posted on 17-Dec-2001 6:01:10 PM by ShayParkerEvans
Gasp! I can't believe it either! But I'm back! Yay! Hope that everyone hasn't forgotten this fic. Just a big thank you to everyone who's emailed me, keeping me on track, LOL! It means alot, and thanks again. Email anytime! KiwiChica143⊕
I'll repost the entire thing soon, just don't have time right now. But figured I'd start getting axes thrown at my head if I had a part and didn't put it out right away. *big*
On to the story...

(From Part 30)

His mother's voice traveling through the house broke him through the fog that had settled around them. Max gently lowered Liz to the ground, smiling sympathetically to her while she tried to fix her hair and look somewhat presentable.

Max smiled and yelled through the house. "Yeah, mom!"

"Great honey, could you come in here?"

Max grabbed Liz's hand with a grin and they walked towards the direction of his mother's voice. They reached the main room, and Max noticed someone else was there. Her back was turned to them. But her hair was a sort of red, long, and Max turned towards Liz when her grip on his hand tightened significantly.
Eventually the other woman stood, turning towards them. Max watched Liz's eyes grow wide and her skin grow pale, until one whispered word escaped her lips.



Part 31

Max had no idea what to do. How was he supposed to react? All he could really seem to focus on was the crushing grip Liz had on his hand, which wasn't a good sign. No one was speaking, which was starting to freak him out a bit. Liz and her mother were regarding each other, Liz with more panic than the other. Max's mother seemed to have no clue what to do, so was keeping a polite smile on her face.

"Aliana," Nancy cleared her throat. "You look like you've taken care of yourself."

Liz nodded slightly, her grip on Max's hand loosening just a tad bit. It was a surreal moment. His confident, smiling Liz was speechless at the sight of her mother. And certainly not looking like she would be smiling any time soon.

Max, taking this as a clue that he needed to save her, stepped forward.

"Mrs. Parker, haven't seen you since…forever, actually."

Nancy turned her gaze on him and Max understood why Liz was acting the way she was. The older woman's eyes gave way to absolutely nothing, and her face lacked any and all expression. She smiled tightly, clearing her throat again.

"Max, you're right, it's been ages. The last time I saw you, you were wearing clip-on bow ties." Nancy laughed and Max smiled good-naturedly.

"Well, I'll let you in on a little secret, I still do sometimes." He winked at Nancy, hoping he was lightening the mood a bit. Liz's grip relaxing was enough to keep him going.

He glanced back at her, and was the proudest he had ever been when she managed a small smile.
"Aliana," Nancy finally managed. "Would you mind stepping outside with me?"

Liz shook her head, her eyes wide and nervous. Max stepped close to her, wrapping her in an embrace. "You're going to be fine," he whispered in her ear. "I won't let anything happen to you."

Liz squeezed him tightly for a second, then followed her mother out toward the garden. Max watched her go, sending his love and courage through the air, knowing she would make it through.

Diane stepped next to him, wrapping an arm around his waist. "My dear," she sighed. "I hope it goes okay."

Max smiled, squeezing his mom's shoulder. "She's Liz, mom."


Liz walked beside her mother in silence, not knowing for the life of her what to say. She hadn't been close to her mother her entire life, and after being gone for six years she certainly wasn't any better off now.
She tried to calm herself down, imagining Max's warm arms around her, his whispered words of encouragement, the fierce protectiveness with which he spoke.

It helped. A small smile broke out on her face, and her mother noticed, coming to a stop beside some tulips. Deciding not to be afraid anymore, Liz made an attempt to speak first.

"Listen, Mom-"

"No, I will not listen," Nancy interrupted. Liz snapped her glance up and noticed how her mother was barely keeping it together. "I don't know what you have been doing, Aliana, but it is time for this to end." Nancy started pacing in the small amount of space, and Liz gave her time to talk. She deserved at least that. "You were engaged! Exactly two weeks until the wedding of the century and you just took off! I will never understand you, Ali. You had everything anyone ever hopes for, and you walked away. A home, a family that loved you, a fiancee for God's sake, that you had loved for years! I mean, you baffle me. We didn't know if you were dead, alive, married, pregnant…what in the world could have possibly made you leave?! Was it some indiscretion? Were you raped? Having an affair? You know full well that we have enough strings to pull to take care of absolutely anything." Her mother stopped walking, turning to face her full on. "This is what is going to happen, young lady. You are packing up, you are coming home, and Aliana, if I hear one word of protest-"

"Liz." Liz said quietly.

Nancy took a step back, as if slapped. She shook her head slightly, then, "Excuse me?"

Liz looked up at her mom, a newfound confidence pulled up from within her. "My name is Liz, mom. And no, I did not leave because of some stupid mistake. Unless you want to call staying that long a mistake."

Nancy narrowed her eyes, "Do you want to explain that, young lady?"

Liz threw her arms out, her bottled up emotions from the past years being set free. "I'm not a young lady anymore, Mom! I'm twenty-seven years old! I'm an adult! I have a life of my own! I'm not your little Aliana anymore, and I don't want to be. I was miserable." Liz shook her head, tears gathering in her eyes.
"I had everything anyone could ask for, did I? I was a showcase. I was your little Ali, your trophy, the one thing you had that you could do anything you wanted to, and I still trusted you. But I grew up, I became my own person and it was someone that as far as you saw it, I wasn't allowed to be. I was to be the way you wanted me, when you wanted me that way. And a person can't live like that, Mom.

"I was engaged to Kyle. Kyle, mother! I put on the show that I'd been born to put on, but to ask me to spend the rest of my life playing a part is too much. He wasn't worth it to me. If I could have left him just like that, I didn't love him. I wish I hadn't had to hurt him like that. I'll wish it for every day for the rest of my life, but I will never regret the decision I made that day when I walked away." The tears she'd been fighting broke free. "I deserve better, mom. I deserve a life that I'll enjoy, one with a husband that I love more than anything, and happy children and grandchildren and I deserve to die knowing that I lived my life. That I wasn't a spectator inside my own body."

Liz watched her mother's shocked face for a few seconds, then wiped away her tears with the back of her hand, shaking her head.

"So no, mother, I'm not coming home. Aliana can go with you, but Liz… Liz is staying right here, where she belongs."

Liz blinked, then stepped forward and enfolded her mother in a hug. She felt weak arms come around her, then stepped back.

"It's the saddest thing in the world, mom. That you could love Ali, and couldn't love me." Liz gave her mom a sad smile, then walked away. She got a few steps before she heard Nancy call behind her.


Liz stopped, but didn't turn. Her mother's face appeared before her, tearful eyes and sad smile.

"Listen…Liz. I don't want you to walk away. I need some time…but I'd like to come back. Maybe spend some time with you?"

Liz watched her mom's hopeful eyes and nodded, a watery smile breaking out on her own face. "I'd like that," she whispered.

Her mom nodded, wiping away her tears, and smiling a bit. "There's just one thing I have to know before I go."

Liz looked at her, confused. "What's that?"

Nancy and Liz started walking back to the house, arm in arm. "What's this about Max?"


[ edited 4 time(s), last at 26-Jul-2002 10:40:53 AM ]
posted on 2-Apr-2002 5:15:24 PM by ShayParkerEvans
AN: Here I am to save the day! Haha! But really, new part! I know it's been a while, I spologize from deep down inside. I'm trying to get new parts out of everything, my imagination has been running wild and I've had more time for writing.
Stop over and see my other fic Shining Light. I'm gonna have alot of fun writing that one, so I would appreciate it if people liked it, LOL! Leave me some feedback on it people! I beg you!

From Part 31...

Liz blinked, then stepped forward and enfolded her mother in a hug. She felt weak arms come around her, then stepped back.

"It's the saddest thing in the world, mom. That you could love Ali, and couldn't love me." Liz gave her mom a sad smile, then walked away. She got a few steps before she heard Nancy call behind her.


Liz stopped, but didn't turn. Her mother's face appeared before her, tearful eyes and sad smile.

"Listen…Liz. I don't want you to walk away. I need some time…but I'd like to come back. Maybe spend some time with you?"

Liz watched her mom's hopeful eyes and nodded, a watery smile breaking out on her own face. "I'd like that," she whispered.

Her mom nodded, wiping away her tears, and smiling a bit. "There's just one thing I have to know before I go."

Liz looked at her, confused. "What's that?"

Nancy and Liz started walking back to the house, arm in arm. "What's this about Max?"

Part 32

Max watched Liz and her mom walking around the garden a ways away with a grin attached to his face. A grin that he thought might become a permanent feature. The way they were both laughing and with Liz's eyes shining the way they were, it was obvious the conversation had gone well.

He turned with a sigh of relief to his mother. Diane looked at him through narrowed eyes, a shadow of a smile on her face.

"I called her."

Max nodded. "I figured you did. Didn't you think maybe Liz needed to work it out for herself?"

Diane took a deep breath and after a glance at the pair of women becoming family again, started to walk inside. Max followed after her, continuing the conversation.

"Max, did you see the look she would get in her eyes if you mentioned her family? She missed them more than she let on. It may be something only a mother would notice, but Liz was homesick. Girls need their mothers. I knew that she would be angry at first, but I had high hopes that it would work out for the best."

Max smiled and pulled his mom into a hug. "You're amazing, you know that?"

She just laughed and wrapped an arm around his waist. "So do you think you can get her to go to the party?"

Max shook his head in confusion, his brow wrinkling. "What party?"

"Max, doesn't anything hold in that memory bank of yours?" Diane released herself from her son's grasp and walked towards the piano. "The reunion back in Seattle. Our family was invited, do you think Liz will be up to going?"

Max shook his head and sat down on the couch he sat as a little boy, listening to his mother play her favorite songs over and over. "I think maybe if this thing with her mom turned out okay."

They heard tinkling laughter through the open window and Diane looked at her son with a knowing gleam in her eye. Max smiled.

"Which it appears it did."

Diane nodded with a smile, playing the opening notes to a piece Max couldn't help but remember.

"She's brave, Max. And strong. I'm proud of her."

Max closed his eyes and listened to the notes flowing over the room.

"So am I, Mom."


A while later Liz and her mom came back inside, all smiles. Liz was eager for a little dessert out with Max and maybe their mothers, but when she saw him she couldn't help but melt.

He was on the couch, curled slightly, his chest rising and falling the peaceful way it does during sleep. His neverending eyelashes that she loved so much were resting on his cheeks, contrasting to the golden of his skin. She signaled for Nancy to be quiet and tiptoed over to her love. When she turned back her mother had left the room.

Liz watched him sleep, letting the afternoon's emotions wash over her. The shock and fear at finding her mother mere feet away instead of states like she was supposed to be. The nervousness she had felt while her mother was berating her, the anger that had uncoiled. The relief at her mother who she had missed more than she'd admit to anyone accepting her the way she was.

And now a peace. Knowing all was right with her family, knowing she was loved. Contentment of every kind except one. Her mother had asked her if she planned on attending the reunion that was mere months away.

It was a good question.

While she would love to be back with the people that had made her, she was unsure. She felt like Cinderella's glass slipper. Like if someone dropped her just a bit she would break into a million pieces. And not just her, her heart as well.

Thoughts of her heart automatically made her focus and thoughts rest on Max. Max who had loved her enough to give up just about everything. His family, his job, his way of living. Max who didn't have to, and who she could love any way that she wanted. With Max by her side, she felt she could do anything.

Even attend the party.

She blew lightly on his face, watching his eyes flutter ever so slightly. She held in her laughter and blew a bit harder, this time his eyes slowly opening. A tender smile graced his features and she smiled gently back at him. Quiet moments of love were worth a thousand words.

He grabbed her small hand in his and sat up a little straighter, pulling her onto the couch against him. "How'd it go?"

"Really well. I never realized how much I missed my mom," she murmured. Speaking loudly seemed like an intrusion on heir lazy evening. They couldn't see the stars twinkling through the curtains, but she could feel their light shining down on them, little gifts of luck.

She heard Max chuckle against he top of her head and tipped her face back to look up at him. "What?"

He shook his head, watching her with his deep golden eyes. "Just the always accurate mother connection. I asked my mom why she had Nancy come here, how she knew if you were ready to face it all."

Liz smiled and wrapped her arm around his waist. A contented sigh came from Max. "What'd she say?"

Max tightened his arm around her shoulders and squeezed her hand a bit. "That she could just tell. The mother thing, you know. She said girls need their mothers and she could just tell you were homesick for your family. So I guess…family sick."

The two mothers entered the room and Max and Liz turned to them, but couldn't find the energy to move.
Diane laughed. "Should we take a raincheck on the dessert?"

The two dark heads bobbed up and down with moans of "please." Nancy walked lightly over to the two of them and not so gracefully perched herself on the coffee table in front of them.

"I have to get back to the jet and head home, but I want to say a few things before I go." She swallowed like she was a bit nervous and Liz imagined that she probably was. "I have a lot of new things to get used to, the first being that my daughter really is her very own person, and I'm very proud of her." She smiled gently at Liz and looked over to Max. Max shifted a bit under her gaze. "Secondly, I want you to know how proud I am of you as well."

Max's eyes narrowed a bit, a sign of Evans' confusion. "Proud of me?"

Nancy nodded. "Very proud. I know that at least a bit, and most likely more, of the sparkle in my daughter's eyes is your fault. And I also want to thank you for that. You've earned my respect and most certainly my love. Who could resist the little boy smile you still have?"

Max blushed slightly and Liz and Nancy laughed.

"Also, I wanted to make sure that the two of you know how badly I want you to be at that reunion. It would mean the world to our family. I'll understand if you don't, but please consider."

Max and Liz turned to each other, their expressions almost identical. Looks of possibility and wariness. They had a short conversation with their eyes and turned back to Nancy.

"We'll definitely consider it," Max said, his eyes promising Liz's mother that he'd do all he could without pressuring the thing he held most dear.

Nancy planted a kiss on each forehead, and after Liz's whispered "Bye Mom," she rode off. The emotional ride had taken it's toll, and the two relieved and carefree lovers made their way to Max's room, receiving a night of peaceful sleep like neither had ever known.


"Uncle Max!"

Liz looked up as Max swept Faye into his arms, a giant grin planted on his face. Faye was giggling, pulling a bit on her uncle's hair.

"How's my favorite niece?"

Another giggle. "I'm your only niece."

"Small technicality."

Max caught Liz's eye over the "playground" of children and started his walk to her. They met halfway with a brief kiss that the kids did not fail to notice.

Faye ran back to play with her friends and left her uncle and teacher alone.

"What are you doing here?" Liz asked suspiciously, Max's hands taking her own.

"I can't stop by and say hi?" Max asked, mock hurt on his face.

She rolled her eyes with a grin and squeezed his hands lightly. She realized that he was back in usual business attire, the air of victory around him. He always got that way after making a good deal. Realization hit her like a ton of bricks and her face lit up like a light bulb.

"The Hardings?"

Max nodded and swept Liz into a spinning hug while she screamed with excitement. "Oh my gosh, Max! That's great!"

He set her down gently and nodded, planting a kiss on her cheek. "Yeah, I thought so too. Do you forgive me for interrupting your precious sandbox time now?"

Liz nodded reluctantly. "I guess I could." She cast a glance at the kids. "This isn't their sandbox you know. It's their entire playground."

Max's eyes widened in disbelief. "What!"

She nodded. "Yeah… pretty sad, huh?"

He nodded, then a look of determination passed over his eyes. Liz knew he had come to some conclusion but decided to ask him about it later.

"So what happened?"

They sat down under the tree they had sat under before and Max talked animatedly. Liz could tell he was really excited about it; she had known he was brushing it off as no big deal was an act.

"The best part is that William left the entire thing up to Tess. He's really more worried about his daughter than his business, which I hate to say surprised me. Turns out that I made an impact on Tess with that talk I had with her. She came in personally to tell me the decision." Max looked over the kids and then down at the grass below his legs. "She looked so great, Liz. She seemed so happy. I'll never forgive myself for hurting her like I did, but seeing her so being so brave and everything… I'll never forget that. The light in her eyes just told you how proud of herself she was for being able to do it."

Liz closed her mouth when she realized she had still left it open. "Wow… so what'd she say?"

Max smiled. "That I was right that day in the garden. She said she realized that she was with me more because she always had been than because she loved me. Well, I mean, she loves me, but she wasn't in love with me anymore."

Liz nodded, smiling. "That's… that's amazing, I mean, wow. What did she say about the future?"

"That she hoped we could still be friends. She said I had the light of love in my eyes and she hoped that after a period of recuperation she could meet you without throwing accusations and cuss words at you. And she hoped you'd forgive her."

Liz shook her head in amazement. "Forgive her? That's crazy! I'm the one who stole her fiancee, I need to apologize."

Max shook his head. "No, you don't Liz. You saved me. And she knows that." He shrugged. "It's going to be hard at first, I mean, I'd been with her for so long… But it'll work out with time. And we, Miss Parker, have all the time in the world."

Liz nodded, her smile fading slightly with her turn of thoughts. "There is one thing, Max."

"What's that?"

She sighed, feeling the weight once again on her shoulders. "The party."


To be continued!
posted on 26-Jul-2002 10:40:17 AM by ShayParkerEvans
AN: Woohoo! What everyone's been waiting for! A new part! Not too long, but a part nontheless. Sorry it took so long. *big* Here's this part, the next one's the party, ahh! What's gonna happen?
Also, some shamless self promotion, check out my other stories and gimme some feedback. I love writing em so it's sad when they don't get as much love. *sob* These Perfect Stars, A Breath Away, and Shining Light!

Part 33

"Maria, I'm so scared!" Liz bounced up and down as they stood in line for their movie.

"Babe, you've got to calm down," Maria placed her hands on Liz's shoulders, firmly planting her in the ground. "And you're not scared," she shook her head in disbelief. "You're just nervous."

Liz rolled her eyes, continuing to look at her best friend. "I think I'm both. I mean, we leave tomorrow morning, I have a few hours to calm down, and then the party. And Maria, this is a big party. I just don't see how I'm going to handle it. People are going to ask so many questions! Not to mention it's Max and mine's first big public thing."

The line moved ahead and Liz noticed a few people glancing her way like they were recognizing her. No doubt thanks to that damn tabloid that started this whole mess. Maria was taking her to a movie to calm her down somewhat. Max was going with Michael somewhere, and Maria had confided to Liz that she was almost positive they were making secret bachelor's party plans. 'Just like Michael,' she'd mumbled.

"But that's what you're overlooking, Liz," Maria scrummaged around in her purse for her wallet. Object found, she turned back to her confused friend. "Max. He's going to be right there, he's going to be by your side, helping you through every part of it. And you know how protective he is. The second it looks like it might be too much for you he'll drag you outta there, no matter what obstacles people throw your way."

Liz sighed, feeling a slight smile coming to her lips. "Yeah, I guess you're right."

"And your mom," Maria said as they stepped ahead some more. "She's been completely great since she found you and you told her you weren't taking anymore crap. You know she's going to try to take pressure off you."

They reached the front and Maria paid for their tickets. Walking through the theater doors, Maria looped her arm through Liz's. "You see? You're going to have butterflies, we all do in even the most simple circumstances. But you're going to do great, understand me?"

Liz nodded, breathing out slowly. "I know, I know. Knowing that Max is gonna be there is really the only thing getting me through this. If I didn't have him…" She shook her head, not even knowing how to finish the sentence.

Maria grinned, "I know, babe. And I promise I'll be rooting for you from home. Michael and I totally would have taken your mom's invitation if we weren't stuck with this wedding stuff."

"One month!" Liz squealed, her eyes wide. "Are you excited?"

"Liz honey," Maria sighed dramatically as they entered the theater, "A bride doesn't have time to be excited."


"Max," Michael shook his head, "the absolute last thing I want to talk about is the wedding. Maria's worked herself into full hurricane mode with all the crap that has to get done. For one night of peace, we're going to pretend that the wedding is in a decade, and not a month."

Max laughed, nodding, "Alright, we can do that. Where are we going anyway?"

"The one place that gives me rest," Michael mumbled.

Max just walked alongside his friend, knowing how stressed out the guy was. It seemed so strange to him that a few weeks ago he would have been sharing the wedding-time woes with his friend. Now he had to focus on this reunion party, and getting Liz through it safe and sound.

He couldn't remember them ever making a set decision to go. They had talked about it off and on for a few days, and when they had been saying 'if we go' it suddenly became 'when we go.' And it had just been left that way. Liz was absolutely terrified of going back, which made Max all the more motivated to hold her hand through the entire process. The only person who she knew would love her for her so far was her mother. Her father had been too busy to bother and talk to her, she had no siblings, and all of her vain friends had basically forgotten her.

Max couldn't understand how people could be like that, his own family was rich and powerful, but they cared at least. He'd been to parties, he'd watch other people care about only themselves, about how much of an impression they were making. If they'd seal that business deal, if they'd get that guy in bed. The fact that Liz used to be like that astounded him but made him all the more proud of her. He wasn't ashamed of her past behavior as she'd been so convinced he would be.

The fact that her own father hadn't bothered to make contact now that he knew where she was made Max's blood boil with rage. Did he even care about his daughter? About the beautiful woman that she'd become, all on her own?

And deep down Max knew that was the problem all along. Liz hadn't needed her family. She'd missed them, she loved them, but she hadn't needed them to help her become who she was. The natural grace, the presence she had in a room…she had formed that all alone. For Jeff Parker it was all about pride. No doubt people in Seattle knew Aliana Parker was back, that she'd be at the party. And if the returning Ali screwed up, as Jeff probably thought she was going to, it was going to be all over the place.

Max knew better. Nancy knew better. Liz Parker was going to blow everyone's breath away.

He pulled himself from his thoughts and laughed as Michael held the door open to a barbecue place. "Barbecue, Michael?" he raised his eyebrows, entering the restaurant.

Michael breathed in the smell, a look of bliss crossing his features. "Heaven, Maxwell. Heaven."


Early the next morning, Michael and Maria drove Max and Liz to the airport. Liz noticed that Maria didn't talk much, and fell asleep on the way. Michael tried to turn on some music to drown out her snoring and only encountered talk shows. With a sigh, he clicked off the radio and ran a hand through his hair.

"What's up, Michael?" Max asked, knowing something was going on.

Michael looked over to see that she was still sleeping, even though he could hear it loud and clear. "One of my players had an injury and I've gotta go down to Arizona and fix some things. I'm gonna be gone for maybe two days at most, but with the wedding," Max and Liz noticed he grimaced on the word. "Maria's pissed I'm leaving."

They nodded, knowing how stressed out the two lovebirds were. The wedding was a pretty big event, and they'd put off a lot of things until the end.

They reached the airport and Michael shook Maria awake. She smiled at him, then seemed to remember she was angry and scowled. Liz hid her laughter, getting out of the car to help with the luggage. But Max and Michael took care of it, and they loaded it up and the outside luggage checks.

Maria hugged Liz tightly, kissing her hair. "You're gonna be great Lizzie, don't even worry about it."

Liz nodded, forcing a smile on her face despite the way her stomach was flipping around inside her body. "I'll try."

Maria launched herself into Max's arms, giving him a bear hug and ruffling his hair. Michael stood back and watched his soon-to-be wife with a grin.

"You take care of her, you hear me?" Maria poked Max in the chest.

"I will, I will! I surrender!" he laughed.

Michael shook Max's hand, wishing him a good trip, and gave Liz a hug. "Don't let anyone make you feel less than perfect, Liz. You're beautiful and amazing, you're gonna blow em away." He whispered in her ear, pulling back with a smile and planting a kiss on her cheek.

Liz smiled teary eyed, touched by what Michael had said. "Thank you," she whispered.

He shrugged with a wink, putting his arms around Maria, and they all waved bye as the two headed back to their car.

Max wrapped his arm around Liz's shoulders, pulling her close, and she wrapped hers around his waist. With a kiss on the top of her head, they made their way inside.


Liz was actually shaking on the way to her former home. Max rubbed his hand up and down her arms, trying to soothe her, but she was so nervous. She'd been okay on the flight until it was announced they'd be landing soon. She couldn't open her peanuts, she couldn't hold her drink; Max had finally grabbed her stuff, gently opened her peanuts for her, and told her to sit back and relax. He'd known she was going to be a little on edge, but he hadn't expected anything this severe.

Nancy had met them at the gate, a wide smile on her face, and Liz had forced a smile on her face as well, accepting her mom's hug with open arms. Nancy had hugged Max as well, but he was worried about his girlfriend. They'd got their bags and hopped in the limousine waiting for them, and Liz had been shaking like a leaf ever since. She kept her gaze out the window, and Max tried to calm her down the best he could. He felt like he wasn't doing much until she finally leaned back some to rest her head on his shoulder. Nancy had noticed Liz's behavior, and had sent him a questioning glance, but a shrug had been his only response. She understood that it was just nerves and smiled softly at her daughter.

Max and Nancy made small talk, about what his mother had been doing lately, how was business, how was Seattle. When the house came into view Liz stiffened beside him, and he gave her a soft squeeze. She looked up at him with a grateful smile, and Max knew she was going to be fine for now.

Nancy told them that someone would get their bags, and led them in. Liz clung to Max's hand desperately, and Max just squeezed her hand and smiled down at her. He pulled her close, planting a kiss on the top of her head, and whispered in her ear. "You're doing great."

Liz's mom led them down the hall to their rooms and Max took in the surroundings. The house was gigantic, as big as he'd remembered when he was little. Their voices echoed through the halls and he wondered what they possibly had all this house for.

Nancy glanced back at her daughter and semi-son and smiled. Liz was obviously more nervous than she had ever seen her, but Max's presence was getting her through.

They finally reached the rooms, and Nancy pointed out everything. Bathrooms, towels, closets, and the door adjoining the two rooms. She knew Liz needed some alone time, so she left with a reminder that the party started at 7, and they had all afternoon until then to themselves. Max and Liz thanked her tremendously, and then she was gone.

Liz let out a groan/sigh and fell back onto Max's bed, closing her eyes as she breathed deep. Max let her have a moment to herself and looked around his room, the size of it still amazing him.


Liz's soft voice finally broke through the silence and he was by her side in an instant. He sat down next to her, brushing her hair out of her face. She smiled, then tugged on his shirt, and he gladly laid down next to her, wrapping his arm around her and hugging her close. His hand idly brushed through her hair and she traced circles on his stomach through his shirt.

"When you see my friends…" Max waited for her to finish the question he knew she needed to ask. "When you see how I used to be, or if I behave badly tonight, promise you'll still love me in the morning."

He was slightly confused by her question, and drew back to look at her. "Sweetheart, I'm gonna love you despite any circumstance. But what do you mean exactly?"

She looked away from him, down at his stomach where she was still tracing designs. "When you see how I used to be, remember that I'm not like that anymore, okay? And don't…please don't think worse of me because of it."

He smiled softly at her question, holding her tighter. "Okay," he said softly. "And what was the part about behaving badly?"

"Well, I just mean, that if I don't handle the situation well, or if I embarrass myself, or if I suddenly pull a Maria and have a complete spazout in front of everyone-"

"Hey," Max stopped her, tilting her head up to him with a finger. "You think something like that would make me love you any less?"

Her eyes filled with tears and she shook her head. "No, I'm just being, stupid I guess. I just…" Max's heart broke at the vulnerability in her eyes and he made her gaze meet his.

"Aliana Parker, Liz Parker, it doesn't make a difference. I love you. I don't care if you act your worst tonight and blame me for every second of it, I'm still going to love you. Know that."

She nodded, a smile breaking out on her face, and hugged him tighter. "I love you too."

He kissed her softly, always loving the feel of her, and they situated themselves better on the bed before taking a well-deserved nap to calm their ragged nerves.


To be continued!