|posted on 28-Nov-2002 10:51:08 PM by dreamer20001|
|Title: Flirting with Fate by nicolebehr|
Rating: R to NC-17
Summary: The story of that guy and girl in that show except there are no aliens! This is the crazy and wacky world of Max and Liz.
Disclaimer: Roswell characters? Nope not mine but I wish they were.
Feedback: oh yeah love it but please be kind.
Links Parts 1-31: Repost Fan Fiction or at I Shall Believe under nicolebehr in the author’s section.
[ edited 7 time(s), last at 3-Dec-2002 3:27:51 AM ]
|posted on 1-Dec-2002 2:44:09 AM by dreamer20001|
3 years later…..
“We should get a dog,” Max announced suddenly.
It was Saturday morning and we were lying in bed; his hand running absentmindedly up and down my thigh as he read the newspaper. The bagel stopped its journey to my mouth.
“A dog?” I almost choked on the cream cheese that I had been savouring.
“Yeah. I never had a pet when I was a kid.”
His face was wistful and I stared at him with surprise. He had never expressed a real interest in animals. Sure I had once suggested jokingly that I’d like a dog to keep me company when he was working late, but I had never expected him to reciprocate my desire for a four-legged friend.
“And why would you want to start now?”
He shrugged. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dog to greet us when we come home?”
“We have a toddler to do that.”
“Rob would love a dog…it would teach him responsibility.”
“Max, he’s three,” I replied dryly.
“They could grow up together,” he beamed, excited by the idea.
I had a sudden terrifying image of two rambunctious creatures destroying our tiny apartment and me running around attempting damage control. I knew this wouldn’t concern Max, so I changed tactics. As usual I was the voice of reason.
“We should wait until he’s older. It might hurt him.”
“Not if it’s a nice dog,” he replied, rolling his eyes.
“Max we’re not getting a dog. We don’t have time to look after it and we don’t have the space. Where would we keep it?”
“It could be an inside dog. We don’t need backyard…”
“Well you can clean up after it, walk it and feed it then. I’m not doing anything.”
“But I work…” he trailed off, eyes widening as he realised his mistake.
“This I know,” I replied pointedly. For the third time that week he had arrived home in the early hours of the morning.
He considered his options for a moment and I could practically see the wheels turning as he decided whether to risk further arguments about his work hours. For the first time he showed some intelligence and promptly returned to the dog idea.
“I’ll give you time to think about it.” He patted my leg with infuriating condescension.
“I don’t need time to think about it.”
“Liz you love dogs.”
“Yes I do. But it’s just not the right time.”
I was saved from further argument as a three year old mass of energy blurred into the room. He struggled onto the bed and leapt into Max’s lap.
“Ooomph,” Max groaned.
“Look!” He held out his hand and revealed a dead daddy long legs spider.
“Wow, where did you get that?” Max asked diplomatically.
“I caught him.”
Max turned to me, eyes meeting mine.
“Liz can’t you see the poor kid is crying out for a pet?”
Rob’s eyes glittered with excitement.
“Can I have a kitten?”
“No Rob, you want a puppy remember,” Max interrupted.
He shook his head fiercely, brown hair whipping across his face, “No I want a kitten.”
“We’re getting a puppy,” Max argued back.
“Daaaaaaad I wanna kitten!”
The world became surreal as I watched them argue. This had begun as a perfectly normal Saturday morning. Breakfast in bed, comfortable silence as we shared out the newspaper, exulting in the luxury of being able to stay at home.
How had it disintegrated into this madness? Where the hell had the dog idea come from? Max was so stubborn; I knew he wouldn’t forget this anytime soon. I had to plan my arguments. With Max it was all about compromise.
So how could I compromise him so that I could get my way?
My two children, the 30 year old and the 3 year old, were still arguing. Max now had him in a head lock and was tickling him. I watched my relaxing morning disappear with the summer breeze.
“We’re not getting a pet!” I yelled above the din.
Their arguing stopped abruptly and they turned to me with looks of surprise, “Liz what has gotten into you this morning?” Max asked.
I heard Rob’s hushed voice as he leaned forward to whisper to Max, “Why is Mommy mad?”
Obviously my son had inherited the majority of Max’s dense genes. I crawled out of bed and reached for Rob, “Come on buddy; lets get you some breakfast.”
“Can I have fruit loops?”
“Let’s take him to McDonalds.” Max suggested.
He received another taste of my evil glare and continued hurriedly, “No, no, bad idea. Let’s have Wheaties.”
But it was too late. A shrill voice pierced my eardrum with, “Yay McDonalds!”
“No sweetie, we’re having Wheaties and toast.”
His amber eyes flashed with anger, “But Dad said-“
I smiled briefly at Max, “Rob one day you’ll learn an important lesson. I am the boss in this house, not your father.”
Max lay back on the pillows and grinned, watching us leave. It was so typical of him to leave me to fix his mistakes.
Rob was happily scattering Wheaties throughout our kitchen when Max finally appeared dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
God he looked good. Hair ruffled, five o’clock shadow...I must not allow myself to be swayed by this...I need to stand strong.
But God he looked good.
His bare feet crunched over Wheaties and he grimaced, “Rob...try to aim for your mouth, buddy.”
I had to laugh, “Oh great advice.”
He examined the mess surrounding our son. “Life must be wonderful for a three year old.”
“You would know,” I replied with a wicked laugh, tensing my muscles in preparation for an attack.
I watched his expression turn from surprise to amusement. I must admit I didn’t put up much of a fight when he grabbed me around the waist, pulling me to his hard body.
“You’ll pay for that,” he whispered in my ear.
We’d been married five years and he could still make me go weak at the knees. Oh please, oh please, let me pay, my body screamed. Pressed against his chest I breathed deeply, God he smelled good.
He pulled away, “What are your plans for today?” he asked, giving me a smacking kiss on the cheek, his usual way of telling me that all was well with our world.
“Lunch with Alex. I told you these two days ago.”
His face was blank, “Oh...yeah...I remember.”
He shrugged, “I’ve been busy.” He thought for a moment. “Oh, see if you can get him to make an offer on Franklin.”
I felt my mouth drop open and searched for a response. “You are impossible.”
Rob was watching us intently, spoon hovering halfway to his mouth, Wheaties diving from it to the floor.
Max raised his arms, “What?”
“I’m having a casual lunch with my best friend. I will NOT talk to him about one of your cases.”
“Liz the DA’s office is refusing to budge. And Franklin is-“
I laughed, “Innocent, they always are -”
“He is!” Max insisted.
“I’m having a shower. Can you clean Rob up?”
I couldn’t help but smile at Max’s dismayed expression, “I’d much rather shower with you.”
“Oh honey you’re sooo romantic,” I teased.
As I left the kitchen I heard Max’s despairing sigh, “Oh buddy what a mess.” He raised his voice for my benefit, “You inherited your Mom’s motor skills I see.”
I felt laughter once again rising up inside me.
Life couldn’t get better than this.
Rob and I watched our favourite woman walk out the front door, yelling orders like a drill sergeant.
“Don’t give him too much sugar, if he wants a drink give him milk. If you take him to the park make sure you take...” the door swung shut behind her.
Rob turned to me eagerly.
“Lets go to the park,” I suggested.
He squirmed out of my grip and ran to his room as fast as his little legs could carry him. Within seconds he was back by my side, holding a soccer ball, a gift from Maria.
“Let’s go!” he ordered.
I couldn’t help but smile at his eagerness.
“Slight operational error there, corporal.”
His amber eyes clouded over, not understanding but hearing the resistance in my tone.
“Jammies,” I explained.
I followed him back to his bedroom and soon he was dressed and waiting by the front door. I grabbed my keys and wallet and began to lead him out.
He looked back, “Mom brings that.” He pointed to a large red bag that sat by the doorway.
I opened it up: a change of clothes, bottles of water, snack food, hats, sunscreen, wipes, towels...there was enough for an army in there.
“We don’t need that,” I told him. “Your mom would take the kitchen sink if she could carry it.”
I watched him store away the words, preparing to repeat them to Liz at the first opportunity. I should have realised she’d recruited him as a spy. He was going to get me into trouble one day.
At the park he dashed off to kick his soccer ball around.
“Look at me, Dad!”
He ran at the ball and kicked it with all his might. It landed neatly by my feet and I stared at him, impressed.
“Good kick Rob!”
Dreams skittered through my mind, Rob a champion soccer player, representing our country, the honor, the glory!
“Do you want to be a soccer player when you grow up?” I asked, waiting for the expected affirmative answer.
He shook his head, “No I want to be a policeman.”
Where did that come from?
The honor and glory were suddenly replaced with donuts and corruption. How quickly dreams could be destroyed!
He left the soccer ball by my feet and rushed over to the swings.
“Push me Dad!”
A few hours later, exhausted (well I was), we left the park.
“Want some ice cream?” I asked, spying an old fashioned ice cream parlor across the street.
Liz’s warning about sugar made an appearance in my thoughts, but was soon discarded. One little ice cream cone wouldn’t hurt him. He collected his ball and took my hand.
As it turned out, we didn’t make it to the ice cream parlor.
We stood in front of our apartment looking at each other with trepidation. I’m not sure why Rob was looking so apprehensive, but it was probably a reflection of my own terror.
“You go in first,” I urged him.
He stubbornly shook his head. I gently put down the box I was carrying.
“Rock paper scissors,” I suggested.
He grinned, “Okay!”
He put out his hand. “One, two, three”
He revealed a fist…rock, I had chosen scissors.
How could I be beaten by a three year old?
“Best of three?” I asked hopefully.
“No I won!” he yelled.
The door opened and Liz was revealed with a puzzled expression.
“I thought I heard you out here.” She spied the box at my feet and her eyes widened immediately with comprehension, “You didn’t...”
There was a yap from the box.
“You did!” She whispered menacingly.
Her temper was rising like lava from a volcano; I needed a diversion.
“How was your lunch?” I asked casually.
“Mom! We got a dog!” Rob announced excitedly.
So much for the diversion.
“Liz just hear me ou-”
Her eyes flashed with anger. I had married her for her independence and determination. Right now I wish she were a little more timid.
“You didn’t hear a word I said this morning, did you?”
“Yes I did, but let me-”
“Rob come inside.”
His face fell and he followed Liz into our apartment. I made a move to follow him and found the door closed firmly in my face and heard the lock turned.
This was not a reaction I had expected.
Silent treatment, undoubtedly.
But banishment from my home? It hadn’t even crossed my mind.
“Its just you and me, boy,” I told the dog.
I located my keys and slowly unlocked the door, swinging it open and peering inside. I could hear voices coming from the direction of the bathroom.
Rob the Spy had begun his spiel. I should have bribed him with an ice cream cone.
“The kittens were the best but daddy said ‘NO were getting a puppy’ so we looked at the puppies. They were fluffy and brown. They licked me on my face.”
Liz’s silence was chilling.
Finally I heard her respond, the curiosity dripping from her voice. “So what kind of dog is it?”
“Is it big?”
“Mom! It’s a puppy.”
“Will it grow big?”
There was silence as he considered this.
“Its fluffy,” he finally responded.
I waited in the open doorway; my son was standing naked while Liz ran the bath. She glanced my way but chose to ignore me.
“Hop in,” she instructed.
Rob saw me and practically smirked. No wonder some fathers grew irrationally jealous of their young offspring. Not only did they take over their mother’s bodies for the first years of their existence, they were undoubtedly given preferential treatment.
Liz turned to look at me, wearing me down with her unwavering stare.
I pointed half heartedly towards the kitchen, “I’m going to-”
“Stay right where you are,” she ordered.
She should have joined the army rather than gone to law school, Generals had nothing on her.
Rob giggled. I could practically hear him taunting me, ‘Daddy’s in trouble, Daddy’s in trouble.’
“Don’t say a word! Help Rob with his bath. I’m going to go out there to see what you’ve brought home. God help you if it’s a Rottweiler.”
“Give me some credit!” I found myself protesting, belatedly remembering her order for silence.
She brushed past me and I heard the box opened and the scrabbling of puppy feet on the kitchen tiles. I could hear Liz saying something and strained to hear the words.
She was talking to the dog.
That’s a good sign, right? I knew the puppy would grow on her.
She came back to the bathroom, puppy in her arms.
“What the hell is this?” she asked, I could see muscles twitching in her face as she tried not to laugh.
“Well the pet shop lady thinks he’s a cross between a beagle and a cocker spaniel,” I replied happily.
Even she couldn’t deny that the dog was cute.
“It’s the most ridiculous looking dog I have ever seen in my life!”
Well maybe she could.
Rob splashed the water in the bath. It was lucky I didn’t buy him that ice cream; he was excited enough without it.
Mental note to self, Liz is a smart woman.
“Does he have name?” she asked.
Victory! She had accepted him!
I shrugged, “We could name him after a client….maybe Loony Broody…do you think your client will enjoy having a dog as a namesake?”
An inner force tugged the corners of her mouth upwards. Finally she gave in and snorted with laughter.
Rob and I shared a triumphant grin.
Fatherhood was great...I had an ally.
“Lets call him Bert!” Rob giggled, raising his arms to be lifted out of the tub.
“GI Joe,” I countered, holding up his battered toy. Liz watched us with amusement.
He thought for a moment, “Elmo!”
“Oscar the grouch.”
“Cookie Monster!” His voice echoed in the reflective walls of the bathroom and Liz finally stepped in.
“Lets get you dressed buddy.” She dumped the dog in my arms and reached for a towel. Her gaze was accusing, “You gave him sugar didn’t you?”
She pursed her lips, “Fine.”
I took the dog back into the kitchen to give Liz more space in the bathroom: with Rob bouncing off the walls, she’d need as much space as she could get.
“Well Kyle,” I began conversationally. “I think you’re in.”
When I said that life couldn’t get any better before, I was right. This was a nightmare.
We needed a dog as much as we needed Khi Var’s evil twin. I could see all too clearly how the future would play out. Me cleaning up after it, walking it, feeding it…loving it, while Max reaped the benefits.
I carried a now sweet smelling Rob into the living room and sat him down with his toy cars. I could hear Max talking in the kitchen and if I wasn’t so damn angry with him I would have laughed.
The whole dog issue was so out of his character, I just couldn’t understand this new obsession. Maybe it was a form of midlife crisis, but instead of fast cars and hot women he yearned for companionship in the form of a dog.
Stranger things have happened.
“So Kyle you have to be quiet tonight or Liz might throw me out of the house…got it?” he looked up with a guilty expression as I walked in.
I couldn’t help but ask, “Kyle?”
“Kyle, Kyle Valenti,” he replied, looking proud of himself.
“You’re naming him after my friend.”
“It’s better than Cookie Monster…plus…that was when I fell in love with you.”
He’s a lawyer, I reminded myself, he’s a good liar and has great timing. Don’t listen to him.
“You only fell in love with me because I saved your ass.”
And what a cute ass it is too.
“No I fell in love with you because you didn’t give me any other choice and because you are so understanding and compassionate.”
Flattery would get him nowhere.
“But Max….a dog? Couldn’t you express your love for me some other way? Like diamonds…much more conventional.”
He shrugged, “I feel bad about leaving you here alone when I work late.”
I took a deep breath and counted to ten, “Then stop working late.”
“Women,” he mumbled under his breath.
“You’re always trying to change me. This is me, Liz. I work long hours, it’s not something I can change.”
We had argued about his work hours so often the argument had become like a well-known dance, as we went through the same motions. You’d think that being lawyers we could come up with something new, but we never did.
I glanced at the dog; big brown eyes in a sea of silky curls, pink tongue protruding. It was cute, but I couldn’t let myself be swayed.
Not yet anyway.
“Why a dog? Neither of us have the time for it.”
“I just thought-”
“That’s the problem, Max, you didn’t think. You acted without ever seriously considering what the care of a dog involves.”
He sighed again, “I know. I just want you to be happy.”
He stared at me beseechingly.
It was unnerving and I couldn’t help but echo his sigh and begrudgingly admit, “I am happy.”
I sometimes hated his power over me.
He ran a finger across my cheek, sending nerves into ecstasy like firecrackers.
His finger continued to caress and I had to put all my powers of concentration into getting my next words out, “We keep the dog on one condition.”
This was my trump card.
I grinned. He was putty in my hands.
“We get a house.”
“Did I say ‘anything’? I meant to say no,” he answered hurriedly.
“House hunting next weekend or the dog goes back to the pet shop.”
“We don’t need a house!”
“We DO need a house. We’re so cramped in here…Rob needs somewhere to play and this dog will need a backyard unless you want to walk him three times a day.”
He gave me a pained expression but remained silent. I took that to mean he was in agreement. I had come to realise long ago that a house, like the office renovations, was a symbol of success; and success had long been one of his greatest fears. In time he had grown to accept the new office and I had hoped that he would also come to terms with a house. Four years had passed and I was still waiting.
“So how was your lunch?” he asked casually.
My mind went blank. Lunch seemed a very long time ago. But it was nice to have a normal conversation.
“It was great catching up with him again. We just don’t see each other as much as we used to.”
“Did you mention Franklin?” he asked hopefully.
I take it back. Conversation was never normal with Max.
“I refuse to answer that!” I began to stalk out of the kitchen
He grabbed my wrists and pulled me to him, “I was joking!”
I pressed my face into his t-shirt to hide my smile.
“Alex offered 10 years,” I mumbled.
He was silent for a full minute before I dared come out from my hiding spot. I immediately met his eyes, he was staring at me with eyebrows perched high on his forehead.
I shrugged, “He mentioned it first.”
Still he said nothing.
I opened my mouth again, “Ten years is a good offer. Take it to Franklin on Monday.”
“Oh for God’s sake Max, say something.”
He shrugged, “You win.”
“I can’t compete with you. You win.”
“I win what?”
“Everything. You treat life the way you play chess.”
“No I don’t.”
He nodded, “You yell at me for bringing up the Franklin case, you tell me that you’re having a casual lunch. You yell at me for asking again about Franklin...then BOOM check mate, you do everything you told me not to do. You tie me in knots...you win”
Was the mighty Max Evans finally admitting defeat?
I should mark this day in my diary! I’d be celebrating its anniversary for years to come.
He was watching me moodily. Rather than gloat as he undoubtedly expected me to I found myself needing to explain.
“I wasn’t going to ask about the case and I do resent that you think about work ALL the time but sometimes...”
“You need a little break...” he mumbled.
My train of thought had left the station. I shook my head in an effort to get back to what I had been saying.
“I really didn’t want our lunch to be about work, but Alex started complaining about his workload and he mentioned Franklin, so I figured I may as well do my part for the firm and ask. Under any other circumstances I wouldn’t have mentioned it. Besides...you already work too hard, if we can plead this one out maybe I’ll get to spend more quality time with you.”
I could see him perk up at this as his eyes lost their cloudiness and the frown was replaced with a smile. The promise of sex, even implied sex, always worked like a charm.
“I won’t work so late this week,” he promised.
“And I’ll look after the dog; you won’t have to do a thing.”
“And we’ll go house hunting next weekend.”
“Hang on...what are you doing for me again?” he teased.
“I’ll show you.”
I pushed him roughly against the fridge and ran my tongue around his lips before giving him a kiss that spoke of desire and promises of more to come.
Finally I pulled away and grinned at his dazed expression.
“No house hunting and no more of that for a month.” I announced as I left the kitchen.
Lecture: A lot of dogs are put down for behavioral problems or because they grew too big/became too energetic/required too much attention. Euthanasia due to behavioral problems is the biggest cause of death in young dogs. Millions of dogs are put down each year. The numbers are staggering. Please don't fall into the "Max" trap that is shown in this story of buying puppies on impulse...it rarely works. And if you're thinking of getting a dog, go down to the local pound/humane society/RSPCA/shelter/haven and consider adopting a pet from there. End of lecture.
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 1-Dec-2002 5:27:46 PM ]
|posted on 1-Dec-2002 5:28:28 PM by dreamer20001|
It took me about two hours to recover from that kiss and so to distract myself I began to get things ready for the puppy. He could sleep in the bathroom, that way if he made a mess it would be easier to clean up.
Pleased by this logical thinking, I made up a basket with blankets and laid down newspaper on the tiles. Liz walked in as I stood back and admired my handiwork.
She couldn’t criticise me now.
“The newspaper is going to get wet when we shower.”
So maybe she could criticise: she is talented, there’s no denying it.
“And he’s going to get lonely on his first night so maybe we should let him sleep closer to our bed.”
She must have felt my stare because she shrugged, “Just because I’m angry at you for this doesn’t mean I’ll take it out on the dog. I’ll finish up here, can you watch Rob, he’s playing with Sean.”
She smirked, “Sean the chiropractor friend of yours...he almost ruined my life once, he may as well have another shot.”
The whole Sean incident was something I’d prefer to forget. “I think Kyle is a much better name.”
She shrugged, “Whatever.”
I left the room and found Rob happily occupied with the puppy. They were each tugging on the end of one of Liz’s scarves.
“Whoa! Stop! Where’d you get that?” I yelled as quietly as I could. I extricated it from the puppy’s mouth and gloomily examined the torn material.
“Let’s hide this shall we?”
I looked around for a suitable hiding spot, but as we were already lacking in space, no safe spots sprang to mind. At least if we moved into a new house I’d have more space to dispose of evidence.
Suddenly I was aware of Liz’s footsteps approaching and hastily shoved the scarf into the pocket of my winter coat.
“Max!” she shrieked behind me.
I spun around.
Had she seen me? No, she couldn’t have.
“Rob!” I yelled.
Frightened, Rob dropped his end and the puppy, now free with his prize, skidded away down the hallway, his tiny feet slipping on the floor.
Liz gave chase and finally caught him around the middle. She removed her shoe from his jaws and stared at the puncture marks in the leather.
“It’s just a shoe.”
Although I had made my voice soothing and calm, I knew as soon as my last word was out that it had been a mistake to speak. She glared at me and I unconsciously felt myself backing away. She put the dog down and collapsed into the nearest chair.
“I had such great plans for today!” she moaned.
Rob and I glanced at each other warily. We both knew that although she looked like the fight was out of her, she could easily revert to Liz the dragon.
“I’ll buy you a new pair of shoes next weekend.” I offered. There. That should calm her down.
Her response was far from appreciative, and I backed further away as her eyes narrowed.
“You’re trying to get out of house hunting aren’t you?”
“No no no no no. I....I’ll....” I looked around.
I needed an escape.
“I’ll start dinner, shall I?” Why didn’t I think of it sooner?
She was always complaining that I didn’t help out enough. But again my suggestion was stomped on and destroyed with one raise of an eyebrow.
“You’re leaving me with the dog?” she seethed.
She stood up and walked away, shaking her head.
I heard her mutter under her breath, “I knew this would happen.”
Rob and I stared at each other once again.
I could hear Liz clanging pans together in the kitchen, intentionally making as much noise as she could. The dog yipped and dashed madly around the living room, scared by the noise.
Rob chased him happily. “Cookie Monster! Come here!”
I watched them, and suddenly saw what Liz had seen all along.
I collapsed into the chair that Liz had vacated and put my hands to my face.
What have I done?
I put Rob to bed and kissed him softly on the forehead.
"Dad, can Cookie Monster sleep in my room?"
"No Rob...he needs to sleep with us in case he wakes up."
"But Daaaad!" he whined.
It was remarkable how his whiny tone resembled Liz's.
"You can play with him tomorrow. Now sleep. ‘Night."
His voice was sleepy. "Night."
I moved to turn off the light.
My hand hovered, "Yeah?"
"Is Mom mad at you?"
"Uh…a little…nothing for you to worry about. Okay?"
"Okay.” There was a pause. “Dad?"
"I like Cookie Monster."
"Me too, Buddy. And so does your mom. She just hasn’t figured it out yet. Now good night."
Liz was hunched over a file at the table when I walked back in.
She glanced up and smiled, "Look." She pointed to her lap where the puppy was curled up, asleep.
Not wanting to push my luck I smiled back and nodded to the file.
"Sandy Trent, traffic court.” She yawned. “I went to Harvard and I'm representing someone in traffic court. Go figure."
"Not only are you representing someone in traffic court, you're working on her case on a Sunday night."
She saw the case file in my hand and raised her eyebrows, "Which case?"
"Is he really innocent Max? I read the file…”
I nodded, frustrated by her reluctance to believe me. I think my credibility was reduced somewhat by the Scott Langley trial. Or should we call it a saga...because that’s what it was. A never ending saga of stress and emotion. But he was innocent too. She was waiting for me to reply.
“I really think he is.”
She shook her head, eyes disbelieving.
“You’re going to have a hard time proving it.” She looked at her file thoughtfully and closed it, throwing down her pen. “Need some help?”
I took in her sleepy eyes and shook my head firmly. I would have loved to consult her on my strategy for this case but my protective feelings kicked in.
“No. You should go to bed, you look tired.”
She yawned again and nodded.
“Don’t work too late.”
Her lips brushed my cheek and she gave me a look I knew well. Experience told me that if I found my way to our bed soon, her sleepy eyes wouldn’t be looking so sleepy.
But of course I was wrong.
An hour later I closed the file and packed up my briefcase. I padded quietly through the apartment, locking up and switching off lights and checked Rob, who was sleeping peacefully. His night-light was glowing from the corner of the room, making his skin golden in its glow. I couldn’t help the fatherly swell rising in my chest. That cute little guy was mine.
Well he was Liz’s too…in fact he was probably more Liz’s...he was her spy after all. But genetically he was definitely half mine. I tore myself away and continued hurriedly to our bedroom, excited about what Liz had in store for me.
I found her fast asleep, stretched out on my side of the bed, pushed away from her side by a certain sleeping puppy. Its small silky body was curved around Liz’s stomach. I couldn't tell who was snoring louder.
This was certainly not what I expected.
It could be interpreted as one of two things. Liz had finally accepted the puppy and felt sorry for it, allowing it to sleep on our bed. Or worse, much worse, I had been replaced.
This couldn’t be good.
“Liz,” I whispered, shaking her slightly.
It figures that the one time I want her to wake up she stays stubbornly asleep.
When I arrive home late she’s awake in a second with accusing eyes. When a dog has hijacked my bed she becomes a heavy sleeper.
I think she does it on purpose.
“Liz,” I said again, shaking her harder. “Wake up.”
She rolled over sleepily, ”Wha…?”
The dog whimpered and she was awake immediately.
“Its okay little Langley,” she soothed.
Langley? Not...“Scott Langley?” I asked.
“That was Exhibit A of deluded Max.” She pointed to the puppy. “Exhibit B. And Langley is a cute name don’t you think?”
No suitable reply sprang to mind. I found myself shrugging helplessly and she sat up in bed and moved the puppy so that she could move back to her side of the bed.
The puppy now lay between us.
So much for that bedroom scene I had imagined.
Her foot rubbed my calf and I looked over to find laughter sparkling in her eyes.
“Sleep tight sweetheart,” she teased before rolling over, a ridiculous grin dominating her face.
The puppy also rolled over to accommodate Liz’s new position and I was left facing four tiny paws each with a tuft of golden curls to tickle my nose.
Something told me that my life had changed today.
And not for the better.
Something pushed me roughly in the back at 2:07am.
I knew it was 2:07 because I could see the green glow of the numbers on the clock radio beside Max’s head...no...Max’s infuriating head.
I felt it again.
It whined and I suddenly felt hot breath on my ear.
Normally I could just say “its Max” and roll over and get back to sleep.
But not this time.
The hot breath had a distinctly doggie smell that I couldn’t attribute to Max – even as angry at him as I was at that moment. The dog whined again and put its front paws on my shoulder. Its whimper steadily increased in volume.
Whining wasn’t normally my kind of thing, but it seemed appropriate in this case. I had to compete with the puppy after all.
There was a long pause before he responded.
“Mmmmm?” He sounded grumpy.
How dare he sound grumpy!
I kicked him firmly in the thigh.
He jumped about three feet in the air.
“The dog needs to go out.”
I had taken Langley outside while Max put Rob to bed. It obviously needed to go again.
“You’re serious?” he asked with a moan. “Its 2am!”
I felt him throw the sheets back and stumble out of bed. I heard drawers opened and finally he left the room with the puppy held with arms outstretched.
“Don’t hold him like that!” I called as the dog’s whine grew even louder. He was going to wake Rob up. “He doesn’t like it.”
I could see Max’s shoulders rise and fall as he sighed and cradled the dog closer to him.
Half an hour later he returned, looking angry and sweaty.
He gently placed the dog in its basket at the foot of the bed but said nothing, crawling back beside me and collapsing on his pillow.
“He gotamuph” he mumbled.
He raised his head and looked at me guiltily.
“He got away from me. He ran off down the street and I had to chase him.”
Laughter bubbled up from my belly and finally erupted.
I had a wonderful vision of Max running down the middle of the road in the sweatpants and leather dress shoes he had randomly pulled on in his haste to get outside.
“I didn’t expect him to be able to run so fast!” he added. "He made it all the way to the McDonalds on the corner. The people in the drive thru saw me.”
I buried my face in my pillow and let the laughter out. I hadn’t laughed this hard in ages. He was livid.
“You think this is funny?”
I nodded through my tears, “I really do.”
Finally a smile cracked his face.
“Well at least I can make you laugh.”
I leaned over to kiss him.
“Just be yourself Max, that’s always enough to make me laugh.”
He closed his eyes and groaned, “I’ll never eat a Big Mac again.”
This set off more laughter. He got back out of bed and pulled off his now scuffed shoes, sweat pants and holey t-shirt. Getting back into bed he glared at me as though it was all my fault.
I switched out my light and rolled over onto my side, facing away from him. If he couldn’t be reasonable I wasn’t going to give him any attention. I heard him shuffle over on the bed and spoon against me.
I felt the moistness of his lips against my shoulder and the whisper of his breath against my neck.
“Night,” he mumbled. “Love you.”
At around 4 am I heard Max groan and felt his warm body leave my side.
"You've got to be kidding me," he muttered.
I refused to open my eyes for fear of what I would be presented with. I didn't need to open them. I knew the situation as soon as I smelled it.
"You had better clean that up before I open my eyes."
He started at the sound of my voice.
"But I took him out two hours ago," Max complained.
I opened my eyes and stared into his.
"He's worse than a baby."
I tried hard to keep the sarcasm out of my tone, god knows I tried. But it was no use.
"Oh because you're such an expert at baby care."
"What? We're going to argue about this now? Yeah because you know, lets bring all our old arguments out of retirement. Let us argue about the partnership issue next."
He stalked into the bathroom and I heard that water running. God what a night. I had to be in court in exactly 5 hours and I'd hardly had anything you could define as sleep.
Two years of Rob and now this.
It wasn't fair.
Max returned and crouched down to clean up the puppy's mess. The puppy danced around his feet excitedly.
"Kyle, stop being a pain in the ass."
He was pleased when I laughed and carried the dirty paper towels into the bathroom. He came back drying his hands and sniffed the air.
"Maybe we should sleep in Rob's room."
I saw a shadow move in the doorway.
"Too late." I replied despondently.
Rob padded into the room rubbing his eyes.
"I can 't sleep."
He climbed up onto our bed and curled up beside me.
The puppy whined and Rob's eyes flew open, "Cookie Monster!" he leaned over and tried to help the dog jump up on the bed. Finally he succeeded and the dog sprang happily into my lap.
I met Max's eyes and we both laughed.
"You wanted a big family," I reminded him.
"This is not what I had in mind." He rubbed his face and picked up his watch. "God I've got a hearing in 4 hours."
"Me too. Come to bed."
He slid into the thin wedge of the bed that we had left him and switched off the light.
Just over two hours later we dragged ourselves out of bed and barricaded most of the apartment to contain the destructive jaws and uncontrollable urges of the puppy. Rob went to childcare and Max and I to the office.
"What happened to the two of you?" Maria laughed as soon as she saw us. "You look like hell."
I felt Max's eyes on me and replied, "Don't ask."
"Liz, Sandy Trent called. They've pushed her hearing back to this afternoon," Isabel informed me from her desk.
"Oh great. I could have stayed in bed." I shoved my briefcase at Max's chest and sat at my desk. "Someone wake me up when its time to go home."
Maria laughed again, "I thought Rob was sleeping through the night."
Resting my head in my hands I waited for Max to explain. He remained uncharacteristically silent.
I sighed for the millionth time that day.
Max finally spoke, “I’m running late.” He squeezed my shoulder affectionately and lowered his voice, “I’ll check him at lunchtime.”
Although his voice was soft it was clear everyone in the office had heard him. They were now looking much more quizzical and Maria appeared downright concerned.
I busied myself at my desk and they soon settled back to work. I could sense their curious gazes but refused to acknowledge them. If they asked what was wrong, I think I’d have to give them the whole story. The anger and the frustration would no doubt come pouring out but the increasing affection for the little creature might also show its head. It was something I didn’t want to risk. If Max heard that my resolve was slipping, I’d never hear the end of it.
After more than an hour, Isabel’s curiosity got the better of her and she was clearing her throat in a businesslike manner near my desk. Her face was creased with worry.
“Is Rob okay?”
I nodded to reassure her.
“He’s fine...a little more excited than usual, but fine.”
It was Maria’s turn to look anxious, “Its Alex’s isn’t it? Oh God, the poor man. What hospital is he in? I can send some flowers. We can-”
“Maria!” my voice wasn’t anywhere near loud enough to drown out her fretting.
“Maria! Alex’s not sick.”
I threw up my hands and they looked more and more confused.
“Nobody is sick, injured or in any way unhealthy.”
It seemed that the only thing I could do was explain and with a dull tone I continued.
“Max decided that we should get a dog.”
“A dog?” Michael repeated eventually.
“Yeah you know...four legs and a tail.” It was impossible to keep the sarcasm out of my voice.
Michael glared at me, “You don’t have to get snide.”
“Are we talking about the same Max?” Maria piped up.
Her words put ideas into my head. A case of the body snatches. This wasn’t Max, it was Mike Brady in the Brady Bunch Reunion #4568. I smiled wryly, imagining Max in an orange nylon suit with a yellow shirt.
I’d have to save that image for a later date. It needed some serious consideration.
“I’m thinking he was abducted by aliens.” I finally replied to Maria.
“Hey do you think it’s a sign?” she asked, eyes glittering with excitement. Isabel and I shared an amused glance.
Michael looked puzzled, “A sign of what?”
Maria lowered her voice, “Of aging.”
Isabel and I burst out laughing at the same time. “Aging?!”
Maria sat back in her chair, offended.
“It’s obvious. He’s getting old and is obviously finding his life unfulfilled. No offence Liz.”
She gave me that ‘truth hurts, but I love telling it’ look.
I stared at her, suppressing the urge to smile.
“Thanks a lot Maria. My husband prefers a dog to me, that makes me feel really good.”
“Well all I know is that we have a man here who’s trying to make his life more fulfilling. Whether you want to accept that or not, it’s your choice.”
Isabel was disparaging, “Thanks for that pearl of wisdom Maria.”
She shrugged, “I do what I can to help.”
“So what sort of dog is it?” Isabel asked, finally turning her attention away from Maria, like someone tearing themselves away from a gruesome accident.
I felt torn.
Do I continue to express my anger over this puppy or do I admit the feelings that were beginning to peep through the clouds of disillusionment?
The new feelings won the battle and I lowered my voice to a more confidential tone.
“It’s...don’t tell Max I said this, but...it’s kind of cute. A little beagle cross.”
“And its wreaking havoc?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe. Isabel if you think a three year old can cause chaos, you haven’t seen a puppy.”
“What’s its name?”
Max came swooping in the door, fresh from his hearing.
“Cookie Monster. His name is Cookie Monster.”
And he looked at me with such a victorious expression that I couldn’t help but smile.
Yes he had won this small battle, but had he won the war?
Only time would tell.
|posted on 3-Dec-2002 3:26:51 AM by dreamer20001|
The mere fact that Liz had confided in the others about the puppy was a sign of victory. Sure I had bargained a house for a dog...my accountant wouldn't be happy...but she had accepted it.
Lunchtime rolled around and I made a show of leaving the office so that Liz could later comment on my diligence. Not that she would, but I had to give her the opportunity if the occasion arose.
I made the short trip home consumed by the upcoming Franklin trial. He had flatly refused to accept Alex's deal so we were bound over for trial, which wouldn't be so worrying had we won the suppression hearing that morning. But the judge had deemed the security tapes admissible and our prospects of winning had plummeted.
However, every last thought of Franklin's potential stay in jail flew from my mind as I was confronted with a scene that put some crime scenes to shame.
The puppy danced at my feet with big eyes sparkling, communicating the events of his day with wags of his tail and small yips. I examined the devastation with a growing horror.
Liz was not going to be happy.
Laundry that she had left (foolishly, in my opinion) in a basket on the sofa was strewn about the room and books were scattered with pages chewed.
I could dispose of the evidence, I'd done it before, but the first thing my eyes focussed on was Liz's favourite book...destroyed. Disposing of evidence just became more difficult.
"Oh Cookie Monster," I moaned. "I didn't need this."
Of course he didn’t reply and I didn’t expect him to. Unless you call whining at my feet a reply. But that was beside the point.
Obviously I had to clean this up and return the room to its prior state and so I began picking up chewed books and damaged clothing.
The dog had seemed to develop a fascination with Liz's underwear...perhaps dogs were like their owners after all.
Piling the evidence on the table I became engrossed in refolding all the clothes, wondering if Liz would notice the doggy smell on her pajamas.
If she was sleeping with the dog, surely she wouldn't notice a residual smell on them, right?
If I tried really hard, I could convince myself of this. I'd just have to take her mind of her PJs each night. I was good at that.
By the time I finished, the dog had stopped its excited whining and was now lying quietly in the basket we had set up for him.
“Good dog,” I crooned. “You just lie there and give those teeth a rest.”
His tail beat a rhythm against the edge of the basket and I walked over to pat his cute little head.
It’s funny how you can be concentrating so hard on something else and not even realise that you’re falling until you’re halfway down.
So with arms flailing, legs working independently of the rest of my body and a strangled yelp that I’m certain didn’t come from me, I ended up in dorsal recumbency on the floor.
The offending cause of my fall was now splattered abstractly on the wall and if Liz wasn’t so fond of impressionists I would have left it there. It took at least another hour to restore order and cleanliness to the room. I moved the laundry basket to our bedroom and once again barricaded the puppy inside the living room.
As I left I could see the puppy watching me from its basket, its evil eyes plotting future attacks.
This was war.
Liz was watching the door with worry written in big letters across her forehead when I walked in the office.
“What took you so long?” she asked in a high pitched voice.
“Nothing. I just had a few little things to clean up.”
She was skeptical, “You changed your suit.”
“I...uh...I have a settlement meeting this afternoon and I realised I needed something that would show we mean business.”
“Max you’re not capable of looking like you mean anything but business.”
“I felt like changing, get off my back okay?”
“I won’t get off your back until you tell me what’s going on!” she demanded, voice rising to match mine.
We both realised at the same time that we had an audience.
Maria was watching us eagerly, and Isabel and Michael were both rolling their eyes.
Our raised voices fell silent.
We stared at each other.
Her eyes were still questioning and I hoped mine were reassuring. They mustn’t have been reassuring enough though because she stood up and grabbed her coat.
“I have to go.”
Panic spread like wildfire throughout my body.
“Go where?” Was that my voice? I sounded like a girl.
She looked at me strangely, “To Cedar Junction, Max. Do I have your permission to go to the jail?”
“Oh. Yeah. Go.”
“Thanks,” she was sarcastic.
I’d have to tell her later that sarcasm wasn’t very becoming on her. Somehow I didn’t think she’d appreciate my counsel.
She stalked out the door and as soon as it closed behind her I was attacked by a gossip hungry mob.
“What happened?” Maria asked, eyes glittering with anticipation.
“Nothing,” I replied hoping to squash all enquiries with my tone.
Unfortunately it didn’t work.
Isabel was disparaging, “Sure Max.”
They were all still staring at me like hungry wolves, ready to tear me limb from limb until I fed them their daily quota of gossip.
I needed to distract them.
“Don’t you guys work anymore?”
“Oh he’s going to say it now,” Maria announced from behind me.
I spun to face her. I shouldn’t keep these people out of my range of vision; that could be dangerous. They'd get me when I least expected it.
“Say what?” I asked.
She put on a serious face and in her best imitation of me, which wasn’t accurate at all, and yelled, “BACK TO WORK!”
The others laughed.
I was insulted.
I hardly say that at all.
"Nothing happened, everything is fine and yes, back to..." Maria was staring at me. Maybe I do say it too much. "...work."
My office became my sanctuary, my refuge. I watched the others slowly get back to work, shooting curious glances in my direction.
Liz finally returned from her meeting at the jail and also sent me some lovingly (I could hope, right?) evil looks.
Terror was coursing through my veins.
The evidence of the puppy's terrorist act was now safely hidden away in my brief case, but with Liz's roving legal mind, it wasn’t safe. It would have to be moved.
I walked to the door.
"Isabel do you have a second?"
"Maybe just one."
I rolled my eyes. Did she always have to be difficult?
"Just come here."
"You know, Max, you could at least pretend to be civil."
"You'd hate it."
"No I don't think I would."
She followed me in and I closed the door, sneaking a look at Liz. She was now looking downright suspicious.
I’d have to be quick; we were running out of time.
"Is I need a favor."
I gave her a withering look.
"The puppy...did some damage."
"What kind of damage?"
"Lower your voice! It chewed some of Liz's things."
"Uh...books and...things. It’s not important what they are, I just want you to get rid of them."
I felt blood rushing to my face in embarrassment. Liz and I had a rule that we didn’t talk about our relationship at the office. Nine out of ten times, the rule was forgotten, but on this occasion, it felt right to obey.
A strange look flittered across her face so quickly, I wasn’t sure it was my imagination.
A smile began to spread across her face as though she had already guessed the answer.
How could I say it?
My face grew hotter.
She continued to laugh before stuttering, “Oh...dear.”
“Yes, oh dear.”
She laughed once more before turning serious.
“Look Max, this is between you and Liz. I don't want to be involved."
"Isabel! Can't you just put them somewhere? Please?"
She sighed again, but it was more for display than anything else.
"Fine. Put it in your filing cabinet and I'll get rid of it after you leave. But I had nothing to do with it."
"You should tell her."
"I will...one day."
Liz was standing in our bedroom in her bathrobe with dripping hair when I got home. She was searching through her underwear drawer and looked up when I walked in.
"Max have you been wearing my underwear again?" she joked.
I felt my face go red.
She saw my hesitation and pounced.
"What happened to it?"
I deliberately paused to collect myself.
As a lawyer, I had developed the art of manipulating the truth and this was the perfect time to put that skill to good use.
I pasted on an innocent expression and raised my hands in confusion.
"I don't know. Maybe it’s still in the basket."
"No I washed most of it yesterday."
Her unwavering stare was unnerving.
It was time for a compliment.
"I only pay attention to your underwear when you're wearing it."
Still she stared.
I couldn’t face those eyes and so looked away.
She must have taken my change of focus to be a search for escape and so swung the door shut with her foot. I looked back into her eyes and shrugged, trying to play the innocence card once again.
"Liz, how am I supposed to know what you’ve done with your underwear? It is just like you to get all irrational over something like this.”
Her jaw dropped.
I had successfully changed her focus.
“Yes irrational. Its underwear for god’s sake. You think I’ve hidden it somewhere?”
Her eyes narrowed.
Manipulate the truth...lie...it's a thin line.
"Max if you know something..." her voice was threatening.
"I. Don't. Know. ANYTHING!"
We heard excited squealing coming from the living room and I turned away from her, to see what was going on.
“You’re not going anywhere.” She instructed.
“Liz…I should check on-"
The squealing grew louder and was joined by the small yaps of the dog.
“It’s snowing!” Rob shrieked in a shrill voice.
Our eyes met for a full second before we both belted down the hall.
Liz skidded to a halt and we both stared at the scene of mass devastation in front of us.
The puppy had gotten into Liz's briefcase and had shredded some of her files.
The shredded paper made the room look like Time Square after New Years Eve and Rob added to the mess by throwing it up into the air.
The dog was dancing around his feet with the remains of a file in its mouth. Rob grabbed the other end, making growling noises and we watched in dismay as the file ripped into two, with Rob falling backwards onto the floor.
He giggled and looked up at us.
“Oh my God.”
She turned to me, eyes flashing.
“You did this.” Her voice was low and menacing and she began to poke me in the chest. “This is all your fault.”
“But Liz!” I protested, backing away, still feeling her eyes boring into mine.
“Mommy can we make snowmen?”
Rob’s voice penetrated my consciousness.
“No sweetie,” I heard her voice reply. “Its not snow.”
He glared up at us and stomped his little foot, in a good imitation of his mother. Shreds of papers scattered from the impact zone of his foot.
“I’m leaving. When I get back this had better be cleaned up!” She fumed.
And with that she left, treading carefully through the remains of her opening argument. She paused just before the door and bent down to pick up a seemingly intact file. But as she picked it up torn paper fluttered out of it and with a furious growl she threw it down, stormed out and slammed the door.
The rest of the week continued along the same lines. Anything valuable/important/loved or in any way chewable had to be kept out of reach of both Rob and The Monster (as he had now become known).
Or a better name would be Monster3, since I already had two other monsters living with me. I had Monsters Inc. right here in my own house.
My opening argument had been safely saved on my computer, much to Max's relief and most of the other documents from my briefcase were salvageable.
Max had finally admitted the true fate of my underwear and now we could laugh about it. It took 4 days...but at least we were laughing.
I was just glad Max hadn't developed a fetish. He had actually bought me new underwear but had been optimistic rather than realistic in his choice. He had been disappointed when I laughed at his purchases.
But I may as well be honest. Though he took me to hell and back, I couldn't help but adore the puppy. Like Max, he was cutest when he was sleeping. He'd curl up in my lap and snore softly while I worked.
Rob also adored him and spent hours playing with him, falling into bed at night in exhaustion.
As far as I was concerned, we should have gotten a dog sooner!
The best part of the week was Max tiptoeing around me, trying to be the model husband. Some days he was home from work before me and had dinner simmering away on the stove and a glass of red wine in my hand before I could get my coat off.
It was pure bliss.
That's why it had taken four days for us to laugh over the underwear incident...I was enjoying his guilt trip way too much.
But four days of perfection was too much of a strain of his immensely flawed character and on Friday night he was almost back to normal.
I was the one putting alcohol into his hand as he moaned to me about Franklin. Franklin this, Franklin that. It took some effort to get his focus back to me, but when I had it, I had it for the whole night.
So once again I found myself lying in bed, reading the Boston Globe with his hand running lovingly across my hip.
There were no rash announcements this morning, no indications that he was about to bring further chaos into our household.
I think he was too worried about the whole house thing to dream up more devious plans to complicate my life.
The dog was curled up on the rug on my side of the bed. He had dragged in some of his sleeping buddies, including a pair of Max's socks, one of my old maternity bras, two of Rob's stuffed toys and one of Max's shoes.
He liked shoes. We should have named him Alex.
But he looked too cute sleeping with our things for us to scold him. On one morning we also found Rob down there with him, whether the dog had dragged him out of his bed was anybody's guess.
Max casually flipped the pages of the real estate section of the newspaper.
"Here we go. Three bedroom split level, country charm."
"Country charm means it needs a new roof."
"You don't know that."
"And three bedroom isn’t enough."
"We don’t need a big house!"
He paused, searching for a good excuse.
"Think of all the cleaning."
"So we'll get a housekeeper."
He threw up his hands.
I gave him my best withering look. Together we earned enough to employ a small army of cleaners. One cleaner, three times a week wasn't going to ruin us.
I took the newspaper from him and searched the pages for my dream home.
“Listen to this. Five bedroom, four bathroom Georgian style house, swimming pool, spa in main en suite...what do you think?”
“Four bathrooms? How could we ever need four bathrooms? I can’t think of any circumstance where we’d use all four at the same time.”
“If we have guests...”
“Who? Alex? Maria? They don’t need their own bathroom.”
“You want to share a bathroom with my mother?”
“Who said we’d ever invite her?” he joked.
I was getting a little tired of his jokes. My mother and I weren’t as close as some mothers and daughters but she wasn’t the evil witch he liked to pretend she was.
“I was joking,” he back-pedalled.
“I love your mother.”
“She can be the first person we invite to stay at our new...” he peered over at the paper “...4 bedroom renovators delight.”
“When do you plan to renovate?”
“You did a good job on the office. I’m giving you a whole house to play with.”
“What about a cosy 2 bedroom cottage?”
“Cosy means a person in the kitchen is sitting in the lap of the person in the living room.”
“And that’s bad because....?”
He was rewarded with another withering look.
“You don’t laugh anymore Liz. Maybe you should think about smile therapy.”
“I’ll do that when you join workaholics anonymous.”
He looked back at the paper and after a few minutes he sighed and threw it to me.
“Pick out what you want to look at. It’s not like I’m going to get any say in the matter anyway.”
Victory was mine and it was definitely sweet.
So the house hunting began.