|posted on 9-Dec-2002 4:46:55 PM by jasper711|
Disclaimer: Don’t own any of the characters except Erica and Joey. No infringement intended on Cameron Crowe's movie, "Say Anything".
Category: M/L AU
Rating: PG thru NC-17
Summary: Max, the eternal optimist is in love with Liz Parker, the school brain. With their high school graduation looming upon them, Max is forced to fight for what he wants before it slips from his fingers forever.
“I’m going to ask out Liz Parker again.”
All eyes turned to Max as if he had just grown another head. Any further talk ceased as they stared at their poor friend with overwhelming pity. But he was oblivious to any of it, a smile of pure unadulterated love crossing his features as he thought of his dream girl.
Maria’s voice was soft and soothing, just as it always was when she spoke to her best friend. She loved him with all of her heart, knowing that if anyone deserved to find true love, that it was her bumbling, innocent, friend. He was the most gentle creature on earth that she felt it was her duty to protect him from everything and anyone that might possibly hurt him. Including Liz.
“Max, you do know that by saying you’re going to ask out Liz Parker again, it implies that you’ve actually gone out on a first date.”
Max frowned, a little hurt at Maria’s words, but he knew she was only looking out for him. But he refused to let her embittered remark taint his good mood. He had woken up this morning as if the birds were chirping in his ear, the sun shining brightly in the sky. Though neither event had actually occurred, he did wake up with the sense of hope. Almost as if he had made up his made and actually made a goal for himself.
From the moment he had laid eyes on Liz Parker a year ago, he had known that she was the one for him. Her gorgeous brown eyes spoke to him in volumes even though her voice hadn’t uttered a single word. Her kind smile made his heart sing in a way he had only thought was possible in a corny chick flick.
“That’s not entirely true.” He fell back against the inflatable chair on the floor, his hands coming to rest behind his head. “We had lunch together at the mall a year ago.”
Grabbing a pillow, Maria threw it at his face. “Being in a crowded food court and having to sit with a random person doesn’t count.” She eyed him carefully, trying to make him see reason. “You two didn’t even exchange words.”
Max dismissed her words with a wave of his hand. “Words mean nothing when you look into her eyes.” A dreamy look etched itself on his handsome features, causing an equally dreamy sigh to come from Erica on the other side of the room.
“That’s so sweet,” she whispered, her mind wandering to a place where she would find someone like her friend Max that would love her like he loved Liz.
Maria glared at her. “Would you please stop encouraging him?”
Erica stuck her tongue out at Maria. “And would you please stop dictating what he should do with his life.” She gave Max a warm, small smile. “I say, let him do what he wants. As long as he’s happy.”
Max smiled at her, glad to have an ally.
Maria gave a dramatic sigh as she reached for her guitar, her fingers strumming the cords gently. “I’m not trying to bring anyone down, but Liz isn’t just any other girl.” She paused, humming a tune she had recently written about her own pathetic love life. “She’s a brain. And brain’s stick with brains. If aliens were to invade earth and we were forced to copulate, brains would still stick with brains. You can’t break the chain. It’s like written in the stars or something.”
Almost as if he didn’t hear a word, Max’s eyes took on a far away look.
“I appreciate that you care about my well being, Maria. But you’re not going to change my mind.” Standing up, he bid farewell to his friends to get ready for the graduation. “I’ll see you ladies later.”
Maria and Erica watched as Max walked away.
“I just don’t want him to get hurt,” Maria whispered dejectedly. She hated sounding so sour about Max’s interest in Liz, but she knew all too well what it was like to fall in love and have your heart stomped on. She didn’t want her pure, innocent Max to go through what she had to.
Erica wrapped her arms around Maria’s shoulders. “It’s going to be okay, Maria. Liz Parker may be a mystery to all of us, but she’s not Michael Guerin.”
Maria stiffened at the mention of Michael’s name, pretending that it didn’t affect her at all.
“Yeah, well let’s hope so. Because if perfect Liz Parker so much as brings a tear to Max’s eyes,”
“She’s going to have to answer to us,” Erica finished for her.
[ edited 16time(s), last at 21-Jan-2003 6:33:57 PM ]
|posted on 10-Dec-2002 12:48:01 AM by jasper711|
|Just wanted to give a fat heads up on the recently added disclaimer. |
If y'all are 80s movie buffs, you might see a big resemblance between the first part and the opening scene in the movie "Say Anything". While the story premise for Stole seems to resemble the movie right now, it won't, going into the second part.
But I added the disclaimer anyways just to be on the safe side. I don't want to unintentionally "steal" from Cameron Crowe.
And lastly, I recommend that those that have not seen the movie, to go and watch it. It's an awesome movie. My all time fav flick.
tazno: sorry you feel like I've abandoned my other fics. I've been trying to work on them, but I've sort of hit a road block. as for starting this, this won't last more than 20 parts. as I keep writing, it looks to be only 15 parts right now, so it's only going to be a short one. I'm trying to keep in the swing of things as I try to get past my writer's block.
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 10-Dec-2002 12:49:00 AM ]
|posted on 10-Dec-2002 10:30:39 AM by jasper711|
Alex Whitman held out his arms so that his gown resembled wings. He grinned wildly. “Kegger at Kyle’s house!”
A chorus of cheers were heard among the recently graduated seniors as they threw their caps into the air, signifying the end of their high school careers. It had been a long and sometimes rocky road, but their efforts had been fruitful as they finally said goodbye to their alma mater.
Instead of throwing his cap in the air like his fellow graduates, Kyle aimed his at his best friend’s head.
Alex saw the cap flying in his direction at warp speed so he ducked. The cap continued to fly, stopping to hit Michael Guerin in the chest.
Howling with laughter, Alex fell to the floor, sprawling out like a dying mad man as he tried to get air into his lungs.
Kyle ignored Michael’s whining, not at all intimidated by the other boy’s anger. The three of them had been best friends since childhood, and he knew for a fact that he could take Michael despite the inches that Michael had on him. “Oh suck it up, Guerin. Why do you have to be such a pansy? It‘s not like I was aiming for you.” He shrugged, his air of authority rolling off his stance in waves. “I just got lucky.”
Rubbing his chest, Michael pouted like a spoiled brat. “You know, a bruised chest isn’t going to help me out in the ladies department.”
After catching his breath, Alex snorted, his hand reaching out to clap Michael’s shoulder. “I doubt anything will help you out with the ladies, bro. You fail with them miserably, all on your own.”
Kyle and Alex snickered, thoroughly enjoying an irate Michael. It was good to know that even as they reached a milestone in their lives, that some things never changed.
“I’m gonna do it.”
The three friends stood watching Liz Parker stand by herself in the parking lot.
“I don’t believe you,” Maria accused. “It’s been a year since you’ve had any real contact with her. If you haven’t done anything by now, you never will.”
Erica tried to bite back her smile at Maria’s goading. While Maria still held an air of sarcasm concerning Max and Liz, it seemed as if their friend was slowly coming around.
Max puffed his chest forward, taking deep breaths as he mentally steeled himself to go through with it. Maria was right. It was one thing to talk about doing great things, but it was another thing entirely to go through with it. Most people he knew, thought of him as a yokel. They either saw him as a person who had the opportunity to have potential or just your run of the mill loser.
He couldn’t really blame them, because in some ways, they were right. He always dreamed of doing something great, something amazing with his life, but he just didn’t know what that was. While most of his fellow graduates had been accepted to college and mapped out the rest of their futures, he was living his life on a day to day basis. His father had put it best when he had been disappointed to hear that his son had declined an atheletic scholarship to the University of New Mexico.
“If only just apply yourself, son. There are thousands of oppportunities waiting for a young man like you. You can’t keep avoiding the future, because one day, you’re going to wake up and have it bite you on the ass.”
His father was right. He couldn’t just sit around, waiting for something to fall into his lap and happen to him. He had to make it happen. Life was too short for him to wait around. Because judging from the school newspaper, Liz was scheduled to leave for Harvard after the summer, and he couldn’t just let her walk away without letting her know his feelings.
Nodding to himself in affirmation, he clutched his yearbook to his chest.
“I’m going.” He nodded again before taking his first step, almost breaking out into an excited run. “I’m really going!”
Maria felt her jaw hit the ground as she saw Max literally take a step forward. This was just unheard of. Her best friend was about to change the course of high school cliches everywhere. Max Evans, Roswell’s famous do-gooder was attempting to blur the lines and she had a feeling that he might just suceed.
“Way to go Max!” Erica cheered softly, happy to see Max go after what he wanted. Her friend deserved good things, and she believed in her heart that he would get them.
“C’mon, Maria. Let’s bring the car around. He may be awhile.”
After making the quick jog to where Liz was standing, Max stopped short, not knowing how to even begin a conversation with her. This was a mistake.
Feeling someone’s eyes on her, Liz looked up, her long dark hair falling away from her face to reveal a small smile on her face. She was staring into the most intense pair of eyes she had ever seen. She had been feeling depressed, and maybe a little sorry for herself as she waited for her ride.
Today was supposed to the most important day of her life. The day she had been working so hard for all of these years. But as she stood up at that podium giving her speech, she realized that she didn’t even recognize a single face. She had gone to school with these people, and she couldn’t credit a single person as a friend. She had felt impossibly alone.
But now, looking into this young man’s eyes, she felt a wave of familiarity wash over her, a warmth that coursed through her being, making up for whatever loneliness she had felt earlier.
Max felt his body freeze the moment she looked up at him. The breath wooshed out of his body, making him stand there like the village idiot. He couldn’t help it. She was just so breathtaking, so magnetically beautiful that he felt as though he would flame up if he stared too long.
He watched her squirm under his gaze, and he suddenly realized that he had been staring. Flushed, he thrust his yearbook in her hands.
“Sign my yearbook?,” he all but croaked. But instead of feeling embarrassed at his actions, he felt himself smile when she reached for her own.
“Sure. Would you sign mine?”
The sound of her voice was like music to his ears. He bobbed his head eagerly, his fingers flipping to through her yearbook, looking for a place to sign. As he did so, he noticed how bare hers was. Upon closer inspection, he realized that every single signature inside were from teachers, and no students. After scanning them, he felt a little bad for her when he saw the same sentiment on every scribble. Each and every one of her teachers had commented on how great a student she was, and how successful she was going to be in the future, but none of them wrote about how she was as a person.
Tucking her hair behind her ears, Liz read a few of the comments in the young man’s yearbook. She felt embarrassed at the fact that she didn’t even know his name. He seemed so intent on having her sign his yearbook, that she couldn’t turn him down even though she didn’t know who he was. She read a few random words, chuckling to herself at some of the goofy things people had written to this person. To Max.
After taking a moment to think about it, she carefully wrote him a message, hoping that it wouldn’t get lost in the sea of chicken scratches.
“MAX! Let’s go! Kyle’s party waits for no one.” Maria stuck her head out of the window, her hand hitting the horn recklesly.
Liz finished her neat script writing, handing him back his annual. “I think you’re friends are waiting for you.”
Torn between spending time with his closest friends, or staying with his new acquaintance, Max spoke quickly. “Are you going to Kyle’s party tonight?”
She shook her head in the negative, pointing to where her parents station wagon was pulling up. “Actually, I’m celebrating with my family tonight.”
They looked into each other’s eyes, losing themselves for a moment before they heard car horns honking loudly.
Smiling, Liz waved as she ran towards her parents car. “I have to go. It was nice meeting you, Max.”
Max watched as she slipped into the car, her family driving away with her. He didn’t know how long he stood there before opening up his yearbook to where she had written him.
just wanted to wish you a good summer and good luck on your future endeavors. I’m sorry that we never got a chance to know each other, but maybe we could do lunch before the summer’s over. Or something.
Liz Parker (823-8887)
|posted on 10-Dec-2002 4:26:58 PM by jasper711|
I can tell by the look on your face that you have no idea who I am. But I know who you are. (I hope that doesn’t freak you out. I‘m not a stalker or anything. I promise.) Anyways, I heard that you got accepted to Harvard. Congrats. I can’t think of a person more deserving.
I know I may seem like some random person, but we’ve met before. At the mall. There were no tables at the food court so we sat together. But that’s beside the point. Ancient history as my friend Maria likes to say.
I know I’m blabbering, and taking up more than my fair share in your yearbook. I guess what I really wanted to say, what I’ve been wanting to say to you for the past year is that .... you’ve got a beautiful smile. You should do it more often. It makes me want to do the same.
Sorry for being so weird. I’ll stop freaking you out now.
Liz lay back against her pillows, reading Max’s impeccably clean print. She had read his page long “blabbering” twenty times now. And still, she couldn’t rid herself of the smile on her face.
Who was this Max E. that had invaded her senses in less than two hours?
She supposed that she had two options. She could either be freaked that he seemed to know her like the back of his hand, or be flattered that he had said such kind words to her. She went for the latter, knowing she made the right decision about writing what she did in his yearbook. She just hoped that he would read it and take her up on her offer.
She delighted in the fact that he wasn’t the average high school boy. He seemed like a timid boy stuck in man’s body. She blushed at the thought that she had noticed that he was that handsome, but it was a fact that was hard to be overlooked. Besides, it wasn’t what was important. He had done something that no other boy she knew had ever done. He had been honest with her. He hadn’t put anything blase or expected like, “Have a good summer. See you around.”
Although his words were simple, she knew they were sincere. He had left an imprint inside her soul. Something she couldn’t just easily forget.
“You look like you’re on cloud nine.”
Max held in his grin of happiness, but it wasn’t working. He had been floating since his encounter with Liz. It was surreal. He wasn’t so sure it actually happened, but every time he flipped to her page, her writing was the only thing he could read. She had said that she was sorry they never got to know each other, but was up for the possibility of remedying that by having lunch.
Such a word had never sounded sweeter. At least to him anyway. It looked as if things were turning up for him.
Erica shook her head, grabbing Maria’s hand to push through the swarms of people. Max seemed a little too content with smiling all by himself. She however was in dire need of raucous. A last hurrah of sorts. So, she was dragging Maria with her to have a good time.
Maria looked over her shoulder, seeing Max get smaller as she and Erica made their way inside the house. “Are you sure we should just leave him?,” she yelled over the booming base that exploded from the speakers. She gave Erica a look that said she wasn’t comfortable doing so. “He looks like he could use a friend.”
Leaning down, Erica spoke directly in Maria’s ear so that she wouldn’t have to yell over the music. “And I could use a drink.”
When Maria wouldn’t budge, Erica sighed. “C’mon. It’ll do him some good to reflect on the situation. Maybe he’ll get enough hair on those cajones and go for it.”
“EWWW!” Maria pushed Erica inside the kitchen. “Double EWW!” She shivered visibly, cringing as she made a gagging sound. “Max is our girlfriend. I’d like to think of him as asexual. To me, Max has no genitalia.”
Erica burst into laughter as she grabbed herself a beer. “Honey, Max is a lot of things, but asexual is not one of them.” She clutched her stomach, feeling it about to burst. “Why do you think he wears baggy jeans all the time?”
With that, Maria grabbed the beer out of Erica’s hand, taking a good swig.
“I’m thinking maybe I’m the one that needs a drink,” she muttered as she wiped the foam from her mouth.
A drunk Kyle launched himself at his friend, giving him a lopsided smile. “Hab I stold you that I luuv you?”
Max peeled Kyle away from him, letting out a laugh. “No, but thanks anyway buddy.”
Kyle draped his arms around Max’s shoulders, but in order to do so, he was slanted over, standing on his tip-toes. In his drunken state, it didn’t occur to him that it might have been easier for Max to put his arm over his shoulder considering the height difference.
“Duude, we need some women!” He slurred as he fought to stay upright but failed as he tipped over, falling face first onto the carpet. He moaned miserably before rolling over onto his back. “My dad’s goin’ ta kill meeh.”
Max grabbed a cushion from the couch and placed it under Kyle’s head. He reached for the throw, covering his friend’s body. “That’s right pal. Sleep it off.”
“Evans, glad you could make it!” Alex held out a beer, grinning when he saw Kyle passed out on the floor. “I don’t know why he insists on drinking. Poor guy, he’s such a lightweight.”
Michael crossed his arms over his chest, trying to act as nonchalant as he could. “No estrogen brigade tonight?”
Max frowned. He didn’t want to be angry at Michael since they were friends, but Michael had hurt Maria in the worst way possible. He wasn’t choosing sides, but at the same time, he wasn’t brushing Michael’s indiscretions under the rug. “They have names, you know? I’m pretty sure you know Maria.”
Throwing his hands up in the air, Michael growled. “Must we go through this again?”
Max sighed, wiping his hand down his face as he took a sip of his beer. “Look man, I’m not trying to bust your chops or anything. But you hurt Maria, and when you do that, you hurt me. She doesn’t deserve what you did to her.”
Michael massaged his temples, hoping that the pulsating vein wouldn’t burst. “I don’t need a lecture from you, Max.” He pinned him with an agonized stare. “You have no room to talk. You’ve never even had a girlfriend. You don’t know what it’s like to have a relationship.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Max nodded. “You’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a relationship. But I do know that you’re not supposed to hurt the person you supposedly care for.”
Alex held his hand up, shaking it between the two boys, hoping to wave away any bad air. “Ladies, this is not good for my buzz. Would you please cut it out and enjoy the festivities?”
Max set his beer down on the coffee table, but not before setting it on a coaster. “Tell Kyle I’ll come by tomorrow to help him clean up.” He waved. “Later.”
Waving, Alex sighed before slapping Michael behind his head.
“Ahh! What’d you do that for?”
Alex took another swig from his cup. “That was for being an inconsiderate asshole!”
Isabel looked up from feeding her little brother. When she saw Max come through the door, she glanced at the clock hanging above the kitchen window.
“Home so early?” She smiled, hoping to get rid of the crease between Max’s eyebrows. “I know I’m not that old, but I thought that parties like that usually lasted till dawn.”
Max brushed off her joke before picking up his little brother. “Parties aren’t really my scene.” He smiled at the youngster in his arms before tickling his double chin. “Hey Joe, wanna give me a high five?”
“Huh fibe!” Joey clapped his tiny hand with his big brother’s, excited that he had somebody to play with now.
“Max, don’t get him all excited. He has to go to bed soon,” Isabel warned.
Throwing his brother over his shoulders, Max galloped around the kitchen like a horse. “Geesh, Iz. You’re home for like two days, and already you’re pulling the big sister card?” He dug his foot into the tile, pretending to charge. “You used to be a cool older sister.” He grinned evilly before making a dash for the family room. “Now you’re just an older sister.”
Isabel stomped her foot before chasing after her younger brothers. “I’m not that old!”
“This is getting old. How many times do we have to watch Freddie Nunez swallow a goldfish and throw it back up before we can leave?”
Maria whooped and hollered, pretending she gave a damn. “Yay Freddie! Throw that sucker back up!”
Freddie gave her a thumbs up sign before sticking his finger down his throat, attempting to regurgitate the goldfish into a dixie cup.
Elbowing her friend, Maria whispered. “Is he looking? Is he watching me?”
Erica groaned when she saw Michael stewing at the other side of the room. “Please tell me that you and Michael have not stooped to this level?”
“Hey, he’s the one that didn’t want to buy the cow when he was getting the milk for free from that slut, Pam Troy.”
Grabbing her friend by the shoulders, Erica shook Maria, hoping to rid her of her ridiculous notions. “Will Amy Deluca, please leave this body! I compel this demon to be exercised from this body!”
“Quit it, will you!” Maria pushed away Erica’s hands, trying to hold in her laughter. “Stop, or you’ll make me pee my pants.”
Erica guffawed, letting her hand hit her thigh. “Sorry babe, but I think that honor goes to Paulie. I heard he had a little accident down by the jacuzzi.”
“Are they laughing at me? They are, aren’t they?”
Alex bit the inside of his cheek to keep from bursting out laughing. “You know, they have medication for this type of illness nowadays?”
Michael continued his rant as if he hadn’t heard Alex’s jab. “Look at her fawning over that doofus Freddie. I hope he chokes on that damn goldfish!”
“Hey Mikey G.” Pam sauntered over to Michael, her hand playing dangerously over his stomach. “I hear that the utility shed hasn’t seen any action tonight.”
Giving her a look of disgust, Michael all but puked at her forwardness. He had no idea what possessed him to ask her out in the first place. After that first date, she had lived up to the rumor that she was, well easy. He had actually felt like a prude when she made her advances at him, but he wasn’t about to lose his virginity to some promiscuous girl. As sappy and cliche as it sounded, he wanted to wait for the right person.
After regaining her composure, Maria looked up just in time to see Pam fondling Michael in front of the student body. She felt ready to lose the contents of her stomach. Holding her hand to her mouth, she made a dash for the bathroom.
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
Erica muttered a profanity towards Michael before running after Maria to see if she was alright.
Michael’s head turned up when he heard Erica’s voice. “Hey, I heard that!”
She continued running but not without flipping him the bird.
“I CAN’T WIN!”
Pam batted her eyelashes as seductively as she could. “You could win with me, Mikey.”
He gave her a menacing glare before pushing her away from him. “The name’s Michael, not Mikey G. And for the last time, I’m not interested in what all the guys of West Roswell has already seen, Pam.”
His heavy steps boomed across the house, leaving a stunned audience.
Freddie held up the dixie cup with the goldfish inside it. “You guys want to see me swallow the goldfish again?”
Max sat crossed legged on his bed with his yearbook opened in front of him. In his right hand, he held the phone, trying to get over his fear and just call Liz. He had already embarrassed himself with his stupid note. He couldn’t do much worse than that, right?
Right as he started punching the numbers, a small knock on the door stopped him.
Joey peeked his head inside, his voice soft. “Can I sleep hur?”
Putting the phone down, Max held his arms open to his baby brother. “What’s wrong with your bed Joe?”
Toddling over towards Max, Joey pulled his binkie behind him. “Der’s monstas in da closet.”
Realizing it was inevitable, Max put away the phone and his yearbook, settling Joey under the covers. “Go to sleep little guy. I’ll protect you.”
Joey smiled up at Max before sucking his thumb contently.
Liz stared up at the stars glowing in the sky, wondering what the future had in store for her. She had hoped that Max would call her, but she figured he was at Kyle’s party, having fun like any normal eighteen year old.
She curled up on her chaise lounge, wishing that her dreams would be filled with the wonderful Max E.
|posted on 11-Dec-2002 2:54:30 PM by jasper711|
Standing on the Deluca’s front porch, Max rang the bell, waiting patiently for one of the Deluca women to open the door. He felt bad for flaking out on Maria and Erica the night before, so he was making his rounds this morning. Erica had been first because she was so easy going. She thanked him for his apology, promptly booting him out of her room, complaining of a hangover. He had purposefully left Maria for last, not knowing how long it would take to win her over.
“Isn’t it a little early?” Amy Deluca opened the door with a smile. “I figured you’d still be passed out like Maria.”
Max did his hello nod. “Good morning, Ms. Deluca.”
Pulling the door open, Amy rest her hand against her hip, her slender eyebrow rising at his greeting. “Please stop calling me that. It’s just Amy.”
He ducked his head as he stepped inside. He felt his cheeks warm. “Sorry. I guess old habits die hard.”
She led him into the house. “Yeah and if that old habit doesn’t die, someone else just might,” she joked.
When he turned down the hall, she went in the other direction towards the kitchen. “Are you staying for breakfast?”
Max shook his head. “Thank you, but I can’t stay long.”
Amy nodded calling out as she prepared breakfast for herself and Maria. “Just make sure you stay long enough to get Maria out of bed.”
“Will do Ms-” he caught himself, quickly changing his statement. “I will, Amy.”
Waving her spatula in the air, Amy swung her hips to a tune only she could hear. “That’s my boy!”
“Are you decent?”
“Go away, Max!”
Taking her miserable tone as an invitation, Max let himself inside Maria’s room. He looked around her slovenly kept living space, chuckling to himself.
“Good morning to you too, sleepyhead.”
Maria grabbed her pillow, burying her head underneath it. “I have a headache so get out of here.”
He sat down next to her prone form on the bed. “I’m sorry bailing out on you and Erica last night.”
She didn’t respond, merely grunting. She turned her body away from him, uninterested in what he wanted to say. He had ditched them last night when she had made a complete idiot out of herself. After upchucking all the alcohol she consumed in Sheriff Valenti’s private bathroom, she had cried her heart out, sobbing out loud about the misery that was her life.
Max felt the guilt gnaw at his insides. He tried a different tactic to get a response from her.
“I have a lunch date with Liz Parker.”
No sooner had the words come out of his mouth, did Maria throw her pillow across the room, her body suddenly upright as she pushed Max from her bed.
“NO SHIT?!?” Her eyes were a flurry of excitement at his news. While she was still content in wallowing in her own sorrow, this was the best news she had heard. Maybe her Max was finally going to tap into the love connection.
Loving her reaction, Max laughed. “I thought you said that you had a headache?”
She grabbed her other pillow, throwing it at him. “Shut up and just tell me the details, Romeo.”
Righting himself, Max pulled Maria’s inflatable couch towards the bed. “Well, it’s nothing definite yet, I mean, I still need to call her.”
A loud thump was heard when Maria fell back against her bed, almost as if ignoring Max.
She pulled the covers up to her chin. “Wake me up when you actually do talk to her, k?”
“Ria....” He leaned his elbows on the bed, his chin resting on his open palms. “Don’t be like that.”
Yawning loudly, she tried to find a comfortable position. “It’s not going to work this time, Max.”
He let out a breath. “I need your help.”
Maria peeked open one eye, still skeptical. “Are you just saying that because you want me to get out of bed, or because you really do need my help?”
Before he could answer, she scooted over on the bed, making room for him.
“Come here, hun. Tell Ria all about it.”
Jeff Parker walked past the living room, only to do a double take when he saw Liz hovering over the phone like a hawk.
“You know, if you keep staring at it, it’s not going to ring.”
Liz jumped, her hand reaching for her chest.
“Dad, you scared me!”
Jeff walked into the room, his arm coming around Liz’s shoulders. “I’m sorry honey, I didn’t mean to scare you.” His eyes shot to the phone, intrigued by the fact that Liz had been hanging around it since yesterday. “Who’s call are you waiting for?”
“Huh?,” Liz squeaked, feeling mortified at being caught waiting by the telephone.
He smiled down at her. “You’ve been waiting on the phone like your life depended on it.”
Liz gave her father a weak smile, wanting so much to tell him how right he was. Her life thus far had been a flurry of awards and over achievements that she was proud of. That, she couldn’t deny. But she had given up every scrap of vacation she had, taking extra courses at the University, never letting herself fall behind academically. She had always been ahead, not wanting to lose sight of her goal since childhood.
She had been accepted to Harvard with a full academic scholarship. It had been a dream of hers as far back as she could remember. But now, when she should have been celebrating her accomplishments, she was beginning to wonder if maybe there wasn’t something she was missing in her life.
She had all of the certificates and blue ribbons in a glass case that any one person could own. But was that enough?
Shaking her head, she offered her dad a forced smile. “It’s nothing, dad.”
When he looked inclined to ask, she grabbed his hand, ushering him out the door.
Liz found herself laughing at how concerned he was about her. “Dad, I’m sure.”
Jeff kissed her forehead, tugging on her chin affectionately. He knew that she had outgrown the gesture, but he wasn’t quite ready to let her go yet. He turned to walk down the stairs, ready to start a day at the cafe when he turned back suddenly.
“You know that if there’s anything you need to talk about, you can talk to me, right Lizzie?
“Good.” He waved.
“Have a good day sweetie.”
“There’s only one way to do this.”
Max eyed Maria warily, afraid of what she had in store for him.
“You know, I’m not so sure I like the sound of that.”
Maria reached for her cordless phone, handing it to Max. “You’ve got to make the call. You can’t leave a girl hanging. Liz put herself out there, now you’ve got to make your move. Otherwise, she’ll think you weren’t sincere.”
Swallowing thickly, Max stared at the phone in his hands. He shook his head before stuffing the phone back into Maria’s hands.
“I can’t call her here.”
With a roll of her eyes, Maria shoved the phone in his lap like a hot potato. “What better place than here?” She waved her hand around the room. “This place is neutral. You don’t have to worry about any siblings running in or parents asking you to run errands.”
He cradled the phone and began dialing.
“Fine, but you need to stay quiet.”
When she started doing her happy jig, dancing around the room with a goofy smile, Max shooed her. “And quit looking at me. I can’t do this if you’re staring.”
She snorted, but turned her back nonetheless. “Goodness, you’d think I was standing here watching while you peed.” She made a face, mocking Max’s voice. “I can’t do this if you’re staring.”
Covering the mouth piece, Max hissed out. “Shush!”
Her mouth gaped open while she placed both hands on her hips, indicating that she was pissed.
“Did you just shush me?”
He did it again, this time, putting his index finger against his lip.
She threw her hands up in the air, muttering to herself. “He gets the girl and all of a sudden he thinks he can shush me? Well I don’t think so buddy. We are so going to have a talk about this when you’re through.” She sat on the bed, crossing her arms as she faced the wall. “Shushing me. Hmpf!”
Max tried to ignore Maria’s bickering in the background while he tried to keep from hanging up out of sheer fear.
He almost dropped the phone when he heard her on the other line.
Clearing his throat, he cringed when his voice broke.
“Uh, hi. I was wondering if it would be possible if I could maybe speak with Liz?”
Liz resisted the urge to keep from jumping up and down at the sound of his voice. The only thing she could think of was that he was calling her. He was actually calling her!
“This is Liz.”
“Hi,” the smile in his voice was evident. “This is Max, you know, the yearbook guy?” He felt the need to remind her, just in case she had forgotten.
She chuckled on the other line, making him feel like a million bucks.
“Yeah, I remember.”
He started pacing the room, unable to sit still. “Anyways, I was calling to take you up on that offer for lunch. You know, what you write in my yearbook? I mean, you know, if you’re still up to it. And if you’re not, you know, that’s totally cool. I’d understand.”
Shut up! He needed to shut his trap before she hung up on him. In which case, if she did, he wouldn’t blame her. For goodness sakes, who the heck said you know five million times in one breath?
Liz smiled against the phone.
Max continued pacing.
“I mean if you wrote that just to be nice, that’s fine. I can deal-
He shut up long enough to process the fact that she had responded to him.
“What did you say?”
Liz’s voice came out with a little more clarity this time.
“I said I’ll go.”
Afraid to really believe it, Max clung to the phone tightly.
“Yes. I’d love to go with you.”
A dull thud was heard as Max sank to the floor onto his butt.
“I know this must sound crazy, but for my benefit, could you repeat that one last time?”
Her musical laughter sang in his ears. “I’d love to go out to lunch with you, Max.”
Max made a fist, punching it in thin air to acentuate his success.
“Great, great. How about I pick you up? Say 11? 11 o’clock is good?”
Liz nodded on the other end of the line even though she knew he couldn’t see her.
“I’ll pick you up. At 11. 11 o’clock.” He nodded. “I’ll see you. Bye.”
She toyed with the end of her hair feeling excited and scared all at the same time.
“Bye.” He reached to press the talk button to hang up, but stopped. “Oh, and good morning, Liz.”
Liz was about to hang up when he said good morning. She felt her heart flutter in her chest at his greeting. There was something oddly sweet about how he had squeezed that in at the last moment, like he didn’t want to hang up without telling her, that she really couldn’t wait for him to pick her up.
Just wanted to thank everyone for the fb. It's always appreciated.
|posted on 13-Dec-2002 4:48:12 PM by jasper711|
Checking her reflection in the mirror for the hundredth time in the past hour, Liz smoothed out the invisible wrinkles on her new summer dress. She knew that Max wasn’t due to pick her up until eleven, but she was a little more than excited. She couldn’t help it. This was her very first date that it made it a little impossible to not obsess about it.
“Don’t you look beautiful?”
Nancy Parker stood outside of Liz’s bedroom door, admiring the beauty that was her daughter. She was glad that Liz inherited Jeff’s dark locks instead of her red mane. It was still a little hard to forget the kids tormenting her with the nickname “carrot top” when she was a child.
Liz blushed, but invited her mother in anyway. She tucked her hair anxiously behind her ears, eager to hear her mother’s approval.
“You don’t think it’s too much, do you?”
Eyeing Liz carefully, Nancy motioned for her to do a quick turn. “That all depends honey.” She tapped her finger against her chin. “Why are you all dressed up for?”
Embarrassed and a little flustered, Liz yanked open her closet door, rummaging it as if all of the clothes inside were about to go out of style in the next minute. She felt silly, stupid even. Her own mother thought she was too dressed up. It was a good thing she found out before Max came. Otherwise he might have laughed at her.
Nancy grabbed Liz by the shoulders, a little amused and a tad bit worried at her daughter’s actions. “Liz, what’s going on with you?”
Heaving a dejected sigh, Liz sank to the floor.
“Forget about it. I’m not going.” She kicked off her sandals, reaching for the zipper of her dress.
Her voice was muffled as she struggled to get the dress over her head. “A date. I can’t go. I’m a wreck, and I don’t have anything the least bit interesting to say to this guy. He’s just going to fall asleep-
Liz’s self pity act was cut short when Nancy pulled her dress back down. She felt her mother’s warm hands engulf her face, smooshing her cheeks together.
“You have a date?”
The expectant look in her mother’s eyes made her want to crawl into a ball and hide in her closet. This was just happening all too fast.
“No, not really.”
Trying not to laugh, Nancy sat Liz down. “Then what is it exactly?”
“It’s a boy.”
When her mother nodded for her to go on, Liz took a deep breath before letting it all out, her hands jumping every which way in great animation.
“I sort of hinted that I wanted him to ask me out, and well he did, but it’s just lunch. I’m not really sure if it’s a date, or if he’s just asking me out because he feels sorry for me. Ugh!” She threw her fisted hands in the air, shaking them. “I don’t even know if I want it to be a date. I don’t even know him. What if this is all a mistake?”
Stroking her daughter’s hair, Nancy cooed soft words hoping to calm Liz’s frazzled nerves.
“Maybe it doesn’t have to be a date. Maybe you could go out with this boy as friends. See where it goes from there.” She kissed the top of Liz’s head. “Honey, not everything is a life and death situation. You’re young. You need to stop being so serious.” She cupped Liz’s chin, a teasing smile on her lips. “Otherwise, you’ll start getting wrinkles before your time.”
Liz breathed a sigh of relief, feeling so much better after voicing her fears. She may not have friends that she could talk to about these things, but she had her parents. She could talk to them about anything and they listened. Now how many people her age could say that?
“You’re not really going to wear that, are you?”
Max frowned as he touched his olive green t-shirt and blue jeans. He didn’t see what was wrong with what he was wearing. He happed to be wearing his all-time favorite shirt.
“Why? What’s wrong with it?” He stood in front of the mirror, checking his reflection self-consciously.
“Nothing.” Erica waggled her eyebrows at him. “I think you look hot. If you weren’t one of my best friends, I’d want to do you.”
Max caught Erica’s look, suddenly feeling naked. “Thanks, I think.”
Maria stood up, rifling through his closet. “I’m not saying that your green t-shirt doesn’t bring out your eyes,” she looked up, making a face. “But it’s kind of blah.”
“Blah?” Max pinched his shirt sleeve, trying to figure out what she meant by blah. Obviously by Maria standards, it wasn’t a good thing.
“Definitely. You want something that will knock her socks off. Something that’ll make her think, Dayum! What a hottie.”
Buffing her nails against her shirt, Erica spoke up. “Or you could just go naked. That’ll definitely get her eye.”
Max tossed a shirt at her.
“Kidding.” She held up her hands in surrender. “You’ll forgive me for living vicariously through you, considering there’s no action going on in my pitiful existence.”
Maria giggled in a maddening way as she finished searching Max’s closet. “Going naked might not be a bad idea.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust. “What’s up with the multiple bland, solid colored Hanes t-shirts? You’d think after being friends with us, you’d have a better sense of fashion.”
Laughing, Max stepped away from Maria, afraid of the crazy look in her eyes. “See, that’s what makes me a guy. I draw the line at exchanging fashion trends with the two of you.”
“Really? I thought it was the twig and berries hanging between your legs that made you a guy,” Erica said, feigning innocence.
“Ha ha.” Max grabbed his jacket, folding it over his arm. While he knew this was only a lunch date, he couldn’t help but hope for the best. “I gotta go, or else I’m going to be late. You two, stay out of trouble.”
Fisting his hand, Max tapped it against the door to Liz’s house. This was it. He was finally going to take Liz Parker out. Liz Parker, his dream girl. The most unattainable girl in school had agreed to go out with him, a nobody.
Liz ran through the door, looking through the peep hole. She ducked quickly when he looked up. She shook her head, feeling silly. He couldn’t see her.
She took a moment to admire him, still a little stupefied at the turn of events. While she wanted this to be a date, she didn’t want to get her hopes up. She had never been good at failure, because frankly, she had never failed at anything before. But this was out of her league. This was not something she would normally do.
Whispering a few words of encouragement to herself, she pulled the door open, a smile on her face when she saw his eyes light up like those of a Christmas tree.
“You look,” Max shook his head, trying to clear it. For someone who had been accused of talking too much at the wrong time, he certainly had no words to say now. Liz was so stunningly beautiful that anything he could say, would not do her any justice. “You look incredible.”
Turning her head down, Liz bit her lower lip to keep from giggling like a little girl. “Thanks. You look good too.”
Smiling to himself, Max reminded himself that he would have tell Maria about that. So much for his outfit being blah. He shivered a little for mentally saying the word outfit. He was a guy. And guys certainly did not have outfits.
“Are you ready to go?”
Liz nodded, stepping out as she pulled the door closed behind her. She started walking but stopped when she realized that she had no idea which car was his.
He smiled at her as if realizing her dilemma. Putting his hand on the small of her back, he gently guided her to his jeep. “It’s this one over here.” He shrugged his shoulders, offering her a hand to get inside. “He’s not much, but Bob and I have been through a lot together.”
She laughed a little, eyeing him with the cutest expression. “You named your jeep Bob?”
Max shyly ducked his head. “Yeah, I know it’s stupid-
“It’s not stupid. I think it’s kind of cute.”
Looking up, he caught her smile and for a second, he couldn’t think. She had the most amazing, expressive eyes he had ever seen. He could get lost in them so easily.
He helped her into the passenger seat before jogging to the driver’s side. He put the key in the ignition, then turned to her. “Seatbelt?”
Liz was lost in her own little world, thinking about how gentle he was as he helped her into the jeep. And they said that chivalry was dead.
“Huh?,” she asked, confused.
Grinning, he pointed to her seatbelt. “You might want to put on your seatbelt.” He pet “Bob’s” steering wheel. “Bob’s loyal, but he can get a little rough.”
“Oh, right. Seatbelt.” She pushed the buckle in place, watching with great interest as Max’s muscled arm clenched as he shift gears. A smile broke out on her face when she felt the wind blowing her hair around, making her feel alive.
Turning to face him, she yelled over the load roar of the engine. “Where are we going?”
“This little place off of the old highway.” He looked back up to switch lanes, then turned to speak to her again. “Mexican food. You like Mexican? Because we can go somewhere else if want.”
She shook her head. “Mexican’s good.”
He gave her a smile that revealed all of his teeth. “Good. Mexican it is, then.”
The drive was short, but the scenery was incredible. Although Liz had lived in Roswell all of her life, she had never been privy to this part of town before.
As he put the jeep in park, Liz looked over at him in awe. “Wow, that was great. I’ve never been this way before.”
“It is, isn’t?” He sat there for a moment as if in reflection before hopping out and running to her side.
Guadalupe Ontiveros wiped down the little tables, wiping the sweat off her brow. Her establishment was small, but was popular among the locals. A table like this was bound to go with a snap of fingers.
“Lupe!” Max exclaimed excitedly.
Guadalupe looked up, smiling when she heard Max’s voice. He was one of her favorite customers. He always came in, smiling just as he was now. She waved him down.
“I heard about your graduation,” she squeezed his cheeks proudly. “You’re such a good boy. I’m so very proud.”
Feeling bashful, Max stuffed his hands in his pockets. “You’re making it a bigger deal than it was.”
“Don’t be silly,” she admonished. “Graduating is a big thing. Not many people can say they did it, no?”
He shrugged, then turned to his companion. “Actually, this was the real star of the day.” He smiled down at Liz, proud to be at her side. “She was valedictorian.” He touched her shoulder softly. “Lupe, I’d like you to meet Liz.”
Guadalupe’s eyes grew wide, her lips turning into a surprised, but welcoming smile. In the past year that Max had been coming to her restaurant, he had never brought a girl with him. Not even the older sister he spoke so fondly of. Throwing her dish rag onto the table, she threw her arms around Liz.
“Is nice to meet you, Liz.” She pulled back, touching Liz’s dark hair. “You’re very pretty.”
Liz felt her cheeks flame.
“And so cute too.” Guadalupe elbowed Max. “She the one you talk about all the time?”
Max felt the color drain from his face.
Lupe looked up to hear the cook calling her. She waved, then ushered Max and Liz into their seats. “What you guys want to order?”
Looking at the menu, Liz felt a little overwhelmed. There were so many different choices, she didn’t know where to begin. Everyday for as long as she could remember, she ate the same thing for lunch. Now that the opportunity for change was available, she didn’t know how to go about changing. She looked to Max for help.
“Why don’t you decide for me.”
He looked at her questioningly. “You sure?”
She nodded decisively. “I’m sure. Everything looks so good, I can’t decide.”
He gave her a quick smile before handing the menus back to Guadalupe. “Just give us a double of my usual.”
Guadalupe smiled at them as she ran to put their order in.
“I take it, you come here a lot?”
He chuckled. “Only when I need to be by myself.” He nodded towards Guadalupe. “Lupe always lets me stay as long as I want, even when there are people waiting for a table.”
Liz tilted her head sideways, checking out his physique. “You don’t look like you’re a regular here.”
“What makes you say that?”
She bit her lip. “Your body. You’re in great shape. You don’t look like you’re eating all of this food, all of the time.”
Max steeled himself so he wouldn’t turn into a puddle of mush. She noticed that he was in good shape. That was a good thing, right? It made him wonder what else she noticed about him.
“I don’t eat this all of the time. Sometimes I come here to study.”
Looking around incredulously, Liz wondered how anyone could study with all of the plates clanging and loud chatter going on. “In here?”
“Yeah. It’s the only place where I can’t get distracted.”
“Well, you must have one heck of a concentration, because I could not get anything done if I couldn’t hear myself think.”
Max looked around the familiar surroundings as if noticing for the first time how loud it was. The lighting was dim and it warmer inside than it was outside.
“I haven’t really thought about it before. But going to the library is out of the question.” He grinned. “All of that silence would just drive me insane.”
“And how about at home?”
“Nah, there’s too much going on there. It’s hard enough to keep my little brother out of trouble.” His eyes took on a far away look as he thought of Joey. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love my little brother, but taking care of him is tough sometimes.”
Liz was quiet for a minute, wondering why Max was taking care of his little brother. Where were his parents?
As if reading her thoughts, Max told her about his family situation. “My mom passed away giving birth to my little brother, Joey. My dad’s been trying to provide for me, Joey, and my older sister. She was supposed to go to college a year ago, but she decided to defer a year until Joe was a little older. So I do what I can to help out.”
“I’m sorry.” Liz whispered, sorry for having brought up painful memories.
“It’s okay.” He smiled, despite the sad memories. There was no point in feeling sorry for himself, because it wasn’t going to bring back his mother. He had to be there for the family when his dad wasn’t.
The sullen mood was broken when Lupe arrived with their dishes. “Eat up, muchachos. There’s plenty more on the way.”
Liz’s eyes grew as wide as saucers as she eyed the food. “This is a lot of food.”
Laughing, Max offered her a warm tortilla. “Hey, you asked me to decide.”
Sorry, had to cut it off there. This part was getting a little long. I’ll have more of the date probably after the weekend.
|posted on 17-Dec-2002 7:29:06 PM by jasper711|
“What do you think they’re doing now?”
Staring at her ceiling, Maria sighed wistfully, wishing for someone like Max to love her. When she had been foolish enough to do the “dating” thing, she had fallen victim to a heartless bastard, otherwise known as Michael Guerin. She had given him her heart, opened up her soul to him, thinking that he felt the same way as she did. But the minute that she had uttered the fatal three words that tests every relationship, he had proved that he was just like every other guy. Nothing set him apart from the rest of the herd. He had stomped on her heart, humiliating her beyond recognition, and yet, he didn’t show an ounce of remorse.
With a bored glance at her watch, Erica puffed the hair out of her eyes. “Knowing Max, he’s got her all hot and bothered with conversation.” She laughed at her own pathetic joke. “You know how he gets going about absolutely nothing.”
Maria groaned. “I know.” She sat up, contemplating what was going on with the most unlikely couple of the year. “Do you really think that Liz would love him back the way he loves her?” She bit her lip, unable to stop worrying about Max’s fragile heart. The guy deserved nothing but the best. Not just because his life had been stricken with tragedy and hardship, but because he was an all around amazing guy. He was different from all of them. He was the kind of guy every girl would dream about. The kind of guy who would fall so hopelessly in love that everything else ceased to matter.
Turning serious, Erica nodded. Just because she was the sarcastic heart of the group, didn’t mean she couldn’t turn mushy like a teenaged girl.
“Yeah. How can anyone not love Max? He’s the type of guy that catches you unexpectedly, but in a good way.”
A small smile crept over Maria’s lips, ridding her pretty face of the frown creasing her eyebrows. Maybe, just maybe, Max would get what he deserved. Maybe Liz Parker would see the amazing man that he was and love him for it.
Groaning, Liz rubbed her belly. “I cannot eat another bite.”
Max scarfed down the last of his guacamole. “But you liked it?” He wiped the corner of his mouth with a napkin, watching her with curious eyes.
A sated smile formed on Liz’s lips. “Oh, definitely. But I’m thinking you’re going to need a hoyer to get me out of here. I feel like I gained ten pounds since we got here.”
He chuckled softly, glad that she had a sense of humor. In all of the daydreams he had had about the perfect Liz Parker, he had always imagined her to be funny, and just utterly perfect. He was slowly coming to realize that none of his dreams were about to compare to the real thing. She was even better than anything his mind could have ever conjured up.
“Nah, I don’t think so.” A blush covered his cheeks, reaching all the way up to the tips of his ears as he attempted to say what he wanted to say. “You look satisfied, but beautiful.”
She grinned shyly at him, feeling her whole body tingle at the sensuous way he had spoken of her beauty. She wasn’t feeling particularly good looking at the moment, more like a heifer to be accurate. But the way he had said it, almost made her believe that she was that beautiful.
“Thank you.” She whispered softly. “I don’t think that anyone’s ever said that about me, in a way like that.”
Her smile was contagious, making him do the same. She was like a drug that he couldn’t get enough of. “In a way like what?”
Turning her face down, Liz let her long hair shield her face to hide her embarrassment. “In a way that makes me feel like I really am beautiful. You know, not just something someone says to be polite.”
His heart ached inside his chest at her desolate tone. He hated to see any kind of sorrow in her eyes, so he tried to remedy the situation. Reaching across the table, he tipped her chin up so that she had no choice but to look at him. His voice was sincere, his touch delicate.
“Believe me when I say that you’re beautiful. I’m not saying it to be polite either.” His amber eyes danced with reverence, his voice hushed when he spoke again. “You have no idea how beautiful I think you are.” He shook his head as if having made a blunder, his hand sliding up to brush her cheek gently. “No, I know you’re beautiful, I don’t just think it. And it isn’t just skin-deep.”
Liz made a small gasp at his revalation, realizing that this young man sitting in front of her was slowly stealing her heart. She knew it sounded ridiculous, but she knew it the moment he touched her. She was falling for him and there was nothing she could do about it. Not that she wanted to. He was touching a part of her heart that no one had ever been close to before, and she liked it.
As if realizing he had said too much, Max pulled away his hand. But he was stunned when she reached for his hand, clasping it firmly in her soft palm, instead of rebuffing him.
“You wanna go somewhere?” Hearing her voice come out of her mouth was like listening to someone else. She didn’t know what she meant by it, but she knew she wanted to get to know Max without any distractions or inquisitive eyes.
Nodding, Max reached inside his wallet for a couple of bills, enough to cover the meal and a generous tip. Quickly, he placed the money on the table, all without releasing her hand, or without her releasing his.
The two of them stood, giving a quick wave to Guadalupe who was behind the counter, taking orders dutifully.
“Thanks for lunch, Lupe! We’ll see you later.”
Guadalupe looked up, smiling just in time to wave to the couple holding hands. Coming out of the kitchen, her husband untied his apron, watching the two teens exit the restaurant.
“That Max?” He nodded his head to the quickly disappearing figures.
Sighing his wife touched her heart, a smile of approval on her lips. “Yeah, he brought the girl.” She nudged his side, laughing softly when his eyebrow shot up.
“The girl, huh?” He squinted his eyes, watching as they drove off. He couldn’t help but find joy in the turn of events. Many nights he had listened to his wife console the young boy about his family troubles. More than not, he felt sorry for him, wishing that the Max’s luck would turn for the better. He had heard about the girl on more than one occasion. The girl that Max believed was the one he would spend the rest of life with. Seeing the two of them together just now, he didn’t feel like he could dispute that theory. Those two looked like they belonged together. Almost like two pieces of a puzzle.
Grinning, he slipped his arm around his wife’s shoulders. “It’s good to see him with his novia. Maybe he won’t be so sad no more.”
“I hope you’re right. He’s such a nice boy. I think she’ll make him happy, no?”
He nodded, placing a kiss to her temple, hoping and wishing that young Max Evans would find love as they had.
Shaking his head in disgust, Sheriff Valenti eyed his house with utter disgust.
Despite his raging hangover, Kyle stood before his father as if he were facing the firing range.
“You don’t have to worry, sir. I’ll have this all cleaned up before you get home.”
Jim nodded. “It had better. I have a date tonight and I don’t want her to see this mess.”
Looking up quickly, Kyle winced when he felt a bout of dizziness overcome him for his sudden movement.
“You have a date? With who?” Kyle pondered loudly. Ever since his parents had split when he was six years old, his father had never dated. Never meaning, not at all. Not even the ocassional flirtation at the check out line at the local Buy n’ Bag. He almost made it seem like he had lost all interest in the opposite sex, instead, immersing himself in his work.
Fixing his stetson atop his head, Jim straightened his shoulders. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m going out with Amy Deluca.”
Looking ready to have an aneurysm, Kyle’s mouth hung open for a second before he could speak. “Amy Deluca? Amy Deluca as in manufacturer of all things alien themed and cheesy?” Amy Deluca as in Maria’s mother?, he added silently.
Daring Kyle to question him again, Jim walked towards the door. “Yes, that Amy Deluca. And I expect you to be on your best behaviour when she comes over tonight, is that clear?”
Kyle nodded at his father’s authoritative tone. “Crystal, sir.”
“Good. Why don’t you call your cronys and have them come help you? After all, I’m thinking this party has the name Whitman and Guerin written all over it.”
Pulling her cart into the check out line, Isabel apologized profusely when she ran it into someone.
“I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
Alex turned around, ready to spew off a few curses, when he bit his tongue suddenly, forcing a smile on his face.
Isabel looked up to hear the familiar voice, a look of relief washing over her face when she realized who it was. “Alex, I’m sorry. I was rushing and I wasn’t looking where I was going.”
Joey jumped in the cart, laughing. “Agin!”
“Joey,” Isabel chided. “That wasn’t nice.”
Smiling down at the bouncing child in the cart, Alex touched his dark head softly. “Hey little guy. Give your old pal Alex a high five?”
“Huh fibe!” Joey screamed enthusiastically.
“That’s my man.” Alex stepped out of line, letting Isabel go ahead of him. “Go in front of me. Looks like you’ve got your hands full.”
Shaking her head adamantly, Isabel refused. “No, you were there first. Besides, I ran you over with my cart. I couldn’t.”
“Please?” He bowed dramatically in front of the whole store, causing people to look their way. “I insist.”
Blushing, Isabel moved her cart forward, still unsure. “You’re sure? I have a pretty big cart.”
Alex grinned, holding up his bottle of aspirin. “I think these can wait.” He ruffled Joey’s head affectionately. “Besides, I probably deserve all of the pain I’m in now for all of the stupid stunts I pulled last night.”
As the line moved on, Isabel paid the clerk, but not before thanking Alex a million times.
“Thank you so much. I appreciate it.” She smiled down at her brother. “And Joey does too.”
Alex waved, a goofy grin on his face as they disappeared into the parking lot.
Surprising the heck out of him, Michael appeared out of nowhere before cutting in line. “In your dreams buddy.” He laughed, trying to picture Max’s gorgeous sister with his lanky best friend. And somehow, it just wasn’t working. “Not even in your wildest dreams.”
Staring out at the inviting water, Liz closed her eyes, letting the warm sun soak her skin.
“I never did get to thank you.”
Max watched her under veiled lashes, wondering what was going on in her head. The drive over to the quarry was quiet, but was spent in companiable silence. They had held hands during the whole trip, only letting go when he needed to shift gears. It was like they didn’t have to speak when they were together. Just being in each other’s presence was like a balm to the other’s soul.
“For what?” He stretched his long legs over the blanket he had brought, leaning back on his hands.
She opened her eyes, giving him the most adoring smile. “For lunch.” She kicked off her sandals, getting comfortable just as he was.
She pulled her knees up to her chest. “But next time, I’m buying.”
A shocked, but pleasant smile crossed his face.
“There’s going to be a next time?”
Feeling a little more confident than she was at the start of the “date” Liz nodded decidely. “Yeah. Unless of course you don’t want to go out with me again,” she asked leadingly. She wanted him to refute her statement, to make her feel wanted.
“You’re kidding, right?” He looked at her with smiling eyes. “Me, spending another lovely day with the untouchable Liz Parker? I’d have to be a special kind of stupid to renege on that.”
Liz was quiet for a minute, making Max worry. He touched her hand, his long fingers smoothing the surface of her skin.
“Did I say something wrong?”
She shook her head. “That’s what people think about me?”
When he looked confused, she explained.
“They think I’m an outcast?”
He shook his head, trying to rectify his mistake. “That’s not what I meant. I just meant that people hold you in such high esteem, that I’m kind of baffled that you went out with a dork like me.” He gave her an earnest look. “Besides, untouchable doesn’t mean outcast.”
Liz smiled at him, loving the way he defended her. “No, but they’re synonyms.”
His eyebrow quirked in the most adorable way, his lips curling into a half smile that made her bones feel like jelly. “I’m not going to win this one, am I?”
Her hair flew across her face as she chuckled. “Probably not. But I admire you for trying.” She shrugged her shoulders pretending that it didn’t hurt. “It doesn’t matter anyway. I only care about how you feel about me.”
Max opened his mouth to tell her all the things he felt about her, but held it inside. As well as things were going right now, he still couldn’t let her see all of him. He didn’t want to scare her off, just before things had even begun between them. Instead of dwelling on things he couldn’t control, he appeased himself with her calming presence.
Sorry to cut it short again, but I caught the nasty bug going around. I’m working on the last end of part 5 as we speak, so please be patient.
Also, for those wondering about my other fics, my muse isn’t cooperating right now. Hopefully she’ll be fully rested after the holidays and get cracking on the others.
|posted on 22-Dec-2002 11:13:06 PM by jasper711|
Lounging out on a blanket, Max and Liz made interesting small talk, both enjoying the newness of their friendship, both hoping for something more someday.
“So, are you excited about Harvard?”
Max watched the changing expressions on Liz’s face as she took a moment to answer him.
Biting her lip, she gave him a weak smile. “You know, if you had asked me that earlier this year, I would have told you that I was ecstatic. That after all of my hard work, my dream has finally come true.”
Regarding her with concern, he listened to her sigh of frustration as she tried to work out her feelings. Just watching the play of emotions on her face, he could tell that not everything in Liz Parker’s life was picture perfect. She wasn’t a mechanical thing that went through the motions with one goal in mind. Liz Parker was a beautiful being. She was a person with feelings. Feelings that tormented her just like everyone else.
He leaned on his elbow, turning to face her with his undivided attention. He wanted her to know that she could tell him anything and he would be there for her. Although they had known each other for no more than half a day, he felt a special connection to her. He knew deep down in his heart, that there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for this special person.
His prompting question made her look into his caring gaze. She felt her breath catch in her throat at the raw honesty in his eyes, almost as if he were telling her things with his eyes that his lips wouldn’t. She felt a knot in her stomach at the feelings he was evoking in her. They had spent a total of two hours together, and already she wanted to tell him the deepest secrets in her soul. She wanted to share with him things she couldn’t with her parents. And that scared her.
All of her life, she had felt that she could tell her parents everything. And she had. But lately, there were things she had kept bottled inside her, not wanting her parents to be disappointed in her. She couldn’t take it if her parents felt that way about her. They were all she had.
But looking into Max’s eyes, this boy who had unexpectedly walked into her life twenty four hours ago, she was beginning to wonder if there was something more out there for her. Maybe life wasn’t all about a successful career, or being the best at everything. Sometimes, being the best was the loneliest place to be. She didn’t want that anymore.
Curling her fingers around his larger hand, she couldn’t help but smile. So much for not wanting today to be a date, she chuckled softly to herself. Max Evans was making a lasting impression on her.
“And now, I’d have to say that I don’t really care.” She chewed on her bottom lip, trying to find what it was that she wanted to say.
“It feels like I’ve put my life on hold. I’ve pushed people away so I could get to this point, but I’m not so sure it was worth it, you know?” She shook her head, feeling silly for having said so much. But it was like opening Pandora’s box. She couldn’t stop the flood of words coming out of her mouth even if she wanted to. “Sometimes, I wonder if this is really what I want, or if this is something that my parents want.” She tugged on his hand, silently willing him closer to her. “I know that sounds selfish, because deep down in my heart, I know they just want the best for me, to pursue the opportunities they didn’t have, but sometimes I can’t help but wish that my parents didn’t push me so hard.” Her voice sounded like a little girl when she spoke again.
“Maybe then I could actually say that I had at least one friend to call my own.”
Max fell back against the blanket, bringing their clasped hands to lay on his chest. He closed his eyes briefly before turning to face her. He saw the unshed tears burning her eyes, making her chin quiver. He felt humbled by her honesty with him. The fact that she was sharing things with him that were so personal to her, floored him.
Unable to stop himself, he reached forward to tuck her hair behind her ear, something he had only dreamed of doing before. He gave her a soft smile. “You have me as your friend.” He leaned his forehead against hers. “One to call your own.”
Hearing his delicate voice in her ears broke her. The tenderness in which he held her was her undoing, making her bawl like a child against his chest. Instead of pushing her away like she thought he would do, he pulled her closer, whispering sweet nothings in her ear.
Max wrapped his arms tighter around Liz, wishing there was some way that he could absorb her hurt inside him. His heart broke right along with hers when she shook in his arms, making her appear tiny and fragile. Pressing his lips against her temple, he gave her a chaste kiss.
“It’s okay, Liz. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
“You know, if there’s something I can say about the class of 2002, it’s that they are complete pigs.” Maria cringed as she picked up a crushed plastic cup.
Kyle gave Erica a lopsided smile. She and Maria had stopped by a little while ago to help clean up. Ever since they had arrived, he had been distracted by a certain raven haired beauty.
“Uh, thanks for helping clean up.” He mumbled.
Erica looked up at him, giving him a wink. “Hey, it’s the least we could do.” She dropped her black garbage bag. “After all, Maria did pay homage to the porcelain gods last night in your dad’s bathroom,” she laughed.
“That was you?!?” Kyle shouted. He had gotten hell for that this morning when he had woken up.
If looks could kill, Erica would have been toast.
“I thought we decided in no uncertain terms that we would never speak of that incident again?” Maria placed her hands on her hips, ready to stomp her foot angrily.
Adopting her friend’s stance, Erica tilted her head to the side. “Honey, take a prozac.” When Maria began to fume, she walked up to Kyle, wrapping her arm around his shoulders. “It’s only Kyle. He’s almost as good as Max, just a little rough around the edges,” she smiled sweetly. She nudged Kyle’s ribs. “Right, Kyle?”
Kyle nodded mutely, mesmerized by Erica’s amethyst colored eyes. With the smile she was giving him, he would have gladly done anything she would’ve asked at that moment.
“Yup, just as good.”
Erica grinned back at him, then gave him a noogie. “See, he’s not so bad.” She pinched his cheeks. “He’s just like a puppy, so cute.”
Choosing to ignore the “puppy” comment, Kyle focused on her last statement. She thought he was cute. He giggled inside, forgetting about his headache.
“Who started the party without us?” Alex walked into the filthy house, carrying his bottle of aspirin. He smiled at the girls, then held up the aspirin. “I come bearing gifts.”
Pushing past him, Michael parked himself on the recliner, picking up a magazine.
Alex shook his head, snorting in disgust at his friend. Sometimes Michael could just be the worst.
Maria glared at Michael before resuming her task. “And apparantely, your friend brought dead weight.”
Michael made a face at her, then pulled out his headphones. He smiled sarcastically at her. “Hear no evil,” he put the earpieces against his ears, then reached into his front pocket for his sunglasses. Pushing them up over his nose, he puckered his lips. “See no evil.” He closed his eyes, and pulled the lever of the recliner so that he could get some sleep. Although Kyle was his friend, cleaning was not his thing. He was only here for moral support. He had no intention of lifting a finger.
“I don’t see how you guys can be friends with such a jerk!” Maria scoffed. She turned her back on Michael, proceeding to do her job so she could get the hell out of there. She would have left when she heard the sound of Michael’s frankenstein footsteps, but she wouldn’t let him get the best of her. Nope, there would be no repeat of last night. She couldn’t do that to the good sheriff a second time.
Seeing the crazy look in Erica’s eyes, Kyle felt the hairs on his neck stand to attention. The girl was planning something and he had a feeling that his good old pal, Michael was going to be on the receiving end of her wrath.
“Erica,” he warned. But his warning fell on deaf ears. Nothing was going to stop Erica when she had her mind made up.
Alex gave Erica a thumbs up sign, egging her on. “Kyle, relax. It’s just Michael.” He stepped back to get a better view, knowing that this was going to be good.
Kyle opened his mouth to give a half hearted caution, but decided against it. Michael needed to get a slap in the face so to speak.
Erica sidled up to Michael, then abruptly kicked the recliner up so that it was in the upright position, then screamed loudly in his ear, shocking the hell out of Michael.
“What the fuck?!?” Michael screamed, feeling his heart pounding a mile a minute. One second he was giving himself a pat on the back for burning Maria, and the next he was scared shitless.
Erica smiled down at him evilly. “You’ve got a little something,” she pointed down to his crotch. She held in her laughter. “You didn’t pee your pants, did you?”
Walking Liz to her door, Max held onto her hand tightly. They had spent the rest of the afternoon just laying together on the blanket, listening to each other breathing. When they were together like that, no words were needed.
“I’m sorry about before,” Liz whispered, embarrassed for having soaked his shirt with her tears.
“You must think I’m a complete basket case.”
He shook his head. “No.” He gave her a loving smile, wanting to reassure her that he wasn’t about to go anywhere.
She put her key in the lock, still refusing to meet his eyes. “Are you going to see me again?”
Standing so that he was right behind her, his smiling voice breathed against her neck. “You have the whole summer before you go to Harvard. I plan on spending every minute before that with you.”
Liz turned to face him then, finding herself smiling right along with him.
He nodded towards the door. “You should go inside. Your parents might wonder where you are.”
She nodded, moving forward as if to step inside. Abruptly, she turned back to face him. “Max?”
“Why did you say yes to me? I mean, say yes to going out with me?”
He stopped walking, then looked up to give her a half smile before turning to walk back towards his jeep.
“It was you.”
Finally, the last part of 5. Sorry it took so long to get out, but I’ve been really sick. If I don’t get to update again before the holidays, I want to wish everyone happy holidays!
|posted on 5-Jan-2003 3:54:45 PM by jasper711|
Screeching to a halt after chasing Joey around the house, Max grabbed the cordless phone from the mounted base on the kitchen wall. After his date with Liz, he had stopped by Kyle’s to help clean up, but came just in time before blood was shed. As usual, he had acted as the mediator between Michael and Erica, making sure that they stayed on opposite sides of the house at all times. Sometimes those two fought more so than Michael and Maria did.
Max smiled against the phone when he heard the sound of his father’s voice. Even now when he was a grown man, he still couldn’t help but feel protected by the sound of his dad’s voice. His arm reached out to catch his little brother, emitting a loud giggle from the boy.
“Hey, dad. Dinner’s on the stove. How long before you get home?” He wrestled with the wriggling child in his arms while trying to balance the phone against his ear.
“Actually, that’s why I was calling.”
A long pause hung between the two men before Max’s crestfallen voice echoed in the receiver.
“You’re not coming home?” While he uttered the words like a question, he already knew what the answer was. His father was not coming home tonight. But he didn’t know why he acted surprised. Ever since his mom passed away, his dad spent most of his nights at work. For that matter, he spent almost every waking moment at his office. Max had tried to fool himself with the excuse his father expressed to him every time he tried to coerce him to come home. “We need the money, Max. Nobody’s going to give us a handout, and even if they did, we’re too proud to take it.” He felt guilty for even thinking the thoughts that he was thinking but he couldn’t help it.
Phillip Evans’ voice sounded strained and a little annoyed at Max’s tone.
“Max,” he warned. “I’m not in the mood to fight with you right now. I’m up to my ears in paperwork. You know that we need the overtime money. Somebody has to help your sister with her room and board.”
Feeling instantly guilty, Max bit his lip. “I’m sorry, dad. I didn’t mean it that way. I just....” His voice trailed off before a smile lit his face. “Hey, maybe after I put Joe to bed, I could drop off some dinner at your office.” He hoisted Joey higher against his hip, trying to make amends with his father. The two of them barely spent enough time together as it was. He didn’t want to spend the time they did have together, fighting.
“No!” Phillip answered hastily. “I mean, that’s not necessary. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ll probably just pick something up.” He paused, then quickly added. “Besides, someone’s got to stay with Joe.”
Swallowing his dented pride, Max nodded against the phone. It hurt to have his father reject him. He knew that his dad didn’t mean to offend him, but he still couldn’t help but feel like last night’s leftovers that no one wanted.
“Yeah, okay, whatever.” He sniffed. “Well I’ll leave you a plate for later, just in case,” he added solemnly.
Phillip’s smile could almost be heard on the other line as he hung up.
“Thanks for understanding, son. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Standing just outside the kitchen, Isabel felt the knife twist in her heart at the sight of her brother. She hated seeing the stricken look on his face. Despite the fact that she had just come down the stairs, she knew the reason for his long face. Their father was going to miss yet another family dinner. Not that it would be the first. She laughed bitterly to herself. If their father actually showed up to dinner, then she would worry that there was something wrong. She had accepted it as the norm now. But she knew that it still hit Max extremely hard every single time their father called to decline on a family event.
She didn’t want to sound ungrateful. She would forever be indebted to her father for supporting her while she was still in school. But she couldn’t help but feel abandoned by him. They had all lost their mother. Her father had lost his wife. But more often than not, it felt like they had lost both parents instead of one. Being back a few days from school, she had come to the conclusion that she wouldn’t be going back to Arizona state in the fall. How could she when she looked at her two brothers?
“Dinner ready?” She stepped into the light, trying to sound as cheerful as she could. She didn’t want to add to the grave mood.
Max looked up to the sound of his sister’s voice. Their eyes met in sibling understanding and he forced a smile to himself.
“Yeah, although it’s just the three of us tonight. Dad’s stuck at work tonight.” He said the words as if to dupe themselves into thinking that everything was okay when it really wasn’t. “But we should keep a plate warm for him when he comes home.”
Isabel nodded, playing along with their little game of make believe. They weren’t doing it for Joey’s benefit, but for their own. They needed something to hold on to. They needed something to keep them afloat, otherwise, they would drown right along with Phillip Evans.
As Max set the table, Joey tugged on his brother’s pants leg. “Max?”
Kneeling down so that they were at eye level, Max smiled down at Joey.
Joey cupped his hand against Max’s ear so that only he could hear. “Am happy daddy’s not comin’ home.”
When Max frowned at him, Joey whispered. “I like it jus da tree of us.”
Jeff Parker smiled as Liz practically floated around the kitchen as she helped her mother with dinner. Ever since she had come home from her outing earlier today, she had been dancing around the place like she was on cloud nine. He figured that the reality of receiving the scholarship had finally sunk in. When she had received the news, she smiled and just shrugged it off. It made him worry a little, but seeing her now, he knew that she was just in shock.
“Hi, honey.” He kissed the top of her head, as he picked a crouton from the salad bowl.
Slapping her father’s hand away, Liz laughed.
He held up his hands in defeat. Pulling up a bar stool, he leaned his elbows on the counter.
“So, excited about school?” Without thinking about it, he picked up a piece of celery and started chewing on it. “I bet you can’t wait for the summer to be over so you can start school.”
Liz’s smile faltered a little at her father’s words. He actually thought that her happiness stemmed from the thought of school? She looked at him quizzically, almost as if from a different angle. Is that how her parents saw her? Did they think that her life revolved around school?
Shaking her head, she swallowed. “Actually, no.” She bit her lip as she tossed a few more vegetables in the salad. “I was actually looking forward to having the summer off this year.”
Creasing his eyebrows, Jeff studied Liz closely, wondering if he had heard her correctly. Had she really said that she was taking the summer off? Laughing, he loosened his top button.
“That’s funny sweetheart.”
Fending off the glare that wanted to settle itself on her face, Liz chose to speak in a rational tone. She didn’t want to start an argument right before dinner.
“I’m not kidding.” She tucked her hair behind her ears nervously, wondering if she really had the courage to tell her parents the truth. “I’m taking the summer off. I’m not taking any classes whatsoever.”
Not bothering to hide the displeasure on his face, Jeff cocked his head to the side, his arms crossing over his chest almost angrily. “Cut it out, Lizzie, it’s not funny.”
Facing her father, Liz looked at him crossly. “I’m not joking,” she bit out. “I’m serious.”
“You’re seriously telling me that you’ve suddenly decided to not take any courses at the university the summer before you go to Harvard?” He stood to full height then, upset at his daughter’s revelation. “Have you lost your mind?”
Upset at her father’s reaction, Liz continued to putter around the kitchen so she wouldn’t have to look at his face. If she looked at him right now, she would end up saying something that she would regret later.
“No, dad. I haven’t lost my mind.” She toyed with the silverware as she spoke. “I was just thinking that maybe I should take a break before I completely immerse myself in college.”
Almost as if he hadn’t heard the pain in her voice, Jeff placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve got to stay on top of your game. Harvard isn’t like West Roswell. You’ll be competing with the best of the best. You don’t want to get behind.” He let his hand drop as he reached for the plates to set the table. “You’ve worked so hard to get where you are. Do you really want to blow it now?”
He let the question hang in the air as he walked into the dining room. “I’ve looked through the class schedule at Las Cruces and I think you should sign up for a couple of courses.” His tone held an air of superiority, almost as if demeaning the school. “It probably won’t be much of a challenge for you, but it’ll keep you focused.”
He smiled at Liz, but for the first time in her life, Liz felt cold. Her father’s smile held nothing but cockiness, making her sick to her stomach.
“By this time next year, we’ll be the ones begging you to come home for vacation, but you’ll be too wrapped up in your work.”
Nancy watched the exchange between father and daughter and for the first time in her life, she watched as Liz’s eyes held a little contempt for her father. It had caught her off guard, wondering for a brief second if she was imagining the whole thing. Throughout her whole existence, Liz had always looked up to her father, giving him nothing but looks of admiration. Liz had always gone out of her way to make her father proud of her. But now, she was left to speculate at what was causing the change in their daughter.
She hated to admit it, but she was a little glad to see Liz step out of the cocoon of school. Jeff always made it a point that she focus on school and school only. She never got a chance to tell Liz that she had other choices, because Jeff simply wouldn’t allow it. Maybe now, Liz was finally getting the back bone that she never had. Maybe, just maybe, Liz would step out from behind her father’s insistent coaching and become her own person.
|posted on 7-Jan-2003 2:55:53 PM by jasper711|
Phillip hung up his cell phone, making sure to press the off button securely. He quickly stuffed the phone in his pants pocket before bending down to catch the little girl running towards him. Chuckling, he peppered her face with kisses.
Little Lisa Evans held tightly to her father, wishing that he would stay with her and her mother forever. She hated that he was always gone. She missed him every second that he wasn’t with them.
“I missed you today.” She lay her head against his shoulder, wanting to disappear inside her father.
Stroking her dark locks, Phillip sighed deeply, hating the fact that he had to lie to his little girl.
“I missed you too, baby.”
Tracy Johnson stood by the door, watching the exchange between her daughter and the love of her life. She smiled at the picture they made, and she only prayed that this would be a scene that she could be witness to for the rest of her life. She loved Phillip with all of her heart, but sometimes she felt like he was holding back on her. They had been together for four amazing years, but he had yet to pop the question. Not that she hadn’t dropped enough hints, but Phillip Evans was a man that couldn’t be bamboozled.
“Got enough kisses for me?”
Tracy stepped forward, her arms opened wide. A shy smile overcame her face when he gave her that all encompassing look that showed her how much he loved her.
“Always,” he whispered deeply.
With her eyes closing, Tracy allowed herself to be lost inside his warmth, hoping and praying that this could be forever. That when she woke up in the morning, she wouldn’t find an empty spot on the other side of her bed.
“Mmm,” she inhaled his aftershave, her fingers splayed over his shirt sleeve. Trying to be as discreet as she could, she whispered in his ear so that their daughter wouldn’t hear. “Are you going to spend the night?” she asked expectantly.
Regret crossed his aging features as he led his family into the dining room for supper. “I’m afraid not, sweetheart. I have to fly back to LA tonight.” He loosened his shirt collar to appear completely exhausted and drained. “I have to put in a couple more hours.”
Pouting, Tracy nodded in understanding. If there was one word that could describe Phillip Evans it was workaholic. He lived and breathed his work. He would be unrecognizable without it. She couldn’t really complain though. He provided for them so that they lived comfortably, but all she wanted was that he spend more time at home with his family instead of living in another state. With Phillip working in LA and she and Lisa here in Albuquerque, it was a tough transition for their little family.
More often times than not, she had tried to give Phillip an ultimatum. He either loved her and their daughter, or his job. But she always found herself stepping down and apologizing for even suggesting it in the first place when Phillip reminded her how lonely life was alone. After that, she had stopped trying to force him to make a commitment, merely trying her hardest to keep their little family afloat.
“Oh,” she tried to hide her disappointment, but had pretty much come to expect that his job would always come first. But she loved him too much to let him go. “Well, how about some down home cooking before you go back?”
Phillip smiled, pulling his chair out from the where it sat at the head of the table.
Looking around his surroundings, Michael bent down to pick up a pebble from Amy Deluca’s fishpond. He shook off the water before aiming it at Maria’s bedroom window. A loud clank was heard, but to his disappointment, he got no response. Groaning, he craned his neck and called out again.
Slamming her hand blinding against her bedside table, Maria muttered a curse as she tried to find the lamp switch. Something was causing her to lose her beauty sleep and she was definitely not a happy camper. Whoever it was that was causing all of the commotion was a dead person.
“Damn!” Maria fanned her hand wildly as she hit it against a foreign object on her nightstand. Maybe she would take Max up on his offer about helping her clean her sty of a room.
Forgetting about the lamp, she kicked off the covers and walked blindly to the window. Shoving the heavy drapes aside, she flipped the lock and proceeded to open the window, only to cuss when something hit her on the head.
“Son of a-
Downstairs, Michael tried not to laugh. He wasn’t purposefully trying to hit her on the head, but she was just so cute when she spat out a few obscenities. Not that he would openly admit that to her face. After all, he was still trying to put up the facade that he wasn’t interested in her anymore. He didn’t how they had gotten to this point, continuously trying to hurt each other, but he found himself unable to move on. He couldn’t stop thinking about her, and knowing full well that he didn’t want to stop even if he could.
He knew that he was a coward, an asshole, and every other nickname that Erica had come to call him. He wouldn’t dispute that. But he couldn’t bring himself to put himself out there. To open himself up and allow himself to be vulnerable. He had seen first hand just how much uglier relationships could get. He had seen it with his own parents with their nasty and drawn out divorce. He didn’t want to end up like that.
When Maria’s eyes finally focused in the dark, her pretty face turned into a displeased scowl. She didn’t know whether to be happy to see Michael hanging outside her window, or to be pissed as hell that he even attempted to be within five feet of her. While she verbally showed her anger for him, deep down, she was still in love with him.
She hated the fact that she was that weak. That she allowed herself to be a doormat. She knew what it was like to have a woman fall all over herself to please her significant other. She was more than familiar with it. She had seen the way her mother constantly latched herself to men who weren’t the time of day. She had vowed that she would never turn out like that.
But looking down at Michael, she felt sick to her stomach, knowing that if he had come to her under the pretense of reconciliation, she would jump out the window and throw herself at him. She was pathetic. In her mind’s eye, the saying that “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” was right in her case. The Deluca women were just disasters waiting to happen. And men like Michael Guerin were more than happy to add the fuel to their self destruction.
Half-heartedly steeling herself, she called out to him.
“What do you want?”
Swallowing against the lump in his throat, Michael found it hard to breathe at the sight Maria made. She was like a pixie fairy. He wondered if she had cast some fairy dust on him and held him captive to his feelings for her. Hoping to ride the wave of courage that had found him here outside of the Deluca residence, he prayed that he would not break down and admit to all of the secrets he was hiding from her.
“I need to talk to you.”
Watching as her brother absentmindedly dried the dishes, Isabel’s soft voice tried to penetrate the sadness that had encompassed him.
“You look like you’re a million miles away.”
Max shook his head to clear it of his cluttered thoughts. Ever since Joey had voiced his happiness that their father would be absent for dinner, he couldn’t get the sick feeling out of his system. He felt guilty that his little brother felt that way about their father. A part of him felt like it was his fault that Joey and their father barely knew each other. Maybe there was something he could have done to prevent the damage that was already done. There was no reason that a four year old boy should feel resentment towards his father.
Playfully knocking her knuckles against his temple, Isabel laughed lightly.
“What’s going in there?”
Max forced himself to laugh.
As Isabel finished the last of her dishes, she ruffled her brother’s hair affectionately. While she was only two years older than him, she felt responsible for him. To her, he would always be her little brother.
Trying to hold back her tears, Liz flipped through the University of Las Cruces class schedule. She couldn’t believe how angry she was with her father. After dinner, he had handed her the printed booklet with a big grin on his face, making sure to show her the spots he had highlighted. She had thought that they would talk about the situation like adults. That he would give her the benefit of the doubt and at least hear her side of the story.
But none of that happened.
Surprising her, he had simply pretended that their earlier conversation had never taken place. Like their exchanged of heated emotions had not occurred. Angrily, she wiped away the warm wetness in her eyes.
How was it that she hadn’t noticed how overbearing her father was before?
She didn’t want to defy him or make him disappointed in her, but she wasn’t about to lose something she had just gotten. Determined, she reached for her phone, not at all surprised to find herself dialing the number she was dialing.
Reaching over Joey’s shoulder as they watched television, Isabel spoke into the phone.
When she heard a female voice on the other end asking for Max, she immediately assumed it was Maria.
“Just a second, Maria. I’ll get him. ”
Isabel felt her cheeks flush when the voice politely corrected her.
“I’m sorry. Liz, was it?”
Hearing his sister’s voice, Max jumped from his spot on the floor and quickly grabbed the phone from his sister’s grasp. Feeling the sweat soak his palms, he took a deep breath before answering the phone.
|posted on 8-Jan-2003 4:09:34 PM by jasper711|
Allowing herself to breathe a sigh of relief to hear his emotion filled voice, Liz closed her eyes to drown in the warmth of Max Evans. For some reason or another, he was the only soul that she felt connected to. He was the only person that understood her. The only one that didn’t judge, instead, taking the time to listen to whatever she had to say.
Earlier today, she had bore her heart to him, sharing things with him that she hadn’t spoken to anyone but herself. Listening to his deep even breathing on the other end of the line made her realize that his earlier words were true. She did have a friend.
Biting her lip, she felt a little silly at how the mere sound of his breaths eased her jangled emotions, serving as a balm to her tattered heart.
“Max, I just....I needed to hear your voice,” she whispered quietly. Not out of shame, but out of privacy.
A small smile played at the corners of Max’s lips, making his earlier troubles fade away. Not completely, for he would forever be slave to his tortured feelings as long as his family troubles were not resolved. But he couldn’t think about those things right now, not when he had Liz on the phone.
Gone was the awkward small talk, both of them having found a piece of themselves in the other.
“I missed you.”
His body slid down against the wall, his bottom touching the ground with a soft thud. He closed his eyes, letting his other senses gain more perspective as he listened to her on the other line.
Without hesitation, she stood up and slipped into a pair of shoes.
“I need to see you.”
Not needing a reason to see his beautiful angel, Max agreed.
Looking around her room, Liz quickly pushed herself out of the window, onto her balcony. Steeling herself for the climb down the fire escape, she nodded to herself determinedly.
“Can I come to your house?”
Choking on his own breath, Max found himself speechless for a second. The thought of Liz inside his house was something he had dreamed about for a long time. And soon, it would be a reality.
“Sure,” he stumbled over his response. “Do you need directions?”
Opening the back door, Maria flipped the switch so that they would have some light. When she stepped outside, she raised her eyebrow at Michael’s reaction. It was almost as if he was hurt that she didn’t move aside to let him inside.
“You don’t honestly think that I’m going to invite you in, do you?”
Michael shook his head in the negative, not knowing what he was expecting. Following her, he took a seat on the rickety old tire that hung from the tree in her backyard.
Silence engulfed them, both not knowing where to begin.
But being who she was, Maria couldn’t sit in silence very long. It just wasn’t in her nature to be quiet, especially when she knew there was so much to be said. Taking matters into her own hands, she looked up at Michael from where she was seated on the wooden picnic bench.
“Look, I don’t know why you came down here, but I have some things I need to say, and I’m going to get them off my chest.” She paused for a second, waiting for him to respond, but instead of the angry outburst that she was expecting, he merely gave her a nod.
“I understand that you don’t have any feelings for me.” She snorted, bitterly laughing to herself.
“Actually, I take that back. I know you hate me-
Her speech was cut short when Michael stood up, obviously furious with what she had just revealed. “I don’t hate you,” he spat out heatedly. He paced the length of the grass yard, fuming at the idea. She actually believed that he hated her? That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Standing up, Maria wrapped her arms around herself. It warm outside, but she couldn’t stop the imaginary chill from making her shiver.
“You don’t? Well you could’ve fooled me.” A tear teetered on the edge of her eyelid as she spoke. “You humiliate in public at every given opportunity, you stomp on my heart. I guess I must have missed the memo about pain being the new happy.”
Unable to stop the tears from falling, she shook her head angrily as she swiped the droplets from her face. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t allow him the pleasure of seeing her broken, but tonight, she was making a new promise. This was the end. There would be no more of this. Her heart just couldn’t take it anymore. Turning on her heel, she headed towards the house, but paused when she heard the words come out of his mouth. It made her tears stop, the chill in her bones running down the course of her spine.
“I love you!”
Michael froze the minute the words had carelessly stumbled out of his mouth. He hadn’t meant to say the words out loud, not wanting to complicate their relationship, but she just looked so upset.
“What did you just say?”
With his brother and sister safely in bed, Max waited on the front porch for Liz. He knew he didn’t have to wait for her out here, but he worried about her. He couldn’t help it. Deep in his gut, he knew that something was troubling her. That’s why she requested to see him. He only hoped that he could help. He couldn’t stand to see her in distress.
Seeing a car pull up in his driveway, he stood up, running to greet her.
Liz practically flung herself in his embrace, her body shuddering with relief.
“Thank you,” she breathed into his neck.
Max stroked her hair lovingly, his lips pressing against her temple gently.
“It’s going to be okay. I’ll take care of you.”
Liz let him lead her into the house, not at all offended of his statement about taking care of her. Before, when her father used to say those words to her, she believed him. But now, she didn’t know if she could stomach it if he ever said that to her again. But with Max, it was different. She really believed that he would take care of her. His simple words held so much promise, that in her heart, she knew that he would live up to each and every one of them.
Once inside the house, Max offered Liz a seat on the couch as he rubbed his hands dry on his jeans.
“Are you hungry? Can I get you something to drink?”
Smiling up at him, Liz felt her heart swell at his sweetness. He was a true gentleman. Not wanting to decline his offer she asked politely. “A cup of tea sounds great.”
Max nodded, then hurried into the kitchen.
With Max in the other room, Liz took the opportunity to acquaint herself inside Max’s home. It was modest, but held a warmth that her own house didn’t possess. As far back as she could remember, her house had been in impeccable order. Mess was not tolerated. But here, seeing the basket of laundry lying out, she felt as though she had stepped into the real world.
She touched her hand to the old worn out couch, a smile crossing her lips as she imagined a younger version of Max giving the couch a test drive, no doubt using it as his own personal playground. She chuckled to herself, then felt drawn to the pictures sitting on the fireplace mantle. Standing, she looked at the pictures.
The first one was Max and a girl a little older than he was, probably his sister. The next was a family portrait of Max, his sister, and their parents. Unconsciously, her hand reached out to stroke the picture of Max’s mom and her heart ached a little for him. She knew what it was like to lose a loved when. She had been devastated when her grandma Claudia had passed away last fall. But she had no idea what it would be like to lose a mother.
Staring at Max’s smiling face in the picture, she wondered just how tough he must have it. She felt a little like a spoiled brat, complaining about the things she was complaining about, when Max had had to grow up faster than he probably wanted to. She moved onto the next picture and she had to smile at the miniature version of Max. This must be the younger brother he spoke so fondly of. Joey.
As if knowing that he was being thought about, Joey stepped into the family room and was a little surprised to see a stranger in the house. He knew he should be frightened to find somebody he didn’t know inside his house, but he couldn’t be scared when she turned around. She was too pretty to be a bad person.
“Who are you?”
Startled, Liz clutched her hand to her chest.
Joey walked into the room, holding out his right hand while his left hand dragged his binkie. Izzie had told him that he was getting to be too old to still have a binkie, but Max said he could keep as long as he wanted. Max had even showed him his own binkie from when he was little.
Liz touched her hand to his, trying to give him her most genuine smile. “Hi, I’m Liz. I’m Max’s friend.”
Joey smiled at the mention of his older brother.
“Am, Joey. Max is my brodder.”
Holding two cups of tea, Max tried to walk carefully so as not to spill the hot liquid.
“Sorry to take so long-
He paused when he saw his little brother awake.
“Joe? What’re you doing up?”
Blushing with embarrassment, Joey whispered the reason why he was awake at this hour.
Liz got on her knees and whispered to Joey. “In the closet?”
He nodded, a little intrigued that this Liz person knew about the monsters in the closet.
With a soothing voice, Liz scooted closer to Joey. “I used to have monsters in my closet too. But they’re gone now.”
Whispering conspiratorially, Liz told him her secret. “I would sing my favorite song before I went to bed.”
When Joey didn’t seem so inclined to believe her, she continued. “And then, I would ask all of the monsters to please leave my closet so that I could get some sleep. And if that didn’t work, I would turn on my night light and scare them away because they don’t like light.”
Joey’s eyes lit up with hope. “Really?”
Liz nodded. “I can do it with you, if you want.”
Agreeing eagerly, Joey led Liz into his room.
Turning down his bed, Liz tucked him in securely under the covers. “What’s your favorite song?”
“My buddy,” Joey answered shyly.
Wracking her brain, Liz couldn’t figure out what song that was.
“I don’t think I know that one.”
Max stepped into the room, a huge smile on his face. “Yeah you do, you just have to think about it.” When Liz couldn’t figure it out, he started humming it, then began to sing it with Joey joining him.
“My Buddy, My Buddy, Wherever I go, he goes, My Buddy, My Buddy, I’ll teach him everything I know…”
Liz felt herself laugh like she hadn’t laughed in years. She couldn’t believe that Max and Joey were singing the theme song to the beloved eighties toy. Smoothing back Joey’s hair, she giggled. “I’m thinking you’re a little too young to know that toy.”
Joey shook his head. “Max showed me.”
Max smiled down sheepishly. “Alright, I admit it. I used to own a My Buddy.”
“I think it’s cute.” Liz bent down to kiss Joey’s head, quickly standing up to open the closet door.
Sitting up, Joey called out as loud as he could. “Monstas, please leave so I can sleep.”
When they looked inside the closet and found it free of monsters, Liz plugged in the night light.
“This is just to make sure that they don’t come back.”
Feeling better, Joey fell back against his sheets, a contented smile on his face. “Thank you, Liz.” He blew her a kiss. “Night.” He waved to his brother before tiredly closing his eyes.
Shutting the door behind them, Max’s face glowed with a mixture of awe and happiness. “You were great.”
Liz lowered her eyes bashfully. “No I wasn’t.”
Tilting her chin up, Max shook his head.
“Yes you were.” He gave her a cheeky smile. “You made the closet monsters go away.”
Her lips quirked playfully as she played along with him. “Yeah, well I can tell you from personal experience that they’re a bother to get rid off, unless you know the right tricks.”
Not even thinking about what he was doing, Max wrapped his arm around her shoulder.
She nodded. “Mhhm.”
Looking into his liquid amber eyes she couldn’t help but lean in closer to his face. It was like there was a magnetic pull, something making her want to feel his breath on her face.
Max felt his hand shaking as he reached up to cup her cheek. If moved forward just the tiniest bit, his lips would be touching hers. They would be breathing in each other’s air. All he had to do was just lean in a little more.
Closing her eyes, Liz let herself get lost in the sensations. If she moved just a quarter of an inch, she would have her first kiss ever. Her first kiss with the most amazing guy she had ever met. The guy she was quickly falling head over heels for.
|posted on 9-Jan-2003 3:24:27 PM by jasper711|
Looking up at the sound of his name, Max tried not get mad at his older sister for having ruined the moment between himself and Liz.
“Iz, what’s up?” He stood up straight, but kept his hold on Liz. He didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable under the circumstances.
Embarrassed that she had walked in on a private moment with her brother and a girl, Isabel blushed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. It’s just I heard shouting.”
Liz ducked her head shyly. “I’m sorry, that was my fault. I was trying to get rid of Joey’s closet monsters.”
Turning her head in the direction of her baby brother’s room, Isabel found herself smiling.
“You guys actually got him to sleep in his own room?”
Smiling proudly to have Liz in his arms, Max nodded. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure after Liz’s trick, the closet monsters won’t be bothering Joe again.”
Isabel’s eyes widened with recognition. “You’re Liz.” She shook her head, holding out her hand for Liz to shake.
“Yeah,” Liz whispered, shaking Isabel’s hand. “And you must be Max’s older sister.”
“Isabel.” Walking back towards her room, Isabel apologized again. “Sorry to bother you guys, I’m just gonna go back to bed.” She faked a yawn, then waved. “And thanks again for helping Joey, Liz.” She smiled warmly at the petite girl in her brother’s arms, praying that her brother had found happiness with her, just like she had found it with the man she was in love with.
Hurrying back to her room, she closed the door, clicking the lock in place.
Coming out of from his hiding space in the closet, Alex hiked Isabel’s comforter higher over his naked body. “Everything okay?”
Isabel leaned against her locked door and took a deep breath. “Yeah, he doesn’t suspect a thing.”
Alex sat down beside Isabel on the floor, his hand stroking her cheek gently. “Would it be so bad if your brother found out about us?”
Looking at the love and sincerity in Alex’s eyes, Isabel instantly felt guilty for keeping their relationship a secret from everyone. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of Alex, because nothing could be further from the truth. She was in love with him, and she could actually picture herself walking down the aisle with him.
“You don’t know how much I want to tell everyone about us.” Closing her eyes, she leaned into his touch. “I hate this sneaking around, but I don’t want to spring this on everyone just yet. Do you realize how mad everyone is going to be when we tell them how long we’ve been together?”
Bringing her into his embrace, Alex kissed her lips softly. “Baby, it’s okay. We won’t tell them until you’re ready. I’ve waited this long to be with you. I’m not going to screw it up now.” With a mischievous grin on his face, he kicked the comforter off of his lower body.
“Now, where were we?”
“What did you just say?”
Michael stood under the yard lights like a frozen idiot. He didn’t know what his next move was going to be. Was he really going to admit to her what he really felt for her, or was he going to skirt around the issue once again and stomp all over her heart like he was so used to doing? He forced his lips to move, but his throat was so dry he couldn’t get a word out.
Maria tried waiting for him to say something, but got tired of waiting. She couldn’t stand around and pray that he would finally tell her what she had wanted to hear all along. Because even if he had told her what she wanted to hear, it was probably a little too late. Their so called relationship was a joke. She didn’t see if they could ever get past the hurtful things they had done to each other.
Not giving him a chance to speak, Maria entered the house and closed the door behind her, running up the stairs as the tears continued to spill down her face like an endless waterfall. She had to be strong. She had to get over Michael Guerin and that was all there was to it.
Watching as the door closed in his face, Michael felt the first vestiges of tears trail down his face. His heart crumpled inside his chest and in that moment, he had never hated himself more. For the second time in their twisted relationship, she had begged him to reaffirm what she felt for him. But the coward that he was, he didn’t do it. He was the scum of the earth.
Not bothering to wipe away his tears, he hopped on his bike and veered onto the street. The tears continued to pour down his face, blurring his vision as he revved the engine of his dirt bike. That was why he never saw the car coming from his right as it pummeled him into the ground with a bone shattering sound.
“Maybe I should go.” Liz spoke the words even though she didn’t want to leave. She began feeling self-conscious ever since the run in with Max’s sister. She just didn’t want to be a burden to them.
Max’s face fell as he listened to her. “Do you really want to?”
Liz shook her head, eliciting a small smile from Max.
“Let’s go to my room. We’ll have more privacy there.” He reached for her hand, gripping it tightly in his. He hoped that she couldn’t feel the fine tremors in his body as he led her to his bedroom.
Stepping inside his room, Liz took in a breath, inhaling Max’s heavenly scent that permeated his living space. She wondered what it would be like to wake up to this wonderful aroma everyday. She felt the heat invade her cheeks at her thoughts. She hadn’t even kissed him and yet she was already speculating what it would be like to wake up in his arms.
Max watched the play of emotions on Liz’s face, wondering what was going on in her head. He had to shake himself from his drooling stupor before offering her a seat on the bed.
“Are you okay?” He sat down beside her gingerly, not wanting to startle her. “Before, on the phone, you sounded upset.”
Meeting his eyes, Liz marveled at his sensitivity. Just by that brief phone call, he had already sensed that something was amiss with her. Looking around his room, she felt herself fall deeper for him. She realized then and there that Max was unlike every other boy. Here they were alone in his room, and he wasn’t making a move on her, especially when she knew that had they not been interrupted by his sister earlier that he would have kissed her. He was genuinely concerned about her feelings.
“You remember how I said that my parents are always try to push me academically?”
He nodded, his hand grasping hers in support as he listened to her intently.
“Yeah, well I just felt like I was suffocating. I told my dad that I was taking the summer off, and he pretended like he wasn’t hearing me. He made it clear that he wouldn’t tolerate me taking a break.” Her lower lip trembled as she explained her troubles to him. “He made it seem like he was the final word, like he would be making the decisions for me if I didn’t follow his lead.”
“What do you want?”
Liz felt an ounce of courage work her way back into her system at Max’s soft question. His line of questions were exactly what she needed to hear to make the right decisions for her. It didn’t really matter what her father wanted for. She had to do what was right for before every important opportunity passed her by. Because if she wasn’t careful, she would end up a bitter old lady, alone and lonely.
She smiled through the tears that threatened to spill over her cheeks. “I want to spend my summer with you.”
Max was floored at her statement, unable to really believe that he heard what she had said. Could it be possible that Liz meant what she said? That she wanted to spend her last summer of freedom with him. While it was flattering to hear that, he didn’t want to get in the way of her future. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he didn’t want to ruin her future either. They were complete opposites.
“Not that I don’t want to spend the next three months of my life with you, but do you really want to forgo summer school for me?” His voice held an air of disbelief. “You don’t really know me. Are you sure I’m worth it?”
Liz gave him a breathtaking smile. “Yes, I think you’re worth it. And I’m going to spend the rest of my summer getting to know you.” Taking chance into her hands, she finished what they had started in the hallway. Tilting her head forward, she smiled as her lips touched his, a sigh escaping her as she experienced her first kiss.
|posted on 14-Jan-2003 3:19:53 PM by jasper711|
Yanking his shirt over his head, Alex leaned forward to steal one last kiss from Isabel.
“I’ll call you.”
She kissed him back eagerly as she nodded. She squeezed his hip with a loving sigh. “You’d better.”
Pushing her window open, Alex gave her his patented Whitman grin. “I love you.” He gave her a fancy wave, promptly falling out of her window.
Isabel rushed to the window with a laugh. “Are you alright?”
Alex jumped up as if he hadn’t felt any pain. “Fabulous, my lady.”
Unable to let him go just yet, Isabel grabbed him by the shirt collar and planted a lasting kiss on his lips. She grinned when she saw the dazed expression on his face.
“Just a little something to remember me by.” She waved him off. “I love you!”
Stretching his arms above his head, Max couldn’t help but smile languorously. He had had the best dream. He and Liz had shared their first kiss and had spent the night talking about everything and nothing. The last thing he remembered was holding her in his arms as she fell asleep quietly. It had seemed so real, holding her close, breathing in her scent.
Turning on his side, it was almost as if he could still hold her, smell her. Inhaling, he squeezed his pillow close to his body, imagining he was still hugging her. His grin was embedded deeply on his face as he mentally congratulated himself on his great imagination. It felt as though she was still really here, her long hair tickling his chin.
Not able to resist, he pressed his lips against her head.
His eyes popped open at the greeting, his face crimson with embarrassment.
She looked up at him with so much love that he had to pull away from her partially in fear of her feeling his beginning arousal. He was embarrassed that something so simple as holding her in his arms could cause such a reaction from him, but it was not to be helped. Liz just had that affect on him, and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it, not that he wanted to, he thought wryly.
Giving him a shy smile, Liz snuggled closer to the warmth of his body. She nuzzled his neck softly, like a kitten cuddling up against its mother. Last night had seemed almost too good to be true. They had talked all night, learning so much about each other in a few short hours, not to mention the little stolen kisses in between. She was in heaven and she never wanted to leave. She had never known what it was to feel so much for one person that leaving them felt like an impossibility. When she had woken up and seen the early hour of the morning, she had ignored the constant nagging of her conscience, instead, staying where her heart clearly wanted to stay.
Max felt his adam’s apple bob furiously as he felt Liz’s body mold against his. He could barely breathe, his hands having a mind of its own as it sifted through her gloriously soft hair. He chose to forget all his responsibility just once to enjoy the moment while it lasted.
“How long have you been awake?” His cheek rubbed against the top of her head, his lips widening into a smile when he heard an almost purr like sound escape her lips.
“Not long.” She rest her head on his chest, her fingers playing at his shirt buttons.
Turning her chin upwards, Max tried to give her an admonishing look.
“Why didn’t you wake me?”
Her long eyelashed flattered against her cheeks, hiding her big brown eyes.
“You looked so sweet that I didn’t have the heart to wake you.” Her voice took on a dreamy far away tone. “And besides, I’ve never just watched anyone sleep before.” She sounded awed and humbled as she continued. “I know this is gonna sound corny, but I felt like I could see the real you.”
Max felt his heart beat triple time as her face inched closer to his. He could feel his upper lip twitch as he felt the urge to kiss her intensify. When she bent forward, he turned his face to the side, embarrassed. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”
Liz felt a pout come to her lips, but didn’t move away.
“Don’t you want to kiss me?” There was a fine tremor in her voice that made Max look up at her, making him feel like an ass.
“No! It’s all I can do to keep from kissing the breath from your lips, but,” his hand flew to cover his mouth self-consciously. “I have morning breath,” he mumbled. He grinned behind his hand. “I don’t want to literally blow you away,” he joked.
Liz smiled down at him. “Do you have a tooth brush I could borrow?”
Max nodded mutely, leading her towards the bathroom. Curious, he stood behind her, watching as she methodically put toothpaste on the new brush.
She looked up at him. “Which one’s yours?”
He pointed dumbly to the red one in the cup.
Taking it from it’s place, she put it in his hand, her other hand squeezing the mint paste on the bristles. Making sure to put the cap back on, she began brushing her teeth in front of him, not at all embarrassed to be doing something intimate in front of Max. Instead of making her uneasy, it made her feel at home.
Following her queue, Max started brushing his teeth as well, not really knowing what the significance of brushing their teeth together was. As they spit into the sink and rinsed, he opened his mouth to ask his burning question before he was abruptly pulled into her arms for a kiss.
She smiled against his lips, her minty breath tickling his lips. “Better?”
Kyle felt the ache in his neck as he tried to find a comfortable position on the plastic seats inside the waiting room at Roswell County General. He had not slept in what seemed like days. He had spent the whole night waiting word on the condition of his friend. He could barely believe that any of this was really happening.
Last night, his father had come home, crying at his bedside.
Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he looked up at the hovered figure on the end of his bed.
Jim Valenti turned a tear stained face towards his son, his stetson clutched tightly against his chest. “We have to go to the hospital, Kyle.”
He was up in an instant, pulling a pair of pants over his boxers as he hastily shoved his big feet into a pair of shoes.
“What is it, dad?”
He didn’t need to hear anymore before he ushered his father in the passenger seat of his mustang.
That was why he was here, waiting for some good news on his best friend. The hospital staff would not let him inside the ICU unit, claiming only family of the patient could visit right now. He had wanted to throttle the nurse at the station, knowing full well that Michael’s only family was his friends. His parents had yet to show up since the accident almost twelve hours ago. How could he make the hospital staff see that Michael’s parents were flakier than a box of corn flakes? He’d be surprised if the Guerins showed up sometime today. In his experience with Michael’s parents, expecting anything from them would only get you burned in the end. If you needed something, Michael’s mother and father were the people you would never go to.
So here he was, waiting like Michael’s real family. He had debated when to call the others to let them know the bad news, but decided against it, being that the hour was late. But now, as his eyes squinted at the open blinds, he searched in his pocket for some change.
“Mrs. Whitman. It’s Kyle.”
Mrs. Whitman’s soft voice cooed on the line. “How’re you doing, sweet heart?”
Kyle sniffed back a tear, not wanting to completely lose it over the phone on his first call. He still had three more phone calls to make. With Maria being the hardest he’d ever have to make in this lifetime. He wasn’t sure how he was going to make that call.
“Not so good. Can I please speak with Alex?”
|posted on 21-Jan-2003 6:32:14 PM by jasper711|
Max laughed at the mischievous grin on Liz’s face. She was a sneaky one, but he didn’t mind one bit. As much as he thought he loved her with all of his heart before, he was quickly coming to the conclusion that when it came to Liz, he could only fall deeper and deeper. Tilting his head down, his lips curled into a matching grin. He reached his fingers out to rub her bottom lip, making him want to groan.
“When I was talking about morning breath, I meant mine,” he chuckled. He shook his head, in awe that any of this was really happening. “You, could never have morning breath.”
Rolling her eyes at him in jest, she pressed her hand against his chest. “Contrary to popular belief, girls have the same human functions as males.”
Allowing his eyes to go wide in mock, Max’s jaw dropped. “Really? I never would’ve guessed.”
The two of them giggled, both unable to resist the gravitational pull towards each other when a banging on the bathroom door startled them apart.
“MAX! OH MY GOD! MAX!”
Feeling the hairs on his arm stand up, Max grabbed Liz’s hand before pulling the door open.
Isabel’s eyes were bloodshot, tears streaming down her face as she trembled, her hand clasping the phone so tightly in her palm that she had cut off all circulation to her fingers.
“It’s Michael. He....” Before she could finish her sentence, she broke down into tears, falling down to the ground. She couldn’t help but think about Alex. Had she not asked Alex to meet her here for a secret rendezvous the night before, he might have been with Michael. She felt selfish for thinking about Alex when Michael was lying in the hospital, considering Alex was safe and sound.
Max gripped Liz’s hand tighter as he bent down to his sister. From the looks of her, he knew that whatever she was going to tell him wasn’t good news. He was dreading what was about to come from her lips. “What about Michael?”
Trying to regain her composure, Isabel wiped away at her tears. “We need to go to the hospital.”
With those words, Max just stood up, assisting Isabel to follow suit. He wiped away his sister’s tears. “You should go wake Joe.”
Ushering her down the hall to their brother’s room, Max turned to Liz, his face contorted in a grimace. “Maybe you should go home.” The words sounded wrong to his ears, knowing that he needed Liz by his side more than ever. But he couldn’t ask her to come with him. They were barely getting to know one another and all of a sudden he was going to drag her into his angst filled existence.
Liz shook her head firmly, not willing to allow Max to push her away when he obviously needed her. He had been there for her when she needed him. Now that it was clear that he was the one going through something difficult, she wasn’t going to leave him.
“I’m not going anywhere, Max.”
Max felt the tug in his heart at her insistence. His heart wanted nothing more than to embrace her kindness, but he couldn’t push the image of her irate father out of his mind. He had yet to meet her parents, and he didn’t want to start off on the wrong foot. God knows the kind of worry her father was going through at the idea of her not coming home from the night before.
“But what about your parents?” He cupped her cheek in his large palm. “You didn’t go home last night. I don’t want you to get in trouble because of me.”
Staring into the endless pools of sorrow she saw in Max’s eyes, Liz stood her ground. Whatever punishment her parents would give her would be fine with her. There was no way she was going to leave Max when he was teetering on the edge of breaking down.
“I’ll take care of my parents later. You need me here.”
When he would’ve have spouted off an argument, Liz shook her head. “No buts. You and your sister are in no condition to drive.” She squeezed his hand for encouragement. “And besides, someone needs to stay with Joey while you see your friend.”
At the logic of her words, Max could only nod and follow her lead.
Erica sat on Maria’s bed tensely, waiting for her best friend to get out of the shower. She felt like a train wreck, her emotions haphazardly strewn every which way. She couldn’t believe that any of this was happening. Just a day ago, she and Michael were getting on each other’s nerves, trying to get the best of each other. Now, here she was, drowning in the news that Michael was lying in the hospital after a head on collision.
She felt like the biggest bitch in the world. Before his accident, she had been so mean to him, wanting him to experience the worst, most excruciating pain one could feel for hurting Maria. She had thought such awful things about him, wanting something bad to happen to him, but now that the damage was done, she felt sick to her stomach. She had wished the worst on him and it happened. She could never live with herself.
When Kyle had called her, she had been stupefied into silence. For once in her very loud existence, Erica Hernandez was without words. After what seemed like hours, Erica just held the phone against her ear, the whole thing seeming surreal. Kyle had sobbed into the phone, telling her that he still needed to call Maria. He had put off calling her till last because he couldn’t find the words to tell her. While Michael and Maria continued to have their lover spats, all of them knew that deep down, they really cared about each other.
Unable to imagine what it was like for Kyle, Erica had taken it upon herself to deliver the news to her friend. She had told Kyle to concentrate on Michael, telling him that she would break the news to Maria. Kyle had breathed a sigh of relief, glad that the burden was off him so that he could focus his energies on trying to help Michael.
So here she was, trying to figure out how to tell Maria that Michael was in the ICU.
The door opened with Maria dressed in a robe, a towel wrapped around her head. She was humming the tune of Phantom Planet’s the Guest, the song she always played when she was depressed. Last night had been trying for her, emotionally draining her to the point where she had cried out all of her tears. She had continued to sob until she was hoarse and dry. But as she had woken up, she had felt like there was a huge rock in her chest where her heart was supposed to be. While she was proud of herself for walking away from Michael, she felt like shit. She had heard him call out that he loved her, but she had forced him to truly admit it to her. She had put him on the spot after he had just admitted what she had been wanting to hear from his mouth. So he had stood there like a deer caught in headlights. She felt like a bitch, but she wanted him to admit it to her face. She needed him to tell it to her like he meant, with him looking into her eyes so she could tell if he was lying.
But nothing became of it. He had froze, and she had left him. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t get sucked back in, no matter what. But it had hurt to turn her back on him. She felt so evil for putting him on the spot. But she had to follow through. She had been hurt enough times that she just couldn’t put herself through it again, even if it cost her a reconciliation with Michael. She loved the bastard, but he was just so stubborn.
Lying in her bed hours afterwards, she wondered if that was the most she was going to get out of him. Maybe Michael was the way he was, and no matter how much she wanted to change him into what she thought was the perfect boyfriend, she couldn’t.
Taking a deep calming breath before she completely broke down again and make herself physically ill, she looked up, a scream escaping her lips when she saw Erica sitting on her bed. Fanning her face with her hands, she willed her heart to beat slower as she cussed her friend out.
“What the fuck, Erica? You scared the shit out of me, girl.” When her heart slowed some, she realized for the first time how eerily quiet Erica was. After her verbal abuse, she was expecting Erica to return the favor as she usually did. But taking a closer look at her friend, Maria could feel the blood drain from her face.
“What’s going on?”
Erica broke down into tears, the mask she had put on unable to withstand the pain any longer.
Running to her friend since childhood, Maria shook Erica by the shoulders almost violently, demanding an answer from the girl.
Holding her hands over head, Erica sobbed uncontrollably. “Michael’s in the hospital!”
Maria fell to the ground, but she didn’t feel it. She felt as if she were in another dimension, almost like being in the twilight zone. She could hear people screaming in the background and feet running around the room, but she was oblivious to it. All she could think about was that Michael was in the hospital. Michael was in the hospital. Michael was in the hospital.
Tearing the towel from her head, she let out a blood curdling scream.
Michael was in the hospital and it was all her fault.
Sorry I haven’t been able to post in awhile. I’ve been a little sleep deprived. Anyways, just a little note about the song that Maria was supposedly humming, I know that it’s a Phantom Planet song, I’m just not sure if that’s really the name of it. So a quick apology if it is wrong.