|posted on 23-Oct-2002 12:07:45 PM by Deejonaise|
|Author: Dee aka Boy aka Deelicious...you get the drift|
Disclaimer: I don't own em, I never did...got it? Good.
Summary: This story was written in response to a challenge that I took almost 2 1/2 years ago. It's an old story. It's ironic because the first time I ever posted it was on Jen's very first board so it seems only right that I post the revised edition here as well.
Author's Note: Okay, I've made a few changes to this fic and added an entirely new part as well. I'm mainly posting it because I've started writing the third story in my Growing trilogy and will probably be posting it sometime in the coming months. This is the first story in that trilogy.
Feedback: Please? Pretty, pretty please? I know...begging is so unbecoming.
Growing Up Growing Apart and Falling in Love
Part One Growing Up. . . .
“God, Liz, am I hurting you?”
Max looked down into Liz’s crumpled features and felt instant guilt. Her eyes were pinched shut, her mouth compressed in a thin, grim line. She looked pained. Max hung his head until his forehead rested against hers. He felt guilty, yes, but not even guilt was enough to compel him to withdraw from her tight, warm flesh.
He squeezed his eyes shut, fighting for control. A small bead of perspiration trickled down his nose from the effort but he refused to push inside her even an inch more. He might now be able to withdraw but he didn’t have to move either. It took superhuman strength but he did manage to remain still. Max swallowed hard and asked, “Do you want me to stop?”
Liz met his earnest gaze and felt the sudden urge to cry. She did want him to stop. But how could she possibly tell him that? This was a night they had both mutually dreamed of, desired desperately since the day they had declared their love to one another. And yet she wanted him to stop. She wanted nothing more than to curl herself into a ball and cry herself to sleep. It was a mistake, she realized belatedly, sleeping with Max. It was too soon after Tess. Too soon after seeing them together, seeing them kiss, hold hands. . . .and God only knew what else!
Liz had never asked Max what had gone on between him and Tess the four months he had been apart from her. She didn’t think she was emotionally prepared for his answer. Knowing that Liz didn’t understand how she could have possibly deceived herself into believing she was ready for a physical relationship with Max. She still didn’t fully trust him. Tess was still a raw wound for Liz. It still hurt to think about Max and Tess together. It still hurt to think. . . . No, she wouldn’t think about Cameron Brenner, not now. She had to concentrate on Max. No matter how he had hurt her in the past Liz knew, at that moment, Max wanted nothing more than to please her.
Liz ran her hands up and down the corrugated sides of Max’s body. “No, Max,” she lied softly, “I don’t want you to stop.”
Max hesitated for a moment, searching her unreadable eyes, before relaxing and lowering himself down onto her. He kissed her tenderly, wetting her lips with his tongue. At the first hard stroke of his body Liz responded even though, initially, her heart was not in it. But the feel of him inside her, stroking her, however, was oddly desirable, arousing. Liz lost the fight to keep her eyes open. He was so sweet, so tender, moving inside her so carefully. He didn’t want to hurt her. Liz could tell just by the gentle way he plunged inside her again and again. He loved her, she knew that. And she loved him. She always had.
Her hips rose to meet his steady thrusts unconsciously. She could tell he was losing control. His strokes became shallow and quick. His hands pinned her hips to the bed. He kept her locked beneath him as his weight and the driving force of his body pressed her back into the mattress. Liz compressed his pulsating hips between her thighs. “Liz, Liz, Liz, Liz, Lizzzzzzzzzzz!” He chanted her name in a hiss as his body shook from the force of his orgasm.
Max rolled over onto his side and pulled her into his arms. He stroked her damp hair back from her forehead, smiling at her with a love-struck expression. “I love you,” he whispered breathily. He pressed small, fervent kisses to her temple. “I’m sorry,” he apologized for his inability to wait for her.
However, his words triggered a flashback for Liz. Suddenly she was back in the cave again. Back with him and Tess and Isabel and Michael, back in the cave where they had all been told their destiny. Liz had found out that Max had never been meant for her at all. The pain had been shattering. She had emotionally crumbled that night. “I love you. I love you,” she had sobbed as she had backed away from Max, “I’m sorry. I can’t stay!” And then she had turned and run away from him. Away from his pleading eyes, away from Tess’ triumphant blue stare, away from Michael and Isabel and their resounding pity. She didn’t stop running until she had made it back to Maria and Alex, who had been waiting for her out beside the highway. She’d heard Max calling for her the entire way.
But when she had told him to fulfill his destiny she had never dreamed in a million years that he would actually do it. But he had. He and Tess began dating each other exclusively only a few, short days after Liz had taken her step back. Liz found herself as effectively shut out as Alex and Maria had been. Liz knew she had hurt Max by walking away from him in the cave. She was just as certain that he was dating Tess as a means of punishing her for it. Still, the pain of seeing Max with someone else ate away at her heart everyday. For a while she had simply wanted to die. Her life seemed bleak and dark and hopeless. But that was before Cameron Brenner moved to Roswell.
With a new hottie attending West Roswell every girl’s guy radar went on red alert. And that was the best way to describe Cameron Brenner; a hottie. It wasn’t just that he was tall, with thick, dark hair or that he had the most amazingly green eyes that Liz had ever seen. It was that Cameron Brenner seemed totally unaware of his stunning looks. He actually seem bewildered when girls paid attention to him. He had a cute way of ducking his head and blushing whenever a female paid him a compliment. Liz had to be honest with herself. His mannerisms reminded her of Max, pure and simple. And that was the base of her attraction to him. He was reminiscent of the man she loved. But Max was with someone else. So when Mr. Cameron Brenner was assigned to be Liz’s lab partner in Biology she viewed the development as a blessing. Liz Parker planned to make Cam Brenner her ticket to the beginning of a new life. A Max-free one.
Initially, he was all about business, as if he were trying to size Liz up. He never struck up a conversation with Liz outside of Biology. He seemed shy to approach Liz at all. And so Liz took matters into her own hands, inviting him over to the Crashdown to hang out with her, Maria, and Alex. After a week had gone by he finally began to loosen up. He began passing her funny little notes in class that made her laugh. And what amazed Liz was that her laughter was actually genuine. She found herself passing notes back to him. After a few days he was eating lunch with her, Maria and Alex as if he’d known the three of them for years. They all got along great. They laughed and hung out together like normal teenagers. No FBI conspiracies, no glowing hands, no mysterious alien mates, just four regular teenagers having fun.
Cameron’s being in Roswell seemed not only to save Liz but Maria and Alex as well. Once Cam had been accepted into their circle they spent less and less time talking about the Czechoslovakians who had broken their hearts and more about their plans for the weekend. Their incessant pining over their lost loves was gradually coming to a halt. Normal life was slowly resuming.
After a month Cam asked Liz out for their first official date alone. She had accepted. Following that first date their relationship grew from a cautious friendship to a budding romance. Liz had missed the trivialities of a relationship, all the things that made being with someone fun. Cam more than made up for her deprivation. He would bring her flowers, blow her kisses, and walk her to her locker in the morning before homeroom. Liz could feel the eyes of her female classmates boring into her back as she walked through the halls with Cameron Brenner, her boyfriend. Liz had taken pride in knowing that he was completely devoted to her and only her. She didn’t feel challenged that anything or anyone could take him away from her. After almost a year of chaos, Liz’s life had finally returned to normal.
However, the girls at West Roswell weren’t the only ones to take note of Liz’s new love.
Max kissed Liz’s forehead, bringing her out of her reverie. “You’re smiling. What are you thinking about?”
Liz quickly lowered her eyes, feeling guilty over where her mind had gone. “Nothing really,” she lied for the second time that night, “just wondering when your parents are coming back.”
“Not until Sunday morning, I promise,” Max said, giving her a squeeze, “No one is going to interrupt us. After the way I drilled Isabel this morning she wouldn’t even knock on the door to warn us of a fire. We have the entire weekend to ourselves.”
Liz shifted uncomfortably in his arms. “Well. . . .with my parents away too. . . .someone has to look after the Crashdown.”
“I suppose I could let you slip away for a few moments then,” Max teased, caressing her shoulders. He bent his head to kiss the tops of her breasts tenderly. “I know the first time wasn’t too great for you,” he whispered against her ear, “Why don’t you let me make it up to you?”
“I am a little sore. . .” Liz hedged.
“How about a hot bath, then? I’ll run it for you.”
He looked so eager to please her, so in love, that Liz couldn’t help but smile at him. She laid her hand against his cheek. “That sounds wonderful. Thank you.”
Max kissed her soundly on the lips then bounded out of the bed in all his naked glory. “I won’t be but a sec,” he told her before disappearing into the bathroom.
Liz turned onto her side and pulled the bed sheets over her bare shoulders, her smile fading. She had thought making love with Max would make her feel close to him again. She had convinced herself that it would be the best way to dispel all the doubts that had been plaguing her since she and Max had reunited. How could she know for sure that he and Tess were over for good? How could she know that Max still wasn’t drawn to her? She didn’t know. And the not knowing, the not being completely sure that Max was truly hers was eating her alive.
“Water’s ready,” he said, popping his head through the bathroom door.
Liz smiled at him as she edged from the bed. He looked so happy tonight, glowing like a little boy who had just been granted his most coveted wish. Liz couldn’t destroy that happiness for him. She was the one with the doubts after all. She had the problem, not Max. he had broken up with Tess for her. The only reason he had even started his relationship with Tess was because he had thought he had lost Liz for good. Liz told herself all these things as she walked into Max’s waiting arms. And yet there was a nagging doubt at the back of her mind that Liz just couldn’t shake. And not even Max’s heartbreakingly tender kiss could take it away.
“The water’s not too warm, is it?” Max asked when he noticed Liz’s wince as she sank down into the bathtub.
“It just stings a little,” Liz explained uncomfortably, leaning back against Max’s solid chest.
“I can take it away,” he whispered. He shifted his hand down between her thighs but she stopped him.
“No. I’m fine.” She was uncomfortable with the idea of him touching her there even after the intimacy they had shared. She was even ill at ease at being pressed so close against his naked body. Liz sat up slightly, away from contact with him. She couldn’t help but wonder if he had done the same thing with Tess. Had he and Tess ever made love? The question had been beating around in her brain for months, but she had never had the courage to confront Max about it. In addition Max had never seemed inclined to divulge any information concerning his relationship with Tess. He acted as if it had never happened, as if he and Liz had never broken up at all. And for some inexplicable reason his silence concerning the matter made Liz extremely uncomfortable.
Max grabbed hold of a washcloth and, after soaping it up, began to wash Liz’s back. She jumped. Her response was electric. She swiveled around, stabbing him with angry eyes. “What are you doing?”
“You seemed tense,” Max answered with caution, momentarily taken aback by her vehement response to his touch. “I was trying to relax you,” he explained carefully, “I read somewhere that the first time can sometimes be traumatic for a woman.”
The anger eased from her features as she looked at him. His expression was so loving and concerned. She could tell he didn’t want to hurt her at all. Liz felt instantly ashamed. Looking into his confused, hurt eyes, Liz couldn’t help it. She crumbled. Her small shoulders convulsed with violent sobs she couldn’t control. She turned into Max’s chest, unable to stop the flow of her tears. Above her she heard him plead with her: “Please, Liz, tell me what’s wrong. What did I do?” She could hear the tearful break in his humble question and its presence only increased her tears.
Helpless, Max held her against him while she cried, cradling her head against his shoulder. When her sobs finally died down to soft hiccups, Max asked, “Liz, what’s going on?”
She shook her head, keeping her face nestled in the crook of his neck. Max was silent for a long while.
When he finally spoke again his words were touched with sadness. “I didn’t get any flashes tonight, Liz.” He was silent again, as if searching for the right words. “It was like you were deliberately shutting me out.”
She lifted her head then. It was killing her to know she had hurt him because that was the last thing she had intended. “No, Max,” she denied softly, “I’m not shutting you out.”
Max caressed her hair back from her face and kissed her wet cheeks. He skimmed her cheekbones with the pads of his thumbs. “Then what’s wrong, Liz?”
Liz found herself drowning in his beautiful eyes. He only wanted to help her, to ease her pain. Liz knew at that moment she could tell him all her insecurities concerning Tess and Max would understand. In fact, he would reassure her that she had absolutely nothing to worry about. Max would do everything in his power to dispel any doubts she might have. The problem was, would Liz be able to believe what he told her? He hadn’t been able to control his attraction to Tess the first time, Liz reasoned with herself. She had no guarantee that Max’s unexplainable urges wouldn’t resurface.
Liz clamped down on her emotions, refusing to allow her doubts to overtake her. She bent forward and kissed Max softly. She pushed all thoughts of Tess to the back of her mind. “I guess tonight just overwhelmed me, that’s all,” she told him, “I didn’t know it would be so. . . .”
“Did I hurt you very badly?”
Liz ducked her head, relaxing a little. “Not too badly.”
Max smiled at her and shifted her more fully onto his lap. “Maybe we could try again?” he suggested huskily, nuzzling her shoulder. Liz arched her neck to provide his seeking mouth more access. She gasped as she felt him enter her. He slid into her slowly, the tip of him gently separating the tender folds of her womanhood. Liz dug her nails into his shoulders, savoring the feel of him filling her up, completing her. And he did complete her. She had plenty of doubts and fears about a future with Max but there was one thing she was absolutely certain of. She loved Max Evans with every ounce of feeling she had in her body. And she would never, ever stop.
She rocked gently against him, causing the water to lap around them. His fingers pressed into the small of her back as he brushed his lips across her collarbone, shoulders and breasts. Liz purred. She moaned, unprepared by the sudden orgasm that washed over her. Max pressed into her hard, her shuddering climax prompting his own.
Liz’s limp head feel forward onto Max’s shoulder, her mind blissfully blank. At long last, she thought drowsily. When she woke up some time later she and Max were back in his bed. She lifted up onto her elbow and took a few moments to study him while he slept. He looked like a little boy, his face completely relaxed, unlined by worry or anxiety. Liz tenderly brushed his hair back from his forehead, loving him and hating him all at once. She lay back against the bed, covering her face with her hands. God, she was so confused. She wanted Max. She had always wanted him. But she also wanted normality.
She wanted the assurance that her boyfriend was hers alone, totally devoted to only her. Liz didn’t want to be afraid of turning her back only to turn around and find him kissing someone else. That was not an assurance she could count on with Max. And Liz needed to have those things to count on.
She wished belatedly that she had given more thought to all those things before rushing back into a relationship with Max. But she had been so happy when he had come to her. It had been so totally unexpected. Liz and Cam had been dating one another for almost three months. They had a very public relationship. Everyone knew that Liz Parker and Cam Brenner were together. However, Liz had never stopped to consider that maybe Max had noticed as well.
He had confronted her at her locker before Chemistry class. She had been so surprised to find him standing there that she had actually done a double take.
“Hey,” was all he said.
“Hey,” Liz responded. Her confusion was obvious. She lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Is something wrong, Max? Is it Isabel? Michael?”
“No, they’re fine,” he quickly reassured her, “We’re all fine.”
When he didn’t seem inclined to say much more Liz prompted, “Then what brings you by?”
“Do you care about him?”
“Care about who?”
Max stared at her intensely. “Cameron Brenner.”
His question made her nervous, especially because it seemed to come from out of nowhere. She shifted her book bag from one hand to the other. “Uh. . .Max, Cam’s my. . .you know. . .my boyfriend.” Liz told him this as if it weren’t common knowledge.
Apparently, her answer didn’t satisfy Max because he asked again, more insistently this time, “Do you care about him?”
“Cause if you don’t,” he continued, “I think you and I should stop playing games with each other and be together.”
“I love you, Liz. I know you still love me.”
“You’ve lost it.”
She started to circle around him, but he grabbed her arm and stilled her. When she would have tossed scathing remarks at him the expression on his face stopped her. His eyes were gleaming with unshed tears. There wasn’t a trace of cockiness in their brown depths, only love and pleading. He touched her cheek briefly before letting his hand fall. “Let’s stop this, Liz. I can’t stand seeing you with someone else.”
“What about Tess?” she asked in a daze.
“I never wanted to be with her. I’ve never wanted to be with anyone but you.” He hadn’t waited for her reply, but had taken her face between his hands and transferred the feeling of his words into his kiss. They had caught a great deal of attention, kissing in the middle of the hallway between class changes. And in the end Mr. Seligman had to push through the crowd they had gathered to pry them apart.
Cameron had confronted her later on that day at the Crashdown. Liz had groaned inwardly when she saw him stride through the doors. One look at him told Liz that he was furious. She mentally braced herself for his anger.
“So you two are back together now?”
Liz stopped cleaning the counter and met his gaze with some difficulty. “You saw us?”
“Who didn’t?” Cam asked bitterly. He glared at her and Liz found herself unable to meet his stare any longer. “If you wanted to be with him, Liz, all you had to do was say the word.”
“Cam, it’s complicated. . . .”
“No, it’s not,” he said shortly, “I’ll make it simple. We’re over.”
When he had walked away Liz hadn’t tried to stop him. At that moment she didn’t have to foggiest idea what she wanted anyway. Somehow she and Max had gotten back together and Liz didn’t even have a clue how it happened or even if it was what she really wanted.
She looked at his sleeping form again, shaking off her memory. That she loved him was a solid truth that Liz could not refute. She did. But was loving him enough, she asked herself. That was a question Liz did not have the answer to.
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 1:59:14 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 12:23:37 PM by Deejonaise|
(Three years later Berkeley, California)
“Hey, angel, I’m on my way to class.”
“What?” Liz mumbled, coming out of her sleep-induced stupor when she felt Max brushing a kiss good-bye across her forehead. She sat straight up, frowning at him in confusion when she realized he was dressed and had his backpack slung over his shoulder. Pushing her hair out of her eyes, she yawned, “Wait! Where are you going? I thought your class had been canceled this morning. We’re supposed to spend the day together, remember?”
“I know, but I’m working on a case study with my Psych group,” he explained to her as he laced up his Nikes, “I completely forgot about it until this morning.”
Liz pouted her disappointment. Today was her free day from work and school and she had been looking forward to spending it with Max. They spent such limited time together as it was with both of them having full-time class schedules and working a minimum of 30 hours a week each. Despite the fact they had worked their class schedules around each other it was still difficult for them to coordinate time to spend together on their busy days. And Max had to bartend later that evening and depending on how late his group meeting ran, (and it would probably run long since his group was such a long-winded bunch), she wouldn’t have much time to spend with him before he had to go to work at 3:00 that afternoon.
“Can’t you blow it off?” Liz demanded petulantly. They had lived together for a little over six months. The suggestion had been Max’s because, as he had put it, he needed to be close to her all the time. Liz had been flattered and deeply moved that he wanted them to live together. Consequently, she moved all her belongings from her dorm and she and Max found a little apartment a few miles from the Berkeley campus.
To describe their apartment as modest would have been an understatement, but to Liz it was Mecca. She had everything she could possibly want. Both she and Max had received full scholarships to Berkeley University and were pursuing their dreams. Liz worked as a part-time lab assistant to one of the more prestigious professors on campus so not only was she receiving a stellar education, but she was gaining field experience as well. Her long awaited goal of becoming a molecular biologist was having its groundwork laid. But best of all, she was with Max and away from Roswell, New Mexico.
It was as if moving away had transformed Max into a completely different person. Liz knew for the first time in his life that he wasn’t in fear of discovery. He was simply another ambitious young man pursuing an education. No one looked twice at him. In California their lives were normal, sunny and predictable, which provided Liz with a contented sense of comfort.
There were no alien hunters in California, no FBI, no meddling Isabel and Michael. . .the list could go on for ages. But most importantly there was no Tess. Her rival was in Roswell, far, far from Max. Knowing that allowed Liz to relax a bit. She no longer felt as if she had competition for Max’s attention or that she was in danger of losing him at any given moment. They were together and happy. Without Tess around Liz didn’t have room for doubts. She felt more confident about loving Max without heartbreaking consequences. In Liz’s mind, leaving Roswell had been the best decision either of them had ever made.
Max looked at Liz in regret. “I wish I could stay, Liz, but I’ve canceled with my group three times already. My grade is on the line.”
Liz made a sad face. “Oh no, don’t do that! Not the puppy face,” he pouted, dropping his bag to the floor and sliding into bed beside her. Her naked body was warm and inviting. “You know I can’t resist when you do the puppy face.”
“Then don’t leave.” Liz smiled as he covered her face with soft, sweet kisses. She stroked her hand lazily down his chest until it came to rest intimately at his groin.
Max groaned in hesitation. “You don’t play fair, Liz,” he said, obviously torn between meeting his classmates and staying with Liz.
“Stay, Max,” Liz pleaded as she ran her tongue along the sensitive edge of his earlobe, “Stay home,” she coaxed sweetly, “Stay in bed.”
It was inevitable that Max would crumble. What man could resist a gloriously naked goddess begging for sexual favors? Besides that Max didn’t want to leave anyway.
An hour later Max was hastily buttoning his jeans while cramming his feet back into his Nikes. While he raced from corner to corner of their bedroom collecting his discarded clothing, Liz calmly crept from the bed and gathered together his books and his jacket. When he finished getting dressed she held them out for him with a disappointed pout. Max took a deep breath and kissed her on the cheek. “Thanks babe,” he said after tossing her one, last rueful smile and then he scurried for the door, “I’ll see you this afternoon. Love ya!” And then he was gone.
Liz stared at the closed door and sighed heavily. The apartment was eerily silent with him gone. She supposed she could clean up, she thought resolutely, looking around the apartment. She was desperate to do something to occupy her time until Max returned. Dirty dishes were stacked in the kitchen sink and littered all about the living room. Well, she decided, if Max wasn’t going to be there she might as well do something constructive with her day. After showering and throwing on an old pair of sweats and one of Max’s T-shirts she set to cleaning. In an hour the apartment was spotless. It was just fifteen after ten. So then she decided to do the laundry. That would keep her busy for at least an hour and then she would only have to wait a little while longer before Max was due to come home.
She packed the hamper full of their clothes and the detergent. At the last minute she decided to pack her heavy biology book as well. She didn’t relish the idea of lugging the big and bulky load down the street, her book adding more than enough weight to the already heavy load, but she could at least get some studying in while she waited for the clothes to wash. She had been at the launder-o-mat all of forty minutes before her stomach began rumbling. With all her determination to stay busy until max returned home she had completely forgotten to eat breakfast. Because her clothes wouldn’t dry for another twenty minutes Liz decided to walk to the coffee shop two blocks away.
It was hot and the sun was blaring down as Liz made her way to the coffee shop. The sun was high and bright in the sky, which wasn’t out of the ordinary since California was always sunny. However, the cheery, bright day bespoke of Liz’s mood perfectly. She didn’t think she could possibly be any happier than she was at that moment. She had the man of her dreams, she was two semesters away from graduation, and Tess Harding was out of her life, but more importantly Max’s life, for good. Liz smiled to herself. Yes, she was insecure when it came to Tess Harding.
That was a truth Liz could freely admit to herself now. But who wouldn’t have been insecure in Liz’s shoes? Both Max and Tess were the same species. Tess was, in fact, her alien boyfriend’s intended mate. Under any circumstances the situation would render even the most grounded of women a little nervous! But thankfully, Tess wasn’t an issue any longer. Being secure in that knowledge caused Liz’s smile to widen considerably as she rounded the corner for the coffee shop.
After purchasing her usual of vanilla cappuccino and a chocolate chip bagel Liz headed for the exit, opting to eat her brunch at the launder-o-mat, but she never made it that far. Her attention was caught by a man sitting outside the café at one of the patio tables. His back was turned to her and she could only see the back of his head, but she would have known him anywhere.
It was Max. She started in his direction when she abruptly realized that he wasn’t alone. He was with Tess. The breath wheezed from Liz’s chest as she pushed through the entrance door in shock.
They sat close together. Their heads were lowered as they spoke to each other in what looked like hushed tones. Lover talk. Max idly stroked Tess’ hand as he spoke to her. Tess tossed back her blond head and laughed at something he said to her. Liz swallowed, unable to believe she was actually seeing what she was seeing. Abruptly they came to their feet and Max enveloped Tess in a tender hug. Liz thought he might have leaned in to kiss her, but she looked away, unable to bear watching them anymore.
Suddenly, she was catapulted back three years to when she was standing inside the Crashdown watching as Max and Tess kissed outside across the street. She could still remember how the lightening had flashed, illuminating them for the briefest of seconds. Liz didn’t ever think she would forget the hollow feeling that had come to her chest watching Max kiss someone else. She felt that same exact feeling now.
Liz felt as if her heart were too big for her chest. She couldn’t get enough air into her lungs to breathe. It was because her sobs were choking her. Hot tears spilled forth and she spun around, because she couldn’t stand there another moment, and collided with a solid chest.
Her cappuccino went spilling over the both of them. Liz’s control broke in that instant. She began sobbing uncontrollably while automatically reaching for the napkins in her bag to mop up the mess she had made.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” she apologized over and over, sobbing and laughing at the same time. Laughing because she had been such a stupid, stupid fool! She knew she should have never, ever given her heart to Max Evans! Visions of Max and Tess kept playing over and over in her head. Liz couldn’t shake them from her head though she definitely wanted them to stop. Her tears blinded her.
“Liz? Liz Parker?”
She lifted her head at the sound of her name and found herself staring into familiar green eyes. “Cam?” Liz groaned, feeling her humiliation grow to unbearable heights.
He knelt down before her, taking her hands. “What’s the matter? Are you ok?”
Liz started sobbing anew. She was only seconds away from losing it. “No,” she gasped, “No, I’m not. Please, please, take me out of here!”
Liz made Cameron stop her by the launder-o-mat to pick up her clothes before insisting he take her home. By the time they arrived all Liz’s tears were dried up. All she felt numbness. She drifted into the apartment like a zombie while Cam followed behind her with the laundry. Liz floated over to the recliner and sat down in a daze, pulling her knees up to her chest. Cam propped himself against the laundry hamper waiting for Liz to begin. She didn’t. She just kept staring off vacantly into space. He wanted to go to her, but for the moment decided to keep his distance.
“What’s going on, Liz?”
She answered his question with a question of her own. “What are you doing here in California, Cam?” Her voice was tired, disinterested, as if she were speaking merely to fill up space.
“I live here. With my dad.”
“So that’s where you went after we. . .” Broke up, she finished silently. But even though she hadn’t voiced her thought aloud Cam knew exactly what she was getting at..
“You were just an excuse. My mom’s boyfriend and me weren’t getting along very well. You knew that. It was just time for me to bail.”
Liz bit into her knuckles. “I missed you when you left.”
Cam came to kneel before her, kissing her hands, holding them tightly in his own. “Did you?” Liz nodded slowly. Cam brushed a concerned hand across her cheek. “I saw them back at the café, you know. I saw them together, Liz.”
Her head dropped forward, her cheeks blazing with humiliation and anger. “You must think I’m the stupidest woman alive. But I guess it’s no less than I deserve for the way I treated you.”
“We weren’t that serious, Liz,” Cam said, trying to reassure her.
His attempt to make her laugh only made her cry. Her tears leaked from her eyes, collecting in the corner of her mouth. She licked them away. “I can’t believe how much it hurts. . .”
“I know,” Cam said, leaning forward to kiss her forehead, her wet cheeks, and lastly her lips. He pulled back, as if waiting for her response. When she didn’t push him away he kissed her again, longer this time. At first Liz didn’t respond. She just felt dead inside. But then she began to think about Max, about how they had made love that morning, about how happy she had been and she began to return Cam’s kiss.
She didn’t resist him when he pulled her to the floor. She didn’t protest at all when he pulled her T-shirt over her head and threw it aside. Her bra quickly followed. His mouth ravished her neck, her breasts. Liz lay back without a word. She closed her eyes, pretending. He was Max, kissing her, loving her, wanting only her. It was as if Liz were outside her own body, watching as Cameron removed her clothing, tongued her most secret places. She allowed him to do whatever he wanted. At that moment she didn’t care. She didn’t care about anything at all.
Liz took a certain satisfaction in feeling Cameron thrust inside her. Until that moment her body had belonged exclusively to Max. Look how easily I can give it away, Max, she thought bitterly; see you’re not so important. Not so important at all. Liz bit her lip as Cam drove steadily inside her, her fingers digging into the carpet beneath her. Yes, she thought, come, Cam, take what belongs to Max. He doesn’t care anyway. He doesn’t care at all.
Cam pushed against her one last time, the force of his orgasm causing him to collapse on top of her. In that instant Liz felt nauseated. She knew she had just made the biggest mistake of her entire life. Her body began to shake uncontrollably. She swallowed past the lump forming in her throat and pushed a sweaty, panting Cam off her. She rolled into a sitting position, grabbing her T-shirt and slipping it back over her head.
Cam laid a questioning hand on her shoulder but she shrugged it away. “Liz?”
“I think maybe you should leave now.”
She had enough to deal with. The last thing she wanted was this new attachment with Cam. Liz felt dirty, disgusted. She didn’t think she could even look at him without becoming physically ill. Why had she thought for a moment that sleeping with Cam would solve anything? All she did was make things worse.
“Liz?” he said again. But this time his voice was surprised and confused.
Liz stabbed him with glacial eyes. “I want you to leave now.”
“But what about what just happened here?”
“Nothing hap-? Liz, we just made love.”
“No, Cam, we had sex. That’s all.” Making love, that’s what she and Max shared. What Liz had just committed with Came could not begin to be described in such terms. She stood and began pulling on her sweatpants. “You should get dressed now,” she told him woodenly.
Cam had just zipped up his jeans and was reaching for his shirt when the doorknob to the front door began to turn. Liz’s gaze zigzagged between the door and Cameron.
“Hey, babe, I brought you a bagel,” Max said as he stepped inside the apartment, “You know the kind. . . .” He trailed off in shock to find his girlfriend and her half-naked ex standing in the middle of his living room. It took Max about two seconds to assimilate the situation, especially when Liz’s discarded underwear was balled up beside the recliner. His fingers reflexively clenched around the package he held in his hand.
“Get the fuck out of my house,” he ordered quietly. His murderous stare was trained directly on Cam.
Liz felt her heart beating like a frightened bird’s. Her chest rose and fell in shallow pants. She had never seen Max so angry. His lips had barely moved when he told Cam to get out. There was no doubt in Liz’s mind that Max knew exactly what they had done.
Cam looked at Liz, held out his hand. “Come with me, Liz.”
His words snapped Max’s slender hold on control. He threw down the cappuccino and bag he held and charged at Cam, drawing back his fist. His punch landed against Cam’s face with a bone-cracking thud, hard enough to knock Cam to the floor. “I SAID GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
When it looked as if Cam were going to try and fight Max, Liz jumped into action. “Just leave, Cam!”
Cam licked at his bleeding mouth. “What if he hurts you, Liz?” He was clearly spoiling for a fight but Liz knew that Max would crush him in a millisecond, especially now when he was angrier than Liz had ever seen him.
Liz looked uncertainly at Max’s angry face then back at Cam’s concerned one. “He won’t hurt me. Just leave. Please,” she added when he still seemed to hesitate.
After Cam was gone Liz found herself wishing he wasn’t. She was suddenly very afraid of being alone with Max. A Max that she had never seen before. He looked at her in obvious anger, confusion, and hurt.
“What are you doing, Liz?” His question was a bare whisper.
“I-I. . .” Liz couldn’t find the words to tell him, not when he was looking at her with such a betrayed expression.
“You slept with him?” he cried, “And in our house? In our bed?”
“Why?” he sobbed, “Why would you do that?”
Liz could feel her own tears start again at the sight of his agonized face. The enormity of what she had done was beginning to sink in. Liz’s knees felt shaky. “I saw you today, Max. . . .with Tess.”
“Tess?” he repeated blankly. And then he laughed. A sort of bitter, pained laugh that broke off into a sob. “I saw her while I was buying your damned cappuccino, Liz! I was telling her good-bye and that’s all. I haven’t spoken to her since we left Roswell.”
“B-But you hugged her, you. . . .” Liz trailed off, unable to argue. It was futile to continue. One look at his crumpled expression and Liz knew he was telling the truth. She had made a mistake, a terrible mistake.
“I hugged her good-bye, Liz. That’s all.”
“Oh god!” Liz cried, burying her face in her hands. What had she done? Oh god, oh god, oh god, she thought, and I can’t take it back. I can’t ever take it back. She dropped her hands and took a pleading step towards Max. “Max, please. . . .” She lifted a supplicating hand towards him.
“DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME!” he exploded, jerking away from her. He shook his head at her, clearly near breaking down. His shoulders began to shake with the force of the sobs he was fighting to hold back. “I can’t even stand to look at you right now,” he said. He looked at her one last time, his eyes filled with disgusted loathing, before heading for the door. He didn’t even close it behind him.
“Oh, Max,” Liz sobbed, running shaky hand through her hair, “oh god, I’m sorry.” She sank to her knees on the carpet, her chest aching with the pain that filled it. But she couldn’t cry. She just rocked back and forth, her mind numb. She blankly reached for the phone; dialing the New York number she had learned by heart months ago. She finally got an answer on the fourth ring.
“Oh, Maria, thank god! I need you.”
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:03:00 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 12:32:32 PM by Deejonaise|
“Geez, Liz, you look like shit.”
“Thanks, Maria, I can always count on you to say something to lift my spirits,” Liz commented sarcastically, stepping aside to let Maria inside.
Although Maria’s comment might have seemed snide she was genuinely concerned about her friend. After removing her designer sunglasses she gave Liz a concerned once-over. Liz looked as if she hadn’t slept in days. Her eyes were smudged under with dark bruises and her skin was a sickly pale. Her hair, which was pulled back into a loose ponytail, was dank and unkempt. She looked exactly as Maria described: like shit. Maria immediately wrapped her arms around Liz, who looked on the verge of tears.
“Oh, Lizzie, what’s going on?”
Liz’s tears spilled over even though she didn’t want them to. She had cried buckets last night. Cried because Max hadn’t returned home and not that morning either. Liz hadn’t heard from him since yesterday afternoon. She didn’t think she had any more tears to shed after enduring that hell. But she must have because her sobs came bubbling forth again, tearing from her chest.
Maria tried not to be alarmed at Liz’s obvious distress but her panic alarm was sounding wildly. Oh why hadn’t she remembered her cypress oils, Maria mentally scolded herself. She did what she could however, patting Liz’s back, and comforting her as much as possible. “Liz, what happened?” she asked again, more insistently this time.
Liz pulled away and wiped at her face with her hands, struggling to collect herself. “Max left me.”
“What?” Her reply was half guffaw, half exclamation. Max leaving Liz was like chickens suddenly sprouting lips! It just didn’t happen. But Liz looked like hell, so obviously something had gone wrong. “You’re serious?”
“Maybe you should sit,” Liz suggested.
“Yeah, maybe I should.” She couldn’t help but agree. Whatever Liz had to tell her, whatever had driven Max to leave; Maria knew it had to be huge.
Liz sat across from her own the sofa, rubbing her sweating palms on the legs of her jeans. She opened her mouth to start several times but kept snapping it shut. Liz felt too ashamed, too foolish, and too guilty to admit aloud what she had done. She could barely admit it to herself and so she took the easy way out. “You look really good, Maria,” she began, studying her friend closely, “Did you dye your hair?”
“No, it’s a wig,” Maria declared as she ripped the dark colored hair from her head revealing her own blonde locks, “I had to travel incognito. I couldn’t have my fans mobbing me, you know?”
“So how does it feel to have your album go double platinum?” Liz asked her, genuinely interested. How many women could say that their best friend was a famous singer who’s latest hit was number two in the country?
“I have no privacy. I have no life. I’m constantly doing publicity gimmicks. I’m in the studio twelve hours a day recording, and I go on tour in two months. So I guess you could say I’m absolutely loving it.”
Liz watched Maria as she spoke and although she smiled Liz could see that a certain something was missing. Liz could recognize it because it was missing from her life as well. Liz wondered if Maria still missed Michael. She knew she could ask, but in all likelihood Maria would deny it. Maria had moved on with her life, after all. But Liz, on the other hand, didn’t think she could move on with Max.
To think of how badly she had botched things with Max caused tears to fill her eyes again, but she blinked them away. Crying wouldn’t bring him back. It wouldn’t change what she had done either. So Liz forced herself to smile, even thought she really didn’t want to. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something, Maria, how did you come up with your stage name? I mean, I think Majandra’s a beautiful and unique name.”
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I stole it from some actress chick that did a sci-fi pilot," Maria explained with a dismissive wave of her hand, "Stop trying to change the subject and tell me what's going on with you. Why did Max leave?"
"I cheated on him, Maria."
Liz spent thirty minutes retelling the previous day's events and by the time she was done she was in tears again and Maria was holding her. Again Maria felt helpless, wanting to comfort Liz but not knowing what to say at all. "Oh my god, Liz, I’m so sorry," she whispered because it was all she could do.
"I haven't heard from him since yesterday afternoon, Maria," Liz sobbed helplessly, "I don't think he's gonna come home."
"He’ll come home," Maria predicted, "He knows the two of you need to talk. But," she said, taking hold of Liz’s chin so that their gazes met, "if he doesn't, why don't you come back to New York with me?"
"It’ll be a blast. Alex will get a kick out of seeing you. He misses you. And he needs a break. He’s been working his ass off at school."
"Speaking of Alex, how are the two of you?"
"Good, for now. Michael dropped by unexpectedly last month when I was home for the concert in Manhattan. Alex blew a gasket. I didn't think we'd ever get over it, Alex was soooo mad, but we did." Liz knew that Maria had added that last little tidbit for her benefit. But Liz wasn't comforted. It wasn't as if Maria had cheated on Alex with Michael. Michael was simply a sore spot for Alex. After things turned out so badly with him and Isabel because of Michael, Liz was sure Alex didn't revel in the thought of Michael coming around Maria at all. Especially when the two of them had such a history.
"So how did you end up hooking up with Cameron in the first place, Liz? It’s been like five years."
"It’s been three years," Liz corrected sullenly, "He said he lives here with his dad."
"Well, I think he's a jerk," Maria stated with uninhibited fury, "What kind of man takes advantage of a woman when she is so obviously vulnerable?"
Liz hadn't even stopped to consider it in that light. She hadn't thought of herself as a victim at all. But Cam had known the state of mind she was in; he had seen Max and Tess together. Of course, he would have known that she was confused and angry. And yet he had kissed her anyway. And she had let him. Liz shuddered as the memory washed over her. She couldn't bear to think of Max’s tortured face when he had discovered them, but it was an image that was burned into her brain.
"So has sugar daddy called you?" Maria asked, snapping Liz out of her reverie. Liz knew without asking that she was referring to Cam.
"He’s left seventeen messages on the answering machine. I haven't picked up."
"So then you don't want to be with him?"
"No! I love Max. He’s the only one I want."
"And you believe what Max told you about the whole Tess thing?" Maria asked skeptically.
"Maria, you didn't see his face. There was no way he could have been lying to me." Maria could see that Liz was about to start crying again and she wanted to avoid that at all costs.
"Tell you what," she said, pulling a reluctant Liz to her feet, "why don't you get cleaned up and I’ll make you some breakfast. I’m willing to bet you haven't eaten anything since Max left."
Liz attempted to protest. "Maria, you don't have to-"
"Liz," Maria interrupted, "do you think I caught the red-eye out here for nothing? I came to take care of you, for a change. Now shut up and go shower!"
Liz had to admit that she felt tons better after emerging from her long, steamy shower. She pulled on a pair of Max’s sweatpants and one of his T-shirts because they smelled like him. For a moment she stood, enveloped in his scent, wanting to cry, but she didn't. She swallowed past the lump in her throat. She had made the mess with Max and she was going to fix it! There was no way in hell she was going to lose Max now. They belonged together. They had always belonged together.
When she finally crept into the kitchen she found a disaster waiting for her there. Pancake batter dripped off the sides of the counter. Flour was dusted across the floor and the kitchen table. But what was worse was Maria. She had flour streaked across her cheek and all over the front of her designer clothes, despite the apron she wore. She sang to herself softly as she stirred the bowl of pancake batter, most of it spilling onto the floor because it was so watery. Liz gasped.
"Maria, what have you done to my kitchen?"
Maria glared at her, propping her fist, which still held the batter spoon, on her hip. "Look, I never said I was Julia Child." Both girls looked at each other then started to giggle and then broke into full-fledged laughter. Maria flicked some batter at Liz. Liz threw flour back at her. In no time they were tossing food back and forth at each other from across the kitchen, laughing and screaming like mad women as they did. Their impromptu food fight was quickly cut short, however, when the front door suddenly opened.
Max stepped into the living room looking wrinkled, unshaven, and shaken. Maria and Liz stopped in mid-throw and stared at him in shocked amazement. He closed the apartment door softly behind him. Liz dusted her hands on her T-shirt and took a cautious step forward.
"Max, where have you been?"
His bloodshot eyes were weary and resolute when he looked at her.
"We need to talk, Liz."
"So who's the guy outside?" Max asked, coming fully into the apartment. He took off his jacket and laid it across the back of the recliner. His movements were mechanical, detached, as if he were merely going through the motions.
"That's Ed. My bodyguard slash limo driver. He’s kind of a man for all purposes," Maria provided a little self-consciously, "Why did he say something to you?"
Max shrugged as if unconcerned. "It doesn't matter." His eyes pierced Liz. "I'm getting used to coming home and finding strange men in my house."
Liz paled a little at Max's embittered remark. Maria felt caught between slapping him and wanting to hug him. He looked like he'd just survived The Hundred Years War. His expression was so bleak, so disillusioned when he looked at Liz that Maria couldn't help but feel pity for him. But in spite of all that Maria wanted to shake him as well. Couldn't he see that Liz was eaten up with guilt as it was? Oh, now, she might look a little happy, covered in flour and pancake batter, laughing like a schoolgirl, but inside her there was absolute misery.
However, seeing things from Max's standpoint Maria had to crush her indignant feelings. She could understand how it looked to Max, who had just discovered the day before that his girlfriend was cheating on him. He had to think that Liz didn't care at all. He was probably thinking that cheating on him was one thing, but couldn't Liz at least pretend to be sorry about it.
Maria felt torn. She wanted to stay and support Liz, but she felt like if she did she would be supporting what Liz had done as well. And Max was her friend, too. Whatever needed discussing between the two of them needed to stay between the two of them. Maria decided to make herself scarce.
"I know you both need to talk," Maria said, looking back and forth between them, "I'll just have Ed take me for a bite to eat, ok." She turned and gave Liz a kiss on the cheek. "It'll be ok, babe," she whispered to Liz, "Just be honest with him about how you feel." And then she stepped back and said loudly, "Give me a minute to get cleaned up?" Maria looked at Max, silently asking his permission.
"Go ahead," he told her woodenly then gave her directions to find the bathroom. Both he and Liz watched as Maria grabbed her garment bag and headed towards the back of the apartment. Neither of them spoke until they heard the bathroom door click shut.
"When did you call her?" Max asked.
"Yesterday afternoon," Liz said as she bent down and began cleaning the mess she and Maria had made, "I needed someone, Max."
"What was wrong with your boyfriend?" Max said caustically, "He seemed to suit you just fine the other day."
Liz sat back on the floor, massaging her temples. "Max, I don't want to be with Cam. You have to believe that."
"I don't have to believe anything, Liz. Much less anything that comes out of your mouth." He gritted the last of his statement through his teeth. Liz knew instinctively that he was angrier than he had ever been with her or anyone else for that matter. She knew it was taking a great deal of restraint for him to hold that anger inside. The thought made her shudder.
Liz could see that any attempt to reason with him would be futile. His feelings of hurt betrayal had been replaced by an angry bitterness. No, he wouldn't be in any mood to reason with Liz. He only wanted to hurt her as much as she had hurt him. "So was that the first time? You know, that you slept with him?"
"Yes, Max! It was the only time." The last time, Liz added silently. She didn't bother to try to reassure him aloud because she knew he wouldn't believe her anyway.
Max nodded; digesting the information she'd given him, trying to decide whether or not he believed her. After a few minutes he sighed heavily and came to squat down in front of her. "I just don't understand why you did it, Liz."
"I told you," Liz stressed, her brown eyes pleading with him to understand, "I saw you with Tess, and I just lost it, Max. I felt like my whole world was crumbling to see you both together."
For an instant, Max wanted to comfort her, to kiss her tears away. He just wanted to go to bed and wrap himself in her, to forget that yesterday had even happened. But he couldn't get the image of them out of his mind, pink and rumpled from sex. Max's stomach clenched at the memory and for a moment he thought he was going to be sick again. Yesterday he had been so upset that he'd actually become physically ill. He knew he couldn't possibly come home and face Liz and so he had stayed gone all night, drinking with T.J. and trying to forget Liz.
"I went to the café to buy you a cappuccino and your favorite bagel. I thought we'd kill some time in bed before I had to go to work because I got done with my group early. I saw Tess," Max paused to assimilate Liz's reaction to what he was telling her. Although he was angry and hurt it was extremely important to him that Liz understand that nothing had gone on between him and Tess. Max reevaluated his earlier feelings. Maybe he didn't want to hurt Liz like he hurt at all. He continued on in his story, trying not to focus on that new realization too much. "She said she and Michael were going to travel across the country, following up some FBI leads that Michael has. She asked me to come with them, but I said no. I told her I wished her luck and that was it. We said good-bye."
"When I saw you both, you were sitting really close together," Liz explained lamely, "You looked really intimate."
"Well, we're discussing highly classified FBI information," Max clarified a little sarcastically, "We didn't want just anyone to overhear us."
Liz's reply was cut off by Maria's sudden emergence from the bathroom. When Maria came into the kitchen she was once again incognito, sunglasses and wig in place. "I'm gonna be gone a few hours, ok?" she told Liz, grabbing up her purse, "I know you both have a lot to talk about." She turned to look at Max. "Try not to be too hard on her, Max. She really does love you."
"I'll try," Max replied mildly, not wanting to argue, "It was good to see you, Maria."
"Yeah, you too. You don't have to be a stranger, you know. You and Liz can come and visit New York anytime."
After she left Max looked back at Liz, his expression forlorn. "It must be nice to have a friend you can call when you need someone," he remarked softly.
"You have friends," Liz said as a way of comfort.
"Yeah, but I really needed to talk to my best friend last night."
"And what did Michael say?"
"I wasn't talking about Michael, Liz. I was talking about you. You're my best friend. . .at least. . .you were. . .until. . ."
"Oh, Max," Liz whispered brokenly. She wanted to hold him, to beg his forgiveness. Wouldn't be wonderful if she could make everything up to him in kisses? She thought the most precious thing she could possibly give him at that moment was her body. But she considered that he wouldn't view it as all that precious since she had so freely and cheaply given it to someone else. Liz wished fervently that the floor would open and swallow her up. She felt that low.
"Liz, don't you see what's happened," Max asked, his eyes filling with tears, "Our relationship isn't the only thing in jeopardy now. You've compromised our friendship as well."
"Max, I- "
"T.J. said I could crash with him until I get things straightened out here at home."
"You're staying at the bar?" Liz asked in disappointed hurt.
"He could have fired on the spot last night for coming in for my shift late and drunk. As it was, he was a really good friend to me last night."
"So you're not going to stay here?"
It was seeing her cry, witnessing firsthand how much his decision tore her apart, that broke Max's tenuous thread of control. The tears that had been swimming in his eyes finally brimmed over. "I can't stay here, Liz," he explained brokenly, "Every time I look at you all I see. . . ." He trailed off, unable to finish. They looked at one another for a long, tortured moment, silently understanding what remained unspoken between the two of them.
"I think we need time apart, Liz."
Liz wanted to protest, but she knew that wouldn't be fair. She had hurt him deeply. He deserved to have time to himself to sort things out. Liz found herself echoing the words she'd said to him when he'd taken his step back so long ago. "Well. . .yeah, Max. . .if that's what you want."
"It's what I need, Liz. I feel just as lost as you do right now." He stood up and wiped at his wet cheeks. "I think we both need time to figure out what we want." Liz nodded, but inside she was screaming and screaming. "I'm just gonna go pack a few things."
Liz watched him walk back towards their bedroom, feeling as if her heart were breaking all over again.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:06:13 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 12:40:28 PM by Deejonaise|
|Part Two Growing Apart. . . .|
Over the next few weeks Liz lost fifteen pounds. In the days following Max's moving out she had at least been able to distract herself with Maria, whose antics had always made her laugh. But Maria was only able to stay for a few days. She had to get back to the recording studio and finish her album. And so Liz was eventually left alone. After Maria left Liz's days went from bad to worse. She pushed herself at school and at work relentlessly to keep from thinking about Max. As a result, she ate less and less, slept less and less. She felt like a zombie, going nowhere, doing nothing. Just existing. Liz hadn't thought her life could possibly get any worse. But now she knew differently.
She sat on the cold tile of the bathroom floor staring at the little white stick in disbelief. Two lines mean you are, one means you're not. The two lines stared back at Liz mockingly. Liz shook the stick, willing the lines to disappear. They remained resolutely. She hurled the home pregnancy kit across the bathroom in frustration. "Dammit!"
Of all the things she needed right now, being pregnant wasn't even on the list. Life was sucking already, did she really deserve more, Liz thought despondently. She hadn't spoken to Max in weeks. Every time she even made an attempt to talk to him he had blown her off.
She had tried to eat lunch with him, but he suddenly lost his appetite when she came around. She called him at the bar but T.J. always said Max was busy when she did. Fed up with Max avoiding her she had personally gone down to the bar to talk to him. Max had gone to the extreme of flirting with another woman right in front of Liz just to drive her away. Liz halfheartedly took the hint. Eventually, Liz had stopped following him around. She was beginning to feel like a stalker where Max was concerned. Liz realized she couldn't force him to talk to her. She had to wait for him to come to her on his own terms.
Liz looked at her watch. Her eight o'clock class was due to start in ten minutes, but she didn't think she would be able to budge from her spot in the corner of the bathroom. She just wanted to stay hidden there forever. The outside world was too unpredictable. Liz was experiencing too many twists and turns all at once and they were coming too fast for her to handle. The best thing for her to do would be to stay at home and decide what she was going to do about the baby. She had a lot to consider.
Two hours later, Liz came to her answer while scrubbing the kitchen floor. She would keep her baby. It was true that it was the last thing she needed right then. Especially considering she wasn't 100% sure about paternity. . . But that didn't matter. She was going to be a mom, fact stated. Liz didn't feel she should compound one huge mistake with yet another. She had three weeks until the school semester ended and then she would be free for the entire summer.
She'd go back home to Roswell during that time, Liz decided, and figure out exactly what she was going to do about school from there. Max, well, she'd at least tell him she was leaving and the reason why. After all she had put him through he deserved complete honesty from her. She didn't relish the idea of telling him she was pregnant, especially considering that the knowledge would only serve to drive him further away. But she couldn't lie to him either. She had compromised his trust in her enough as it was. She threw the sponge back into the mop bucket, disgusted with herself.
How did she manage to make such a lasting mess out of her life?, Liz asked herself miserably. However, she refused to call Maria even though she desperately needed someone to talk to. She'd already done enough, putting Maria in the middle. She thought about Maria having enough to deal with trying to make a record and maintain a relationship. Maria didn't need her best friend calling her every ten minutes with the newest crisis in her life.
Liz sat back against the cabinet and rested her head on her knees. Oh god, she thought, I wish I had someone to talk to. She felt like she was dying inside.
"What's wrong, Liz, are you sick?"
Liz raised her head, startled and surprised to find Max staring back at her in concern. "Max? What are you doing here?"
"Professor Neely stopped me between classes. She told me you hadn't been there this morning and she had some papers she needed you to look over." He reached forward and tentatively brushed a lock of hair from her forehead. Liz caught her breath at the feel of his fingers brushing her skin. "So are you sick?"
"No, not really," she said, lowering her eyes.
Max tipped his head down, trying to see her face. "Then what are you doing on the floor?"
"You're suddenly talking to me now?" she asked bitterly.
Max ignored her tone and continued on in his same soft, concerned manner, "You never cut class unless something's really wrong. And I was worried."
Liz struggled to her feet, ignoring the helping hand he offered her. "You came by because you were worried about me?"
"Because of that and. . ."
Max looked away. He knew what he was about to tell her would hurt her deeply, but he felt that it was the best decision he could make right now. "Remember when I told you that Tess asked me to go off with her and Michael to follow up on FBI leads?"
"Yeah," Liz responded, already dreading what he had to say.
"I've changed my mind about going. I'm gonna leave as soon as the school semester's over."
Liz felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach. She had harbored the secret hope that once she'd told him of her plan to return to Roswell he might return with her despite how he felt. Liz had never considered that he might leave as well. She refused to even acknowledge the fact that he was taking his unprecedented trip with Tess. If she even stopped to consider that she would simply snap! She bit her bottom lip to keep it from trembling, but a bitter lump of tears had already begun to form in her throat.
"I came by to give you the keys to the apartment," he said as he reached into his pocket. He laid the key down on the kitchen table. "I thought we should set aside some time to go to the landlord and change the lease terms," he said quietly.
"That won't be necessary because I'm going back home to Roswell when school's over."
"I thought you said you wanted to do a work-study program here in California," Max said in confusion. For some reason it saddened him that she wouldn't be in their apartment while he was away. It was the first time that Max really acknowledged that things were changing between him and Liz.
"Well, I was going to stay," Liz began, suddenly preoccupied with straightening the dish towels that hung on the handle of the stove, "but that was before. . ."
She turned to face him, taking deep even breaths. This is it, Parker, she thought, just say it and get it over with. "I'm pregnant, Max."
Every drop of color literally drained from his face. The breath whooshed out of him and he stumbled backwards as if she'd pushed him. He looked so confused and lost that Liz instantly wanted to take back her words. He ran shaky hands over the top of his head. "Wh-What did you say?"
"You heard me."
His breathing came in deep, labored pants. "Is it mine?"
Liz lowered her eyes, shame washing over her yet again, and shrugged. "I. . . don't. . . know."
Max sobbed and grabbed hold of the counter to steady himself. His features were pale and he looked as if he were going to be sick. Liz hated herself for hurting him again. "Didn't you use anything?" Liz could tell that it pained him to ask the question. It sounded as if the words were being wrenched from his chest.
"Yeah, but so did we," Liz interjected quietly.
He tried to compose himself several times and failed. His tears flowed anyway. "I can't handle this right now, Liz."
Liz's hands hovered over his shoulders. She wanted to touch him so bad! God, it was killing her to see him cry, and to know that she was the reason. But Liz felt she'd lost the right to touch Max. She had lost Max. Period. "I don't expect anything from you, Max. I just thought you should know. I thought I owed you the truth."
He stabbed her with angry eyes. At that moment he looked as if he hated her. "You owe me a helluva lot more than that!"
Liz didn't cry after he had gone. She had done what she had to do. It was the right thing to do, to let him go. That's what you were supposed to do when you loved someone. She should be feeling noble and proud, Liz thought bitterly. But all she felt was an intense self-loathing.
Liz drifted back to their bedroom, pulling out one of the shirts that Max had left behind. She crawled into bed, pressing the shirt beneath her cheek, inhaling the fresh, clean scent that was Max. And only then did her tears finally fall. But this time Liz wasn't crying for herself and what she had lost. She was crying because she knew she had just destroyed the only man she had ever loved and any hope they'd ever had for reconciliation. Life it seemed, Liz acknowledged sullenly, could get worse after all.
(Roswell, New Mexico)
Liz had been back in Roswell two weeks before she finally had the courage to tell her parents she was pregnant. Nancy Parker completely lost it, which came as no surprise to Liz. She had charged Liz with being thoughtless and irresponsible. If Liz hadn't already felt so numb perhaps her mother's words would have cut her. As it was she endured her mother's entire tirade with a blank stare. After her mother had left in an angry huff Jeffrey Parker crept into his daughter's room to comfort her. He shed bitter tears for himself and for his pregnant daughter. Liz had remained in his arms, stoic and without tears. She didn't have any tears left to cry.
By some unspoken agreement Liz waited tables at the Crashdown just as she had in high school and in return her folks didn't hound her about the baby. The baby. Liz rarely thought of it. Or anything else for that matter. Except Max. He consumed her every thought. She wondered what he was doing, who he was doing it with. Was Tess healing the wounds that Liz had inflicted? Liz imagined that Tess would be all too willing to lend her shoulder for Max to cry on. Liz tortured herself with endless questions. Did Max think about her at all or had Tess pushed her completely from his mind?
In her bed Liz curled into a fetal position. She felt hollow inside, thinking about Max. If only. . .if only. . .she could torture herself forever with the if onlys. Liz wondered if it would have made any difference at all if she had told him that she loved him that last time. But Liz had been too angry, too proud to give him anything more than a curt good-bye. Why had he brought Tess along, Liz mused in agony. If only Tess hadn't been with Max when he'd come to collect the remainder of his belongings Liz would have confessed her love. She would have begged him to stay.
But instead she had remained in the living room, pretending to watch 90201 while he and Tess packed his things together in the bedroom he and Liz had shared less than three months before. Liz's heart, which was already in a million pieces, broke into a million more. But Liz continued to stare, unseeing, at the television screen. She refused to reveal even a shred of emotion.
When he and Tess finally emerged from the bedroom Liz held her breath in anticipation. Max came around to stand beside the TV, holding his box. "I'm leaving," he said quietly as if waiting for some reaction from Liz. She refused to give him one. "Have a safe trip," she had replied without looking away from the television screen. A curious, numbing sensation had begun to unfurl in her belly and spread through the expanse of Liz's chest. She hadn't known it at the time but that numbed feeling would stay with her for months to come.
"I left my half of the rent on the kitchen table," he continued. He had stood there expectantly, seeming to want something more from her.
Liz had only shrugged. She refused to give him anything. She'd be damned if she humbled herself while that bitch was in her house! "That's fine, Max," she had replied with pretended unconcern.
Max looked extremely saddened by her response, almost crumbling Liz's resolve. Almost. "Well, I guess this is good-bye then," he said.
Liz still refused to look at him. "I guess so."
Liz screwed her eyes shut in the memory. She regretted treating him so coldly now. Liz wished that she had taken that moment to give him a decent good-bye. He had deserved at least that from her. But Liz hadn't been able to let go of her stubborn pride long enough to do so. In hindsight, she realized that Max had been waiting there for her, waiting for her to give him an excuse to stay. He had been waiting for her to ask him not to leave. And Liz would have. If only Tess hadn't been there.
Liz curled herself into a tighter ball. She had survived that first lonely night, torturing herself with images of Max and Tess together. For the first time in her life Liz Parker actually considered suicide. She was just in too much pain and she simply wanted it to stop. For several long, intense moments she had held the razor blade to her wrist but she was unable to make the cut. No matter how bleak her life looked at the moment Liz did not want to die. Not really. Instead she trashed the apartment, destroying everything that had reminded her of Max. But she had survived that night and the hellish ones that followed it. Liz was slowly coming to discover that she could survive anything.
At the knock that sounded on her bedroom door Liz lifted her head. She was surprised to find her mother standing there holding a tray of food. "I've haven't seen you eat anything all day. That can't be good for the baby, Liz," Nancy said as she sat down at the foot of Liz's bed, setting the tray aside. She took a moment to study her daughter. Nancy had been livid when Liz had announced that she was pregnant to her and Jeff. She had seen it as the ruination of her daughter's life. A daughter full of potential, a daughter two semesters away from graduating one of the most prestigious universities in America.
Now all Nancy felt was an intense worry. Liz didn't eat anymore. She rarely slept. Nancy watched her daughter drift through existence daily, not really living at all. She knew that Liz and Max were no longer together but she didn't know why. She knew that Liz was miserable. Perhaps it would have been better if she cried, but all Liz did was stare blankly into space, as if she were dead inside. That worried Nancy more than buckets of tears ever could have.
"You should eat, Liz," she said again when Liz didn't seem inclined to touch the food she had brought in.
"I'm not hungry, Mom," Liz mumbled into her pillow.
"And what about the baby?"
"What about it?"
Nancy glared at her dejected daughter in exasperation. "Have you even seen a doctor, Liz?"
“Why? What's the point?"
That afternoon Nancy Parker made a doctor's appointment for Liz. Three days later an indifferent Liz found herself laid out on an examining table, a cool, clear gel being spread across her still flat tummy.
"You're going to do an ultrasound?" Nancy asked the nurse as she strapped a heart monitor belt across Liz's abdomen. "Isn't it a little early for that?"
"Well, Mrs. Parker, since your daughter is unsure of the date of her last period," the nurse explained patiently, "the ultrasound will give Dr. Bolivar an idea of how far along her pregnancy is."
Fifteen minutes later Dr. Bolivar breezed into the examination room, his demeanor chipper. "So Liz, how are we feeling today?"
"We are feeling just fine," Liz replied sarcastically.
Nancy was quick to apologize for her rude daughter. "She's been a little irritable lately," she explained lamely.
"That's quite alright," Dr. Bolivar said pleasantly, "Let's take a look at the little one, shall we?" He grabbed hold of the ultrasound sensor and began running it over Liz's abdomen. The fuzzy picture of the baby popped onto the screen.
Nancy Parker was in awe to view her grandchild for the first time. Dr. Bolivar watched the screen with interest, nodding, and "hmmmming" occasionally.
"Is everything alright?" Nancy asked anxiously, gripping Liz's hand.
"Everything looks spectacular. Looks like your daughter's about twelve weeks pregnant."
At his statement Liz came alive. She bolted upright,
dislodging the belt and startling the doctor.
"Liz!" her mother protested, "What's gotten into you!"
Liz ignored her mother, her wild and desperate eyes trained on the doctor. "Did you just say I'm twelve weeks pregnant?"
Dr. Bolivar nodded, smiling. This was the most alive he'd seen the young woman since his arrival. "Based on the fetal development I saw, I would guess you're about twelve weeks along."
Twelve weeks! Oh god, Liz thought, she had slept with Cam only a little over eight weeks ago! So that could only mean one thing. That she had been already four weeks pregnant when she slept with him!
She was pregnant with Max's baby.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:14:05 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 12:47:03 PM by Deejonaise|
Liz turned up the volume on her stereo. The slow, mellow sounds of Donell Jones filled her room, echoing off the walls. She crawled back into her rumpled bed, pulling her pillow against her chest. With a somber heart, she listened carefully to the song's lyrics. They reflected her heartache eerily:
"But when you love someone/
You just don't treat them bad/
Oh how I feel so sad/Now that I wanna leave/
She's crying her heart to me/How could you let this be/
I just need time to see/
Where I wanna be/
Where I wanna be"
Liz thought that must be exactly how Max must be feeling about her. After what she had done to him Liz knew it was impossible for Max to be near her. She had hurt him too much. Liz saw it clearly in his eyes every time he looked at her. Max could barely stand to be in the same room with her. A baby would only serve to tie him to her. And Liz knew that was one place he didn't want to be. Liz felt tears start in her eyes for the first time in weeks.
Admittedly, she was overjoyed to know that Max was the father of her baby. She had been agonized to think that it would have been any other way. However, despite the happy development, it was absolutely the wrong time. Liz didn't even have any idea where Max was! She definitely couldn't expect him to take part in raising the baby. How could she even ask after the hell she'd put him through? The hell she was still putting him through, Liz amended silently. She refused to add to it. Max deserved to have time to decide what he wanted and if what he wanted was Liz without having fatherhood hang over his head. And more than anything Liz wanted, needed to give him that time.
She swiped at the tears dripping from her chin. She loved Max enough to let him go. Hadn't she done that already? Now Liz prayed for the strength to keep her resolve. But oh god, she missed him so much! They had been inseparable for over three years and now suddenly there was a gaping void where Max used to be.
But Liz would survive it. She was determined to. She had her baby. Max's baby. A smile trembled on her lips in spite of the tears. She would have a part of him after all. And no one could ever take it away.
And so she made her decision. She wouldn't tell Max about the baby. Liz had debated the issue since Dr. Bolivar had confirmed the progression of her pregnancy. Knowing Max, Liz was certain that if she told him he was the baby's father he would do the responsible thing. And that would mean dealing with her before he was emotionally ready to. Max, when he was ready to reconcile, would come to her on his own terms. She would tell him the truth then, not before. In the meantime, she would take care of herself and her baby.
The first thing Liz decided was that the moping thing had to go. She was twenty-one years old after all, with her entire life ahead of her. Yes, she and boyfriend were apart. And yes, the chances of their reconciling were slim at best. And yes, she was single and pregnant, but did all those things mean that her life had to come to a screeching halt?
Liz hopped from her bed and bent down to pull her suitcase from beneath it. She didn't decide where she planned to go until her bag was fully packed. Maria. Liz had a long-standing invitation. And she really needed to get the hell out of Roswell, New Mexico.
When she informed her parents of her plan to visit Maria in New York they thought she had flipped. Her mother, especially, was against it. Liz knew that her mother wasn't trying to be controlling but that Nancy was simply worried about her. Liz suspected that her mother thought she was near a nervous breakdown. It took some serious begging, and finally forceful words before her parents gave Liz their blessing to go to New York. They even went a step beyond, offering to pay for her round trip plane ticket. Liz didn't argue.
She slept on the plane, dreaming about Max. In her dream Max came to her in the hospital after she'd had the baby. He loved her again. His eyes were smiling at her as he beheld his daughter. And then he looked at Liz, his dark eyes hooded. Without a word he came toward her and took her lips in a long, tender kiss. He didn't need to say a word. Liz saw his feelings in his eyes. He wanted her and he wanted their baby. Liz could feel herself crying. She woke up with a start, yearning for Max with such keenness it caused an ache in her chest.
The plane was landing. Liz had arrived in New York.
Down in the baggage claim Liz fumbled through her pocket, looking for Maria's crumpled phone number. Liz knew the number by memory, but actually seeing it on paper gave her an odd sense of comfort. Picking up her suitcase Liz made her way over to the payphone and dialed Maria's number. The phone rang a number of times, as usual, before anyone picked up.
"It's your dime!"
"Alex? Is that you? It's me, Liz."
"Liz, god, is it really you? Damn, it's good to hear your voice!"
Liz could hear the genuine gladness in his voice and it made her smile. "It's good to hear yours too," she told him softly, "I've missed you, Alex."
"Me too." He paused a moment. "Listen, Maria filled me in on what's going on with you and Max. And just for the record I think he's being way too harsh with you."
"No, Alex, you're wrong. I'm getting everything I deserve right now."
"Oh, Liz. . ."
"Alex, I didn't call to talk about Max, ok, I was calling for a ride."
"What are you talking about, Liz?"
"I'm in New York. So get your ass to the airport and pick me up!"
"Wow!" Liz looked around the inside of Maria's apartment in stunned amazement. She could hardly believe what she saw. Leather sofas, crystal, very expensive looking antiques, Maria really was doing well, Liz realized giddily. She was almost afraid to touch anything because it all looked so pristine and priceless.
Alex shuffled in behind her, carrying her suitcase. "Damn, Liz, what did you pack? An arsenal?"
"I just brought the bare essentials," Liz muttered absently, "Wow, Alex, this apartment is awesome!"
"Yeah, big whoo," Alex replied, unimpressed. He deftly punched in the security code after closing the door. "Go ahead and make yourself comfortable, Liz."
Liz plopped down on the cream colored sofa, marveling at how soft it was. She started to prop her feet on the coffee table and then checked the impulse. "So where's Maria?"
Alex propped himself on the edge of the chaise lounge across from Liz. "She's shooting a video in Hawaii and won't be back for another week." Upon hearing that Liz felt disappointment wash over her. Her crestfallen expression didn't escape Alex's notice. "Hey will I do?"
Liz smiled at him weakly. "It's kind of a girl thing, Alex."
"When has that ever mattered?"
Liz had to admit he had a point there. "I was kinda hoping I could stay here a few days, you know, hang out. I’ve got a lot of stuff in my head I need to sort out and I couldn’t do it in Roswell with my parents hovering over me."
"Sure, why not? I'm on a weeks vacation from work so your timing is perfect."
He seemed so eager to spend time with her that Liz couldn't help but smile. "I probably won't be the most rousing company."
"Neither will I. My girlfriend's gone five days out of the week. That's enough to make any guy cranky, if you know what I mean."
He looked so disgruntled that Liz collapsed on the sofa in a fit of giggles. "God, I've missed you, Alex!"
"Same here, sweetheart," he quipped affectionately, "So shall I get the vanilla ice cream?"
"By all means."
They talked most of the night well into the early morning hours. Liz found out that Maria's fame was especially hard on Alex. At school he was known as Majandra's guy. The title served as a severe blow to his pride. Alex definitely did not want to be defined by Maria's celebrity status. He loved her, he admitted to Liz, but he didn't feel that he would ever be able to make a name for himself as long as he and Maria were together. Alex Whitman wanted to be known as more than a pop star's boy toy. Liz found herself surprised to learn that she really didn't know all that much about Alex at all. In the years following their departing for college they had lost touch with one another. Liz was glad for the opportunity to rekindle their friendship.
She stayed for a week. In that time she and Alex had hit every nightspot and club in town. Even though she didn't drink she had fun just acting crazy and being young. She met a number of Alex's computer junkie friends, which was an experience in itself and she laughed more than she had in two months. But most importantly, she hadn't thought about Max since that first night she'd arrived. She still loved him, she admitted to herself. There wasn't any doubt about that. If she had the choice she'd wish them together, but that wasn't going to be. Liz couldn't spend the rest of her life pining for him. She had to move on without him. She knew that he would come to her when he was ready, but in the meantime. . . There was a whole different side of Liz Parker waiting to be discovered.
If her trip to New York had taught her anything, it was that Max Evans was not the be all and end all of her life. Liz would be happy again. The words of Donell's song made more sense than ever now. Liz also needed time to decide where she wanted to be.
"Mom, I'm pregnant, I don't have a debilitating disease!" Liz said, ignoring her mother's angry protests and tying the silver Crashdown apron over her rounded abdomen. "You're totally swamped right now, so let me help."
In the month and a half since Liz had returned from New York she and her mother had shared in some unexpected bonding. Liz discovered that her mother, who had always seemed rather distant before, actually was extremely protective of Liz. Unlike Jeff Parker, who spent every single moment hovering over Liz worriedly, (and though Liz appreciated his concern he was driving her friggin' nuts), Nancy Parker rode her daughter like a drill sergeant. Was Liz eating right? Did she drink enough water? Had she taken her prenatal vitamins? Her mother was constantly firing questions at her, suggesting, albeit forcefully, what Liz should eat, how many hours she should sleep, etc. However, Liz had grown enough to realize her mother's tyranny was born out of love.
"No, Liz," Nancy continued to protest, following her stubborn daughter out of the kitchen, "You're almost six months pregnant! You do not need to be waiting tables! Besides that, don't you have a date with Kyle tonight?" Liz rolled her eyes in exasperation and turned to face her mother. "Mom, Kyle and I are not dating. We are just hanging out. That's all!"
"I always thought he was a fine young man, Lizzie. To this day I don’t understand why you broke up with him in the first place," Nancy continued as if Liz hadn't said a word, "And he's a deputy now, following in his father's footsteps."
“Well, if I had stayed with Kyle, Mom, your first grandchild wouldn’t be due at the end of the year.”
“Oh, it might be due it just wouldn’t be Max Evans’,” Nancy grumbled under her breath. She thought Liz hadn’t heard her, but she had.
Fighting the urge to stamp her foot, Liz took several calming breaths. Her mother had been after her about dating Kyle since he'd begun to pop up at the Crashdown after Liz had returned from New York. Liz had expected him to be snide about her situation. She had expected him to be gleeful that she'd been dumped, left pregnant and alone by Max Evans. What other reason could he have possibly had for showing up, Liz had thought. But Kyle had surprised her.
He had come into the Crashdown, hat in his hands, and offered her his sincerest sympathy. He'd said that if she needed anything just to call him. Liz had been too stunned to do anything other than nod. In the weeks that followed his unprecedented visit Kyle came to the Crashdown several more times, bearing a gift for the baby each time he came. However, when he went so far as to buy a crib Liz knew she had to set some things straight.
"Kyle, what are you doing?" she'd asked him that day as the movers had lugged the crib through the Crashdown towards the stairs.
"It's a crib," he'd smiled, his blue eyes twinkling devilishly, "Some assembly required."
"Kyle, I can't accept it."
Kyle's smile faded. "Why not?"
"It's just too much! It's-it's just. . ." Liz stammered to find the right words.
"What's wrong with a friend buying a friend a gift?"
Liz narrowed her eyes. "Is that all it is, Kyle? A 'friend buying a friend a gift'?"
"What are you getting at, Liz?"
"I'm saying if you're buying the baby gifts to get to me it isn't going to work!"
At her outburst Kyle got angry. "What the hell? You think I'm buying things for the baby just to manipulate you? For the record, Ms. Parker," he clarified in righteous indignation, stabbing his index finger inches from her nose, "I was only trying to help out! If it's one thing I can't stand it is to see a woman pregnant and alone! Especially one I happen to care about!" He had started to stomp off but Liz stopped him.
"Kyle, wait! I'm sorry. I was a real jerk to you just now."
"Yeah, you were," Kyle said in total agreement.
"I-I just don't know what to make of you," she admitted.
"I'm your friend, Liz," he told her fervently, "I always have been even when you didn't think so."
"I'm still in love with Max, Kyle," Liz said because she felt the point needed to be clarified.
"God only knows why," he said, holding up his hand to silence her when she would have explained, "I know. I know. It's complicated."
"It really is, Kyle," Liz stressed.
Kyle sighed heavily and pulled Liz into his arms, hugging her tightly. "When were things between you and Max Evans ever not complicated?"
Which was one of the main reasons Liz knew her mother was pushing for a relationship between her and Kyle. Things were uncomplicated when it came to Kyle Valenti. He and Liz went to the movies and to ball games. They hung out together on the weekend and watched rented movies. They were good pals. After all, how much appeal could a six-month pregnant woman hold? However when Liz was with Kyle she laughed and smiled openly and her mother saw those things. When Liz had been with Max she'd always seemed reserved, cautious. Afraid. Liz knew her mother only wanted her to be happy and from Nancy Parker's vantage Kyle Valenti did that in spades.
It was because of that knowledge that Liz strove to have patience with her mother's matchmaking. She looked at her mother now, her expression soft. "Mom, with Phyllis out sick you're terribly short-staffed. Let me help you out or you'll never clear this place."
"What about Kyle?"
Kyle did understand, but he was disappointed because Liz was breaking their date. "You're sure your mom couldn't possibly handle it on her own?" Kyle asked hopefully, "I've got two tickets to the baseball game tonight."
"Just look at her."
Kyle looked over to where Nancy Parker had just dropped a customer's dinner into his lap. She made matters worse by attempting to help the surprised customer and knocking his drink over in the process. Kyle winced at the mess she was making. He turned back to Liz. "I see your point. Tell ya what, just give me a call tomorrow and let me know how your ultrasound went, ok."
"Ok," Liz agreed, smiling. She gave him an affectionate kiss on the cheek before sending him on his way.
Two hours later the Crashdown was finally empty except for one tenacious customer. He sat alone in one of the booths buried behind his menu. Liz couldn't see his face. Great, she thought, I would have to get a weirdo at the end of the night! She made her way over to him, rubbing her aching back. She'd suggest something quick, Liz decided, to get him on his way as soon as possible. The sooner he left the sooner she could close the café.
"Good evening," Liz began formally, "My name is Liz, and I will be your server tonight. May I suggest our Saturn tuna salad or Plutonian potato soup?"
"Actually," he said, his voice soft and amused, "I had something else in mind."
He slowly lowered the menu to the table. Liz's mouth fell open in disbelief. "Max?" she breathed in disbelief. A slow, beautiful smile spread across his face. "Hello, Liz.
Long time no see."
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:18:02 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 12:55:36 PM by Deejonaise|
Long time no see? Long time no see? Was that all he had to say after so long? She was ecstatic, relieved, overjoyed, just overcome to see him again. Her beautiful Max. Liz stood there, unable to speak, her heart pounding in her throat. He was there! She couldn't believe it! After almost six months of separation he was less than three feet away from her. A barrage of emotions assailed Liz all at once, compounding the ones she’d felt only seconds earlier. She wanted to fall down to her knees and weep for joy. She wanted to cover his face with a thousand kisses! She wanted to shout her undying love for him then and there. But she didn't do any of those things. Liz remained rooted in one spot, staring at him as if she'd never seen him before.
He looked different and yet the same. He wore a red St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. It looked fairly new despite the bill being so curved that it shadowed his marvelous eyes. Hats were unusual for Max. Liz had never seen him wear one before. She had to admit that she liked the look though. The hat accentuated the tiny gold hoop that now adorned his right earlobe. Max with an earring, Liz mused with an inward smile, who would have ever figured. But it did possess a sexy appeal and so Liz decided that she liked his new look altogether.
Max's heart slammed against his ribs as he drank in the sight of Liz with an obvious hunger. God, she was beautiful! More beautiful than he'd remembered. His mouth went dry just looking at her. He wondered vaguely if she could hear his heart, it was thumping so loud. She stared at him now like a deer caught in headlights, as if she expected him to pounce on her at any moment. Max didn't know what he planned to do, he was too enraptured by the face he hadn't seen in over two months.
He had watched her for a long time from where he sat. Her hair was much longer now. Max had noticed as she waited her other tables. The thick braid she wore reached the middle of her back and swung softly whenever she turned. Max had the insane desire to see her hair free, to run his fingers through it. How long had it been since he had touched her, Max wondered with longing. He wanted to touch her now. He had missed her so much.
Max's eyes traveled downward, coming to rest on her distended belly. Over the summer the knowledge that Liz was pregnant hadn't seemed real at all. Now there was no denying. The truth was staring Max in the face. Literally. His eyes slowly traveled upward, back to Liz's face. He swallowed, carefully planning his next words.
"You look good, Liz," he said simply. Profound words, to be sure. What he had really wanted to say was, "God, I've missed you. The last two months have been complete hell without you."
"So do you," Liz replied, "I like the hat." But what she really wanted to say was, "Oh, Max, I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you like I did. Please come back to me. I love you so much." Instead they both spoke their polite sentences because neither of them had the courage to say what was in their hearts. Max felt it was too soon. Liz felt it was too late. Neither spoke of what needed to be spoken.
"What brings you by, Max?" Liz asked as casually as possible, as if he were some distant high school acquaintance. What else could she say, Liz thought wildly. This was the man she'd loved for forever, the moment she had waited for forever and now that she had everything she had ever wanted she was at a loss for words. "I thought you were traveling with Michael and Tess." She hoped he didn't notice how she choked over Tess' name.
"We came back this morning. I'm visiting with my folks now. Is came home with us."
"That's nice," Liz smiled woodenly, "How is Isabel?"
"She made the Dean's List at Yale."
She twirled a loose tendril of hair around her index finger. He fiddled with his thumbnail. Liz coughed. Max readjusted his hat. They couldn't meet each other's eyes.
"So, Liz. . ."
"So, Max. . . ."
"I've been thinking," Max began haltingly, "about you and the baby all summer. You know, as to whether it was mine or not-?"
"It's yours, Max."
His amber brown eyes zigzagged to Liz's solemn face. "It's mine?" There was a little catch in his voice when he said it. Liz nodded slowly. "How do you know?"
Liz wasn't offended by his question. She couldn't blame him for wanting to be sure. "I'm 23 weeks pregnant. That's almost six months, Max."
Max quickly did the math in his head. That meant that Liz was pregnant long before. . .he couldn't finish the thought because, almost three months since he had left her, he was still struggling with the fact that it had even happened at all. But still Max was grateful. An intense relief flooded his body, leaving him limp. He leaned his head back against the booth. He was glad the baby was his. "What do you want me to do, Liz?" he asked her softly. God, he was happy! At that reflective moment Max Evans was completely at peace, completely content. The moment didn't last long.
"Nothing," she said as she slid into the seat across from him, "Listen Max, the same rules still apply. I meant it when I said I don't expect anything from you."
"What about school? We start back in three weeks. You can't take care of the baby by yourself, Liz."
"I'm not going back to California."
"What? Why not?"
"I'm deferring the fall semester to have the baby. And then in the Spring I'm transferring to the University of Albuquerque so I can be near my folks."
"What about your scholarship, Liz?" And what about me, Max added silently, what about being near me! It seemed she had everything figured out and none of it included him. It didn't occur to Max that he really had no right to be angry since Liz was doing exactly what he'd said he wanted. Max had asked for space and now she was giving it to him. Buckets and buckets of space.
"It will be hard to raise the baby alone if I move back to California. At least if I'm in Albuquerque my folks will be close enough to help."
"I'll help, Liz," Max said softly, "It's my baby too. Let me help you."
Liz shook her head. "I don't need your help, Max."
"What are you saying? You don't want me to help you with the baby?"
Liz's gaze skittered away from his. "It would only complicate matters."
"Complicate matters how? I want to be in my baby's life and help raise it."
"Max, since we broke up a lot of things have changed," Liz explained carefully, "I've changed. I need to do this by myself."
"Well correct me if I'm mistaken on this point, but did you make the baby by yourself?" Max spat out sarcastically.
"I just want to do it on my own," Liz gritted through clenched teeth.
"Hah! I know exactly what this is about."
"It's because I'm with Tess now isn't it? You know we're together?"
Liz had expected that to be the case, but to actually hear it with her own ears was gut wrenching. She managed to hold her tears back, however. She'd be damned if she cried in front of him again. "Why am I not surprised?" she snapped bitterly.
"She was a friend when I needed one."
"How touching," Liz bit out sarcastically, "All the more reason for me to raise my baby on my own!"
"Because I'm with Tess?" Max burst out incredulously.
"Because things are complicated enough without making them worse!"
They both glared at one another from across the expanse of the table. Liz squared her shoulders and slid from the booth. "I think we've said all that needs to be said, Max."
When she would have walked away Max grabbed her arm in a rigid grip. "Is it that easy for you to dismiss me?"
Liz jerked away from him angrily. "About as easy as it was for you to dismiss me!" She knew she had no right to be angry that he'd left her, but all her hurt and frustration had, unexpectedly, come boiling to the surface. She narrowed furious eyes on him. "How easy was that!?"
"You were the one who cheated, Liz, not me!" He knew the immediate way to put Liz on the defensive and back in her guilty place.
She crumpled at his angry words, losing her battle with tears. "I'm sorry, Max! God, I never meant to hurt you! I'm sorry." Liz was starting to feel that she could say it a hundred times and that it would never make a difference.
The sight of her tears made Max feel immediately guilty and he pulled her against him, running his hand down her hair. He tried to ignore how right and perfect she felt against him. "I'm not trying to hurt you, Liz. I don't want to hurt you."
Liz nodded against his chest, caught between heaven and hell being in his arms again. She was just so confused, not understanding how she could yearn to be in his arms and hate being there all at the same time. "I know."
"We'll figure something out," he reassured her, kissing the top of her head. "I promise."
Liz did a double take when she spied Max at the receptionist desk of her doctor's office. Her first thought was, oh my god, did something bad happen? And then it dawned on her that if something was wrong a doctor's office was the last place that Max would come. He couldn't possibly be there for her. He didn't even know where she was. So then Liz had to wonder just what had brought Max Evans to an OBGYN's office.
Suddenly Max and the receptionist turned in Liz's direction and the receptionist pointed straight at Liz. Max turned and smiled at the woman, nodding, and then began striding over towards Liz. Liz glanced wildly around her, her forehead furrowed in confusion. He had to be there for someone else, she thought crazily. But his eyes were trained directly on Liz.
Max came breezing up to her, his expression jovial. He smiled. "Hey Liz."
"Max?" Liz looked at him as if he didn't have a clue. "What are you doing here?"
"You have a doctor's appointment, right? Eleven o'clock?"
"That's right. I have a doctor's appointment." Liz looked at him pointedly, but he wouldn't take the hint.
He sat down beside her and peered over into her lap. "What ya reading?" He flipped up the magazine to see the cover. "Parents? Hey maybe we should get a subscription?"
"Max, have you lost it?" The look Liz was giving him clearly transmitted her belief that he'd flipped out. "Why are you here?"
"I wanted to come with you to your doctor's visit."
"How did you even know I had a doctor's visit?"
Max gave a casual shrug. "I heard you talking to Kyle last night and I called this morning to find out exactly what time your appointment was."
Liz gaped at him. She didn't understand him at all. Three months ago he needed his space so much that he'd actually left the state to get away from her. And now he was reduced to following her. He had a girlfriend now and was supposedly happy and yet here he was with Liz. Last night he had been so gentle, holding her and brushing away her tears, but today his emotions were carefully masked. There was a playful coolness about him. As if he were afraid of being too serious with her. Perhaps he had felt the connection between them that she felt. Perhaps he still loved her.
Liz looked at him. His expression was void of any betraying emotion. Liz didn't have a clue what he was thinking. He was really confusing her. Liz glared at him through narrowed eyes, pressing her lips together in displeasure. "What you're doing can be construed as stalking, Max."
Unbelievably, he smiled at that. "I told you I wanted to be a part of this baby's life. I meant it."
Max was not trying to give her a hard time, but the knowledge that he was going to become a father was making him giddy. He felt happy for the first time in ages. Not just content or accepting of the way life was, but truly and deeply pleased. Max could admit to himself that a great deal of that had to do with being near Liz again. He was still angry with her, more than he was even willing to face, but he still loved her. More than anything. But he couldn't be with her.
Max didn't know if he could open himself up to that kind of heartache again. But he wanted to trust her again and wanted to, at least, work at a friendship with her. That was more than what he'd felt a month before. A month ago he thought he'd never stop hating her.
And now she was pregnant with his baby and everything was right with Max's world. It was amazing that they had made a child. After he'd left the Crashdown the night before he had gone home and tried to figure out exactly when the baby was conceived. The only night he could come up with was an intimate dinner Liz had planned for them shortly after their midterms. She wanted to relax them, she'd said. She had worn only a sexy, transparent type of lingerie and a smile. They had made love all night, all over the apartment. Max hadn't bothered with protection that night.
The memory caused a tightening in Max's groin. He coughed to cover his groan. Thinking of how things used to be between him and Liz wasn't going to do anything to improve their situation. Max forced himself to refocus. He'd come to establish a relationship with his child, not rebuild his demolished one with Liz. "Look, Liz," he said, noting her angry, confused expression, "I only want to be a part of the baby's life. I've missed six months already and granted that was my choice, but I'm here now. Please. Just let me be a father."
His expression was earnest. Liz didn't doubt that he meant every word he said. She sighed heavily. "I'm having an ultrasound today and a regular check-up."
Max nodded. "I'll go back with you."
"You can't!" Liz burst out quickly.
"I'm having a check-up. . ." Liz said in a leading manner. Max's expression remained clueless. "You cannot possibly come back there with me."
"I'm going with you."
Thirty minutes later Liz was called back and Max did indeed go with her. Liz ground her teeth in frustration as the nurse led them down the hall towards the examining room. After opening the door for them to enter the nurse said in a friendly manner, "You know the drill, Liz. Your gown is on the table." She closed the door with a soft click. Liz was left alone with Max. She glared at him. "Well, what are you waiting for?" he demanded impatiently.
"I need to get undressed," Liz gritted, longing to punch him.
"So get undressed," Max said. A small smirk lurked at the corners of his mouth. "It's nothing I haven't seen before, Liz."
"Now what would your girlfriend say about that, Max?" Liz pointed out bitterly. Max's smile faded at the forceful reminder of Tess. Suddenly Max became aware that he had been flirting with Liz and he hadn't even meant to. Keeping their relationship strictly business was going to be harder than he'd thought, Max realized. "I'll turn around, ok?"
When he turned his back Liz let out an uneven sigh. Dear lord, she thought, how am I supposed to undress with him standing less than six feet away? Max might be unaffected by the thought of Liz being in the same room with him naked, but Liz was not. Just imagining herself naked around him after so many months made Liz dizzy. She suddenly wished she wasn't as progressed in her pregnancy. She certainly didn't present a very sexy picture, a too skinny body; and a big, round belly. Not that Max even thought of her as sexy, if he even thought of her. He had Tess now, after all. Liz tried to concentrate more on her anger at Tess and Max's relationship and not the pain it caused her. If she even acknowledged the pain she would start crying and never stop!
Liz began to slowly undress. Max fidgeted. "Are you finished yet?" Max asked a few seconds later.
"Five more minutes," Liz said as she slipped her jeans down her hips.
Max swallowed, trying not to think of an undressing Liz behind him. Pregnant or not, she was still sexy as hell and she still turned Max on the same way she always had. He knew every inch of her naked body, from head to toe. He had kissed every secret crevice she had. Max found himself assailed with the wild urge to explore the new changes in her body. Max realized that in his heart and mind he was still extremely angry with Liz, but his body, his uncontrollable body, was more than ready to make up with her. "Done yet?" Max asked again. It was suddenly uncomfortably hot in the room.
"Yeah, you can turn around."
She was sitting on the examining table wearing one of those awful hospital gowns. He smiled at the picture she made. "You look like one of those Buddha dolls,” he laughed, “The only big thing on you is your tummy."
Liz ducked her head. "Yeah, well I lost a lot of weight a while back. I'm still trying to gain it back." Max sobered at her somber tone. He approached her tentatively, brushing her hair from her face. "Was that because of me?" he whispered gently.
"What do you think?" Liz whispered back. Their mouths hovered inches from one another, their breaths mingling.
Max framed her face in his hands. "I didn't leave to hurt you, Liz," he told her softly, "I just. . .couldn't stay."
Liz nodded in understanding, the tip of her nose brushing against his. Her eyes drifted closed. Max bent his head.
"Good morning, Liz!" Dr. Bolivar said as he came strolling in. Max jumped away from Liz as if he'd been burned. Dr. Bolivar looked back and forth between their guilty faces. "You didn't bring your mother today, Liz?"
"She had to go out of town today," Liz explained, blushing, "This is Max."
Dr. Bolivar extended his hand. "You're the father?"
Max gripped his hand in greeting. "Yes sir." He was smiling from ear to ear when he said it.
It only took fifteen minutes to give Liz her check-up, but Max had to turn away because watching Dr. Bolivar examine Liz made Max want to deck him. Max breathed a heavy sigh of relief when it was over. And then it was on to the ultrasound room. Max watched closely as the nurses prepped Liz, spreading a clear liquid on her round abdomen. He stared at her, transfixed.
"You haven't heard the heartbeat, have you, Max?" Dr. Bolivar asked him. Max shook his head. "Well you're in for a treat today."
A few moments later a faint, whirring sound began to fill the room. It sounded fast, like a fan running on high speed. Max held Liz's hand, an enraptured smile on his face. "Is that it?" he asked in awe.
Liz smiled up at him. "Yeah, I felt the same way the first time I heard it. Isn't it wild?"
"Yeah," Max breathed. "How about we take a look as well," Dr. Bolivar said, readying the ultrasound sensor. "Just watch the screen you two."
The picture of their baby jumped onto the screen. Max could barely make out the movements of the baby, though he tried hard. "That's the heart," Dr. Bolivar said as he moved the sensor across Liz's abdomen, "can you see it beating?"
Both Liz and Max nodded in amazement. "Here are the arms. . ." Max focused hard on the monitor.
"Oh my god," Max said, his smile widening, "is it sucking its thumb?"
"You've got a good eye, Max," Dr. Bolivar commended, "So are you two interested in the sex?"
"Yes!" both Liz and Max burst out simultaneously. They looked at each other and laughed. "Yes, please," Liz said again, more calmly this time.
Dr. Bolivar smiled. "You're having a baby girl."
"A girl," Liz repeated in awe. She looked up at him. "Max, we're having a. . ." she trailed off, noting the tears glistening in his eyes as he stared at the screen, ". . .girl." A nameless, yet profound emotion filled Liz's chest and she thought she might burst from the unexpected force of it. At that very second Liz wanted to freeze time. That instant crystallized into a perfectly wonderful moment for Liz and she never, ever wanted to forget it.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:21:54 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:03:21 PM by Deejonaise|
Liz felt her heart jump when Max entered the Crashdown. She hadn't seen him in three days, not since her doctor's appointment. She had begun to wonder if he'd changed his mind about the baby. Despite all her many protestations to the matter, Liz really didn't mind Max being a part of the baby's life all that much. It meant he would be a part of her life as well. Liz didn't know if she couldn't handle it if he left again. She had survived the knowledge that he was with Tess because Liz had enough sense to know it was a rebound relationship. What she couldn't, wouldn't survive was if he bailed on her again.
Liz carefully schooled her expression as he came nearer. She was overjoyed to see him but he didn't have to know that. She feigned sudden absorption in polishing the shake machine.
Max approached her cautiously, his expression clearly uneasy. After three days of being away from her he felt shaky and afraid. Yet he was starved for the sight of her, pregnant with his baby. He schooled his face not to reveal the joy he felt inside. "Hey, Liz," he said when he approached the counter, bracing himself against it.
She slowly lifted her head, looking at him with raised eyebrows. "So you didn't skip town again," she noted sarcastically, "That's nice to know."
Max had the grace to look chagrined. He hung his head in apology. "I had some things to take care of. I've been really busy these last few days."
A scoffing laugh rose in Liz's throat but she swallowed it. She gave him a "just who do you think you're fooling" look. "And just what business have you been attending to, Max?"
"I called Berkeley and told them I'd be deferring this semester and I wanted my credits transferred to the University of Albuquerque in the spring."
Liz's mouth fell open. In that instant she lost control of her expression. The happiness she felt at his statement glowed in her eyes. She smiled at him softly. "Why would you do that, Max?"
Max glanced around uneasily, uncomfortable with meeting her eyes. "Where the baby goes, I go."
"Oh," Liz said, feeling disappointed. She had hoped he'd made his decision because he wanted to be near her. Liz was hoping that he was ready to give up the ridiculous notion of their being apart and work on rebuilding the relationship. Everything in Liz's being told her he wanted to be with her, even if he didn't admit it. Of course, her conviction could merely rest in the fact that she couldn't bear for Max to feel otherwise. She began wiping at the shake machine again. "How do your folks feel about you coming back home?"
He chewed at his bottom lip, his eyes still not meeting Liz's. "I'm not gonna be staying with my parents, Liz," he told her slowly, "I moved in with Tess yesterday."
Liz's breath suspended in her chest. A squeaking sound escaped her throat. Tears instantly came forth, blurring her vision. She knew she was about to start crying and there wasn't a thing she could do to stop it. And so she took the cowardly exit. She spun around and ran for the back, her chest heaving with sobs she couldn't control.
Max found her with her hands braced against a table, her back to the door, crying as if her heart were broken into a billion pieces. That's probably cause it is, Max silently scolded himself. He padded up softly behind her.
For a moment he lifted his hand to touch her shaking shoulder and then reluctantly let his hand drop. He knew nothing he could do or say at that point would comfort her. "She is my girlfriend, Liz," he whispered quietly, feeling close to tears himself.
"I-I know," Liz gasped violently. She didn't turn around to look at him, just kept crying brokenly.
"Liz?" His tone was strained and whisper-soft.
"Why are you doing this to me, Max?" Liz asked him in a jagged gasp.
"I'm not. . .doing anything to you, Liz." But he knew that he was. And he hated himself for it.
Liz rounded on him violently, her face blotchy and wet from her tears. "You must really hate me, huh Max!"
"I don't hate-"
"You want to hurt me so bad, Max!" Liz fired, grabbing hold of his hand and forming it into a fist, "You want to hurt me? Then hit me, Max! It couldn't hurt any worse than what you're doing now! Go ahead! HIT ME UNTIL YOU'RE NOT ANGRY ANYMORE!"
Max struggled to pull his hand from her grasp but her grip remained tight. "Liz, stop this!"
"Hit me, dammit!"
"Liz, you're acting crazy!" Her behavior was alarming Max. Before his eyes her carefully constructed control was shattering. He had never seen her so upset before. Her eyes were wild and unseeing and she was sobbing hysterically.
"You think I'm crazy?" Liz blazed tearfully, feeling as if she'd reached her snapping point, "I'll show you crazy, Max!"
Abruptly, she tore away from him and ran for the table, sweeping everything on it to the floor. Glass shattered on the floor. She managed to flip over the table before Max restrained her, hauling her across the room. She turned on him like a demented pugilist, beating him with tiny fists. He restrained her as gently as he could manage, despite the random punches she landed to his face. Finally he managed to pin her flailing arms to her sides. "Liz, stop it!" he ordered again, "You're going to hurt yourself and the baby!"
Liz tossed back her head, her eyes blazing with anger. "I hate you!"
Her words caused him to wince. He knew she said them in anger but they hurt just the same. It had never been his intention to hurt her any worse than he already had. "I'm sorry to hear that, Liz," he told her tenderly, "Cuz I definitely don't hate you."
He released her gradually and she slid down his body to the floor. Her knees would no longer support her. Her small frame shook violently. "Why?" she sobbed, heartbroken, "Why, Max? Why?"
Max knelt beside her. "I don't know." It was true. He wanted nothing more than for them to be happy the way they used to be.
Her chest was heaving when she looked at him and asked, "Do you love her?"
"I think you already know the answer to that."
"Then why are you with her, Max?" Liz choked.
Max was visibly torn. He wanted to tell her the truth, that he loved her and no one else. That he always had and always would, but he knew that the truth would only serve to further complicate an already complicated situation. Trust on both sides had been violated. It wasn't just a simple matter of kissing and making up. But looking at her crumpled, pain-filled expression Max felt as if his heart had been exposed. Oh god, why did he keep hurting her this way, he asked himself silently. Why did they keep hurting each other? "Liz," he began, bringing her against his shoulder, holding her gently, "we just can't be together. Too much has happened and neither of us can go back."
"You really can't forgive me, can you, Max?"
"Forgiving you isn't the issue, Liz. I. . .can't . . .forget."
Liz's tears flowed anew and she pulled from his embrace. "It was a horrible, horrible mistake, Max. I haven't spoken to him since. . .since it happened."
"I believe you," Max said softly.
"So we're really over, Max?"
Max nodded sadly.
His confirmation was hard to accept but Liz garnered every ounce of strength to do so. She wiped at the tears that continued to flow down her cheeks. Despite that Liz squared her shoulders, collecting herself. She looked him in the eye and said calmly, "That settles it then. We won't have any contact with each other outside the baby." When Liz said the words she felt as if something heavy and leaden had dropped into the pit of her stomach. She actually felt sick at the prospect, but she managed to mask her anguish.
"No, Liz! That's not what I want at all. I want us to still be friends!"
Liz looked at him coldly. "I have enough friends."
Max flinched, hurt by her cool attitude. "Please Liz, don't be that way!"
"Don't be what way, Max? Hurt? Angry? Well you know better than anyone that you just can't wish those emotions away!"
"I just don't want to see everything we shared dwindle into nothing! Liz, we made a baby. No matter what is happening between us now we conceived this baby in love." He laid his hand gently against her abdomen. His fingers spread across it lovingly. They stared at each other for a long moment. Liz sighed unevenly. "I'm still in love with you, Max," she admitted humbly.
"And I'm still in love with you," Max responded quietly, "but I don't trust you not to hurt me, Liz."
"And you trust Tess?" He nodded. Liz closed her eyes, cursing herself for the hundredth time for sleeping with Cam. "Just give me some time. . . .to think about everything you said."
"Okay," Max agreed, nodding, his forehead rubbing gently against hers. He caressed the nape of her neck, knowing he should let her go, but finding himself unable to do so.
They stayed that way for a long time, foreheads resting against one another, their hands intertwined. Both knew they should let one another go, but neither knew how they ever could. Max supposed that was what being in love was all about. But, oh god, it hurt like hell.
Part Three Falling in Love. . .
(2 months later)
"Whoa! That was a helluva kick!" Kyle exclaimed as he felt the baby jar inside Liz for what had to be the third time in the space of ten minutes. "I sense some football talent here."
Liz laughed at his amazed expression.
"Does she do that a lot? Or is she just excited to see me?" His joke was corny but Liz laughed anyway. She managed, in between giggles, to nod and answer his question. "Sometimes I feel as if she's trying to kick her way out."
"Have you decided on a name yet? I mean, six more weeks. . . .just around the corner, Liz."
Her smile was excited and full of wonder when she said, "Yeah, I know. I want to her to hurry up and come and at the same time I'm scared to death! But to answer your first question, yes I have a name. Claudia Dyanne. I'm naming her for my grandmother and Max's mom." She and Max had finally come up with the name a little over three weeks ago. They had broken their silent war long enough to share in that profound moment and then promptly went back to not speaking. Or at least she’d gone back to not speaking while Max persisted in pursuing a friendship with her.
Kyle frowned at the mention of Max. He just didn't understand what it was about Max Evans that made Liz so soft. It wasn't that she was friendly to him. She hardly spoke two words to him at all. In fact she was downright cold to him. And when she did speak what she said was usually sarcastic with a thinly veiled insult beneath. Liz certainly didn't seem to like Max very much. But it was obvious to everyone, including Kyle that Liz was still in love with Max. And that was what bothered Kyle the most. When they were together, in spite of the sarcasm, in spite of the hurt, Liz didn't have any true animosity for Max. Any other woman would have exuded pure hatred for the man who had left her alone and pregnant. Not Liz Parker. She allowed Max to be apart of her baby's life without a fight. Even though she was cool to Max, Kyle never missed how soft her eyes became when he was around.
Kyle had to admit that he had been looking forward to the time when Max Evans would return to California and be out of Liz's life. But Max never returned. He was now working as a legal clerk in his father' law firm. The position had both he and Kyle traveling in the same uncomfortable circles with one another. Kyle didn't like Max Evans anymore than he had in high school, especially because of how he'd treated Liz, and so seeing his face day in and day out was not a treat for Kyle.
Max frowned when he entered the Crashdown finding Liz and Kyle sitting close and comfortable at one of the tables. Liz was laughing at something Kyle said to her, her long cascade of hair falling forward to shield her face. His frown darkened when he noted the protective way Kyle's hand was splayed over Liz's belly. Max's first instinct was to punch him out. To see Kyle with his hands on his girlfriend sent murder screaming through Max's brain. And then Max checked himself at the last minute. Liz wasn't his girlfriend, Max forcibly reminded himself, he was with Tess. His jealousy didn't abate one iota. Ah, to hell with it! Max clenched his teeth and stomped over in their direction.
Liz's smile faded instantly when a scowling Max approached their table. Kyle grinned up at him, slowly, deliberately removing his hand from Liz's stomach. Max glared at him, his fist balled at his sides. "How's it going, Evans?" Kyle smirked.
"Good. Shouldn't you be at the courthouse, Kyle?"
"I'm on my lunch break," Kyle replied lazily.
Max glanced down at his watch. "That's going to end in ten minutes, deputy."
"What? Are you keeping track of me now?"
Max's gaze slowly slid from Kyle to Liz then back to Kyle again. "Only when your whereabouts affect me." Liz watched the whole exchange, gaping. Max was jealous!
He was jealous. Liz couldn't believe it! All that drivel about wanting to be friends and he was standing there, his jaw clenched, spoiling for a fight.
Beside her Kyle shrugged. "I guess I should be getting back, Liz," Kyle said easily, clearly enjoying Max's discomfiture. He bent forward and gave Liz an intentionally slow kiss on the cheek. "Call me later."
"What the hell was that about," Max demanded after Kyle had left.
"What business is it of yours?"
"He was touching y. . ." Max trailed off, quickly rephrasing his words, "He was touching the baby."
"He was feeling her kick!" Liz snapped, "It wasn't like he was molesting me!"
The anger instantly drained from Max's face. "She's kicking? Is she doing it still?"
Liz beckoned him over beside her and took his hand, placing it on the underside of her belly. Claudia gave another thump a few seconds later.
"Oh my god," Max whispered, "That's so amazing."
"She's been moving all morning," Liz told him gently, "Dr. Bolivar said it's normal for them to be active in the eighth month."
"Clau-dee-ah!" Max said in a singsong voice. She kicked again. "Wow!" he said, a sappy grin on his face, "I'll never get tired of feeling that!" His enraptured gaze met Liz's. They shared a long, liquid stare that quickly became a heated one.
Liz swallowed and looked away. She brushed his hand aside. "You wouldn't think it was so amazing if she were inside you kicking field goals."
"Does she hurt you?" Max asked softly as he brushed her hair away from her shoulder. Liz was finding it difficult to breath. His proximity was doing something to her. She didn't like that he could still make her feel things that she didn't want to feel, especially when he had made it perfectly clear that he only wanted to be her friend.
"No," Liz replied brusquely, shaking off his hand, "What are you doing here, Max?"
Max was a little stunned by Liz's sudden cold attitude, which wasn't out of the ordinary for her. But it still hurt. "I thought maybe you'd like to go to lunch."
Many times in the last two months Max had asked her out and generally Liz accepted his offer. She enjoyed being with him and always had. It was nice to be with him and laugh for a change and to see him smile. But for some reason, today, his invitation annoyed her. Perhaps it was because her hormones were going wild or perhaps it was because Max’s attempt at friendship was wearing thin with her. Whatever the reason for her irritation Liz was clear about one thing; she was fed up.
"Why don't you ask Tess? She's your girlfriend, remember?"
"Ha, ha, Liz! I was just trying to be nice. When did you develop this acidic wit of yours?"
Liz bent her head, beckoning him forward with her index finger. Max inclined his head so that his ear was near her mouth. "It might have been when my boyfriend dumped me and left me alone and pregnant," she quipped sarcastically. She sat back in her seat again. "But that's just a thought." Liz glared at Max frostily. He glared right back.
"If I recall said boyfriend wasn't even sure if said baby was his!"
Liz rolled her eyes in response to his lame excuse. "Oh come on, Max! We were together for three years. You knew this baby had a better chance of being yours than Cam's."
It was true what she said. Max didn't bother to deny it. When he was gone for the summer he had already decided that must be the case. Even though he couldn't be sure, Max knew he would accept the baby as his no matter what. But before he could tell Liz she had told him that the baby was his. Either way, Max was happier than he'd been in months, even with Liz's frosty attitude.
Two months had passed since he and Liz had come to the agreement to be friends, at least for Claudia's sake. Well, sometimes friends, that is, when Liz wasn't snubbing him. Max sighed. He realized it would be a long time before Liz thawed, but he accepted that. Because, in spite of their hot and cold relationship, Max and Liz had reached a point where they could talk about the events that had demolished their relationship without assigning blame.
"Speaking of Cameron Brenner," Max said slowly, "have you heard from him lately?"
"Not since I left California." Liz looked at Max, her expression open, honest. "There's nothing between us. There never was. Not really."
"Well, if that's true, Liz, why did you sleep with him?" It was a question Max had wanted to ask forever.
Technically, he had asked it before but it had been rhetorical. He hadn’t expected her to answer it and hadn’t wanted her to. Before he had never been prepared for her answer. Now he was.
"He was just there," Liz explained awkwardly, "When I saw you and Tess at the café, I turned around and he was there. I just didn't make my mind up to sleep with him, Max."
"Did you. . .uh. . .I mean. . .was it. . . .?" Liz knew what he was trying to ask and it broke her heart. Again she was presented with the reality of just how deeply she'd hurt him. Liz laid her hand on top of his. "He wasn't you, Max," she assured him softly, "He never could have been."
"When I came home and found him there, I wanted to kill you both. I just had to go, Liz, cause if I stayed I didn't know what I would do."
"I. . .hurt you a lot. . .didn't I?"
"And I hurt you," Max responded softly. It was the first time that he acknowledged to her that his leaving had been a cop-out and that he had been wrong to walk out on her when she was pregnant and alone.
"I wish I could go back," Liz said with regret.
"Me too." Max's remorseful eyes met hers. They were full of longing. "Liz, if I had known that morning was going to be the last time we made love, nothing on earth could have removed me from that bed, especially not some stupid group project."
Liz felt her eyes tear, but she remained resolute to be indifferent. She pulled her hand away and came to her feet. "It's the past now, Max. We can't go back, even you said so."
Max watched her walk away, pondering her last words. He was beginning to wonder just why they couldn't go back.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:26:09 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:14:59 PM by Deejonaise|
"Maria, what are you doing here?"
"Don't you watch the entertainment news?" Maria quipped as she pushed past Liz into the Crashdown loaded down with suitcases. "I took a hiatus."
Liz relocked the door behind Maria. She noted the many suitcases Maria carried and raised her eyebrows. "No Ed?” Liz noted, glancing around Maria, “You plan on staying awhile?"
"Alex and I broke up." Liz's smile immediately faded. "Oh my god, Maria. I'm so sorry," she said, enveloping Maria in a hug. Liz recalled when Maria had done the same exact thing when she and Max had broken up. Maria returned her embrace briefly before pulling away.
"I'm fine. . . Really." Despite her words Maria was rapidly blinking back her tears. "It's no big deal."
"Yeah. . .I forgot. . .Maria the Teflon-babe," Liz said softly, reaching forward to brush the tears from Maria's cheeks.
"Oh, I don't want to talk about me!" Maria exclaimed, waving her hands, "Look at you! You're huge!"
"Well, I'm due to pop in three weeks, I should be!"
"I can't believe it," Maria sighed, her eyes tearing up once again, "Lizzie's going to be a mommy!" They both shared a poignant moment. Two friends assessing the changes in one another, realizing their differences between them and finding common ground in spite of them.
"Let's celebrate!" Maria exclaimed suddenly.
Thirty minutes later Liz and Maria were upstairs in Liz's bedroom gorging themselves on potato chips, ice cream, and cake. Liz's parents were out of town for a month and Liz was acting supervisor in their absence. Jeff and Nancy Parker wanted to open a chain of Crashdown Cafes across the country. A buyer with deep pockets had been intrigued with the idea of UFO chain of restaurants and decided to back them. They were now in New York negotiating the details.
Liz was happy for her parents and for the success they were having. But their fortune made Liz more determined than ever. She would become a molecular biologist. She would not make the Crashdown Café her life, Liz thought darkly.
"So what's going on?" Maria asked around a mouthful of chips, "It's Friday night and the Crashdown's closed early?"
"Oh, I wasn't feeling well. My back has been killing me all day. I think it's from all the standing I've been doing lately," Liz theorized, eating a spoonful of her ice cream.
"Yeah, you shouldn't be standing too much, you know," Maria agreed, “I heard it gives you varicose veins.” A second later Maria's face screwed up in disgust. "Oh my God! What are you eating?"
Liz looked at Maria self-consciously. "Vanilla ice cream. . .and Tabasco."
"Ewwww," Maria shuddered, "You really are having Max's kid!" They both laughed.
"So, Maria," Liz said a few moments later after their laughter had died down, "are you going to tell me what happened with you and Alex?"
Maria licked her spoon free of ice cream. "Well you already know we were having problems. . ." Liz nodded. She remembered the things Alex had told her when she had visited New York.
"Well," Maria continued, "I was gone so much and there was so much publicity that Alex got fed up. He walked out. He moved in with one of his Columbia computer friends."
"Oh, Maria. . ."
Maria held up her hand. "Don't! Don't pity me. Alex and I had problems long before this. Michael and Isabel have continued to be an issue between us. He never let go of Isabel and I never let go of Michael,” Maria sighed deeply, sadly, “We were together for all the wrong reasons. We should have broken up a long time ago. I'm just sorry that our friendship got wrecked."
Maria thought back to when she and Alex had first begun dating. In the beginning they had just hurt so much seeing Michael and Isabel together that they had turned to each other out of sheer desperation to stifle the pain. That first night they’d slept together Maria had regretted it deeply. She had thought about Michael the entire time. And she knew, without Alex saying a word that he had thought of Isabel. But they stayed together, as if bonded by some mutual, silent agreement. And together they had stayed for three long years, always being more like friends than lovers, still clinging desperately to their lost relationships with the Czechoslovakians who had broken their hearts.
Witnessing the pain in Maria’s eyes made Liz feel helpless. All the agony seemed pointless to Liz since she knew very well that Maria was still in love with Michael, just like Alex was still in love with Isabel. And the irony of it all was that their love was returned, but both Alex and Maria were too blind to see it. Maria felt safe with Alex; she didn’t want to take a chance on Michael breaking her heart again. Liz could empathize; she herself had felt the same about Cameron Brenner where Max was concerned. But Liz also knew that feeling safe in a relationship wasn’t necessarily a guarantee for being happy in one. However, Liz realized that was the last thing Maria wanted to hear, so she whispered instead, "Maria, give Alex some time. He'll come around."
Maria just shrugged, not wanting to think about it anymore. "So Gidget, what's going on with you and Moondoggie?"
Liz laughed. Maria hadn't called her that for years. "Oh, we've gone on to Phase 3 of our relationship."
"He follows me. I ignore him."
"I'm not following. . ."
"Ok," Liz said, folding her legs Indian style, "for the last three weeks Max has been like a man on a mission. He's everywhere I turn, bringing me gifts for the baby, offering to take me out. . . ."
"Wait, I thought that was a good thing," Maria interrupted.
"Not as long as he's still living with Tess."
"Oooh," Maria said, understanding finally dawning, "So if he's with Tess still, why is he hanging around you?"
"I think Max wants to get back together."
"I'm sensing a "but" here. . ."
"Well, I just know he's not going to say anything because he's afraid of being hurt."
"By you?" Maria burst out in disbelief.
Liz nodded anxiously. "And that's why I think he's with Tess. She doesn't pose a threat. He doesn't love her so she can't hurt him."
"And I thought my life was a soap opera," Maria muttered.
When Liz was finally able to stop laughing she managed to gasp, still caught between giggles, "Oh god, Maria, I'm so glad you came!"
Later that night, while Liz was sleeping her parents' bedroom (Maria had taken hers), she was suddenly jarred awake. She felt weird. Liz rolled upright, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Her back was aching again. She stood to go to the bathroom. Her Tylenol was there. She'd never get back to sleep without help. The pain in her back was god-awful!
She was halfway to the bathroom when a sudden rush of warm liquid down Liz's legs stopped her cold. She glanced down and then reached over to click on the lamp beside the bed. The carpet was soaked through with a silvery colored liquid. Liz looked at the stain in confusion. And then a small smile hovered at the corners of her mouth as comprehension dawned. Her water had just broken, Liz realized happily.
She was in labor.
"Hello?" Tess said groggily, jarred awake by the ringing of the phone at, she glanced over at the digital clock beside her bed, 3:27 in the morning.
"Put Max on," Maria ordered as she sped down the highway, holding her cell phone in one hand and guiding the steering wheel in the other. In the passenger's seat Liz was in the grips of another contraction.
"Who is this?" Tess demanded, shaking off the last vestiges of sleep and sitting upright. She tried to be careful not to disturb Max, but he began to stir beside her anyway.
"Tess, this is Maria DeLuca. Put Max on the phone!"
"Are you crazy?" Tess said, ignoring Maria's order and lowering her voice to a bare whisper, "Maria, it's three o'clock in the morning! People are trying to sleep, including Max! So you can just-"
"Who is that," Max asked as he came awake, "Did you just say Maria?" Why would Maria be calling him at three o'clock in the morning? How would she even have the number unless. . . Max didn't wait for Tess' reply but rolled over and grabbed the phone from her fingers. "Maria, what's going on?"
Max was striding purposefully through the corridors of Roswell Memorial Hospital twenty minutes later. Tess had to half run, half-jog to keep up with him.
"Max! Slow down!"
He didn't slow down. Max had only one thing on his mind. Liz. She was three weeks early. She wasn't supposed to be in labor now. What if something was wrong with her, wrong with the baby? Max's heart raced with a frantic fear that caused his breath to feel as if it were being squeezed from his lungs. What had made matters worse was that Tess had insisted on coming with him. He didn't want her there. And it didn't make any sense that she would want to be there considering they hadn't been on speaking terms for a few weeks.
It had all started with the cease and desist of their sex life and had steadily progressed from there. Tess didn't buy Max's "I'm tired, I just need to rest" line. The truth was Max simply didn't want her that way anymore. For the last few weeks they had shared the same bed but that was it. Max couldn't bring himself to touch her. He and Tess pretended at having a relationship. Suddenly things between him and Tess weren't simple anymore.
When he'd been mad at Liz it had been a simple matter of Liz being unfaithful and Tess loving him. Max loved Liz, but she had cheated on him. Tess loved Max and made his happiness her priority. Liz cheating on him had been a major blow to Max's pride and his manhood. Tess and her adoration of him had given him back some of his lost dignity. At the time he and Tess had begun seeing one another Max had really needed that. But it wasn't love, at least not for him. And it wasn't enough. Not anymore.
The problem was that he was afraid. Afraid to take things forward with Liz, afraid of being hurt again. The one thing Max was absolutely sure of was that Tess wouldn't, no that she couldn't hurt him. Not at all. Not like Liz. Liz had devastated him.
But was all that so important now, Max asked himself. Liz's life could be in jeopardy and so could the baby's! He didn't know about labor. He didn't know if it was normal for a woman to have a baby 3 weeks before her due date. All he knew that he was more frightened than he'd ever been in his life.
He continued to ignore Tess' pleas for him to slow down and rounded the corner straight for the admissions desk. "I'm looking for Elizabeth Parker." Before the receptionist could look up his information Max heard Maria call his name. He made his way over to her quickly. "Where's Liz?"
"She's dilated two centimeters. They’ve admitted her."
"What room is she in?"
"203. I called her folks, but they won't be here for at least five hours." Max nodded, walking around Maria and heading for the elevator.
Tess grabbed his arm. He looked back at her with impatience. "What are you doing?"
"Where are you going?" she asked almost desperately.
"Liz is having the baby, Tess," Max said as if that explained everything. In his mind, it did.
It wasn't enough for Tess, however. In fact her grip on his arm tightened considerably. "You're not going to stay with her, are you?"
"She's having the baby, Tess," he said again, "My baby."
"Max, please don't go to her," Tess pleaded, tears in her eyes, "I love you. I don't want to lose you."
Max looked at her and felt waves and waves of guilt. The entire time they had been together she had made his happiness her priority. She had stuck by him when he was drunk and incoherent and completely unpleasant to be around. Max realized he owed her. And she deserved much better than what he was giving her at the moment. But he also felt anger. He focused on that cause if he didn’t he’d drown in his guilt. Liz's life could be in danger, after all. Didn't she even care? He jerked his arm from her iron grip. "This isn't about us, Tess! Liz is in labor. She needs me now. We'll talk later."
"I can't believe you're going to her!" Tess cried.
Max stepped into the elevator, pushing the up arrow key. "That's exactly what I'm doing," he said as the elevator doors closed.
Maria watched the entire exchange with a smirk of satisfaction.
Max rushed into Liz's hospital room frantic and out of breath. She was in bed. It was tilted at an obtuse angle and Liz was reclined back against the pillows propped behind her. Max thought he had never seen her look so beautiful. She looked so serene, her hair lying across her shoulder in a thick, shining braid. She was engrossed in the Rosie O’Donnell show. At his skidding entrance, however, she glanced up in surprise.
"Are you ok?" he asked, coming towards her, "You're early. Is something wrong with the baby?" He sat down beside her on the bed, held her hand.
"No. Dr. Bolivar said she's right on time. He said he might have been a week off since I was unsure about my last cycle."
Max heaved a heavy sigh of relief. "I'm glad. Are you scared?"
"Not really. Just a little apprehensive."
"I'm just afraid things are going to get weird during the delivery."
"Max," she confided in a low tone, "when my water broke it was glowing."
Max digested what she told him. If things got freaky it would be impossible to explain the situation away. "Well I called Michael. If push comes to shove we'll handle things. We might have to use some mind control," he finished with a teasing grin, hoping to ease her worry.
"Whatever you have to do," Liz said solemnly.
She was glad he had come. Not that she had expected him not to. All the fears that had been plaguing her for the last thirty minutes receded considerably. Just his presence alone was a source of comfort to Liz.
Somehow nothing could go wrong with Max around. Liz sighed with contentment. "Did you call Isabel?"
"She's on a plane headed to Roswell as we speak."
"So is Alex," Liz said, "It will be weird, the six of us together again."
That was a huge understatement; Max thought wryly, their reunion would be explosive.
And it was. Within minutes of Michael's arrival he and Maria were bickering. There were in the middle of a heated argument when they entered Liz's hospital room. Both Max and Liz looked at them as if they'd gone crazy. Michael and Maria's insults instantly choked off in their throats.
"Hi!" they both exclaimed in unison. They had the grace to appear chagrined. For about a second and then they were back to arguing.
"Almost like three plus years didn't go by," Max muttered to Liz.
She would have giggled but she was seized by a contraction. Max's expression became immediately concerned as he watched Liz grit her teeth in pain. He rubbed her back consolingly while she gripped his free hand in a tight squeeze.
"Angel, it's gonna be ok," he whispered into her hair. The endearment slipped out. Max wasn't even aware of it. Michael and Maria noticed, however. Michael frowned. Maria smiled. Max and Liz were oblivious.
When the pain passed Liz collapsed back against the pillows, exhausted. "You don't mind that I came, do you?" Max asked as he wiped back sweaty tendrils of hair from her forehead.
"No," Liz said, panting heavily, "I'm glad you're here." She smiled at him, a pure, radiant smile of naked love and longing. "Let's have a baby."
Max kissed her forehead, smiling in return. "I love you." He didn't regret saying the words. At that moment they seemed appropriate and right. So very right.
Maria lifted her face from her hands to find Michael Guerin standing above her holding two steaming cups of coffee. He extended one towards her. “Truce?” Maria eyed him suspiciously but wordlessly took the cup. “I didn’t know how you liked it so. . . .” He scooted next to her on the ugly, lime green sofa in the hospital lobby.
“Actually, I don’t drink coffee,” Maria said dryly.
“Figures,” Michael muttered more to himself than to her.
“But it was a nice thought.”
“Yeah, so, whatever,” Michael said, blowing his coffee, “Where’s your other half?”
Maria bristled at his mention of Alex. Or maybe it was his sarcastic tone when he said “other half.” She glared at him. “What? Do I have “keeper of Alex” written on my forehead?” She punctuated that sarcastic remark by tossing her untouched coffee into a trashcan nearby.
Michael lifted his brows at her action and smirked, knowing he’d made her angry as he had intended. “Just thought you would know where your boyfriend is.”
“We broke up,” she admitted flatly, just to see what his reaction would be.
Maria did a double take, her eyes narrowing of his mouth and the satisfied grin that hovered there. “How did you. . ?” but she trailed off, answering her own question, “Isabel. Well, he certainly didn’t waste any time.”
Although Michael wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Maria agonizing over the loss of another man he didn’t want her to suffer more than necessary. “Maria, they’re not together. I guess Alex just needed a friend and Isabel just seemed the most neutral of choices.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” Maria mumbled tiredly, “I should have never been with Alex in the first place.”
“Oh yeah? Who should you have been with?”
His softly spoken question momentarily stopped Maria’s breathing. She looked into his earnest expression and knew exactly what he was asking just as surely as she knew that they couldn’t go back. No, that wasn’t true, they could Maria just didn’t know if she wanted to. She wasn’t sure if she had the strength to start over again with Michael. In three years who knew what new techniques he had developed for shutting her out. In addition to that she had just come out of a relationship.
She couldn’t just get back together with Michael so soon after her break-up with Alex. Could she? Maria mentally shook herself. Get a grip, girl!
No, it was best to leave his question unanswered. To do anything contrary would be tantamount to opening Pandora’s box and Maria wasn’t sure if she wanted to see what was inside. So instead she evaded his question by saying, “I’m gonna go check on Liz, ok,” thereby ignoring the subject completely.
Liz was already in the delivery room when her parents arrived. Isabel and Alex arrived shortly after them. It was 8:43 a.m. Outside in the waiting room they could all hear Liz screaming. Isabel and Maria both cringed to hear Liz in such agony. Despite the three years of silence that had existed between them the two women sat beside one another, silently comforting one another as they listened to Liz’s cries of pain.
"Oh God, Maaaaaaax! I can't do it! I CAN'T DO IT!" Liz's face was contorted as she fought to expel their daughter. She gripped Max's hand, bearing down hard.
Her hair hung lank and damp about her face in scraggly clumps. Her skin was a mottled bluish-red as she worked to give birth. But to Max she had never looked more radiant. He wanted so badly to take the pain away from her, but Liz had made him promise before not to do anything to help her. She had said she wanted to do the delivery natural, that she needed to.
"Come on, Liz! Just a few more," Dr. Bolivar coached.
"You said that ten minutes ago," Liz groaned.
Dr. Bolivar flashed her a smile. "This time I mean it."
"No, no, no, no, no!" Liz chanted, shaking her head, "I can't push anymore."
"You have to push!" the doctor commanded.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Liz pushed, feeling as if her body were being ripped in two.
"Push hard, Liz!" Max encouraged, stroking her back.
Liz glared at him in a moment of angry pain. "I'm pushing hard, dammit!"
Max wasn't perturbed by her sharp words. "Push harder!"
Liz pushed harder.
"She's almost here," Dr. Bolivar reassured, "Her head's crowning."
A moment later Liz felt a pain so intense that she screamed in agony. Max crumpled, in agony himself to witness her pain. Several times he had to stop himself from easing her with his powers. Liz felt the baby being pulled free of her body and sighed with relief. Her sigh became a grunt as she delivered the afterbirth.
Liz anxiously awaited a view of her baby. Dr. Bolivar didn't disappoint her. He laid the squalling red infant in her arms. Liz was overcome. Claudia was beautiful! Even slimy and covered with blood she was glorious. And loud. Liz laughed softly. She quickly counted ten fingers and ten toes. Claudia Dyanne Evans was perfect in every way! No glowing hands or anything. Liz gazed up at Max, speechless.
He was smiling though tears were shining in his eyes. Max reached forward and tenderly touched the baby's soft cheek with his index finger. She immediately stopped wailing. Twin sets of amber brown eyes met. Father and daughter, falling in love with one another. The moment was beyond words.
Max looked down at Liz smiling up at him with her open smile and he did it. He kissed her. Slowly. Tentatively, at first. Reacquainting himself with her soft, sweet mouth.
Her lips were yielding beneath his. They parted at the slightest intrusion of his tongue. Oh god, he'd almost forgotten what she tasted like! But when Liz touched her tongue to his the kiss exploded. Their mouths slanted over each other's hungrily, eating, sucking, wanting. The first kiss they had shared in nine months. Neither of them could get enough.
Neither of them ever wanted to stop.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:31:21 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:22:09 PM by Deejonaise|
Max ate at Liz's mouth, oblivious to all. He laced his fingers through the hair at her nape and feasted on her. He felt like a starving man who had just stumbled in on a banquet. Liz kissed him back with the same ravenous insistence. Only the sound of someone loudly clearing their throat was enough to penetrate their dazed senses. Max reluctantly lifted his head.
"I need to take the baby," the nurse told him, smiling and blushing as she eased the baby from her mother's arms, "We have to run a few tests."
Her intrusion brought them plummeting back to earth. Reality had called. Max wanted nothing more than to continue kissing Liz, but Claudia had to be taken care of first. Max had to find out exactly what sort of tests they planned to run on his daughter. He gave Liz one, last regretful look and then followed the nurse.
She didn't go far, just across the room. Other nurses joined her.
"Excuse me, Miss," Max said, coming up to the table where they had laid his daughter, "but what are you doing with her?"
"We're going to take some blood and run some other tests," the one who had taken Claudia explained.
"What other tests?" Max pressed.
"Well basically a series of tests. . .we monitor the heart. . .motor skills. . .birth weight, just the basics."
"Can you do all those things without drawing her blood?" Max persisted.
"We draw her blood so we can test her for diseases and other abnormalities, Mr. Evans."
"Well, all that considered, I still don't want her blood drawn."
"Mr. Evans, I assure you-"
"Look the idea of you going near my newborn daughter with a needle freaks me out, ok." It was the truth, but it wasn't the reason he was fighting so hard against having Claudia's blood drawn. For the first time he realized just how complicated having his baby had made Liz's life. And yet she had done it anyway. "I don't care if you do the other tests," Max told her, "just no needles!"
"That's highly irregular. . ."
"It's what I want," Max insisted.
The nurse looked over towards Liz, who was watching them anxiously. Any minute, she thought, they're going to find out my daughter is an alien and then it will be all over. She thought back to when she and Max had their accident. She didn’t want to go through the whole blood vial-switching thing again. "Ms. Parker?"
Liz nodded jerkily. "I want that too."
The nurse then looked to Dr. Bolivar. He shrugged. "They're the parents, they make the call."
"We won't draw blood then," the nurse reluctantly agreed.
"Thank you," Max said.
The whole room heard Liz's sigh of relief.
Ten minutes later Liz was wheeled on a gurney to her private room while the nurses finished up the testing with Claudia. Max trailed along beside her silently, holding her hand, caressing the back of it with his index finger. Liz couldn't look at him. Now that the crisis with Claudia had passed her brain was suddenly flooded with flashes of the kiss they'd shared. She couldn't believe how easily it had happened between them, as if they'd never been separated at all. She slid a look to him from beneath her lashes. He was solemn, quiet. Liz wondered if he regretted kissing her.
When they reached the room the nurse took a moment to make Liz comfortable in bed and show her all the mechanisms to adjust the bed and call the nurses. When she finally left Max and Liz were extremely tense. Alone in the room they stared at each other apprehensively.
"Max," Liz began, "what just happened between us?"
Max slowly crossed the room. "I don't know."
"I mean. . .you kissed me."
He framed her flushed, confused face in his hands. "And you kissed me back."
Liz licked her lips nervously. "What does that mean, Max?"
A slow, sexy smile spread across his face. "It means I wanted to kiss you and. . . you wanted to kiss me." He was closer now, his lips hovering inches from her own.
Liz felt her eyes begin to drift closed.
"And what about Tess?"
"What about her?"
"You're still with her."
"No, Liz," Max contradicted, threading his fingers through the hair at her temples, "I'm with you." Max sealed his mouth to Liz's, cutting off any further protests. He sucked softly on her bottom lip, ran his tongue along the sensitive inside skin. And Liz kissed him back. Holding his head closer so that she could gain deeper access. She needed his kiss.
She was starved for it.
The unleashed fury of their passion forced Liz back against the pillows. Max half leaned over her, his mouth slanting across hers fiercely, wanting more, tasting more. Liz felt her nipples harden instantly from contact with his hands. Max kneaded her soft flesh in his hands, rotating the pads of his thumbs against her throbbing nipples. Liz’s fingers curled into the back of his shirt. Max could feel his arousal filling up the front of his jeans.
Max jumped away from Liz when the room door unexpectedly swished open. Maria took one look at their flushed and guilty faces and knew exactly what was going on. "You two should compose yourselves," she told them calmly, "cause you're about to have lots of company."
Hot on the heels of her warning Liz's room began filling with their friends and family. Nancy Parker took one look at Max and narrowed her eyes with dislike. "Max." She fairly spat his name in greeting.
Max smiled weakly. "Hello, Mrs. Parker." He stepped out the way so Nancy Parker could hug her daughter.
"Mom, don't be that way towards Max," Liz told her mother gently, "He's been here with me the entire time. He's been a real support." Nancy wasn't impressed but she gave Max a grudging thank-you for Liz's sake. She turned back to Liz. "I saw the baby, Lizzie. She's really beautiful."
"I'll second that," Jeff Parker said, giving his daughter a hug, "My granddaughter's the prettiest little girl in that nursery."
"She looks like Max," Diane Evans stated, smiling at her son, "Don't you think so, Phil? She has Max's ears." Philip Evans nodded like a proud papa.
"I'll say," Isabel teased approaching Liz's bedside, "but really Liz, she's gorgeous. Just like you."
"Oh, Isabel," Liz said as she pulled Isabel close, "I've missed you!"
"I've missed you too," the once Ice Princess admitted for all to hear. Her eyes traveled around the room finally coming to settle on Alex. "I've missed all of you," she continued softly.
Alex ducked his head, pretending not to notice the look Isabel was giving him or Maria's glare for that matter. He joined the crowd around Liz's bed and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "She's a cutie, Liz. So what's her name?"
"For your Grams. .that's cool."
"Yeah," Tess piped up, speaking for the first time since she'd entered the room. No one would have known she was even there if she hadn't said anything. "She is a really sweet baby, Liz," she said with a saccharine smile, "Maybe Max and I can give her some little brothers and sisters someday." Tess looped her arm around Max's waist. He looked very uncomfortable. A long, tense silence lagged in the hospital room. Isabel and Maria both glared at Tess, but Liz just smirked. Tess' comment seemed ridiculous to Liz considering ten minutes earlier Max had his tongue down her throat. As it was Liz just shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Well, whatever. You guys, I'm kinda tired so if you could. . ."
Everyone nodded in understanding. Nancy kissed Liz on the cheek. "We'll come back later this afternoon, baby," she told Liz as she and Jeff headed out the door. Diane and Philip Evans said their good-byes after. Michael, Alex, and Isabel followed suit, leaving Max, Tess, Maria, and Liz alone.
"Max, you don't have to leave," Liz said, throwing Maria a glare. But Maria refused her friend's silent command to leave and remained rooted firmly in place.
Before Max could accept Liz's invitation Tess spoke up, "I just told your dad you'd be in an hour, Max."
"Why would you do that?" Max burst out a little angrily.
"You weren't planning to spend the entire day at the hospital, were you?" Tess asked coyly.
"It's ok, Max," Liz reassured, giving him a soft look, "We'll talk later."
After giving Liz a swift peck on the mouth Max left with Tess reluctantly, but not before putting as much distance between the two of them as possible. Maria watched them closely, her lips pressed together tightly.
When Max and Tess were gone she spun around to face Liz.
"What in the hell are you doing?"
Liz smiled widely, her face glowing with happiness. "Maria, I think I'm falling in love with Max all over again."
Maria slapped her palm against her head in exasperation. "Oh boy, here we go again."
"Liz, you're doing it again."
Not even Maria's disapproving frown could wipe the smile of pure satisfaction off Liz's face. She was incredibly pleased with herself at the moment. Liz folded her hands behind the back of her head, her smile widening. "What am I doing, Maria?"
Maria came forward and wrapped her knuckles against Liz's forehead. "Hello?"
"Ow! Stop it!" Liz exclaimed, flinching. She rubbed her throbbing forehead. "Why'd you do that?"
"Liz, wake up! I mean, the man is living with another woman! Get a clue!"
Liz's expression remained unaffected. She shrugged. "He doesn't love her, Maria."
"He lives with her, Liz."
Liz's smile finally faded to a frown of exasperation. Couldn't she be happy for two seconds without someone trying to bring her back to reality? A deep and tired sigh wheezed from Liz's chest. She looked at Maria with a lackluster expression. "So what are you trying to say, Maria?"
Maria scooted onto the bed and grabbed Liz's hand, her expression earnest. "I'm not trying to rain on your parade, Liz. Really that's not my intention at all. I want you and Max to get back together."
"Well, that is what we're trying to do, Maria."
"I know. But you're going too fast."
"Too fast! Maria, we've been apart for nine months!"
"Exactly my point. You're just now beginning to trust Max again and vice versa. I wouldn't want to see you guys make the same mistake all over again."
Liz chewed at her bottom lip. She could feel herself becoming angry, but she struggled to hold her temper in check.
"And what mistake would that be, Maria?"
"Rushing back into a relationship too quickly," Maria clarified softly.
"That's not what we're doing," Liz denied.
Liz found herself considering Maria's argument even though she really didn't want to. Max hadn't even officially ended his relationship with Tess and he and Liz were kissing. And what if Max didn't want to end the relationship? What if he thought kissing Liz was a mistake? Liz shook her head to clear it of the disturbing thoughts.
"Liz, listen to me," Maria said, seeing that Liz was obviously in torment, "You and Max just had a baby. That had to be a profound moment for you two and it had to bring you closer. But I just don't want you to be caught up in the emotion of the moment and negate everything else."
"What am I negating, besides Tess?"
"Well, you and Max have been together like three years. . ."
"Almost four," Liz corrected.
"Ok, four, anyway, the two of you have never really dated. Max has never courted you, you know. Like bringing you flowers and taking you out. You know, general trying to win your heart stuff."
"And. . . .?"
"Don't you want any of that, Liz?"
"Of course I do."
"Then let Max chase you for a change. Let him show you how much he wants you. Let him prove his love to you. At this point you don't owe him anything."
"Maria, I cheated on him. . ."
"You also risked your life for him, lied for him and you would have died for him." Maria took Liz's face tenderly between her hands. "You're a wonderful woman, Liz. Don't short change yourself. One mistake does not make you Jezebel," she told Liz softly.
"I just miss him so much, Maria," Liz admitted in a small voice, her words slightly choked by tears. Maria leaned forward and kissed her forehead. "I know you do. But Max needs to make a choice: you or Tess. And if he wants you. . .let him prove it."
Liz nodded, knowing Maria was right. Tears slipped down her cheeks even though she didn't know the exact reason she was crying. Maria quickly whisked them away. "But then again, what do I know. My love life is in shambles!" Maria teased, thinking of her earlier encounter with Michael. However, with her dazed and confused expression she succeeded in making Liz laugh.
Max entered room 203 with a small smile. Liz was sitting upright in the bed, their baby cradled in her arms. She was breastfeeding. Liz's hair fell forward, half shielding the baby from view. She pushed it back over her shoulder, laughing softly as Claudia beat her tiny fist against her breast. Max's breath stopped at the glorious scene they presented. His family. Max found himself momentarily stunned by the idea. Liz and Claudia were his family.
When he finally came fully into the room he caught Liz's attention and she finally tore her fascinated gaze away from her child. Her smile widened when she saw Max. He was holding a bouquet of pink and white flowers. His face was enraptured, his eyes fixed on her feeding daughter.
"Hey," he finally said when he lifted his eyes to Liz, "I brought you flowers."
"They're beautiful, Max!" Liz said as she took them. She inhaled their sweet scent, her eyes closed.
"I'm not sure what kind they are. I just thought they looked pretty."
Liz offered him a gentle smile. "Thank you."
"Can you lay them on the table," Liz told him, smiling because he was actually blushing.
"Does that hurt," he asked, taking a seat beside Liz on the bed. Max caressed their daughter's soft, curling hair.
He tried not to look down at the creamy mound of flesh that Liz had exposed but it was hard not to. It had been almost a year since he'd seen Liz's naked breasts. They looked much bigger.
Liz smiled when she noticed where his eyes were glued. "Only when she tugs."
"The nurses told me that you asked for her earlier, that you wanted to keep her in here with you."
"I know," Liz sighed as she ran her hand down the baby's soft cheek, "I just can't stop touching her."
"I bought her a bear," Max smiled, "It's kinda big so I had to leave it in the jeep."
"Max, she's a newborn!"
Max just shrugged, rubbing the baby's small feet between his fingers. He studied every inch of her. She made a greedy sucking sound as she nursed. Max chuckled softly, envying his daughter. You're where I wanna be kid, he thought wryly. He looked up at Liz to find her regarding him solemnly.
"We need to talk, Max."
For some reason those words sent a sense of foreboding streaking through Max. He immediately tensed up. All his movements ceased. "About what?"
"About this afternoon."
Max sighed deeply, dreading what she was about to say. He decided to beat her to it. "You regret it. You wished it hadn't happened," he predicted dryly.
"Not at all," Liz contradicted with a smile, "I'm overjoyed that it happened."
"Then what's the problem?"
"I just don't want us to rush into things, you know, we should. . . .take things slow."
"I thought we were taking things slow, Liz."
"No, I'm saying I think we should date for a while."
Max looked at her incredulously. "Date? Liz, we just had a baby! Dating seems a little. . .I don't know." He couldn't find the right words. It just seemed like they were closing the barn doors after the cow had escaped, so to speak. Dating seemed a lot like going backwards instead of forward.
"This is all irrelevant anyway," Liz said dismissively, "You're still with Tess."
"No, I'm not."
Liz couldn't stop the happy smile that spread across her face. "You’re not?"
"I broke up with her after we left this morning. To make a long story short I'm currently homeless."
Liz clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle her giggles, but they escaped anyway. Max kept his face scrupulously straight. "It's not funny," he said in mock seriousness, "Now I have to go back home to my Mom and Dad. And I'm not guaranteed a place with them, just know that right now."
Liz laughed harder. Max lost his battle with smiling. "But I want you to know, Liz, that I don't regret doing it. I never should have started with Tess to begin with. It was. . .just. . .when I left you there was this void, this big hole in my heart. . . . I just wanted to fill it."
Their eyes met in a profound stare. Liz laid her hand consolingly on his sleeve. "I understand, Max. I really do." When she had seen Max and Tess together that day in the café Liz had felt that void as well. She had turned to Cam to fill it. And that had been the biggest mistake of her life.
"Liz, what you said. . .you know. . .about dating? Is that what you really want?"
"I want to know you again," Liz admitted tenderly, "I want us to be normal for a change. We have so much time. . .there's no need to rush."
Max hung his head down. "I've just wasted so much time. . .with Tess. . ."
"We have the rest of our lives, Max. Let's start over, ok?"
Max leaned forward and kissed her softly then bent and kissed their daughter. When he lifted his eyes again they were shining with pure love. "Ok."
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Oct-2002 2:37:46 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:28:10 PM by Deejonaise|
Max watched Liz from across the Crashdown. She and Maria were laughing and giggling over Claudia who, Max imagined, was making those cute little gurgling noises he’d come to adore. He wanted to go over and approach them, but that was easier said than done.
Reaching the summit of Everest seemed a simpler task than that of walking up to Liz and taking her in his arms. She had been the one who wanted to take things slow. She had been the one who had insisted they date.
Date! Max wanted to knock his head against the booth table. The entire idea of dating just seemed ludicrous to him. He and Liz were in love with one another. They had a child together. Those were the facts. It should be a simple matter of them getting back together and moving on with their lives, or so Max thought.
Apparently, Liz did not echo those sentiments. She was adamant that “they get to know each other again,” whatever the hell that meant. The idea frustrated Max to the extreme, but he loved Liz and so he had agreed to her idea.
Which was why he was now sitting at his usual booth in the Crashdown, mooning after her like some lost puppy, while fingering the box of chocolate he’d bought for her before arriving. Max sighed heavily. Liz wanted to date, ok, fine, whatever. But there was just one minor detail. Liz refused to go out with him. She claimed it was because she was spending time with Maria and that she was still recuperating from having the baby. Max didn’t buy it. Liz was punishing him, pure and simple. Which, Max supposed direly, was exactly what he deserved after the whole Tess fiasco.
Maria glanced over at Max and smirked. “Max Evans is staring at you again.”
Liz smiled in remembrance of a time when Maria had uttered those exact words. It had been the day Liz discovered who Max Evans truly was. It was the day she had found her soulmate.
“I wonder what he’s doing,” Liz mused aloud to Maria, “Is he just going to stare at us all night or is he gonna come over and say hello?”
“He’s gonna sit and stare all night,” Maria responded with a laugh.
“He acts like he’s afraid to talk to me,” Liz wondered in confusion.
“Well duh,” Maria teased. When Liz still looked clueless Maria clarified with a roll of her eyes. “The guy’s head over heels, babe. He doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the chance he has with you.”
“But he knows I want to get back together.”
Maria grasped her by the shoulders and brought Liz around to face her so that they stood eye to eye. “Really he knows that? All that I’ve seen tells me something different. You’ve made yourself clear all right but not in the way you think. Max can’t possibly mistake that you’re too busy to spit on him much less carry on a conversation with him.”
“You’re kidding me,” Liz breathed, aghast. She had never meant to give Max the impression that she didn’t want to talk to him! She had just been so busy with Maria and the baby. . . .
Maria watched as slow realization dawned on her friend’s face. “Bingo.”
“Oh, god! Maria! Why didn’t you say something?”
“Until five minutes ago I thought you were doing it on purpose.”
“Maria!” Liz gritted in exasperation.
Maria shrugged. “What?” Liz glared at her in disapproval. “Ok, ok. Go over there and put him out of his misery, why don’t you? I’ll watch Claudia.”
Max groaned inwardly as Liz approached his table. She was smiling tentatively but Max’s heartbeat increased none-the-less. He had barely spoken to her in the week she had been released from the hospital. And now that she was finally approaching him after a week of dodging Max had no idea what to say to her. Instead he could only hold his breath as she slid into the seat across from him.
One look at his lonely, confused expresion made Liz want to take him against her and rain kisses all over his face. But she mentally shook the urge away. She had to keep those feelings under control, wanting to kiss Max and hold him. Otherwise they would never make any progress. Instead she concentrated on setting things right between them by first addressing her neglect of him for the past week. “I’m sorry.”
Max looked into her contrite, brown eyes and felt his frustration begin to melt away. He smiled at her. “For what?”
“I’ve been a jerk to you.”
Max’s smile widened into a grin. “You have,” he agreed solemnly.
“I wasn’t trying to avoid you, Max.”
A thoughtful “hmm” was all he responded with. He wanted to make her squirm a little.
“Forgive me,” Liz said with a pleading pout.
“That depends. . . .”
“On whether you go out with me next week.”
“Oh Max, I can’t.”
Max’s smile was instantly transformed to a frown of disappointment. “Why not?”
“Maria’s only here for another week and I-“
“-want to spend as much time as possible with her,” Max finished flatly.
“Yeah,” Liz confirmed with regret.
“I guess you are too busy for me after all.” His bitter tone made Liz feel all the worse. She grabbed his hand from across the table, unwilling to let him leave the table thinking she didn’t want to be with him. “Max, wait!”
He didn’t move but he didn’t say anything either. Liz desperately searched for a means to diffuse the situation, her gaze lighting gratefully on the box of chocolates. “For me?” she asked with a smile. She reached across the table and fingered the box.
“Who else?” Max quipped as he passed her the chocolates.
“Pecan clusters!” Liz exclaimed as she ripped open the box, “I love pecan clusters!”
“I know,” Max said softly, watching as she bit into a chocolate. Her face relaxed in total delight, savoring the creamy candy. Max felt his body contract with desire. “I know everything about you, Liz,” he added in a quiet hushed tone.
The tender fervency of his words stilled Liz. She stopped chewing. For a moment she was stunned by the urgent desire in his eyes. “Max?” she whispered.
“Don’t you ever think about us, Liz? How we used to be?” he asked, and then his voice dropped low and husky, “How we made love?”
Their eyes met in a sizzling moment. Liz swallowed as images of the nights they had made love tumbled through her mind. She could still remember the feel of his hands on her skin, how silky hot his flesh had been. Liz suppressed a groan. It had been so long. God, she missed those times! She missed Max. “Max,” she croaked.
“. . .Because I do. I still remember how warm you felt, how tight. . .”
“I can remember how you used to dig your nails into my back and those catchy, breathy sounds you make when you come. . .”
“Max, don’t-“ Liz was trying to force the memories from her mind but they were overtaking her.
“Don’t what? Tell you how much I want you? Tell you how I dream of you at night? How I wake up aching to touch you?” Max smiled, knowing his every word was piercing Liz with desire, and came to his feet. “Fine. I won’t. I just thought I’d give you something to think about while you’re spending your quality time with Maria.”
Liz’s mouth fell open in shock when she realized that he had deliberately and spitefully aroused her. She could only stare after him in amazed disbelief as he sauntered over to the counter to play with their cooing daughter.
Max had finally come to her. Liz glanced up from writing in her journal to find him outside her window standing on her balcony. It was raining. In a sudden flash of lightening he was illuminated, the unhidden longing on his face openly revealed. Liz set aside her journal and slowly drifted over to the window. Their eyes met in a heated stare. Max stood there silently, watching Liz, his eyes intense as the rain rolled over him. As if hypnotized Liz climbed out the window into the pouring rain.
"What are you doing here, Max?" she asked loudly in order to be heard over the downpour.
"I needed to see you!"
"Is something wrong?" Her anxious brown eyes scanned his face.
"I can't do this anymore," he told her, coming closer.
"I. . .want. . .you. . .Liz," he whispered an instant before his mouth slammed down to cover hers. At first Liz was too stunned to even breathe. It seemed like Max's hands were suddenly everywhere at once. But Liz's paralysis lasted only for a second. She opened her mouth wide, driving her tongue into his warm mouth.
There were no preliminaries between them. Max hooked his fingers in the front of her blouse and ripped it apart.
The buttons went scattering. Liz moaned at his forcefulness and wrapped her legs around his waist in response.
Cupping her bottom, Max pulled her closer against him, grinding his arousal against her tender, hot center.
Never breaking their carnal kiss Max walked them over to the wall, bracing Liz against the brick. Their tongues knew no control. They dipped, they flicked, they scoured. Max sucked voraciously at Liz's mouth as if he were trying to absorb it into his own. The rain continued to pour down over them.
Max eased Liz to her feet long enough for them to attack one another's clothing. It was somewhat difficult. The clothes had to be peeled off because they were soaked through with rain. When Max and Liz were both naked they were back against each other in seconds.
Liz trailed her open mouth across Max's chest, his throat. Max hooked his hands beneath the undersides of Liz's arms and lifted her back against the brick wall. He wedged himself between her warm thighs. Liz brought her legs up high on his waist in anticipation of his hard thrust. Max didn't disappoint her, in fact, he gave her more.
His entry was deep and smooth. They both moaned at the sensation of his hard flesh filling her body, completing her. Liz sank her teeth into his shoulder. Max pulled back only to ease forward into her silky cavity again. Liz gasped jerkily into his neck. Max set his rhythm; stroking Liz the way he knew she liked it. Long and deep. Liz rode him shamelessly, her vaginal muscles convulsing each time he drove inside her. Liz turned her face upwards not bothering to stifle her screams of pleasure. Rain fell into her open mouth. She was coming. . .
Max yanked Liz closer against him, feeling her shake with the beginnings of her orgasm. He stabbed inside her deeply, quickly. Her liquid walls milked him.
A moment later Liz was screaming, her nails digging into Max's muscled back. Max didn't hold back any longer. He pounded into her, his orgasm building to a painful level. "Liz, Liz, Liz, Liz, Liz. . . ."
"Liz! Liz!" Nancy Parker shouted, shaking the shoulder of her sleeping daughter.
Liz was finally jarred from her sleep-induced trance. She looked up at her mother in confusion. "Mom?" The dream with Max had been so real that Liz had expected to find herself out on the balcony with him when she awoke. But it had been just a dream after all.
"Are you feeling ok, Liz?" her mother asked, feeling her forehead and neck for fever.
"I'm fine, Mom," Liz protested as she brushed away her mother's hand. She rolled into an upright position.
"I've been trying to wake you for the last five minutes. Were you having a nightmare?"
"NO!" Liz protested wildly, her eyes wide. She realized her mother was looking at her like she had gone insane so she brought her voice down a level. More calmly she said, "No, Mom. Why?"
"Because you were moaning and thrashing about in your sleep."
Liz ducked her head to hide her blush. Between her legs she was throbbing with arousal. I'm sure I was doing a whole lot of moaning, Liz thought wryly, but it definitely wasn't a nightmare. More like a night fantasy. "I was up all night," she said in answer to her mother's question, "Claudia pulled an all nighter again."
"Maybe you should rest then. You do look tired," Nancy advised, patting Liz's knee, "I'll just tell Max-"
"Max is here?" Liz burst out, jumping from the bed. "O my god, I'm not even dressed yet!"
"Maybe you should postpone your date for another night and get some sleep," her mother suggested. Liz didn't hear her because she was frantically rifling through her closet for something to wear. "I'll go tell him you're tired and you're going to say home." Liz heard that.
"NO!" she half screamed at her mother. For the second time in ten minutes Liz had to recompose herself. "I'll be out in ten, Mom. Let him know for me. Pleeeeease!"
When Liz walked into the living room fifteen minutes later she found Max on the sofa with Claudia, playing. He was lifting their six-week-old daughter high above his head and making goo-goo noises. He brought her close to him again and let her gum his nose. They looked so incredibly cute together. Claudia's small hands were braced against Max's cheeks while he nuzzled her. "Who's daddy's girl?" he cooed in a baby voice, "Are you Daddy's girl? Are you Daddy's girl?"
Liz bit back her grin. "I thought I was Daddy's girl."
Max swiveled around, smiling when he saw her. He came to his feet carefully, holding Claudia the way Liz had taught him a week after she had come home from the hospital. He and Liz had been dating since then. In that time Max had courted her properly, bringing her flowers, calling her on the phone, writing her silly, little love notes. Max had even asked her to go steady with him although he'd felt like a fool doing it seeing as how they had a kid together. But Max had to admit that he was filled with elation to be dating Liz like a normal guy.
Initially, they hadn't been able to do much because Liz was still recuperating from delivery. However when Claudia had turned three weeks old Liz and Max had their first official date since they broke up in California. They'd gone to the local ice cream shop and talked. Max had brought her home early and given her a kiss on the cheek goodnight. Liz had said that she wanted to take things slowly and Max was doing everything he could to oblige her. But man, oh man, was it killing him. Not that he made any attempt to make it any easier on Liz. If he had to suffer, so did she.
"Are you ok?" Max asked, looking at Liz in concern. "You look tired."
"You're holding the culprit right there," Liz said, pointing at Claudia. She walked over and gave her cooing daughter a kiss. "Hey pudding, are you playing with Daddy?"
"We were talking about Mommy, weren't we, Claudie?" Max asked his daughter, "We were wondering what was taking her so long."
Liz smiled. "I'm ready now. Let me go get Mom."
After they had taken in a movie Liz and Max walked down the near empty streets of Roswell chatting. It was close to midnight, but it was the weekend and neither one of them had anywhere pressing to be. The night was slightly foggy and it was hard to see each other through the mist. They held hands like lovers. Max found himself filled with a happy contentment just being so close to her, smelling her perfume.
"What are you thinking about?" Max asked her when she fell quiet.
"Just that I like spending time with you, Max."
Max pulled her close to his side. "Me too."
"But I was thinking. . ."
"We've made a lot of progress in the last six weeks, don't you think?"
"I think we've become much closer, Liz," Max agreed.
"Well, that being the case," Liz said slowly, coming to a stop on the sidewalk, "Maybe we should make love."
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 25-Oct-2002 2:42:26 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:38:48 PM by Deejonaise|
Liz's suggestion stopped Max in his tracks. Max's mouth fell open in shock. He could not have heard her right. Liz wanted to make love? Not that he was looking a gift horse in the mouth, but, damn, where did that come from? "Liz?"
"I want you to make love to me, Max," Liz said emphatically. Her words were velvet, seductive.
Max had difficulty swallowing. "B-But you said-"
"I know what I said, Max, and we've taken things slow enough." Liz laid her hand against his chest. Beneath her palm his heart beat wildly. "Don't you want me?"
"Hell yeah," Max whispered, covering her hand with his own, "I just don't know what brought this on. It seems so sudden."
Liz pressed herself against him, sliding her body along his in a sensuous motion. "Kiss me, Max," she coaxed quietly against his neck, "Make love to me."
Max couldn't breathe. She was too close. Her proximity was overwhelming him, making him dizzy. She swirled her tongue along the delicate skin at Max's throat, sucking it tenderly. Max's body responded immediately, hardening and heating with desire. "We should. . .get . . .a . . .room."
She shook her head, a playful smile floating on her lips. "I want you now," Liz insisted. She reached forward and began slowly unbuttoning Max's shirt.
"Liz!" Max exclaimed, pushing her into a dark corner and at the same time trying to still her roving hands. "We're on a public street! Anyone can drive by and see us."
"I don't care," Liz said, thrusting her hips against him. She rolled them in slow, sensual circles. Max gritted his teeth in the effort to control himself. Liz pouted and licked his chest where his shirt was open. "I want you inside me, Max."
She looked up at him, allowing him to see the unhidden desire in her eyes, how much she wanted him. Max felt his pulse speed up. "Where is this coming from, Liz?" Max asked in confusion.
"I've already given you my heart, Max. Now let me give you my body."
It was true. Liz had given him her heart. For the longest she hadn't been sure if she could trust him with her heart. She didn't like the ping-pong game he did with her and Tess. Liz wanted Max to make a choice and let that choice be the one he stuck with no matter what. And Max made his choice. He chose Liz. She knew he didn't want to be with anyone besides her. Max had spent weeks proving it to her.
He had chased her. For the two weeks Maria had stayed after Claudia's birth Liz had spent the majority of her time with Maria and the baby. When she saw Max it was when he came to the Crashdown in the evenings after work. And he would stay there until the restaurant closed, playing with Claudia and watching Liz when he thought she wasn't looking. Liz and Maria had laughed about how Max's behavior was reminiscent of high school when he used to sit in the Crashdown and watch her all day. Only this time around he actually spoke to her. He sent her flowers and wrote her love poems. Liz had to admit that he laid it on pretty thick. But Liz had loved every moment of it.
Everything was finally going back to the way the way it was before, only better this time. She and Max were in love again. Not that they'd ever fallen out of it. They were just disillusioned with one another. Now everything was perfect, well almost perfect. She wanted to have Max in every way, body and soul. Liz realized that she didn't want to wait anymore. She had waited long enough.
Liz licked her lips and gazed up at Max, her eyes full of love and lust. "Take me back to the jeep, Max." Max knew exactly what she was asking for. Without a word, he grabbed her hand and together they made a break for the jeep. They ran with the abandon of children, laughing the entire way. When they reached the jeep Max pinned Liz against it, kissing her wildly. He couldn't help but smile as he kissed her, loving her more than he'd ever dreamed possible.
They stumbled back into the jeep, undressing each other as they did. In the dimness, Max tentatively pushed Liz's shirt from her shoulders. He was speechless to see her beautiful body gleaming in the light reflected from the park light above the jeep. He trailed his hand down the slope of her breast, watching Liz's face as he touched her. And then he kissed her again, reaching behind her and unhooking her bra. He caressed her bare back for a moment before moving around to her front to caress her breasts. Liz moaned at the contact.
She likewise removed his shirt, kissing his chest, his strong shoulders. Max pulled her clip from her hair, causing the dark mass to rain down like a waterfall. Since he had first seen how long her hair had grown Max had dreamed of being enveloped in her hair while they made love. Now that dream was going to come true.
In the close confines of the jeep they both removed their clothing and tossed them in a pile in the front seat.
Max caught his breath at the sight of Liz's naked body. He noted the changes in her since giving birth. Her breasts were fuller, her hips slightly more flared. There was a cute little pink stretch mark on her belly. Max touched it with his finger and then lifted his eyes to Liz's face.
"I don't look the same," she told him softly, regretfully.
"I like it," he whispered, coming closer, kissing her neck. He took her hand and brought in down between their bodies, curving her hands around his rigid arousal. At contact with his fiery skin Liz moaned. She had thought she would never touch him like that again. To know that she was caressing him, that he was kissing her and after so long, brought tears of bittersweet joy to Liz's eyes.
Again they made eye contact as Liz eased herself onto Max's lap. Her fingers skimmed over his face remembering all the previous times she'd touched him, all the times they'd made love. "I love you," she told him sweetly, whisper-soft.
"I've waited and waited for this moment, Max."
"Are you sure, Liz? I don't want to hurt you. I don't want you to regret anything that happens between us."
Her expression was earnest, her words heartfelt when she said, "I could never regret anything between us, Max. This is where I belong."
Her sweet words touched him, made tears come to his eyes. He kissed her mouth softly, moaning as he felt her push her center against his arousal. "We should be in a bed," he groaned as he ran his tongue along her bottom lip.
"I. . .," Liz gasped, positioning him at her entrance, ". . .can't. . .," she eased herself down on the tip, holding her breath as she felt him stretch inside her body, ". . .wait." She enveloped him fully, feeling a slight pinch as he pushed inside her.
For a moment they were still, just enjoying the feel of their flesh joined together. Sighing, becoming one. They were one. They had always been. Max lifted higher within Liz wanting to be deep, as deep as he could possibly go. He wanted to touch her heart.
Liz dug her fingernails into his shoulders; riding him in the rhythm he had taught her so long ago. Their movements were steady, deliberate, focused on giving and receiving pleasure. It was facile, fluid. It was heaven. Max increased the speed of his thrusts, biting his lip to keep control of himself. He didn't want to lose himself to an orgasm before Liz. He was determined to wait for her.
A fine sheen of sweat broke out over Max's body. It became very slick between their bodies. They slid against each other. Liz's body swallowed him over and over again. He braced her hips against him and drove into her in quick shallow motions. Whimpering moans escaped Liz as her orgasm began to take hold.
Their lips met in one last desperate kiss before they came together in a shattering climax. Max cried out Liz's name in a long, serrated moan. He shook uncontrollably, his body racked with wave after wave of blinding pleasure.
Liz collapsed against him, smiling into his perspiration soaked neck. "Baby. . ." she whispered, unable to think of more to say. She was speechless. She was exhausted.
Max stroked her spine, her damp hair. "Are we finished?"
Liz lifted her head to look at him. "Do you want to be?" Inside her she felt him stirring to life, hardening again. Liz giggled, low and sexy. "I guess that answers that question."
Max chuckled, burying his hand into her hair. "Yeah, I guess it does."
Max gave Liz a long, passionate kiss as he backed them through the door of the Crashdown. Their kiss lingered on before they reluctantly broke apart. Max gazed down at Liz, his breathing heavy. "Wow," he said because he couldn't think of anything more eloquent to say. He was holding Liz! She was finally in his arms again! Max could hardly contain himself. They had made love in the back of his jeep over and over. He felt exhausted, exalted, his heart full to bursting with joy and love. Max never wanted to let her go again.
Liz's lips curved into a seductive smile. "I take your speechless reaction to mean that you're pleased with tonight's events."
"You could say that," Max replied thoughtfully, wrapping his arms around her waist, and bringing her closer against his body. "I planned on dinner and a movie then got you for dessert. Not that I'm complaining. . . I'm on top of the world right now."
"Well, I'm glad everything is to your satisfaction, Mr. Evans," Liz teased, her hands drifting downward to cup his buttocks. She squeezed one taut cheek playfully.
"Have I told you how beautiful you are tonight?"
"The night's not over yet. . ." Liz whispered into his jacket.
Max dipped his head to nuzzle her sweet-smelling neck. "And you smell so good. . ."
"Hmmmm," Liz moaned.
"I love you so much, Liz."
"I love you. . . .Max. . .I love you." They shared a wet, open-mouthed kiss but before the passion between them could blossom further Max pulled away. He looked at Liz, his expression abruptly solemn. "So what happens now, Liz," he asked her.
"What happens now?" Liz repeated blankly. She still hadn't registered that he'd stopped kissing her.
"What happens between us now?" Max clarified, "I mean, I know what I want, but what about you?"
"Max, you know that I want to be with you."
"But what else?" Max persisted. Before she could answer he took her hand and led her over to his usual booth. Liz watched him with unconcealed worry as he motioned for her to sit down. The moment he joined her he pulled her against his side, stroking her shoulder until the tension eased from her. "First of all, I want to assure you that I don't regret anything that happened between us tonight."
He felt Liz expel a sigh of relief and it made him smile. "But," he continued on, "I've been thinking a lot lately, about you and me."
Liz tried not to be alarmed by his words, but her heart was beginning to flutter. "What have you been thinking about, Max?"
"Liz, we're twenty-two years old. We just had a baby. You're still staying at home with your parents and I'm about to wear out my welcome at Michael's apartment."
Liz sighed and sat away from him. "You're right. And my original plan still stands, you know to transfer to the University of Albuquerque? Unless you've got something else in mind."
Max took a deep breath. "Actually I do."
"Well. . ."
"I was thinking we could get married, Liz."
Liz's expression slackened. If he'd jumped up and started clucking like a chicken she could not have been more startled. "What did you say?"
"I said. . .," Max began, reaching into his jacket and extracting a velvet box. He flipped back the top to reveal a gleaming diamond set in a platinum band, "Will you marry me, Liz Parker?"
Liz felt her eyes fill with tears of joy and she clapped her hands over her mouth in shock. "Oh my god!" she gasped, her words muffled behind her hands.
Max could see the tears shining in her eyes and they caused his heart to contract. "Well what do you say?" His eyes were hopeful, trusting, wanting. There was a part of him that feared Liz would reject him. She had forgiven him for leaving her pregnant and alone but Max had yet to forgive himself. No matter what had transpired between them they had spent three years of their lives together, he could have at least done her the courtesy of sticking by her side. After all she had endured because of him she had deserved that much, more in fact. Max hoped fervently that she would accept his proposal. He planned to spend the rest of his life making up for his callous treatment.
He held his breath, waiting for her answer.
Liz gently took his face between her hands and gave him a tender kiss. "Yes," she whispered tearfully, "Yes! Yes! YES! I will marry you, Max Evans!"
Max laughed, overcome with emotion and feeling slightly embarrassed by it. "Well, I'm glad to see all those overtime hours I put in at Dad's office weren't a waste," Max joked, his voice hoarse with love and unshed tears.
Liz pulled back slightly, kissing his cheeks, his eyes. "Put it on me?"
With shaky hands Max removed the ring from the box and took Liz's hand. The moment he slid the platinum onto her finger was wrought with meaning and emotion for the both of them. Max fought against getting too choked up. Liz stared at her carat diamond in awe. And then she looked up at Max, amazed and bewildered. "You had this in your pocket all night?"
"Well, I planned to propose to you earlier this evening, but you kind of changed plans."
Liz ducked her head, pinkening slightly. "I did, didn't I? I practically jumped you, Max."
Max reached forward and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I didn't mind it so much," he whispered, "In fact I wouldn't mind if you jumped me now."
Liz's eyes became hooded. "You wouldn't, huh?"
"Not at all."
Their faces were within inches of each other. When their mouths the contact was light, teasing. Max angled Liz back against the wall of the booth, deepening his kiss. For the second time that night they began to undress one another, occasionally throwing cautious glances toward the staircase to make sure they weren't discovered. Liz ran her hands longingly all over Max's body, caressing his shoulders and back. Somehow, in between wild kisses and torrid caresses, they made it on top of the table and that's where they made love, heedless to their surroundings.
Liz dug her heels into the top of the table while Max drove steadily inside her, biting her lip to keep from crying out loud. Max grunted, struggling to keep quiet himself, but his head was swimming with passion for Liz. In the end they had to muffle their cries into each other's mouths. Later they snuck upstairs to Liz's room, tiptoeing down the hall to keep from waking her parents.
In Liz's bedroom they took a moment to gaze at their sleeping daughter lying in her crib before drifting over to Liz's bed. They undressed one another slowly, savoring the moment, caressing one another. When they made love this time it was unhurried, lazy. Their union was slow, deep, and wonderful. When it was over a breathless Liz flopped over onto her stomach, snuggling against Max's side. She drew lazy circles in his chest with her finger.
"Are you sleepy?" she asked.
"No. Are you?"
"I couldn't possibly close my eyes right now." She held up her hand. Her ring glittered in the darkness. "This had to cost you a fortune."
"You don't even want to know. I'm going to be paying for that for the rest of my life," Max laughed.
"I'll bet," Liz said, half-serious, "So when do you want to do it? Get married, I mean."
"Well, spring semester for the University of Albuquerque starts in three weeks so I was thinking sometime in the next week or so. We really don't have time for anything big and fancy."
"I didn't want anything big and fancy," Liz said as she looked up at him, "I just want you."
The smile Max bestowed on her was soft and loving. "Ok, then how about a week from now?"
"On one condition. . ."
Max gave her a suspicious look. "What?"
"I want everyone to be there. Michael, Maria, Isabel, and Alex."
An uncomfortable look creased Max's forehead. "That might not be such a good idea, Liz."
"Did you not notice all the tension in the room after you had Claudia? There is a lot of animosity between the four of them. Having them all in the same room on our wedding day is like setting off a bomb in the middle of the ceremony. It would be very, very bad."
"I just want them to be as happy as I am right now, Max. You saw Isabel. It's obvious that she still loves Alex and I know that he still loves her because he told me."
"What about Maria?" Liz gave him a "duh" look. "You think she still has feelings for Michael?" Liz nodded.
"Does he have feelings for Maria? Uh. . .yeah you could say that, but he tries to pretend he doesn't. Why do you think he joined the police academy right after she left for New York? I think he just wanted to do something crazy because he hurt so much.” Max paused to caress her cheek and look lovingly into her eyes. It was as if he were sympathizing with Michael’s pain, as if he were silently telling Liz that he understood just what hell Michael had endured and was still enduring. He was silently communicating to Liz just how deeply he loved her. “When he found out Maria and Alex were living together he put his fist through the wall," Max confided quietly, "You're not supposed to know that, Liz, so don't go repeating it."
"Oh my god."
"So you see there's a lot of emotion there. . ."
"Can't we at least try?" Max looked into her pleading brown eyes and crumbled.
"Ok. But I'm warning you, it won't be pretty."
Liz smiled and kissed his chest. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Liz whispered, her hand drifting down his torso to cup his manhood. Max moaned, hardening at her gentle touch.
"Liz, don't start. . .I can't stay. . . ."
Liz kissed her way down his chest, following the path of her hand. She looked up at him when her lips were a mere scant inches from his sex. "Isn't there anything I can do to convince you to stay?" she whispered playfully.
Max gulped, his breathing becoming shallow. "There. . .is. . .one thing. . ."
Liz took him into her warm, eager mouth, delighting in his gasp of pleasure.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Oct-2002 2:48:18 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:47:29 PM by Deejonaise|
(Albuquerque, New Mexico)
"So what do you think?"
Liz paused in her perusal of the two-bedroom apartment to glance at Max, who had asked her the question between baby coos to their daughter. Liz smiled to see the two of them together. Claudia was a miniature of her father, right down to the curve of her ears. It made Liz's heart ache to witness how in love Max was with their baby. To see the obvious adoration Max had for their child made Liz love him all the more. Max was a devoted father. Liz was certain he would be an equally devoted husband.
Her smile widened as she thought of the apartment. It was larger than the one they'd had in California, but ironically then rent wasn't all that much of an increase. And this was in spite of the extra bedroom. The apartment also had a small patio with sliding glass doors.
In California they'd had a balcony because they lived on the second floor, but Liz hadn't liked it much. She definitely preferred the patio. In fact she liked everything about the apartment Max had chosen for them, right down to the carpet.
Max watched Liz. His expression was hopeful, in expectation of her answer. Liz gave the apartment one last once-over before bringing her gaze back to Max. "I love it," she told him, still smiling, "but then you already knew that I would, didn't you?"
Max sagged with relief. He smiled in return, dipping his head to give her a tender kiss. "Let's just say I had the fervent hope. . ." Max whispered, kissing her again. Claudia gurgled between them, startling them apart. They both laughed. Liz kissed her daughter's silky, brown curls. "She's jealous of anyone who takes away her daddy's attention," Liz whispered playfully.
Max lowered his head for another kiss. "Well, she's just going to have to get used to it where you're concerned."
Before Max could kiss her again, however, the groundskeeper who had showed them the apartment cleared his throat. "Have you folks decided?" he asked them pleasantly, but it was apparent that he was not up for watching a make-out session between them.
Liz looked at Max expectantly. "Max?"
Max looked from Liz's glowing face to the groundskeeper then back to Liz again. She was nodding her head wildly. A slow grin spread across Max's face and without ever taking his eyes from hers he said, "We'll take it."
The drive back to Roswell was a quiet and cozy one. Liz dozed in the front seat while Claudia napped quietly in the back. Max occasionally took his eyes off the road to glance at them both sleeping so sweetly. His girls. Max felt his chest swell with love. In just three days he and Liz would be married! Married! God, he could hardly believe it. Six months ago he hadn't even believed it would be possible for them to be friends and now. . . Max was just so grateful to have her back in his life again. He had been a fool to let her go in the first place. He wouldn't make that mistake a second time.
Tonight Liz's parents were throwing them an engagement party at the Crashdown and they had invited everyone. Though Nancy Parker was still not Max's biggest fan her attitude towards him was considerably less frosty. It was the best Max could hope for at the moment. Besides Max knew that he had hurt her daughter terribly. He hadn't needed a firsthand account to know that Liz's first months of pregnancy had been hell without him there. And Nancy Parker had witnessed that misery up close and personal. Max could only imagine how he would feel if someone hurt Claudia the way he'd hurt Liz. He'd want to kill the bastard. And so Max knew that it would be a long, an extremely long, a horrendously long, long time before Nancy Parker forgave him.
However, Liz's mother wasn't the only one who had mixed emotions when it came to his and Liz's upcoming nuptials. Michael especially had a problem with it because of how their marriage was affecting Tess. In the last three years Michael had come to regard Tess as his sister and he did not like seeing her hurt. Although Michael was happy that Max and Liz were back together he didn't like that their reunion came at the expense of Tess' heart. Max knew that and accepted it.
Max's own parents also had some doubts concerning his marriage. They were unsure of Max's motives for marrying Liz. Max supposed that they were probably wondering if he was acting out of a sense of duty or if he was really in love with Liz. After all, he had been living with another woman less than two months earlier. Max mentally kicked himself another countless time for ever taking up with Tess in the first place. He had sure made a lasting mess of things.
However, Max was confident that once his parents witnessed the bond that he and Liz shared they would be assured of his feelings for her. They would realize that Max loved Liz more than anything, more than his very existence. Ironically, the only ones who seemed truly happy about the marriage were Isabel, Alex, and Maria. And the three of them were barely speaking to one another! Max had the sinking suspicion that their wedding day was going to be a day from hell.
"You look like you're thinking really hard."
Max jerked his eyes from the road to Liz, who was suddenly very awake. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes, stretching languorously as she did. For some reason Max found her movements strangely provocative. He felt himself grow hard. "I was just thinking about our wedding and how I wish we were married now."
"Really? You do?"
"I love you, Liz." The words were a soft whisper. He reached across the jeep to caress her cheek, his eyes dark with desire. "I can't wait to make you my wife."
Max's gaze swiveled back to hers. He gave her a startled smile. "What are you talking about?"
"I’m talking about eloping. Why don't we elope?" Liz clarified softly.
Max laughed, shaking his head. "You're nuts, you know that? You're such a kidder."
"I'm not joking."
"Yeah, right. And what about our families, our friends? Hello?" Max snickered. "Yeah, elope. Sure."
"Why does that seem so ridiculous to you?"
"Your parents are busting their asses to throw us a big wedding and in a short period of time, might I add."
"Which I didn't ask for," Liz shot back.
"Liz, you're talking crazy."
"What's crazy? We have the license so what's stopping us?"
Max looked at her, looked back at the road, then back to Liz again. What was stopping them, he wondered. A thoughtful frown furrowed his forehead. "You're serious, aren't you?"
Liz reached across the jeep, caressing his shoulder, her eyes speaking volumes of love. "Marry me, Max. Today."
Max balanced Liz in his arms while he slid the key into the door of the hotel room.
"You don't have to do this," Liz told him, kissing his temple, "To carry me is one thing, but while I'm holding Claudia?"
Max grinned at her. "Hey nothing about our courtship has been normal so why start now? Taa-daa," he sang as he pushed open the hotel door. He gratefully lowered Liz to her feet. As she sauntered over to one of the double beds and laid their sleeping daughter on the mattress, Max smiled. "You're not as light as I remember," Max teased. He crept up behind her and gave her a soft kiss on the back of her neck.
Liz purred. "Maybe you're just not as strong as you used to be," Liz teased back.
Eloping had taken all of twenty minutes. Despite the fact they were only thirty minutes away from Roswell Max and Liz had stopped off at a little hotel to consummate their marriage. Although they'd had plenty of sex since their reunion and even more before that Liz thought that there was something to be desired about making love once you were married. She looked down at Max's arm looped around her waist, smiling when she saw his gold wedding band gleaming on his finger. She looked at her own and smiled even wider. That morning she hadn't known what possessed her to bring their wedding rings along with her to Albuquerque. Now she was glad she had. She supposed she had wanted them to elope the whole time.
Max nuzzled her temple through her hair. "What now, Mrs. Evans?" He loved the way that sounded.
"I don't know. You tell me. You're the one who stopped off in the drugstore."
"Condoms," Max whispered seductively in her ear, "I love Claudia, but we don't need anymore babies right now."
He traced his tongue around the curve of her lobe.
"I agree," Liz moaned, her body beginning to tingle with sensation. She suddenly turned around in his arms. "Is that all you got in the drugstore? That bag looks awfully bulky to just have condoms in it. Or did you get the economy pack?"
"For your information, Miss Smart-Aleck, I bought a deck of playing cards as well."
Max's grin turned wicked. "Up for a little strip poker?" He wiggled his eyebrows like Groucho Marx and Liz laughed. "So what do you say, sweetheart?"
Liz's eyes became dark, sexy. "You're on."
They curled up on the unoccupied bed and Max spread out the deck. "How do you want to go? Deuces wild?"
"Why not?" Liz teased, "You can't win any other way."
"Why don't you put your money where your mouth is, Evans, or should I say, your clothes."
"Eat me," Liz whispered to him cockily.
Max snapped his teeth at her, growling playfully. "I will." And with that wicked promise he shuffled the deck and dealt the cards.
Liz's grin was wide and ribald. "Looks like you're all nekkid, Max. You lose," she gloated with a jaunty smile.
Although she was down to only her bra and panties she felt triumphant having Max sit there in nothing at all.
Max abruptly swept the cards from the bed and sprang onto Liz, pinning her beneath him. "Somehow I don't feel like a loser at all," he whispered hotly.
Liz ran her hands up the sides of Max's body so that her arms hooked underneath his. She spread her legs wider allowing him to settle against her soft center. Feeling his hot arousal against her caused her to gasp softly. Liz looked up into his eyes staring down at her, swimming with an emotion so intense her breath froze momentarily in her chest.
"Max?" she whispered tentatively. Suddenly everything between them had gone quietly serious.
"Do you have any idea just how much I adore you?" Max asked her softly, "I am so sorry that I hurt you, Liz." He framed her face with his hands, burying his fingers in her soft hair. His eyes glistened and his voice shook with emotion as he continued achingly, "I have never loved anyone the way I love you, Liz. I want us to be together forever."
Liz reached forward to touch his chin. She caressed the fullness of his bottom lip with her index finger. "I hurt you, too, Max. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself for-"
"Shh," Max interrupted softly, "Don't say that. I don't blame you for what happened anymore. I even understand why you did it."
Liz's face crumpled with emotion, but she swallowed back the sob that rose in her throat. She rubbed the gold hoop in his ear between her fingers. "I don't deserve you, Max."
"No, Liz," Max countered tenderly, "I don't deserve you."
When he kissed her their tears mingled together. Max's touch was soft and gentle as he brought his hand down between their bodies unsnap the front of Liz's bra. He deliberately peeled back the layers of satin to reveal her breasts in the glow of the setting sun. Across the room Claudia began to snuffle in her sleep. Max and Liz waited with suspended breaths, praying she wouldn't wake up. After a few tense moments the baby finally settled down again and began to snore softly. Max expelled a sigh of relief.
He looked back at Liz, his eyes darkening with desire once again. Liz ran her fingers down his bare chest, her nails scraping over his nipples. She lifted off the bed, kissing his throat. Max moaned softly, pushing the straps of Liz's bra from her shoulders, his hands sliding down her smooth back. Their breathing became deep and heavy. Max kissed a burning trail down the slope of her neck, over the curve of her breast until he reaching her rigid nipple.
He nipped at the turgid peak once, twice, before taking it into his mouth and sucking gently. His eyes widened in surprise when he tasted the warm, sweet rush of Liz’s breast milk. But instead of pulling away, he closed his eyes and sucked harder, greedy for more. Liz writhed beneath him, arching her back off the bed to push her nipple deeper into his mouth. After long caressing moments Max finally lifted his head and stared down into Liz’s eyes. “I love you,” he whispered, dipping his head for another slow kiss as he and Liz worked together to free her from her panties.
When they were both naked they scrambled under the blankets, eager to press their naked bodies close together. "I feel like this is our first time," Max whispered meaningfully. He ran his hand down the length of her arm, leaving a glowing trail in its wake. Liz smiled. He hadn't done that to her since they were in high school.
"Me too," Liz admitted as she kissed his chest, running her open mouth across his hardened nipples. They kissed again, their bodies straining to be closer until Max was once again between Liz's legs. At the touch of her heated wetness, Max jerked back. He lifted his head, panting hard. "I'm trying to go slow."
"I know," Liz sympathized while simultaneously gripping his buttocks to bring him closer against her. Max paused momentarily to rip open one of the hated foil packages. After he had slipped on the latex he settled himself back against Liz. His tongue plumbed the inside of her mouth, plunging quick and deep.
"I want you so much," Max gasped, rocking against her. His penis would barely penetrate her silky wet entrance before he would pull back. He kept on teasing her that way, penetrating her body a fraction on an inch deeper every time he rocked forward.
"You're. . .teasing me!" Liz ground out, straining against him. Her nails dug into his flesh. She braced her feet against the back of his calves, her arches resting perfectly against the rounded muscle.
"Do you want me, Liz?" Max demanded raggedly.
Abruptly, Liz flipped Max onto his back and straddled over him. With her hands she guided his smooth, throbbing length inside her. Max arched off the bed, sending himself as deep as he possibly could into Liz's warm, wet flesh. Their eyes met in an electric stare as Liz ground down on him. Their breathing was loud and labored.
Liz bit down on her lip, riding Max deliberately, undulating her body back and forth on top of his. Max's hands raced over her shoulders, her breasts, her thighs. "Yeah. . .yeah, Liz," he coaxed, ". . .like that. . .oh god. . .oh god. . .like that." Max let her have all the control, determining the rhythm and how deep she wanted him to penetrate.
He could feel the excitement in her building as she increased her tempo. The bed began to squeak with the force of her movements. Liz collapsed against Max's chest as she frantically bucked against him. Dazed with the pounding desire to make her come, Max revoked his earlier decision to allow her complete control. He grabbed her hips, holding her captive as he speared inside her again and again. Their bodies became slick with sweat.
Liz's fingers curled into the bed sheets and she bit down hard as her orgasm began to streak through her body, causing her to convulse again and again. Max slammed himself into her hard, his cry of pleasure escaping him in a long, serrated moan. For a few moments they remained pressed against one another, their bodies so close it was impossible to discern where Max began and Liz ended. Gradually, however, they moved apart. Liz rolled over onto her side to rest against Max.
When Liz's breathing finally evened out she said, "Sometimes it just blows me away, you know. . ."
"What does?" Max whispered, brushing her damp hair away from her face.
Liz's tear filled eyes met his. "How much I love you."
Max kissed her forehead, her eyelids. "I love you, Liz. I've never loved anyone else but you."
"I know," Liz said softly, "I've always known that." They were quiet for a long while, just holding one another, their hands sliding over each other lazily. Eventually, Max's breathing became deep and even and Liz knew he was about to fall asleep. She shook him slightly. "We should go now, Max. Everyone's waiting for us at the Crashdown."
Max pouted. "We could call and tell them we got delayed and we're staying overnight in Albuquerque."
"I'm tired, Liz," he whined petulantly, "You wore me out."
"We can't stay, Max. We don't have enough pampers for Claudia. . .and she's gonna wake up soon, you know."
"This was some honeymoon," Max complained with a smile.
"I'll make it up to you," Liz promised, pressing a soft kiss to his mouth, "I'll even drive back. You can sleep in the jeep."
"Well, aren't you a sweetie?" Max teased softly, rubbing against her. Liz felt his arousal probe against her thigh.
"Max!" Liz moaned in exasperation.
"Just one more time and then we'll leave," Max wheedled. He didn't wait for her reply, but was already positioning himself above her. Liz grinned up at him, shaking her head.
"You're incorrigible, you know that."
Max nodded in agreement without the least bit of shame. "It's true. I am. And you know you love it," he whispered, thrusting inside her.
Liz licked his neck, pumping against him. "Aren't you glad you taught me to drive a stick?" Liz teased wickedly between moans.
Max half groaned, half laughed. "Oh god, yes!"
When Max and Liz entered the Crashdown an hour later, they were exhausted and wrestling with their suddenly very awake daughter. Liz's mother descended on them instantly, plucking her granddaughter from Liz's arms. "Where have you two been?" she demanded, glaring at them, "You should have been here half an hour ago!"
"We got caught up in Albuquerque, Mom," Liz explained lamely. She looked to Max for help but he was standing there, dead on his feet, too tired to come up with a plausible excuse.
"Well, that's ok. No one's due to arrive for another hour or so. I was just a little frantic because I expected you back sooner."
"Why isn't everyone here yet?" Liz asked in confusion.
"I figured you two might be a little longer than you planned in Albuquerque so I pushed back the time for the party."
Nancy Parker looked back and forth between the fatigued faces of her daughter and her fiancé. They could barely stand up straight. She felt a smidge of guilt for being so hard on them. "You guys look beat. Why don't you sit down and catch your breath and I'll take care of Claudia. Agreed?"
Max and Liz could only nod gratefully. After she had disappeared into the kitchen with Claudia they fell into their usual booth. Liz cuddled up against Max's side as they slumped together in the seat. "We'll just catch a little nap before the party. Deal?" Max said, yawning. Liz didn't even nod in agreement. She was already asleep.
It seemed Max had just barely closed his eyes when he heard his name being called. Reluctantly, he shook off the clinging tendrils of sleep and opened his eyes. He froze, blinking his eyes several times. The image before him didn't change at all. He cast a furtive look at Liz to be sure that she was still asleep. She was, thank god! Max lifted his head and frowned with displeasure.
"What are you doing here, Tess," he asked in a steely, calm voice.
"I need to talk to you, Max," she said softly, "It's important."
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Oct-2002 2:53:20 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 1:59:33 PM by Deejonaise|
Liz continued to pretend to be asleep even though her stomach was churning as Max laid her gently against the cushions of the booth as he eased to his feet. She forced the tension to ease from her body so that she wouldn't alert Max to the fact she was awake. Her heart began pounding crazily but she drew a small comfort from feeling Max press a tender kiss to her temple.
Max rounded on Tess, his voice low and angry when he said, "You've got a lot of nerve showing up here, Tess. This is an engagement party for me and Liz in case you didn't know!"
"I know what is it is, Max!" Tess snapped, dragging all ten of her fingers through her blonde curls. "Do you think I would come here if it weren't really important?"
Max folded his arms across his chest in a defensive action. "I don't know. You tell me."
Tess cast a nervous look towards Liz's sleeping form and then at the door of the Crashdown. It was already 7:45 by the wall clock and Tess knew that their party was due to start at 8:00. She glanced back at Max, immediately lowering her gaze because he looked like he wanted to strangle her. But she didn't care. This was her last chance to win Max back and she was willing to do anything to get him. She concentrated hard and managed to dredge up a fair amount of tears. Somehow she managed a genuine look of agony when she met Max's gaze again. "Maybe we should go somewhere more private. . ." she prompted slowly.
"Say whatever you have to say right here, Tess, or get the hell out now."
Tess resisted the urge to stamp her foot in frustration. He wasn't being the least kind or sympathetic to her situation at all. She was sure he'd change his tune once she dropped her little bombshell, however. But still she had to keep up the pretense. "Max, please. . ." she pleaded, her crystal blue eyes swimming.
But instead of softening Max her tears annoyed him. Oh god, why did she have to show up now, Max thought in exasperation. He and Liz hadn't been married two hours and already there was drama. Max dragged his hands down the length of his face in a gesture of frustration. "For the love of God, just get on with it, Tess!"
"Fine," she spat, "I'm pregnant!" A satisfied smirk settled on her lips. Everything in the Crashdown seemed to temporarily stop. Max looked as if she'd just slapped him in the face.
In the booth Liz's eyes popped open and she sat straight up in the booth. "What the hell!" she exploded. Max jumped at the sound of her voice. Liz hopped from the booth, striding up to Tess until they stood nose to nose. "You're a fucking liar!"
Both girls glared at each other, looking as if they would come to blows any second. Max stood there, shocked, silent and scared. He suddenly wanted to run for cover. And just when he thought things couldn't possibly get any worse. . .they did.
The bells to the Crashdown clanged loudly as Maria DeLuca strode inside. "The fun has arrived!" she cried out in a loud, sing-song voice, her arms wide-spread.
However, her smile faded when she registered her best friend standing nose to nose with her most hated enemy while her husband to be looked on with a sick expression. Maria was thinking that none of it was good. "There's something not right with this picture," she quipped, setting her numerous bags on the floor. She snapped her fingers and Ed her bodyguard came instantly to attention. "Take em upstairs, will ya," she ordered without even looking in his direction. Her eyes were trained on Tess Harding.
Maria strode up to Liz, pulling her away from Tess and setting her aside. "Ok," Maria began calmly, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is your engagement party, right?"
Liz nodded jerkily, glaring at Tess. "Then what is she doing here?" Maria asked, jerking her head towards Tess.
Angry brown eyes jerked from Tess to Max and then to Maria. "She came here to tell Max she's having his baby."
Maria was floored by Liz's statement. The only thing she could think to do was to say something flippant to relieve the tension. "Damn, Max, you sure are a fertile son of a bitch!"
Her caustic comment seemed to snap everyone out of their daze. The impact of what was happening finally hit Liz and she felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach.
She pressed her hand into her mouth. "Oh my god," she whimpered. And then she did the only thing she could think of. She turned and ran upstairs for her bedroom because she couldn't stand to be where she was another second.
"Liz!" Max started after her, his expression tormented, but Maria caught his arm.
"She doesn't need to see you right now," Maria advised softly, "I'll check on Liz. You straighten things out with the Gila monster." Although he was reluctant Max did as Maria asked. He stayed downstairs even though everything inside him was screaming that he go to Liz.
Max didn't say a word until Maria had disappeared upstairs. "Are you really pregnant?" Max asked in a defeated tone. Looking at his anguished expression Tess almost confessed the truth. Almost. Someday he would understand, she told herself consolingly, she was doing this for his own good. They belonged together. He just didn't know it yet.
"I'm not trying to ruin your life, Max." She reached for his hand but he jumped out of her reach.
"Are you pregnant!" Max demanded, his voice rising with anger and despair.
Max stared at her hard, scanning her face for deceit. All he saw was tears and fear and love for him. Max's legs began to tremble and he gripped the top of a table to support himself. "It can't be mine, Tess." His expression belied his denial. His face had completely drained of color. He looked as if he were going to be sick.
"There was no one else but you, Max." Again Tess felt a pang of guilt. She wanted to comfort him, to hold him, but she knew that if she even attempted to touch him he would push her aside. Tess could wait. Max was an honorable man. He would never go through with his marriage to Liz knowing that Tess was pregnant with his child.
"I want proof," Max said quietly.
"What proof can I give you? We can't have a blood test without revealing the truth about ourselves to everyone."
"Take a pregnancy test then."
"Max, look at me," Tess ordered softly. Max met her gaze with difficulty. He felt like he was dying a slow, miserable death. With every word Tess uttered she chinked away at his heart. The only thing he could think of was Liz. Liz. Liz. Oh god, Liz. Sweet Liz, who had made such passionate love to him only two hours earlier.
Beautiful Liz who was the mother of his child. His wife.
He could feel his chest filling with a massive burning anger as he stared at Tess' earnest face. "I'm not trying to trap you, Max," Tess continued, watching him closely, "I just thought you should know the truth."
Max felt like he was in an alternate universe. He remembered those words being uttered to him before. Only they had been by Liz when she had first told him that she was pregnant. That day Max hadn't thought that any agony could match the pain that he'd felt in that moment when Liz had admitted that she wasn't sure if he was the father. The agony he felt now was unbearable in comparison. The thought that his marriage to Liz was over before it had even begun caused tears to burn in Max's throat. Max fought to remain calm, fought to reason out the situation in his head.
"If you're pregnant, Tess, that would make you almost four months along."
"That's right. . ."
"Well, you don't look pregnant. How do I know that you're telling me the truth? You've manipulated me in the past."
"I'm not manipulating you about this, Max. I love you. I don't want to hurt you."
"Well, I love Liz. Do you understand that? I love Liz!"
"I know you do," Tess conceded quietly. She and Max had played this game before and she had won. Tess knew she would win this time as well.
Max glared at her. "You still don't look pregnant, Tess."
"Look again," Tess told him softly.
Max brought his tortured gaze to Tess. She concentrated hard, implanting the vision in his head. He had to see her pregnant, see the slight changes in her breasts, the gentle curve of her abdomen. Tess put every ounce of her energy into focusing and Max saw what she wanted. He stumbled backwards, overwhelmed anew. "Oh god."
"We'll work something out, Max," Tess assured him, "I don't want to ruin your and Liz's wedding plans. What I mean is I hope you guys don't call off the wedding or something like that because of me." But that was exactly what she wanted.
"It wouldn't matter anyway. Liz and I are already married."
Now it was Tess' turn to be stunned. She actually paled. "What?"
"Liz and I got married tonight."
"You've already married her? Why? I thought your wedding was three days away!"
A slow realization began to dawn on Max. He became suddenly stiff with fury. He lifted eyes full of angry hatred to Tess. "You planned this, didn't you? You planned to break up my wedding with your little newsflash! Only you didn't count on Liz and I already being married, did you?"
Tess shook her head in denial, but she was so taken aback with shock, she couldn't hide the truth, which was plainly revealed, on her face.
"Well, your plan isn't going to work, Tess! You might be pregnant, but I'll be damned if you break up my marriage! You can see yourself out. I have things I need to discuss with my wife!" Max stalked past her without a backwards glance.
Upstairs Max hesitated before knocking on Liz's closed door. His fist hovered for several seconds before he finally let it fall and simply twisted the knob. He was afraid of facing her, but he knew better than to let the problem between them fester.
Inside the bedroom, Liz lay curled on the bed, her back to the door. Maria stroked her shoulder consolingly. At Max's entrance she glanced up. "She cried herself to sleep about ten minutes ago," Maria told him as she came to her feet.
"What did Tess say?"
Maria's face remained impassive. "Is it yours?"
Max ducked his head, feeling ashamed. "I was her first so I can believe the baby is mine," he whispered softly, "I don't think she's been with anyone else."
Maria nodded, folding her hands in front of her. "Liz, told me you guys got married tonight."
A knot of sorrow worked spasmodically in Max's throat. "We did."
"Well, this is a helluva honeymoon you've given her, Max," Maria snapped scornfully.
"Please, Maria," Max begged humbly, "I just need to be with her tonight. Please don't make me leave."
Maria felt her heart go out to him but she fought to remain neutral. "I don't think she wants you here, Max."
His eyes were full of pleading emotion. "Please, Maria. . . ."
"I'll just go downstairs and stall your guests," Maria conceded with a sigh.
After the door had clicked shut Max removed his sneakers and climbed into bed beside Liz. He curved his body around hers, spooning against her. At first she stiffened and tried to pull away but Max held her tight. "I love you," he whispered fiercely, "That hasn't changed. It won't ever change."
"Max, I can't. . ." He could hear the tears in her voice and they tore him apart. Her small frame began to shake with sobs. Max held her tighter.
"Please, let me hold you, Liz," Max pleaded in her ear, "Don't send me away."
Liz closed her eyes, tears leaking from their corners. She relaxed against him gradually. Max lifted his hand and began stroking her hair tentatively. He wondered how in two hours both their worlds could have changed so irrevocably.
After a long while they both eventually fell asleep, each one locked in their own private hell.
"Ok, where the hell are our guests of honor!" Michael Guerin demanded when, after an hour, Max and Liz had yet to show up at their own engagement party.
Michael's querulous question caused everyone present to pause. He had only voiced aloud the question that had been revolving in all their heads for the last hour. At first Maria had done a fairly good job of keeping everyone distracted to the fact that Liz and Max weren't there. But after twenty minutes the constant question in the room was, "Where's Max and Liz?" or "Has anyone seen our newlyweds-to-be?." On and on, over and over, speculation as to where they were and what they were doing circulated around the room.
Maria was exhausting herself trying to keep up the pretense. And what made matters even worse was that Tess hadn't left. The little bitch had actually remained for the party! She watched Maria with a satisfied smirk, obviously enjoying the juggling act Maria was putting on with the truth. Maria wanted to punch her.
Unfortunately, she couldn't, not while Miss Thang was in her delicate condition. Now that was really distasteful, Maria thought with a mental scowl.
Michael had stirred up the pot of speculation again and everyone was looking at Maria in expectation of her explanation. Maria resented that. Why did everyone always assume that she knew what was going on? It was true that she usually did and this situation was no different. But still Maria resented the assumption.
"Maria, do you know where Max and Liz have disappeared to?" Nancy Parker asked, hovering over Diane Evans as she rocked their granddaughter in her arms.
"The last time I saw Max and Liz they were upstairs asleep in bed," Maria admitted, fed up with keeping up the charade. She could tell them that much without revealing the whole truth. Besides it was worth the devastated expression on Tess' face to have revealed a small bit of the truth, Maria thought with an inward smile.
"Well, they were really tired when they got back," Nancy Parker commented, unconsciously backing Maria up.
"Did they find an apartment," Isabel asked anxiously, "I've been waiting to find that out all day."
Again everyone looked in Maria's direction. She rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Yes they did," Maria sighed, "In fact you all should probably know that Max and Liz eloped tonight."
The Coke Jeff Parker was sipping spewed from his mouth. "They did what?"
"Liz told me when I was upstairs," Maria clarified, smiling. She was actually getting a kick out of everyone's shocked expressions.
"But we made so many plans!" Nancy burst out, "They couldn't wait three days!"
"Well, it wasn't as if any of us were turning cartwheels over their getting married," Philip Evans pointed out reasonably to the group.
"I was happy for them," Isabel spoke up mutinously, glaring at her parents.
"And so was I," Alex seconded glumly, "Always a groomsman, never a groomsman." He muttered the last of this under his breath.
"I guess that means the party's over," Jeff declared, hopping to his feet, "I'm going to bed."
"Diane and I should be heading home as well," Philip added, "Nancy, you'll tell our son to give us a call in the morning when he wakes up?"
"Sure thing," Nancy assured.
"And we'll take Claudia with us tonight," Diane Evans added, obviously reluctant to relinquish her only grandchild, "I haven't had a chance to baby-sit yet."
"I'm too exhausted to argue, Diane. I'll just have the kids swing by and pick her up in the morning, ok."
The parents eventually all said their good-byes leaving only the young people behind. Michael's astute gaze drifted back and forth between Tess and Maria, who were occupied with throwing dirty looks in each other's direction. "Ok, you two are going to tell us what the hell is going on," Michael ordered in his usual abrupt fashion.
"Why don't you ask your sweeter than sunshine sister," Maria shot out sarcastically.
"Just what exactly are you doing here, Tess," Isabel demanded, frowning, "I know damn well Nancy didn't invite you."
"I didn't come for the party," Tess clarified, glaring at Isabel. Tess resented the fact that Isabel acted like she couldn't stand her now when at one time the two of them had been friends. "I came here to talk to Max."
"I didn't think the two of you had anything to talk about, Tess," Alex pointed out quietly, "If I remember correctly Max dumped you right after Claudia was born."
"Yup, he did," Maria seconded cheekily.
Michael tossed them both a glacial stare. "This doesn't involve either one of you," he said coldly.
"Wrong as usual, space boy," Maria shot out angrily, "When it involves Liz, it involves us."
"What involves Liz?" Isabel wanted to know, "Will someone please tell me what's going on?"
Four pairs of startled eyes swiveled to Tess. They were left speechless by her incredible statement. All except Maria, that is, who had expected her to pull just such a stunt. She narrowed her disgusted gaze on Tess' face. "You've just been itching to tell that all night, haven't you, Tessie?"
"Don't call me Tessie!"
"Make me," Maria challenged angrily. Alex grabbed her shoulders, pulling her backwards.
"Hold on there, Goldberg! She'll flatten you in two seconds."
Maria shrugged off Alex's hands in anger and annoyance. "Whatever. I guarantee you I'd get in at least two good licks before she zapped me with her alien gifts."
Michael held his hand out for silence. He regarded Tess with a dumbfounded expression. "You're pregnant?"
If Tess had found it difficult to lie to Max she found it especially more difficult to lie to Michael. Michael, her foster brother, who loved her, championed her when no on else would. He had loved her unconditionally when Max and Isabel could not, would not. Perhaps it was because she was alone, or perhaps it was because he saw some of himself within her. Tess would never know.
All Tess did know was that he'd been loyal to her ever since the pod chamber incident. He had been her best friend when she had no one else. So yes, it was difficult for her to lie to him. But she managed it anyway.
Tess nodded slowly, swallowing down the lump of guilt that rose in her throat.
Across the room Isabel scoffed, glaring at Tess with scorn. "That's such a load of crap! You're no more pregnant than I am!"
"Isabel, stop it!" Michael ordered angrily, "You're wrong about her! All of you! You've always been wrong! She is not what you make her out to be!"
"I've always been wrong?" Isabel gasped out in disbelief, "I befriended the little liar, Michael! I found out the hard way she can't be trusted!"
"She helped us save Max's life!" Michael burst out loudly.
"And she ruined it in the process!" Isabel countered just as loudly.
Michael deflated, his anger suddenly seeping away. His expression was full of supplication when he looked around at the angry, embittered faces around him. "Don't be angry with Tess because she brought you a truth that you didn't want to hear. She was just the messenger. She didn't write the message."
"Yeah, I wouldn't be too sure about that one," Alex muttered under his breath.
Maria suddenly whirled around to face Michael. She resisted the urge to slap some sense into him. "Truth? Hah!" Maria spat out sarcastically, "When has she ever uttered anything close to the truth? Tess wouldn't know the truth if it took a big, whomping bite out of her ass! She's manipulated us all from the first day she arrived in Roswell!"
"That's a lie, Maria!" Michael yelled out, stabbing his index finger at her nose, "Tess is one of us!"
"And that makes her trustworthy?" Maria burst out in angry hurt, "I saved your fucking life, and it took you months to trust me, Michael!"
"That was different, dammit!"
"Why? Because she's an alien and I'm not? That doesn't matter, Michael. I'm willing to bet that she doesn't love you half as much as I do!"
A strange hush fell over the five of them. Maria's impassioned words continued to reverberate in the emptiness of the Crashdown. It was too late for her to call them back. They were already echoing over and over in Michael's brain.
"You love me?" Michael repeated softly, all his anger draining away again for the second time in moments. Maria didn't see any point in further denial.
She was incapable of speech, however, and only managed to nod her head. "God. . .Maria. . . What about Alex?"
At his question Maria found her tongue. "Alex is still in love with Isabel, the way I'm still in love with you." Michael swallowed, feeling as if someone had just kicked his knees out from under him. "Don't you see what's she's done, Michael? She broke us all apart, not just Max and Liz."
Michael looked to Isabel helplessly but only found cold agreement stamped on her beautiful face. "But. . .it was our. . .destiny. . ."
Isabel laughed bitterly. "What destiny, Michael? You're alone. I'm alone. And Maria and Alex are alone. We've all been miserable for years and it is all her fault," Isabel accused, pointing her finger at Tess.
"But that's the past now, Isabel," Michael pointed out resolutely, "We can't change it. The fact remains that Tess is pregnant now."
"I told you. I don't believe for a second that lying little runt is pregnant!" Isabel retorted in fury, "She's playing her mind games again!"
"NO! THAT IS NOT TRUE!"
Tess had withstood all she could bear. Perhaps she could have gone through with her plan if they weren't all hammering Michael with accusations. He was standing there, defending her against them all. And she didn't deserve it. None of it. Maria had been right about one thing. She probably did love Michael a great deal more than Tess ever could. There wasn't any point in continuing anyway, Tess realized, Max was already married to Liz. Tess had enough sense to know that Max would never let Liz go no matter what happened.
Tess looked at Michael, her eyes full of silent apology. "Michael, everything their saying is true." Again every eye in the room was trained on Tess' face. "I lied. It is a mind game. I'm not pregnant."
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Oct-2002 2:58:16 AM ]
|posted on 23-Oct-2002 2:05:21 PM by Deejonaise|
Liz's eyes popped open suddenly. She registered two things at once. Only an hour and a half had passed since she'd fallen asleep and Max was curled up beside her in the bed. Sometime during their nap they had shifted positions. Liz was now sprawled on her stomach with Max lying across her back. When she first opened her eyes she saw the bright, orange numbers of her digital clock. However, with wakefulness also came realization.
Liz remembered the night's earlier events with startling clarity. She struggled to sit up, waking Max in the process.
"Liz?" He said her name hesitantly, timidly. Liz moved to sit on the edge of the bed, her head hung low. Without asking her permission Max moved to sit beside her.
"I was hoping it was all a bad dream," Liz said in a sad, muffled little voice, "But it's all true, isn't it?" She looked at Max with sorrowful brown eyes. He nodded sadly.
"This doesn't have to destroy us, Liz," he told her desperately, grabbing her hand.
"It changes everything."
"It changes nothing. I love you. You love me. We have a daughter. We're married. That's not going to ever change."
Liz looked down at their clasped hands despondently, trying not to cry. "And what about Tess and her. . . .baby?" Liz had to choke the last of that out.
"I don't love her, Liz, but I want to do the right thing about the baby."
She was touched and saddened all at once and her emotions were transmitted through her gaze. A myriad of expressions flittered across her grief-stricken face. "I knew you would say something like that."
"Does it. . . .?" Max swallowed and forced himself to continue. "Does it ruin our marriage, you know? Does it ruin us?"
Liz didn't even have to think about his question. She stroked the back of his hand with her finger. "At one time it would have, Max. I was so insecure about Tess that I felt like I was going to lose you to her every second. But I've grown a whole lot in the past ten months, Max. I know you love me. You could have never forgiven me if you didn't."
Max collapsed against her with a sob, bringing her head against his shoulder. "Oh god! I thought I was going to lose you."
Liz shook her head. "Never. It'll be hard though," she bit her lip in sadness and regret, "I felt kind of special being the mother of your child."
"You are special, Liz," Max insisted, caressing her cheek. He nuzzled his mouth against her temple. "No one is like you, Liz. No one. Claudia didn't make you special. You were special to me long before that."
"We need to go upstairs and tell Max and Liz the truth," Michael said dully after Tess had left. He felt devastated. He couldn't believe how easily she had fooled him. He had actually sided with her against the people who truly cared about him. Michael felt overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow.
Maria stroked his back lovingly, trying to comfort him as best she could. She was aching because she knew that Michael felt betrayed, but she was also happy. Things had finally gone back to the way they were before Tess Harding. Alex and Isabel stood a few feet away from them, wrapped in each other's arms while she and Michael held hands. Maria reached up to stroke Michael's hair.
"Maybe we should wait until morning, Michael," Maria suggested, "The two of them have had a helluva night. I'd really hate to disturb them."
"This is a truth I don't think can wait," Alex advised wisely, "If it were me I'd want to know right away."
"I have to agree with Maria," Isabel said softly, leaning her head against Alex's shoulder, "It can keep until morning. Just let them sleep for now."
Max and Liz sat with one another, rocking against each other in silence. "What do you want to do now?" Max asked after a long time of quiet. He would have been content to sit there and listen to her breathe for the rest of his life, but reality had to be dealt with sooner or later. Max unenthusiastically opted for sooner.
"I could really use a shower," Liz sighed tiredly. "I just feel really gritty after today." She stood up, running her hands over her face. Her features were slightly puffy from crying. She looked as if she'd just survived Gettysburg. Max felt his heart ache to see her looking so exhausted and despaired.
He nodded in understanding. It was understandable that Liz would need some time to herself, Max reasoned to himself. Look at the major changes she'd endured with a twelve-hour period. She had only been married a few hours and now they were faced with a crisis that would prove to be a major strain. "You go ahead and shower then. I'll go and check up on Claudia."
Liz bit her lip and looked away. She suddenly felt awkward, embarrassed. "I was thinking. . .," she began, wringing her hands nervously, ". . .that maybe you could join me?"
Max looked at her with startled eyes. "You mean you want me to. . .?"
She grabbed hold of his hand and brought him to his feet. "Come with me, Max."
"We tell them tonight," Michael declared with finality, "It's only fair."
"What do we do?" Isabel demanded in exasperation, "Go up there and shake them awake and say, 'Hey, Tess isn't preggers now go back to sleep?'"
Alex looked at her thoughtfully. "Why not?"
Maria spoke up. “I’m not against telling Max and Liz what’s going on, but like Isabel said, they’re probably asleep and aside from that the four of us have some things to discuss.”
“Like what?” Michael wanted to know.
“Like why we let Tess and her manipulations come between us for three years,” Isabel interjected softly.
Her eyes connected with Maria’s in a telling moment.
Under the steamy spray of the shower Max soaped a bath scrunchie and began to lovingly wash Liz's back. She closed her eyes, delighting in the feel of his gentle hands sliding over her aching body. Max stepped close behind her so that she could feel the tip of his arousal graze her backside. He trailed kisses along her shoulder and across the back of her neck. "Are you sure you want this, Liz?"
Liz thought a moment. She remembered back to when they were in high school, when she had given Max her virginity. She hadn't been ready that night. There had been so many unanswered questions for Liz and a mountain of doubts. She didn't have any doubts now. Liz was completely confident that Max loved her. She was completely sure that he was hers alone. And so with absolute contentment and conviction she turned in Max's arms and nodded.
Max groaned and hugged her close to him. Together they backed against the shower wall. Max lifted Liz off her feet so that she wrapped her legs around his waist. They looked at each other for a long moment of untold love.
Max framed Liz's face in his hands, pressing fervent kisses across her lips, her nose, her eyes. "I'll never hurt you again, Liz. I promise."
Liz laughed a little at that statement. "Of course you will, Max. You always hurt people when you love them, even when you don't mean to." She caressed his face tenderly. "That's where forgiveness comes in."
Her softly spoken words broke the control Max had been holding onto all night. "God, I love you!" he exclaimed softly.
"And I love you."
Forty-five minutes later they had straightened things out between the four of them, from why Maria had left for New York without saying good-bye to Michael to why Alex and Maria began dating one another. Three years had not done much to numb the pain, but in the time they talked a great deal of healing took place for the four of them.
When they were done talking, however, Michael’s mind automatically reverted back to Max and Liz. The four of them were all right now, but Max and Liz were still in turmoil. "I'm going up there right now," Michael said suddenly, hoping from the booth and heading for the stairs. He paused to whirl around and face Maria, Alex, and Isabel. "If I were Max I would want to know immediately. The guy has got to be in hell right now. Not to mention Liz."
"Ok, you have a point, Michael," Maria sighed in agreement, "but if they're asleep can't we just leave it until the morning?"
"Deal." They all nodded in accord.
Max stroked steadily inside Liz, gripping her buttocks to bring her closer against him. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, needing to be as close as possible. He wanted to absorb her into his body, to be absorbed inside hers. The shower water was cold now but they were hardly aware of it. Liz wrapped her legs around Max tighter and rode him hard. They came together with quiet whimpers. Liz hugged Max closer against her. She was becoming gradually aware that the shower had grown tepid. "We should get out before we freeze," she told him softly when he didn't seem inclined to move away from her.
Nodding in agreement, Max lowered her to her feet then turned around to shut off the taps. After they had dried off Max swept Liz into his arms and carried her back into her bedroom, laying her against the bed. "I'm not finished yet," he told her quietly, stroking his hand up her body.
"Me neither," Liz whispered hotly. She reached down between them to stroke his hardening penis. Their kiss was full of love and sweet passion. It went on and on while Max caressed Liz all over. He rolled over onto his back, bringing Liz with him so that she straddled his body. Liz smiled, thinking of their impromptu honeymoon earlier that night. However, before she could ease herself down onto his rigid arousal her bedroom door abruptly opened.
Max reflexively grabbed the sheet to cover their nakedness as Michael, Maria, Isabel, and Alex filled the open doorway. Their faces registered emotions veering from amusement to horror. Max and Liz looked at them in shock and embarrassment.
"So I'm assuming you guys have made up," Maria quipped in her usual manner.
Liz clutched the sheet to her bare breasts. "We're working things out," she stammered, easing off Max and rolling onto his side.
"I'll say," Isabel muttered under her breath. She was the most uncomfortable, being present in a room with her naked brother and his equally naked wife.
"What are you guys doing up here?" Liz continued, her face burning at Isabel’s comment.
Alex didn't feel such discomfort. In fact, he was in the mood to tease. Isabel was back in his life and everything was right with the world once again. He leaned his arm against the doorjamb and leveled Max and Liz with a ribald smile. "What are we doing here?" he repeated, "Apparently interrupting."
Max smiled back, in spite of his discomfiture. "Besides that, what are you doing here?"
"We came to tell you that Tess lied," Michael said simply, "She's not pregnant." He didn't see any point in skirting around the issue.
Max felt Liz slump beside him in relief. The moment seemed suddenly surreal. "But I saw. . ." Max started to protest.
"Mind game," Maria provided.
"She was lying the whole time," Isabel added quietly.
"Thank God," Liz breathed, obviously comforted, despite the earlier reassurances she and Max had made to one another. Relief and happiness glowed on all six of their faces and they took a moment to share in profound, silent bonding. It was brief, but intensely deep.
"Well," Maria said, "Now that that is finally over, we'll let you continue what. . . you were. . .uh. . .yeah." All four of them turned and left Max and Liz in privacy again.
Max turned to Liz, his heart filled with so many emotions that he couldn't name them all. "I can't believe it's over. Just like that," he told Liz softly, bringing her back against him, "I can't believe she lied to me that way."
"I'd expect something low like that from her, Max. I never trusted her."
"But I did. So what does that say about me?"
Liz kissed his chin. "That you have a forgiving heart and I, for one, am thankful that you do."
"And we're really ok?" Max asked sweetly. His eyes searched her face earnestly, as if he couldn't believe she actually still loved him, still wanted him. His insecurity touched Liz in a way that no declaration of love ever could have.
She tenderly kissed his eyes and cheeks. "Always. Tess Harding will never come between us again," Liz promised gently. She meant the words utterly.
No one would ever come between them again.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Oct-2002 3:02:35 AM ]
|posted on 25-Oct-2002 1:39:30 AM by Deejonaise|
|Okay, the sequel to this fic is called Growing Pains and it is over at Crashdown. Now the sequel to Growing Pains is still being written. I probably won't post it until after I finish writing my current story, Revising Normal.|
Sorry folks, but I'm just not one of those writers who can write two fics at one time, so bear with me.
Thanks for all the feedback from everyone!