yeah, she starts on Monday.”

“Well you two, looks like you might just be lucky enough to be in the same class,” I smile, eliciting little squeals from the two girls. I definitely know I’m going to be seeing a lot more of little miss Katie. She and April remind me of Maria and me at that age.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 30-Nov-2001 9:27:51 PM by dancepixie
Hey, here is Part 9, and it will have to suffice until Sunday cause I'm going to Disneyland! I really need a Disneyday to take my mind off of all my classes that way I can come back and start studying for finals...oh fun...so enjoy and I'll be back on Sunday.

Oh, and don't worry, the Max and Liz relationship is just starting, it will grow over time...just give it a chance...

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 9

* * *

So the Whitman’s are really nice people. They live a block or so from the apartment, not far at all. I told them that if they ever needed someone to babysit Katie or anything that I’d be more than happy too, since April is here a lot anyways. Isabel is Max’s sister, and she seems happy to be moving to the same city that he lives in, even though he is away a lot. I suppose it’s always nice to be close to loved ones. I don’t know what I’d do without mine around.

I told Maria while we were getting ready for the symphony about how Max was at the library on Friday with his niece, and how she and April had bonded. So of course Maria had to talk to Isabel about the great guy that Max is. She said we’d have to all get together some time when Max is in town…

* * *

Max. What is it with this guy? I’ve known him for what, over a week and he’s already in my mind all the time. I’m constantly thinking about him. Deep breath…okay. I’ve been sitting here at my computer for the last hour trying to write, and do you want to know how much I’ve gotten done? Nothing…absolutely nothing. All that I can think about right now, is Max. His deep smooth voice, his sweet attitude, his gentleness with his niece…god what is wrong with me?

Maria. Well, maybe she can help me with this…

“Hey chica, how’s everything coming?” she asks me. Can she not see that I have yet to write anything?

“It’s not.”

“Why not? What’s wrong?” I get up and go over to the couch and she sits beside me.

“I don’t know. I mean…I don’t know what is going on with me lately. I’ve never been like this; never. Everything is so jumbled up in my head, I can’t even get all my thoughts together coherently.” I’m whining, but hey, I deserve to whine. Maria pulls me into a hug.

“It’s okay Lizzie. I know you try to be perfect all the time, but no one is perfect. You should know that. Just take a breath. It’s okay. Now slow down a little and let me help you. Why can’t you write anything?”

“Because I can’t focus on that…my mind is too occupied with other thoughts.”

“Other thoughts of what chica? If you don’t talk to me I can’t help you.”

“Max.”

“I see. But what’s so wrong with that? He’s a really great guy, and his sister is nice too. What’s wrong with thinking about him?”

“He’s all I can think about Maria, and I can’t help but feeling like that is wrong.” I can feel the sting of tears. I haven’t cried, really cried in so long. I never let myself, but I don’t think I can stop it this time.

“There’s nothing wrong with liking a guy. It’s natural. It happens to the best of us!”

“Yeah, but…I haven’t even seen the guy.”

“Lizzie, don’t do this. So what? It doesn’t matter. I’m sure he doesn’t care.”

“He knows?” Oh my god! He knows?

“Well I don’t know if he does or not, but it won’t take him long to figure it out if he hasn’t already. What’s the big deal anyways?”

“The big deal is…is…I don’t know!” Yep, I was right, here comes the flood of tears. But you know what? It actually feels kind of good to cry again.

“Shh! It’s alright chica.” Maria just held me close, never letting go. We sat like that for a long time until my tears stopped. “Listen chica, if you want my advice, I think you’re afraid. But I don’t think you have any reason to be. Truth is, I think this would be good for you. You haven’t let yourself have the chance to love someone special since the accident. You need to give it a chance. I’ve seen the two of you together, and I’ve seen and heard the way he looks at you. There is definitely something there. Just please, give it a chance. Or at least promise me that you’ll think about it?”

“I’ll…I’ll try. It’s just scary, you know? I never was close to any of the guys I briefly dated in high school, and in college I was too busy studying to really date. Then after the accident…well I guess I’ve been too afraid to get close to anyone. I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s life with my problems.”

“You think that’s what would happen if you let someone in?”

“Yeah.”

“Lizzie, you won’t ruin his life. Just because you are blind does not mean that you can’t live your life, doing all the things you’ve always wanted to do. Haven’t you realized that yet. I mean look at you. You are so independent. Nothing gets in your way anymore. Don’t let it get in the way of your happiness, your future, with a really great guy.”

“I’m scared Ria.”

“I know you are, but you just have to let go of it and put some faith and trust in others. You know that I will always be here for you chica. I have never abandoned you before, and I will be right here for you now. We’ll get you through this, but you have to give it a chance; give love a chance; give Max a chance.”

I sit quietly and let everything Maria has said sink in. I know that she’s right…and I want to give this a chance. It’s been bothering me so much. I know that I need to do this; I just have to find the strength and courage to see me through this…

“Thanks Ria.”

“You don’t have to thank me chica.”

“Yeah I do. You’ve been the best friend a girl could ever wish for and hope to find. You’ve been with me through everything, and you wouldn’t take any of my crap, you made me give you straight answers, and I haven’t done anything for you.”

“Don’t you see that you have Lizzie. This isn’t a one sided friendship. You have been by my side through everything. Growing up you helped me deal with my father issues, and you made me realize that my mom didn’t deserve to be alone all her life… You made me realize what a great guy I had in front of me with Michael. You’ve been here for me. Just like I’m here for you. That’s what best friends are. They are there for each other. You don’t owe me anything.”

I don’t know what I did to deserve her, but I thank the heavens for Maria being in my life. Now I’m crying again, but these tears are different, they are happy tears, and Maria is crying with me as we hold onto one another in a tight sisterly hug. Yeah, she’s my sister…

* * *

So now you know I guess. My big, bad secret. You know what? No matter how hard you try to hide something, someone will always know. I bet you knew, didn’t you? It’s not easy to keep something like this a secret. Not that I’m trying to keep a secret or anything, but I just want to act normal. I want to do things like a normal person. I don’t want everyone to see me and pity me or feel sorry for me. I just want to be me. I just want them to see me.

Most of the time people don’t notice when they first meet me. You see, I have excellent hearing, a lot better than most people. And I can hear little movements and know where you are. I’m pretty good at focusing my eyes in the direction of people. At least that’s what Maria tells me, and I know she wouldn’t lie.

So my big secret is out. You know what? I really don’t care. I’m happy actually. Maybe this won’t be so hard after all. Sure I’ve been out of my apartment a lot in the last three years since this happened, but I haven’t spent too much time joining the rest of society in the real world. That is what I’ve been hiding myself away from. Other people have come into my world, but I have stayed, for the most part, out of the real world. Well, I guess look out real world, cause here comes Liz Parker…

* * *

TBC...

posted on 3-Dec-2001 6:34:00 PM by dancepixie
Wow, look at me, posting early in the day, wow, imagine that. Well here is part 10. I hope you guys like this. I really liked the last scene in this part, I just thought it was touching. Let me know what you think.

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 10

* * *

“Liz?” a soft feminine voice asks. I lift my head and turn to my right, not that I can see her or anything, more that it lets her know I heard her.

“Yeah?” I ask. Oh wait, now I know who that voice was.

“It’s Isabel, from the other day?” Yeah, I was right.

“Oh, hey Isabel. Are you here to pick Katie up?” I hold onto Chocolate’s leash as I take a step away from the tree.

“Yeah. Are you picking April up for her mom?” Oh yeah, Isabel hasn’t met April’s mother yet, she must be wondering about that I’m sure.

“I always pick her up from school on Mondays and Fridays and we go to the library,” I explain.

“Oh yeah, Katie was asking me this morning if we could go.” I smile. Just knowing that I had an effect on Katie is a great feeling. She enjoyed herself so much that she asked her mom if they could go again. It’s a great feeling, it really is.

“The kids really seem to enjoy it.”

Silence…school shouldn’t get out for a few more minutes I don’t think, not with what time it was when I left the apartment. Ever been in one of those awkward situations when you just met someone and you were having a conversation and it just stops and neither of you really knows what to say next? Yeah, well that is what this is like.

“Oh, is that your dog? It’s so cute!”

“Yeah, her name’s Chocolate.”

“So what happened? I mean, if you don’t mind me asking.” So she noticed. Well, that’s not unusual, but I think usually people are too afraid to bring it up. I like this woman…she’s got guts.

“There was an accident three years ago in the lab…” I don’t elaborate on it because, well I haven’t told many people at all about it. Ria and Michael know…my parents know…Tess and Kyle know most of it…not many people though.

“You seem very well adjusted.”

“Yeah, well I’ve always been a quick learner. But Chocolate helped a lot. I got her when she was a pup, right after the accident. I think I’d be lost without her.” I smile remembering how it felt when I had first gotten her. She had been a miracle worker to my emotions.

“That’s sweet. I work at a physical therapy / rehab center and back in Colorado I used to help people train their dogs to their needs. I helped them get used to one another. I also worked with the deaf and some people who were paralyzed. Some of those people have the most amazing life stories. I bet you have one too.”

“Doesn’t everybody?” I counter. “Yeah, I could write mine down and show it to the world, but I prefer to tell all the other stories in my head. I write the stories that were my dreams for so long…they are the stories I tell the children…they are my imagination, not my life. Somehow I just don’t think people would be so interested in my little life.”

“You might be surprised.” I can hear the hint of a smile in her voice. I like this woman already. She is very open and honest and not afraid to say what she is thinking and feeling, kind of like Maria in that respect.

“Mommy!” A little voice calls as it comes running towards us.

“Hey honey, hey April.”

“Hi Mrs. Whitman, hi Lizzie!” April comes up and gives me a big hug.

“How was school today, munchkin?”

“It was so much fun! Katie’s in my class and the teacher let her sit next to me!” Her voice is dripping with excitement…oh yeah, just like Ria and me!

“I’m glad to hear that.”

“Did you have fun at school today honey?” Isabel asks her daughter.

“Yeah, it wasn’t so bad mommy, April and I sit next to each other in class, and Mrs. Grimes is really nice.”

“That’s great honey.”

“Do you guys want to join us for our walk to the library?” I ask Isabel.

“Sure, that sounds great.”

* * *

“So yesterday Maria was saying you had met my brother.” Miss Kay is reading to the children, so Isabel and I retired to another corner of the library to talk for a little bit.

“Yeah, Maria and Michael met him while they were on vacation in Europe or something. When they got home they invited him to dinner, and I was there too. He seems like a very nice guy. When he was here with your daughter on Friday she seemed to worship him. Are they really close?”

“Oh, she loves spending time with him. Before it was harder when we were living in Colorado and he was here. Whenever he visited she was attached to his side and wouldn’t let go. She is so happy that we are here now though so she can spend more time with him. And he really is great with her. He was a great brother when we were growing up, so I wouldn’t expect anything less of him now.” They seem really close. Just the tone in her voice as she talks about him, he must really be something special. Maybe I’ll get to find out.

“That’s so sweet.”

* * *

Rain…again… Rainy days aren’t too much fun when you’re not a kid anymore. It seems like a good day to stay curled up in bed I think. Maybe no one will bother me. I didn’t sleep much last night. Not that I didn’t try, but my mind was thinking about too many different things. Well, okay, not so many. Okay, so it only had to do with one thing…one person…Max Evans. What is wrong with me? I barely know him!

Yeah, sure, I know Maria and I talked about this, and I’m going to give it a chance…I really want to try to have something with him because he just seems so perfect. Well he’s back in town now.

How do I know? Well I’ve gotten to know Isabel really well. Yesterday we were at the library with the girls; it was Friday after all. So while we were talking she was mentioning how she had talked to Max and that he was coming home that afternoon. She was planning on surprising Katie with going to the airport to meet him as soon as they were done in the library. Katie was so surprised when she found out about it. She wouldn’t quiet down as her mother put her in the car even. It was cute.

So of course, since Max is back, Maria is planning out how to get us together…I don’t know if I’m ready for this… Wait a minute…I can do this…positive thinking, that’s the thing. I need to do this. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life.

Damnit! Who is at the door? Why does someone always have to knock on the door when I want a day to myself to just lie in bed and relax? Oh well. I get up and walk sleepily towards the door. Opening it I hear someone breathe a sigh of relief.

“Oh thank goodness you’re here.”

“Isabel?”

“Yeah, listen, I’m sorry to do this to you on short notice Liz, but could you possibly watch Katie for a little bit? I have an emergency at work that they need me to take care of and Alex is out of town until tonight. Max is at practice right now, so I don’t really have anyone else to turn to.” Poor thing, she sounds really desperate.

“Don’t worry about it Isabel. I told you that I’d be happy to watch her for you anytime. We’ll be alright, won’t we Katie?” I reach my hand out in front of me and she grabs onto it and steps up in front of me, hugging my legs tightly.

“Oh, thank you Liz! You’re such a good friend. Listen I told Max that Katie would be here with you and I gave him your address so he could come and get her as soon as his practice is over. I hope that’s alright.”

“Yeah, that’s fine. We’ll be here whenever he comes by.”

“Okay, listen sweetheart, you be good for Liz, alright?”

“Of course mommy!”

“Okay, bye honey, bye Liz!” The sound of her retreating footsteps echo in the hall as I grab Katie’s hand and we walk back inside the apartment.

“Puppy!” I guess Chocolate must have heard the door too. She has this knack for knowing when people are here that will give her extra special attention. “She’s so pretty.”

“Yeah, so everyone tells me.” Yeah, everyone tells me, cause I wouldn’t know, now would I? But I can imagine her, in my mind. And yes, she’s a pretty dog, the color of rich milk chocolate…

“Are you okay?” What?

“Yeah I’m fine, why did you ask sweetie?” I’m curious.

“You just sounded kinda sad. Is it cause your accident?” The innocence of youth… I love answering kids’ questions. I think it’s better that they know the truth than stare at people that are different and only see the differences between them. That is the great thing about young children, they aren’t afraid to ask questions.

“Well sweetie, I just kinda miss some of the things that I used to be able to do before my accident. I didn’t get Chocolate until after that, so I’ve never seen her.” I try to explain enough so that she will understand. I’m not going to lie to her. Children are very perceptive on their own. I find it better to tell them the truth and help them to understand. I want to let them know that it’s okay to ask questions…it’s actually better that way.

“Well she’s very pretty. She’s got big brown eyes and she always looks like she’s smiling.” How sweet. She’s climbing onto my lap and hugging me now. “Did it hurt?” Her small hand is resting on my cheek and I can feel that she is looking at my face carefully. Funny how with children, everything is perfectly alright. I don’t mind this one bit.

“Well, you see I got some chemicals and tiny glass pieces in my face because an experiment went wrong in the laboratory that I used to work in. They brought me to the hospital and gave me medicine and got the glass out, but they couldn’t undo the damage that the chemicals had done to my eyes.”

“That’s so sad. But it doesn’t hurt anymore?”

“No, it doesn’t hurt anymore. Only here,” I bring her hand to my heart and hold it in my own, “whenever I start missing things that I can’t see anymore. Like sunsets and rainbows, the lightning during a storm…” I give her a sad smile and she hugs me again.

“But lightning is scary.”

“Well, you know what? I don’t think it’s so scary anymore. But do you know what my grandmother used to tell me when I was a little girl, younger than you, and afraid of the storms?”

“No, what did she say?”

“Well, she told me that you had to look at it for its beauty. As long as you were inside and safe, it can’t hurt you. But you can watch it making beautiful patterns across the sky. In a way, it’s telling a story of its own in the only way that it can. Ever since then, I was never afraid of it.”

“Oh. So there’s nothing to be afraid of?”

“Not really honey. Why don’t you try it next time there’s a big storm?”

“Okay.”

* * *

TBC...
posted on 4-Dec-2001 3:05:35 PM by dancepixie
Part 11 is here! Yeay! I'm glad you all are liking my little story. It's great to come back from class and find that I have feedback on my story! But, only one more day of classes left! ::does a happy dance:: of course that means I have finals and all...but I'm way ahead in this story, so I should still be able to get a part out every day. So, enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 11

* * *

Reaching over I touch the clock on the end table. “11:56 am.” Hmm…yeah, she should be up and around.

“Hey Katie, what do you say we go knock on April’s door and see if she wants to play?” I ask knowing the answer I will get.

“Really?”

“Of course, honey. Come on, she lives right across the hall.” Katie is at my side in a flash holding my hand as we open the door and take three steps straight across the hall to April’s door.

“Oh, Lizzie, hello dear.”

“Hey Mrs. Cortez. I have a friend of April’s here. Katie this is April’s mom, Mrs. Cortez.”

“Hi.” Oh, Katie must be kind of shy sometimes. How cute.

“Well it’s nice to meet you Katie. Why don’t you go in the living room? April’s in there and I think she’d be very surprised to see you.”

“Okay!” With that, the small hand in my own disappeared and a moment later giggles and squeals of delight could be heard coming from the other room. Oh yeah, definitely two peas in a pod.

“So, how are you doing dear?” Mrs. Cortez asks me.

“I’m good. Isabel, her mother, came by this morning in a rush and dropped Katie off because she had an emergency to take care of. I told her it was no problem really, Katie could stay as long as she liked, but Isabel’s brother is coming to pick up in a little bit.”

“Oh, her brother is Max Evans isn’t he? The one that Maria was telling me about?” I know she’s got that little smile on her face like she knows some secret.

“Yes, that’s him.”

“Oh. So, what are you going to do about it, huh?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well dear, I know you like him.” Good ol’ Mrs. Cortez, she always knows everything. “Why don’t you go home and take a shower and get dressed, since you obviously just got out of bed when Katie got dropped off. The girls and I will be fine here. I’ll make some lunch, and when you’re done you can come over if you want and join us, or I could bring some over to you if you want to work on your story. Cause I know you haven’t gotten much done in a long time…” I love this woman so much. She is just amazing sometimes.

“Thanks.” I smile as I head towards the door. “Are you sure you’ll be alright?”

“Of course, now go!”

Laughing I make my way back across the hall. Actually a shower sounds really nice right about now.

* * *

Where did all this inspiration come from? I really have no idea, but the minute I got out of the shower I was bursting with ideas I had to write down. After quickly getting dressed into a comfortable pair of jeans and a sweater I told Mrs. Cortez that I’d be working at my computer and I’d leave the apartment door open if the girls wanted to come over or anything. She gave me a plate of food and sent me back to work. I think she could tell how much I really needed to write.

So here I am, my hands flying across the keys at lightning speed. When I get an idea, it really runs away with me and I can type faster than you could imagine. It’s funny. I haven’t been able to write for well over a week and now all of a sudden I’m bursting with ideas, they just won’t stop coming. What’s happened in this short amount of time to change things, I wonder. Oh well. Must keep writing.

There. I finished my second chapter today. Wow, that was a long one. Hmm…oops. I forgot about the sandwich Mrs. Cortez made me. Oh well, it’s still good. Peanut butter and grape jelly. I smile. I haven’t had this since I was a little girl. But it used to be my favorite. You know what? I forgot how good these things are. It really is!

Hmm…what to do now… I suppose I could go check on the girls, make sure they aren’t destroying the apartment across the hall. Deciding to do this I get up and head to the door, which I left open, and bam. I hit it. But it’s not the door, it’s too soft…too human. Oh god.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” that sweet strong voice apologized as two arms steady me around my waist so I wouldn’t fall over.

“No, I’m sorry, it was my fault.”

“No, it’s alright.” He’s still holding onto me. “I was just about to knock. Isabel asked me to pick up Katie, she said that she would be here?”

“Oh, umm, yeah.” It took me a minute to recover from the feel of being in his strong, muscular arms…but back to reality. “She’s across the hall right now playing with April. Mrs. Cortez was feeding them lunch the last time I checked, but she ordered me over here to get a little work done.” Why am I telling him all this?

“I’m sorry if having Katie here was keeping you from things…” Does he realize that his arms are still around me? Not that I mind, cause I really don’t. His touch is so gentle, like I’m some delicate flower and he doesn’t want to hurt me.

“No! It wasn’t anything like that. I haven’t been able to write for over a week now and I finally got through the block…Mrs. Cortez just knew that I needed to write I guess. And trust me, Katie is no problem. She’s an angel really, we had a lot of fun this morning.” I’m smiling remembering the little talk we had. Yeah, Katie is definitely someone special.

“Okay then. Umm…should I just go over there and get her then?” he seems a little hesitant, I wonder why? He dropped his arms from my sides and pulled back like he was going to leave. Why is it that I don’t want him to go?

“Why don’t we both go over? I was actually on my way to check on them anyways…I wanted to make sure they weren’t causing too much trouble!” I laugh, because if those girls are anything like Maria and I were, which they seem to be, they will wreak havoc, yet their little angelic nature’s will get them out of it every time.

“Mrs. Cortez? April? Katie?” I call out as I walk in the opened door with Max following behind me. I don’t hear anything…oh, wait, I think that’s the TV. Yep, they must be in the living room watching…what is that…I know that…oh, Sleeping Beauty. That’s always been my favorite Disney movie. So cute!

“Uncle Max!” I hear Katie running to him and jumping into his arms. They are definitely very close.

“You ready to go kiddo?” Max asks her. Say no, say no, please say no! Wait…what is going on with me?

“But we just started a movie. Can’t I stay and watch it?” I hear that little tremble in her voice, she must be giving him the puppy dog face. Good girl, make him cave!

“I don’t know…”

“It’s really no problem. The girls were having so much fun playing, and they did just start the movie. She can stay here for a while.” Gotta love Mrs. Cortez.

“Why don’t you come over and have some coffee or something to warm up while the girls finish their movie?” Where did I get the guts to take the initiative here?

“Sure that sounds nice.”

We walk back to my apartment and my mind must be really caught up in other things because I run right smack into the little table near my door. Damnit that hurt!

“Crap!” I squeal in pain. I know that’s going to make a nice big bruise, and hurt for a couple days at least. I must say I haven’t done that in quite awhile. Three years ago it was a common occurrence, until I got used to the layout of my apartment. Now, it practically never happens except if I’m having a particularly evil day.

“Are you alright?” Max is so sweet. He’s at my side and his arm is resting on my back since I’m bent over my throbbing leg. “Here, why don’t you sit down on the couch?” With that he picks me up in his arms and carries me to the couch like a baby. Wow, can I just say that this boy has some nice muscles on him? Cause he does…yummy!

“You didn’t have to…I could’ve made it on my own.”

“It’s alright Liz, trust me. My mother always told me to never let a girl suffer when you can help her. So why don’t I go get us that coffee while you sit there and feel better, okay?”

“Thanks.” I give a sweet smile as I hear him head toward the kitchen quietly. I guess he probably knows now if he didn’t figure it out before. I’m sure I must have looked really stupid just walking straight into that table. I was just kinda distracted in thoughts of him coming over to my place, and I wasn’t focusing enough on what I was doing. See that’s part of the deal, if you want to seem normal, you have to spend a lot of energy focusing on every little thing that you do.

“Hey Liz, where do you keep your coffee?” his voice calls out from the kitchen. I suppose that would help, huh?

“Second cabinet on the right wall, bottom shelf,” I tell him. That’s one thing I’m good at, cause I have to be. I know where everything is, and I can tell you…it takes a lot of time to learn, and then you have to make sure that no one messes with things…if they aren’t in the same place that they once were, I’m kinda screwed because it’s hard to find them again going by feel. Those first few months were trying on me and my friends. We’d fight, I’d get mad and have a hissy fit and throw them out of my apartment. But they always came back, and I’m so thankful that they did. I don’t know where I’d be without them.

“Here you go.” I didn’t hear Max come back in the room, funny. I’ve been too distracted, I’ve missed a lot of things lately. I hold my hands up and he gently places the cup in my outstretched hands.

“Thanks.”

Oh the silence…

“Is your leg alright?”

“Yeah, I’ll have a nice bruise for a little while I’m sure, but it’ll be fine,” I tell him.

“Does that happen often?”

“It used to, but not so much anymore. It’s actually been a while since I’ve done that in my own apartment.” Why am I telling him these things I wonder? It just feels okay to talk to him. And I want to get to know him, I really do. “I just get distracted and I guess I wasn’t paying attention or focusing enough. My mind was wandering.”

“Well I hope that doesn’t happen too often.”

“Nope.” Oh the awkward silences…and I must say it’s very weird. I mean, here is this great guy sitting in my living room probably watching me…watching me stare off into space, but then again I’m not really staring, now am I?

“Liz, I was wondering if you’d go out to dinner with me tonight?” Oh, that is so sweet…but dinner? I don’t know…I’ve never…

“Umm…I don’t know Max…”

“Hey it’s okay, I just thought that maybe…”

“No, it’s not that I don’t want to go out with you, it’s just…I’ve never…” How do I say this? It’s really hard to explain. “Max, since the accident, the only people I’ve ever been out with have been Maria and Michael and Kyle and Tess. We’ve never gone to just some restaurant, you know? We would always go to Ria’s café and sit in the same booth, and…I just don’t know…” God now I’m babbling and I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.

“Well, what if we just went to the café and sat in that booth and had a simple dinner, would that be okay?” He’s sitting next to me now and is holding my hands in his big warm ones. I can feel the hardness and strength of his hands from playing baseball all morning. Just his touch is sending shivers up my spine. “Are you cold or something, you just shivered.”

“No, I’m fine, thanks. Umm…actually, dinner sounds great.” I smile and he squeezes my hands in his. God, this just feels so perfect. How could I get attached to this man after so short a time? I don’t know, but I like it.

“Good.”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 6-Dec-2001 1:08:02 AM by dancepixie
Part 12 already...wow...here you guys go, I hope you like it. I would've had it up early...but I hate physics! Isn't that such a great excuse? I thought so at least! Well, as promised...the date!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 12

* * *

Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Max and Katie just left and Max said he’d be back to pick me up at seven. Wow, I’m going out with Max Evans…big baseball star Max Evans. I’ve got to call Maria!

“Ria, I need your help!” I say into the phone as soon as I hear her pick up her cell.

“What’s up chica? Is something wrong?”

“Maxaskedmeoutonadatetonight!” I’m in such a hurry all my words just run together but I don’t care.

“Wait, slow down a minute hun. Did you just say that Max asked you out? As in Max Evans…as in the one you’ve got a crush on? Oh! Lizzie I’m so happy for you!”

“Yeah, thanks Ria, but what am I going to do?” I flop down on my bed in a huff.

“Well you said yes right?”

“I might be blind but I’m not dumb Ria, of course I said yes.”

“So, where is he taking you, what are you doing?” Hmm…should I tell her that we are coming to the café, or let that be a surprise…

“Well he said he’d pick me up at seven and we’d go to dinner, and you know, just talk.”

“And you’re okay with this chica? I mean, you hardly ever let me or Michael take you anywhere Miss Antisocial!” I smile. That’s my Maria…resorting to name-calling, but I love her anyways.

“Actually I wasn’t at first. But I think I’ll be alright.” I’m just about positive I’ll be alright actually since we’re only going to the café…it’s a safety zone…but Max seemed to understand that, that’s part of what makes him so amazing. He is just so sweet and kind and understanding and not demanding at all…why couldn’t I have met him sooner?

“I’m so happy for you! You know you’re going to have to tell me all about it tomorrow. Wait, what are you going to wear?”

“I don’t know…that was kinda why I called. Do you want to come over and help me pick something out?” Do I even have to ask? She probably would have come over if I hadn’t asked, but just so that she could know everything that’s going on.

“Did you really have to ask? You know I’m there! Give me five so I can tell Michael I’m leavin, then I’m on my way. Later chica!” Oh Maria…

* * *

“Max, Lizzie! Hey you two, what can I get you?” Yep, I surprised Maria, I’m sure this isn’t where she thought we would be coming tonight. I can just hear it in her voice as she taps my hand with her pen. Yep, I’m going to have to tell her everything tomorrow…oh well, not like I can keep anything from her anyways. And I mean, it’s not like it’s a big deal.

“I’ll just have the usual Ria, thanks.” Yes, because the usual is safe. And see this booth, if Maria’s here, if she’s serving, it’s one of the booth’s she usually serves, she only works the back area, also safe. My safety zone. Maria knows how I like things, she’s been by my side all this time. See, that is how I know I’ll be okay, I won’t make a fool out of myself or anything like that.

After Max gives Maria his order she leaves us alone for a moment, but soon returns with our drinks.

“If you guys need anything, just let me know. Lizzie, should I bring anything for Chocolate?” Always so thoughtful.

“No she’ll be alright, thanks, and don’t go trying to sneak her anything, you spoil her!” Maria already started walking away but I yelled the last part after her, and all I hear is her laughter in response. She’s going to spoil my dog, I just know it; she always does. I shake my head at Maria’s antics and turn back to focus on Max.

“Have you always known Maria and Michael?” he asks me. I feel like he’s really trying to get to know me, the real me. No guy has ever tried to get past the whole nerdy façade that I used to have in high school.

“Yeah. Maria’s mom and mine went to high school together, and Maria and I were born two days apart, so yeah, I’ve known her all my life. It’s funny because when April and Katie are together they just remind me a lot of the way Ria and I were at that age. We met Michael in elementary school along with our other friends Kyle and Tess. The five of us just bonded and we’ve been close ever since. We’ve had to help each other through a lot of hard times and it’s just brought us closer.”

“You guys just seem like family. It’s not something you find too often.”

“Here you guys go. Enjoy.” Maria was here and is gone. Wow, I’ve never had her leave so fast before, even when the café is packed she always likes to chat. What is going through that girl’s head I wonder?

We eat in silence for a little while, but you know what? It’s not such an awkward silence; it’s actually kinda comfortable. Just enjoying each other’s presence, you know?

“You’re very good at that,” I hear him say softly.

“What?”

“Managing things. I don’t get how you do that. You’re amazing.” Oh, I get it. He’s so sweet.

“Well, you get used to it after a while.” Should I tell him my secrets? Should I tell him about my safety net? No, I don’t think I’m ready for that, not yet. Time to change the subject.

“So how did you chose to pursue baseball, Max?”

“Well ever since I was probably five years old I was in little league with Alex actually. He stopped by the time we got to junior high I think, but I kept doing it. I was on my high school team and the college recruiters were looking at me and I got a scholarship and played in college and the major league recruiters were after me a lot during college actually, but I wanted to finish and get my degree first. So I did and then I was recruited into the major league…I did play in the minors for like a month first, but then I was brought up. And it’s been great. It’s just something that I’ve always loved to do, and I’m good at it, which definitely helps.” I can’t help but laugh. I’m having such a great time tonight, and I’ve learned so much about him already.

“So did you grow up here in Florida, or Colorado, or somewhere else?”

“I’m from Florida. Isabel and Alex both went away to college in Colorado and decided to stay there after they got done. My parents still live in our old house in Winter Haven.”

“Wait, you’re from Winter Haven? My grandmother lives there!”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I used to love going to visit her during my spring breaks. The lakes there were so beautiful.” I can picture them so clearly in my mind…and grandma Claudia’s house too, oh how I loved to visit her.

“So have you lived here all your life?”

“Yeah, I even went to college here, and I worked in the labs on campus after I graduated. I’ve been here my whole life. I think the only times I’ve been out of this town was when I would go visit my grandma. I haven’t even been to see my parents since they moved to New Mexico.”

“So your parents don’t live here?”

“No, dad bought some restaurant in Roswell, the alien capital of the country. I’m actually kind of afraid to go visit. I’m sure the place is some major tourist trap with fake aliens everywhere, kinda scary if you ask me.” We both laugh. “I don’t know what gave them the idea to move, but I wasn’t about to go with them, I think I had just graduated at the time and found out about the job in the lab. I was so excited, there was nothing going to stop me from following it through.” But now I wonder if I had gone with my parents just how different my life would be right now…

We’ve been sitting in our booth, the one in the corner that me and my friends always sit in here, and we’ve just been talking for probably an hour or so. But you know what? I’m having the time of my life. I haven’t been this relaxed with a guy that wasn’t Kyle or Michael, probably ever.

Know what? He hasn’t asked me yet. I’ve been waiting for him to ask about the accident, ask how it happened, or something. But he hasn’t. Is he waiting for me to bring it up? I don’t know. But I really don’t feel like bringing that up now of my own free will, you know?

“Maria don’t you dare!” I say as I hear her approaching the table as quietly as possible. How do I know it’s her? I just do. She’s tried this before. “Step away from the dog.” This is so funny…I’m laughing on the inside, but I can’t let her see that. I’m putting on my angry, ‘I mean business’ face.

“Grr! How do you always do that?” Now I am laughing because Ria is just, well, Ria.

“I just know you, Ria. I’ve known you all my life, you can’t sneak around me.”

“Fine. But please, just let me give my little precious this little piece of meat?” Oh gees, now she’s doing that little pleading thing, can’t you hear her puppy dog voice? Oh great, now she’s got Chocolate whimpering at my feet. Fine!

“Alright. Spoil my dog why don’t you!”

“You know she loves it Lizzie, and besides, she’s such a good girl.” How right Maria is. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my dog is spoiled. I don’t see the point in having an animal if you aren’t going to spoil it. They deserve the best, and mine certainly gets that!

I hear Maria head back into the kitchen and Chocolate lies back down at my feet. She’s a great dog.

“You are amazing.” I can hear the awe in Max’s voice and it makes me blush. I can feel my cheeks getting hot.

“Why?” Okay, so I’ve never quite gotten over my complete shyness, can’t you tell?

“Just how you know exactly what is going on around you, it’s incredible.”

“It’s nothing. Like I said before, it’s something you get used to after a while. I don’t even realize it half the time, it’s just, sort of, intuition, I guess.” My hands are together on top of the table, in my semi-nervousness. The warmth of his large hands encloses around both of mine and gives them a gentle squeeze.

“No, you are amazing.”

* * *

TBC...
posted on 8-Dec-2001 5:44:23 PM by dancepixie
Sorry I haven't posted anything new in a while. First it was finals, but they are over until next Thursday. But now that I'm free to play on the internet I can't because the ethernet isn't working in the entire building or something crazy like that. So I'll try to get another part up later today but no promises.

~Nikki~
*angel*


posted on 9-Dec-2001 10:55:48 PM by dancepixie
Sorry this took me so long. But hey, the internet is working again! It only took like 2 days, but it's working again! I'm happy! Okay so here's the goodnight kiss! And I know it's short, but I thought it was a really cute place to end it. But I'm sure you guys could convince me to post another part tonight*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 13

* * *

You know how when you’re on a date you always wonder about the goodnight kiss…will it happen? Isn’t that always the question on your mind? Well I must say that is the question on my mind…

So we just got out of the car at the curb in front of my apartment, and I must say, he is definitely a gentleman.

“Max, you didn’t have to get the door for me,” I say as I hear him pull open the car door for me.

“I know, but I wanted to. My mother always said it was polite.” I can just hear that smile in his voice. He’s so sweet, like a little kid sometimes.

“Well thank you.” We get Chocolate out of the back seat and Max hands me her leash as we head into the building. God, why am I feeling so nervous? This was just a date, with some guy, I’ve done this before…not lately…but I have done it. So why am I so unsure right now? My stomach feels like it’s doing flip-flops.

Up the flight of stairs, then fifteen steps, door on the left, that’s me. We stand here for a minute and I don’t know what I should say. Do I ask him if he wants to come inside? But it’s only our first date…but…

“I had a great time tonight Max,” I say. How did I manage to sound so calm? Do I really sound that calm? Cause I don’t feel that way.

“Me too Liz.” His voice is soft and sweet, and so close…

Oh well that kinda ruined the moment.

Chocolate, girl, you need to learn better timing. She’s whining with her nose pressed against the door. I think she wants inside. Sighing I take out my keys and unlock the door. I push it open just a little and let go of the leash, hearing Chocolate disappear inside.

Now where were we? Oh yeah, the ruined moment…I turn back to Max.

“Thank you for tonight. I haven’t been out with someone in a long time, and it was nice.” I’m smiling up at him slightly. Am I blushing? I can feel it in my face. Why am I blushing? Oh, god!

“Well I’m glad you had fun. Umm…I have a game tomorrow night, but maybe we could do something on Monday?” I can feel my smile getting bigger. He wants to spend more time with me. How did I get so lucky?

“That would be great. I’ll be picking up April from school and we’ll be going to the library.”

“Hmm…then I’ll just have to let Izzie know that I can pick up Katie for her and we can join you two, if that’s okay?”

“Izzie?” I giggle. What a cute nickname! “Of course it’s okay. I know how close those two girls are getting. I’m sure they much prefer each others company to ours.” We both laugh. I love his laugh, it’s so…I don’t know, I just love it.

“I guess I’ll see you Monday then,” I hear him whisper close to my ear. His gentle hand is caressing my cheek and it’s driving me crazy. Why does this just feel so perfect? Because it really does feel that way.

I don’t know what to say back, I can’t think of anything…just him and these feelings that are so crazy.

Oh my god! That was…wow…I don’t even have words…

He kissed me, and it just…its incredible. I didn’t see stars or anything, but it was still like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I wonder what he’s thinking. Was it as special for him as it was for me? Or was it just another kiss? I wish I could see his face. If I saw his face could I see what he was feeling? Oh well, I guess it doesn’t do any good to wish for something that I will never have again.

It’s funny, I haven’t wished for my sight back in the last year at all I don’t think. It’s not healthy to be wishing for what it is absolutely certain you can never have; I can never have my sight back… But what I wouldn’t give to see his face…

Just like that, it’s over. The sweetest, most gentle, innocent kiss.

“Goodnight Liz.” With one last caress of my cheek, I hear his footsteps heading back down the hallway. Thirteen steps, then he reaches the stairs…it’s fifteen for me, funny.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 10-Dec-2001 1:57:04 AM by dancepixie
Well I promised and I almost forgot because I got distracted by reading a story! *big*

~Nikki~

* * *

Part 14

* * *

“Okay, so spill girl! And I mean all the details!”

“Maria!” I can’t help but laughing though. Maria’s so crazy, but I love her. We’re sitting in our booth in the café. I just got here and she is practically attacking me. Okay, so I knew this was coming…but my goodness!

“Come on chica, you can’t not tell me what happened after you left here last night. Cause I know you couldn’t have gone straight home because I called you a little while later and you weren’t home yet! Now give already.”

“Fine. We went for walk. Just walking through the park before he took me home. It was sweet. We were just talking about this and that and anything that came to mind.”

“Oh, is he one of those guys that you can just tell everything to?”

“Yeah.” Why am I being shy about this, its Maria. But I can’t help but feel like this is something really special.

“So he’s a keeper?”

“Mmm, definite potential.”

“I’m so happy for you!” It’s the patented Maria squeal.

“Well he’s not exactly mine Maria!” Now I’m laughing, she’s so funny!

“Yeah, just give it a little time hun, cause I saw the sparks flyin last night at this table. It’s only a matter of time.”

Maria always seems to manage to be able to calm me down and lift my spirits and give me hope whenever I need any of it.

“Thanks Ria, you’re great. Thank you for being my friend!”

“Lizzie, don’t be silly, of course I’m you’re friend. Don’t you ever doubt it, okay girl?”

“Okay.” Now I can feel the tears at the back of my eyes. Happy tears…why am I crying? I don’t even have a real reason to be crying…but hey, I’m a girl and I can cry if I want to!

Maria and I have been sitting here talking for at least an hour now.

“Ria, what time is it?” I just ask cause it’s easier, I’m too lazy to push the button on my watch.

“Umm…four thirty, why?”

“No reason, I was just going to go home and take a nice long shower and relax and listen to the game…” my voice drops lower and lower as I say the last part of that.

“And what game would that be?” Oh please, she already knows the answer to that one, and she knows that she knows!

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“No I don’t, tell me.” Does she have to play miss innocent?

“Ria!”

“Lizzie!”

“Fine…the baseball game.”

Another patented Maria squeal. Gees, at this rate I should be lucky that I still have my hearing!

“Okay, you go and have fun dreaming of Max!” All I can do is shake my head and laugh at Maria. Life would just be so boring without her, don’t you agree?

“I’ll see you later Maria!”

* * *

Have you ever tried to write anything, a story, a letter, a paper, anything, and found that you were just focusing on it so much that it wouldn’t come? But then when you were occupied with something else, you just had this sudden urge to write and were bursting with ideas? I get that way a lot. This writer’s block has been off and on and whenever I sit down to write, I can’t. Well, here I was trying to listen to Max playing baseball, he’s doing very well might I add, and it overtook me. I just had to start writing. So I’m trying to listen to the game while writing…I feel like I’m doing a half-assed job at both, but the words are just flowing from my fingers, it’s almost like my brain has nothing to do with it. Funny.

So what’s this book about you ask? I was wondering when you’d get around to asking me about that since I haven’t really told you yet.

It’s about another world…where the rules are different.

What rules?

Well for one, men don’t dominate over women. I know that we like to think that our society isn’t biased on gender, but it is…you can’t escape it. Men have always had the advantages and no matter how hard some women try for equality, there will always be those that support the old ways because they are ‘safe’ or whatever. It is just a fact of life and that’s how it is.

For another, it is a world of myths and legends, not only where they are told, but also where they are real. There is fact behind every rumor; the truth is out there. They might be corny phrases to us in our world, but in mine, they mean exactly that.

So my story follows some friends, as they embark on a journey that leads them to truths and mysteries and somewhere in all of this fits a little girl who just discovered a magical thing, a diary that leads her to this other world where she can live the adventures of these special friends.

Are you confused? Maybe I’ll explain it more later, but I’m tired now and the game is over. Max’s team won…yeah! I’ll have to congratulate him tomorrow… Suddenly, I can’t wait for tomorrow to come. It’ll be a long night, but I am tired. Writing so fast like I have been kinda wears me out. Goodnight.

* * *
TBC...
posted on 11-Dec-2001 11:57:01 AM by dancepixie
Hey all, well here's the next part...sorry it wasn't up yesterday, but ethernet problems suck!

Araxie, thank you so much for the great fb, that was so sweet. And I'm curious, you got two goats from Disneyland? Why did Disneyland have 2 goats? Can you tell this has been bothering me since I read your post? lol! *big*

Thank you everyone for the wonderful feedback, I just hope you keep enjoying this fic. And now, on to the next morning...

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 15

* * *

Do you want to know what I dreamed about last night? I was dreaming about my world…the one in my story. It was incredible. I was actually there and everything was so clear… Since the moment I woke up, which was five thirty this morning…I’ve been sitting at my computer. Okay, so I took a detour on my way to the computer to go to the bathroom and grab a mug of hot chocolate, but other than that…

What time is it now? Ten in the morning. I know what you’re about to say, so don’t bother…I should take better care of myself, sleep, eat, stuff like that. It’s not like I don’t, but when the muse takes over, I just have to write, it’s as simple as that. Far be it from me to deny the passion that is swimming around inside of me. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but this story, which was coming so slow not all that long ago, has now taken ahold of me and won’t let go.

Well Tess will definitely be happy with my latest email I’m sure. I just sent her three more chapters. Think that’ll satisfy her? I hope so; I can’t wait for her response though.

Okay, now I need a break. Now that I’ve stopped typing for a moment, my hands are getting kinda cramped. Hmm…I suppose I could make myself some breakfast or something. Now that I think about it I am kind of hungry.

I hear Chocolate at my side whimpering.

“Oh, I’m sorry girl, I didn’t give you your breakfast this morning, did I? I’m so sorry. How about I make some scrambled eggs, huh? Will that make it up to you? It’s better than that dog food I’m sure!” Am I crazy because I talk to my dog? Nah! She’s just my baby, and sometimes I get lonely and I just need to talk to someone, you know? She makes a great listener. And sometimes I swear she knows exactly what I’m thinking and is sympathizing with me. And she loves scrambled eggs too, so when I forget about her, like now, she still loves me if I make her eggs.

My phone is ringing…oh surprise, surprise, it’s Maria. Sometimes I wonder why she always seems to be checking up on me all the time. But I don’t care. She’s my best friend, and we always have stuff to talk about, so it’s not like it ends up being a pointless phone call.

“Hey Ria.”

“Hey Liz. So how was the game last night?” She knows me too well…oh wait, I actually told her that yesterday, didn’t I?

“It was good. They won.” Yep, I, the non-sports fan have become a devote follower of baseball, well at least where Max’s team is concerned.

“That’s great. So, when are you seeing him again chica?”

“Today. I think he’s picking Katie up from school and so the four of us are going to the library together. Have you noticed how much…”

“Katie and April act like us when we were their age? Yeah I have. I think it’s so cute!” We both laugh. Yeah, this whole finishing each other’s sentences is something we picked up in high school…and yes, we still do it. “So what are you two going to do?”

“I don’t know. Probably just talk while the girls listen to their story. I mean, what else would we do?”

“Oh I don’t know. Maybe he’d want to take you out or something?”

“No, Maria. It’s not going to happen.”

“Fine girl, fine. But after that goodnight kiss the other night, something is going to happen.”

“I know. I just want to live this thing in the moment. I don’t want to think about what’s coming next, you know?”

“Sure Lizzie. Just take care, alright?”

“Sure Ria.”

“Bye girl, have fun!”

“Bye.” I’m laughing now. Only Maria.

Hmm…had breakfast, already wrote a lot, what to do with myself now?

Going to my closet I pull out some clothes and get dressed. I grab my hairbrush and idly brush it through my hair as my mind drifts to thoughts of Max. I can hear his deep voice in my ear, feel his breath on my skin before he kissed me. I try to imagine what he looks like. Maria helped me a little with that. She says he’s tall, over six foot, which I could tell from being around him. But she says he has deep brown eyes, ebony hair and a sweet smile. I wonder if he looks anything like I imagine he would…but I’ll never know.

I can see Max in my mind now, and he’s very handsome, tall dark and handsome. I imagine him to be like one of the characters in my book, well except that Max is real. But he is a lot like the character Zander in my story, caring and true, strong and courageous.

There goes the phone again. I just seem to be miss popular now, don’t I?

“Hello?”

“Liz?”

“Max?” Is that really him? Oh my god! He’s calling me! Wait, how did he get my number?

“Yeah, I got your number from Isabel.” Can he like read my mind or something? Too weird! “I was wondering if maybe you would want to have lunch with me and maybe take a walk before picking up the girls from school.” Oh, that is just so sweet!

“Umm…well…” Not that I don’t trust him…well I mean I’ve only known him for how long? But I don’t know about this. What if… “Why don’t you come over here and I’ll make us some lunch and then we can take that walk?” There, that’s much better. No worries there.

“Sure, that sounds great, if its not too much trouble.”

“Trust me Max, it’s not a problem.” I’ve been living on my own for the last three years, I can more than handle a simple lunch.

“Great then. When should I come over?”

“Whenever you want.”

“Then I’ll see you in a little bit. Bye Liz.”

“Bye Max.” Wow…I don’t know what to say when I get off the phone with him…just wow.

* * *

“That was great Liz.”

“Thanks Max.” Max and I are sitting at my dining room table after finishing lunch. Why does this just feel so right? Because it does.

“So how is your book coming along?”

“It’s been coming so fast lately. I almost don’t know what to do with it all. I was blocked for over a week and then all of a sudden the other night, I just had to write, and it’s been flowing ever since. I mean, every time I sit down at my computer, my hands just start moving across the keys and it all just sort of comes out, you know?” Oh gees, I’m probably boring him now, aren’t I? It’s hard to tell. I mean he could just be sitting there staring off into space not even listening to me anymore and I wouldn’t even know it!

“Oh, I’m sorry, am I interrupting your writing time? Cause I could just go-”

“No!” He can’t go! “It’s alright. I can write anytime, I mean its not like I have many other obligations since it’s my one and only job and all.” Please stay!

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I enjoy your company.” Why did I just say that? Don’t get me wrong, I like his company, I feel great when he is around, but it just sounded really corny.

“Okay then.”

* * *

TBC...
posted on 19-Dec-2001 1:59:50 AM by dancepixie
Okay guys, I am sooo incredibly sorry that it took me soo long to post anything new, and I won't until tomorrow...but I thought I should say something. I was kinda busy with writing the latest part of CC, but that is still no excuse since I'm way ahead in this story and could have posted some anyways...bad me... But I promise tomorrow there will be something new, I swear!!!

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 19-Dec-2001 4:00:24 PM by dancepixie
Okay, I apologize again for the long delay, but here is part 16, and I promise part 17 later today before I go see Lord of the Rings!!! I can't wait, it looks like a great movie. Anyways, it's nice to see I have some new readers, thanks for the great feedback!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 16

* * *

“Uncle Max, can we go over to your place for a little while? I want to show April all the cool stuff I’ve been telling her about,” Katie asks as she and April find us in the corner of the library after story hour.

“Sure, if Liz and April don’t have any plans already, I suppose we could do that.”

“Please Lizzie?”

“Sure darlin, we have plenty of time before your mom will be home anyways.”

Oh my god! I’m going to Max’s home…no comfort zone…oh god!

“Are you alright Liz?” Max asks me as we start to head toward the door.

“Umm…yeah, I’m fine. Let’s go.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. So where do you live Max?”

“Not far from here. I live in a condo, it’s actually pretty nice, although not too big, but it’s enough for me.”

“Sounds nice.”

We all get in Max’s car and he drives us to his home. The girls are in the back seat giggling away with Chocolate sitting in between them enjoying the attention being lavished upon her.

The car stops and Max turns off the car. I hear the girls getting out of the car and April tells me she has Chocolate’s leash. I’m about to open the car door but it opens for me and Max touches my shoulder gently before reaching for my hand and helping me out.

“Here, let me.” His voice is gentle and sweet.

“Thanks.” Does he realize how nervous I am? I didn’t even realize how nervous I am. A new house…I don’t know where anything is…I can’t go anywhere alone…I hate this. I’m always afraid of breaking something or making a fool of myself, or tripping into something, walking into walls, the list of possibilities goes on and on.

“Here you go Lizzie,” April says as she places Chocolate’s leash in my hand.

“Thank you. Hey girl, were you getting spoiled by those girls, huh? Yeah, you just love all the attention they give you, don’t ya?” I pet her head and rub her ears just the way I know she likes it.

Max is walking at my side with his hand on the small of my back leading me forward. God, his hand is so warm and gentle and doing amazing things to my senses. Ahhh! Wait, I need to stop that. I need to focus…I’m in a new place, I need to focus or this isn’t going to be a pretty sight. Okay, just breath. He probably doesn’t mean anything by that anyway, right?

“This is it. Why don’t you show April around, Katie?”

“Okay!” the two girls chirped in unison. And the similarities continue…

“Why don’t we go sit in the living room?” Max asks as he leads me forward, never leaving my side. “Here, just to your right is the couch.” Okay, one step, two steps…is that it? Yep, that’s it. I lower myself to sit on the couch and Max sits near me. The way he’s been acting, its like he doesn’t even care about me not being able to see. How can he be that perfect? No one is.

“So when’s your next game?”

“Wednesday. The teams leaves tomorrow for Chicago.”

“You do a lot of traveling, don’t you?”

“Oh yeah, it gets tiring after a while. We’re in Chicago for three days and then Philadelphia for four. I won’t be back for at least a week. That’s the only downside of being a baseball player, you are away for so long.”

“Yeah, I guess. I’m sure Katie’s going to miss you.”

We both laugh. Katie is very attached to her uncle Max. I find it adorable that they care so much for each other. Max just seems like the kind of uncle who would do anything for that little girl.

“Yeah, but she’ll get over it because she knows that I’ll be back in a week. See before when they lived in Colorado I’d visit them when I had games there and other times I was off I would visit when I could, but she never knew when I was coming back. That was why she was always so sad to see me go and she would just cling to me. It always made me sad to have to leave her, but now it’s a lot better. I love having Isabel and Alex in town, and being able to see Katie whenever I want to.”

I can hear the sincerity in his voice and it’s overwhelming. Where did this man come from? I didn’t think they made them like this anymore. I want one…and I have this one right in front of me…I change my mind…I want this one!

“That is so sweet Max. I know they are happy to be living so close to you now too.” Isabel and I have talked a lot lately. We pick up the girls from school underneath the same tree and we’ll just talk about anything while we wait. It’s only been a week but it’s gotten so that I can recognize the sound of her coming.

“Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?” Where did that come from? Since when do I have the guts to ask a guy out? Oh, this can’t be good!

“I’d love to. I was actually going to ask you the same thing.” Oh, he’s so sweet! Wait a minute…did he just say what I think he just said? Did he just say he’d love to? Wow.

“The café okay?”

“Sounds great.” He reaches over and grabs my hand, giving it a squeeze. He just gives me this feeling, that everything is perfect, that maybe I can find happiness. It’s a wonderful feeling.

We sit and talk for a while and I can hear the girls every now and then talking and giggling in the background as they find all sorts of interesting things to play with.

Max asks if I would like him to show me around or not…well, why not? Maybe I’ll be seeing more of this place, I hope. So he gives me the tour. We go slowly and he points out everything he can think of so I don’t run into anything. Oh and the best part, he had his arm around my waist the whole time, leading me, but not; it was like he just wanted an excuse to hold me, and why on earth would I want to deny him anything?

“It’s six o’clock right now, when would you like to go to dinner?”

“I don’t care, it’s up to you.” Yep, that’s my easy way out of a question I don’t feel like deciding, aren’t I a devil?

“Well, how about we drop the girls off with Isabel, well unless April has to be home, and then we can go to dinner. Does that sound okay?” God, he’s so sweet.

“That sounds wonderful. Let me just call Mrs. Cortez and see if it’s all right if April goes over to your sister’s for a little while. I’m sure it’ll be fine though. Can I use your phone?”

“Sure, let me go grab it.” I listen as he gets up and walks over towards the kitchen and picks up the obviously cordless phone.

“Thanks.” I take the phone and dial the number. How can I do this you’re asking? Well, it’s not too hard. All cordless phones are alike. Talk button is the big button near the top on the left half usually. The numbers are always in the same order. No big deal, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or anything.

I can feel Max’s eyes on me as I talk to Mrs. Cortez. I knew she wouldn’t mind but I felt like I should ask anyway. I mean, April is not my child, and if she were mine, I would like to know where she was, you know? It’s just polite. I can still feel him watching me when I click the phone off. What is it? Did I do something wrong or something?

“You are just amazing, you know that?”

“Umm…thanks.” Okay, I’m really not great at getting compliments; I think that much is obvious. I really don’t know how to act. I mean, why is he telling me this?

The girls choose that moment to come into the living room and interrupt. I must say I really don’t mind, it was getting kinda awkward… We tell them that we’re going home now and they whine, so we ask if they’d rather both go to Katie’s and play with her toys. Of course they are immediately overjoyed. Yes, that is the trick. First you disappoint them, then you make it better by stating your original plan as an ‘oh, well I suppose we could do this instead’ option. Works every time!

* * *

TBC...

posted on 19-Dec-2001 6:09:00 PM by dancepixie
Well here you go! Part 17, it's one of my favorite parts, though its a little more serious but still really really sweet. Oh, and Micha, you are so cute! Thanks everyone for the great feedback, keep it coming*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 17

* * *

“Hey Lizzie, hey Max! What can I get you two?” It’s Maria. Go figure. Is she ever not here? I mean, she owns the place; she honestly doesn’t have to be here all the time. But I guess it is her baby after all…

“Hey Ria. Who’s on the grill tonight?” See, I have to ask. It’s either Michael or Jose. See, they each have their own specialties; well that’s what I call it in my opinion. See Michael makes great grilled chicken. Jose on the other hand makes great sandwich melts.

“Jose. Michael’s on the phone in the office trying to get some suppliers to listen to him.”

“Mmm…then I’ll have to have a turkey melt, extra cheese! Oh, and a strawberry lemonade.” I know Maria’s rolling her eyes at me as she laughs. It’s cause I always get the same thing…oh well, I like it!

“Girl, you never change.”

“I know!”

“What about you Max?”

“I’ll have a Philly cheese steak and cherry pepsi.”

“Sure coming right up.”

I bet Maria’s wondering what’s up…she’s probably going crazy right now because I’m here with Max. I love how she gets so excited for me all the time. But she’ll just have to wonder, cause this is my Max time. After all, he’s going to be leaving tomorrow for a week and I just want to spend some time with him. I want to get to know him a little better. I already know so much about him, but I just…I want to know everything. He is so amazing, he makes me feel these things I’ve never felt before, and I love it. I don’t want it to end.

We eat our food when it comes and talk idly for at least an hour I think. I don’t really know cause I just lose track of time around him it seems. He just makes me feel so special and…well, normal.

I almost wish he wasn’t leaving…but it’s his job, and I know he loves it. Every time he starts talking about baseball he just gets this, I don’t know, happy sound to his voice. I can hear the smile on his face. I wonder what he wants to do after he eventually retires from the game. I mean I know he went to college, but he didn’t tell me what he studied or anything.

“So Max, what did you study in college?” I’m just curious; I had to ask.

“Biology, and I got my teaching credential. I thought about being a biology teacher at a high school or something. I like working with kids.” And he is great with kids that much I know from being around him and April and Katie.

“So is that something you want to follow when you retire from baseball, or what?”

“Yeah. I figure you can only be a pitcher for so long, and after that, I want to be able to do something I enjoy. That’s why finishing college was so important to me also. I want to have something to go back to when I can’t play the game anymore.” He sounds like he has really thought this all out. I’m very impressed.

“That’s great Max. I didn’t know you wanted to teach. I had thought about that at one time…” Okay, wrong place to take this conversation…damn!

“Why didn’t you?” Damnit! Oh well…I might as well just tell him.

“Well in college I was a TA for some of the lower division biology classes and I had a lot of fun doing that. When I got the job at the lab, the professor who was in charge of the lab asked if I would like to be her assistant with her classes for the next year. I was seriously considering it because she was the head of the molecular and cellular biology department. But then I had my accident. It just sort of happened and after that I didn’t go back to the laboratory. The professor was being nice to me and said that if I still wanted the job, it was mine, but I knew that I couldn’t do it. She had been one of my favorite professors when I was in school and she was just trying to help me out, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t handle that at the time. I needed to adjust to things. I needed time on my own to think about what would happen next…where to go from where I was.” Too many memories. I had almost forgotten about all of that. See the truth is, I like to block out those memories. The accident wasn’t pleasant; I had to live through it once, all the pain and confusion, I don’t like dwelling on it and putting myself through that when I don’t have to.

But Professor Granger was a great woman. She really seemed to care about all of her students, that was what made her special. At one point I had imagined myself years in the future in a teaching position at the college and inspiring other students as much as she inspired me.

“Are you okay?” Max is holding my hands in his and I can hear the concern in his voice. I guess I spaced out a bit there. That is so sweet that he cares…

“Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, I guess I just kinda spaced for a minute.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Is it hot in here all of a sudden, or is it just me? I think I need out of here… “Would you mind if we got out of here now?” Okay, now I’m sure he knows something is up with me, but I don’t care.

“No, that’s fine. Let’s go.” So we leave.

Okay, so you know how when you were a little kid and you were trying to sneak off somewhere or around the house in the middle of the night when it is really dark out, you know how the silence could be scary? Well it’s the same thing for me all the time. I live in world that is pitch black. Sounds, noises, those are my eyes and ears. So walking along beside Max in complete silence is a little daunting. Sure, I can hear Chocolate’s collar and ID tags clicking together every few steps, and that offers some comfort. But the silence can be overwhelming.

Is he waiting for me to talk I wonder? What do I say?

“I’m sorry. I just…really needed to get out of there.” I don’t even know why, to be honest…it was just this overwhelming rush of memories…

He’s holding my hand tightly in his now as he walks along beside me. Just his touch is making me calm down. I can feel my muscles slowly relaxing. He brings my hand up to his mouth and kisses each of my fingers. I feel like I’m going to melt. How can this one person stir up so many emotions inside of me?

“Liz, you have nothing to be sorry for, alright?” I don’t know what to say, so I just nod my head in response.

You know what the one thing I hate is? I was so caught up in my emotions, I don’t know where I am right now. I mean, we’ve been walking for a while and I honestly don’t know where we are. I hate it when I get emotional like this, it makes me unable to focus and concentrate on anything else.

“Why don’t we sit on this bench?” Bench? Are we in the park or something? I let him lead me over to a bench and we sit down. I can feel the tears that have been threatening to fall from the first memories I conjured up in the café, they are prickling my eyes, ready to fall.

Do you know what he does when we sit down? He wraps me in his arms and just holds me close. I can feel the tears sliding down my face now. How long has it been since I’ve just let myself cry over everything? I always tell myself I have to be strong; I try to forget. But I can’t get passed it, it’s a part of me, and now I realize that I do have to deal with this. But right now I just want to sit here in Max’s arms and not care about anything else.

I have my head resting against his shoulder and my face close to his chest. The scent of his cologne is filling my nostrils. It’s faint and so…Max. My tears have stopped now but he’s still holding onto me with no sign of him wanting to let go. I don’t mind. He can hold me for as long as he wants.

“Thank you,” I murmur against his chest as we sit there. My throat is sore from the tears and everything.

His fingers are running through my loose hair now, massaging my scalp and brushing through my hair and down my back.

“Shh, it’s alright. Do you want me to take you home now?” His voice is soft and gentle as he whispers against my ear, never stopping the relaxing movements of his hands.

“Can we just sit here for a little bit?”

“Are you sure you won’t get cold?” As if in response I chose that moment to shiver a little. Okay so it’s cold out. My guess is that it’s getting kinda late.

“Come on, let’s get you back to your place.” We stand up together and he leaves his arm wrapped around me and holds me close to his side as we head toward my place. I just let myself relax into his side and block out the outside world around me. I know he’ll make sure I get home okay. I just want to forget about it all at the moment.

“Liz, do you have your key?” Max’s voice is asking me. When did we get to my door? I must have been really out of it. I hold out the key and he takes it from me and opens the door, leading me inside. He leads me over to the couch and he sits down, pulling me onto his lap, gently cradling me to his chest. I lose myself in my senses again. All I feel is his strong protective arms holding me and everything else, well it doesn’t matter as long as he is holding me.

* * *

“Mmm…” Huh? What happened? Wait a minute…what is this thing on me? Oh my god, that’s an arm, and…where am I? Oh my god!

“Shhh! It’s okay…” Wait, I know that voice…

“Max?”

“Yes, it’s me,” his voice in my ear sends shivers through me.

“What happened?”

“Last night we came back to your place and you kind of zoned out on me. I didn’t want to leave you alone because I was afraid you might not know where you were in the morning.”

“Oh.” What am I supposed to say? Actually, now the night before is starting to come back to me. Wow, Max has been so sweet to me for absolutely no reason. All I’ve done is dumped my crap on him it seems. I mean if I weren’t blind, he wouldn’t have worried about leaving me alone last night…

“Hey, don’t go thinking anything like that. I stayed because I was concerned about you.” Can he read my mind or something, because I know damn well I didn’t say that out loud!

“Thank you, Max, for everything.” I still haven’t moved, and he’s holding me in his arms on his lap just like he was last night.

“Don’t worry about it Liz.”

“What time is it?” I still seem so sleepy, is it really morning?

“It’s four thirty in the morning,” he tells me.

“Oh, I’m sorry Max. Don’t you have to get on a plane later today? I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I stayed because I wanted to; I was worried. But you still look tired. Why don’t you go to bed?” Bed? But his arms are so warm, and I don’t know if I could get up right now.

“Come on,” with that he lifts me up into his arms and cradles me against his chest. That takes care of that issue. My arms instantly reach up to his shoulders for support. God, this boy has some muscles!

“Why don’t you get some sleep, alright?”

“Okay.” He’s tucking in my blankets around me, making sure I’m comfortable. How can he be so perfect? It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

“Can I call you tonight?” Oh, did he just ask me if he could call me? That is sooo sweet!

“Of course. Thank you, Max.”

“Goodnight Liz.” I feel him leaning down against the side of my bed and a moment later, his soft lips are on my forehead, giving me a gentle kiss. “Sleep well.”

And then he’s gone, and I’m falling back into my land of slumber…

* * *

TBC...

posted on 20-Dec-2001 12:42:37 AM by dancepixie
*bounce**bounce**bounce*
Okay I just had to come on and say that Lord of the Rings, was sooooo good!!! I really liked it! You should all go and see it! Okay, I'm done now, just had to tell y'all that it is definitely worth the 5 bucks to see it!!!

And it was so funny, one of my friends didn't realize it was a trilogy, so when the movie was over she yelled out "Whay?!?! That's it?" And everyone in the theater started laughing! Anyways, go see it! *big*

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 24-Dec-2001 2:41:33 AM by dancepixie
So sorry for the delay, but I was getting together with some friends I hadn't seen since the summer, and others I hadn't seen since last Christmas. I had fun with them so now that I am back I figured I should give you all something so you don't get too mad at me. Besides tomorrow is Christmas Eve and all...so, enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 18

* * *

It’s three in the afternoon on Thursday, and I’m still in bed. I haven’t left my apartment all week. Maria says I’m mopey, and she’s kinda upset because I won’t tell her why. I always tell her everything, but I haven’t said anything to her now so I think she’s a little hurt by that.

So you want to know what the deal is? Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about the accident since my conversation with Max. I wonder what I could have done had this not happened. Would I have given up science? What about the idea of teaching? Would I have realized my passion for writing? I’ll never know. I realize that I shouldn’t dwell on these things, but I just can’t help but think about them sometimes.

You know what? I miss my parents. I haven’t seen them in a while because they can’t visit me too often, and I’ve never been to visit them. I know they would like me to visit them, but I’m afraid; afraid of new places, new people, and just looking dumb when I don’t know where I am. It gets confusing when I’m in new places, and I get lost.

Why am I thinking about all of this right now? It’s just making me more sad and depressed…oh yeah, because I’m trying to keep my mind off of Max.

Max. He asked me if it was all right if he called me…and I couldn’t wait for him to call, I was all nervous and anxious waiting for the phone to ring…but he never called. I thought it was the sweetest thing when he asked if he could call me. Yeah, well it would have been had he actually taken the time to pick up the phone and do it. But he didn’t. I guess he really didn’t like me. Or maybe I scared him too much when I freaked out at dinner on Monday. I don’t know.

But you know what? I really liked him, I really did. I know I barely knew him, but I really did. He just made it so easy for me to talk. But I guess I can’t talk to people about what happened because all it does is scare them away. I scared Max away. Nope. No happy future for me. I should just face it now, any guy I ever meet will only be taking pity on me anyway, and then if I tell them the truth, they’ll just run as far as they can. Nope. No happy marriage, beautiful house, perfect children…no. I’ll be alone, always alone.

* * *

“Lizzie, get your little ass out of that bed right now!” What? When did Maria get here? How did I not hear her come in? I must have been really deep asleep.

“Ria? God, what are you doing here?” I sit up in bed and stretch. What time is it anyways?

“I am here to get you out of that bed and back into the real world. Girl, what on earth has been wrong with you these last few days? Do you realize I haven’t seen you since Monday, and now it’s Friday?” Oh god! Do I really have to deal with this right now? I just got up! Stupid question. It’s Maria, of course I do.

“Okay, so maybe I’ve been a little antisocial-”

“A little? Chica, I bet you haven’t even been out of that bed in days except maybe to get something to eat and drink and use the bathroom. Am I right?” God I hate it when she’s right! How does she do that? She always seems to know.

“So-”

“No, Lizzie, this isn’t healthy. We are going to sit down and talk and you are going to tell me exactly what is up with you. But first, you are going to go take a shower and get dressed. Okay?” There is that tone, that ‘don’t you dare try and contradict me’ thing she does. Okay…I get the picture.

So I get up out of my comfy bed and take a shower. Okay, so I took a really extra long shower…she didn’t put a time limit on it though, that’s her fault. I take my time to dry my hair, and brush it straight. Then of course I had to pick out clothes, and well, you know how long that can take a girl…especially in my case.

Unfortunately, there is always the point where you can no longer delay the inevitable, and I think I just reached it. I don’t wear makeup, so there isn’t that excuse…hmm. Oh well. Time to go and face the music as they say.

* * *

“So what is wrong with you liking Max? I don’t see a problem there Lizzie.”

“You don’t understand Maria.” How do I explain this to her? “I’ve never been that close to a guy, you know that. It just, it’s scary.”

“Lizzie, hun, it’s always scary starting a new relationship. That’s nothing new. But you can never have something special if you don’t try for it. Don’t you want to know where this thing with Max is going?”

“I don’t know if it’s going anywhere, that’s the problem.” Oh shit, did I just say that out loud? Crap.

“What happened? The two of you looked pretty close on Monday when you were in the café.”

“Yeah, that was before…well, okay. See we were talking about the future and that brought up the past, and he asked me something and what I started talking about, the conversation kinda drifted to my accident…” Deep breaths…I can do this. This is just Maria, she knows every little thing about me anyway.

“I don’t remember everything that I told him, but I got really freaked out and had to get out of there. So we left the café and started walking. Somehow we eventually got to my apartment and I was a mess. He sat with me on the couch, holding and comforting me and I fell asleep. I woke up early in the morning and he was still there holding me, he said he was afraid to leave me alone. So he put me to bed and left. But before he left, it was the sweetest thing, he asked me if he could call me…but he hasn’t.”

“Well hun, I’m sure he’s just busy or something…”

“I know Ria, but…I can’t help but think that I scared him away with how crazy I got over nothing and now he’ll never want to call me.”

“Don’t think that chica. I might not know Max all too well, but I do know you. You could never scare anyone away. And honey, you are not crazy, okay? You had a traumatic experience; it was life altering. There is no way anyone could come out of that unscathed.”

“But…” I don’t know what I’m about to say; I just feel the need to say something.

“No buts Lizzie. You are a wonderful person. The accident did change things, but not who you really are. Deep down, I know you are still the same girl I’ve known all my life; the same friend who always stood beside me but was never afraid to knock me off my high horse. You are still you, and you deserve the best. Just because something bad happened doesn’t mean you can’t be happy now and in the future. Don’t let that stop you just because you’re afraid. The old Lizzie that I’ve known all my life never let fear get in her way.”

“Yeah, but Ria, I’m not that Lizzie anymore.”

“Yeah you are. You just have to realize that.” What does she mean by that? I just have to realize it? Damn it! I’m not the same as I was! I’m blind for heaven’s sake! Okay, breathe…I just need to breathe…

“Look chica, I don’t know why Max hasn’t called you and I’m not going to pretend like I do. But I’m sure he has a reason. Maybe he is just as afraid and unsure as you are. Just don’t close off any possibilities because you think those bridges were burned down, all right?”

“Sure Ria.” What am I supposed to say? I don’t even know what she was just babbling about. I think my Maria filter is on the fritz or something. I’ll have to let this conversation simmer for a while.

“Great. Well, I should be getting back. Can’t leave the café for too long, you know! I’ll see you tomorrow, right?”

“Huh?” What is she talking about now?

“Don’t tell me you forgot? Lizzie!” I think she’s sounding a little frustrated with me right now, but I don’t care. It’s just been one of those weeks. “We are going down to the children’s shelter to help with the fund raising, remember?”

“Oh yeah, sorry. Don’t worry, I’ll be ready by nine.”

“Great! See ya then. Take care chica.”

“Bye Maria!” I laugh as she rushes out of my apartment. I don’t know why that girl is always in such a hurry. Gees! You’d think she had something terribly important to get to…it’s just that café. And whether she believes it or not, that place will still run without her there for an hour or two.

* * *

posted on 1-Jan-2002 1:42:45 PM by dancepixie
okay, sorry! I know, I know! It's just been forever since I posted a part. I'm sorry! I just get so caught up in real life...but I have been writting more of this story lately, and thats a good thing I suppose. But yeah, I'm getting over a cold, and I lost my voice like two days ago and it's getting better so I'm feeling more like actually doing things and I realized it had been so long since I posted, so I got my butt in gear and got this out for you all. Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*

* * *

Part 19

* * *

The children’s shelter, that’s where I am right now. If you haven’t noticed, I spend a lot of time with children. I love children, they are the future after all, but they are incredible little people too. Maria and I got started helping out with this shelter when we were in high school and we had to do some volunteer work for one of our classes. We’ve kept coming back ever since. Some of the older children that are still here I can remember when they were five, now they’re nearly fifteen…time flies. I guess that’s how it always goes, you don’t realize how fast it all really passes until something happens and you finally realize you aren’t as young as you used to be.

Coming here is like visiting family. I’m an only child, but it’s like coming home to all my little brothers and sisters. I get to hear all about how they’ve been and everything that has happened. They fawn over me and do everything they can to make sure I’m okay…it’s the best feeling in the world…belonging, being loved, unconditionally, that is the magic of children, of youth.

* * *

“Liz, I had a feeling I’d find you in here.”

“Sara.” She’s the director of the shelter. She’s always been in charge of this place, and the kids all love her. She’s the mothering type, but she’s not afraid to let you know when you’ve done something wrong. She’s always been there for me to talk to whenever I come by. It’s like having a mother and a big sister all rolled into one.

“So, getting to know some of our little ones?” She knows me so well. I always come up to the five and under room when I get here. I play with them and sometimes I tell them stories. I’m mostly here to let them know that if they need someone to talk to, they can tell me anything. Sure, they are only small children, but these kids have been through a lot more than anyone ever should, that’s why they are here.

“You know me so well.” She walks up to me and gives me a hug. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I’ve been here, but now I am. It’s been a very long time.

“How have you been?”

“I’m good, actually.”

“Really? Cause Maria was telling me you’ve been playing the hermit.” Okay, one thing about Sara, she knows everything. I honestly don’t know how she does it, but she does. Well, I really don’t feel like having this conversation in front of my new little friends here. “Why don’t we go down to the porch and talk for little while?” See what I mean, she’s reading my mind now.

So we head downstairs after I say goodbye to the children. It’s sad every time another child that young ends up here, but it’s also a good thing because Sara takes care of them very well, and they are better off then where they come from. I just hope that some of them find homes. The older children like Kayla, Jamie, Steven and Johnny who’ve been here since Ria and I started coming, they know they won’t find homes, so they make the best of it.

“So, what’s the matter? What’s been happening in your life?”

“Well, I met someone…his name is Max.” And she just lets me go, talking and talking. You would think that she would be bored of hearing people telling her their life’s stories, but she always has an ear ready to listen. So I tell her everything. I tell her about my freaking out phase and all the consequences there of. I tell her about waiting for Max’s call and it never coming.

“Well sugar, all I can say is give him a chance. There is probably a good reason why he hasn’t called you yet.”

“But what if I scared him away?” I feel like a little kid again, crying to my mother when something has happened.

“I’m sure you didn’t. Don’t be afraid of always scaring people away. You aren’t some monster that scares kids. These kids love you, all the children you meet love you, and if you can gain the trust of one of my children, that’s saying a lot. They won’t just trust anyone you know. You aren’t some monster and don’t you go thinking that. This Max may just need some time.”

“I know, that’s what everyone’s been saying…”

“Well I think you should listen to everyone then.” I can hear the smile in her voice. I know, it must be rather humorous to listen to all of my insecurities.

“Thank you Sara. I guess I just needed to talk to someone.”

“Why didn’t you listen to Maria, sugar?”

“I don’t know. I guess it was because she was the one trying to set me up with Max and all…I don’t know.”

“Well, as long as you don’t lock yourself up in that apartment of yours…”

“I promise!” Sara always knows how to make me laugh. It feels so good to laugh.

“Good. Now, I think the four little rascals are around here somewhere. When I told them you and Maria were coming today they couldn’t wait. They were whispering and plotting something at dinner last night, so be careful!” I have to laugh at that. She’s talking about Kayla, Jamie, Steven and Johnny. I met them when they were five and I was fifteen. They were the first kids here that Maria and I really got to know.

I’m sad that they never found homes, but I don’t think they’d want to be separated anyway; the four of them seem very close. Jamie and Johnny are twins and always refused to be separated. The four of them are always getting into some sort of trouble. Don’t get me wrong, they are great kids, they just have an odd sense of humor.

“Thanks, do you know where they are?”

“I’m not sure. They might be down by the creek.”

“Thanks. I think Chocolate and I can find them. Come on girl, let’s go.” Chocolate gets up and seems happy to be walking. Does she realize we’re going to find the four rascals? She has a thing for those kids. Probably the fact that they shower her with attention…not that everyone else doesn’t…but you know.

“Lizzie!” It’s Johnny, I’d know his voice anywhere. Wow, he’s fifteen…time flies. Gees, he must be bigger than me cause he just picked me up and is spinning me around.

“Johnny! You think you could put me down now?” I’m laughing. I love these kids. Who am I kidding, I love just about all kids.

“Sorry.”

“Don’t worry, hon.”

“Lizzie!”

“Kayla, Jamie, Steven! It’s been so long! I’ve missed you guys.”

“We’ve missed you Lizzie.” They’ve always called me that. Well they were only five when I first met them…

“Well I’ll just have to try and come by more often I guess.”

“Steven gets his license in two weeks. Can we come see you sometime if Sara will let us use her car?” Jamie is so cute.

“Sure. I’d love to have you guys surprise me sometime. And you do have my phone number, so if you ever want to talk you could just call me, you know. I’m at home most of the time anyway.”

“Okay Lizzie, we’ll do that.”

“Good. Now what have you four been up to? Sara was telling me she’s seen you whispering amongst yourselves lately. Anything I should know about?” I can hear the shuffling of feet…hmm…they are hiding something…probably debating between themselves right now on whether or not to tell me.

“Promise not to say anything?” It’s Steven.

“You know I won’t.”

“Well you know how Sara’s birthday is coming up?”

“Yeah.”

“We wanted to give her something special-”

“You know, thank her for all that she’s done for us-”

“Yeah. So we’ve saved up some money-”

“And Johnny and Kayla have been fixing up the old car in the shed.”

“Yeah, it runs like a dream now.” Kayla sounds so proud of the work she’s done. I always knew that girl was talented.

“I’m sure she is going to love it. How did you do all of this without her knowing? She always knows everything.”

“Well you don’t live here for ten years without learning a few tricks.” Oh yeah, I guess I forgot who I was talking to.

“Well I’m sure she’ll love it. That was very sweet of you.”

“Yeah, and maybe she’ll let me use that car instead of hers once I get my license.”

“Yeah, I doubt she’d let you use hers…she’s slightly protective of that car…though I’m not really sure why…” I laugh. I don’t know what it is with her purple car, yes you heard me right, Sara has a purple jetta or something like that…and she loves this thing…weird. “But isn’t that making her birthday gift more for you than her?” Now they’re silent...hmm…I think they have something else planned, they just aren’t saying anything.

“Are you coming for Sara’s party though?”

“Of course! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”

“Great!” Now I really know that they are up to something, but I’ll leave it at that. I’d rather just spend some time talking to them than arguing over what they are planning, that isn’t why I come here. I like to help out, and I love these kids. But still, I am curious as to what they have planned…

* * *

“That was so much fun!” Maria says as we are heading back into town. I must agree.

“I know. The rascals are up to something. They were making sure we were coming to Sara’s party and everything. I’m not sure what it is…but its something.”

“I know. I got that feeling to. Oh! Did you notice how close Jamie and Steven seemed? It was so cute! And I think Kayla and Johnny were acting very, friendly. That is just so incredibly sweet. I hope they make it work. I mean, all they’ve had for a long time was just each other and Sara.”

“And us!” I had to say it.

“Oh yes, of course they had us too!” Now we are both laughing. Why is it that whenever I come back from Sara’s I’m always in such a great mood? I guess it makes me realize how much I really have to be thankful for, and what great people there are out there.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 24-Jan-2002 8:38:23 PM by dancepixie
Sorry I haven't updated this...but I have a lab tonight, so maybe when I get back I'll see which parts disappeared and hopefully post another new part. But I'm also trying to write CC, so we'll so how far I get in everything I plan to do...and how much energy I have left after lab...

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 25-Jan-2002 5:55:41 PM by dancepixie
Just reposting a couple old parts...

~Nikki~
*angel*

* * *

Part 20

* * *

“Hi Liz, it’s Max. I’m sorry I didn’t call you sooner. There really are no excuses. I just thought that maybe you needed some time or something. I guess I’ll call you back later. I have a game this afternoon, so if I’m not out with some of the guys tonight and it’s not too late I’ll try calling you again. I hope you’re feeling better.”

Beep…beep…beep.

Sure, I leave my apartment once, and then he calls…what are the odds of that? Oh well. He said he’d call back later…and even if he doesn’t tonight I’m sure he will. But I’m not going to wait for his call…if he calls great…if not…oh well.

What am I saying? Of course I care! I can’t wait for him to call…

* * *

“No Maria…yes Maria…I know Maria…” Guess who I’m talking to on the phone right now? Maria? Yep, you’re right. That girl…don’t get me wrong, I love her to pieces, she can just be really exasperating at times though.

“Yeah, well I don’t want to sit on the phone for too long Ria. I should go. He said he’d call back, and I don’t want to be on the phone when he tries to call me…I know that I have call waiting…Ria, no. I’m going to hang up the phone now, okay? Yes, I promise to call you tomorrow and let you know what happens. Yes, I promise not to lock myself in my apartment…Goodbye Maria!” Gees, that took forever.

I called her to tell her that I had gotten a message from Max and all, and then she just kept talking and talking. Of course I love talking to Maria, but there is only so much I can take, and right now I have a really short attention span. What can I say? I’m like a little kid who can’t fall asleep on Christmas Eve for being too excited about the coming morning.

I can’t help but wonder what we’ll talk about. I mean really. I’m sure he has questions for me. And truthfully, I won’t not tell him, but I’d rather tell him in person. It’s just one of those things. It’s not the kind of conversation to have over the phone. Maybe that’s why he didn’t call right away. I don’t know. I can always ask him why. Maybe.

* * *

What is that? Huh? Oh! Shit! The phone. I must have fallen asleep on the couch. Damn! Ouch! Pain! Ohhh! Not good, really not good!

“Hello?” I say into the phone, trying to hide the pain from my voice but I don’t think I pulled it off too well.

“Liz? Are you alright?”

“Hi Max.” I can’t help the smile that forms on my lips as I say his name. Sure, my leg is throbbing in pain, but I’m smiling just talking to this man on the phone. “Um…yeah, I’m fine.” So it’s not the complete truth…but now I am much better just talking to him.

“Are you sure? You sound like you’re in pain or something.” How does he know that? What, can he read my mind now too? Am I that easy to read?

“I just tripped on my coffee table when I got up to get the phone. I fell asleep on the couch and then forgot about that when I was getting up.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“It’s alright.”

“But you hurt yourself. Maybe you should have someone look at it.” That is so cute that he’s concerned about me. I guess he really must care. Or he just feels bad because it happened while I was rushing to pick up the phone…

“I’m fine Max, really. And it’s good that you woke me up because if I slept on the couch all night like that I’d be sore in the morning and not a nice person to be around.” It’s true. The couch is okay to sit on and socialize on, but I tried sleeping on it once and it just does not work…way too uncomfortable. I get a crick in my neck just thinking about it.

“Okay then.” Silence. You know that is the one really awkward thing; silence on the phone. I think it just makes everyone feel kind of weird.

“Max, about Monday…”

“It’s okay Liz, I mean, if you don’t want to talk about it…”

“No Max. I do. But not over the phone…you know?”

“Sure. I should be back in town some time on Monday, but we aren’t sure when exactly. How about I come over and cook you dinner on Tuesday and we can talk, or not talk, then?”

“You cook?” Do I sound shocked? I mean I shouldn’t be. Lots of guys cook. Michael is a great chef, get him in the kitchen and he’s a wizard. So why am I surprised by this?

“Yeah, my mom is a great cook and she taught me a lot.” How cute is that?

“Sounds great Max. I can’t wait.”

“Well goodnight Liz.”

“Night Max.”

I hang up the phone and head to my bedroom. Chocolate is curled up on her corner of the bed. Yes, she sleeps in bed with me; she’s kind of like a big stuffed animal, only better! Lying on the bed beside her I pet her, waking her up. How do I know where she is, you ask? Well, that’s where she always sleeps. I’ve told you before how my other senses are a lot keener because of my blindness. Well, I can hear her breathing and the slight twitch of her paws as she dreams. I’ve always wondered what it is she dreams about…

Chocolate licks my hand, breaking me from my thoughts.

“Hey girl. Yeah, you’re a good girl. Guess who I just talked to? Yeah, Max. He’s coming over on Tuesday; he said he wanted to make me dinner and then we could talk. You know, I really like him. This is so, I don’t know, unbelievable. I mean, before the accident I never really had a boyfriend…sure I went out once in a while…but nothing important to me, no one that I really liked…nothing special. But Max…Max is very special, just everything about him is special. I guess I was wrong about scaring him away. I hope I was…he didn’t seem afraid of me on the phone though, so that’s a good sign. I’m usually good about being able to read things like that in people’s voices. But you know what girl? I really like him. So you be your little charming self on Tuesday, alright?” As if she knows what I’m saying she licks my face in reply. I swear she understands everything I’m saying. “Thanks girl. What would I do without you?”

* * *

Okay, it’s four in the morning and I’m wide-awake. I just can’t sleep, cause believe me, I’ve tried. My mind is just racing with all these things that have happened in the last few days. There are so many things.

Maybe I’ll try and write the next chapter of my book. It’s really starting to get into the good stuff.

Alissandra has started reading the diary that her grandmother gave her on her deathbed. She is reading about things that she had only heard of in legend and myth. But this was real. Her grandmother had lived it…it was her story…she was Riana, as in Ria and Eli, the Arana Queens. That must mean…Eli…Elisa…her great aunt Elisa…wow! No one thought they really existed, they were just stories…or so she had always thought. But they were her family.

I love taking my character’s on great discoveries. Sure, I reveal the truth early on, but then you live the adventure to find out how it all came to be. After all, the journey is the important part. Where you start and where you end is trivial compared to the path you took in which to get there. Life is what we make of it after all.

I told you, I sit down at my computer and I’m just a typing machine when I have an idea in my head. How long have I been sitting here I wonder?

“Six o’clock am.”

Time really does fly I suppose.

Hmm…I think a nice hot shower sounds pretty good right about now…oh yeah!

When I get out of the shower I’m sleepy. Yeah, hot water was nice and all, and only served to make me want to lie down in bed. Mmm…sleep is good!

* * *

Will Tuesday ever get here? I’m really beginning to doubt that it will. The days just seem to be dragging…and it hasn’t been that many days yet either. I’m going crazy aren’t I? Why is this all so strange? It’s not supposed to be this way, is it? Is this what it’s like for everyone? These scattered thoughts and incoherent abilities when I’m just thinking about him? Maria never told me about this. Okay, so I guess I did tease her about being dazed and forgetful where Michael was concerned all throughout high school…but still.

So what is this? Is this love? Why is that thought so scary, yet so incredible at the same time? I’ve never been in love before. I’ve been surrounded by it, but I’ve never been the one in love before. I’ve grown up watching my parents who are so in love and seen my friends all around me who are crazy for each other…but it was never me. And now it is. Wow. I think I just admitted it to myself. Maybe this is love. Maybe this is just what I have been waiting for all my life.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 25-Jan-2002 5:57:04 PM by dancepixie
Still reposting...

~Nikki~
*angel*

* * *

Part 21

* * *

“Max, this is delicious.”

“Thanks.”

So we are sitting at my dinner table eating this delicious spinach and mozzarella ravioli that Max made, from scratch! My god, I know he told me he could cook, but I didn’t think he’d be this good!

I never thought that Tuesday would get here and now that it has…I don’t want it to end, not really. Can I just put this moment in a bottle? Oh, but that would…oh, never mind. I can’t even figure out my own thoughts at the moment… What is wrong with me? I’m just so…so…scattered!

Max isn’t talking…I guess we both know what needs to be said. He’s probably just waiting for me to explain. I’m really not good at this in case you haven’t noticed that yet. I really…I’m just really bad at this…this whole relating to other people on this level…this romantic level…where everything really does matter.

Okay…Just breath Liz…this will be fine…you just have to tell him the truth, that’s all. Just relax and tell him how I’m really feeling. Yeah, cause that’s easier said than done.

“Thank you.” Well, I guess that’s a start…

“For what Liz?”

“Everything. I…just want to say thank you for taking care of me last week. For making sure that I was okay. For not leaving me. Most people wouldn’t have thought twice, they would have just left…but you didn’t. You stayed and watched over me.” I’m rambling, I know it, I just can’t stop these words from pouring out of my mouth. “I’m sorry I freaked out that night but I was just thinking about everything and remembering and it was all just so overwhelming.” I can feel the tears trickling down my cheeks as I try to defend my actions. I want him to understand…I want to tell him…

“Shh, it’s okay Liz. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” Max is at my side wiping away my tears. He always seems to be the one comforting me.

“No, I do. I do have to tell you. I haven’t told anyone about this. I need to tell you.”

“What about Maria? Haven’t you talked about this with her?”

“No, she knew what happened from the other people in the lab and the doctors. She’d try to get me to talk but I just couldn’t. Now I realize that I need to tell someone, Max. I need to get this out.”

“Here, why don’t we go to the living room and talk in there?” As he asks he takes my hand and gently helps me up and we walk in there together. I sit down on the couch and he sits beside me. Now the nerves are coming back…I have butterflies in my stomach again…

Taking a deep breath I begin my story…yes, my story, so sit and listen well, and maybe, just maybe you’ll learn something.

“I was twenty two years old and I thought I had a dream job. I was working in a major research laboratory at a major university…I was happy. I loved what I was doing. And my colleagues were great. I worked under a wonderful professor who I had known since I first started as a student at the college. Everything was perfect. Professor Granger had just asked me to be her personal assistant for the coming year and I was so excited. She was the head of the department and it was a major honor for her to choose me, I mean I was only 22, I had so much learning left to do…but she asked me. I was really thinking about it, though there wasn’t much doubt in my mind that I would accept her offer.

“That day I went into the lab to find that over night one of my experiments had gotten disturbed. Someone must have not been paying attention and screwed it up, I don’t know, cause my notes were still on the wall warning everyone. Anyways I was kinda upset because it would mean I had to start all over again. But I was careless that day. I was so upset I let things slip my mind…

~~~~~

“Grr! This is so wrong! Why did someone open up this vent? It was supposed to be closed! I even left the notes up everywhere! Grr!” I was so mad I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing. I mean, I had done those kind of experiments so many times in all my lab classes and the other labs I’d worked in through out school that it didn’t take much thinking to set it all up.

I was wearing my lab coat and I had my lab glasses on as I set everything up, mixing the chemicals. I was working fast, and now that I think about it, it was too fast. I was sloppy. My measurements weren’t precise. I didn’t check my bottles to make sure it was what it should have been. I just grabbed the bottles that were where they should have been…I was dumb.

By eleven in the morning I had it ready to run, so I placed it just as I had the night before and it was fine. I walked out of the lab to go down the hall and see how Camille’s project was coming. Camille was a friend of mine throughout college. We had a lot of classes together and now we’d go to lunch on occasion and talk about our latest projects. She was in the genetics lab, and she seemed to love it there. That had always been her passion.

I had taken my glasses off my eyes because they were bothersome sometimes, and placed them on top of my head. Camille and I got caught up and had lunch on the patio before I headed back to my lab. Before I got there Professor Granger stopped me.

“Liz, I hope you’re still considering my offer. I’d love to have you helping me next year. Can you come to my office tomorrow sometime? We’ll talk about it some more.”

“Sure. That sounds great.” I smiled at her, a real smile because her offer was more than I could imagine, and I really wanted to do this. “Sorry, I got to go check on this experiment. Something happened last night and it got disturbed, so I’m having to run it again, and I just want to make sure it’s alright.”

“Oh, then go ahead dear. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Bye.” That was the last time I saw her. She seemed so happy that I wanted to work with her, she had the most genuine smile. She had always been nice to me; I think I was one of her favorite students.

So I headed back into the lab and I was careless…god, did I even deserve to work in the lab in the first place? I wasn’t exactly being careful. I was taking things for granted is what I was doing.

I remember walking through the lab and towards the back corner where I had things set up. I heard something sound like it was cracking so I walked a little faster. When I got there, it just happened. There was a loud…I don’t know, explosion or something. It’s all kinda hazy as to what really happened.

Pain. Lots of pain! My eyes were burning. I screamed and then there was something…glass shattering…yeah that’s what it was.

~~~~~

Max is holding me in his arms now and wiping away the tears from my cheeks. I’m curled up like a little kid in his lap, hanging on to him as if life depends on it. Maybe it does.

“It’s okay Liz. That’s over now. You’re safe.” His fingers are running through my hair and they just feel like magic. I feel warm all over and its like everything will be okay now, just because he says so. I snuggle even more into his embrace if that is at all possible.

“Thank you Max,” I mumble into his chest.

“You don’t need to thank me Liz. I want to be here for you. I want to help you through this. I don’t want to see you hurting anymore.” I sigh as I listen to the beat of his heart and it lulls me into a comfortable sleep…

“Mmm…”

“Shh, it’s okay, just go back to sleep. I was just going to put you in bed,” Max whispers in my ear. He is so sweet. I snuggle up to his chest a little more, making myself comfortable in his arms as he carries me to my room.

He places me on my bed but I don’t want to let go of him. I keep my arms wrapped around his neck; I don’t want to lose his warmth.

“Just go to sleep, honey.” The tickle of his breath on my neck sends shivers down my spine. Then I feel his lips on mine and everything is perfect. No, I don’t see stars or fireworks, but it’s sweet and loving. So this is what it feels like to be loved by someone. Now I think I will have happy dreams.

“Sleep well…”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 25-Jan-2002 6:11:47 PM by dancepixie
And now...a new part! I know, shock of the century, right? I'm just getting really bad at this keeping my story updated thing...oh well. I'll keep trying to do it regularly...but no promises because classes are a pain...I mean, the fourth week of classes and midterms already? Ahhh! where did the weeks go? Anyways, enough of my ramblings...on to my fluffy little world...

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 22

* * *

“Maria, it was so…perfect.”

“Oh! I’m so happy for you chica!” She’s squealing and hugging me as we sit at the counter of the café talking. I told her all about last night with Max, how he made me dinner and we talked and how I really opened up to him.

“Thanks. I’m so happy right now Maria. I’ve never felt this before, you know?” She’s rubbing my shoulder comfortingly, just like a mother would to soothe her child.

“I told you honey, there is nothing quite like falling in love. I’ve been waiting for it to happen for you since we were teenagers. We all had someone, all of us except you. I always tried to set you up with people, hoping maybe you’d find him. And now you have. I’m so happy for you.”

“It’s just this incredible feeling. Whenever I’m with Max I just want to tell him everything; I just want to lose myself in him. Nothing else matters, and sometimes I even forget where I am and everything. It’s so amazing, but it’s scary at the same time.”

“But it’s worth the risk Liz.” Michael is joining our conversation now. I thought I heard the kitchen doors opening a minute ago. “You of all people know what I went through before I finally asked Maria out. I was so afraid she’d turn me down and I’d lose her completely. But I took that chance and I couldn’t be any happier.”

“Yeah, I remember Michael. And I’m so happy for you guys, I always knew you’d be perfect together. I mean I had each of you confiding in me how much you liked the other. It was classic.” I can’t help but tease them because of what they put me through. At the time, all those years ago, Maria would tell me how she thought Michael was so cute…and I would just have to sit there and listen to her because Michael made me promise not to tell her. And then she made me promise not to tell Michael. I was stuck in the middle…but it all turned out great for them and I’m glad.

“It’s not so much that I’m scared of taking this step with Max. It’s just, well, when I was with him that time he took me to dinner here at the café and I freaked…well when we were walking, I just lost myself. I mean, I didn’t notice anything. I didn’t even know where I was. If Max hadn’t of been there I couldn’t have found my way home or anything. And that scares the crap out of me. I don’t know if you can understand this, but it was frightening.” How else can I explain this so that they’ll understand what I’m trying to say? I honestly can’t think of another way. They just don’t know what it’s like to live the way I do. I know they try to understand, but until you’ve lived it first hand, you don’t know.

“I’m sorry chica. I didn’t realize how hard this really was on you. But you know, I think the reason you were so lost was probably because you were upset. I don’t think it really had to do with the fact that you were with Max. I mean, if you hadn’t been so upset everything probably would have been fine.” Okay, so she has a point.

“I guess I was really upset, and that is probably why I wasn’t focused on anything…” I mumble slowly. It does make sense…

“Did you talk to Max about this?” Michael has to bring it up.

“No, not yet. Last night he just let me get out everything about the accident and things like that. I didn’t even bring this up.”

“Well maybe you should, honey.”

“Thanks Ria.” I give her a hug and smile. “And you too Michael.” He reaches over the counter to hug me and I laugh when his cooking hat falls off on me. I always thought these things were weird. I can’t believe he actually wears it, him of all people!

“Don’t mention it Lizzie. So are you going to be there at our place this weekend? Michael is barbequing and we invited Alex, Isabel and Katie over along with Max and Kyle and Tess are coming, and so are Mrs. Cortez and April. You can’t miss it.” I laugh. Maria is making this out like it’s the social event of the season or something. Does she honestly think I’d say no?

“Of course I’ll be there! I wouldn’t miss it. And it’ll give me a chance to talk to Tess about the latest stuff I’ve sent her.”

“Great!” Maria seems really happy now. Very cheery actually, even for her…did I miss something? Wait a minute…I hear footsteps behind me.

“Hi Max,” I say without turning around. I know I have this really big smile on my face. I can just imagine his reaction because he couldn’t surprise me.

“I keep forgetting there is no sneaking up on you.”

“Got that right, cause boy have I tried,” Maria pouts.

“Yeah, well I’m so used to you Maria, I don’t even have to listen for you, I just know what you too well!” I laugh. This feels so good to just spend time with my friends and laugh.

Max’s arms come around my waist and hug me close. I like the feel of his arms around me, it’s comforting, loving, warm.

“You still amaze me, you know that?” he whispers in my ear softly so only I can hear him, then he kisses my cheek. This makes me smile even more. God, I feel like a lovesick teenager…

“Max, you’re coming this Saturday, right?” Maria’s asking him. Can’t you just hear the smile in her voice?

“Uh, yeah. Thanks for inviting me.” Oh, it’s so cute; he’s just so polite!

* * *

“Max, are you sure it’s alright if Chocolate runs around in here? I mean, I don’t want her to ruin your place or anything.” Max and I came over to his place after I left the café with him.

“I told you it’s perfectly fine. Besides, I don’t think she’d hurt anything, she’s a good dog, aren’t you girl?” It’s just so cute when he starts talking to her like a baby! “See, she promises to be good.” I just laugh. God, this feels so…incredible, unbelievable.

I’m sitting on the couch in his living room and he’s on the floor playing with Chocolate. He’s still all sweaty from his ball practice this morning. He needs a shower. That’s why we came over to his place anyway.

I feel his arms wrap around me and the cushions on the couch shift as he sits beside me.

Scrunching up my nose I have to joke, “You stink!” Now he’s laughing at me.

“Oh yeah? And what are you going to do about that?”

“Nothing, but you are going to go and take that shower cause you smell!” I laugh.

“Do I have to?” Oh, poor baby, now he’s whining. Can I just say how cute he is?

“Mmm…” I’m thinking about it really hard… Oh! Well kisses are always great. Mmm…I think I could just kiss him forever. But oxygen is a good thing and my lungs want some, so I pull away. Taking a deep breath I finally tell him, “Yes, you have to, now go before I end up smelling like I was running around a baseball field all morning too!” At least I made him laugh.

“I’ll be out in a few.”

Hmm…Max is in the shower and now I’m alone in his condo. What to do, what to do?


* * *

TBC...

posted on 10-Feb-2002 5:03:35 PM by dancepixie
I'm soo soo sorry about not updating this story. It's really bad too because I already have a lot of it written and all I have to do is proof it. Okay so I promise to edit at least one part on the train home tonight and then hopefully post it when I get home. I'm soo sorry to keep leaving you guys hanging like that. Just keep yelling and I eventually get the hint though! *tongue*

Welcome to any new readers, Kristin, I'm glad you like this story. Michelle likes to call it my cheesy-fluff story, cause that's basically what it is! *big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Feb-2002 5:06:54 PM ]
posted on 11-Feb-2002 2:58:40 AM by dancepixie
I once again apologize that it took me sooo incredibly long to get this next part out to you, but I hope I made up for it by making this part extra long! Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*



* * *

Part 23

* * *

So I figured while Max is in the shower it would be a good time for me to walk around his place a little. You know, so that I can get used to where things are. I mean, I think I’ll be spending a lot more time here in the future, so I might as well get accustomed to it.

Last time I was here with the girls he gave me a short little tour, pointing out where things were so that I wouldn’t run into them or anything. Well, it helped a lot. I’m in the living room now. Chocolate is nosing around, I heard her go off to my left, I think that’s where the hall is that leads to the bedrooms. Yeah, this place has two bedrooms…seems very nice to me from what I can tell. He must keep this place very neat. I hope he didn’t clean it all just for me…but then he would have had to have been planning on running into me this morning and bringing me here, wouldn’t he?

Whatever.

I decide to follow Chocolate, but I’m being careful. I really don’t want to run into anything, or break something, or especially hurt myself.

“Here girl. Where’d you go Chocolate?” The second I speak I hear her coming toward me. “Good girl.”

I rub her ears for a moment before standing back up. Hmm…I think we’re in the bedroom if I remember right. Max’s bedroom. I suppose I really don’t want to be caught in here. I don’t want him to think I’m snooping or something.

“Come on girl. Let’s go back in the living room.” She walks at my side as we head down the hall. After ten steps she stops and gently woofs at me. That’s her way of telling me to stop. I must be about to hit something. I reach my arm out and sure enough, there is a table there. Okay, I’ll have to remember that. “Good girl Chocolate.”

I walk around the table and we go back into the living room. I find the couch and sit down. Chocolate is sitting at my feet and enjoying the attention I’m lavishing her with. I never get tired of having her around. I’m convinced that animals are soothing to the soul.

“So what did you want to do today?” Max’s deep voice asks from behind me. I can’t help but smile. I just feel special when I’m around him.

“I don’t care. I’m up for anything.” Okay, so I’m making this hard for him I’m sure. I mean, I don’t like going out new places, and he knows that. We can’t really just watch a movie or anything like that…or well we can, it’s just different, really different. You don’t realize how much of it is visual until you can’t see the movie. Sure you get the idea of what is happening by listening to it, but it’s not the same. And I can’t watch foreign films anymore. I used to love foreign films. Have you ever seen Run Lola Run? It was a good movie, one of my favorites.

“Mmm…okay. How about we go for a walk along the beach? It’s only a block and a half from here. I’m sure this little puppy will love it. Won’t you girl?” Now he’s kneeling beside me and I can smell the scent of his shampoo…mmm, it’s kinda like a mellow vanilla scent.

“Sounds perfect.” How is it that I’m so relaxed around him now? I just feel like I’m home, like I’ve found that one special person. And he is definitely special.

So we went for our walk and it was nice. The sound of the ocean and Max’s voice beside me, there is nothing better.

We just talk about ourselves, getting to know each other better. He’s going to be going out of town again Sunday. I shouldn’t be surprised, I mean being a pro ball player and all it’s only natural. But I’ll still miss him. It amazes me how attached to him I’ve become, but I love it.

“So you’re still gonna be able to come to Ria and Michael’s on Saturday, right?”

“Of course.”

“Good.”

* * *

“Yes! Maria I told you. I’ll be there in a little bit.”

“Don’t take too long hun.”

“Ria! I’m just waiting for Max to get here, alright? He’s picking me up and then we’ll be right over.”

“Just don’t get too distracted with each other before you get out the door.” I can hear her laughing on the other end of the phone.

“I can’t believe you just said that! Max and I are taking this relationship slow, and I’m glad he’s okay with that. I mean, I’ve never had a serious relationship before, so this is all new to me.”

“I’m sorry chica, I was just having some fun with you. So just hurry up and get over here, k?”

“Bye Maria!” I hang up the phone and shake my head. “That girl is just so funny sometimes. She thinks she knows everything,” I’m laughing, I can’t help it.

“Ah, how is Maria?” a silky smooth voice speaks from behind me. Oh my god! When did…?

“Max? When did you?” but I don’t get to finish my question before he’s kissing me. Well hello to you too! Mmm…I love Max’s kisses, they are so addicting; I just never want to let go of him. Maybe this is what Ria meant by not getting distracted…oh well, I don’t care. If this is distracted then color me oblivious!

“Hello to you too!” I laugh when I finally find my breath.

“I snuck in while you were on the phone; the door was unlocked.” Oh yeah, I forgot about that, and conversations with Maria are always diverting of attention so I must have missed it.

“Well we better go. Ria was just harping on the fact that we have yet to arrive and she apparently has something major that she wants to tell me but will only do it in person. So…”

“Right this way m’lady, if you are ready, that is.” He’s so cute when he’s being a gentleman!

“Thank you kind sir!” I manage between the giggles.

* * *

Okay, I’ve been sitting around Maria’s kitchen listening to her ramble on about something. Is it just me or is she sounding kinda nervous? No, it can’t be just me. I know her, and this is how she sounds when she’s nervous. Plus, she hasn’t been able to stand still.

“Okay Maria, spill. What’s got you so flighty today?” She comes and sits on the chair beside me and takes a deep breath. I think she’s finally going to tell me. About time!

“Michael and I are getting married!”

“Oh my god!” I give her the biggest hug in the world as I say that. I can’t believe it! I’m so happy for her. She and Michael are perfect for each other. They’ve been together for so long, it took Michael long enough to propose! I’m going to have to have a talk with that boy. Or maybe not seeing as Ria is happy and all… “Congratulations!”

“Thank you! Now I have to ask you this. Lizzie you have been my best friend always. Will you be my maid of honor?” I could hear the tears in her voice and now I’ve got tears in my eyes too; I can feel them falling down my face.

“I’d love to!” We just sit there for a while, laughing, crying, hugging, giggling…

I’m so happy for them. Now I understand why she was so anxious for me to come over. She’s telling me all about how Michael proposed and it’s sweet. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her this happy. It’s a good feeling. It really is.

* * *

Two little screaming girls are running around with a puppy full of energy chasing after them in Michael and Maria giant backyard. Then there is Max at my side and Michael over at the barbeque and Maria, Mrs. Cortez, Isabel and Alex are all standing here with me talking. Maria keeps going back and forth to Michael, she says she’s making sure he doesn’t do something stupid and burn the hamburgers… I shake my head at the thought. Michael is definitely the better cook in that family. But it’s cute because they are finally engaged and she just wants to be near him, and I completely understand that.

Tess and I talked for a while by ourselves, and it felt like old times again. Way back when it was just the five of us, before anything bad happened…when Tess and I were normal. Not to say that we aren’t normal now, but things definitely aren’t the same.

We talked about my book and how it’s coming along. She really likes it, and I’m glad. She can’t wait until it’s done, and well, it almost is. I’ve had this great writing spurt in me and it’s just been flowing. I suppose since Max will be gone this next week that it will give me plenty of time to write more.

When we didn’t have anything more to say about work we just sat there for a while. To an outsider it might have looked uncomfortable or unusual, but to us it’s life. She’s deaf, so what? I’m blind, so what? We still have lives of our own to live. Yes, at first it was hard, but you learn to deal with it. Sure I went through one of those ‘life sucks’ fazes, so did she. But after a while you realize that there is no getting past it, you just deal.

“I’m so happy for Maria!” Tess tells me.

“Yeah I know. I’ve been wondering how long it would take Michael to finally propose to her!” I speak and sign back.

“Michael seems really happy though. He hasn’t been able to wipe that smile off his face all afternoon!” she’s giggling now and I think it’s so cute. “So, what is going on with you and Max? You seem really close.”

“Yeah. We’ve been out a couple times and…god, he’s just so perfect! I mean, he could care less that I’m blind, and he sees me for who I am, you know?” I’m probably making no sense at all.

“That’s great Lizzie. You deserve some happiness.” She takes my hand in hers on top of the table and gives it a reassuring squeeze.

“Thanks.”

“No problem. So how are your parents doing? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them.”

“I know. They’ve been busy with the restaurant they bought and all. They haven’t been out here since after my accident.”

“You should invite them out here for Christmas. Oh, and Grandma Claudia too! She’s always so much fun!”

“Yeah, I miss grandma. I was talking to her the other day, and she wants me to come down there and visit her. I didn’t know what to say, but I told her I’d think about it.”

“What’s to think about? You love grandma, so why not visit her?”

“Well, first how will I get there? And then, well, I don’t know, it just won’t be the same.”

“Lizzie, it’ll never be the same. I know it’s hard to accept, and you never really completely get over it. But you have to take the step and overcome some of your fears. So what, it won’t be like it was when you were a little girl and went to see grandma, so what? You still love her and that is reason enough to get over it. I know she wants to see you too. Why don’t you ask Max to take you? Didn’t you say that he had family down there? You could just have him drop you off at Grandma Claudia’s and that way you could spend some alone time with her, since you haven’t in years.”

“I don’t know Tess…”

“Just think about it. And I mean really think about it Lizzie. What is more important than family?” With one last squeeze of my hand I hear her get up out of her chair and leave me alone.

I suppose she has a point. I’m always saying how independent I am, and yet inside I’m still a frightened kid who doesn’t want to let go of what she once had. But I need to. I need to move on. I want to…I just have to figure out how for myself.

* * *

“Lizzie, would you like a glass of champagne?” Maria’s asking me.

“Sure. Are we celebrating the engagement?” I smile. I can hear the happiness in Maria’s voice, I’m sure if I could see right now, she’d be floating on cloud nine.

“Of course! Hey, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I brush away all the thoughts I’ve been having for the last while. How long has it been, maybe half an hour since I was talking to Tess? “So, do you have any plans yet? A date?”

“No, nothing really. I was thinking maybe March. What do you think?”

“I think that you should have whatever you want Ria. This is your wedding and you should have all your dreams come true!” We both laugh. Since we were little girls we always talked about our dream weddings…

“Yeah, well I don’t know where Michael is going to find me those winged white horses…” Oh yeah! I forgot about that one!

“I think you might have to lower your standards there hun!” It feels great to just relax like this. I can’t believe she’s getting married…not like they haven’t been living together for a while now, but they are finally getting married…

* * *

“Are you okay?” I feel Max’s arms come around my stomach from behind me, and his voice is soft against my ear.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, cause I was just talking to Kyle and he was saying something about you wanting to go see your grandmother. I was planning on visiting my parents down there in a couple weeks, I’d be happy to take you with me.”

“I…” Kyle? What does he know about…Tess! Max doesn’t know sign I’m sure so she went to Kyle and told him to talk to Max, I bet. I sigh. I can’t be mad at her; I know she has my best interests at heart…but…god! “I don’t know Max. I told Tess I would think about it…I didn’t expect her to force you to-” He’s standing in front of me now, holding onto each of my arms with his hands.

“She didn’t force me into anything, Liz. I care about you, and that is the only reason I offered, not because someone wanted me to.” I feel him press a light kiss to my forehead before resting his own against it. “I love you Liz.”

Oh my god! Did he just say that? Oh my god! He said…he…he…loves me! Wow! What do I say to that? I…

“I love you too Max.” I smile at him, a real smile, realizing that I mean every word of that with every fiber of my being. Taking a deep breath I continue. “Thank you for offering, it’s really sweet. I just, I just need to think, okay?”

“Sure. I’m sorry, I don’t want to push you; I just want you to know that if you need anything you can come to me. I want to be here for you.”

“Thank you Max.”

The night got even better from there. Everyone seemed to get along really well. Max, Alex and Isabel just seemed to fit right in with all of my friends, it was like they had always been a part of our group. Mrs. Cortez now thinks that Max is perfect, not like she didn’t realize it before from what I told her, but now she’s seen it for herself, and she told me how lucky I was. I just have to agree with her there on that one. I am very lucky…so very lucky.

Max drove me home and of course he insisted on walking me and Chocolate up to our door. He is so cute!

“Do you want to come in?” I ask him, bringing his hand up to my lips and kissing it softly.

“Sure, but only for a little bit. I have to get some sleep tonight because I have to get on a plane tomorrow.”

“Poor baby, always having to travel to all sorts of places…” I giggle as I pull him into the living room. We sit on the couch and he pulls me to his side. I sigh and sink back against him. How can life all of a sudden be so perfect?

“Yeah, well it’s not as fun as it sounds. Besides, it just means that I have to spend time away from you.” He punctuates that statement by kissing me. He runs his soft tongue along my lips, and I can’t help the contented sigh that escapes me, allowing him entrance to my mouth. His kisses are soft and passionate. I can feel all of the love that he has for me coming through. It’s enough to make me dizzy. I lose myself in the feel of his hands on me holding me close, the sensation of his fingertips brushing across the bare skin at the small of my back. The smell of Max surrounds me. The taste…it’s all Max, and all wonderful. I’ve never been this close to someone, ever. He’s the only one who can make me feel like this and I don’t want to lose it.

“I should probably go,” he breaks the spell by whispering in my ear. All I can do is whimper and hold him closer, locking my arms around his neck to show him I’m not going to let go. He just laughs softly at me, so I lean up and kiss him. He doesn’t pull back; instead he kisses me with a hunger I haven’t felt before. I lean back and find myself lying on the couch and he follows me down, kissing me even deeper.

My senses are going crazy; this is so overwhelming… My hands are in his hair, playing with the silky strands enjoying the feel of them slipping through my fingers; then they are running down his back, feeling all the muscles strong and powerful under his shirt. But it’s not enough; I want to feel his skin. My hands find the bottom of his shirt and soon the bare skin of his back as I’m still luxuriating in his kisses. I’m lost…lost in Max.

“Liz…Liz we should stop,” Max says breaking away from my lips to breathe deeply. I shake my head no and try to pull him back but he won’t let me. He leans forward and gives my forehead a quick kiss before pulling back again. I sigh and try to collect myself. Maybe that was kinda fast.

“I’ll call you tomorrow Liz, I promise.”

“You mean it this time?” I pout.

“Yeah. I really mean it this time. I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too. Good luck in your games Max.”

“Thank you. I love you Liz.” I smile. Just the sound of him saying that, he loves me…it makes my head spin.

“I love you too.”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 15-Feb-2002 1:56:53 AM by dancepixie
Sigh...I wish I had a boy...Brendan would do quite well...but just any really sweet and caring boy...

But alas I do not, so what else would I do with my valentines day but get another part out for you great people. I hope you enjoy. And I hope that everyone had a great Valentines, even if you don't have someone special in your life.

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 24

* * *

Max is so sweet. He said he’d call Sunday night, well he couldn’t wait, he called in the morning while he was at the airport waiting with the rest of the team for their flight. It makes me feel special, you know? Just knowing that he was thinking of me…

I kind of wish I could have gone with him to the airport to say goodbye, you know? I don’t know. I know that would mean leaving my protective bubble. Hey, don’t look at me like that; I do leave my safe places sometimes. I don’t usually like to, but I do. I mean, every time I do there is always the possibility of something happening, but I do it anyways, and this time, I actually want to. But it’s too late for that now, he’s gone.

Maybe…I don’t know…

* * *

It’s been a week since Max went away and I’ve gotten a lot of writing done. I’m not sure how much longer my book will be. I don’t know where this story is taking me yet, but I can feel it winding down.

Max calls me every night, and we talk for at least an hour. He always wants to know about what I did all day…it’s so sweet. I ask him about his day, and it seems like he’s getting really worn out, poor baby. He says he can’t wait to get back.

He still wants me to come with him down to Winter Haven when he gets back. He’s going to see his parents and well, he thinks I should visit my grandma Claudia, since I’m always talking about her and missing her. I know I should, I’m just afraid. I know that she won’t love me any less after what has happened to me, its just, I don’t want her to see me any differently than I always was.

But I do want to spend time with her, I really do! And I want her to meet Max. She always said that I’d find the right guy eventually, the one who shared my soul. Well I think I have, and I want her to meet him. And the other thing is, he wants me to meet his parents. What will they think of me? I’m afraid that…I don’t know…they won’t like me or something. What happens then?

I suppose I should tell him my fears. I’m sure he’d make me feel better, maybe he’d make me realize how silly I’m being about all this. I realize I am being kinda silly about it, but that doesn’t change how I feel. I really like Max, I love him, and I just don’t want anything to screw that up.

* * *

Okay, so I needed to talk to someone. But I’ve talked to Maria and it’s just not helping…not really. I mean I love her to pieces, but she just can’t help me out right now. Michael…no. Tess, not really. Kyle, yeah right, that boy, well he’s just not so great with the whole advice thing…not at all.

So who could I talk to? The first thing that came to mind was Sara. She’s always been someone I could talk to. Then the next question is how to get to her.

Luck me though, while I’m sitting and pondering this, I happen to get a phone call from Isabel. She’s really sweet. She has the afternoon off and was wondering if I wanted to get lunch with her or something. So we did and it was fun. She’s really a sweet and caring person I’ve found. I told her about my friend Sara and that I hadn’t seen her in a while and asked if she would mind taking me out here. Sara’s place is kind of out of the way, but she didn’t mind.

So here I am, walking up to Sara’s door with Chocolate at my side. Isabel had offered to wait for me or come back and get me later, but I told her not to worry, I would be fine. I’m sure Sara can give me a life home later. I just really need to see her now.

“Lizzie! Oh my god! What are you doing here?”

“Hey Kayla,” I laugh as she runs to me and hugs me tight.

“It’s good to see you! But hey, you’re here without Ria?”

“Yeah. I just wanted to talk to Sara.”

“Oh. Hey guess what?” but she didn’t get to finish what she was going to tell me.

“Lizzie!”

“Hey Steven!” He has me in his arms and twirls me around like I’m not ten years older than him.

“I got it!” he’s laughing. “I got my license!”

Oh, I bet that’s what Kayla was gonna tell me too. Oh no, now these kids can be out on the road…now that, it scary!

“That’s great. Maybe you guys can give me a ride home later then.”

“Really?” He sounds so happy about it. Well, I hope Sara will let me steal them to get a ride home, cause I don’t want to disappoint them now.

“Yeah really. And maybe I’ll even let you stay and cook dinner for you!”

“Can we all come?” Jamie’s voice comes up behind me. I think all four of them are here now.

“Sure, why not. You guys are always welcome at my place anyway. Now, who knows where I can find Sara?” I ask.

“She was up in her study the last time I saw her.”

“Thank you Johnny. I’ll see you guys later.”

“Bye!” a chorus of four voices calls after me as Chocolate and I head up the stairs.

* * *

“So what is really bothering you, sugar?”

“Its just…god! Everything!” I rest my head in my hands as I sit here and try to explain it to Sara. It’s silent for a while as I gather my thoughts, and she just waits quietly for what I have to say. “Since I first met Max he has been nothing but nice and sweet and there for me. I…I love him, and it scares me.”

“Sure love is scary, honey, but it’s also a great thing. Where would the world be without love, huh? You don’t find someone that special too often; don’t let him go.”

“I know he’s special. I mean, yeah… But Sara, it’s…god! I can’t even think clearly right now…maybe I shouldn’t have come!”

“No, sugar. I’m glad you came. You need to work through these things or else it’ll only get worse. Now here, why don’t you tell me about your grandma.”

“Well, I’ve told you about her before. She lives down in Winter Haven and I used to visit her all the time with my parents, it was so much fun. I loved to go down there and spend time with her. She was always supportive of anything I wanted to do. We used to sit and talk at night for hours…just about anything. I could always tell her anything, and she never judged me. She answered my questions, no matter what I asked.” God I miss her…

“It sounds like you really want to see her again.”

“Yeah, I guess I do.”

“Well then, why not take Max up on his offer to take you down there? Didn’t you say that your grandma wanted to see you too?”

“I know…but…”

“But what?” It’s quiet for a moment, I don’t know what to say now, I really don’t have an answer. “Have you been to see her since the accident?”

“No,” I mumble softly. I can just imagine her sitting there nodding her head at me knowingly. I feel her hand reach out and gently rub my shoulder.

“She won’t think any less of you, sugar. She loves you, and she always will. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will change that.”

“I guess I know that…”

“Is there anything else?” How does she always know?

“Well, yeah. He, Max also said he wants me to meet his parents.”

“Oh. Well if you really think you love him, then you’ll have to meet his parents some time.”

“I know.”

“And haven’t you told me how nice his sister is? Do you honestly think that his parents will be any different if they raised two kids like that?” Okay, so she’s right and I know it. “I’m not telling you what to do, you know I’ve never done that. But I will tell you what I think. I think that this Max sounds like a really great guy. I also think that you should visit your grandmother and you’ll be happy that you did. About Max’s family, well you two haven’t been together for too long, and I’m sure you are worried about them not accepting you. I’m sure if you tell him your fears he will understand and won’t press you. The two of you will have plenty of time to get to know each other’s family in the future. Don’t rush it all now if you aren’t ready for it Lizzie. But don’t let your fear stop you from living your life. I know I’ve told you that before, but it’s the best advice I’ve got. That’s what I’m always telling these kids.”

“Thanks Sara.” I wipe a few tears from my eyes. What she said makes a lot of sense. I’ll have to think about it. “You’re a great listener, and you always have the best advice.”

“That’s my business, sugar!” we both laugh…I suppose it is, I mean she’s always got kids around who need some good advice and a good influence, and that is all she’s ever been for me, and more.

We talk for a while about everything that has been going on around here. She is loosing two kids in a week. Two of the young ones, Carol and Tommy, are being adopted. I’m always happy to hear that some of her kids have found a good home. True, it’s sad for Sara to say goodbye, but they will be getting a family, and that is something special, something every child deserves, but not all get.

“So do you need a ride home?”

“Actually I ran into the 4 on my way up here to find you. I hear Steven has his license.”

“Oh yeah, he got it not that long ago. He was so excited, I even let him drive my car back here.”

“What a treat for him.”

“Yeah, well, I thought he deserved it. Besides now that I know he’s a good driver I can trust him going into town to get stuff for this place.”

“Ahh…forced labor, but it’s a treat because he gets to drive, I get it!”

“Yeah!”

“But I kinda told them that they could give me a ride back and I’d make dinner for them and everything, of course, if it’s alright with you.”

“Sure. I know how attached they are to you, even though they don’t get to see you too often. I hope you guys have fun. And next time you see Maria, give her a hug for me. I can’t believe she’s going to be getting married.”

“I know I’m so happy for her.”

“Well, you kids have fun, okay?”

“Thanks Sara. Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of your kids. I’ll try not to poison them!” We both laugh.

“Ahh, keep them!”

“Does that mean we get to keep the car too?”

“No! I change my mind, you can’t keep them if it means keeping my car!” She is too funny…purple car…and she’s so attached to it! Not that she’d really let me have the kids anyways.

* * *

TBC...
posted on 1-Mar-2002 9:08:41 PM by dancepixie
Okay, let me just start by saying once again how sorry I am that this took so incredibly long to get out. I'm having a very good happy day today cause I just found out that I got an A on my physics midterm! That is sooo amazing considering physics is usually the one subject that kicks my ⊕$$. Anyways, I'll try to be faster with the next part and get it up in the next few days cause I'm sure you'll all be very happy with it...but I won't tell you why yet*tongue* So enjoy, and just remember, I love feedback!*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 25

* * *

“So Lizzie, when do we get to meet Max? Will he be at your place?” Jaime always was inquisitive.

“No, sorry. He’s out of town, in New York for a few days.”

“Oh, but we will get to meet him soon, right?”

“Yeah, we have to make sure he’s okay for our Lizzie.” Johnny is so sweet. Why is it these kids are only 15 and 16 and they feel like they have to look after me too? I mean I’ve been helping watch out for them for the last ten years. Well, I guess that is what family does, watch out for one another. And these kids don’t have much family, all they have is Sara, Maria, me, and each other, but they seem to be doing more than okay.

“Thank you guys. It’s nice to know I have you four looking out for me,” I laugh. “But, I might think about bringing him with me to Sara’s party, so if you are all there, which you better be, you might just get to meet him then.”

“Cool!”

“So Lizzie, what’s for dinner?”

“Hmm…I don’t know. What would you guys like? Your choice. I can cook or we could go to Ria’s café.”

“Oh! Can we surprise Ria?”

“Of course. I don’t mind. It’s on the corner of Cedar and Iris. Do you know where that is Steven?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Good. When we get there, why don’t you guys let me go in first and distract her by making her come talk to me in the back booth and then you guys can sneak up on her. How does that sound?” I smile. This will get Maria good. She’ll never know it’s coming.

“Yeah!”

“Oh! I’m gonna grab her!” Steven makes me laugh.

“You just better make sure Michael doesn’t see you, he might get jealous of you grabbing her!” We all laugh and joke until we arrive at the café a few minutes later.

I get out of the car and they tell me I’m standing in front of the door of the bookshop. That means the café is two doors over, about twenty steps. I’m on my way. This will be too good…

* * *

“Hey Ria,” I call as I walk past the counter. I could hear her talking to a customer just to my left but I continue on to my booth.

“Just go ahead and sit in your booth, I’ll be there in a sec chica,” she calls back to me. I’m glad she said that. This is fun. I sit and get comfortable as Chocolate lies down at my feet under the table.

“So what’s up chica?” Maria asks as she sits across from me. Her back is to the door because I always sit on the side facing the door even though I don’t see anything I like sitting on this side because then the noises are always in front of me not behind me. It’s just one of those things, you know? I’m just more comfortable with the unknowns that lie before me as opposed to behind me; it’s the same way with people who aren’t blind from my experience.

I smile at her and we talk a little bit. I’m trying to pay attention to what she is saying, but I’m also listening for the kids. But I also don’t want to get her attention. Okay, I think I just heard them. Yeah, I hear more footsteps, trying to be quiet, coming this way. It’s got to be them.

“Gotcha!” Steven says and I’m guessing he grabbed Maria because she jumped, knocking the table a little and screaming really loud. Okay that definitely surprised her! Score!

“Oh my god! What are you kids doing here? You scared the hell out of me Steven! But it’s so good to see you! What do you think of my place?” Mara babbles as fast as she can.

“Calm down Ria!” they all laugh.

“Lizzie brought us,” Jaime informed her.

“Or, well we kinda brought Lizzie…” Johnny corrected his sister.

“Yeah, yeah… So what are you doing here though?”

“I had to talk to Sara so I got Isabel to take me out there, and the kids offered to give me a ride home.”

“You got your license Steven? Congratulations! I suppose this calls for a celebration. What can I get you guys?”

“Pie!” the kids all say at once. They’ve had Michael’s pie before, we’ve brought some out to Sara’s place a couple times, and as always, everyone loves it.

“You got it, coming right up. Let me just go grab Michael. He was about to take a break anyways.”

We all sit and talk for a long time and before I know it, it’s seven. How on earth did it get so late? I don’t know. Like they say, time flies when you’re having fun. But who is the ‘they’ that says all these things? Have you ever wondered that? Nevermind…

* * *

“Yes, don’t worry! They got home fine Liz.”

“I just thought I’d call this morning to make sure.” I’m sitting in my favorite chair in my living room with a cup of coffee beside me, and the phone up to my ear talking to Sara.

“They are fine, now how are you?”

“Better. A little after I got home last night Max called. We talked for a while about things. I asked him to come with me to your party so that he could meet you and all the kids.”

“Well I can’t wait to meet him honey. You know that Steven and Johnny are going to give him a hard time making sure that he’s right for their Lizzie, don’t you?”

“Those two…yeah, they were all sorry that he was out of town so they didn’t get to meet him last night. I think it’s really cute that they are protective of me, but Sara, I’m a big girl now! I can handle myself! I don’t need four teenagers telling me who I can date,” I laugh. I love those kids sure, but they can be a little over the top.

“They know that, they just don’t want to see you get hurt is all. They don’t want to lose you from their life. They’ve had enough people leave them in their short lives. They are attached to you and don’t want to lose you, that’s all.” I know what she’s trying to say. They want me to be happy and not get hurt, but they’re also afraid of losing me at the same time. But none of that will ever happen. I love those kids and they will never, ever lose me.

“Thanks Sara, for everything. I should go. I just called to make sure they got home alright last night. But I’ll see you at your party.”

“Okay, take care Liz, and think about everything I told you yesterday.”

“I will, thanks.”

I hang up the phone and sit there for a few minutes. I remember my conversation with Max last night. He’ll be back in two days and I can’t wait; I’ve been missing him for over a week now. Sure we talk every night, but I still miss him.

I never knew what love was till I met him, sad as that may seem. But I’m talking about true love. I’ve always had the love of my parents and close friends, but with Max it’s different than all that.

I keep thinking back to the night before he left and how we said goodbye to one another. If he hadn’t stopped us I’m sure we would have ended up in my bed that night. Max in my bed…just the thought gives me goose bumps. Once upon a time I was afraid of getting close to people who weren’t already in my circle of friends, and now look at me, dying to have a man in my bed. Not just any man though, only my Max. My Max…I just love the sound of that.

* * *

TBC...
posted on 3-Mar-2002 7:51:35 PM by dancepixie
Here you all go! I'm sure this part willl make you all a little happy. I mean you gotta love the M/L mushiness, right?*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 26

* * *

So I spent all day yesterday just thinking. I lay in bed with Chocolate beside me and I talked to her. She makes the best listener sometimes. After all, she is my constant companion; she knows all there is to know about me. Hearing my own thoughts out loud just helps me to think.

Now when Max gets back tomorrow I’m going to tell him that I want to go down to Winter Haven with him. I’m dying to be with grandma Claudia again. I really miss her. And I want her to meet Max because he is the most important person in my life right now. And nervous as I am about it, I want to meet his parents too. He’s told me that they are great and maybe they’ll tell me the embarrassing stories that Isabel has hinted at that Max has so far refused to tell me.

I’ve changed so much lately…Max has changed me. At first I was afraid, but I think I’m accepting everything now. I can’t wait for him to get back. Is it really normal to miss someone so much?

I’ve talked to Isabel and tomorrow she’s going to pick me up and we are going to meet the team at the airport together. Isabel is such a caring person and we’ve had a lot of fun getting to know one another. Mondays and Fridays we bring the girls to the library and sometimes we stay and listen but a lot of times we go outside and get some coffee and talk.

Maria has recruited Isabel’s help in getting me out of the house and the two of them have taken to kidnapping me, and sometimes Tess comes too, and we go to the mall. Okay I used to enjoy shopping, but its not as fun anymore as it used to be. I mean, you try shopping sometime with a blindfold on. Not very productive, huh? Well, so I do have my friends there, and they usually pick out all my clothes anyways. I feel kinda like a Barbie doll, you know? Oh well. But we do have fun.

What was that? I thought I heard something. Chocolate is still here at my side, maybe I just imagined it, I don’t know.

“Did you just hear that, girl? Or am I imagining things again?” I ruffle her head and she gives me kisses. She always seems to know when I need comfort of any sort. “Thanks girl. I guess it just gets lonely in here and when I hear anything I want it to be someone visiting me. Just my imagination I suppose.”

“Or maybe not,” I hear a smooth voice coming from my bedroom doorway. Oh my god!

“Max?!” I ask, knowing very well that it is him. I jump up off my bed and run to him. I feel his arms wrap around me as he catches me and his lips find mine. God I’ve missed him! The kiss is hard and passionate. I’ve waited well over a week for this. A groan escapes his mouth as my arms wrap around his neck pulling him even closer to me.

When we break apart for air he pulls me close against his chest, and I rest my head on his shoulder.

“Max? What are you doing back? You weren’t supposed to be back until tomorrow!”

“I couldn’t wait. The game was over at two and afterward I just had to get back here.” This is so amazing, I feel like I’m falling, and falling, and falling… It’s exhilarating. He speaks softly and lightly kisses the top of my head. I am so loving this right now. I never want to move. If life were frozen like this forever I would always be happy.

* * *

A while later we are sitting on my bed cuddled up together talking. No, nothing happened, we are just holding each other, cuddling.

“Are you sure that you want to go this weekend?” he asks me softly.

“Yeah. I mean I was scared at first, but I’ve been thinking about a lot of things in the last few days. I realize now that I need to go see her. It’s been way too long,” I tell him. I’m leaning up against his chest and he’s sitting against the headboard of my bed. One of his hands is idly brushing through my hair while the other draws lazy circles on my leg. Can I just say right now how hard it is to focus with his hands on me? But it feels so wonderful I never want him to stop. “And I can’t wait for you to meet her.”

“Are you sure? I mean, we can always do that some other time…”

“No Max. I want you to meet her, honest. Besides, I think she’ll love you. I know I do, and that’s all that really matters anyway, right?”

“I love you,” he whispers in my ear. His breath on my skin gives me the shivers and I can’t stop myself from turning around in his arms and kissing him. He is so perfect, so amazing. I hear myself moaning as his lips move down my cheek and neck in a trail of hot kisses. I feel him stop when he reaches my shoulder but I don’t want him to stop, it feels too good. Reaching down I lean back a little and pull my shirt over my head. That’s much better.

“Liz.” His hands are holding me out. Why won’t he let me kiss him? I just want to kiss him, feel him touching me, kissing me…

“Kiss me Max,” I sound desperate.

“Are you sure?”

Would I have said it if I didn’t mean it? But that’s too mean; I wouldn’t say that to him. Instead I nod my head as I hold his face in my hands. When he is worried he gets these crinkles in his forehead, but I can feel those going away now after my response. Good. I bring his lips up to mine and initiate a kiss, slow and tender.

At some point he took off his shirt too. God, he has incredible muscles that I can feel just leaning against his bare skin. And oh yes does this boy have a six-pack. Playing baseball has certainly done this boy some good, I can tell you that!

Max’s touch is gentle as he caresses and explores my skin. I just want to lose control and attack him but somehow, I know that I need to keep hold of it. We aren’t ready for that step yet. Yes I love him, but we still need time.

* * *

“Morning beautiful.” That sweet voice is the first thing I hear when I wake up the next morning.

“Mmmm…” I stretch, snuggling up in his arms, feeling his bare chest against my skin.

“Did you sleep well?” Does he even have to ask that? I got to sleep in his arms; of course I slept well! If only every day could be like this, I’d never have a bad night’s rest.

“Mmhmm,” I nod my head and mumble out a reply as I place feather light kisses on his chest.

“Not much of a morning person, huh?” he’s laughing at me, but I don’t care. He can do whatever he wants. Besides, I’m not really much of a morning person I suppose…not since before. It’s hard to be a morning person when your world is perpetually dark, you know? I never know when its morning without relying one of my clocks.

“So what did you have planned to do today?” he asks me.

“Mmm…well Isabel and I were going to surprise you at the airport, but I suppose that’s kinda out of the question now…” but really that’s okay because this is so much better!

“Really? You were going to go to the airport with my sister?” He seems surprised to hear that.

“Yeah. I missed you. I wanted to be there as soon as you got back. We thought it would be a big surprise for you and all, but you gave me an even bigger surprise last night.” I smile at the memory of him last night. What did I do to deserve this man? I must have been one very good girl I suppose!

“Well thank you.”

“For what Max?”

“For being willing to leave your safety net just for me. I know that it’s hard for you sometimes to go to places that are so crowded with people. So, thank you for thinking that I’m worth it.”

“Max you will always be worth it. Always,” I tell him sincerely. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart. “I love you.”

“I love you too Lizzie.” He places a kiss on my forehead and then moves me over a little and props me up against the pillows on my bed. Did it just get colder in here? I just lost my Max blanket… “How about I go and make us some breakfast?” Gees, I just can’t stop myself from smiling when I’m around this guy. He just has this effect on me.

“Mmm…sounds wonderful.”

“Good. You can just stay there if you want and I’ll bring you breakfast in bed.” How sweet is that? I listen to him walk out to the kitchen and start rustling with things.

“Hey girl! You gonna help me make some breakfast?” I hear him say. Chocolate must be out there. She gives a little bark. She must want her food. I suppose I should get up and feed her. “What is it? Do you want your food? Well show me where it is.” Oh, that’s so cute. I guess I might not have to get up after all. I hear him pour some food into Chocolate’s bowl. Okay, so I don’t have to do that. Maybe I’ll just take a shower. That sounds good.

* * *

TBC...


Hehehe, now raise your hand if you'd like a max blanket!!! I wouldn't mind!
*bounce**bounce**bounce*
posted on 19-Apr-2002 4:50:42 PM by dancepixie
Okay guys, I'm really sorryabout kinda neglecting this story. I've gotten to this point and I've got a really bad case of writers block...sorry. But I do still have a couple more parts left for you, so I'll try to get them out and not keep neglecting this. And hopefully by the time I catch up to myself I'll be back to writing.

I'll post the next part a little later, I have to proof it first, but that shouldn't take too long. Thanks for sticking with me.

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 19-Apr-2002 5:11:26 PM by dancepixie
Okay, so this is a really short part, I'm sorry. But it was a good break. I'll post more soon, and really, I mean it this time!*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 27

* * *

“So wait, let me get this straight. My brother is over at your place right now?”

“Yeah. He took a plane last night as soon as the game was over and surprised me. He didn’t even knock on the door, he just snuck in and shocked the hell out of me.”

“Well I guess that means I won’t be picking you up in an hour to go to the airport?” Isabel asks me over the phone.

“I guess not.”

“So where is my dear brother now?”

“He’s still here, actually. He just made me breakfast.” Yeah, and now he’s in the shower, but she really doesn’t need to know that because she’ll only jump to conclusions, false conclusions.

“Really?” Uh-oh, I know that tone of voice.

“Nothing happened Isabel, I swear.”

“Too bad then.”

“Izzie!” I can’t believe she just said that.

“Okay, I’ll stop. Tell my brother I said hi and he better stop by some time. Katie really misses him.”

“Sure, I’ll be sure to let him know.”

“Actually, why don’t you both come over for dinner?”

“Umm…sure. That sounds great Isabel.”

I get off the phone with Isabel and walk out into the living room.

“Ahhh! Shit!” What the hell was that? There usually isn’t anything right there. Damn that hurts!

“Liz, are you alright?” he calls from my bedroom where I guess he must have just gotten out of the shower. Do I sound alright Max?

“Yeah. I just ran into something. What is this, anyway?” I make it to the couch and sit down cradling my right foot. I stubbed my toes really good this time.

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I set my bag down out here last night and forgot about it. I’m so sorry baby.” His arms are gently massaging my back.

“Max, I know you’re sorry, you just have to realize what it’s like to live the way I do. I mean, I thought you understood, but I guess not. Everything has a specific place, and if its not there, then I can’t find it. Do you get that? I mean my world depends on something entirely different from yours. You see with your eyes, I see with my mind, my memories. When things aren’t where they should be I can’t find them, or I crash into them, and I get hurt.”

“I have realized that Liz, and I couldn’t be any more sorry. I was just so excited about seeing you. I asked Mrs. Cortez if I could use her key to get in just so that I could surprise you. I set my stuff down without thinking and headed towards your bedroom because I heard your voice. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t wait to see you again. I missed you.”

“Oh, Max!” That’s so sweet. How could I possibly stay mad at him after he tells me something like that? Exactly, I can’t. “Did you really ask Mrs. Cortez for the key? I was wondering how you got in…”

“So, are we okay? You aren’t mad at me?” I can hear the puppy-dog-face in his voice as he sits beside me on the couch and takes my sore foot into his hand. I didn’t hurt it that bad, it’s just my toes.

“Of course not. Just promise to be more careful?” I ask.

“I promise,” he’s massaging my foot and it just feels so good.

“I just…get carried away sometimes, I’m sorry for yelling at y…yo…you,” I stutter to get it all out. God, he’s kissing my toes. Does he know what he does to me? After he kisses each toe in turn he places my leg across his lap. Wait a minute…is that a towel? Oh my goodness. He came out here in just a towel…

“What do you say we stop being sorry about everything?” His voice is like silk against my ear and I can’t help but turn my head towards him in hopes of finding his lips. I’m not disappointed. His kiss is like honey, sweet and tempting. I kiss him back and squeeze closer to him. His bare skin is driving me wild. It’s so smooth and his muscles are so well defined. I can feel them ripple beneath my touch.

His hands are on my face, in my hair, on my back holding me close…closer…

Woof! Woof!

Sure, leave it to Chocolate, my dear sweet puppy, to ruin the moment. I sigh against Max’s lips as I pull away to see what’s wrong with her. You know, having a dog can be just like having a baby around the house; they demand all of your time and attention.

“What is it Chocolate?” I ask her as I take a minute to just breathe. She keeps whining and I hear her heading for the door. “Is someone here girl?” I’ll take that whimper as a yes.

“I better go finish getting dressed,” Max tells me as we both stand up. He leaves me with a lingering kiss and I hear him grab his bag on the way to the bedroom. At least I won’t trip on it anymore.

“Chica? Hey, you there?” It’s Maria.

“I’m in the living room Ria.”

“Hey chica. Just thought I’d come by and see what you were up to. I know you’re going to the airport in a little bit, but I haven’t seen you since you brought the four kids to the café the other day. I had to say hi and see what you’re up to.”

“Well, actually I’m not going to the airport today,” I tell her. She’s now sitting on the other end of the couch and Chocolate is sitting at her feet, tail wagging, enjoying the new attention.

“What? Come on Liz, don’t back out. Just go. I promise you’ll be glad you did. Besides, aren’t you anxious to see Max again?” It is so hard not to laugh at this because I know that Max is in my bedroom right now getting dressed.

“Ria, I’m not going cause Max is already here. He took a plane last night, and yes, I was very anxious to see him, but he’s the one who ended up surprising me.” I know I have the biggest smile on my face right now, but I don’t care. Max loves me and came back early just to see me. It’s a great feeling to love and be loved.

“Oh…okay. Wait a minute, he surprised you? Oh!!!” Gees, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to hear again; she can squeal way too loud. “Tell me all about it!” I have to laugh at her excitement.

“Later Ria.”

“But…”

“I promise, later,” I assure her. I know Max is just in the other room.

“Hello Maria.” Speaking of Max, there he is now. I can’t help but smile though. It’s incredible how much he has taken over my life in the time that I’ve known him.

“Max!” That definitely surprised her I’d say.

We talk for a while until Maria says she had better get to the café. When we are alone again I tell Max about Isabel’s phone call and so we head over to Isabel and Alex’s.

* * *

“So Max, you said you were going down to see mom and dad this weekend, right?”

“Yeah. Did you need me to bring them something?”

“Actually, since you’re going down there you get to nose around for what we should get them for Christmas.”

“But Izzie, you know I’m not good at that!” How cute is that! Max is whining. He’s so cute.

“Come on Max. It’s not that hard to do.”

“I’m just not good at being subtle. That’s always been your job. Come on Izzie.” I’m trying so hard not to laugh at the two of them. I guess what they say about brothers and sisters squabbling over nothing is true.

“Fine. You’re going with him, right Liz?”

“Umm…yeah.”

“Well if you hear anything about what you think my parents might like for Christmas would you let me know? My brother is completely useless!” Now I am laughing, I just can’t help it. All of my reservations about meeting Max and Isabel’s parents are gone now.

“Sure, I’ll try my best.” What can I say, I’m good at reading into things. I’m sure I’ll have something to tell Isabel when we get back.

“Thanks. And don’t worry, my parents will love you!”

* * *

TBC...
posted on 21-Apr-2002 1:11:49 AM by dancepixie
Okay, well since the last part was so short and I hadn't posted in over six weeks...(nikki hides her face in shame)...I'm still sorry about that by the way. Anyways, I thought you deserved another much longer part! I hope you like it, and thank you for sticking with this story all of you lovely people!

Oh yes, and before I forget, just to clarify, someone brought it to my attention that maybe I didn't make it clear where Grandma Claudia lives. Grandma Claudia, and Max's parents live in Winter Haven, Florida. Not Colorado. Sorry if you were confused by that. Thanks for bringing that to my attention Jess!

Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 28

* * *

“Mmm…we really should…mmm…get back on the road…mmm…” God this feels so good. I know we should be going…but I just can’t keep my hands off of him!

Woof! Woof!

Ugh! Chocolate, we really need to work on your timing here puppy!

“I guess she agrees with you!” Max laughs, so I start laughing too. It is kinda funny I suppose.

So where are we, you ask? Well, we are on our way to Winter Haven. We just stopped to get gas and when Max got back in the car he gave me a kiss and…well I guess it just got a little out of hand. But Chocolate put a stop to that.

I’m really glad everyone tried their best to get me to go see grandma…I really do miss her.

I’m excited about seeing her again.

You know its funny. Things like that just sort of slip out, common everyday phrases that aren’t taken literally, necessarily until it is the impossible. Most of the time if you say you are going to see someone again you mean you are going somewhere with them, spending time with them, but you say seeing. Now, I want to say that I’m finally going to go see grandma Claudia again, but I’m not going to see her. I’m going to talk to her and listen to her and enjoy her company, but the only thing I won’t be doing is seeing her.

Funny how things work out like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter about my situation. I hope you would have figured that out by now. I just think there are many ironies in the world, and I seem to be discovering more each and every day.

“Hey, are you awake over there?”

“Huh?” Woops, I must have zoned out. I was too busy thinking about all the things I have to tell grandma that I didn’t even hear Max. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay. I was just wondering if you were hungry. It’s lunchtime and we’re getting close to a town if you want to stop and get some food.”

Food sounds really good right now. I couldn’t really eat anything for breakfast; I was nervous about this whole trip, that is up until Max and I got in the car, since then I’ve been excited.

Woof! Woof!

We both start laughing.

“I think Chocolate’s reading my mind again. Lunch sounds great.”

* * *

We’re still not in Winter Haven yet. Max says it’s only about another hour or so.

I can’t help the giggles that keep coming as I remember the last hour. What happened, you ask? Well we had lunch at some little café and we just left Chocolate in the car. I held onto Max’s arm the short distance to our table. But all throughout our lunch, I could hear Chocolate whimpering from the car since we were sitting at a table outside. Max told me that she was sitting in the drivers seat with her head lowered, resting on the steering wheel as she whined and just stared at us. That dog is just too much sometimes.

So I suggested that we give her some of her food in one of the little bowls I brought and he complained at first. Why did he even think that I wanted him to feed her in the car? No, she could eat outside! Men!

So he tied her leash to a pole and gave her food while we ate our own. When lunch was over we got back in the car and the first thing Max did was lean over and kiss me. Well…it kind of got a little out of control, and what happened next? Chocolate interrupted again! Go figure. That dog has the worst timing.

I’m wondering now if she is like getting jealous of the time Max and I spend together or what. But it was really funny because she didn’t just bark, she stood up in the back seat and leaned forward enough to start licking Max’s face! It was so funny. He freaked out and I wasn’t completely sure what happened, but I had an idea from what I had heard. I think that is one memory Max won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

* * *

“Lizzie!” Now that I hear that voice I wonder why I haven’t come sooner. Just knowing that I’m not hearing her voice through hundreds of miles of telephone cords, that she’s actually here, coming closer towards me at this moment…within touching distance…god I missed her!

“Grandma!” I smile as I say that, remembering all the wonderful times I’ve spent in this place. It really is great to be back here. She takes two more steps and I’m swept up into her arms in a giant hug. There is just something about hugging your grandmother when you haven’t seen her in so long. Maybe it’s the idea that I don’t know how much longer she will be with me…and I love her so much…I never want to forget this moment, ever!

“Oh, honeybear I missed you so much!” she says as she lets go of me. “This must be Chocolate!” Grandma’s a big animal person too. She grew up with lots of pets and always tried to help me convince mom and dad that I should have a dog when I was younger, but they didn’t buy into it so easily. But I think Chocolate now has one more person who will spoil her rotten…like there isn’t enough of us as it is!

“Yes, this is Chocolate, the sly little beggar.” Chocolate whimpers a little at that and I laugh. I still don’t know how she knows…she just knows when I say something about her. I love this dog. I feel a pair of eyes on me from the side and then it hits me. I almost forgot about Max. I don’t know how I could do that, but I did. I smile to my right side, I heard him there a moment ago, I hope he sees me. Yes, he must have because he’s now standing by my side with his hand gently caressing the small of my back. “And this is Max. Max, this is my grandma, Claudia Parker.”

“It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Parker.” Max is such a charmer.

“Oh please, just call me grandma. Mrs. Parker lives out in New Mexico with my son,” grandma laughs. She always was a simple woman; no formalities.

“Okay, it’s nice to meet you grandma.”

“That’s much better,” she laughs. “And thank you Max for bringing my granddaughter down to see me. I was beginning to wonder when I’d ever get to see her again.” The words sting for a minute…but I should be used to this, right? I mean, it’s just normal everyday speech, so why should it bother me so much? It just does, no explanation needed.

“Well, I figured since I was coming down here anyway to visit my parents, I might as well bring Liz down with me. She’s been talking about how much she misses you and I just want to make her happy.” That is so sweet! Every time I think he’s done or said something so amazing, he just goes and tops it. The fluttering is back in my stomach, but it’s not nerves anymore. No, I’m here and I’m glad I’m here now. No, now it’s because of Max…because he’s just so incredible and I must have gotten really lucky to have him in my life like he is.

“Well I’m thankful. Why don’t you kids come in the house? I set up your old room for you Lizzie. Just like it always was…but if you need anything…or want anything…”

“Grandma! It’s okay, really. I’ll be fine. As long as Chocolate is with me, I’m fine. And besides, I spent so much time here growing up and nothing ever changed. I think I can handle this.” It’s nice to know she cares and worries though.

“Okay. But if you need anything, or can’t find something…”

“I know I can just yell and you’ll come running,” I laugh and they join me. It’s like old times with grandma, only not. I don’t get to see her loving smile and her big brown eyes that always seem to have all the answers, yet she keeps them hidden and makes me find out on my own… It’s kinda funny now that I think about it. When I was little, dad used to tell me how much I looked like grandma. He always said I had her eyes, and her hair…but now, there is no way I have her eyes now…I mean, I don’t know what they look like anymore, but they have to be screwed up…they’ve got to be. Dead.

“So Max, will you stay for dinner?” grandma’s asking him.

“Umm…I don’t know. I told my parents I’d probably be there sometime tonight because Liz and I weren’t too sure when we would be leaving.”

“Well you are more than welcome to join us. I’d love to get to know you a little better. After all, you are the reason she’s here with me right now.”

“Thank you grandma. I’d love to stay for dinner.”

“Then it’s settled.”

* * *

“Liz, if you don’t want me to stay, I don’t have to. I could just say that my parents are expecting me,” Max says as we walk to my bedroom. He’s carrying my suitcase while I have a hold of Chocolate’s leash. So far it seems like everything is pretty much the same. It’s amazing how much you can remember if you really try. I remember just how this place looked, and it still smells the same, like grandma, peppermint and sweet peas. Grandma loves sweet peas; they’re her favorite flower.

“No, Max, it’s alright. I want you to stay. I think grandma likes you.”

“Well, I like her too.”

I can’t help but smile. I’m glad that he likes her. And I don’t want him to leave me right now. No matter how much I say I’m comfortable here, I don’t know how much I will be when he leaves, and if he doesn’t have to leave right now, well then I don’t want him to.

I find my bed and sit down.

“I’m going to set your bag down over here on the left side of the dresser, okay?” Max tells me. He’s so sweet, a great help.

“Thank you, now come sit by me?” I ask. I just want to feel his arm around me right now… He doesn’t disappoint me. I feel the bed shift a little as he comes up beside me, and now the too familiar feel of his lips on mine and I’m in heaven.

“Hey, what’s wrong? Are you alright?” I take a deep breath before I answer him.

“I’m fine, it’s just weird being back here right now…I mean, I can remember what everything used to look like, and I wonder if it’s still the same, or how it’s changed. I wonder if grandma’s kitchen is still as sparkling clean as it always was. If her walls are still cluttered with pictures of me when I was little, and my parents, and even a few of her and my grandfather. I want to see how she has changed, because I still see her as she was when I was little…and maybe I don’t want her to change at all…I don’t know…”

“Hey, it’s okay to cry you know.” Mmm…I love the way he’s just rubbing my back…I could just fall asleep and let him do this forever… And his voice is just so calming. I find myself leaning back into him more and more. “Why don’t you lay down?” I hear his calm voice whispering in my ear and can’t help but comply. I roll over so I’m lying on my stomach and I feel his arms gently massaging my shoulders. All my thoughts just melt away as his magic hands let me drift off to sleep carefree…

* * *

“So Max, tell me a little about yourself.”

“Well, I grew up down here. My parent’s house is about a mile from here, actually.”

“Yes, Lizzie told me that. She also mentioned that you have a sister.”

“Yeah, her name is Isabel. She’s married to my best friend and they have a daughter that’s the same age as a little girl that lives across from Liz in the apartment building.”

“Ahh, little April, yes, I’ve heard lots about her.”

“Yeah, April and my niece Katie have become great friends it seems. Anytime I’m watching Katie she always wants to go see what April and Liz are up to,” he gives a little laugh like he’s remembering some funny moment.

“So how did you and my Lizzie meet?”

“Well, that was kind of interesting… You know her friends Maria and Michael, right?”

“Oh yes, I know them very well,” she laughs.

“Well I was in Europe for a short vacation and to run an errand for my father when I ran into Michael and Maria at a restaurant. Michael’s a baseball fan so we talked and when he got back to the states he invited me to dinner at his place. Apparently Maria likes to play matchmaker because she invited Liz over to dinner that night as well. I think she got scared because she didn’t come down at dinner. But when I first saw her come down those back stairs and heard her voice for the first time, I was in heaven. She was just so perfect. The three of us had been downstairs talking when Chocolate came down and I guess Liz came down after her. But I had no clue at the time what it was that made Liz so different, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to get to know her. She was just so amazing.”

“That’s very sweet Max,” the sincerity in her voice is apparent.

“It wasn’t easy to get her to trust me though. I don’t remember when I figured out that Liz was blind, but it didn’t matter to me. It’s been hard spending time with her and getting her to open up with my travel schedule, but I love her and I’ll do anything for her.”

“I’m glad to hear it Max, I really am. I think you are just what my granddaughter has needed in her life. And I thank you for bringing her to me.”

“You are more than welcome grandma.”

* * *

I am frozen in the hall pondering this conversation that I just heard. The way Max just said he loves me like it’s second nature to him…like he was born to love me or something…it blows me away. I knew he cared about me, and I’ve said I love him and he’s said he loves me…but this was so…special. I’m happy that grandma likes him, though I knew she would.

But you know it’s kind of odd having overheard a conversation about you, and then having to pretend that you haven’t heard it…I don’t know. Maybe I’m just rambling now about nothing.

Okay, I’m going to go in their now…I mean, I just woke up from my little nap and Max and grandma are making dinner while I’m standing in the hall and I’m tired of standing…

“Hey beautiful,” I can hear the smile in Max’s voice from here.

“Did you have a nice nap, honeybear?” grandma asks me.

“Yeah, thanks grandma. I guess the drive down here wore me out. I just needed to rest.”

“That’s okay honey. Max and I were just getting to know each other a little better. Weren’t we Max?”

“Yep.”

I’m still standing in the doorway because I’m not sure if there are any chairs or anything in my way. Chocolate has been down here with them; I guess when I fell asleep she came down with Max. It’s okay, I don’t mind, it just makes me a little bit more hesitant to move around freely.

“Come here,” Max takes my hand in his and pulls me close. He wraps his arms around my waist giving me a hug and a sweet kiss on the forehead.

“So Lizzie, how are Michael and Maria doing?”

“They’re great actually. Maria is ecstatic. I don’t think she’s been this happy in a long time. She told you about her engagement, right?” I’m pretty sure grandma knows about this…

“Oh yes. When she first told me I almost couldn’t understand what she was saying, she was talking a mile a minute!” We all laugh, yes that’s Maria.

“Well, she and Michael are just perfect. I haven’t seen them any happier. And Maria is keeping busy with the café. It’s really become pretty popular.”

“Well I’m happy for them that things are working out. I’ve been wondering for a long time when Michael would finally ask her to marry her. Goodness, they’ve been living together since college!” I have to laugh because a lot of older people think it’s bad for a couple to live together before they are married, but not my grandma…I love her!

* * *

“Grandma, that was delicious,” Max says after dinner. It’s so sweet how he’s just taken to calling her grandma. And she seems to be enjoying it too.

“I completely agree. I think I had forgotten what made your food so much better than anything else…but now I remember. It’s grandma’s magic touch. Everything is always better here,” I laugh. It has always been a joke with me and grandma; everything is always better at her house…always.

“Why thank you,” she laughs. Max helps her bring the dishes into the kitchen and neither one of them will let me help. I’m not completely helpless! Oh well, they mean well. The three of us go out into the living room with Chocolate at my heels.

“I should probably be going,” Max whispers in my ear placing a kiss at my temple.

“Do you have to?” I pout.

“Well, since I did come down to spend some time with my parents, I think they might be upset if I completely forgot about them. Besides, my sister might be angry if I don’t do any nosing around for her.”

“Oh, I suppose,” I huff, and all he does is laugh.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, I promise. Besides, my parents would like me to invite you to dinner. And you are welcome to come too grandma.” That’s sweet that he’s inviting grandma to dinner with his parents too. I guess they really did bond while I was napping. How cute is that?

“Well thank you Max. I’m sorry, every Saturday night is my bingo night down at the church with the girls,” she laughs. I think it’s cute that she and her friends get together and do that every week. I wonder if Maria and I’ll be like that when we get to be that old? “But you and Lizzie have some fun, huh? It was a pleasure to meet you Max. I hope to see you again soon.” Grandma gives him a hug and then I feel her hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be in my room if you need anything Lizzie.”

“Alright grandma,” I assure her. So Max and I are alone now, but he’s leaving me. I miss him already.

“I love you,” his whispered breath caresses my lips, sending shivers up and down my spine. It’s amazing this affect he has on me; the complete and utter control he has over my body.

* * *

“Goodnight Grandma,” I say as I sit in bed brushing out my hair before laying down. Chocolate is lying beside me, already fast asleep.

“Goodnight Honeybear. I thought I’d check and see if you needed anything before I went to bed.”

“No I’m good,” I smile as I finish putting a braid in my hair to keep it back.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she says. I had a feeling she wanted to talk to me, and I think I surprised her by calling out to her. It usually takes people a little while to get used to how much I can sense when they know that I’m blind. Now she’s sitting on the end of my bed and I feel like I’m twelve years old again, visiting grandma and staying up late to ask her questions and tell her all sorts of stories. “I’ve missed our talks.”

“Me too grandma, me too.”

“So you really like this Max?”

“Yeah, I really do,” I sigh. “How did you know that grandpa was the one?”

“Well honeybear, I guess you could say he just blew me away. The first time I met you grandfather was in college. I was an archaeology student and he was a TA for one of my history classes. But the first time I saw him he literally knocked me off my feet. I was in a hurry to get to class cause my alarm didn’t go off that morning and I was running up the stairs to the lecture hall when I found myself falling back down them.”

“Oh, but he stopped and helped you right?”

“Yes. He helped me back up and proceeded to tell me how clumsy I was and how I should be more careful. He made me so mad!”

“That’s terrible!” I can’t help but laugh though. I mean, grandpa always seemed like such a sweet old man; I can’t imagine him doing something like that. I wonder why grandma never told me this story before…

“Well when I went to my discussion the next day, and he was my TA, oh that just hit the nail on the head…he recognized me too. In that class he would bring up things and the two of us would go back and forth, I always had an argument against whatever he said. It’s actually kinda funny now that I think back on it. He just made me so mad! Before the final I went into his office hours to ask him about a few things and he actually apologized to me for being so obnoxious all the time in discussion, and for picking on me. And we were together ever since…” Grandma was lucky to have found someone who loved her so much. I still remember grandpa, but not that well. He died when I was ten years old. But I still remember what it felt like to hug him and helping him pick some flowers for grandma from the garden. I was his special helper when it came to things like that.

“Do you miss grandpa a lot?” I can’t help but voice the question.

“Sometimes. I remember all the good times we had together and sometimes I do wish he were still here with me, but I just try to remember that he’s still a part of me and always will be in my heart forever.”

“Mmm…I like that.”

“So do you think Max might just be your special someone?”

“Yeah. Ever since I met him, grandma, it’s been nothing but magical. I mean, I’ve never felt like this before. He makes me feel so special, like I’m normal. I know I’m normal, but…well you know what I mean. He just makes me forget about things sometimes, like real life. He doesn’t care about the fact that I’m blind. He doesn’t care that I have issues with crowds and new places…he loves me…”

“I know honeybear. I’ve seen the way you two are together. And I’ve seen this look that he gets in his eyes the moment you come into the room…it’s like the sun is all of a sudden shining in his face when he sees you. I think you’re as good for him as he is for you. Cause you have changed honey, and I’m glad. On the phone you used to sound so sad and distant…but now…now you are so full of life and exuberance.”

I smile at her words. I suppose we are good for each other…I never really thought of it that way. I always thought he was good for me, but I felt like I was just bringing him down, that he could do so much better. But she makes sense, she always does.

“Well, goodnight honeybear, sleep well!” Grandma kisses my forehead and heads to the door, leaving it open for me because that’s how I like to sleep.

“Night grandma,” I whisper.

* * *

I’m about to get into bed when I hear my cell phone ringing…where did I set my purse again? Oh yeah…on top of the dresser. Here it is, victory, I found it! I know, I’m just too happy about finding the stupid phone, whatever.

“Hello?”

“I just had to call and say goodnight one last time.” I can’t help the smile that crosses my face at the sound of his velvety voice. I walk back over to my old bed and pull the sheets down and make myself comfortable with pillows propping me up so that I can talk to Max for a while.

“Mmm…I miss you,” I tell him. How is it that I can miss him after less than an hour? I mean, he just left here maybe half an hour ago…yet I do.

“Me too. My parents are anxious to meet you tomorrow. Mom can’t believe that I actually have a girl friend,” he laughs. I like the sound of his laugh…but its so much better in person, the phone lines don’t do it justice.

“What time are you picking me up then?”

“Well, what plans do you have?”

“Nothing. Grandma was just happy to be seeing me. There isn’t anything specific we had planned. It’s just nice to spend some time with her, you know?”

“Yeah. She’s a great person Liz, and she loves you very much.”

“I know, and I love her too. I missed her so much. Thank you for making me come down here Max. I was just scared and so I kept putting it off…and I never had anything to worry about really.”

“Well I’m glad I could help. I like your grandma, she’s great.”

“Yeah, I think she likes you too. Thank you for being so nice to her while I was sleeping…”

“Huh?”

“Well I came downstairs and I heard you talking…it was very sweet of you Max.”

“I didn’t know you were listening…”

“That was the point…But you didn’t answer my question.”

“I don’t know. Mom says that you are welcome anytime.”

“Hmm…Max?”

“Yeah?”

“Are your parents going to like me?” Okay, so I’m still kinda nervous about this whole meeting his parents thing. I mean…what do they know about me? What are they going to think about me when we do meet? When they see me?

“What’s wrong Liz? Of course they’re going to like you. Where is this coming from?”

“I don’t know…I just…” I take a deep breath and focus my thoughts before I tell him my worries. “What do your parents know about me?” There, I said it. I can hear him breathing on the other end of the line, but other than that, it’s quiet for a minute.

“They know you’re blind if that’s what you mean. Yes, I told them that. And they know how much you mean to me, how good a friend you’ve been to Izzie, and how much Katie loves you.”

“I’m sorry Max…”

“No, it’s alright to be scared Liz, but you don’t have to be. So what if my parent’s didn’t like you anyways.” What?! What is he saying? “I know they will, but even if they didn’t, that wouldn’t change how I feel about you. I love you Liz. And no matter what happens, I will still be right here…the same person you’ve always known.” Okay…now I feel better. I feel silly for the way I was acting before.

“I love you too Max,” I sigh and lay my head back on my pillow, closing my eyes.

“Sleep well, Liz. I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Goodnight Max. I love you.”

“I love you too, Liz Parker.”

I hang up the phone and set it on the night stand that sits beside the bed, against the wall. Max is too good for me. Whatever I did to deserve him in my life, it must have been big!

* * *

TBC...
posted on 28-Apr-2002 4:45:27 AM by dancepixie
I'm just getting parts of everything up today! Look at me go!*big* Well, here's the big moment...Liz meets Max's parents! Enjoy.

~Nikki~
*angel*

* * *

Part 29

* * *

“Just a minute Max, let me see if she’s up,” I hear a voice whisper but I’m so sleepy I try to ignore it.

“Sorry, she’s still asleep. She didn’t even hear her phone ringing when it was on the table beside her, and I heard it as I was walking down the hall. She always was a pretty sound sleeper when she was little…” Yeah, but grandma I haven’t been for the last three years… Okay so I’m awake, but I think I’ll listen to this a little longer. It’s amazing what you can learn just by listening to other people’s conversations.

“Oh, well tell your parent’s thank you for inviting me and I’m sorry I can’t join you. I’m sure I’ll get to meet them some other time.” Can’t you just hear the smile in her voice? I can.

“Yes. Maybe I will just have to come up there and visit everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Maria and them as well…maybe I’ll just have to do that.” Grandma’s going to come and visit sometime? Well I know Ria will be thrilled…I know she wants grandma at her wedding. Sure she might be my grandmother, but she the only grandma Maria’s ever had…

“Why thank you Max…” Okay, I think it’s time that sleeping beauty woke up, don’t you? I start stretching out my arms over my head and making some noise so that she’ll notice I’m waking up.

“Oh, hold on a minute Max, I think she’s waking up. Honeybear, someone’s on the phone for you. It’s Max.” I can’t help the giant grin that I know is spreading across my face right now. Just the sound of his name is enough to make me go crazy. I’m so gone. I reach out my hand and grandma hands over the phone.

“Hey beautiful,” his voice is just what I want to wake up to in the morning.

“Mmm…” Yep, that’s about all I can manage right now…I’m rewarded with his soft chuckling.

“I’m sorry if I woke you up. You can go back to sleep if you want.”

“No! That’s okay. I mean, I’m already awake now anyways,” more laughing…glad I can be so funny without even trying.

“Okay then. How does three o’clock sound?”

“For what?”

“For me picking you up. That is, unless you decided you don’t want to come over…I mean, I’d understand…”

“No! Max! Of course I’m still coming over, well if you still want me to that is?”

“Liz Parker, of course I want you to. What? Oh, okay mom. Sorry Liz. My mom just wanted to make sure that you’re here by 6 because that’s when she says dinner will be ready.”

“Six huh? Then why are you picking me up at three?” I tease.

“Because I can’t stand to be away from you for that long?” He’s just too cute for his own good. I can just hear that tone of his voice and I know he’s got this little cocky grin on his face. You could say I’m definitely getting to know him better…

“Mmm…I suppose I can live with that.”

“Good. I’ll see you then. I love you.”

“Love you too.” Okay so yeah, I’m thinking that this smile is permanently attached to my face whenever Max is around or talked of or anything having to do with him is brought up. He’s just so incredibly sweet!

* * *

“Are you ready?”

“I don’t know…”

“Liz, I promise, if you don’t want to…”

“No, Max. I want this. I want to do this…I’m just nervous, that’s all.”

“Would it help if I did this?” I can’t help but giggle as he kisses and nuzzles all the soft spots on my neck. He really is good at this persuasion thing.

“Mmm…possibly.”

“How about this?” He’s slowly making his way up my face with little kisses until he reaches my lips. I missed him all morning…his kisses. I’m helplessly lost for this man.

“Mmm…oh yeah!” we both laugh as we sit in his car outside his parents house.

“Liz, I mean it. If you feel uncomfortable about this or anything, I can take you back to your grandma’s. It’s not a problem.”

“I’ll be fine Max. And if I’m not, you’ll be the first person to know.” I gently rub his shoulder trying to reassure him that I’ll be fine. Maybe I’m trying to reassure myself too, I’m not sure anymore.

“You didn’t have to leave Chocolate with your grandma. She could have come along too.” I sigh…I know…

“Max, I know. It’s just that, well…” How do I say this to him? “I know she’s very well behaved, but I don’t want your parents to feel like I’m invading their house or anything like that. I mean, if I have you, I’ll be fine. Just don’t leave me alone…stay by my side, please?” That’s all I need him to do…just stay with me...always.

“I won’t leave your side, I promise.” He kisses me again, softly this time, like he’s trying to make me see that everything will be fine. Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see about that one, now won’t we?

I can’t believe I’m doing this. I left Chocolate with grandma; she said she didn’t mind. So I’m standing here with Max leading me up to his parent’s door…and I feel lost. I know it was completely my choice, my doing… But I still feel lost.

So you’re probably wondering why I put myself in this situation, right? Well, I guess it’s because I want to seem normal. Yes, Max’s parents know that I’m blind, but…I guess having Chocolate with me puts it in their face more, it’s a constant reminder of my lack of eyesight. I want them to see me, to get to know me, for me, if that makes any sense. I mean, I love Chocolate to pieces and I would be lost without her, but I just felt like I had to do this…without her. And I don’t want to inconvenience his parents by bringing a dog into their house. Sure, Max says that his parents wouldn’t mind having an animal in the house, but I don’t want to have her running loose. I don’t care if its Maria’s house or Max’s place, or even Sara’s. I know them and I know that they don’t mind and that if anything happened they would let me know. I don’t want to bother his parents like that. I know Max won’t hurt me; he won’t let anything happen to me. I trust him completely.

So why am I nervous? I’m meeting his parents! Isn’t that reason enough? I certainly think so.

Okay…deep breaths, I can do this…really, I can.

“Are you alright?” his voice is soft and gentle in my ear, and he punctuates it with a kiss to my neck.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Yeah, I’m fine…

“Are you sure? I can take you back if you want. You don’t have to do this.” He is so sweet, that’s just part of why I love him so much.

“I’ll be fine, but thank you. Besides I’m on a mission for Isabel.”

“Don’t do this just for her. She’ll think of something either way. If you ever want to go, just let me know and we will. My parents will understand.”

“I promise I will let you know if anything is wrong. But I really want to meet them.”

“Okay honey.” We share a quick kiss before his arm is back around my waist holding me tightly to his side as we continue walking up to the house; fifteen steps and two little stairs to the front door.

Max opens the door and lets us in while calling out to his parents that we are here. The butterflies in my stomach are fluttering, I think they’re causing a windstorm in there. But I can handle this. I’m just meeting his parents…that’s all. Not like I’ve ever met a guys parents before, but I’m sure I’ll be okay…I will be okay. I really need to stop talking to myself like this!

We go inside and to the left, down a hall. Max is whispering in my ear constantly telling me where we are and what is around. He’s gotten good at this in the short time that he’s known me. I’m so lucky to have him. I know I say that a lot, but it’s the truth. And I suppose he feels like he’s lucky to have me, but I don’t know why. I mean, he has to do all this stuff just because I’m with him…I wonder if he ever wishes it were different? Why am I thinking this right now? It’s not doing me any good, no good at all…I know he loves me, he tells me all the time, and I can feel it in everything when we are together.

“Liz, I’d like you to meet my parents,” Max’s voice raises my attention and I realize we’ve stopped in what he said was the family room. “Mom, this is Liz Parker; Liz, this is my mom, Diane.” A hand reaches out and takes mine in it, giving it a gentle shake.

“It’s nice to meet you Mrs. Evans,” I smile; my butterflies are going away.

“I’m so glad you could come Liz. We’ve heard a lot about you from Max. And please, just call me Diane.” She seems really sweet.

“And this is my dad Phillip, dad, this is Liz.” I larger hand this time reaches out and touches mine. Diane’s hand was soft and small, and Phillips is larger, like Max’s, but rougher from age.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Liz.”

“You too.” I manage a smile but I don’t know what else to say. Introductions are always kind of odd, and my situation just makes it kinda worse. But hey, at least I don’t have to see and participate in the awkward stares of discomfort. I’m perfectly happy turning into my mind, but I’ll try not to, for Max’s sake.

“Thank you for inviting me to dinner Diane,” I say as we all sit down. I’m sitting on a couch tucked closely into Max’s side. He’s taking his promise to not leave me seriously, I think. I love him.

“Oh, it’s nothing Liz. I’m just sorry your grandmother couldn’t come too. When I heard that you were coming down with Max to see your grandmother, I just had to meet the girl who he’s been talking about non-stop.” I’m blushing, Max talks about me all the time to his mom? Aww! That is so cute. I guess I didn’t realize how close he really is with his family, although I should have seen it from how close he is with Isabel.

“It’s grandma Claudia’s bingo night. It’s a tradition with some of her friends, they’ve done it for years…” I smile as I remember the summer when I was twelve and she’d let me tag along. I had so much fun playing with the dobber and feeling so important marking all the squares.

* * *

Okay, so maybe I was worried about nothing. I mean, Max’s parents seem really great. And his mom is so sweet. Phillip asked Max if he wanted to play a game of pool in the other room since it had been so long. At first he didn’t want to leave me since I had made him promise not to. But I like Diane, and I feel perfectly fine being alone with her while Max has a little bit of fun catching up with his dad.

It’s been at least an hour I think since he left me here, and since then Diane’s been telling me the funniest stories about when Max and Isabel were kids. I’m sure he must have been adorable, all kids are, but him especially so.

“Oh, and one time they got me so mad! Alex had been over and the boys were making a mess and Isabel was helping them. They were playing with the spaghetti that had been left over from dinner. I had set it on the counter to let it cool a little before putting it away in the refrigerator. Well fifteen minutes later I walked back into the kitchen to find three very messy kids and spaghetti noodles dripping off my ceiling!” We’re both laughing so hard; they must have been a real handful!

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or yell. They were definitely a handful. And Alex practically lived over at our place…he even had a sleeping bag and some clothes in Max’s closet for all the times he’d just randomly end up staying. But I was so mad, I sent the kids to their rooms and told them that if I heard a word out of them they’d be explaining everything to their father.” I don’t think I’ve laughed this much in so long. Max seems to have had a great childhood. He’s lucky to have always been surrounded by these people that love him so much.

“So two hours later when I had finally gotten the kitchen cleaned up and all that spaghetti sauce of my ceiling, I went to check on them. As I reached the top of the stairs, I heard a thumping sound, but I just kind of ignored it and continued to Isabel’s room. She was fast asleep on her bed, but looking at her, I realized that I didn’t tell her to clean up first. She had gotten bright red stains all over her pale pink comforter. It took me five washings to get it out. But when I went to Max’s room…I opened the door to find him and Alex, covered in mud standing in the middle of the floor looking guilty. I don’t just mean a little mud here and there. I mean the boys were practically covered in it from head to toe! They had snuck out and climbed down the tree outside Max’s window! Can you believe it?”

Oh my god! This is too funny! I’m laughing so hard but I can’t resist commenting.

“I thought things like that only happened in the movies!” That sends Diane into a fit of giggles, which only serves to make me keep laughing. It’s a nasty vicious cycle, don’t you know!

That’s how the guys found us ten minutes later, still laughing uncontrollably.

“Hey sweetheart, what’s so funny?” Max asks as he kisses my cheek.

“Oh nothing. Diane was just telling me about your run-in’s with spaghetti sauce and mud!” Okay, I tried keeping a straight face, but it just didn’t work. It’s just too funny.

“Oh! Mom! Enough with the embarrassing stories already. I’m sure Liz really doesn’t want to hear them.”

“Yes I do!” I chime in shaking my head very enthusiastically as I playfully push away at his chest, causing him to groan in defeat. Ha! I get my way! Isn’t it great to be a girl?

“Well I suppose we could wait for more. Dinner should be ready in a minute anyways, so I guess we could wait until after for more stories. I’ve got a ton of them.” I can hear the smile in her voice as she teases poor Max. I think he’s gotten more than he bargained for by bringing me here, but I don’t mind.

* * *

“Thank you so much for dinner Diane. It was wonderful.”

“Well thank you, Liz. It was wonderful meeting you. You’re welcome here anytime.”

“Yes, it was a pleasure meeting you,” Phillip added.

“Thank you. Goodnight,” I call as Max leads me out of the house and down the driveway. Tonight was so much fun. Never in a million years did I imagine that things could ever work out this…well…this perfectly. Not in my world at least.

“So, did you really have a good time tonight?” Max asks me as we sit in the car outside of grandma’s.

“Of course. Your parents are great Max. I’m glad you asked me to come with you on this trip. You have done so much for me, and I don’t even know where to begin thanking you.”

“Liz you don’t owe me anything,” his voice is as soft and sincere as the light caress of his hand on my cheek at the moment.

“Yes I do. You have done so much more for me than you will ever know. I feel so much more alive now than I ever have. It’s like you’ve given me back a part of my life that I never really knew was missing. How do you do that?”

“I don’t know. I never thought I was all that special.”

“Oh trust me, you are, and so much more too.” His hand has moved from my cheek to the back of my neck and he’s gently urging me forward for a kiss. His touch is so soft, so gentle, yet so demanding. And I want to give in to him. Right now, I think I would give him anything he asked for. That is how completely he has changed my life. I’m so different now than I have ever been since the accident.

It’s kind of scary when I think about how I’d give him anything he asked for, but it doesn’t bother me. I know that he loves me just as much as I love him, and he would never do anything to hurt me. Love is an incredible feeling. It’ll make you think and do and feel things that you could never imagine before. I had practically shut out the possibility of having a future much worth living. I mean, I was living…but I was empty in a part of my heart that I didn’t know was there. But now it’s full, and I’m happy…I’m in love.

The kiss started out sweet, but not anymore, its passionate and I swear that if I could see I’d be seeing stars right now. This has to be what that feels like. Max has done so much to me, for me…I’m completely new. I’m not so shy anymore. I venture new places. I even went to his parents without Chocolate at my side. That’s definitely saying something.

So why am I babbling like this in my head? Max and I have become so close in the short time we’ve known each other. I know that I love him and he loves me. So…what I’m wondering is when will this turn into something more?

I’ve never been in a relationship that got anywhere near this serious. It’s crazy. I’m scared and excited all at the same time. Every step is just so incredibly new to me. But I love Max and I’m finding out new things about him every second we are together. How long is it going to take before he wants something more? Will I be ready for that? I mean, I know that he’ll never push me to do anything I’m not comfortable with or ready for, but it will change our relationship. He’ll start seeing me differently, and I like the way he sees me now.

“Thank you for coming with me to my parent’s,” his voice is husky next to my ear and sends shivers down my spine.

“I had a great time Max. Your parents are great people.”

He doesn’t say anything to that; I guess he realizes how lucky he is. Not that I don’t have great parents, cause I do, they just don’t live so close… He just plants more kisses on my neck, giving me goose bumps.

“So what time are you picking me up tomorrow to go home?” It’s all I can think of to break the silence and keep myself from moaning at the incredible feelings he is causing me.

“Mmm…how about I just sweep you off your feet and take you away now. Someplace no one will ever find you and you’ll be at my mercy forever!”

“I think that’s a little much Max,” I tease. “I was thinking more like one or two in the afternoon…”

“Mmm…whenever you are ready, we’ll go.”

“There isn’t anything you wanted to do before we leave?”

“It’s all been done…” Why does it seem like he’s being so mysterious at the moment? Hmmm…I think he might be hiding something.

“Hmm…well I don’t have any plans for tomorrow night or anything. So how about I put myself at your mercy?”

“Mmm…that has possibilities…” his voice is a soft smooth rumbling beside my ear. God the things he does to me!

One thing I love about spending time with Max, I can completely relax. I can lose all focus on the world around me and just melt into him and I know I’ll be alright. I know that he’ll take care of me if anything happens. I know that he will always be there, he won’t leave me lost and alone. Even after one of our first dates he wouldn’t leave me when I fell asleep because he was afraid I wouldn’t know where I was. He is just amazing. And I trust him completely.

“Mmm…grandma’s probably wondering where I am.” My voice is hoarse but I don’t care.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” But he doesn’t stop; he kisses me again…and again. What did I do without him for so long?

“She could be watching us right now…” I tease.

“No. Trust me, I don’t see a thing…” his lips are back on mine before I’m sure I heard him right. Yeah, like he actually looked around! I may be blind but I’m not dumb! But his kisses are so…so…I don’t know what they are. All I know is that I’m melting, and I never want to go back.

“Max…” I put my hands on his chest and push him back. We really need to stop this. I just kind of lose myself when he’s around, you know?

“I know. Here, let me walk you to the door.”

“Yeah, you wouldn’t want little me to be lost and alone stumbling down the lonely streets of an unfamiliar town…” I pout.

“Oh no! You are so much more capable than that and you know it. You are a strong person Liz. You just have to realize it for yourself. You need to find what I see in you. It’s there, and I think it always has been. You aren’t some helpless little girl. You are a strong woman who doesn’t need someone with her 24 hours a day.” He’s holding my face in his hands, caressing my cheeks with the pads of his thumbs, causing all these incredible sensations to overtake me. I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I listen to him speak. He is so amazing. How does he do it? He continuously amazes me with his understanding nature and empathic ability, it makes my head spin. I can feel the tears trickling down my cheeks, but he wipes them away, kissing my forehead softly.

“Come on, you should get inside,” his voice is soft in my ear…so caring. Have you ever felt sparks fly? I mean, real sparks, between two people? That’s what this feels like right now and it’s the most amazing thing in the world.

“Okay.” He walks me up to the door and when we get there I can hear Chocolate on the other side whimpering. We both laugh, but it makes me feel bad for leaving her all night. Max kisses my forehead before holding me close once more. I just melt into his arms every time.

“I guess she missed you.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I should have left her…”

“It’s alright Liz. Why don’t you go take care of her and give her all the attention she needs. I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Thank you Max.”

“Bye Liz.”

I open the door and sure enough Chocolate is waiting there for me because her nose immediately finds its way to my hand, nuzzling it gently.

“Hey girl,” I walk inside and kneel down on the floor beside her, petting her and letting her smell me and just giving her all the attention she has been missing from her mommy. “Oh…did you miss me? Huh? Yeah, I missed you too. I’m sorry sweetie!” I can’t help but laugh as she licks my face and practically sits down in my lap. Gees, this dog has become so much a part of me, I don’t know what I would do without her.

“Come on girl, let’s go to bed.”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 3-May-2002 3:17:58 AM by dancepixie
Okay, so I've kinda been neglecting this story, so I promise a new part tomorrow, but I want some sleep...so I'll be back in 11 hours when I get home from classes after sleeping, I promise!

~Nikki~
*angel*
posted on 3-May-2002 3:59:42 PM by dancepixie
So here it is...the part I promised. Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 30

* * *

I woke up early in the morning and grandma and I talked for a while. God, it felt so good sitting there like old times, talking about anything. She said how much she really liked Max, and she could see that he was good for me. I have to agree with her there. He is good for me.

She promised to come up and visit sometime. She misses me and all of my friends, too. Everyone will be happy when she does come. Grandma Claudia has always been a favorite with all of them.

So here I am sitting in the passenger seat of Max’s car on our way back home. Chocolate’s lying in the back, I think she might have fallen asleep back there. I kinda wore her out last night and then again this morning playing with her so much. I still feel kinda bad about leaving her with grandma last night.

“Hey, you okay over there?” I feel Max’s hand brushing across my cheek gently as his voice fills the silence between us.

“Yeah. I’m fine,” I tell him. Really I am. “I’ve just been thinking about some things. Sara’s birthday is next weekend. You’re going to be in town right?” I hope so. I really want him to be able to meet Sara, and the kids too. I know they’ll love him.

“I get back Saturday night. We have a two o’clock game in Georgia. But I’m free all day Sunday.”

“Perfect!” How did I get so lucky that everything has worked out so well? “Wait. When are you leaving?” I know it’s his job and all, but I’ve begun to realize how hard it must be to travel all the time. I…I miss him when he’s gone.

“I’m sorry. I know I have to travel a lot. It never really bothered me much before, but now, I can’t wait for the season to be over.” His thumb is still caressing my cheek softly and it feels so nice. I take a deep breath and just savor this moment. “I leave Tuesday.” Well, there went that moment…

I guess he noticed my frown because I can feel the car pulling over. He stops the car and I feel him turn to me. He has my hands in his and gently kisses them. He is so sweet.

“I’m sorry. I know my schedule is a pain…but the season will be over soon and then-”

“It’s alright Max. Really. I understand that this is what you love to do. I don’t want to make you feel like you shouldn’t be doing this. I just miss you when you’re gone. But I want you to play your heart out. You deserve to go to the playoffs.”

All thoughts of regret leave my mind the minute his lips descend on mine, taking control and overpowering my senses. Yep, Chocolate must be asleep cause otherwise I’m sure she would have interrupted us by now!

“Thank you.” That’s all he says, but it’s enough. We understand each other. He just needed to be reassured that I believe in him and support him in everything that means something to him.

I know you must be thinking that this is crazy. I mean, I’ve only known him for how long? But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the way we feel about one another. And I know that I love him. Sure the relationship is still kind of new, but I’ve met his family, and he’s met some of mine. That is a big step right there.

So how far exactly has this relationship of ours gone? I am closer to him than I ever have been to a guy before. Max is different and understanding, and he doesn’t care about my past. He gets the fact that sometimes I just need my moments to be alone or angry, and sometimes I just need to be held.

We are getting closer every day and even while he’s gone. He calls me every night. I don’t even care when he has a late game. He still calls me no matter what time it is. Cause I’m always up anyway, cause I listen to his games on the radio. Sometimes I’ll be working on my book, but most of the time I just listen, do the dishes, something. But I wait for his call. We’ll talk for hours.

One time we even fell asleep while on the phone. His game had gone into extra innings, and so it went until nearly midnight. The poor boy was exhausted. I had been shopping and running errands with Ria all day, so I was pretty tired too. We just kind of drifted off while talking. I remember waking up with the phone by my ear and hearing him breathing softly. It felt right, not perfect, but still right.

After another kiss he pulls back and we are driving again. Home…home…home…

Max and I spend a lot of time in my apartment, or walking around the park that’s near my place. I’ve been to his condo a couple times, so I know my way around, but I’ll still hit things if I’m not careful. That’s why we spend so much time at my place I think. Plus, it has everything I need. He’s great because if he comes over while I’m in the middle of writing, he’ll just sit down and find something to do. Or he’ll make me something to eat if he realizes I’ve been too busy to check the time. He’ll keep Chocolate happy and play with her so she doesn’t disturb me. He’s just a sweetheart.

* * *

Thirteen…fourteen…fifteen.

This is my door. Max is carrying my bag for me, and his other arm is around my waist, not letting me get to far away. Not that I want to get away from him. Nope. I am quite content in his arms actually.

“Here, let me get the door,” he says. Yeah, well I guess I can’t really get it since he has my bag and my keys are in the front pocket. But he knows that. They rattle slightly and then the door creaks open as his arm snakes back around my waist.

Chocolate gives a little woof and runs inside. I hear her collar jingle. I think she just jumped up on the couch. That’s alright, she always does that. She’ll sit beside me on the couch in the evenings and we’ll listen to music together, and sometimes the news, and always Max’s games.

“Give me my bag and I’ll go put it away. You can make yourself comfortable on the couch with Chocolate,” I tell him as I hold my hand out for my bag.

“I can go put it down for you,” he offers.

“That’s okay Max. Really, I’d rather do it myself. That way I know absolutely where it is because I actually put it there. Does that make sense?” I don’t want him to feel bad, it’s just that things really are easier for me if I do it myself. That’s basically all you can do to learn to cope, doing things for yourself. You can’t rely on others for everything.

“Okay,” he whispers, placing a kiss softly on my cheek as I feel my bag in my hand.

“Thank you.” I walk off and I hear the faint sound of the couch springs as he sits down. Oh, and that must have been Chocolate getting up to move over. She has a tendency to want to lay on people, or at least close enough so that she can rest her head on you.

* * *

“Max?” I ask a while later as I’m sort of lying on the couch curled up next to him. My head is resting on his chest and his fingers are idly running through my hair.

“Yeah?”

“What did your parents think of me?” I bite my lip at the silence. Maybe I shouldn’t have asked that question. But I can’t help it. I’m curious, and it’s been bugging me. I mean, sure, they were nice and polite and everything, and I liked them, I really did. His mother seems really sweet. But there are always things, looks and body language that you don’t get when you’re blind. I don’t know if they really liked me, or just felt sorry for the poor girl their son had picked up.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, did they like me?” I sound like I did when I was a little girl hiding behind my mothers dress cause I was so shy.

“Of course they did. My mother absolutely loved you. She doesn’t tell just anyone all of those embarrassing stories.”

“I wouldn’t say they were embarrassing. Now my parents, they would tell the worst stories I’m sure…” oops, I probably shouldn’t have said that. I don’t want to put ideas in his head for payback.

“My parents loved you Liz. They said to bring you with me the next time I come down and maybe we could stay for longer.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. What made you think they wouldn’t like you?”

“I don’t know. I just…I don’t know. Meeting new people is always weird. I don’t get to see how they react to me, and I guess I’m still not over that. I just imagine them staring at me because I am blind.”

“But you are very good at appearing as if you weren’t. I remember when we first met I wasn’t sure whether you were or not. I knew there was something different about you, but I couldn’t quite place it.”

“What did you think of me when we first met?” I’m curious. We’ve never really talked about this before.

“When I first saw you?” I nod my head to his rhetorical question. “When I saw you coming around that corner, you took my breath away. Maria had said something about someone else coming to dinner, but then apologized when I got there saying that you couldn’t make it. But then you came around that corner, and I just knew that I had to get to know you better. I wanted to find out everything about you. I can’t believe how lucky I was. If I hadn’t been in Europe and found Michael and Maria there, then I might have never met you.”

What does a girl say to that? I don’t know. I just smile softly, that’s all I can manage right now or else I think I might cry. He is just the sweetest guy ever. How is it that he always knows just what to say?

* * *

I didn’t think this week would ever end, but it’s finally Saturday. Saturday night to be exact. Isabel is picking me up in a minute. Actually she’s picking me and April up. April is spending the night at Katie’s tonight, and they are coming with us to the airport to greet Max and the team.

I have to admit that I am kinda nervous. I shouldn’t be, but I am. Max doesn’t know I’m coming. I wanted it to be a surprise; I hope he likes it.

I hear the knock at my door and know immediately that it’s my little April. I can tell because the sound is coming from down low, and she has a really soft knock.

“Come in munchkin!” I call to her and soon hear the door opening in response.

“Lizzie!” I feel her little arms come around my waist from behind and I hold on to her.

“Hey sweetie. You all ready to go?”

“Uh huh! Mommy even said I could bring my Cinderella movie with me so that we can watch that tonight! And I got my princess pajamas that you got me…” I can just feel all of her excitement radiating in waves off of her. To think that Maria and I used to do the same thing when we were little. We thought it was the greatest thing in the world to get to spend the night at each other’s houses. Then we got to be ten and we realized that our parents didn’t care…if we just sort of fell asleep at each others house it was fine. We wouldn’t even bring clothes with us. If we were at her place, I’d wear some of her things, and if she was at my house, she’d borrow some clothes from me. It worked out great since we’ve always been about the same size. And as you get older it’s a plus because then you have two closets of clothes to look through before going out on a date. Oh yes, Maria used to take full advantage of that. Not that I minded. She’s practically my sister.

Enough reminiscing. Isabel’s probably walking up the stairs right now trying to keep Katie from running up ahead. Sure enough, I believe those are Katie’s little feet pounding down the hall this way.

“They’re here! They’re here!” I have to laugh at April’s excitement.

“Yeah, why don’t you go open the door and let them in, huh?” I ask her. Of course she goes. She’s just bouncing with energy at the moment. I almost feel sorry for Isabel and Alex tonight. I mean, they are going to have two bouncing little girls to take care of, and it’s always worse when there is more than one. But I guess that’s what parents do; they like to see their children happy.

“Hey, you ready to go?” Isabel asks as she walks up to me and gives me a quick hug. Like I’ve said, we’ve gotten a lot closer.

“Yeah, let’s go. Chocolate, come here girl!” In a second she’s at my feet and her leash is in my hand. She’s such a good dog.

So we’re heading to the airport and the girls are sitting in the back with Chocolate having a great time while Isabel and I talk up here.

“So, you had fun down in Winter Haven?”

“Yeah, it was great. I’m glad your brother convinced me to go with him.”

“Well I’m glad. Mom and dad said they absolutely loved you. When I talked to mom the other night she wouldn’t stop about how sweet you are and how good you are for Max. She’s happy to see that he’s getting serious about someone. It’s the whole guilt trip about how she wants more grandchildren to spoil.” Isabel’s laughing and I’m stunned. Oh my god! I…I just don’t know what to say to that. I mean, yeah, I love Max…but we haven’t really talked about the future. We haven’t known each other that long. I guess at least I know his parent’s liked me. They wouldn’t have lied to Izzie about something like that, and she wouldn’t lie to me, that much I know for sure. I manage a little laugh at the grandchildren comment. Sure, I get that from my parents too. Not too often, but every once in a while they hint about how much they would love to have a grandchild. And since I’m an only child…well you get the picture.

“Oh! So, can you help me come up with some idea for my parents for Christmas? I still don’t know what to get them.” Oh yeah, I forgot she had asked me about that before I went down there. Let me think…was there anything… “Max is never any help trying to figure these things out. Usually we go in together and get them something really nice…but I always have to come up with it. Last year we got them a really nice computer and while we were down there for the holiday we got them hooked up to the internet and everything. It’s great now cause Katie can just go on the computer and talk to them any time she wants. And I must say dad has come a long way. At first he knew absolutely nothing about computers. He was so afraid to touch the thing. But now he’s gotten much better. Sometimes mom even complains about how long he spends playing games on that thing.” It’s too cute cause now that I’ve met her parents, I can completely imagine that scenario in my head. They really are great people.

“Well, I don’t know. Let me think about it a little more. Maybe I’ll remember something.”

“That’s fine. Thank you so much. Max is no help!” we both laugh at this.

“I’m sure. But you have plenty of time to figure it all out.”

“Yeah, but I like to plan ahead, especially since its usually me figuring it all out.”

“I understand. So is Alex ready to have his house taken over by the two munchkins? They might be small, but they aren’t too quiet,” I laugh. I can hear Alex now…whining cause he can’t sleep cause the girls are talking too loud. Too funny!

“We’re here!” Isabel states as the car comes to a stop. The airport. We’re here. “Come on girls, out of the car! We gotta go wait for Uncle Max!” I unbuckle my seatbelt slowly and reach to open my door by the time the girls are slamming theirs. When I step out of the car April is there handing me Chocolate’s leash. I hold it tight, not letting her have much room to wander. There is going to be way too many people in there to give her free room to roam. I’m going to need her by my side. Besides, she calms me.

“Are you okay, Liz?” Isabel asks. She’s standing by my side, touching my shoulder lightly. I’m glad she’s doing this with me.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just stay close.”

“No problem.”

I’m quiet as we walk into the airport. It’s easier for me to listen if I’m not carrying on a conversation. I mean, I can do both at once; I’ve gotten very good at it actually. But in places this crowded, I like to be careful. And careful is not letting myself get distracted.

We’ve been waiting for about five minutes now. The girls got bored, so they’re sitting in some chairs playing hand-clapping games. Oh, those were the days…

“Hey, the flight just got in,” Isabel tells me softly. And as she says it I can hear the volume in the room going up. I guess they just opened the gate and people are coming out.

Okay, so now I’m nervous. I know Max won’t be mad that I came. It’s just that this is really different. In all the movies and all the books I saw and read when I was younger, the guy sees the girl waiting for him, and as soon as she spots him, they going running into each other’s arms in slow motion…you know the routine. Well…that isn’t happening!

“Some of the guys from the team just got off the plane…oh, there he is!” Isabel seems happy. She’s standing beside me, holding onto my arm and talking close to my ear. “He got a big smile on his face the moment he saw you Liz. I think he definitely missed you!” I have to smile at that, because I know I missed him too.

It’s really noisy in here now that so many people came off the plane and are meeting their loved ones. So loud that I don’t even hear Max until I feel him pressing a soft kiss to my lips. It’s just a quick kiss, but it tells me how much he missed me.

“Thank you for coming to meet me.” His voice is husky against my ear. I can feel the slight stubble on his face as it rubs against the soft skin at my neck and ear. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too Max!”

“Uncle Max!!!” Katie’s high-pitched squeal could probably be heard on the other side of the airport. Max’s arm drops from my waist and I hear him give a little groan. I think Katie jumped into his arms rather unexpectedly there.

“How’s my favorite niece?” he asks her.

“Silly, I’m your only niece!” her childish laughter is the sweetest sound.

“Oh right, I forgot.”

“Hey sis.”

“Hey Max. Katie was dying to see you, so I thought Liz and I would bring the girls to meet you. But now the girls are having a sleepover, so I thought since your car was here, you could take Liz home, or the two of you could go out, or whatever.

“Thanks Izzie.”

“What are sisters for?”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 10-May-2002 2:39:38 PM by dancepixie
Thanks for the bumps guys! Okay, so I'm going home on the train...thats 5 and a half hours of writing time...I think I can manage to get something done and hopefully post it when I get home. So sometime tonight hopefully you'll have a new part!

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 14-May-2002 3:32:37 AM by dancepixie
Okay so I swear I have a good excuse for not posting over the weekend! Are you ready? Okay, so 1, I realized the train on mother's day...is HELL!!! Too many people too little space. Then 2, I get home to find that the internet is not working properly...in over 45 minutes it still hadn't loaded one page. So even though I did get a part proofed on the train, I couldn't post it. And I couldn't email it to someone else to have them post it for me, cause I couldn't get on the internet. So you have my apologies. Thanks for all the bumps, I'm glad you guys like this story so much! But here is the next part...and there's more to come soon if I get lots of feedback!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 31

* * *

“Max?”

“Yeah?”

“Tell me what you look like.”

“Huh?”

“Please?”

“Okay, but where’s this coming from, Liz?”

“Well, Isabel and I were talking as we were waiting for your plane, and when she spotted you…she was just telling me how you had the biggest smile on your face when you saw us…and I want to know…what you look like.” I’m chewing on my bottom lip; I’ve come to realize that’s one of my nervous habits.

“Come here.” He pulls me onto his lap so that my legs are across his and my right side is against his chest. His hands slowly trail down my arms leaving goosebumps behind in their wake. He reaches my hands and enfolds them in his own, bringing them up to his lips and kissing them softly, one at a time.

“Here, feel me,” his voice is soft and with his hands he placed mine on his face, gently guiding them towards his forehead.

“There’s my forehead, and my eyebrows. When we were in high school, Isabel used to be freaked out if I made a face. I’m not really sure what it was that I did. She said I’d lift my eyebrow and narrow my eye and it just looked creepy.” I like hearing him talk about his past, telling me about himself; it’s nice. “My eyes are brown but with flecks of amber in them. Both Isabel and I got that from our mom. She says we have the prettiest eyes, but now I have to disagree.” Did he just say…? Oh god! Maybe this wasn’t a good idea… I don’t have pretty eyes…they’re dead…well basically.

“Hey, don’t pull away. I’m sorry. But your eyes really are beautiful, even if they aren’t you. So what if I can’t see into your soul through your eyes. I have something much better than that. I have you right here, by my side. That’s more important.” A few calming breaths and I’m relaxing against his chest once more.

“Then there’s my nose. Isabel got the good nose out of the family. I’ve got a little bump right here,” he trails my hand over it and I can picture in my head what he feels like. This is amazing. I’ve never done this with someone before, but with Max, anything just feels right.

“And my ears, well there isn’t much to say there except when I have children I hope they don’t get my ears. They’re too big.” I laugh at his comments. I’m sure it doesn’t look bad. He’s just self-conscious about it. I’m that way about a lot of things.

He trails my hands down his jaw and I can feel the slight prickliness on the pads of my fingers. It tickles, but I like it.

“Max,” I whisper. I can’t help it. I’m sitting on his lap and he’s holding me so close. It’s overwhelming, but in a good way. His smell is surrounding me, and I just want more. I find myself leaning closer. His hands aren’t guiding mine anymore. I can feel them sliding down my sides, gently caressing my skin as he goes. He makes my head spin.

I keep exploring his face with my hands until I find what I really want. His lips are smooth and all I can think about is kissing him. I lean forward and he pulls me closer, bringing our lips together in a kiss that quickly turns into something so much more. I feel like my head is spiraling off my body.

“I love you,” his voice is rasping in my ear as he takes deep breaths trying to get oxygen back in his lungs. That was one hell of a kiss.

“I love you too. Take me to my room, Max.” A minute later his arms are sweeping under my knees as he’s carrying me down the hall and laying me across my bed. My arms are latched around his neck and I have my head buried in his chest. I just can’t get enough of his smell, the feel of his muscles, his body…

Now I’m on my bed and he’s beside me, running his hand in idle circles over my stomach while the other is running through the long strands of my hair.

“You are so beautiful,” he tells me.

“No, I’m not Max…”

“Yes you are!”

“Not since the accident,” I mumble. It’s a low self esteem moment, what can I say?

“Liz, I know I never got a chance to know you before the accident, but that doesn’t matter. I know you now. And you take my breath away every second I’m with you. Don’t ever say you’re not beautiful.” He places a soft kiss on my forehead, then my nose, and then my lips. When he pulls away I can feel his stare, penetrating through me. “I love you Liz Parker.”

Tears were pooling in my eyes while he was talking, but now they’re running down my cheeks and I don’t care enough to wipe them away. Why couldn’t I have met Max sooner? Why couldn’t we have met when I was still normal?

“Goodnight, sweetheart,” he whispers as he kisses my forehead. We’ve been lying on my bed for a while now, just talking and sharing soft kisses mostly. What Max said to me earlier…I just can’t get it out of my head. “I’ll call you in the morning.”

“Here, I’ll walk you to the door,” I tell him as I move to get off my bed.

“No, it’s okay. You just go to sleep. I’m sure I’ve been here enough to manage finding the door by myself,” he jokes. I can’t help but smile at that.

“Okay. Goodnight Max,” I yawn, okay I guess I didn’t realize I was so tired.

“Sleep well.”

* * *

“LIZZIE!” All I hear is four all too familiar voices screaming at once and feet running, coming closer and closer until it stops right in front of me. Max is at my side, holding me close around the waist. His arm squeezed me a little tighter when the kids called out to me.

“Gee, you guys really know how to make a girl feel welcome,” I smile.

“We’re always happy to see you,” Jaime says sincerely.

“Jaime, Kayla, Johnny, Steven, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Max Evans.” I already told Max all about these kids. I even told him about how excited they were to meet him, and how they would probably give him the interrogation routine. He seemed to really accept that these kids are a part of my life that I can’t give up. They can’t lose any more people that they love, because they only have a few loved ones as it is. I think that’s the great thing about Max, he’s very accepting. I guess that’s one of the things that drew me to him.

“Wait! Max Evans? As in the baseball player Max Evans?” Steven asks. Oops. Did I not mention that? I guess not.

“Yeah, that’s me.” I can hear the smile in Max’s voice as he speaks. I guess this is pretty funny.

“No way! Why didn’t you tell us Lizzie?”

“I forgot?”

Max is laughing at me! Ahh! Oh well.

“So what’s it like being a pro ball player?” Steven asks him. I shake my head and smile at the question. He’s the sports oriented one of the bunch. He plays lots of sports and likes to get involved in all sorts of things. I really think he has a bright future ahead of him, and he deserves it more than anyone I know. All of these kids do.

“It’s not as great as it always seems, but it’s what I love to do,” Max says it so sincerely. And I know that he doesn’t do it for the money. Sure he makes an obscene amount of money, but it’s a rough schedule. But if your work is something you enjoy, that makes it all bearable and enjoyable.

“So how did you two meet?” Kayla, always the romantic…

“Maria was playing matchmaker…need I say more?” We all laugh. We all know about Maria’s tendencies…Max and I from personal experience, and the kids from just being around her and hearing stories.

“So Max, what are your intentions with our Lizzie?” Johnny asks. Oh my goodness! Did he really just say that? Is Max…oh my god, he is! He’s laughing…well, I suppose it is kinda funny, but I think the kids are serious.

“You guys, I know you’re just trying to look out for me and all, but I think I can judge for myself. I love the fact that you care so much, but I promise, no matter what happens you will not lose me. Alright?”

“We just don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“Yeah, you’re family.”

“Always.”

“And we will always be family,” I assure them.

“I promise you I’ll do my best to make sure Liz is happy. I love her.” Max’s hand is clutching mine harder and pulling me closer as he speaks. I can feel a tear dripping down my cheek at his sweet words. Since when have I become so emotional?

“We’re sorry Lizzie.”

“Yeah, we didn’t mean to butt in…”

“I know you guys. Thank you for caring so much. Now can you just be happy for me?”

“Of course!” they all say at once and then started giggling.

* * *

Well, I think this day is going great. I mean, the kids and Max, well after the little interrogation, seemed to get along really well. The girls love him, and the boys think he’s great. Especially Steven. I think I heard him asking Max for baseball tips…it’s so cute.

Where is Max right now? Well I don’t really know. I mean it. A little while ago after I introduced him to Sara, the birthday girl, she stole him away while I was talking to Ria. I don’t mind, I just wonder what those two are talking about. I almost feel sorry for Max. First the four kids try to give him the third degree…now Sara…who knows what’s next?

Maria’s telling me about the wedding dresses she was looking at yesterday. Her and Tess went dress window-shopping for the wedding. Apparently she didn’t find anything she liked.

“They all had these big hideous bows on them or they weren’t the right shade of white…or they weren’t made with the right fabric. It was so frustrating!”

“But Ria, you have plenty of time. You don’t need to be stressing out right now about this.”

“I know, but what if I never find my dress. I mean, I want it to be perfect! What if I never find it? What’ll I do then? I mean…maybe Michael and I’ll never be able to get married…I mean if I never find a dress…”

“Maria! Breathe!” I’m trying not to laugh as I stop her rant. She really can let her mouth and her imagination run away with her. “Now calm down. Of course you will find a dress. It was the first time you went out and looked! Just give it some time. I know you’ll find it eventually.”

“Thank you Lizzie. I’m sorry…I just…I want everything to be perfect.”

“It will be Ria. You’re marrying Michael, it couldn’t not be perfect,” I assure her. It’s true. They’ve always been meant for each other…I just know that she’ll find a dress and her wedding will be great, and she has nothing to worry about. She just needs to relax. She gets way too high strung sometimes.

“Hey beautiful.” The voice in my ear sends the shivers down my spine. Was I so focused on Maria and our conversation that I didn’t even hear him sneaking up? Oh well. Mmm…his lips on my neck feel so nice, just perfect.

“Hi Max.”

“Oh, hey Maria.” Maria and I laugh. It’s cute that he’s so wrapped up in me he doesn’t even notice Maria. I think I definitely could get used to this.

“So, was Sara giving you an interrogation as well?”

“No. And the kids weren’t that bad,” he laughs. He’s sitting beside me now with his arm around my shoulders and I can’t stop myself from leaning further into him. I missed him while Sara held him captive.

“Aww…Max you’re just so sweet. I’m sure you have everyone warmed over by now. Didn’t I hear Steven saying something about a game?” Maria asks him. What’s she talking about? I don’t remember anything.

“Oh, yeah. Well he was asking about the team and so I told him that maybe I could find a couple of tickets for one of our home games. It’s nothing really. He was really excited about it though.” Oh my goodness. He is just too unbelievably sweet. I don’t think he ever thinks of himself. He’s always making sure I’m alright, and now he’s even making these kids happy…

“That’s sweet Max, but you didn’t have to-”

“I know. I wanted to,” he tells me simply, punctuating it by placing a kiss on my nose. I smile and snuggle into his arms a little more. I wish he could be mine forever…wait a minute. Where did that thought come from?

“Hey, you okay chica?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, of course.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Max asks me as his arms give me a little squeeze.

“Yeah. I’m fine. I’m not breakable you know.” Okay we need a change of topic. I really don’t like talking about myself in case you haven’t caught on to that yet. “So what did you and Sara talk about?” I ask him.

“Well, I’m going to go find Michael. He’s around here somewhere. Have fun you two,” Maria says, but I hear her heels clicking away before I can say goodbye.

“Well, in her own words…she had to make sure I was worthy, and then she warned me that if I ever hurt you, no one will ever be able to identify me when she and the kids get through with me.” I groan…

“Oh god! Please tell me she didn’t?”

“She didn’t,” he laughs. He’s laughing!

“What? Why’d you tell me that then?”

“I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist. The look on your face was so cute.” Sure, like calling me cute is gonna make me not get mad at him!

* * *

Max said it’s getting dark outside so most everyone is heading inside, but we’re still sitting out here. I asked him if we could just stay out here for a few more minutes.

“When Ria and I first started coming here, we stayed late one night because one of the younger children was really sick and Sara needed some help. When we were done we were sitting on the porch with Sara as we waited for Ria’s mom to pick us up. We were looking up at the stars and it was such a clear night and with no lights around we could see everything. I miss being able to see the stars. I still have my memories of what it was like, but they start to fade. You don’t realize how much detail there is until you sight is gone and all you have to rely on is your memory, which isn’t perfect. It’s never the same…”

Max is quiet behind me. I’m leaning against his chest as we sit here on the bench. We’re alone now, all the noise that was around us is gone. I think everyone went inside to escape the cold. But I don’t mind as long as Max’s arms are wrapped around me, then I’m fine.

He places soft kisses on my neck, trailing a path to my ear.

“I’ll be your eyes now if you want me to,” he whispers, and I melt against him. Its as if he just knows how to make everything better. I know my rants are probably annoying after a while. I’m sure Maria’s gotten tired of hearing me do that, feeling sorry for myself. Honestly I’m getting tired of doing it too; it just comes out. But Max never seems to mind. Why is that?

“Max? How come you never call me on any of my self pitying rants?”

“Because I know you don’t mean it. Sometimes we all say things we don’t necessarily mean. We just need to get them out of our system.”

“You are so perfect.”

“Not perfect, just perfect for you.” He turns me on his lap so I’m facing him and gently kisses my lips. It’s slow and guiding, sweet, like our first kiss.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 15-May-2002 3:04:45 AM by dancepixie
All I have to say is...sigh...I just watched the series finale! I really loved it though, I thought they did it very well. But that's all I'm going to say for any of you who haven't seen it.

Welcome Applebybehr to my story, I'm glad you like it! Here's the next part for you all. I know its short...but you just had one yesterday!*tongue* Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 32

* * *

“Hey, you two going to sit out here all night? The party’s inside!” I guess Maria must have sent Kayla to come and fetch us. I wonder how long we’ve been out here. It didn’t seem like that long. But I can easily get lost in the moment when Max is with me, holding me like he is.

“Don’t worry Kayla, we’re coming in right now,” I tell her as I get up off Max’s lap. “So, Maria sent you on a rescue mission, huh?” That makes her laugh, only proving how true it is. Do I know my best friend, or what?

“Well, yeah.” I shake my head as we all head inside. “Come on then, Jaime and the others are in the den,” Kayla says as she pulls us forward.

“We’re coming…don’t worry.”

Fifteen minutes later Max and I are sitting on the loveseat in the den listening to Johnny, Steven, Kayla and Jaime telling stories about when Ria and I were younger. How do they remember all these stories, I don’t know. I mean, they were a lot younger when this all happened.

“Oh! Don’t forget about that time when we were seven when we were finger painting and the boys thought it was funny to go and run and hug Lizzie and Ria. Their hair had streaks of blue and red and green for the rest of the day!”

I can feel my cheeks getting pink as they tell Max all the stories of what I was like all those years ago. Max is laughing and squeezing my hand tighter as we sit here and listen.

“We have pictures!”

“That’s okay, I’m sure he doesn’t want to see those.”

“Okay, well there was also the time we scared the hell-”

“Hey! What did you just say?” I ask. They know they aren’t supposed to talk like that on the off chance that one of the younger children is around. I don’t care if there aren’t any little ones here; they shouldn’t say it in case. I guess it’s just the motherly instincts.

“Sorry Lizzie. Well we scared the heck out of Lizzie by making her think Kay was drowning in the water.”

“Oh my god! She freaked out sooo much at that one!”

“Yeah, and almost killed us afterward!” Jaime reminds them.

I remember that. Yeah, I could’ve rung their little necks. I was so afraid Kayla was hurt or dead…luckily they never did that again.

“Then there was the spider in Ria’s drink.”

“That was not even funny, guys!” Maria remarks. I chuckle at the memory. You see, Ria’s always had this inborn fear and hatred of spiders. She screams…well actually it’s more like shrieking.

“Maria really hates spiders,” I whisper to Max as explanation, and he gives a slight laugh.

“And don’t forget all those times you would jump out of the closets and around corners thinking it was one of them walking by…” Sara’s voice comes from somewhere off to my left. She’s trying not to laugh, but I can still hear the slight inflection in her tone. I remember hearing her scream several times. Though Sara isn’t nearly as loud as Ria.

“It’s not our fault you were always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Sara!” is Steven’s smart-ass reply.

“Yes, silly me.”

We talked for a while longer. The kids and Sara all really seem to like Max, and I’m glad. Not that I need anyone’s approval, but its nice knowing that they get along. And Max can just be too much sometimes. He really didn’t have to tell the boys that he’d get them game tickets…he just better not break that promise though, or he’ll have to deal with me. And I can be a bitch when I’m in protective mode. Bet you never thought I could be a bitch…but you’ve never experienced it, so just be glad.

* * *

TBC...
posted on 18-May-2002 7:27:53 PM by dancepixie
Hey guys! I've got the next part here, and I've got the sneaking suspicion that you'll really like what happens next!*wink**big* Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*



* * *

Part 33

* * *

Max did come through with his promise to the boys of game tickets. They were so excited when they got them in the mail that they called me up right away just to tell me all about it.

It was a weekend game, one of their last home games of the season. The girls came into town with the boys and hung out with Ria and I all day. We took them to the mall and then went and got some ice cream and walked to the park.

At the park we ran into Isabel and Katie who had little April with them. Kayla and Jamie played with Chocolate and the little girls while Maria and I talked with Isabel for a while.

“So, how’s everything going with you and Max?” Isabel asks me.

“Pretty good. He’s so sweet. Today he got tickets for Johnny and Steven to go to his game. When the game is over they’re going to meet us to go get some pizza, I think. You and the girls are welcome to join us if you want.”

“Thanks,” Isabel says. I can hear it in her voice…there’s something she wants to say…

“What is it Isabel? Is there something you want to say?”

“Huh?” I guess she wasn’t expecting me to notice. “Sorry…I just…”

“Well come on already, spill!” Maria laughs. I’m sure she’s bouncing up and down in her seat right now. I can just hear it in her voice. Ever since Michael proposed she’s been giddy all the time.

“Well…I haven’t told Alex yet, but…I just found out that I’m pregnant.”

“Oh! Congratulations!” Maria squeals.

“Yeah Izzie, that’s great,” I tell her as she gives me a hug.

“Thank you guys. I went to the doctor this morning, and now I’m trying to figure out how to tell Alex, but the girls have been keeping me busy since we picked April up two hours ago.”

“Oh! I’m great at planning things like that!” Maria seems so happy. You know, hearing her spouting off ideas left and right, I’m kinda afraid for Michael whenever Maria gets pregnant…poor him!

“Hey, we’ll keep an eye on Katie if you want to go out or just have a special evening alone with Alex,” I offer. I really don’t mind. Katie is a sweetheart, and we get along well. She can even help me brainstorm for ideas for my book. Kids are goldmines in that area if you just know how to prompt them.

“Would you? That would be great!”

“Sure, no problem.”

* * *

“Are you sure it’s okay if Katie and April come with you right now?” Isabel asks as we walk out of the park an hour later. I think Chocolate tired out the kids, all of them.

Kayla and Jaime seem to think April and Katie are just the cutest things. I forgot they hadn’t met them before…but I guess I should have realized, I mean, I’m only around them when Ria and I go out to Sara’s place.

“Don’t worry about it. You want to spend time with me and Ria, don’t you girls?” I ask the two little ones.

“Course Lizzie!” April squeezes my hand.

“Yeah. It’s always fun spending time with you. Can you tell us one of your stories later?” Katie asks me, and I can’t miss the excitement I hear in her voice.

“Of course munchkin. Come on, say bye to your mom.”

“Bye mommy!”

* * *

“Oh! And Max got the whole team to autograph a game ball for each of us!” Steven’s talking a mile a minute. I’m glad the boys had fun at the game. That’s all they’ve been able to talk about since we met them here at Pizza Palace.

April and Katie are sitting beside me chattering away about this and that. They are so adorable. It’s funny how they can just faze out our conversation since they don’t know much about it anyways. Max is sitting on my other side with his left arm around my shoulders.

“That was very sweet of you Max,” I whisper to him.

“Hey, it’s nothing. We had a lot of fun, and I wanted them to have something to remember the game with.” He’s so nonchalant about it all.

“So Lizzie, Ria, when do we get to do this again?” Kayla’s asking.

“What?” Ria asks.

“Well, it’s been fun! And since we have a way to get into town, you know Sara won’t mind if we come to visit you guys. Please? It’s been a great day, we should do it again sometime.” Jaime explained.

“Whenever you girls, or you boys too, feel like coming in, you’re always welcome. And hey, if you guys want some jobs, I’m sure I can always use a waitress or two at the café.” Oh, that’s so cute! Maria’s offering them jobs?

“Really?”

“Of course, I know Sara wouldn’t mind. Then you could have some actual spending money to go shopping with.”

“That’d be great!” I can hear the excitement in their voices as the chatter on and on about working at the café. I’m sure they’ll make great waitresses as long as they don’t try to put fake spiders in anyone’s food or drinks…

“So what are you’re plans for tonight?” Max whispers in my ear a while later while everyone else is talking amongst themselves.

“Well I’m bringing these two munchkins home. I promised Isabel I could watch Katie for a while tonight so that she and Alex could have some time alone. Why do you ask?”

“Just curious. So, can I come over, or is this a just girls thing?”

“I don’t know, why don’t you ask them?” I smile at the pouting voice he’s using on me. Oh, the poor baby. He wants to play too. “Hey girls, what do you think, should we let Max come over tonight too?” I ask them.

“Of course Uncle Max can come! He’s the coolest!” Katie chirps up right away.

“Yeah, he’s always fun,” April adds.

“Well thank you girls,” Max tells them and they giggle. Hmm…now what am I going to do with the girls and Max tonight?

* * *

“That’s the story of how the two Arana Queens met their best friends, the Nelphi Sprites.” I finished telling them of the back-story of my still work in progress. “So, what do you girls think? Is it any good?” Kids can be your toughest critics if things don’t make sense, they’ll usually let you know.

“It was great!”

“Yeah! I like Riana and Eli…they’re cool!” I can’t help but smile.

“Thank you. You know, you girls are the first two to get to hear this one. It’s not published yet, but it will be soon.”

“Thank you Lizzie!” April chirps.

“Yeah, thanks Lizzie!” Katie agrees as they both wrap their little arms around me. I’m sitting in the middle of the couch and I’ve got one of them on each side of me. This is nice.

“So, what do you girls want to do now?” I ask them.

“Oh! Can we go back to my place now?” April asks. “You said that her mom said she could spend the night. And I wanna show her my new movie!”

“Of course April. You two have fun, alright? Just don’t keep your mother up all night! Goodnight,” I tell them as they each give me a hug.

“Night Uncle Max!” Katie calls as the two off them head out the front door and down the hall. I wait, listening to the door across from me opening and then shutting again before I turn back to Max.

“Hmm…” his voice breaks the silence.

“What?” I ask softly, wondering what he’s thinking.

“I was just thinking about how different things have been since I’ve met you.”

“Mmm…” I scoot over next to him and curl up against his side. His arm immediately snakes its way around my body holding me close. Resting my head against his chest I revel in the feel of him surrounding me.

“Since I met you Liz, so much has changed.”

“How? Like what?” I ask without moving.

“My priorities. I used to stay out late with the guys after the games and celebrate a lot more. But now, all I can think about is getting back to my hotel room and calling you just so that I can hear your sweet voice again.” His fingers are running through my hair in a hypnotic fashion. I don’t think I could move if I wanted to.

“Am I…cramping your style?” I don’t want to say it, but now I feel bad, like I’ve taken something away from Max…his freedom.

“No! Don’t you ever think that, alright?” He places a kiss to my temple and pulls me closer to him. “You are the best thing that’s happened to me. Trust me when I say that I love you completely.”

“I love you too Max.” I reach out a hand and touch his face, cupping his cheek. I bring his head down to mine and give him a soft kiss.

He kisses me back, bringing me to sit on his lap; his arms wrap around me, tangling in my hair. He places little kisses down my neck and back up to my ear.

“I love you so much I just can’t keep my hands off of you,” his voice is husky in my ear and sends those all too familiar shivers running a marathon up and down my spine.

Can I tell you something? I don’t want his hands off of me either. Max is the best thing in my life right now. He takes me on these incredible highs. He pushes me to my limits making me realize that I can do more than I think I can. He’s helped me to overcome some fears and just learn to enjoy life so much more.

“Max…” I whisper. “Take me to my room?” I ask.

“Liz?” He has my face cupped in both his big hands, and I can’t help but rub my soft skin against his. “Are you sure?” It’s sweet how much he cares.

“Yes, please?”

As I answer I feel one arm wrapping securely around my waist, and the other sweeping beneath my knees, cradling me to his chest as he stands up and heads to my room. I make myself comfortable in his arms and place baby kisses along his shoulder and neck, as far as I can reach.

We make it to my room and he smoothly places me on my bed. I hear Chocolate’s collar clinking as it moves toward the door. Oops. I think we disturbed her sleep. She was sleeping on my bed…oops. But now, we won’t have any more interruptions.

I sit up and reach to pull my shirt off, but his hands stop me. Taking my hands in his he kisses them on the palm before reaching for my shirt himself.

He gently lifts it over my head, and I hear it landing on the floor off to the side. Then his hands are caressing my shoulders, touching my skin and setting it on fire as he goes. But I want to feel his skin under my fingers. Running my hands over his body I find the hem of his shirt and start to pull it up and over his head. He just sits there and lets me. But the minute its off, his lips are back on mine and he’s pushing me back to lie down on the bed.

His kisses are driving me crazy, I just can’t get enough of him. His hands are wandering all over my body just making me yearn for more. He’s an oasis and I just can’t get my fill.

My hands spread across his chest, feeling his muscles twitch and respond to my touch. When my hand reaches the waistband of his jeans he tenses a little, but my kisses seem to make him forget. But the minute my fingers go to the button, he stops me, pulling away from my lips, leaving me wanting for more.

“Liz?”

“Max? What’s wrong?” Did I do something wrong? I just thought…

“Are you sure about this, baby? Are you sure you’re ready for this?” God, could he be any more perfect? I don’t think so. He’s always worried about me, making sure I’m okay with everything.

“This is what I want Max. I want you,” I tell him softly. He doesn’t leave me waiting for long. His lips come crashing down on mine, taking me to a place I’ve never been before. I know right now that I will never forget this night, ever.

* * *

“Lizzie?” the voice is a whisper in my ear.

“Mmm…” I mumble as I stretch out my legs and come into contact with the warm body beside me. “What time is it?”

“Almost noon,” he tells me.

“What?” How could I sleep that long? What the hell?

“Shh…relax baby,” he tells me as his hand draws little circles across my stomach. God I love it when he does that.

“Mmm…so, what are we doing today?”

“Well, I figured we could take a nice warm shower together, and then I can make you something to eat, and then I’m sorry, but I have a team meeting that I have to be there for.”

I lean over and place a kiss on his lips.

“It’s okay. I should get some work done today anyway or else I’ll have Tess pounding on my door.”

“So, how about that shower then?”

“Sounds heavenly!” I can’t help but smile. Last night was…well, amazing. I’m not going to share all the details, cause well…it is personal. But it was definitely one of the best nights of my life.

“Ahh! Max!” I laugh as I playfully hit his chest. I wasn’t expecting him to come and swoop me up into his arms, but he did, and now he’s carrying me away to my bathroom, I can’t wait!

* * *

posted on 23-May-2002 11:26:46 PM by dancepixie
Hehehe, I get the hint Applebybehr!*big* I'll go proof a part after I make dinner and so hopefully it'll be posted in a few hours.

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 24-May-2002 3:40:51 AM by dancepixie
Thanks for all the great feedback everyone, thats what keeps me writing. To answer a few questions that I know were asked not that long ago...

No, there are no aliens in this story, sorry. So that kinda leaves out the option of Max using his alien powers to heal Liz. And Isabel isn't a doctor, she's a physical therapist.

Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 34

* * *

Riana and Eli were traveling on horseback through the dense forest of Kaja. They were running away from home, you might say. Their young spirits were yearning for adventure and freedom, which they didn’t find enough of in their parent’s homes. So they were striking out on their own in search of bright horizons.

They were passing through a narrow chasm along the mountain when they heard a strange noise.

“Riana? Was that you?”

“No, it wasn’t me…was it you?”

They were only children still, and many of the noises of the forest were strange and unusual to them.

“Let’s go see what it was!” Eli was always the impulsive one, always ready to jump in head first.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course! It’ll be fun!”

Riana rolled her eyes. It always started this way. Eli would claim it would be fun, she would go along with it, and she’d usually end up saving Eli’s butt somewhere from something dangerous. But, it was always exciting. No boring days for them.

“Okay,” she agreed, keeping a careful eye out.

The two girls got off their horses, hiding them in the brush tied to a tree. Then they walked along the ravine, searching for the source of the noises they had heard.

That was the day that Riana and Elisa met Niara and Silea. They would go on to have many more adventures together, creating stories around their friendship that would span the test of time as both myth and legend. Only few would know the truth…and Alissandra was one of those few.

As she read in her grandmother’s journal about all the adventures, Alissandra wondered if one day, she too would have friends like that who would stand by her through thick and thin. She wondered if she could go on excursions to see the world and people and places she had only dreamed of and read about…


* * *

I think I’ve come to the end of this book. It’s kind of found an ending of its own really. It’s not the end of the series by far. I still have Alissandra’s story to tell. Because this book only introduces her, and it’s what leads up to her own story. I think that makes a good ending right there. It leaves you open to wonder and think and use your own imagination. There will be more, but it doesn’t leave you at a point where you are dying for the next story right away when you can’t have it yet.

Do you understand that? I don’t know if I know what I’m taking about anymore, let alone you. Maybe I’ve been writing for too long today, I don’t know. I’m babbling again. But I’ve finished. That is it!

It’s really exciting to know that I’ve finished a book. Sure, I still have to send it to my editor and everything, but it’s all written. It will need polishing, but that’s nothing. I feel like I need to celebrate…but I don’t know what to do. Who do I call first? There are so many important people in my life.

Okay, I suppose I should send this off to Tess first before I do anything, don’t you agree? Then it’s truly finished, when it’s out of my hands.

* * *

“Let’s go celebrate!” Max tells me. I just told him about finishing my book and after swinging me around in his arms he kisses me and says we should go out. “Maria’s café! What do you say?”

“Sounds great!” I can’t help but smile and laugh when I’m around him now. Last night was so…incredible and I don’t want this feeling to end.

“I’ll call her and tell her we’re coming so she and Michael can join us!”

“Invite Isabel and Alex too!” I can’t wait to see how Alex takes to being a father again. And I wonder if they told Katie. I’m sure she’ll love being a big sister.

“Okay. You go get dressed while I’m on the phone.” He kisses me again quickly and then I hear him go sit at my computer to use the phone. He’s so sweet. I hurry into my bedroom and go straight to my closet. Hmm…what to wear? It’s always a tough decision. How about the latest outfit Maria helped me pick out? Sure.

As soon as I’m dressed I head into the living room in time to hear Max saying goodbye to his sister.

“Are they coming?” I ask as I walk over to him and sit on his lap in my chair.

“Of course, but I didn’t tell them why we were celebrating. That is all for you.”

“Thank you.”

* * *

So we’ve been here for a couple hours now. The foods been eaten and we’re just talking. Everyone seems to be really excited about my finishing my book. It seems so natural having my little group of friends expanded just a little more now. It seems like Max, Isabel and Alex have always been here.

Isabel shared her news with everyone too. Max was surprised, but he seemed really happy for his sister. They have such a close relationship; it must be nice. I think he was kind of sad to only find out now, especially when he realized that Maria and I had known before him.

“Sorry Max, I gotta steal my girl out of your arms for a few!” Maria says as she literally pulls me up off my Max’s lap. And I was just getting comfortable too!

“Sorry,” I tell him as I feel myself being dragged into the back room of the café. Great…interrogation time, I’m sure of it.

“Okay girl, spill.”

“Spill what, Ria?” I can play the innocent; pretend I don’t know what she could possibly be talking about.

“Come on girl, I know you better than that! What’s up with you? You’ve been smiling non-stop since you got here, and Max hasn’t taken a hand off you, well at least until I yanked you away.” She pauses a minute and I can just hear those gears in her head grinding at lightning speed. This is dangerous.

“Ria…” but she won’t let me talk.

“Oh my god!” she practically screams. Great…I hope they didn’t hear her out there…that would just be, well, embarrassing. Everyone doesn’t need to know about my personal life. “You had sex, didn’t you?!”

“Maria, do you think you could lower your voice a little? The whole world doesn’t need to know.”

“Then it’s true! I knew it! I knew there was something different between you two today.” She seems rather proud of herself at having figured this out. “So…how was it?”

I can feel myself blushing…do I really want to answer that question?

“I…it was incredible!” Okay, so I’m a girl and I can’t help but blurt everything to my best friend, so sue me! It’s not like I’m telling her all the details; those are only for me. “Last night was the best night of my life.”

“Aww, that’s great sweetie! I’m so glad you finally found him.”

“Him?”

“Yeah, your one special someone.”

“Yeah, I guess I have,” I smile. Maria and I talk for a while longer. She of course has a million questions. I don’t answer them all, but she doesn’t seem to care. She’s just happy for me. Finally after what seems like forever we return to our friends and she brings me back over to my Max, and I sit right back in his lap like I had been before I was so rudely snatched away.

“What was that all about?”

“Mmm…I’ll tell ya later,” I whisper in his ear as I kiss his cheek.

* * *

It’s been a lonely two weeks. But now Max’s season is over. So now he is free for a few months! He’s mine, all mine!

Okay, so he’s not all mine yet. He’s still out in California from their last game. But he just called. Yes! That’s why I’m so giddy right now, alright? Are you happy now? I can’t help it if he just makes me smile.

But he’s not coming back tomorrow. He says he has to check on something. He was being pretty mysterious about it, but I can let that slide.

So what have I been up to while he’s been gone? I’ve been talking with Tess a lot lately and we’ve been working on getting my book done. I’ve told her everything I want from the illustrations. It’s difficult, I have to trust someone else’s eyes. I told her everything I want and she’s going to work with the illustrator to get my designs my way. I know Maria and April will look at it and tell me what they think when I get it to preview it. They did that last time for me and they didn’t like a couple things so we sent it back and got it fixed. It worked out pretty well. And I guess now I have a few more critics. I’m sure Katie would love to see it, and Isabel would give me her honest opinion.

You know, I can’t wait for this to be done. It’s just so…fulfilling to have something finished, you know? Not like I haven’t finished something before, obviously, but…I don’t know, I just don’t think I’ll ever lose this feeling of accomplishment each time I finish something new.

* * *

“Okay chica, we are so going out tonight!” I hear Maria announcing and the door shuts loudly behind her as if it’s final.

“Hey Ria,” I call from the bathroom where I’m brushing through my hair.

“There’s my baby! Hey Chocolate. You’re my pretty girl, aren’t you?” Gees, she so needs a life! I swear, Chocolate would be lost without her coming around all the time.

“What have I told you about spoiling my dog?” I try to sound mad as I walk into the living room with my hands on my hips and head towards the noise of Chocolate’s collar, but I’m about to start laughing.

“Oh please! This puppy would be soo lacking in the loving without me!”

“Yeah, yeah. Sure chica.”

“So here’s the deal. We are going out tonight!” Can’t you just hear that devious grin in her voice? Maybe not…I’ve had more practice. But if you listen closely, I promise you will hear it, just pay more attention, use all of your senses.

“Where? Why?” Hey, I can’t help but be skeptical when she comes into my apartment like the woman on a mission.

“To have some fun. I mean, you’ve just been sitting around the apartment for the last few days listening to Max’s games. Now they are over, and it is time to get out!” Little did I know at the time, that this had all been planned for me.

“Come on. It’ll be fun, I promise. Izzie and Alex are coming with, I just dropped Katie off with April and Mrs. Cortez, so it’s just us adults. What do you say? We’re gonna go out and then you are welcome to stay with Michael and I tonight. You can help me work on some of the plans for the wedding, it’s perfect!” She’s babbling now, this can’t be good at all. Here’s a lesson for you, a babbling Maria, always means bad news; she’s got something up her sleeve. The only problem is trying to figure out what that is.

“But you haven’t even picked out a date yet have you?”

“Well, not really…but I figure you’ll help me with that!”

“Okay. I suppose I could do that.”

“Great! It’ll be sooo much fun. Chica you won’t regret this, trust me!” Now I know something is going on here, but I can’t stop her from what she is planning and conniving, so I might as well go along with it. It’s not like she’d do anything to hurt me, I trust her with my life.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 27-May-2002 6:02:57 PM by dancepixie
Here you go Gracie, just like I promised, and thanks for updating The Cutting Edge!

Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 35

* * *

I’m so tired! I just want to curl up in bed with Chocolate and sleep for a year.

So I went with Maria last night and we did the night out at the karaoke bar, and I just have to say that Maria always has had the most beautiful voice. But we stayed out till midnight and then went back to her and Michaels place. Isabel came too and Michael retired to the bedroom since we took over the den.

Yeah, so we were up talking and laughing. Maria and I reminisced about the old times, telling Isabel a bunch of stories about what we were like when we were little. I told her some good ones about Michael and Maria when we were in elementary school…yeah, those were the times they nearly killed each other at recess and during lunch.

Like the time Mr. Barringer was having us work in partners on this art project. Well Maria and Michael got in an argument about what colors to use, so lets just say that they both ended up wearing their work. Maria had purple and red smiley faces and hearts and flowers coloring her arms and legs and face whereas Michael just had a bunch of big colorful spots and squiggles… They got detention for a week, but that just meant staying after school, just the two of them…yeah that was smart, some punishment Mr. Barringer.

Anyways, where was I before I went off on that tangent?

Oh yeah, I just want to go to bed, and sleep for hours. Hopefully no one will stop me. I unlock my door as I say goodbye to Isabel. She gave me a ride over since she had to pick up Katie.

I walk in my door and something just feels different. Something’s off. I don’t know what it is…I just can’t quite put my finger on it.

“Chocolate, come back here girl. Let me get your leash off!” I call to her after she headed in without me.

She reluctantly comes back to me. What’s up with her, I wonder.

“What is it girl, huh? What’s wrong with you?” I ask as I un-leash her and set her loose. She licks my hand before she goes back inside. Shaking my head I follow her.

I’m walking into the living room when a big pair of arms wraps around my waist, causing me to scream. Then I hear his laugh and feel his lips on my neck. It’s Max.

“Max!” I’m smiling even though I’m mad at him. He scared the crap out of me.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. I didn’t mean to scare you so much.” He’s still laughing, I don’t believe him.

“It’s okay I guess. What are you doing here? You said you probably wouldn’t be back until tomorrow.”

“I know, but I have a surprise for you.”

“What is it?”

“Lizzie?” Oh my god! That’s… “Lizzie? Oh honey, I missed you!” I hear feet running towards me and then I’m wrapped up in another pair of arms.

“Mom!” My arms are around her and I hold on tight. God, it’s been forever! I can feel the tears burning their way down my cheeks and don’t bother brushing them away.

Maybe you don’t understand how long it has been since I’ve been around my parents. It’s been a very long time, too long.

“Oh sweetie, I’ve missed you!”

“I missed you too mom.”

“Doesn’t dear old dad get a hug too?”

“Daddy?” I can’t believe this. I’m crying like a fool now, but I don’t care. I never expected this…I mean, to come home and find Max in my apartment is one thing, but Max and my parents?

“I’ve missed you Lizzie.” I let go of mom and dad sweeps me up into his arms.

It isn’t until fifteen minutes later that we’ve kinda settled down. Max has an arm back around me as we sit on the couch and talk with my parents. My mom tells me the whole story.

Apparently they got a phone call from Max while he was in California asking them if they had any free time to spare. As soon as his last game was over and he had celebrated with his team, he was on a flight to New Mexico. He went to meet my parents and invited them to fly back with him, since he had already bought the tickets.

God…what have I ever done to deserve this?

“Thank you, Max!” I squeeze his hand tightly in my own.

“I’ve had a great time meeting you Mrs. Parker, Mr. Parker, but I think I’ll give you guys some time alone.” What? No…I don’t want him to go… “Call me in the morning, okay?” he whispers in my ear and kisses my cheek before getting up and heading to the door.

I’m still so stunned I can’t even move. I don’t know what to do or where to go…so I just sit here and listen to him leaving.

“He’s a very nice young man,” my mom finally breaks the silence.

“Yeah, he seemed as excited about us coming to visit you as we were,” dad adds.

I smile as I think of Max. “Yeah, he is pretty special.” I’m in what Maria would call my ‘Max-induced haze.’ I suppose it is. But he’s just so…incredibly sweet and perceptible and completely spontaneous. I never would have guessed in a million years that he was being odd on the phone because he was planning on surprising me with a visit from my parents, that he paid for, no less!

Sometimes I just think he’s too good for me. I mean, sure, admit it, how many of you girls have ever wanted to be loved by someone so much that they pamper you and bring you what you need before you can even voice it? We all have our fantasies…some of mine just happen to be coming true it would seem.

* * *

Okay, so I’m supposed to call Max this morning…but I don’t know what to say. I’ve been sitting here in front of the telephone for an hour now. Chocolate is snoozing with her head across my feet keeping them warm. What do I say to him? He is just too much. And saying thank you just doesn’t seem near good enough. Why does he have to be too good?

My parents are staying at a hotel that’s not too far from here. They said they’d call sometime this morning, but I’m sure they want to sleep in since they don’t get that luxury back in New Mexico since they have to open the café. So I’m just sitting here…trying to get up the nerve to call Max…okay, I can do this. My goodness, I feel like some teenager… I’m a grown adult, I can do this!

Picking up the phone I hit his number on speed dial and wait.

“Hey beautiful,” I hear his voice say without hesitation. Just the sound of his voice makes me want to wrap his arms around me.

“Hey yourself.”

“Did you enjoy your surprise?” he asks.

“Very much. I don’t know what to say Max…thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.”

“Hey, it was worth it just to see you with your parents. I knew you missed them. I just wanted to bring that smile to your face, and I succeeded, that’s enough.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too. So what do you and your parents have planned today?” I can hear him getting comfortable, probably in his bed…okay I really don’t want to go down that road right now.

“I don’t know. They’re gonna call when they get up. I’ll probably take them to Ria’s café. I know they might have come to see me, but Ria is their other daughter. Besides she has some news to share.” I smile as I think of Maria and Michael. Those two are going to be so happy. I’m sure mom and dad are going to be just as excited for them as we all were.

“Well, have fun with your parents then.”

“Why don’t you come too?” I ask.

“Don’t you want some alone time with your parents?”

“We had that last night after you left. No, I want to spend time with you too. Besides, my parents think you are an angel. Please?”

“Well, when you say something like that, how could I possible resist?”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 2-Jun-2002 5:53:52 PM by dancepixie
Okay, I'm soo very sorry guys. But my computer is broken at the moment. All of the microsoft products have to be reloaded at the moment and I don't have them up here at school with me. At least I hope that's all the problem is. Needless to say Nikki's computer won't even turn on right now. So I'm sharing Michelle's computer with her, which means we only have time to write Complicated Circumstances at the moment, so there probably won't be any more updates of this or In Waking for at least a week, possibly a week and a half. I'm really sorry, but I can't help it!

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 13-Jun-2002 9:53:00 PM by dancepixie
Thanks for being patient everyone. Okay, so I'm back at home now for the summer, so I have a computer, though my laptop is still out of commission for who knows how long, grr! Anyways, I'm getting all unpacked and settled, and when I find my disk with my stories then I'll try to get the next part posted. I'm hoping to get it up later tonight or tomorrow at the latest. Thanks for being patient!

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 17-Jun-2002 12:22:01 AM by dancepixie
Nikki bows her head in shame

I know…I’m sorry, I promised to get this part out the other day, but I’ve found that every once in a while I do have a real life…amazing, huh? But here is the new part, and I’ll tell you right now that I will have the next part out within a few days, no more. Anyways, enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 36

* * *

Max picked me up and now we’re heading to the café. My parents said that they would meet us there after I gave them directions. They said they’d be fine.

You know what the great thing here is? Maria doesn’t know yet! I can’t wait, I’m sure that she’ll scream one of her patented Maria screams.

“We’re here,” Max tells me, shaking me from my thoughts. That didn’t take long. I can hear the people inside the café, just random voices talking happily with friends and loved ones I’m sure.

“Are my parents here yet?” I ask him.

“I don’t see them.”

“Okay.” He has one arm wrapped around me and leads me and Chocolate inside.

We walk in and sit at our normal booth in the back and talk for a few minutes about nothing really. Then I hear Maria calling from the counter.

“Hey Mr. P, Mrs. P! It’s good to see you guys again!” Wait a minute…is it just me, or did she not sound surprised? I smell something fishy, and methinks its sitting right here beside me.

“Maria, sweetheart, its great to see you again!” That’s my mom. I’m sure they’re hugging and doing the greeting thing. When they’re done Maria will bring them over.

I poke Max in the ribs with my elbow, I’m sure he had something to do with this.

“Maria knew, didn’t she?” I question suspiciously.

“Well…maybe.”

“Nope, no maybes! She had to have or else you could’ve heard her screams at seeing my parents on the other side of the country.”

“Okay, so she knew. But I had to have someone to get you out of the apartment so I could surprise you.” He just sounds irresistible with that sexy voice of his. Couldn’t you just eat him up? Okay, never mind, I am soooo not going there!

“Lizzie, it’s good to see you again sweetheart,” mom kisses my cheek and I hear her sitting down across from me. Dad slides in next to her and Maria is standing at the end of the table tapping her foot on the floor.

“So? How did you like your surprise chica?” she sounds so excited for me.

“I loved it. Thank you for helping Maria.”

“Oh please, it was nothing. Besides, we had a fun girls night! Max didn’t have to ask me to do anything except spend some much need time with my best girl!”

I can’t help but smile at her sweet words. Maria is the greatest best friend in the world. I hope someday I can do something good for her like she has for me. But I guess I kind of did, I was the one after all who brought her and Michael together.

“So what can I get ya from the kitchen? Michael’s in there right now, so I guarantee it will be good!”

An hour later we’re all sitting here and Michael and Maria joined us. Maria just finished telling mom and dad about the wedding plans. They seem really excited for her, and mom promised to help her with anything she needs while she’s here.

Mom and I decide that we want to go to the beach for a while. It should be fun. Chocolate will love the space and the chance to roam. And we can go down by Max’s condo cause the beaches over there always seem less crowded.

It’s pretty warm today, I could feel the sun shining on me before we came into the café and I’m sure the weather hasn’t changed that fast.

* * *

I was right, it’s still nice and warm out here. Right now its just me and mom strolling along the shore line. There’s no one around from the sound of it. Max and Dad are just up at his condo, dad wanted to see Max’s stereo system cause Max says it’s really cool, and I must admit, it does sound great.

“So sweetie, you and Max are really close, aren’t you?” mom asks me.

I smile, I can’t help it, just the thought of Max brings that silly smile to my lips. “Yeah, we are.”

“I’m so happy for you, honey. You’re father and I have been worrying about you because of the way you were closing people out.”

“I wasn’t closing people out, mom!”

“But you weren’t meeting anyone new. I know because I talked with Maria. She would tell me how she had to practically drag you out of the apartment at times.”

“Okay…I guess I was a little reclusive…” I give.

“Yeah, well, I’m just glad you found someone who can make you as happy as your father makes me.” Mom wraps her arms around me and gives me a little hug. It almost makes me feel like I’m her little girl again. Well, I’ll never really stop being her little girl, but you understand.

“Thanks mom. He does make me happy. Really happy.”

“Have you two talked about the future?”

“Huh?” What? Where did that come from?

“The future…where you’ll be in say…five years?”

“Umm…no, we haven’t.”

* * *

“So what were you and your mom talking about?” Max asks me as we sit on his couch listening to some classical music.

“Just things.”

A silence falls between us for a while as we listen to the music. It’s Claude Debussy, one of my favorite composers. Max just got this new CD and I love it.

“Max?”

“Yeah,” I can feel him move to look down upon me as his hand pulls at my waist a little, pulling me further against his chest.

“What did you and my parents talk about when you first met them? I mean…it had to have been awkward, right?”

“Well, I just used my fantastic charm, my wit, and my ever dazzling smile to worm my way into their hearts.” He should be a comedian with lines like those!

“Max!” I laugh. “I know that’s not all of it. Sure, maybe that’s part of it…how could anyone resist you? But I’m curious; I really want to know.”

“Well, I called them the day before my last game and asked them if they had any free time, and if they wouldn’t mind my stopping by on my way home.” His hand is softly brushing through my hair, rubbing my scalp, putting me in a daze and I have to try hard to listen to what he’s saying. “They were very generous and asked me to stay the night with them since it would be late in the day when I got in.

“When I got there your father even picked me up at the airport. I think he was excited to meet the man in his little girl’s life. He asked me all sorts of questions about you and how you were doing.” To emphasize his words he places light kisses along my neck in a hypnotic fashion.

“On the drive back into Roswell he even asked me what my intentions are towards you. And well, you know me…” his breath is right at my ear, giving me those delightful shivers. “I simply told him,” his tongue snakes out, licking at the sensitive skin of my neck just below my ear. “That I was going to have my way with you.” His little nips at my neck tickle and I can’t help the giggles that escape me.

“…And worship you, and love you, forever.” The last part was just barely a whisper as his lips seek out mine, learning even better all the recesses of my mouth as I learn his. Instinctively my arms surround his neck, pulling me closer to him.

I don’t know what has changed me so much, but its got something to do with Max, and I’m not denying these moments we have together. Just the feel of his arms around me is so right…so perfect…so like home.

“Liz,” his voice is a whisper as he pulls away from me slightly. I try to fight it but he still pulls away. He’s now got both of my hands in his, holding them in between us tightly.

“Liz, I love you. Ever since I first saw you at Maria’s it’s been all about you. You’ve changed me Liz…I’ve become a different person with you around, and I like who that is. You can always put a smile on my face by simply saying hello. I would do anything for you; I hope you know that. And…I would give anything, if you, Elizabeth Anne Parker would be my wife. Will you marry me?”

I don’t even really feel it when he places a light kiss on my forehead. I’m shocked…I’m surprised. I can definitely say I did not see this one coming!

Oh god! What do I do? What do I say? I can’t…I just…can’t!

Panic mode.

I pull myself out of his arms and scoot back across the couch, as far away as I can get right now. Oh god, what now? I’ve got to get out of here! That’s what I have to do. Chocolate, where’s Chocolate? She was here a minute ago.

“Liz?” Max voice sounds concerned, but I’m too scared to really listen to him. I gotta get out of here…I just…do.

“I’m sorry Max…I…I can’t!” I can feel the tears falling down my face. Why am I crying? I can’t stop this; I can’t even control it. What’s happening to me?

“Liz? What’s wrong? Why…why not?”

“I just can’t Max!” I yell. Why am I yelling? God, I hate it when I get this emotional. “Chocolate? Come here girl!” I call in desperation. A second later she’s at my feet licking my hand with her leash in her mouth. She’s such a good girl, and I’m thankful for that at this moment. All I want to do is get as far away from here and Max as possible.

“Liz, wait! Please?” But it’s too late, Chocolate and I are at the door.

“Max, I’m sorry, I just can’t do this right now. I’m sorry.” I pull the door open and Chocolate leads me out. I shut the door behind me softly, hearing light muffled sobs coming from behind it.

“Come on girl, let’s go walk on the beach,” I tell her. She leads the way, and I let her. I’m too busy thinking. Why does all this crap have to happen to me? I…I can’t deal with this…

Max has been so great to me, but I just can’t. How can he want to be with me forever? It’s gotta be a lie. He just feels sorry for blind little Lizzie Parker and so he’s doing this. But after a few months he’d quickly realize just who I am and change his mind. I can’t do that to him…or me. Everybody’s better off this way. Everyone would be better off without poor little Lizzie Parker.

Chocolate brought me to a bench so I sit down, pulling my knees up to my chest I just let myself cry. God, this is so not fair.

I wish Maria were here. Maybe she’d know what to do, cause I don’t. I pull out my cell phone and hit Maria’s number on speed dial. Please be there…please…please?

“Hello?” It’s Maria’s voice, she sounds worried.

“Ria?” I know I sound scared, and I’m sure she can hear the tears in my voice, but I really don’t give a damn.

“Chica? Oh, god! I’ve been worried about you! Where are you? I’ll come get you right away.”

“God Ria, everything’s so horrible.”

“It’s okay sugar, you don’t have to tell me anything now. Just tell me where you are so I can come and get you, alright?” Have I mentioned how much I love this girl?

“Thank you Ria! I love you so much!” I’m crying harder now, but I don’t care. I tell her where I am and she promises that she’s on the way before hanging up and heading out to get me.

It seems like forever passes as I sit here replaying that scene over and over in my head. Max…god, he just brings all these emotions forward so fast. I thought I could deal with everything that was happening, but I guess now I know I can’t.

I’m so focused on my thoughts that I don’t hear Maria come up and sit beside me, or Chocolate barking at her. But I do feel her arms as they wrap around me and pull me against her.

“Shh, it’s alright chica. I’m sorry, sweetie,” she’s whispering to me in this calming voice. She’s always been here for me. I cry on her shoulder for who knows how long before she helps me to her car.

* * *

TBC…


Please don’t kill me!!!

posted on 25-Jun-2002 3:29:01 PM by dancepixie
Hey guys, I’m back. Sorry for just doing that to ya and then going away, but I was at Disneyland for 3 days with friends…it was loads of fun, but I’m back now. And for any of you who are reading Complicated Circumstances, I’m working on the last part right now, so give me a few days at most and hopefully it’ll be done. Enjoy!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 37

* * *

“Are you ready to talk about what happened yet?” Maria asks me. I’m laying on my bed, face pressed into my pillow while she’s sitting beside me, holding my hand.

I shake my head no, but roll over so that I can breath.

“Ria? Why were you so worried when I called you?” I finally ask after minutes of silence.

“Because…Max called me,” she tells me. “He told me about…about how you ran out, and he was worried about you. He was afraid something might happen to you.”

“Doesn’t he think I can take care of myself?” Okay, I admit maybe I’m a little over the top, but I can’t help it when the anger takes over. “He does not need to take care of me! I was fine long before he ever came around and I’ll be fine now. I don’t need a babysitter! I’m not a child or an invalid. I’m blind, so damn what!!!”

“Hey…down girl. I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that, he was just scared.”

“No Maria! Don’t make excuses for him. Just…just leave me alone for a while, okay? I need to be alone right now,” I tell her. I don’t want to yell at her anymore and end up saying something I’ll regret later. Maria’s my best friend and I’m sure she would forgive me, but I really want to be alone.

“Are you sure? I told Michael I’d be gone for a while. I can stay…” I know she means well, but I really need to be alone.

“No, Maria, just go home to Michael. The two of you can go out to dinner or something, be happy.”

“But…”

“Just go!” I cry harder. I’m sure Maria’s fighting with herself on whether to go or not, but ultimately I hear her getting up and her feet heading to the door.

“Listen chica, if you need me, I’m only a phone call away. I don’t care what time it is, alright?”

“Thanks Ria.”

So what am I going to do now, you ask? Well, I’m going to sit here and wallow in my self-pity.

* * *

It’s a day later now…not that I’ve really done much. I can’t really say that I’ve even gotten up out of bed. Okay, so I did to feed Chocolate, but that was about it. Chocolate’s being my best friend right now. She’s lying on the bed beside me with her head right next to mine. Having my nice fuzzy puppy to cuddle up to is a comfort.

I lie in bed and listen as my answering machine clicks on…again. Maria’s called twice today at least. Mom called once telling me that she and dad had to get home to Roswell because there was some emergency at the café, and then again this morning to tell me that their flight got in alright.

“Liz? Liz, I’m sorry.”

It’s Max. Oh god!

“I’m sorry I scared you. I wish you hadn’t run away from me yesterday. I guess I just…misjudged things. I love you, and I didn’t mean to push you into something you weren’t ready for. Please Liz, pick up the phone.” I can hear him sigh and it makes me tremble, but I still can’t move.

“I made a mistake. We should have talked about this first, our future. Don’t run from me, from us; you’re stronger than that Liz, I know you are.” Who the hell does he think he is? He doesn’t know everything about me. He doesn’t know what its like. He doesn’t, and he never will!

“Please Liz, call me when you get this message. We need to talk. I’ll be home all day.”

One lonely tear drips down my cheek and I hear the answering machine clicking off. What now? Where do I go from here?

* * *

Okay, so maybe I’m doing the scared little child thing…but its what I do best I suppose. Whenever something bad happens I run from it. It’s the truth isn’t it? You should know that best seeing as I tell you most everything. When I became blind, I ran from the world by effectively hiding myself away. Now I’m running away essentially, without telling anyone. Nope, not even Ria. She has other things to worry about right now; she probably won’t even miss me.

Okay, maybe that was a little harsh. I’m sure she will miss me, I know I’ll miss her, but I can’t stay here right now listening to the hundreds of messages on my machine. I just have to get away for a little bit.

So what am I doing? I’m glad you finally asked. Chocolate and I are getting on the bus. Where are we headed? Well where do you think? Winter Haven, of course. I need Grandma Claudia right now. Not even she knows I’m coming. I don’t know if she knows about me and Max or not. Maria could have told her…or mom and dad if they know…I’m sure Ria would tell them too.

So I’m sitting on this bus with Chocolate in the seat beside me, her head resting across my lap. She’s such a good dog when it comes to trips, but I guess she was trained for that.

Hours later we finally arrive in Winter Haven. The nice lady who was sitting in the seat across the aisle from me on the bus offered to call me a cab. That was very nice of her. A little while later we’re pulling up in front of grandma’s and the driver takes my bags out and places them right beside me in the driveway. Thanking him I give him his money and he leaves.

Deep breaths, I’m okay. All I have to do is walk up to grandma’s door and ring the bell…just twenty steps….sixteen…nine…four…Ring! Here I am, bag, Chocolate and all.

“Honeybear? Oh, dear, it’s so good to see you! But, how did you get here?” she asks me as she pulls me into the biggest hug and brings me inside.

“Thanks grandma. We took the bus,” I tell her, meaning me and Chocolate.

“We? Did Max come with you again? But why didn’t he drive this time?”

“No…it’s just me and Chocolate, gramma.”

“Well come on in honeybear! I wasn’t expecting to see you again so soon.”

I give grandma a hug and tell her that I’m tired from my trip so she suggests I take a nap. But laying here in my bed I just remember the last time I was here…when Max brought me here.

No! I’m not thinking about him right now! I came here to get away, to forget!

Damn it! Why can’t I stop thinking of him? I hate this.

* * *

I guess I fell asleep eventually. My watch tells me it’s now seven in the morning. I guess I really was tired, huh?

Downstairs I find grandma in the kitchen. This morning I’m really glad I came here. It had been a spontaneous decision, but one I’m happy for now.

“Good morning honeybear,” she calls to me as I enter the kitchen. I could hear her cooking something, and now I smell it, pancakes. “You certainly must have been tired, you slept all evening and night.”

“Yeah, I guess, I just haven’t been sleeping too well lately, is all.”

“Well, I hope you feel better now.”

“I do, thanks. Those pancakes smell delicious grandma.”

“I thought you might be hungry. And Chocolate approves of them, don’t ya girl? She’s been helping me make them.” I can only smile at that. That dog is so spoiled…but I love her and wouldn’t have it any other way. What’s the point of having an animal if you don’t treat it well?

* * *

So I’ve been here for two days now. It’s great. It seems like all those summers ago when I’d spend months down here, just grandma Claudia and me. Those were some of the really good times.

We’ve been spending lots of time having fun. Some of grandma’s friends came over yesterday; they were sweet old ladies who loved to talk, and I enjoyed it. It isn’t often that I get to talk with people that much older than me. Generally, I’m surrounded by younger kids or Maria and other close friends my own age. It was a nice change.

Today I’m going grocery shopping with grandma Claudia, and Chocolate’s going to have to stay at home, a fact that she does not seem to like. I told her she had to stay and she gave that tiny little pathetic whimper that stings me right in the heart, along with several slurps of my hand.

“I’m sorry girl, but you get to guard the house while we’re gone, okay?” I tell her, patting her head reassuringly. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.” I feel like she’s a little child or something; she really seems like that at times like these.

“You ready to go, Lizzie?” grandma asks me.

“Yup, I was just saying bye to Chocolate and telling her not to destroy the place while we’re gone,” I smile.

“Like that little angel could destroy anything,” grandma laughs. It’s true I don’t think she could.

Shopping doesn’t really take us that long, surprisingly. We don’t need that much, but we had to get some food and things for Chocolate. While we’re in line at the cash register grandma Claudia nudges me.

“Lizzie, there’s a lady coming over here that looks like she might know you,” she tells me. All I can say is, huh? Who do I know down here? No one really…I mean, I don’t.

“Liz? Is that you?” the voice before me questions. She sounds familiar…but…I’m not sure. I’m usually good at voice recognition, but I can’t place her.

“I’m Liz.” My voice is soft and I’m sure she hears the uncertainty because she quickly speaks again.

“I’m Diane Evans, Max’s mother. You remember me?”

Oh shit! Fuck! What does fate have against me?

“Um…hi Diane. Uhh…of course I remember you,” I manage a weak smile. And I had been doing so well not thinking about Max the last few days. Screw that.

“It’s good to see you again, honey. How’ve you been?”

“I’m okay, thanks. Oh, um, Diane, this is my grandmother, Claudia Parker. Grandma, this is Max’s mother, Diane.” I introduce them and they say hello, beginning a conversation about how they think they’ve seen each other around and such. This really is a pretty small town so I’m not surprised.

“Oh, well I should go, you’re at the front of the line now. Oh, but Liz, could you please tell my son to call me? I haven’t been able to get a hold of him all week,” she sighs. I hope its nothing important. Had Max not told her? Damn it, there I go again, thinking of him.

What do I say? What do I tell her? ‘Uh, well you know what, you’re son proposed to me and I sorta ran away, so I don’t think I can give him your message!’ Oh yeah, that would go over real well!

“Umm…sure…” I mumble as grandma pulls my arm a little, urging me forward to pay for our groceries. Well, at least she’s gone now, I can breathe. But now grandma knows something’s up.

Well, okay, I’m sure she knew when I first got here that something was wrong, but she never asked. Now I’m sure she’s going to, its only a matter of time.

But she didn’t…well at least not once the whole way home. Though the second we walk through the door, I can feel in the air that things are changing. I think she wants me to tell her. I suppose I should. Maybe she can help me out a little.

* * *

TBC…

posted on 16-Jul-2002 8:00:50 PM by dancepixie
Hey guys, I'm sorry for the delay, but I do have the next part written. Here's the deal. My computer was having major trauma and after all sorts of attempts at fixing it I found out that it is the microsoft office software that doesn't like my computer aparently. So now I'm using something else, that is basically the same thing. So that's my laptop, but at home I can't hook that computer up to the internet so I have to transfer my story on disk to post it. But this computer that I use has microsoft and not the other openoffice program and I can't get it to open that file properly, so until my dad gets home from work and can tell me what I'm doing wrong, I can't post. I'm sorry! I really really am. But I promise it is coming, and for those of you reading CC, I'm almost done, I've been working on it.

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 19-Jul-2002 8:40:11 PM by dancepixie
I know, I know...It took me WAY too long to get this new part out, but I've been losing track of days. And for any of those of you who are reading CC, well I've been busting my ass today trying to write the next part, and I've got that part done too, finally! Because I've been focusing on that, well, this story was kinda falling behind. I'm sure you noticed. But, hopefully I'll be able to get back into posting a lot when I finish this part of CC. Thank you for all the great feedback, that's what keeps me writing even when my muse takes a break. Thanks all, and enjoy, just don't kill me...

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 38

* * *

“So are you going to tell me what is bothering you, honeybear?” I sigh…this is grandma. I’ve always been able to tell her anything, all my secrets. Well her goes nothing!

“Max…asked me to marry him.” My voice is soft and I don’t sound like myself, but I’m trying to keep the tears back.

“Well isn’t that a good thing?” I’m silent. “What happened?” she’s sitting beside me now with an arm around my shoulders.

“I…I don’t know what it was. I just…I couldn’t do it,” I spill my heart out, telling her everything about how I ran out on him and haven’t been answering my calls and just ran away down here.

“Oh, honeybear. Do you wanna know what I think?” I nod my head against her shoulder where it’s buried in her embrace. “Well, I think that you need to deal with these issues you’re having. But first, at least call Maria and let her know you’re alright. She called here asking if I had seen you yesterday. I told her you were here but asked her not to tell anyone cause I knew that something was wrong with you. But she really sounded scared for you.”

“I’m sorry…” Gees, now I feel like a bitch for just leaving all my friends to worry.

“It’s alright, she’ll forgive you. Now, about Max. I think he deserves an explanation, but I also think you need to figure out what’s going on with you before you talk to him about your relationship.”

I let everything she says sink in, and you know what, it makes sense. Grandma always has the best advice. I guess that was part of what drove me down here to her. I needed a sane voice of reason, and no offense to Maria or anything, I mean she’s my best girl, but she isn’t exactly what I’d call sane, am I right?

“Thanks grandma. I’ll think about it.”

“Good. Now why don’t you go make that phone call, hmm?”

“Sure.”

* * *

“Hello?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Lizzie? God! I was so worried about you, girl! Where have you been?”

“I’m with grandma Claudia right now. I’m fine, honest. Don’t worry about me.”

“Of course I worry about you! You’re my bestest friend ever! I was going crazy.”

“Well now you can rest easily. I’m fine.”

“How are you really?”

“I’m…okay…” what am I supposed to say? I don’t know myself right now so I can’t exactly tell her.

“Do you want me to come down there?” Good old Maria, always wants to come running to my rescue. But I’m not a damsel in distress, and I don’t need a savior.

“No!” Maybe I said that too quickly, I don’t want to seem rude. “I…you have so many things you need to do, don’t worry about me, I’m fine.”

“Okay, but you know the minute you get back here we’re talking, right?”

“Yeah, I didn’t think I’d be able to get out of it. Bye Ria.”

I hang up the phone with a heavy hand. I wanted to ask about Max…but I just couldn’t bring myself to say his name, to voice it and ask. I’m supposed to be forgetting about him. But why do I have to keep reminding myself of that?

Sighing I head back into the living room where I can hear grandma talking to Chocolate.

“Everything go well?” she asks.

“Yeah. I’m sure she’ll chew me out when I get back, but its okay.”

“She’s just looking out for you, honey. For all your lives the two of you have been there for each other; just cause you’re growing up doesn’t mean any of that is going to change. You should be happy to have each other.”

“I know, and I am grandma. It’s just sometimes she gets way too protective and I know she wouldn’t be acting this way if I weren’t blind.”

“You still aren’t over that, are you?” grandma asks softly as her hand rests lightly, comfortingly, over my knee.

“Over my accident? Of course I am grandma.” How silly can she be? I was over that a long time ago.

“No, honeybear, you’re not. If you had really come to terms with all of that, then you wouldn’t imagine that Maria’s only acting this way because you’re blind. Deep down inside you know it’s not true. She loves you as if you were her own sister; that is how the two of you have always been to one another. She’s not acting any different now than she ever did before.”

I can feel the tears prickling at the corners of my eyes. Maybe grandma’s right. It hurts listening to this…but maybe that’s what makes it so true.

“Oh, honeybear, come here!” She wraps me up in her arms, hugging me close and I just curl up against her side like I did when I was little and had a bad dream. We just sit there for hours. She’s whispering things in my ear and soothingly rubbing my back until I just drift off.

* * *

I’m running as hard as I can, but I’m not going anywhere. All the trees just stand still, but I’m running as hard as I can. What’s going on here? Where am I? Nothing looks familiar…

I feel a hand on my back and turn around to see Max, or my version of what I imagine him to look like. He stops me and pulls me into his arms and I cry on his chest. I don’t know what’s happening. What was I running from? Where was I going?

I look up and Max’s no longer standing there, he just vanished, and I’m all alone. The world around me goes pitch black and I feel the coldness seeping into my veins slowly. I’m afraid…terrified of the dark but I don’t know why.

Then I feel it…the feeling of something crawling around my feet. I scream but no noise comes out. I’m panicking but I can’t move…what the hell is happening to me? What’s wrong with me?


* * *

I sit bolt upright with a scream on my lips. God! What the hell was that? Taking a few deep breaths I try and relax and gain my bearings back.

Where am I? All I remember is talking to grandma…I must’ve fallen asleep there. So am I on the couch? But feeling around me, this isn’t a couch, it’s a bed, its too big. And there are pillows where my head was. But how did I get to my bed? Grandma certainly couldn’t carry me…

“Lizzie?” I hear grandma’s harried voice at the same time as feet ascending the stairs in a hurried run.

“Liz?” Oh my god! Why is he here? Oh god! “Liz? Are you alright?” He’s sitting on the edge of my bed and grabbing my hands within his own. Oh god! Just breathe…

“Lizzie, what’s wrong honeybear? We heard you scream.” Grandma comes around to the other side of me and places a hand on the side of my head.

“Oh grandma,” I whisper. My voice is almost hoarse.

“Shh! It’s alright, you’re safe now darling,” she whispers in my ear as she pulls me close to her. I relax into her arms for a moment reveling in the soothing feelings she sends me. But Max brushes one of his rough hands over my cheek and I remember my situation.

“What are you doing here?” I know the anger in my voice is over-powering but I can’t help it. The fright is gone, I’m not scared anymore, I’m not dreaming anymore.

“Are you okay?” I can't miss the sincerity in his voice...it's just like I remember him.

“Yeah,” I breathe. “I'm fine now. I just had a bad dream.”

“We need to talk.” His voice seems hoarse too.

“How did you find me?”

“Maria…I overheard her and Michael talking…I had to make sure you were alright.”

“I think this is my cue to leave you two alone,” grandma Claudia says softly as she pats my hand and heads for the door. I want to call out to her but my door is already shutting.

“Liz, what happened?” Max asks me. His voice sounds like he’s on the verge of tears.

“What the hell are you doing here? I need to be alone right now, don’t you get that?” I’m nearly screaming in hysterics as the tears fall. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so upset, but it’s all coming out now.

“Please, can’t we just talk?”

“You just listened in to Maria’s conversation to find me? How could you?”

“I was desperate, alright? I’ve been worried about you since the moment you ran out my door. You didn’t pick up the phone or return my calls. I was afraid something might have happened to you. I had to see for myself that you were alright. Can’t we please just talk about this?” His voice is soft by the time he finishes and I have to listen closely to hear him.

“Fine. Say what you need to say and then leave me alone!”

“Liz, I love you. I don’t know why you ran out of my place. I’m sorry if I pushed you. I didn’t realize you weren’t ready for this…I just thought…since we were getting so close…it was the next step. We should have talked about it, and I’m sorry. No, actually I’m not sorry for wanting to make you my wife, because that’s all I’ve wanted for a long time now. Please, give me another chance, give us another chance.”

I can hear the tears in his voice and feel the tenseness surrounding me. I’ve got tears in my own eyes.

“Max…I need time to think, alright? I’m lost. I honestly don’t know what’s going on with me right now, but grandma Claudia is helping me figure this out. I just…can’t be around you…”

“Will you come back?”

“Yes, I will go back to my apartment eventually; when I’m ready.”

“Will you call me?”

“I don’t know Max…I…”

“That’s okay. But I won’t give up on you Liz Parker. I love you. And I know that if you stop lying to yourself, you’ll realize you love me too. I could care less that you are blind. That’s not who you are. You are the sweet and caring and loving woman who writes children’s stories and reads to the kids at the library. That is who you really are. The woman who stole my heart.”

The tears are falling steadily down my face and I don’t know what to say to Max. What has he done to me? I’m so lost, confused, angry, and frightened all at once.

“You should go,” I manage to get out.

“Okay, but if you need anything…you know my number. I love you Elizabeth Parker.”

I sigh and wait as he gets up but he doesn’t move to the door. He leans over and places a kiss on my temple first before heading out.

“Oh, Max?” I call out to him remembering something, no matter how trivial. “Call your mother, she wanted to talk with you.”

And with that, he’s gone…out of my life…for the moment at least. I give a big sigh and lean back on my pillows. He had to have been the one to carry me up to bed. How long was he here before I woke up?

God! Why does my life have to be so truly fucked up? What did I ever do to deserve all this?

* * *

“Honeybear?” grandma’s voice is a whisper in my ear. “Do you want to talk about it?” She’s calm and soothing in her air so that I can’t help but talk to her.

“I’m so confused grandma!” I cry.

“Hey, its alright honey. Why don’t you start by telling me about that nightmare, hmm?” So I tell her everything…

“…I don’t get it grandma, I mean, why Max? What does it all mean?”

“Well, I think it’s your insecurities manifesting themselves in your subconscious. Why Max? I think you know the reason. I believe that you really do love him sweetheart. Maybe you’re afraid of him leaving you. And the darkness…well you still haven’t gotten over your blindness, and you're afraid to be completely alone. I don’t want to seem like I’m throwing this in your face, honeybear, because you know I love you. But you need to come to terms with what has happened. It has been a long time now. Maybe you can talk to a counselor or therapist. Hmm?”

“Thank you grandma,” I sniffle.

“Do you want me to call someone and make an appointment for you?” she asks me.

“Actually…I know someone. But…it can wait until I get back home. I’m not done spending some time down here though. Not yet. Can we just…go back to the way things were the last few days? I was actually having a great time here with you.”

“Then you shall stay as long as you wish. But don’t forget you still have your life waiting for you at home, and things to deal with there.”

“I know. Thank you grandma, I love you.”

* * *

TBC...

posted on 2-Aug-2002 12:36:02 AM by dancepixie
Sorry for the long delays. I am having problems coming up with more ideas of where to take this story, so if you have any good ideas, I'd love to hear them, so just leave them in feedback or boardmail me. I'd love to hear from you guys. Thanks for all the bumps!*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*



* * *

Part 39

* * *

I spent three more days with grandma Claudia. Chocolate and I really enjoyed the relaxation time. But all good things must come to an end as they say. Grandma convinced me to call Maria and have her come down so that she could drive me back home instead of taking the bus. So she came down yesterday and we had a girl’s night with grandma. It was like a walk down memory lane from when we were little girls visiting for the weekend. But its over now and we’re getting ready to leave.

I overheard grandma telling Ria to be good on the drive home and not make me tell her everything…but I’m sure I’ll get the third degree at some point along the way. It’s Maria so I have to expect it; she’s my best friend.

“You ready chica?” I hear her call.

“Yeah, I’m coming,” I yell back. “Come on Chocolate, time to go home, girl.” Chocolate and I head downstairs, my bag on my shoulder. I’ve got everything. Time to get this show on the road I suppose.

“Bye grandma. Thanks for everything,” I give her a big hug and she holds me close.

“You’re welcome here anytime. Don’t forget about making that appointment when you get home,” she reminds me.

“I know grandma, I know.”

“Good. You girls have a safe drive. It was good seeing you again, Maria, sweetheart!”

“I missed you too grandma C! Okay, lets go!” So we jump in the car and we’re off. Maria isn’t really that bad of a driver, we just all tease her about it cause it took her a couple tries to get her license while the rest of us got it on our first try. Of course, that’s one thing I don’t have anymore…nope, they don’t really let you have a license if you can’t see to do the driving.

The car’s pretty quiet for the first half hour. I figure Maria’s just getting all the questions straight in her head so that she can fire them at me all at once and in some pre-designed order.

An hour and still nothing. Okay, now I’m getting suspicious. That isn’t my Maria. She always has to know everything that’s going on with everybody, especially me since I'm her number one girl.

“Okay…get it over with already, you’re killing me here,” I finally complain. I can’t stand it; she’s never this quiet.

“What Lizzie?” What’s she taking that innocent voice for? Grrr!

“Come on Maria, I know you’re dying to ask me like a million questions, just get it over with.”

“Liz, look,” she has this serious tone in her voice. “I know that this has all been difficult for you, so if you don’t want to talk, I’m not going to force you into telling me anything. Okay?”

I’m so confused. She must’ve been abducted by aliens or something on her way down to get me.

We continue in silence for a little while longer. Chocolate’s asleep in the back seat, I can hear her lightly snoring.

“Okay, I give!” I sigh, after its been quiet for way too long. I need noise right now…the silence is driving me crazy. “Max proposed to me and I ran away from him. What do I do now Ria?” I cry.

“Hey, chica, you don’t have to talk about this right now if you don’t want to.”

“No. I do. Max…he came down to grandma’s days ago. Apparently he heard you talking to Michael about how I was down there, so he just showed up. I was sleeping and when I woke up from a nightmare he and grandma came running into my room. God…what have I done?” I’m crying hard now, the tears are just coming. I’ve acted like such an idiot in the last two weeks. Everyone’s sure to hate me now. I’ve just ruined everything.

“Hey, sweetie, its okay,” Maria soothes. I think she pulled over because now she’s got both arms around me and she’s holding me close.

“No, it’s not!”

“Believe it or not, this isn’t the end of the world. You can still fix things.”

“That’s just it…I don’t know if I can.”

“Sure you can, you just have to want to do it.”

“I do…but I have to get through some issues first. There’s just some things that I never really dealt with, and now they’re coming back to haunt me. I have to deal with that first, and I don’t know how long it’ll take. Max won’t be there when I’ve sorted everything out…he’s a great guy, and I’m sure he’s already found someone new.” I take a deep shuttering breath after that grand confession. I do feel better after talking about it though.

“Sweetie, don’t cut Max so short. He’s not that kind of guy. You really were special to him. I don’t think he’ll be finding anyone else that means anything near to him what you meant.”

“He deserves more than me.” Am I just depressed? Or is this self pity? “He deserves someone who can see,” I mumble the last few words not sure what Maria will think.

“Don’t you talk like that sweetie! Don’t you dare! You are a wonderful person. Don’t let anyone tell you any different or make you feel inferior. Where are all these things coming from?”

“I…I know. These are my issues to work out…I’m just not ready to talk about it, okay?” I tell her.

“Okay chica. It’s okay,” she soothes me, brushing her hands through my hair getting it out of my face.

“Thanks Ria. Can we just…go home now?” I beg.

“Sure. Anything you want, its yours.”

* * *

Chocolate and I have been home for two days now. Do you want to know what I’ve done? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’ve pretty much just lain in bed and moped about the whole time.

Little April came over yesterday to try and cheer me up, which she did. I can’t help but be happy when I’m around little kids, its only natural, right? She managed to brighten my day a little. She was asking a million questions about where I’ve been, and telling me how much she missed me when I went away without telling her. Of course I apologized.

I promised her that I’d take her to the library on Friday and see if Miss Kay would let me tell the kids a story. That’s to make up for disappearing on her. But it’ll be fun, cause it has been a while since I’ve done it.

Tomorrow is Friday and I wonder what the day will bring.

* * *

He’s here…I can feel him. I can just sense his eyes on me. It’s not the same as the children. I know I have their rapt attention with the story I am spinning. But this is an intense stare, searing into my soul and memorizing every detail. It might be hard for you to believe that I can feel that, but it’s so strong and overpowering that it’s taking all of my focus to remember the story I’m telling the kids.

By the time I’m done I feel exhausted from all the focusing. But the feeling of him disappeared. April is at my side, giving me a hug and thanking me while all the other kids tell me how much they’ve missed my stories. I missed them too.

Just writing the stories isn’t the same as reading them to the kids and getting their immediate reactions. This is what makes it all worth it; hearing their happy little voices full of enthusiasm and eager to read for themselves. It’s rewarding.

“Thank you Miss Lizzie,” I recognize Katie’s little voice.

“You’re welcome sweetie. Is your mommy here?” I ask.

“Yeah. She broughted me here. And we found Unkie Max here too, but he looked sad. But he not here no more.”

My heart thumps at the mention of Max, and I can hear the concern Katie has for him. It’s my fault…all because of me…

“Come on Lizzie! You promised we’d go get ice cream at Ria’s café now!” April tugs on my arm a little.

“Why don’t you go ask your mom if the two of you can join us, Katie?” I ask. I know April won’t mind, and maybe I’ll get a chance to talk to Isabel.

“Okay!” She sounds happy as she trots off towards the front door of the library in search of her mom. April helps me gather my things and when Katie comes back over with Isabel we head outside and begin our walk toward the café.

The girls are walking a bit ahead of us giggling about something while Izzie and I walk in silence. I’m guessing that she knows what happened and just doesn’t know what to say or whether or not to bring it up even. Well…I suppose I’ll have to break the ice.

“When did Max leave?” I don’t know if she’ll understand what I’m talking about but I can’t bring myself to say anything more, that was hard enough to get out.

“Just as you finished.” I guess that answers that question. “He misses you.” I was wondering if this would happen.

“Izzie…”

“No, Liz, don’t worry. I’m not going to stand here and plead my brother’s case with you. I don’t know what happened between the two of you, but that’s for you two to work out. But I’ll be here to be a friend if you need me. We got really close and I don’t want to lose that. Just know that I’m here if you need to talk, but you don’t have to. If you just want a friend, I’ll still be here.”

I can feel the tears forming in my eyes. She’s so sweet. We've gotten really close and I can’t help but be happy that I know her, happy that she came into my life. A quiet falls over us as we reach the café, but it’s a calm quiet, no nervous twitching.

We walk in and sit in the same back booth I always use.

“Lizzie! I’ve missed you, Ria said you went on a little vacation.”

“Kayla! When did you start working here?”

“A week ago. Maria said I had a job if I wanted it, so I thought why not? Sara told me it was okay if Steven or someone else would be able to bring me all the time.” I give her a hug and sit back down.

“That’s great. Yeah, I just got back the other day from visiting my grandmother. So how do you like working here?”

“It’s fun actually. Maria’s a riot, and then Michael’s always saying something funny after she leaves the room,” she giggles. Yeah, that’s Michael, always the comic.

“You’re April right? And Katie?” Kayla asks the girls.

“Yup!” their happy voices chirp.

“What can I get you girls today?” I must admit, she’s good at this, she’s got the girls complete attention. Wait for it…wait for it…

“Ice cream!” April squeals. How did I know that was coming?

“What kind would you like?” she asks.

“Just tell Maria that they’ll have the usual,” I smile. Maria will know.

“She’s not here right now actually.”

“Okay, well then two sundaes with hot fudge and whipped cream for the girls. I’d like a strawberry shake.”

“Just an ice tea for me thanks,” Isabel adds.

“You got it. I’ll be right back with that.”

“So, what’s going on with you?” Isabel asks.

“Huh?”

“Well, you just don’t seem as happy or energetic as you usually are. Are you okay?”

“Don’t you know?” I ask.

“About Max?” we’re both keeping our voices low so that the girls don’t hear us over their chatter. “Yeah, he told me about what happened.” She sounds so calm. How does she do it? I have this feeling inside…like I’m going to cry or break down. I’m trying to fight it, but it’s hard.

I shut my eyes and try to reign in my feelings. I can’t have a breakdown here.

“Here’s your two sundaes, one ice tea, and one strawberry shake,” Kayla places the glass beside my hand that is resting on the table and I thank her. She’s known me for so long I guess it’s just normal for her.

The interruption couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you Kayla! Every time Max is mentioned I just want to break down. I know that’s not healthy, and I want to just stop this, stop everything and make it all better. But I can’t!

I stay silent as I sip on my shake trying to grab the reins of my emotions and get them back under control.

“Lizzie?” I hear little April’s voice speaking up from beside me waking me from my haze.

“What is it sweetie?” I ask her.

“Why are you so sad?” April brings herself right up beside me and rests her head on my arm. I can’t help but pull her into a hug.

“I’m not sad, I was just thinking about something.”

“But you didn’t look happy.”

“I’m better now. Oh! What time is it?” I ask. I almost forgot that Mrs. Cortez asked me to have April back by 5:30 because they had plans.

“It’s just after five right now,” Isabel tells me.

“Sorry April, but we gotta go. I promised your mom I’d have you back soon.”

“Do we have to?” she asks in that little pathetic voice hoping that I’ll cave.

“Yeah, we have to. Come on. Say goodbye,” I tell her. I grab my purse which I had sitting beside me and begin to stand when a hand reaches out and touches my arm.

“Liz, if you ever need to talk, I’m here.”

“Thanks Isabel.”

With that, April and I walk out of the café and head back to our apartments. I think I've got a lot of thinking to do.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 13-Aug-2002 7:16:20 PM by dancepixie
lol, thanks for the bumps applebybehr, I'll try to get a new part up sometime before tomorrow. Thanks for the feedback everyone!

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 14-Aug-2002 12:55:31 PM by dancepixie
Sorry it wasn't up last night but someone turned off the computer and I didn't feel like turning it back on just to post this. Thanks for the great feedback everyone. I know you're all waiting for Max and Liz to get back together, and I promise you they will, but Liz has a little growing to do first. But I definitely promise a dreamer friendly ending to you all!*big*

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 40

* * *

I pace back and forth in my living room. I know what I want to do, but making myself do it is the problem. I’m gonna do it…I really am.

Ring!!!

What the hell?! Oh god. The phone just rang and scared the crap out of me. Breathe…

“Hello?” I ask after picking up the receiver and sitting down on the couch.

“Liz?” It’s Sara. Did she know that I was going to call her?

“Umm…hey Sara,” I stutter.

“So how’ve you been?”

“I’m…okay. I talked to Kayla today when I was at Maria’s café. I didn’t know she was working there.”

“Yeah, she started there last week, while you were out of town…” I think she’s hinting at something. Did Maria tell her anything or everything?

“I went and visited grandma.” Perhaps that sounded a little too defensive.

“How is she?”

“She’s doing well. She helped me sort some things out…”

“Why don’t you come over sometime soon?” Sara suggests. “It’s been a little while since I’ve seen you.”

“I was planning on calling you when the phone rang. I need someone to talk to, and you’re the only one…”

“I’m always here for you Liz, you know that.”

“Yeah…I…I can’t do this over the phone. I just…I need to talk to you but…”

“Hey, it’s alright sugar. Do you want me to come there?”

“Could you?” I know I sound pathetic and whiney right now, but I can’t help it. I’m about to burst into tears and…God! Why does everything in my life have to be so fucking complicated?

“I’ll be there as soon as I can Lizzie. Will you be alright until then?” Sara is so great; she has to be the most caring and compassionate person I know.

“Yeah. Thank you…”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m on my way right now sugar, I’ll see you soon.”

“Bye.”

* * *

I know I should stop this. I’m going to wear a path in the floor. But I can’t sit down. I have to be moving. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, maybe I’m crazy. It wouldn’t surprise me, actually.

God! Would you listen to me?

Breathe…just breathe…that’s what I need to do right now…relax and breathe. Everything’s fine and dandy…

Knock! Knock!

“Come in,” I call, knowing that it’s Sara. I hope she can help me…I don’t know what I’ll do if she can’t.

“Oh sugar, come here,” her sweet motherly voice echoes as I feel her arms wrap around me. I don’t say anything, just lean into her embrace even more. I cry on her shoulder for I don’t know how long.

I think I’m done now. No more tears. I pull back from her arms a little and realize that I’m now sitting on the couch next to her. She’s not saying anything, just holding me. She has this uncanny ability to know when to wait and when to push, and right now she’s waiting for me.

“I…broke up with Max…” I manage to say before a few more tears I didn’t realize I had left drip down my burning and probably very rosy cheeks.

She’s still quiet, just holding me, reassuringly rubbing my back.

“He…he asked me to marry him.”

“And?” she prompts.

“And I freaked out like the scared little girl that I am!” I’m practically screaming. I can’t help but be emotional right now. “I told him…” Finally I’m able to just let it all go, let it all out. I tell her everything, not skipping a single detail. And you know what? I feel so much better now.

“That dream…it just scared me so bad. What’s wrong with me Sara?” I’m whining I know, but so what?

“Nothing is wrong with you sugar, you’ve just had some tough life experiences. We all have events in our life that try our strength of character. Look at all the kids out at my place. Some of them have been through hell, but if you look at them now you wouldn’t know it. They are happy, and you can be too someday. You just have to know its alright. The world will not end just because you’re happy. You will be fine, you just need some confidence is all.”

“But…what about Max?”

“Like I said, I think you just have a problem letting go of the fact that you are blind. Sugar, you know that if you really want to pursue getting your sight back there are doctors you can talk to.”

“No, there aren’t,” I sigh. I never told this to anyone before, I’ve just kept it to myself, but I guess they need to know. I guess not voicing this was a way of making it not real. I could pretend I never found out if no one else knew. “After the accident a lot of specialists took a look at me, and their conjecture was that there was so much damage, they couldn’t do anything to help me. There was no way I’d ever be able to see again.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell anyone?”

“Why do you think?”

“You didn’t want their pity. It’s bad enough that you're blind but having everyone know that there wasn’t any hope, I’m sure that would be too much for you.”

“Exactly.”

“You’re still not over this. It’s been years Lizzie. I don’t want to see this eat you up until there’s nothing left. There is nothing wrong with you.”

“I know…”

“Do you?”

“Sara…”

“No! Listen to me Liz. I will help you get through this if you’ll let me. We can do it together. You deserve to have a happy life as much as Jaime and Kayla and all my kids. Max is a great man and I’ve seen first hand how much he loves you.”

The tears are back at just the mention of his name.

“I don’t want to talk about him anymore.”

“Okay, we won’t. Why don’t you tell me about what it felt like when you first woke up after the accident. What did you do? How did you react? How was it different?”

So I tell her everything she asks. And the more I tell her, the more she listens. Her voice is always calm and soothing, never raising. I think this might just be the beginning of the rest of my life.

* * *

“So what's going on with you lately girl?” Maria asks me as we sit on our bench in the park. Chocolate is laying at my feet as we talk. “We haven't talked in forever it seems. Are you alright?”

“I'm doing a lot better now. Thanks.” I love Maria for everything she's ever done for me. She's always looking out for me when I can't see that I need her.

“I've been worried about you.”

“I know. And thanks for caring, Ria. You're the bestest friend a girl could ever ask for.” Reaching over I give her a hug and we just sit here for a moment enjoying it. She's been my sister forever and maybe I forgot that for a little bit. I haven't really been treating her like family lately.

“I'm always here chica, you know that.”

“Yes, I do.” We sit in silence for a little bit when I remember something. “Oh, hey, why don't you and Michael come over tomorrow evening. Tess and Kyle are going to bring me the rough copy of my book, she says its just come from the illustrator, so you can help me decide if its any good or not. April and Mrs. Cortez are coming over too. You're always welcome.” Truthfully I'm happy that its done. It came at just the right time because if I ever needed a distraction, it's now.

“Sure. We don't have any plans. But later this week you've gotta come and help me plan this whole wedding thing. I think I've found my dress, and the bridesmaids gowns. They're gorgeous, and I know you'll look beautiful in it. It's the prettiest shade of ice pink. And before you go cringing at the color pink, I promise it's a good color and it'll go great with your dark hair.”

“It sounds great Ria. I can't wait.” And do you know what? I really can't. I'm happy about Michael and Maria and I think she should have everything she wants for her wedding. I trust her judgement about the dress and everything else for that matter.

“Great!” she squals in that way that is just so Maria. In some ways I don't think any of us will ever grow up. We'll always be young at heart, those silly little girls of our youth will never die.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 19-Sep-2002 7:27:58 PM by dancepixie
I'm sooo sorry for neglecting this story everyone! But Michelle came home and we were trying to read our story Complicated Circumstances so that we could get back into that. Enter into the picture also a new boyfriend and spending almost no time at home between all of my different friends and said boyfriend plus my parents wanting to spend some time with me before I go back to school and that left me with very little time to write. I haven't even turned my computer on in over 2 weeks. But I'm going back up to school in a few days and once I'm up there I promise I'll have lots more time to write and I'll come back and finish this. Honest! See you in a few days hopefully...I should be settled in at school by then.

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 2-Oct-2002 2:55:34 AM by dancepixie
Yikes, classes are keeping me busy, but hopefully I should have a part up by early friday afternoon. I'm hoping to get it done before I go down to LA for the weekend, but with all the reading I've been having to do I have to find some spare time. But I'll try real hard since its been a month and a half, I'm soooo sorry!

~Nikki~
*angel*

posted on 11-Oct-2002 3:31:01 AM by dancepixie
Blah! I'm soooo sorry guys, I've just been swamped with readings this week because I'm taking the max number of units this quarter and there's so much reading to do! But I got this little part done for you all. Thanks for bearing with me. And for any and all of you who are reading Complicated Circumstances, Michelle is getting ready to post the next part very soon, as in sometime tonight within the next few hours I believe. So look for that one too. Now on to the new part!!!

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 41

* * *

Time flies when you're trying to ignore something, have you ever noticed that? I have. Well, it's been over a month since I refused Max. Maria's wedding plans are coming along. She has her dress, and that was probably the biggest battle. She was so afraid she'd never find it, but of course she did.

It's going to be a May wedding in the flower gardens. It's everything Maria wants, and I'm glad. Everyone's helping out with the planning. Tess and Isabel are the bridesmaids, and I'm the maid of honor. The reception is going to be at one of the trendiest hotels in the area. And after the reception they're spending the night in the hotel's honeymoon suite before flying out on their honeymoon to Australia’s golden shores. Well, Maria doesn't know that part; it's kind of Michael's surprise for her. She'll be ecstatic though. It's one of those places she's always wanted to go.

Anyways, as I was saying, I've been keeping pretty busy. My book is ready to be published now, and I can't wait. It's coming out in about a month or two and I'm going to be at the local children's book store to sign books for the kids that day. I like doing things like that, because the children are the whole reason I write.

I go out to Sara's once a week. The girls usually stop at my apartment and pick me up after work on Friday nights if I don't come over to the cafe before they're off. I go have dinner with them at the house and then Sara and I go off and talk. She's been a big help. Sometimes we don't even talk. We'll just sit and sometimes we'll play chess, not that I'm that great at it, but neither is Sara, so its just fun. It’s really bad though when I lose track of things…she’ll start laughing in that slight way of hers and I just know its over.

I've even started typing out ideas for my next book. I've been keeping myself busy, like I said…anything to stay busy. I'm at the library a lot with April; I usually just listen to the stories that Miss Kay reads and hear the responses of the children. I listen to what they like and don't like, and I use it all in my writing. I know a lot about kids and their likes, dislikes, what sort of characters they relate to; it all helps because I write for the kids; I want it to be something that they'll enjoy reading. So far, that's made me pretty successful so I keep at it.

When I try to keep myself busy like I have been lately, it seems like I get things done so much more faster and so I still have idle time on my hands, but that's mostly at nights. During the days all I have to do is go see Maria and she'll set me to work doing something for her, which is fine by me.

Today I'm going over to her and Michael's place because Ria wants to just relax and have some girl talk. We're gonna bake some cookies and eat ice cream and junk food and just talk and laugh. Just us girls. Maria said she kicked Michael out of the house for the day, poor guy, but he's been there before, so I'm sure he's used to it by now.

* * *

“Lizzie! Chica! Hello Chocolate, how's my girl, huh?” Maria greets us as I let myself in her front door. I think she was waiting for us.

“Hey Ria. How've you been?” I give her a hug before taking the leash off Chocolate and letting her loose in the house.

“Okay...” she giggles, very uncharacteristic. Maria laughs, she does not giggle. “Great actually...Michael just left.” Can't you hear that sly smile in her voice? She just got some and she's dizzy in the head, still drifting in Michael-land.

Now I'm glad I didn't leave any earlier than I did. That wouldn't have been something I'd want to walk in on...

“Just remember what your mom said about grandchildren,” I remind her with a laugh. Amy was very sure to tell her daughter she didn't want any grandchildren until Maria was happily married.

“Lizzie! We weren't doing anything. I had cramps this morning and my back was sore so Michael gave me a massage. His hands are amazing. My back feels so much better,” she sighs happily.

“Uh-huh, sure.”

“I'm serious. I've been grouchy all morning so Michael was more than happy to get out of here for us. He doesn't like it when I'm on my period; he says he never knows what to expect from me.”

“Well, yeah, you do have a tendency to be...wild...”

“You're not much better you know Lizzie!” she retaliates. “Okay, well maybe you have been lately cause I don't remember you being all pissy lately, but then again I have been keeping you rather busy so maybe you just haven't had time to be upset about any of this.”

Wait a minute...I haven't been lately because...wait...how long has it been...

Shit!

“Oh my god!” my voice is a whisper as my head falls into my hands with the impact of what I just realized. This can't be good. I don't need this right now!

“What is it Lizzie? What's wrong?” Maria sounds concerned. God I hope she'll help me with this.

“I...oh no...this is so wrong. Why did this have to happen to me?”

“Come on, let's go sit down chica, then you can tell me what it is that's bothering you.” She leads me into the living room and I sit on the sofa with Maria beside me and her arm still around my shoulder offering comfort.

“It’s just that...I haven't gotten my period in a month and a half.” Deep breaths...just breathe.

“I'm sure it’s just nothing Lizzie.”

“No...Max and I were really close before what happened.”

“Sweetie, I already know you two slept together, remember? You told me.”

“Well, yeah. But now I'm late.” I'm trying not to cry right now, I'm trying really hard. “I can't be pregnant Maria...I just can't be. I...I...”

“Hey, shhh!” Maria folds me into her arms holding me close and letting me cry my tears. “Everything will be alright. You don't even know anything for sure yet. Alright?”

I nod my head with a sniffle not venturing to move from her arms.

“We'll get through this together Lizzie. Why don't I go and run by the drug store and get a test and then you can take it and we'll see what happens next. Okay?”

“Thank you Ria. I don't know what I'd do without you. You're my best friend...” a lone tear falls down my cheek.

“And you're my best friend, that's why I'm always here for you. I'd never let you do something like this without me. Now, why don't you relax on the couch, maybe lie down and take a nap or something, while I go and run that little errand. Is that okay with you?”

“You're the best!” I nod my head and smile as she gives me a hug. Soon she pulls away and I hear Chocolate walking with her to the door. She tells Chocolate to take care of me while she's gone, and then she's out the door.

* * *

A baby? What will I do? I can't take care of a baby by myself...hell, I can hardly take care of myself right now. Look what I’ve done to my life, I don’t need another life to ruin.

Max'll hate me even more. First I break his heart by running out on him like a mad woman and now he'll think I'm trying to trap him with a child.

What did I do to deserve this? Does someone up there hate me?

I thought I was just starting to get my life back under control again. Why?!

Where is Maria? What's taking her so long? Shouldn't she have been back a while ago? No, she's only been gone a short time. She probably only just got to the store. I just need to calm down like Ria said. Everything will be alright...

But what will I do if...if I am pregnant? Am I ready for a baby? Sure, I help out at Sara's place with the little children when I can. I take care of April and baby-sit her whenever Mrs. Cortez needs me to. But I don't know how to be a mother.

My mother...she always wanted grandchildren, but I know she was thinking a husband would be involved in the picture too.

But I love kids, and I do want to be a mom someday. I never thought it would happen so soon, but I definitely want a child. And if I am pregnant, I could never get rid of it or give it up. There is no way.

I guess I'll just have to do as Maria said, wait and see, and we'll deal with everything as it happens. But I'm not so good at the waiting part.

Did Maria honestly think I could rest and take a nap while she's gone? This is my future we're talking about...I can't relax. But if I am pregnant, I suppose I should. Stress isn't good for a baby.

Damn it!

Maybe I should watch the language too…

* * *

Two minutes. Who knew two minutes could seem like two years?

Maria's sitting here beside me, holding my hand, though neither of us has said a word. I'm glad she's here with me, I couldn't do this alone. This is one thing I honestly couldn't do alone because I need her eyes.

Ding!

This is it, the answer I've been waiting an hour for. I don't know if I'm ready for what it's going to tell me, but I suppose, I just have to be...

“Go ahead Maria...I can't wait much longer,” my voice is barely above a whisper though we are the only ones in the house.

I feel her move forward and I hear her pick it up off the counter. This is it...this is the rest of my life. She just took a deep breath, what does that mean? Is that a good sigh or a bad sigh.

“Well?!”

“Chica, it's okay. You're not pregnant.” I feel her arms wrap around me in a supporting hug. I didn't realize I was holding my breath, but after taking that refreshing breath of air I know I was.

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. You're not pregnant. You've just been under a lot of stress lately, both your fault and mine. I'm sorry. I shouldn't be throwing all my wedding plans on your shoulders when you have your own problems to deal with.”

“No. I've been asking for it as much as you've been willing to give it to me. I've needed the distraction, and now I'm just...going to relax for a few days.”

“Great idea. We don't have to do anything today except lay around and veg. And why don't we do the same tomorrow too? I'm foreseeing a few days of bad cramps...Michael will be more than willing to get out of the house, plus he'll stock the cupboards with all sorts of chocolate and goodies for us!” She's grinning evilly, I know it. She's such a schemer; I’m glad I'm not on the receiving end of the deal.

“Sounds wonderful,” and for the first time in an hour I smile a real smile.

* * *

TBC...

posted on 24-Dec-2002 2:53:12 AM by dancepixie
Long time no see, right? Sorry, school is just crazy, but I'm done for now, at least for a little bit. But I haven't been completely idle, I have been writing, but my computer at school is being dumb and so to post I have to use my roommates, and its an incredible ordeal, so I haven't posted, sorry. But that just means you'll get lots of updates close together while I'm at home for the holidays! I hope everyone has a happy holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy.

~Nikki~
*angel*

* * *

Part 42

* * *

Months are passing like crazy now. The less I try to think about it the quicker it passes. Today is the official release date of Diaries of a Queen: The Beginnings. I'm so ecstatic, proud, happy, nothing seems to quite fit my emotions. I think out of all the things I've written, this book is by far the one that most represents me. I've just put so much of myself and my life and my childhood into it, that's why its release is so important to me.

Monkey Tree Children Books is where I am right now. They have a special table set up for me to meet and sign books for the kids. I'm so glad to be getting to do this, it’s just amazing. A dream come true. Tess is here, giving me her support and knowing that I'm gonna need her here for me. She's been with me all the way through this experience, and I've come to fully appreciate her calming presence.

“This is so exciting!” Tess tells me. “There's already a line outside full of kids and their parents. Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” I sign as I say it. “But first I have to sign two special copies. I want the first two for April and Katie, since they were my inspiration, they get the first two signed copies.”

“That's sweet Lizzie. I'm sure they'll love them.” She goes to the counter behind me and grabs two books placing them in front of me and a pen in my hand.

“Silver sparkly pen, right?” I ask. I know, silly, but I want it to be pretty.

“Of course. Only the best for you.”

“Thanks Tessie.”

Pen in hand I open the books and carefully write a message to each of the girls in hopes that they'll know how much they've meant to me.

* * *

I'm officially exhausted now! Tess and Kyle just dropped me off at home and I think I just want to sleep. I bet you never knew how tiring it could get just sitting at a table, listening to kids and parents and signing your name a million times. I didn't get it before either, but now after doing this I can safely say that it's more tiring than it looks.

Opening the door I take Chocolate's leash off of her and let her loose. She runs into the living room and immediately I hear her jump up on the couch. I think maybe she's tired too.

I set my bag down on the little table in the entryway and I have to remember that I have the books for April and Katie in there. Maybe I'll ask Mrs. Cortez if she'd like me to pick April up from school on Monday and then I can surprise her and Katie with their presents.

Why does this place seem so lonely to me now? It's just been me and Chocolate, but it’s so quiet to me now, I just don't know what to do with myself.

I suppose a shower would be good...actually, I think I might just take a relaxing bubble bath...that sounds heavenly. I just want to relax in the warm bubbles.

I turn the water on in the tub, nice and hot, and add my favorite scents, a mix of vanilla and strawberries. As the tub fills I undress, and odd as it may sound, I find myself running my right hand gently over my stomach. It was only stress, I'm not pregnant, but I can't help but think what if...

I let the water surround me and wash away all the thoughts from my mind, and just drift...

* * *

That night I slept like a baby, like I haven't in a long time. I even let myself sleep in late. It’s a Sunday, so what do I need to get up for? Nothing really. I don't go to church anymore...I don't know what I believe in and what I don't; I guess you could say I've lost my faith in god, myself, everything…

So what's on the agenda for a lazy Sunday? I'm not sure. We'll see I suppose. I turn on the radio and listen to some news. Nothing much happening around here. Political stuff and commercials trying to sell me everything under the sun that I don’t need. Then there's the radio evangelists trying to preach to me, can I just say no thank you right now?

The morning is passing slowly. I was trying to write a little bit but it just wasn't happening for some reason.

I hear a knock at the door but I don't know who it could be. I didn't think I was expecting anyone to be coming over.

Walking to the door I open it and hear a voice I don't recognize. Who is this?

“I'm sorry to bother you Miss but are you Miss Elizabeth Parker?” the male voice asks me.

“Yes I am. Who's asking?”

“I'm sorry, I'm Officer George Hamilton with the Police Department.”

“Did something happen? Is something wrong?” I ask immediately as all sorts of ideas go running through my head about everyone I care about.

“There was an accident downtown today. A woman crossing the street was hit by a car that ran a red light. She's in the hospital in critical condition.”

Oh my god! How can he sound so calm while he's telling me this? My first thought is what if it's Maria? Or Tess? Tess couldn't have heard the car coming...oh my god...

“The woman lived in this building, just across the hall. A Mrs. Cortez, you know her, correct?” he asks me. Of course I know her. Then it hits me, oh my god...April!

“Yes...I know her. Where is she? Where's April? Is April okay?” I must sound frantic but I don’t care, they’re family.

“Mrs. Cortez is in Critical condition at Downtown General. Her daughter April was with her at the time of the accident but she wasn't hurt. She crossed the street ahead of her mother.”

“Thank god,” I breathe a sigh of relief.

“Right now she's downstairs in the squad car with my partner. We wanted to make sure this was okay.”

“What is okay?”

“We were able to contact Mrs. Cortez's son and he said that his mother trusted you to watch over April and since he isn't able to come down here to take care of her while their mother is in the hospital, he wants you to take her, if you're able.”

Wow...I didn't...I never imagined anything like this would ever happen.

“Uh...yeah, of course I'll take care of her. Oh god! Poor thing, she must be so scared!”

“She hasn't really said much to us. She's pretty upset. Would you like to come down with me to get her? My partner has a paper with the information about her mother that I'll give to you.”

“Uh, let me just grab my key and stuff.” Leaving the door open I stumble back inside and stop myself when I reach my little table. I grab my key and then reach down to get Chocolate's leash. She hears it clink against the table leg and comes right to me. “Good girl,” I tell her as I attach it to her collar and walk back to the door ready to go with the officer but I accidentally run right into him. “Oh my god, I'm so sorry...I just...”

“No, that's alright. She's right downstairs,” he keeps talking as we walk down. I think he put two and two together and finally realized that I'm blind. Oh well, I don't mind so much anymore. Whatever makes him feel comfortable, it's not like I'll have to put up with him for long.

“Lizzie!” I hear my April scream the minute we're out the door. A moment later she's in my arms and I can feel her little tears falling down her face as much as I can hear her heavy breathing from crying so much.

“Shh...I'm here now sweetie. I'm here now. We'll work this out. It'll be okay, I promise you.” I know I probably shouldn't make any promises I can't keep, especially since I don't know how her mother is. But no matter what I will make sure that things are okay for April, she's my little munchkin and I won't let anything happen to her.

Officer Hamilton gave us a few moments alone before he interrupted to give me the papers. He asked if I'd like him to read them to me but I told him it was fine, I had friends who could do that for me. Quickly after he and his partner left while Chocolate, April and I headed upstairs.

Talk about a dramatic turn for the day. A completely unexpected turn.

* * *

It's been two hours now and I finally got April to lie down in my room. She was exhausted from all the crying and worrying she's been doing about her mother. I wish I could tell her something but I don't know anything yet. I just called Maria and she's on her way over. I didn't tell her anything yet, but she'll find out when she gets here cause I need her to read me this paper. Then we'll call the hospital and check up on Mrs. Cortez.

It's amazing how fast things can change, you know? One minute I'm thinking about working with my favorite professor, the next I'm in the hospital being told I'll never see again. Then I'm safe at home worrying about how to pass a few empty hours only to find that a good friend was nearly killed by a car and her daughter is feeling lost and alone in my bedroom trying to sleep.

But we'll get through this, I just know it. Mrs. Cortez will be alright and April will have her mother. It'll be okay...it will...it has to be.

* * *

“Oh god Lizzie,” Maria sighs. “How could something like this happen?” We’re sitting at my dining room table right now, cups of coffee in front of us. She finished reading to me about Mrs. Cortez and we’ve pretty much been silent ever since.

“Shit happens.”

“Liz! Stop it right now. You are not going to get in one of your ‘I hate the world’ moods while you need to be supportive for April. I’ll carry her out of this apartment right now if this is how you plan on acting. I mean it.” Good old Ria. She always calls me on my shit; never lets me wallow in self pity or even thoughts about how life sucks.

“I’m sorry…no one deserves anything like this to happen to them or their family, but that doesn’t stop it from happening. I just hope she’ll be okay.”

“She’s a strong woman and I for one think she’ll pull through. She’s survived through one husband the drug addict, having a son, another husband who abused her, and she’s still an amazing mother to April. If anyone can get through this, it’s her.”

* * *

I hear two tiny feet shuffling against the carpet and I know April’s woken up. She slept for a few good hours at least.

“Is mommy gonna be okay?” April sniffles as she comes up beside me at the table. I can’t lie to her.

“I don’t know sweetheart, but the doctors are doing everything they can for her.”

“I wanna see mommy,” it’s almost a whimper. I turn my head in Maria’s direction, it’s my way of asking without asking.

“Of course we’ll take you to see her, sweetie. But we have to wait until morning because visiting hours are over for the day.”

“Oh…”

* * *

Maria’s been trying to tell me that I should let her stay the night because I might need her. I appreciate the gesture, but I want her to go home to Michael. He’s her family and every moment a family spends together is precious.

“No Ria, just go home. April and I will be fine here together. You should be home with Michael right now. Just come and get us in the morning around ten and we’ll all go to the hospital together, alright?”

“Are you sure Lizzie? I don’t want to leave you when you need me.”

“Thank you, but we’ll be okay. It’s just for a night. I can take care of her, don’t worry. I just need the number for April’s school so that I can call in the morning and say she won’t be there.”

“I’ll take care of that!” Maria jumps at the chance to do something. I think I know what she’s feeling. She just wants to do something, anything to help. “I’ll look up the number when I get home and call first thing.”

“Thanks. You’re my best friend ever and I love you, you know that, right Ria?”

“I love you too, chica. You’ll always be my girl.”

I give her a hug and we just stay there, holding on to each other for a long time. I can’t really say how long before either of us ventured to move. But finally we both pulled back, sniffling and wiping at our damp cheeks, chuckling at our silliness.

It’s true what they say, an accident brings people closer together, makes you realize what you really have all around you.

Maria left a few minutes later and with April asleep in bed already I was left sitting by myself on the couch.

My mind just starts drifting and the first thing I start to think of is Max. I wonder where he is…what he’s doing…if he’s thinking of me too.

I’ve been trying to not think about him since the baby scare. He was all I could think about then and it wasn’t helping me any. But as time has been passing I’ve been focusing on everything else. I’ve been discovering things that I’ve locked away. With Sara’s help I’m coming to realize that there’s more to life than I’ve thought…more to being Liz Parker than just a blind author of children’s stories.

I’m a woman with a bright future. Accidents happen but if we take lessons from them and use them to guide us, they only make us stronger. April’s having to discover this at an early age, but she has me to help her. She won’t need me for long though, her mother will be alright, she’s got to be.

I think I probably ruined any chances of being with Max with the way I reacted to him when he proposed to me. Looking back now I know I wasn’t ready for that, and it was my fault. For years I’ve been locking myself away inside and not dealing with anything, not letting anything touch me.

Max was the first person I’ve let get beneath the surface of my life since the accident. He knows everything about me and he still loved me enough to want to marry me. I know that I love him and always have practically since the day we met at Ria’s.

I’m sorry that it took me having to ruin my chances with him in order to make me realize I needed to make some major changes in my life. I’ll never forget what it felt like to be loved by him, and maybe someday I’ll feel that way again. Until then I’m just going to make sure that everyone around me knows how much I love and appreciate them. Starting right this minute with that little girl in my bedroom.

* * *

Poor April. She tossed and turned all night. I held her for a while, gently stroking her hair and her back which seemed to calm her a little. But she didn’t sleep well. I can hear it in her voice; well that and the fact that her mother’s in the hospital probably has something to do with it.

I just got off the phone with Maria, she called April’s school to tell them she wouldn’t be in this morning and explained the situation before calling me to let me know. She and Michael are actually on their way over right now with some breakfast for us to share. Hopefully April’s up to eating a little.

A lot of times children don’t understand the significance of things or grasp their full meanings. But April isn’t that young and she’s a lot smarter than one might think. I should go check up on her. She was in the bath when Maria called and it should be just about time for her to be getting out.

* * *

“Is Maria here yet?” April asks as I brush her hair.

“No, not yet sweetie, but she’s on her way.” I’m putting her hair in two braids. She has such long silky straight hair, I just love playing with it.

“I want my mommy…will we go see her right away?”

“Do you want some breakfast first? Michael and Maria are bringing some bagels and donuts. Would you like some?”

“Okay…I suppose that sounds alright.” She’s mumbling to herself mostly now, and I know that everything is starting to effect her.

“Come here honey,” I sit beside her on the couch and pull her onto my lap, leaving my arms around her comfortingly. “Do you wanna talk to me?”

“I just miss mommy…I wanna go see my mommy.”

“I know you do sweetie, and I promise you we will as soon as we can. But you need to take care of yourself first. You need to eat some breakfast. We can’t have you getting sick cause you’re worried about your mom. The doctors and nurses are all doing everything that they can to take care of her. We just need to be there and be supportive for her.”

“I will…”

“I know you will. But we also have to be careful with her because she’s gonna be delicate for a while. She’s gonna have injuries and we have to be careful not to make them worse.”

“I’ll be careful, I promise Lizzie. I’m a good girl!” I feel a tear start as her little arms wrap around my neck in a hug. Have I mentioned how much I love this little girl? She amazes me more and more everyday.

I hear the key in the door and know that it’s Michael and Ria. I’m glad they’re finally here because I don’t know how much longer before April starts getting really upset. She’s been pretty good until now. But she really needs to see her mother to put some of her fears aside. I just prey that Mrs. Cortez isn’t too bad.

“Okay, who’s hungry?”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Mrs. Cortez?” I ask softly as I enter the room with Maria’s help. She guides me to a seat beside the bed and then I hear her head out the door to the hall. Michael is keeping April entertained in the gift shop until after I talk with her mom. I thought it would be better this way.

“Lizzie? It’s so good to see you.”

“I’m glad you’re okay. We’ve been worried about you. April especially. She’s waiting downstairs right now. Are you feeling okay?” I doubt it, but it’s just hard to think of the right thing to say. The doctor told me some of what happened when I got here, but it was a short version because I’m not family. He didn’t believe me when I said I was her other daughter…go figure.

“It hurts, but I’ll be alright. Thank you for taking April. I wasn’t sure what they’d do with her since her brother isn’t here, but I asked them to find you. I knew you’d take care of her for me. You’re an angel.”

“You’ve done so much for me, of course I would do this. I love you, and April is like a daughter to me…I’d do anything for her.” I would love to have a daughter like April someday. She will always be my little girl. Being a part of her life as she’s grown up has been an amazing experience, and its part of why I know I want to be a mother some day. I want to have a little girl like her. “How long are you going to be in here? Have the doctors said anything?”

“My leg is broken, and my arm and a few ribs. The ribs hurt the most, I can’t laugh and the doctor said no hugging around there or it’ll hurt like hell. They won’t release me for three days at least he said. They think I might’ve had a concussion from hitting the cement so they’ve been watching me carefully. How’s April?”

“She’s okay. Last night I think she was mostly in shock. But she knows what a big deal this is. She’s been worried all morning. She hasn’t wanted to do anything except come and see you. Trying to convince her we had to wait for visiting hours and that she should eat something while we were waiting was bad, but she went along with it. She knows I wouldn’t lie to her.”

“Thank you so much. You’re her only family here…” I can hear the tears in Mrs. Cortez’s voice as she speaks. I think I might cry now…

“You’re here too, but you guys will always have me whenever you need me. Now, are you ready to see your little girl?” I give her hand a reassuring squeeze and manage a smile as I wipe away a few stray tears.

“Yeah.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back.”

Getting up slowly I retrace my steps to the hall and after shutting the door I softly call for Maria.

“I’m right here chica. Is she okay?” Her arm is around my waist in a minute and I take a second to lean against her and just be happy for all the amazing people I have in my own life.

“Yeah, she’s okay. She’s ready to see her daughter now.”

“Mommy?” April’s voice carries down the hall toward me.

“You ready to go see her sweetie?” Like I don’t know the answer… “Just remember, mommy’s delicate right now. You have to be very careful not to hurt her. No hugging her stomach cause her ribs are sore, got it?”

“I’ll be good, I promise.”

“Okay, let’s go.” Taking her hand in mine we walk with Maria and Michael to the door of Mrs. Cortez’s room and walk in. I can only imagine the smile on April’s face when she finally got to see her mom.

* * *

It’s been a week and Mrs. Cortez just got out of the hospital today. It’s been a difficult week for April. I let her stay home from school another day before she had to go back. But then Maria and I would pick her up from school and take her to see her mom before visiting hours were over. We got through it. April has always been welcome in my apartment and now it’s her second home. Of course now she’s across the hall with her mom, but I told her that if they need anything she’s to come and tell me. I don’t care what it is. I’m gonna be right here for them.

Chocolate has been enjoying the extra attention of having April around all the time, but she never got to go with us to the hospital, so she was feeling a little left out there. It’s not surprising since most of the time Chocolate goes anywhere that I go.

Now I’m alone in my apartment and I’m not sure what to do with myself. Breathe…yeah, that would be a good thing. It almost seems strange to be alone now. But I know that if they need anything I’m just across the hall and April has my key. They’ll be fine, I shouldn’t worry, but I do. Maybe I need a vacation…

* * *

TBC...


posted on 27-Dec-2002 12:19:39 AM by dancepixie
Well I said that I had a bunch more parts and that I should be posting again soon, and look at this...I am and it hasn't been forever! I'm so proud... Anyways, for whatever dreamers that are still out there that haven't abandoned this story due to infrequent posting...sigh...I promise that within the next few parts you will be very happy again, so smile!!! Enjoy.

~Nikki~
*angel*


* * *

Part 43

* * *

“Liz, don’t worry. She’ll be fine. Mrs. Cortez knows what she can and can’t do, and if she needs anything, she’ll call. You’re allowed to spend some time away, you know that right?”

“I know Ria, but I can’t help it. I’ve been taking care of April for a while now and I’ve been worrying about her mom…it’s hard to just stop thinking about them.”

“I know chica,” Maria rests a comforting hand on my shoulder as she comes and sits beside me in my booth at the café. “How about a girls night? Would that make it all go away?” Can’t you just hear the wheels in her head turning?

“I don’t know…maybe I’ll just go home and relax a little.”

“Oh please, come on. You haven’t done anything with me and Tess and Isabel in forever it seems.”

“But just last week we-”

“Come on!” she’s begging now, this isn’t good. Chocolate’s whimpering at my feet too. Great, she’s even turned my dog against me. “Oh, there’s Isabel. Let me go ask her what she thinks. Be right back.”

Hmm…I suppose she is right. God, I don’t know the last time I really spent time with the girls. Isabel I haven’t talked to too much because, well the obvious Max connection. But I’m honestly not trying to avoid him anymore. No, I think I’m over that. But then again, I haven’t run in to him anywhere, so its hard to say how I would react should that happen. But he’s not here now; Ria would’ve warned me.

Girls night it is, I’ve decided.

* * *

“Yeah, he’s in spring training right now, so that’s been keeping him busy, but every time I see him, he just looks sad, you know? He comes over and he spends time with Katie, but he’s just different and I hate to see him so changed,” Isabel speaks softly.

“Hey, he’ll come around,” Maria soothes. “Does he ever talk to you about it?”

“No. I wish he would. All he’s really said is that he refuses to go on any blind dates I tried to set him up on last month. I thought maybe that would bring him out of it, but he’ll have nothing to do with it.”

“He still likes her, and you can’t change that.”

“It’s more than that, he’s still in love with Liz. Don’t get me wrong, I love Liz, and I know she’s come a long way lately, but I don’t want to see my brother get hurt again. I don’t want him to have to go through it again. He’s too good of a person; it’s just not fair.”

“I’m sorry,” I whisper as I enter the room. I was coming down the stairs from putting my bag in my room when I heard them talking and listened in. I know it’s a bad habit, but what can I say? Some things you never grow out of.

“Liz? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“No Isabel, its okay.” Sighing I sit down on the couch and Maria rests her hand on my knee to let me know she’s beside me. “I know I’ve done some bad things, I was stupid. But I never meant to hurt your brother. I love him too, but I’m sure he’s moved on. He’s never even tried to see me since shortly after… Maybe you’re just confusing things,” I try to rationalize.

“Liz, I know it’s not my place to tell you this, but I’m not wrong. I know my brother. He’s still as in love with you now as he was four months ago. And is that such a bad thing? If you say that you love him still, then why can’t you two just get over your differences and reconcile? At least talk to him,” she begged me and I could feel the tears dripping down my face. Just thinking about Max and what happened between us brings on the tears now.

Max still loves me? It’s what I’ve been hoping, but I never really thought it would happen, that it would be true. So what now? Do I go running into Max’s arms? And would he accept me or pity me? No, stop that Liz…stop thinking about people pitying you. People don’t see you as a poor pathetic blind girl, that’s how you see yourself and you need to stop that right now!

“Maybe…” that’s the best I can offer her in all this emotional turmoil.

“Okay, enough of this guy stuff…onto the movies! I rented Amelie, cause it just sounded like a good movie, and besides, its got sub-titles for Tess, and Lizzie, you know French, so it works both ways, right?” Gotta hand it to Ria, she’s faced with entertaining and satisfying a friend that’s blind and a friend that’s deaf and she comes up with the perfect answer. “Besides I heard it was an amazing movie.”

“Sounds great!” we all agree as we sit down to enjoy it.

* * *

She walked softly into the room and threw her arms around her mother. It was good to be home again, and she couldn’t wait to tell everyone all the amazing things she’d seen and heard on her travels. The world was only just beginning to open itself up to her and she couldn’t wait for what she knew was waiting just around the corner.

Miss Kay finished softly before shutting the book and placing it down on the table. The kids sit quietly for a minute before chattering away. I just sit here in my corner of the library with a smile. I donated a copy of my book to the library and that’s what Miss Kay has been reading them for the last few weeks. Its weird hearing someone else reading my words, but it gives me this incredible feeling at the same time.

I realize something now though. I just realized that I wasn’t taking my own advice that I seemed to be spouting off as I wrote that. The world isn’t closed off to me, it really is just coming alive; I’m just now starting to learn all of life’s amazing secrets. I want to know so much more too.

“Lizzie!” Its Katie’s little voice as she comes up and hugs me.

“Hey sweetie, how are you?”

“I’m great! Uncle Max brought me to reading time today cause I begged him. I haven’t seen him in sooooo long cause he’s busy. But now he’s back and spending lotsa time with me cause I’m his favoritest niece, even if I’m gonna have a sister soon.” I can’t help but laugh. Yeah, pretty soon she will be a big sister, though Isabel and Alex never found out if it’s a girl or boy, and they aren’t planning to. They want a surprise. I think that’s cute, but I think that I would want to know, I wouldn’t be able to stand the wait…

“That’s great sweetie. You’re gonna be a great big sister, I just know it. But you still have a few months to wait. How’s school going?”

“Is okay…I suppose.” I laugh.

“Katie!” April found us. Her mom’s pretty much recovered now, she’s back at work, but I thought I’d give her an afternoon off and take April to the library like always.

“April!” The two laugh and hug, they’ve become such close friends. I think it’s the childhood bonds that once they’re forged, they last a lifetime. I know in my personal experiences those are the people I would do anything for and drop whatever I’m doing at the sound of trouble to go help them.

I listen to the girls babble for a while when I feel something. It’s like when a shadow falls across you, that’s sort of what it feels like. It’s hard to explain. But I can feel it, a presence, getting stronger, and I know who it is, though I’m not too sure I want to admit it. I can smell his cologne and just the sound of his footsteps, light as they are. I think he’s trying to be quiet. Maybe he doesn’t want me to know he’s there. But I’ll always know; it’s him, I can just feel him.

“Bye April, see you in school tomorrow. Uncle Max says its time to go.” The two girls hug one more time.

“Bye.” I listen for a moment as their footfalls die away and April turns to rest her hands on my knees. “Lizzie? Are you alright?” I shake myself out of the daze I’m in to answer her.

“Uhh…yeah, munchkin, I’m fine. I’m sorry. I was just thinking.”

“Cause you look pale. Should we go to Ria’s café and get a ride home?” she asks me. How is it that this young child feels the need to look after me? She’s so grown up sometimes.

“No I’m fine munchkin, I promise. Besides, I like to walk home through the park with you. Unless you’re in some sort of a hurry,” I smile.

“No! Come on, let’s go!”

* * *

TBC...


posted on 7-Feb-2003 10:12:00 PM by dancepixie
Sorry guys, I know parts have been few lately, but I'm without my computer at the moment, but as soon as I get it back I'll get right to work on getting a new part out to you guys. Sorry again, but I should be getting it sometime in this next week...hopefully, it better not take longer than that!!!

~Nikki~
*angel*