posted on 10-Feb-2002 7:15:52 AM by Mikyla
Title: The Other One
Author: Mikyla
Rating: NC-17 for general and sexual content
Disclaimer: Some of the characters belong to other people, some of them belong to me. The story is mine. No infringement was intended.
Distribution: Please ask first
Summary: AU Fic. M/L, M/M. I'm not sure who else is going to pop up, but that's about all I'm going to tell you.

The Other One

Part 1 - Arrival

Max walked to the front of the ferry and hauled in a deep breath, taking the salty sea air deep into his lungs. It felt good to be out again, away from the office and into the field. He raised the camera hanging loosely around his neck and snapped off a couple of shots of the small island. Then he pulled a small micro recorder out of his pocket and turned it on.
"Island looks remarkably unassuming from the outside," he murmured. "Hard to believe anything of a paranormal nature took place here. Am finding it hard to understand why I've been sent here."
He turned the recorder off and let his mind play over the meeting held last week. The board had called him in on a rainy afternoon. Max had assumed it was some routine thing, another check of the equipment, chasing up one of the hundreds of leads that always turned into nothing.
"We received a letter last week," Jim Valenti, the chairman of the board, spoke first. "It bears looking into."
"Why?" Max asked simply.
"We've never had readings like this before," Jim told him, pushing a piece of paper towards him.
Max picked it up and gave it a cursory glance over, his eyebrows rising. Well, well. A layperson looking at the same piece of paper would have seen nothing but a few lines, maybe assumed it was a recording of the seismic activity following an earthquake. Max knew it was something else.
"Where was this picked up?" He asked mildly.
Another piece of paper was pushed towards him. "We received this letter a month ago. Of course we sent someone out to investigate. The reading was a result of that investigation."
Max picked up the letter and read.

Dear Gentlemen,

Nobody is supposed to know about your society, or what you do. But I know. You're research into the paranormal, and more particularly into witches, has caught my attention. I believe I have something that will interest you. I live on a small island off the coast of Canada called Lara's Rest, population less than 4000. Most people know most people, it's that kind of place. And everyone knows Elizabeth Parker.
I have enclosed my address and phone number. Please feel free to contact me for any more details.

You're Sincerely
Joe Matthews

Max threw the letter back on the table.
"We sent someone out to take the preliminary readings," Jim continued. "Without anyone's knowledge of course."
"Where did they come from?" Max asked.
"The woods behind Ms Parker's house. We think this warrants a full investigation."
"Yeah no shit," Max muttered. He'd been with the society for seven years and he'd never seen a reading like this.
"You'll find everything you need in the utilities room," Jim told him. "All expenses will be covered. If this Elizabeth Parker is as powerful as the readings suggest, you will persuade her to come back here. We'll take it from there."

And so Max found himself here, on the daily ferry across the water to Lara's Rest. And troubled, he admitted. After years of service, of blind obedience, his instincts were telling him there was something...not quite right about the people he worked for. It wasn't something that had ever concerned him before. If it had he wouldn't still be there. But as he'd lain awake the other night, going over details in his head, it had suddenly occurred to him that he'd brought in many people, men and women alike, of true talent. Witches, warlocks, empaths, psychics, turning them all over to the society. 'For their own protection', he was told. A rhetoric of the intolerance of the outside world, their fear of the truly magical gifts these people were given. A truly noble goal, he'd thought. The reason he had given his life, the last seven years of it, to the cause.
But as he'd lain in bed that night he'd realised that after he turned them over, he'd never seen any of them again.

Liz stood on the cliff, overlooking the water, watching the water boil and teem in agitation. Something was coming, she could feel it.
"I thought I might find you up here," a voice said behind her.
She smiled but didn't turn around. "What do you think it is?"
Maria Deluca, her best friend since childhood, walked up and stood beside her, also casting her glance out to sea.
"I don't know," Maria admitted. "I was hoping you could tell me."
A frown sprang up and momentarily marred the beauty of Liz's face. "I'm not sure. But whatever it is is disturbing everything. The water, the air."
Maria glanced over in surprise, then looked out at the water, watching it more closely now. "I assumed that was you."
Liz shook her head. "It's only sprung up like that in the last hour. Whatever it is is close now."
Maria put her arm around her friend and the two women watched as the ferry drifted into sight in the distance.

To Be Continued...

I know I have other stories to write, and I'm working on them, don't worry *wink* Because of those other stories, this one very much depends on feedback. If I don't get it, I don't write it. Thanks for reading.

[ edited 28time(s), last at 25-Aug-2002 7:50:25 PM ]
posted on 11-Feb-2002 4:01:22 AM by Mikyla
Part 2 - At first sight

Wasting no time, Max checked into his hotel, unpacked only the essentials, then left the hotel to explore his surroundings. He put a small sensor in his pocket, he couldn't help himself, but left his mini recorder and some of the larger instruments in his room. He had a destination in mind, but was content to wander around aimlessly for a while, doing a little shopping, checking out the local shops, and the locals. They were all friendly, but obviously wary of the stranger in town. Max didn't let it bother him. There was only one person he was here to see anyway. But she could wait. His stomach protested loudly, and he veered off to enter a small cafe.
A tiny bell over the door tinkled, making him grin. He sat down at the closest table and picked up the menu. He hadn't been there long at all when a woman approached the table.
"Welcome to Lara's Rest," she said kindly. "What can I get you?"
She was lovely, Max decided. Petite, blonde, with a glow on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. He found himself smiling broadly back at her.
"I'm Max Evans," he said, offering his hand. "I don't think I need to tell you I'm new in town."
"No you don't," she said, putting her hand in his and shaking it briskly before pulling away.
Max noted the slight vibration coming from the sensor in his pocket and made a note to check it as soon as she was gone.
"Can I get a plate of sandwiches and a coffee thanks," he said, holding onto his smile.
She wrote it down, took the menu off him and walked away. Max waited until she disappeared through the doors to the kitchen before digging in his pocket and pulling out the sensor. The activity had only lasted a moment, but the small machine had dutifully recorded the time and size of the disturbance. Grabbing a napkin, Max noted the place before putting the device back in his pocket. Another waitress came out from the swinging doors and placed his order in front of him.
"Will that be all?" She asked politely.
"Yes thank you," he said, looking beyond her to the door. "Did I say something to offend the other waitress? I'd like the chance to apologize if I did."
"You didn't," the young girl assured him. "She just had to take a phone call. Enjoy your lunch."
As the young girl walked away, Max still watched the door, aware in some part of himself that the woman was still there, watching him. And that she hadn't told him her name.

Liz didn't bother to look up when the door of her studio opened. She knew who it was. She'd been waiting for him since Maria had called her more than an hour ago. He'd taken his time, something she couldn't help admiring, since she was sure he was dying to get a look at her. She swirled her brush in more paint and brought it back to the canvas.
"Are you looking for something in particular, or are you just browsing?" She asked without looking up.
"Elizabeth Parker?" He asked.
She nodded. "My name isn't that well known outside of the island, and you're a stranger. How is it you know who I am?"
"I was looking for some artwork," he told her. "Someone told me where I could find this place."
Smiling slightly, she turned on her stool and pinned him with a gaze. "Someone who?"
He looked at her blankly and she laughed. "You have a lot to learn about small towns Mr Evans. You don't need artwork, you're staying at the hotel. Maria Deluca, the woman who runs the cafe and no doubt wouldn't give you her name, is my best friend. I already knew exactly what you looked like and that you were headed this way before you even made it through my door. So why don't you tell me why you're really here?"
He would, if he could get his tongue to work. He was pretty sure it'd dropped from his mouth to somewhere on the floor when she'd turned around. He was dimly aware of the sensor in his pocket going nuts, but he couldn't take his eyes off her face. Dark hair framed a delicate face, at this moment lit with amusement. Her mouth lifted up at the corners, and she kept her soft brown eyes, twinkling with the same amusement, steady on his. But Max knew it wasn't just her features that captured a person's attention, and held it. It was something about the way she was. She was comfortable in herself and in the place she found herself in, wherever that happened to be. He had a feeling it would take a lot to rattle her. Taking a deep breath, he walk over, his hand outstretched.
"Max Evans," he said, relieved that his voice only wobbled a little. "But you already know that."
She looked at his hand, then lifted her eyes to him. "I'm not trying to be deliberately rude Mr Evans, but I will shake your hand only after you get rid of whatever is in your pocket."
Her voice hadn't changed, neither had her expression, but Max knew she was angry. At him. He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the sensor. She looked down at it once, then back at his face. Max hesitated for a moment, then walked over and put the sensor on a table across the room. It continued to vibrate lightly, and he itched to see what it was recording, but he turned away from it and walked back to her. He extended his hand again, and waited.

If he could have read her mind right then, he would have found out she was not comfortable. Liz was afraid. Very, very afraid. She knew this man was important, had felt the rippling of the air as he walked in the room, but she couldn't know if he was the evil that was stalking her. Hesitating only briefly, but long enough to have his eyes snapping back to hers, she placed her hand gingerly in his. The charge immediately rocketed up her arm, and her breath caught audibly. His hand clamped down on hers in reaction, and she pulled back, tugging on her hand. The small box he had put on the table fell to the floor. Liz tugged again and this time he let go of her hand. She pulled it into her chest and held onto it.
"Must be a lot of static in the air," she murmured, rubbing her hand to stop the tingling.
Max gave her a shrewd look from under his lashes, but said nothing to argue with her. He turned away, walked over and picked up the sensor. Liz didn't move, simply sat and watched him. She was surprised when, instead of looking at the box, he put it in his pocket, and strode towards the door. He turned back as he opened the door.
"If I come back, am I even going to get through the door?" He asked.
"Do you see a bouncer standing out there?" Liz replied dryly.
He looked out the door, then back at her. "No."
Liz blinked for a moment, then realised he'd taken her question seriously. She shook her head.
"I'll see you again," she told him.
He nodded and, after taking one last good look at her, walked out the door.

To Be Continued...

Wow, thanks for all the feedback guys. *big*

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Feb-2002 5:20:43 AM ]
posted on 13-Feb-2002 1:59:19 AM by Mikyla
Part 3 - Back in town

"Tingling how?" Maria asked. "Like, he's evil tingling. Or, I wanna jump this guys bones tingling, or were you maybe just getting pins and needles?"
The two woman sat in the kitchen of the cafe. It was after closing, and they were alone.
Liz snorted with laughter and shook her head. "I don't know Maria. I really don't."
"It seems a little too coincidental that he shows up right now," Maria said hesitantly.
"The ferry was full Maria," Liz reminded her. "What I felt could have been anyone."
"Hmm," Maria said, sitting back to think. "I felt something when I shook his hand, but not..evil. Just unnerving."
Liz nodded, then sighed and rested her head on Maria's shoulder. "Either way, its not good that he's here Maria. He's either the danger we're waiting for, or someone who wants to know too much about us."
"And that bothers you?" Maria said quietly. "People have been curious before."
"Not like this," Liz said. "Not with equipment. I mean, he had that thing in his pocket. It went nuts when we shook hands. Jumped off the damn table and all."
The two women sat in silence, then Liz began to fidget. Maria watched as the order wheel began to turn around slowly, then faster and faster until pieces of paper were littering the floor.
"Ok knock it off," Maria said loudly. "Stop stressing."
Liz looked up, then down on the floor. "Whoops sorry."
Maria got up with a sigh, then stopped suddenly.
"What is it?" Liz asked, getting up. "Are you okay?"
Maria suddenly strode out of the doors into the restaurant. Liz followed her quickly, almost running into her back when she stopped suddenly. Liz stepped back, and peeked around her. Her eyes widened, and she stepped out, putting herself between Maria and the man who was standing in the doorway.
"What the hell are you doing here?" She said coldly.

Max looked up from where he had been researching the history of the island. He jumped up as one of the sensors on the desk, a larger, more sensitive version of the one he'd been carrying around in his pocket, began beeping energetically. He hurried over to it, congratulating himself on only tripping over everything twice, and checked the readings. The needle bounced backwards and forwards in a frenzy. He rummaged in a box, hoping it didn't stop before he got it hooked up to the computer. He found the cord he was looking for and plugged the sensor into his laptop, hurriedly tapping away. A map of the island appeared on the screen, then with the push of a few more buttons, he had a location on the disturbance. He headed out the door, not bothering to turn the equipment off. As soon as he stepped outside he could feel the heaviness in the air. He looked up and watched a cloud cover the moon. As he walked, he talked into his mini recorder.
"One of these women, I'm not sure which one yet, is more powerful than any witch I've come into contact with," he muttered, moving quickly to try and beat the sudden storm. "Sensors indicated a disturbance, and I'm experiencing a phenomenon I've never seen before."
He looked up at the sky again in a kind of awe. One of them, he was betting it was Elizabeth Parker, was actually affecting the weather.
"It could be a coincidence," he said, tempering himself. "But something tells me it's not. The storm seems...angry."
A sudden burst of lightning and vicious crack of thunder had him putting the recorder in his pocket, his head down, and running for the cafe.

Michael Guerin looked out the window with idle curiosity, then back at Liz.
"A storm," he said mildly. "Why Liz, I didn't think you cared that much."
"I don't," Liz told him. "So why don't you just go back to whatever rock you crawled out from under."
"I'm here to see Maria," he told her.
"Liz," Maria said from behind her. "Please. Calm down."
Liz turned around. "No. I won't. He's not doing this again."
Maria put her hands on her friend's shoulders and squeezed. "You have to leave this to me. You know that."
Liz shook her head, and Maria squeezed harder. "I'll be fine. Go home."
Liz wanted to argue. She'd seen what had happened to her friend the last time Michael had breezed through town, had seen what he had been doing to her since they were teenagers, but it was Maria's decision. Sulking, she kissed Maria on the cheek and turned towards the door. She glared at him all the way there.
"Gonna turn me into a toad?" He said as she sailed past.
Liz turned a withering stare on him. "Don't be ridiculous Michael. Toads are for girls in fairytales looking for princes. If I was going to waste a spell on you, I'd just kill you."
She walked out the door and, despite her anger, closed it quietly behind her. Michael rubbed his hand over his chest and turned back to Maria.
"She'd do it too," he said, grinning warily.
It hurt, Maria thought to herself. It hurt just to see him.
"So, what brings you back onto the island?" She said, her face emotionless and her hands steady as she watched him.
He shrugged. "Thought it was time."
Maria's raised her eyebrows. "Time for what?"
He sighed. "You're not going to make this easy are you?"
Maria turned her back on him and went to the coffee machine. "Easy is your territory Michael. That's been our problem from the beginning. Everything was always too easy. Too easy to find out about me, too easy to get me to sleep with you, too easy for you to walk away..."
She trailed off, silent as she made his coffee. As she set it in front of him, she took a moment to let it irk her that she still remembered how he had it. Then she sat down beside him to watch him drink it. He held out his hand, and after only a slight hesitation, she took it.
"Am I staying?" He asked in a low voice.
Maria looked up at him, into his beautiful face, and went under just like she always did.
"Yes."

Liz stood silently on the corner, waiting for him to come to her. When he drew up to her, she raised an eyebrow.
"Little late for a stroll," she told him.
"Are you alright?" He asked.
He'd surprised her, but she didn't let it show. "Did one of your doohickeys go nuts again?"
"You didn't answer my question," He said. "Did something happen?"
Liz sighed and started walking again. "Someone happened. And I'm fine."
Max fell into step beside her. "Yes, one of my doohickey's went nuts. Plus there was that dandy of a storm that came..and went."
He said nothing else, and Liz was surprised to find herself...content. Walking along the quiet streets of the island, with a stranger who was clearly looking for answers, she was content. She was a woman who went with her instincts, and while she knew this man might be dangerous to her, it wasn't in the way she had been anticipating.
"No doubt you'll hear first thing tomorrow anyway," she said quietly. "But Michael Guerin is back."
"Who's Michael Guerin?" Max replied just as quietly.
"If you're here for what I think you're here for, he's noone you're going to be interested in."
"And what am I here for?" Max asked, honestly curious.
Liz turned towards him and smiled gently. "You are Mr Evans, for want of a better label, a witch hunter."

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I'm writing down all your questions, to be answered eventually lol. So bear with me. And keep asking. I can't answer them if I don't know you have them.
posted on 14-Feb-2002 3:06:12 AM by Mikyla
Part 4 - Cards on the table

"I'm not hunting you," he told her.
Liz shrugged again. "It's what you are, all the same."
He couldn't argue with the assessment, although he hated the name, so he changed the subject. "Why would the return of this Guerin guy make the local gossip round?"
Her face hardened for a moment, then smoothed out, but Max was intrigued.
"He's been gossip fodder since we were all young," Liz said.
"You've known each other a long time."
It wasn't a question, but Liz answered anyway. "Since we were all children. Michael grew up here. The only difference between us and him is that he left."
"Is that why you're angry with him?"
"The fact that he left doesn't bother me," Liz said honestly. "It's who he left behind."
Max grappled with an unfamiliar feeling for a moment, then realised in astonishment that it was jealousy. Where the hell had that come from?
"He didn't ask you to go with him?" He said, his voice a little colder.
Liz shook her head and laughed softly. "Not me. Maria."
The feeling he'd had moments before was not jealousy. Just like this one he was feeling now was not relief.
"You could get this story from anyone," Liz told him. "It's common knowledge around here. But like any story, there are people who will embellish, or just lie outright to make it sound better, more melodramatic. I'm telling you so you know the truth."
"Why?"
Liz looked up at him. "Michael and Maria first started going out when they were teenagers. They were together all through high school, then suddenly just before we all started college Michael decided he wanted to leave. There was no question in Maria's mind. She was going with him. All she needed was for Michael to ask her. She waited all through the summer break, and then one day she woke up and he was gone. Just like that. She was devastated. She caught the ferry out every day, trying to find him, but she'd come back every night worse off than when she left. Eventually she stopped looking. 2 years later he showed up again. No explanation, no apology. He's been doing it ever since."
"And she always takes him back?"
"For however long he's in town, yes," Liz said. "She loves him. For some people it's as simple as that."
They stopped at the steps of the hotel. "You didn't answer my question before. Why are you telling me? Assuming I'm a witch hunter, which by the way I never said I was, you shouldn't even be talking to me."
"You don't believe in what you do anymore," Liz told him.
Max felt the jolt that always came with a moment of self-awareness, and looked down at her intently. "Then what am I doing here?"
"Oh, it hasn't stopped your curiosity," Liz told him. "You might not be hunting them anymore, but witches, and everything that goes with them, still fascinates you."
"Maybe it's just you," Max said absently, reaching up and running his hand over her cheek. "Maybe you fascinate me."
Liz stepped back quickly. "No, it's not me. Goodnight Mr Evans."
"Max," he told her. "Mr Evans makes me sound too old."
Smiling again, Liz nodded. "All right then Max. I'll see you tomorrow."
"You shouldn't be walking home alone this late," he said, looking around.
Liz laughed, delighted with him, then reached up and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll be fine."
"I could..."
"You're not coming home with me Max," she interrupted him firmly. "Not yet."
He looked baffled, then mad. "I wasn't suggesting that, for crying out loud. I was just going to walk you home."
"I know that," she said. "But I also know myself, and what's going on here. That's not all that would happen."
She reached up to touch his cheek, and they both felt the warmth from it. Max nodded.
"No, that's not all that would happen."
"So I need time," Liz told him.
He looked like he wanted to argue with her again, but finally he just nodded and turned his head to brush his lips gently across the hand she'd left on his cheek. Liz smiled and turned away. Max watched her go, then went into the hotel. As soon as he got into his room he picked up the phone.
"Mr Evans," the voice on the other end said. "We've been expecting your call. Have you found the woman?"
"Yes," Max said. "She's here."
"And is she someone we should be interested in?"
Max looked out his window again, tracing the path Liz had taken away from him.
"No," he lied. "I'm still trying to find the source of the disturbance, but the woman isn't it."
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, and Max held his breath.
"Very well," the voice said finally. "Stay until you find out more, then call in again."
Max hung up the phone and let his breath out. For better or for worse he had just effectively cut himself off from the society. When it was discovered, if it was ever discovered, that he had lied, he would be out of a job. Picturing Liz, he shrugged. As far as he was concerned it was worth it.

Liz walked only slowly, smiling. The air was heavy with expectation, and she knew she was about to turn another corner in her life. She loved times like this, when all that loomed ahead of her was unexpected. She let herself into the gate leading down to the beach that eventually lead to her home. She walked down the sand to the water, watching the way the moon shone in the waves. She closed her eyes for a moment to savor the air, and when she opened them, she found she was no longer alone.
"Something's coming," the woman whispered, her long white robes swirling around her, her feet half-in, half-out of the water.
Liz nodded. "I know."
Liz didn't know why she talked to her. She'd read somewhere that talking to ghosts made you pretty much out of your mind, but she did it anyway. She always had.
"The power of three," the woman continued.
Liz frowned. "Three?"
The woman disappeared, and Liz frowned. "Three what? Come back here!"
She stood where she was, but nothing else happened, and she groaned in frustration.
"What the hell was that supposed to mean?" She said to the water.
Her mood considerably deflated, she stalked up the beach and kicked the her gate open, swinging it shut behind her with a satisfying clang. She stomped up the steps of her house, pulling out her keys as she went. She unlocked the door, then stopped to look behind her. It was here again. Her eyes scanned the line of beach carefully, but she could see nothing. She shivered in alarm, and hurried inside, slamming the door behind her. She threw the dead bolt quickly, then hurried to the french doors to watch the beach again. She hadn't been waiting long when a figure came out from behind a bank of rocks and looked up at her house, then hurried down the beach, back towards town.

To Be Continued....

As always, thanks for the feedback everyone.

posted on 15-Feb-2002 2:42:48 AM by Mikyla
Part 5 - History

"I don't like this," Maria said. "I don't like this a lot."
"I don't like it either Maria, but there's nothing I can do about it," Liz griped. "I don't know who it is, or what it is, or what she meant, or..."
"That's another thing I don't like," Maria interrupted. "You putting so much stock in the ramblings of a ghost who appears to walk on water."
"Conversations around here are always so entertaining," Michael murmured as he walked into the kitchen. He stopped to give Maria a kiss, then headed for the coffee pot. Liz shot Maria one furious look, which was ignored, then went back to what they were saying.
"She said three," Liz insisted. "The power of three."
"Three what?" Michael asked, leaning against the counter with his arm around Maria's waist.
Liz considered ignoring him, saw the pleading look in her best friends eyes, and sighed.
"I assume three witches," she told him shortly.
"But there's only two of you," Michael said, completely unnecessarily.
Liz looked Maria in time to see the dawning comprehension in her eyes.
"It occurred to me last night," Liz said.
"What occurred to you?" Michael asked. "What am I missing?"
"Your brains," Liz snapped. "Most of them."
He looked angry for a minute, then his brow cleared and he laughed. "I haven't heard you say anything like that to me since we were teenagers. So come on. Tell me what the hell you're talking about."
"There aren't three witches now," Maria told him. "But there might have been."
"When?"
"Seventeenth century," Liz continued.
"Not exactly a popular time to be a witch," Michael said.
"No kidding," Liz said dryly.
"They all died?" Michael asked.
"I would assume so," Liz said, frowning as she tried to remember everything they'd dug up. "Maria and I checked it out years ago. We can trace our lineage back to two women accused of witchcraft around that time. Every person involved in the trials is documented somewhere. The accused, accusers, magistrates. There was one other woman accused on the same death warrant. But she vanishes."
"What about the people you come from?" Michael asked.
"Alice Parker was condemned September 9 and hung on September 22nd 1692," Liz told him. "Margaret Scott was hung on the same day."
"Margaret Scott?"
Maria put her hand up. "My great-great-great, a lot more greats, aunt."
Michael chuckled. "And then this other woman just disappears?"
"Apparently," Liz said.
"Maybe you should look some more," Michael suggested.
"I can't see the point," Liz said, shaking her head. "I've been through everything."
"Well have you ever tried looking into how all your ancestors got to the island? That might be where you find her."
Liz conceded his point with a nod. "Ok. I'll go to the library this afternoon, see if I can find anything."
"And while you're over that way, you might want to tell the sheriff you have a stalker," Maria suggested.
Michael had been rummaging in the fridge, but his head popped up quickly when he heard Maria. "What's this?"
"Someone's following Liz," Maria told him.
"Maria," Liz moaned. "Shut up."
"They were on the beach last night when Liz was talking to ghost woman," Maria continued. "Liz saw them leaving."
"Man or woman?" Michael asked, his face bothered.
"It's nothing," Liz said firmly. "It's my problem, stay out of it."
Michael snorted. "Yeah like that's going to happen."
"Michael, you weren't here two days ago, and you won't be here two weeks from now," Liz told him. "What exactly do you think you're going to do?"
"Sensing an end to the truce now," Michael murmured. He turned to Maria. "Who do you think it is?"
"Max Evans," Maria said promptly.
"It's not him," Liz told her, standing up. "Maria you're way out of line there."
"Am I?" Maria snapped back. "He comes into town and suddenly your seeing that woman, and being followed? There's no such thing as coincidence in a town this small Liz, you know that."
"It couldn't have been him," Liz told her. "I left him on the steps of the hotel. He couldn't have made it to the beach before me without a car, and he couldn't have gotten there in a car without driving straight past me."
It sounded logical, but Michael decided to check it out anyway.
"I have to get going," Liz said. "I'm due to open the studio in ten minutes. Maria, I'll call you later. Michael, stay away from Max."
Michael waited until she was gone before turning to Maria.
"Not likely," he said cheerfully.
Maria's lips twitched. "She's right though. How much do you really expect to accomplish in the short time you're going to be here?"
He gave her angry look from under his lashes. "Don't pin time frames on me Maria. I haven't said when I'm leaving yet."
He stomped out of the kitchen, and Maria put a hand to her stomach to calm it down.
"No you haven't, but you will leave Michael," she murmured to herself. "You always leave."

Michael stalked up the main street, in the mood for a fight. Him and Maria, he thought with a mental snort. If they weren't at it like rabbits they were fighting. Nothing about them had ever changed. He walked into the hotel and up to the desk.
"Hey John," he said easily. "How's things?"
"Heard you were back," the man replied. "How long you fixing to stay this time?"
"Not too sure just yet," Michael said vaguely, his standard response.
"How's your girls?"
Locals had always referred to them that way when speaking to Michael. The three of them had gone everywhere together, been seen everywhere together, as they grew up. Not just Maria, but Liz too. His girls.
"They're doing just fine John," Michael said. "You got a guy staying here. Max Evans."
John nodded. "Yep."
Michael leaned forward. "I'm having a problem with one of my girls. Thought maybe I could go up and have a word with him."
John looked around, then leaned forward himself. Michael couldn't help smirking. The man looked like he was trying out for a spy job. Probably the most exciting thing that's happened to him all year.
"Room 17," he whispered, then pulled back, smiling benignly.
Shaking his head and chuckling, Michael climbed the winding staircase. He stopped in front of the room and knocked on the door. It swung open a moment later, and Michael sized up the stranger.
"I'm Michael Guerin," he said. "Got a minute?"
Max hesitated for moment before moving back and opening the door wider to let him in.

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. I'm glad you're enjoying the ride.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 15-Aug-2002 5:44:42 AM ]
posted on 16-Feb-2002 5:48:10 AM by Mikyla
Part 6 - Closer

Still grumbling under her breath about men, and Michael in particular, Liz opened the door of her shop. Without looking up, she turned back, intending to go into the studio. But the sounds of footsteps on the floor stopped her. She whirled around, her hand on her chest.
"Oh I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I didn't realise anyone was waiting."
"That's ok," the woman said softly. "You looked preoccupied. Don't let me bother you. I'm just going to have a look around if that's alright."
Liz nodded. "Of course. Take your time."
The woman walked away, and Liz continued on into the studio. She removed the protective cloth from her latest piece of work, and sat down in front of it. She was just getting her paints ready when the woman walked in.
"Is all this work yours?" She asked.
Liz nodded. "Yes it is. I'm Liz Parker."
"You're very talented," the woman said, her voice sincere. "I wasn't sure what to expect but...your work is really wonderful."
"Thank you," Liz said, smiling. "Do you have any particular piece you like?"
"Um, yes the one..." The woman gestured behind her, and Liz got up. She followed the woman out until the stood in front of the painting.
Liz had to conceal a jolt of shock. It was one of her darkest pieces. She painted it frantically, almost blindly one night. A landscape of the view from the old Farmer house on a dark and stormy night. The wind tossed the waves, and the sea was a malignant black, surrounding another vision. A woman Liz had never seen. She still didn't know what had prompted her to go up to the house that night, or what had driven her to paint what she'd seen, and hadn't seen, but it was a painting she was sure she was never going to sell.
"Did you really see her?" The woman asked.
"No," Liz said, shaking her head. "But when I'd painted the picture I knew she had to be there."
The woman only nodded, and Liz turned to her curiously. "Most people would find that odd. Even alarming."
"I'm not most people. And I'll take it."
Liz wanted to argue, to convince her to take a brighter piece, but one look at the woman's face told her not to bother. She got the painting off the wall and took it over to the long wrapping table.
"How long are you staying in town?" Liz asked as she wrapped.
"I'm not sure," the woman replied. "I'm not sure what I'm looking for."
It was a strange answer, but Liz let it go. She hefted the painting and handed it over. "Well enjoy your stay."
As she reached over, her fingers collided with the woman's, and Liz pulled her hand back as she felt heat rip up her arm. They stared at each other for a moment before the woman turned around and hurried out the door.

"So what you're saying is that you're here to find out if I've been following Liz?" Max asked, looking around the room for somewhere to sit.
Michael looked around too, and he had to tell himself not to let his jaw drop to the floor. There was stuff everywhere, on every available surface, and from what he could see none of it looked cheap. The machine he was currently leaning on looked like it could easily cost well into six figures. He heard a crash from another room then Max reappeared, a little flushed, and gestured him in. Michael was amused to notice a huge machine now sitting on the floor, and a single chair empty. He plopped himself down, while Max whisked some papers out of the way and sat on the bench.
"Impressive set up," Michael said, waving his hand.
Max nodded. "Thanks. So am I right? You want to know if I've been following Liz?"
"Yeah," Michael said.
"No," Max told him calmly, even though his insides were roiling. "For one thing, I wouldn't do that, and secondly, I haven't been here long enough to follow anyone. I'd get lost."
Michael said, rubbing the back of his neck. "Yeah I figured that. Sorry. I tend to get a little paranoid when anything like this happens to one of them."
"Has it happened a lot in the past?"
Michael shrugged. "People like Liz and Maria always attract as many crackpots as genuinely interested people."
"Well I'm one of the genuinely interested ones," Max assured him.
"Genuinely interested in who?"
Max blinked a couple of times, then grimaced. "Oh, is this one of those she's my girlfriend things. Because it's not Maria, if that's what's worrying you."
Michael almost laughed. The poor guy looked so uncomfortable. And harmless, he decided. He was harmless.
"Look I really am sorry," Michael said again. "I shouldn't have just come charging in here. Liz is going to kill me. She said it wasn't you, but I didn't listen to her."
Max waved his hand. "This can be between you and me. Liz doesn't have to know."
Michael nodded his thanks, then looked around again. "What the hell is all this stuff for?"
Max grinned and slid off the bench. "Want the tour?"
Michael nodded, and got up to follow him into the other room.

Liz stared at the screen until all the words ran together, the sat back and sighed. She'd been at it for hours, and she still hadn't found anything. She'd been through the public records of almost every major city she could think of that the ferry had travelled to back in the late 1600's. Nothing. Apparently Michael was wrong. Noone was talking about what happened on the island in those days. She had one more place to try, but she didn't hold out much hope. She leaned back, stretching her arms over her head, and nearly jumped through the roof when her hands connected with a hard chest. She tipped her head back, and found herself staring at Max's upside down face.
"Don't sneak up on me," she hissed. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."
He grinned down at her. "It's a library. Gotta be quiet remember." Liz sat forward again, and he sat down beside her. "What are you doing?"
"Research," Liz told him, and she typed in the area she was looking at next.
"Salem," Max murmured. "What's there that's so interesting?"
"Nothing now," Liz said wearily. "I need to look at the records of the witch trials again."
Max looked at her face for a minute, then pushed her aside. "You look beat. Go and sit down at that table over there and rest your eyes. I'll look."
Liz considered arguing, but she had a low grade headache already, and if she kept at it, it was going to get worse. Patting his arm, she got up.
"You know the basics right?" She asked him.
He gave her a superior look. "I'm a witch hunter. Of course I know."
Liz chuckled. "Right. Well I'm looking for anything out of place."
"Something out of place in Salem during the witch trials?" Max said dryly.
Liz frowned at him. "Maybe a name that hasn't shown up before, one you haven't heard of. Even someone talking about something that might have happened on the island. Anything like that. I can sift through it all tonight, but for now anything you can find me would be great."
Max nodded and turned back to the computer. Liz watched him for a moment, then laid her head on the table. Five minutes later she was asleep.

To Be Continued....

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. *big*
posted on 17-Feb-2002 4:31:37 AM by Mikyla
Hi everyone,

Just to try and clear up any confusion beforehand, this chapter is set in the past. I'll be having a couple of these chapters throughout the story. If you just remember the names, you should be alright.
The names are real, victims of the Salem Witch Trials, but what happened to them comes from my imagination. As does the witchcraft. None of the people arrested or subsequently hung during that period were guilty.
If you have any questions, just leave them in your feedback, and I'll try to answer them for you.

Mikyla

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2002 4:35:00 AM ]
posted on 17-Feb-2002 4:32:58 AM by Mikyla
Part 7 - Capture

She could see them coming for her, and her breathing hastened. She smoothed down her apron, adjusted her bonnet, and stood calmly. If they were going to condemn her, she would go to her grave with dignity. She thought of her friends, sisters they called each other, her heart heavy. She hadn't heard from them in a few days, and she was sure inside herself that they had been caught up in this madness the same way she was about to be. The small group reached her doorstep, and she looked down on them coldly.
"Abigail Soames?"
She nodded briefly.
"You have been accused of witchcraft. You are to be taken from your home to a place of imprisonment until the day your case can be heard before the magistrate."
"Who are my accusers?" She asked, looking around the morbid group that always accompanied the carrier of the warrant.
Most eyes lowered shamefully, and some of them even went so far as to cross their chests, imagining themselves in the company of evil. She fought her welling disgust, and stepped down off the porch, careful not to touch any of them. She was stopped abruptly, and her hands were bound with rope. She kept her head high, her eyes steady on the dirty carriage that would take her through the streets. Open to scorn, and the flying rocks of a hysterical town. She was pushed roughly until she hit the end of the carriage, then boosted up. She wobbled, certain she was going to fall flat on her face, then a hand grabbed her arm and steadied her. She looked up into the compassionate eyes of Mary Easty. Abigail gasped in outrage. This was a woman of 58 years!!
"You should not be here!" Abigail hissed, grasping the older woman's trembling hand.
"None of us should be here," the other woman whispered back, trying for an encouraging smile and failing.
"This foolishness has gone on long enough," Abigail said firmly. "Nothing will ever come of it."
She felt Mary's fingers tighten on hers. "Bridget Bishop was hanged this morning. On Gallow Hills."
Fear raged through Abigail, and she closed her eyes to send a quick prayer up for Alice and Margaret.
The carriage rumbled along, taking them closer and closer to town. Abigail could hear the cries already, and she moved closer to the older woman, hoping to shield her from the worst. As they rounded the corner and the crowds came into view, Abigail was dismayed to see children among them.
"This is blasphemy," Mary whispered.
The first stone hurtled through the air, and Abigail flinched as it hit her in the chest. Mary cried out fearfully and ducked down, and Abigail moved quickly to cover her completely. Keeping her head tucked in as much as she could, she heard the dull thunk of stones hitting the side of the carriage. A woman screamed insults, and Abigail considered raising her head to tell the driver of the carriage to hasten. But she knew the sound of her voice would provoke a more frenzied attack, and so she kept quiet. Another stone hit her, this time on the forehead, and stars danced in front of her eyes. While she swayed, a woman approached as close to the carriage as she could get, and hurled an apple. Abigail lifted her head in panic, and her mouth opened in a silent scream as the apple hit her on the head. She called out in her mind to her sisters as she lost consciousness.

Margaret, sat up quickly. "They have Abigail."
"Shh," Alice said quickly, watching the doors of the cell. She waited a few moments, then relaxed when no heavy footsteps descended. "I know. I felt it too."
They had lost track of the time they had languished in here, awaiting their fate, all their hopes pinned on Abigail. Now she too had fallen victim to the madness in this town, and it didn't escape Alice's attention that, in a macabre way, their circle was once again complete.
"Did you see anything more?" Margaret whispered.
Their houses had been searched, turned upside down for signs of their sins, but nothing had been found. Alice still shook her head at their foolishness. A witch of her years and strength needed nothing more than a glass of water to search into her future for answers. What she had seen there darkened her heart, but she kept her knowledge to herself and shook her head. Margaret stared at her shrewdly for a moment, but knew she could not argue.
"You will try again?"
Alice nodded. "In a moment. Let me focus on Abigail. You should do the same. She will need us."
The two women joined hands, and chanted. Not aloud, a sure death sentence, but inside themselves. It was all they needed. A guard walking past the cell saw nothing but two women, their hands clasped, their hands bent in prayer. Nodding in satisfaction, he moved off again.

Alice stood on the small rise, watching the carriage roll past. She could see Abigail slumped on top of another woman.
"Mary Easty," Margaret said sadly.
A woman of the village walked up the hill, the show over, her religious fervor satisfied. She shivered as she crested the rise, and crossed herself, looking around quickly. She saw nothing and moved on.
Alice barely noticed the other woman walk through her, her entire corporeal being focused on the carriage. Margaret moved forward slowly.
"No," Alice said sharply. "We can't go to her like this."
"She's hurting," Margaret said, tears shimmering brightly in her eyes. "She hurts Alice."
"I know," Alice said gently. "But she may respond, may speak to us. It will condemn her. She is still new to our ways, young in the craft."
"She was born into the craft," Margaret said stubbornly.
"You know she does not yet believe that," Alice said. "We must return. We will do what we can for her when she awakens."
Alice waited, watching Margaret's visage slowly disintegrate, then vanish. She looked down once more at the rabid crowd, remembering names, faces, then she too returned to herself. A spell such as the one they had just cast took effort, but as soon as she was able she got up and called for the guard. He came over and glared at her.
"What is it?'
She held out her dirty mug. "I need another glass of water."
Grumbling bad temperedly, he wandered over and filled it from the bucket. He brought it back and handed it to her.
"That'll be the last for this hour," he snapped at her. "You've already had more than your share."
Alice nodded, then went and sat back down. She waited until the guard moved out of sight, then closed her eyes and quickly cast her spell. She opened her eyes and gazed down, but nothing had changed. In a fit of temper, she threw the water at the opposite wall. But it did nothing to dispel the image from her mind. She was going to die, she knew it. She would hang from the noose like a common criminal, Margaret by her side. All the hope for the future lay with Abigail.

To Be Continued...

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Feb-2002 4:33:30 AM ]
posted on 20-Feb-2002 12:18:22 AM by Mikyla
Part 8 - A lost soul

"Liz?"
Liz mumbled softly, arching into the hand that softly rubbed her back.
"Liz? Wake up. I think I've found something."
He hit a spot, and Liz practically purred. "You're right, you've found something."
Max looked down at her, frowning in confusion, then looked at his hand and grinned. "Come on lazy ass. Some of us have been working while some of us have been sleeping."
Her head came up quickly, and she looked at him. "Oh, you've found that something."
Max nodded and moved back to the computer. Liz took a moment to gather her wits again, and got up to join him. She sat down in front of the screen and pushed her hair away from her face, yawning. She looked at the face on the screen and everything in her stilled. Waves of sadness and despair washed over her, and she was astounded to feel tears well in her eyes. One rolled down her cheek as she reached out and ran her fingers lovingly down the woman's face.
"Who is she?"
Max quickly riffled through some pieces of paper.
"Abigail Soames," he told her, reading. "From Salem Town. A warrant was issued for her arrest on May 13, 1692."
He leaned over her to tap a few keys, and a long list of names came up.
"This is the most comprehensive list of women and men who were accused of witchcraft during the trials," Max told her.
Liz scrolled down them, her mind swirling.
"All these people," she whispered. "How did it get to this? How does madness like this start?"
"Greed," Max said simply. "Greed and intolerance."
"Did she die?" Liz asked.
Max riffled around some more. "No. Not as far as I can tell. She was arrested on the day her warrant was issued, taken to the Salem Town jail, just like anyone else accused around that time, but I lost track of her after that. I thought you might be interested because she's the only one I did lose track of. Every one of these names shows up somewhere else, whether it's in the list of the dead, or the list of people and families who went for compensation."
"We have to find her," Liz told him.
"You know of her?"
Liz shook her head. "Not before now. But she's someone. I know she is."
Max had seen her sadness, and didn't argue with her. "I have some people I can call. They have more information on the Salem Witch Trials than any library in the world. If anyone knows what happened to Abigail Soames, they'll know."
As much as Liz craved to know who this woman was, she hesitated. "I don't like the idea of anyone else knowing that we're looking for her. Especially whoever it is you're working for."
His head shot up in surprise. "How do you know I'm working for someone?"
Liz laughed. "Noone comes looking for witches for a bit of fun Max. And noone would pick this island, or me, to focus on, unless they had some prior knowledge. Knowledge I'm assuming you got from the people you work for." She stood up and stretched wearily. "I should have been home hours ago."
Max piled all his notes up and shoved them into his bag. "I'll walk with you."
"Only to the hotel," Liz said as he got up and they strolled out of the library.
Max looked at her. "Not tonight either huh?"
Liz tipped her head back and took a deep breath of the cold night air. "I'm not playing hard to get. I don't do that. But I also don't jump into bed with guys I don't know. If this is a problem for you, then maybe we should just stop this now."
"No, we'll stick it out," Max said, not hesitating. "I don't mind waiting."
Liz shook her head. "Not many men I know would say that."
"Then I'm obviously not like any men you know," Max said simply.
He wasn't, Liz realised. He wasn't at all, and maybe that was why she could trust him.
"Call your people," she said quietly. "Tell them only that you want to find Abigail Soames. Nothing else Max please."
"Nothing else," he promised.
They walked in silence to the steps of the hotel, then Max turned around. "Come in and I'll call you a cab."
"What on earth for?" Liz said. "I've been walking these streets all my life."
"You've never been followed before."
Liz stared at him for a couple of minutes, then her eyes narrowed. "I'm gonna kill him."
Max winced. He'd let the cat out of the bag.
"Kill who?" He said, doing his best to sound ridiculously innocent.
"Max, three people on this island know about my little episode. I'm one of them, the other two are Maria and Michael. So unless something's going on between you and Maria that I don't know about, I must now go and commit nasty acts against Michael."
She turned to go and Max grabbed her arm. "Ok, wait. Michael did come to me, but he was worried about you, that's all."
Liz slapped his hand away and began stalking off again. Max just grabbed her the same way. When she brought her hand up to slap him away again, he wrapped his arms around her, pinning her.
"I told him not to come to you," Liz grumbled. "I told him it wasn't you."
"I appreciate that," he said, trying to concentrate on what she was saying, instead of the way she was plastered up against him. "Michael didn't really think it was me either, but he had to check. Maybe you should just appreciate the way he looks out for you."
"No," Liz said sulkily.
Max chuckled and hugged her tighter. Liz screwed her face up.
"Ok fine," she said finally. "I'll let him live."
"And you'll take a cab home."
"Max..."
"Liz," he said firmly. "It's a cab home or I walk you. That's it."
"Fine," she sighed. "I'll call a cab. But before we get around to that.."
She reached up, pulled his head down to hers, and opened her mouth on his. Max stood still for a shocked second, then pulled her closer. He could swear he heard all the blood rushing from his head straight to his groin as he plunged his tongue into her mouth. She made a pleased sound and closed her mouth over him, sucking gently. He groaned softly, dragging her up onto her toes to bring her closer. Liz leant against him and let him take the kiss wherever he wanted it to go. When her head started swimming, and she wanted to ask him to come home with her, she pulled away reluctantly.
"Max," she murmured.
He mumbled something as he nibbled on her neck.
"Max, I need to call a cab."
"Right," he said, pulling away slowly. "Right cab. Cab would be good. Or we could just go upstairs and..."
Liz laughed and took his face in her hands, holding him back when he went to kiss her again.
"Home," she told him. "Me. You, go inside and start looking for our woman."
He blew out a gusty breath. "Ok. But I really hope I'll be walking you home soon, or I'm going to go directly out of my mind."
Testing, tempting them both, she reached up one more time and kissed him lightly.
"It will be," she promised.
He took her hand in his and smiled. "Come on then, I'll get the front desk to call you a cab."
She nodded and followed him up the steps, barely stopping herself from looking over her shoulder to try and catch a glimpse of whoever it was that had been watching them.

To Be Continued...

Hey everyone, Just a little note: Noone was dreaming what I wrote in the last chapter. It was simply set in the past. Thanks for the feedback everyone.
posted on 21-Feb-2002 7:17:48 AM by Mikyla
Part 9 - A friendly warning

Max knew he was going to find himself on the receiving end of something not unlike the Spanish Inquisition, but he called it in anyway.
"Mr Evans. It's good to hear from you."
It was just another voice, of a person he didn't know. Members of the board were rarely disturbed with the day to day meanderings of the employees.
"I'm calling for some information, if you have it," he said politely.
"Does this have anything to do with your current investigation?"
"It'll help," Max replied vaguely.
"What is it you're looking for?"
"I need any information you can give me on a woman by the name of Abigail Soames," Max said, spelling her name out. "She was arrested on May 13 1692 in Salem Town. I need to find out what happened to her after she was imprisoned."
"A lot of women died in prison," the voice reminded him. "Are you sure she wasn't one of them?"
Not big on brains this one, Max thought to himself, rolling his eyes. "That's what I'd like to find out. Anything you have would be great."
"Very well, you'll have the information by this afternoon."
"Thank you," Max said, then quickly hung up before they could ask him how the investigation was going.
He wanted to know what Liz's connection was to those times, and he sensed it wasn't this woman. But he knew he'd have to wait. He looked down at the painting of the young woman again, his stomach twisting with regret.
"We'll find you," he promised her. "We'll find out who you were."
His stomach rumbled ominously and he grabbed his coat and headed out for the cafe.

"You're up early," Maria said, her voice friendly.
Max nodded. "I had to make an early phone call."
Maria nodded. "Liz told me you're helping us look for our missing link. What did they tell you?"
"I won't know anything until this afternoon," he told her with an apologetic smile. "If you can get Liz to meet me here, I can tell you both anything I find out."
"Thank you," Maria said. "Now what can I get you?"
"Anything, and lots of it," he said seriously, rubbing his stomach.
"We'll start with french toast," Maria said, chuckling. "I'll bring your coffee over in a minute."
"Sounds good," Max said, smiling.
Michael came out of the kitchen and wandered over.
"Morning Maxwell."
"Morning."
"I'll leave you two boys alone to make manly noises," Maria said, leaning over and kissing Michael lightly. "You want another coffee?"
He ran his hand through her hair absently, and nodded. "Thanks."
She left, and Max looked at him, grinning. "Manly noises?"
Michael grinned back. "Yeah. Maria thinks that anytime two men sit down at a table together, they are incapable of making normal conversation, and instead communicated with a testosterone driven grunts. Manly noises."
Max laughed, shaking his head. "Unique girl you've got there."
"So I have," Michael said lightly. "Speaking of girls, how's Liz?"
Max looked up, surprised. "What make you think I would know?"
Michael leaned over and clamped his hand on Max's shoulder. "Maxwell, I am a man who travels sometimes hundreds of miles to come back to the same woman time after time. I recognise certain elements of the smitten male in you. So how is she?"
"I'm not smitten," Max said quickly. "And that is a ridiculous word."
Michael gave him a sympathetic look, and Max shifted uncomfortably. "I may be in the early stages of some heavy duty lust, but I am not smitten. And Liz was fine last time I saw her."
Michael sat back, grinning. "That's all you needed to say."
Maria sauntered out of the kitchen again, two steaming mugs in her hand. She took one look at Max's scowling face, and glared at Michael. "What did you do to him?"
"He's not smitten," Michael told her.
Maria leveled a bland look at Max, then shrugged. "If he says he's not, he's not."
Her tone of voice said everything. Clearly he was smitten, and everyone knew it but him.
"You're both nuts," he muttered.
"Careful Maxwell, you're in the company of a very short tempered witch," Michael warned.
Maria just laughed and turned back to the kitchen. "I'll get your toast. Try not to say anything I may have to repeat to Liz later."
She pushed through the swinging doors, and Michael took a sip of coffee before launching into a topic that had been on his mind.
"Maria told me the first time you came in here you had one of those little machines in your pocket."
Max nodded. "You know, there's no way they should even know I have them, but Liz picked it up as well."
Michael waved that away, accustomed to the power of the two women he'd known all his life. "I want to know if you still carry it around."
He was speaking mildly, but Max knew when to watch his step.
"No," he said honestly. "Why?"
"These girls are special," Michael told him. "Very, very special."
"I know that," Max assured him.
"And there are people out there, too many people, who would give almost anything to harness the kind of power they have."
Max thought about his own people, his employers, his doubts and suspicions. "I know that too."
"So, I just need to make sure nothing you do here is going to hurt either of them."
Max almost laughed, but he could see the other man was too serious.
"Michael, do you honestly think I could do anything to hurt either of them?" He asked. "They could probably fry me with a look."
"You might not mean to hurt them, but you could bring something to the island that will."
Max opened his mouth to deny it automatically, but he closed it again when he realised that the fact that he was even here wasn't good for Liz.
"I'll be careful," he promised.
Michael nodded, and they returned to their coffee. Max sat hoping that the day wouldn't come when he would have to tell Michael that he hadn't been careful enough.

Liz fidgeted in her chair, watching the doors of the cafe.
"Will you relax?" Maria snapped. "You're driving me mental."
"You're mental already," Liz snapped back.
Michael stepped between the two of them and held his hands up in the classic time out signal. Maria glared at him, while Liz stuck her tongue out. The door swung open, and Max came in, smiling. He held out a large folder.
"I've found her."
He came over and sat down next to Liz, leaning over to kiss her cheek absently. Maria smiled happily, while Michael just raised his eyebrows. Neither Max or Liz noticed.
"Ok," Max said, opening the folder. "I've got a ton of stuff in here, so bear with me while I sort it all out. Ok, first of all.."
He took out two pieces of paper and handed one to each of the girls. "Her painting."
Liz experienced the same wrenching sadness, and when she looked up at Maria, she knew her friend was going through the same thing. Max continued to riffle through papers, then finally found what he was looking for.
"Ok, as I told you earlier Liz, Abigail disappeared after she was imprisoned."
"I want to know who she was before that," Liz said suddenly.
Max looked at her, then shrugged and pulled out another piece of paper.
"She was fairly unremarkable until she got caught up in the trials," he said. "Married, no children. One of three midwives in the village. They were all accused of witchcraft, interestingly enough..."
"Who were the other two?" Liz asked urgently. "The other two women."
"Um.." Max shuffled a bit more. "Yeah, here it is. Alice Parker and Margaret Scott."
The tension in the air abruptly thickened, and Max looked up. The two women stared at each other, their eyes wide.
"What?" He asked. "What does this mean?"
"The power of three," Liz whispered. "It's true then."
"What's true?" Max said loudly. "What's going on?"
Maria looked at him. "One of us is missing. There's supposed to be three."

To Be Continued...

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I know the parts are coming a little slower, but the real world intrudes lol. I'm still writing as much as I can, and posting every day when I can. Thanks so much for your patience.
posted on 24-Feb-2002 4:48:59 PM by Mikyla
Part 10 - A lesson in the past

"So what you're telling me is you both have a connection to these women?" Max asked. "This is great!!"
"Down boy," Michael murmured.
"Nothing we say goes outside of this room," Maria warned him.
"This is a purely personal interest," Max said stiffly, offended. "I have no intention of telling anyone about it. Noone would believe me anyway."
Liz touched his arm gently, silently apologizing for Maria. He smiled at her.
"I traced our line back to those times," Liz explained. "A lot of greats later I found Alice Parker. And Margaret Scott. Maria and I always knew there was some connection between us. We wanted to prove it."
"We never found any proof of another person," Maria said, still clutching the photocopy of her face. "I can't figure out what this might mean."
Liz concentrated, trying to bring some sense into the sudden chaos. She went back as far as she could remember, sifting through memories. When it came to her, her eyes popped open.
"Oh my god!!"
She jumped up and began pacing. Maria raced up beside her and did the same thing. "What?"
"A woman came into the studio," Liz remembered. "I got this..feeling. She brought the piece I did on the Farmer place..."
"That really ugly piece?" Maria asked. "She's not a witch, just eccentric."
Liz shook her head and took the piece of paper off Maria. She stared at Abigail Soames face for a long time, then nodded. "It's her. She's here."

Jim Valenti looked over the pieces of paper carefully. "This is all he asked for?"
The young man nodded. "Yes. He wanted very badly to find this woman."
Jim read over the pages, and it struck him immediately. He sat forward in his chair, more than interested.
"Get me Whitman in here," he ordered.
The young, earnest looking man ran in a few minutes later, wearing his customary frazzled look. "You wanted to see me sir?"
"You're going on a field trip," Jim told him. "Lara's Rest."
Alex frowned. "I thought Max Evans was already there."
"We think he's been corrupted," Jim said. "He indicated to us that the woman we sent him to investigate was innocent. I have reason to believe otherwise."
"Innocent?" Alex said, a little bewildered. "We're treating these people like criminals now?"
Alex winced as soon as he'd said it, wishing he could call the words back. Foot in mouth strikes again, he thought whimsically.
"If you don't wish to take on the assignment, I'll just send someone else," Jim stated coldly.
"No, no," Alex said quickly. "No, I'll go."
Jim nodded, expecting nothing less. "You'll find everything you need once you find Evans."
Alex nodded and turned to leave.
"Whitman."
He turned back again, smiling absently. "Hmm?"
"If you find out that Evans is protecting someone, you are to report immediately."
Alex didn't like the sound of any of this, but he only nodded before hurrying out the door.

Liz grasped Maria's hand tighter, her stomach a mass of twisting nerves. She could feel the reassuring presence of Michael and Max behind her, but she knew once they hit a certain point, the men would have to stay behind. They reached the end of the driveway up to the big house, and Liz turned around, trying for a confident smile. She could see from the guy's faces she wasn't pulling it off.
"We'll be fine," she promised.
"I don't see why we can't just come up.." Max protested.
Liz shook her head. "This is something that has to happen between just the three of us. Just this first meeting."
"She could be capable of anything," Michael said, frowning at the house. "We don't know anything about this woman."
"It's two of us against one of her," Maria reminded him. "And Liz is the strongest of us all. She can't hurt us."
Liz was trying not to remember her fear the day the ferry came in, her knowledge of a horrible evil. If it was this woman...then she was walking herself and Maria into more danger than either of them could imagine.
"Ok," Maria said, taking a deep breath. "Let's go."
Still holding hands, the two women began walking up the driveway.

Jessica watched them from the front window, her breath hitching and her stomach also tied in knots. She'd known this day was coming, that if she ventured onto the island they would find her. She'd thought she was prepared, but her trembling hands and panicky breathing made her a liar. She hurried into the foyer, stopping to take a quick check of her appearance before she opened the door. Coal black eyes stared out of a striking face, framed with long, raven black hair. Her full lips turned up in a whimsical smile. She not only was a witch, by some twist of fate, she really looked like one. She worried about her lack of makeup, then shrugged. They would have to accept her as she was.
She brushed her hands over thighs, drying them, then reached out and opened the door. Liz and Maria stopped on the steps, and looked up.
"I'm Jessica," she told them. "Solito. I imagine you want to talk to me."
Liz smiled. "I'm Liz Parker, this is my best friend Maria Deluca. And we would love to talk to you if you have the time."
Jessica opened the door wider and gestured them inside.

"Don't like this," Max muttered, pacing up and down and glaring at the house. "Don't like it, don't like it..."
"I got it," Michael said. "You don't like it."
"Well how can you?" Max said, frustrated, worried. "We have no idea what they're walking into in there. I mean, how much do we know about this woman? Nothing, except that she looks a bit like a woman from the 17th century who was accused of witchcraft, and she brought an ugly painting from Liz. Not exactly compelling evidence of any kind of goodness there Michael."
"Breath," Michael said, chuckling. "You're going to pass out."
Max just stared at him for a moment, then did as he was told, taking big gulps of air.
"The fact is, I have no right to tell Maria what to do," Michael said simply. "I blow into town once in a while."
"You could change that," Max said quietly.
Michael's face darkened.
"That is one thing you stay out of," Michael said coldly. "My relationship with Maria is off limits."
Max held his hands up in surrender. "Ok, ok sorry."
Deciding maybe he'd better keep his mouth shut, Max instead turned, once again watching the house.

"Your boyfriend is fretting," Jessica said with a smile.
Liz got up to look out the window and laughed softly.
"They were a little anxious," she explained, watching the two men standing guard at the gate. Then she turned around with a surprised expression. "How did you know that? That Max was fretting I mean?"
Jessica gestured for her to sit down again. "I think it's about time we got down to the important stuff."
Aware of a keen sense of anticipation, Liz sat down.

To Be Continued...

Thanks so much for all the feedback guys. Sorry again that I'm not updating as regularly.
posted on 25-Feb-2002 6:32:46 PM by Mikyla
Part 11 - Differences

"I'm not entirely sure where to start," Jessica said with a self conscious laugh.
"Why haven't we ever met before?" Maria asked.
"I've never been to the island before," Jessica said simply. "All my life I've had this urge, this need I guess you could say, to be somewhere. Growing up I would draw pictures of it, when I became an adult I started looking for it. Two months ago I finally found it. I organised everything, and took the ferry over here."
"That's a big step," Liz murmured.
Jessica shrugged. "The right one. I knew it as soon as I arrived."
"What sort of power do you have?" Maria asked, still not willing to trust.
Jessica spread her hands helplessly. "The usual I guess. Um..."
She turned around and focused her energy on a plate she'd left on the table this morning. It lifted and floated quietly across the room, settling on the coffee table in front of the other two women. She then turned her eyes to the grate and, chanting a few words, started a cozy fire. She turned back with a smile.
"I have a few other tricks of course, but I think I'll save them for another time. I also..sense things. Emotions sometimes. But that very much comes and goes. That's why I know Max is pacing at the gate." she invited.
"I'm pretty much in the same boat as you by the looks of things," Maria said, looking over and putting out the fire, then lighting it again. "Except the emotions thing. Liz has all the big tricks."
"What kind of tricks?" Jessica asked, curious.
"I can do what you did just now and...a few other things."
"Like what?"
Liz wasn't entirely comfortable with the subject, she never had been, but she answered truthfully.
"I can...influence the minds of people. Maybe make them do stuff they wouldn't normally do."
"That sounds like fun," Jessica said with a grin.
"I haven't played with it since I was a teenager," Liz said, chuckling.
"Since you made Michael strip down to his underwear in the middle of class," Maria reminisced, beaming.
Jessica burst into delighted laughter and clapped. "Oh that would have been priceless. Who's Michael?"
"That's a whole other story," Maria said. "Best left for another night."
Jessica nodded. "So back to you Liz. What else have you got up your sleeve?"
Liz looked at Maria, who nodded encouragingly. Jessica looked between the two of them, confused. "What's up?"
Liz stood up and faced Jessica squarely. "What I'm about to tell you I share with very few people. Even other legitimate witches I've met in my life."
Jessica nodded and Liz turned towards the back of the house, gesturing Jessica to follow her. They stepped outside, and Liz lead them across the well kept backyard to stand on the edge of the rocky outcropping that jutted over the calm night waters of the ocean. Taking a careful look around to make sure the beach was clear, Liz lifted her arms and began her chant. Jessica could feel her blood begin to stir as she heard the words of the spell and felt them begin to weave their magic. The wind snaked through her hair, tossing it, and she knew she was witnessing power on a scale she'd never seen before. Liz chanted faster, her voice stronger, and the wind picked up again. Jessica tore her gaze away and focused on the ocean. She felt all the air back up in her lungs, and her heart stopped. She watched the giant wall of water come towards them, guided by Liz's hands and mind. It careened towards them, and she actually backed up, afraid. It approached the shore, and Jessica closed her eyes. When she opened them again, the water was gone, the ocean once again calm. Her breath came out in a huge gush, and she sat down on the wet grass, her legs wobbly. Maria laughed and bent down to help her up, keeping an arm around her for support. Jessica stared in wonder, and Liz smiled.
"You can..." Jessica waved her arm at the ocean, unable to find words.
"Control the elements," Liz said, nodding. "To a small degree yes."
"That wasn't small degree," Jessica said, her heart still racing. "That was a tidal wave."
"Let's go back inside," Maria said. "It's getting cold out here."
The three women went back inside, and Jessica dropped down into a chair heavily. "I still can't believe I saw that," she whispered.
Liz veered off and went into the kitchen to make a strong cup of tea. She kept a careful eye on Jessica through the large serving window.
"Liz has taught me a lot of stuff I didn't know," Maria said. "Now that we've found you, we'll need more time to find out each others strengths and weaknesses, what we're each capable of."
"I have nothing like that in me," Jessica said, certain. "All the elements?"
Liz carried a tray in and set it on the coffee table.
"The elements and everything that comes with them," Liz confirmed.
Jessica thought about it, and her eyes widened. "The weather?"
"I'm not sure how much more you can take for one night," Maria said, fussing. "Leave the rest until tomorrow. We have plenty of time now."
Jessica desperately wanted to argue, but with her head swimming again, she thought it was best not to. Instead she simply nodded and took a bracing gulp of tea.
"How did you find me?" She finally asked. "Do you have diaries too?"
Liz and Maria looked at each other, then back at her. "Diaries?"
Jessica nodded. "Abigail Soames kept a diary. It's been handed down from generation to generation, always to the oldest daughter. I got it when my mother passed away. I assumed when you came here tonight that you both had one as well, and had figured it out for yourselves."
"A friend found you for us," Liz told her. "I'd love to see the diary if you wouldn't mind."
Jessica got up and disappeared into another room. Liz sat down with a sigh.
"This could be bad," Maria murmured. "Do we really want to know what happened to these woman in any kind of detail?"
"I think we need to know," Liz told her.
"She's not the evil is she?" Maria said softly.
Liz shook her head. "No she's not. Which means we still don't know what is."
Jessica came back in, an old, frayed looking book in her hands. She passed it over to Liz.
"Everything I know about myself is in this book," she told them. "I'm very similar to her in every way, even down to the way we look."
"It's the same for all of us," Liz said, opening the book carefully. "All three of us look like all three of them."
"You're welcome to take it if you'd like," Jessica offered. "It might be easier that way them coming here every time you'd like to read it."
"I'd love to, if you're sure," Liz said.
Jessica nodded. "You need to know what happened to them as much as I did. And there's nowhere in the world you can find out as much as what's in that book."
She stood up and smiled. "You'd better get going. Those two guys are about to come and bust the door down I think."
Liz got up and Maria followed her out the door. Liz turned back and hugged Jessica impulsively.
"I'm so glad we found you," she said sincerely. "We have so much time to catch up on."
Jessica returned the hug warmly. "We will."
Riding on the feeling, Liz ran down the footpath and jumped into Max's arms. He caught her and stumbled backwards a couple of steps before getting his feet under him.
"It went well I take it?" He asked with a grin.
Liz waved the diary at him jubilantly. "Abigail Soames diary. Wanna read it with me?"
Max ignored the book, focusing instead on the look in her eyes. Liz smiled at him and kissed him lightly.
"Walk me home?" She asked softly.
Max didn't ask her if she was sure, didn't give her time to change her mind, just put her down, took her hand...and hurried.

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Feb-2002 6:36:15 PM ]
posted on 27-Feb-2002 4:03:01 AM by Mikyla
Part 12 - A time for all things

Liz fought the inevitable nerves, sure of her decision. It wasn't momentous, might not even be life-changing, but it was different for her. The speed, something she had never indulged in before. She knew a man before she invited him into her bed, cared for him. She cared for Max, she couldn't deny that. But know him? What she did know of him should have had her running in the opposite direction, not up the shale driveway to her home. But here she was anyway, and she would not let herself regret it until the morning.
Max walked up the steps to the door and stepped aside, letting her unlock it and walk inside. She flipped on the light as Max closed the door behind him. She stood waiting for him, smiling slightly. Max cleared his throat and grinned.
"Maybe you should get us both a drink or something," he suggested.
Liz cocked an eyebrow. "Why?"
Max's mind went blank for a second, then he frowned at her. "I just need a drink that's all. What kind of hostess are you?"
Lis walked up to him slowly, then stopped as her body brushed his. Max swore softly as everything in him that was already on high alert threatened to explode. He glared at her.
"You have a problem with getting right down to it?" Liz asked innocently.
Max closed his eyes, praying for patience. "No, I have no problems with getting right down to it, but if you want me to last any more than about five seconds, I suggest you get me a drink. Or a cold shower."
"Five seconds?" Liz said, a little perturbed.
"You're the one who needed time," Max reminded her. "I was ready the minute I saw you. In fact I'm beginning to think I wanted you before I even met you."
Liz could actually feel most of her bones melt, and she lifted her hand to his cheek.
"That's beautiful," she told him. "I'll get you that drink."
Max walked a little further into the room when Liz disappeared into what he assumed was the kitchen. Everything in the room was designed or positioned to let in the incredible view of the ocean. He looked out, letting the gentle motion of the waves calm him. Liz came back and handed him a glass.
"Whiskey?" He asked.
Liz nodded. "I'm sorry if that's not what you're after. I'm afraid it's all I have. Left over from a party a few weeks ago."
"It's fine," Max said, taking a sip. "So, did you feel like talking about the meeting tonight, or would you rather I mind my own business?"
"It was fine," Liz assured him. "Great actually. It felt like...there was always something missing that I didn't know about, and now I've found it."
"That's exactly what it was," Max reminded her.
"I think it's going to be fine now," Liz told him.
"Did you have anything to do with show?" Max asked casually. "The sudden appearance, and disappearance, of that tidal wave?"
Liz looked up, very surprised. "You saw that?"
"Little hard to miss," he said dryly. "So was that yours?"
Liz shook her head. "You shouldn't have been able to see that."
"Why not?" Max asked, a little bewildered. "It was right there for anyone to see."
"No it wasn't," Liz said, a little panicked. "I cast a spell. You shouldn't have been able to see."
"Liz, calm down," Max said soothingly, even as an icy hand ran down his spine. "It was probably a one time thing, because I was concentrating so hard."
"Did Michael see anything?"
Max thought back, then shrugged. "I don't know. I was too busy panicking. I didn't even look at him." He watched her continue to fret, and closed his hands over hers. "Ask him tomorrow."
Liz took a deep, claming breath, then nodded.
"You're right," she said, finally smiling again. "I'm sure it was just my mistake. I'm sorry."
Max had a funny feeling it wasn't her mistake, but he let it go for the time being. He took the last mouthful of his drink, put the glass on the table, then turned to pull her into his arms. She leaned into him with a sigh, lifting her mouth up to his. Max lowered his head and let himself sink into her. Her mouth opened slowly on another sigh, and Max plunged his tongue in, his breath already backing up on him. He savored the taste of her as her tongue chased his in an erotic dance. He pulled back to gulp in some much needed air, then immediately lost it again as he ran the edge of his teeth down her throat, then followed the path with his tongue. He muttered something, and Liz tipped her head up.
"What?" She said breathlessly.
"The drink didn't work," he told her.
Liz went to work on the buttons of his shirt. "Sorry about that."
Max grappled with the zip on the back of her dress while his mouth fastened onto hers again. When it wouldn't cooperate, he ended the kiss with a frustrated groan, and looked up. What he saw cooled his ardor like a bucket of cold water over the head.
"Did you ask Jessica why she was following you?" Max asked.
Liz was busy kissing his chest, and failed to notice the change in his voice. "No, I forgot. But I'll ask her tomorrow."
Max threaded his hand into her hair, holding it protectively against his chest. "Don't bother."
Liz looked up at him, then tried to turn her head to see what he was looking at over her shoulder. He tightened his hand, holding her still.
"Why not?" She asked.
"She's not the one who was following you," Max told her.
"How do you know that?" Liz asked, but she had a sinking feeling she already knew.
"They're down on the beach," Max told her calmly.
Liz closed her eyes and rested her forehead on his warm chest. Max watched the person watching them, their movements bold, open. They had to know Max could see them, but they made no attempt to hide themselves, or what they were doing. Reaching out, Max snagged a curtain and pulled it across, shielding them from view.
"Pack a bag," he ordered. "You're coming with me."
For once she didn't argue, only walked calmly up the stairs. Max picked up the phone and called the cafe.
"Maria," he said when she answered. "Hey it's Max. Is Michael there?"
She handed the phone over and Max got straight to the point.
"Liz's house is being watched again," he said without preamble. "I saw them from Liz's front window, standing on the beach. I'm taking Liz with me tonight, but we walked here so we're going to need a ride to the hotel."
"I'll be there in five minutes," Michael promised before disconnecting the call.
Max turned around just as Liz came back in, looking pale and shaken.
"He wants me to know he's there," she said unsteadily. "When I went into the bedroom he followed, so I could see him from my window."
"He?"
Liz nodded. "Don't ask me how I know, I just do. It's a man out there Max. And it's not the same one from the other night. This one is different. Malevolent. He wants to hurt me. He's just biding his time."
Flipping off the light, Max pushed a small couch to the furthest side of the room, away from the windows, and pushed her down onto it before sitting down beside her. He pulled her into his arms, calming her with his body and nonsensical conversation until the lights of Michael's car pierced the room.

To Be Continued...

Now I know what you were all thinking, and it's not my fault your minds are all in the gutter lol. Jess, be kind when you read this lol. You know I'll fix it eventually. You must have faith.

Thanks so much for sticking with me everyone.
posted on 1-Mar-2002 1:37:09 AM by Mikyla
Part 13 - Revelations

Liz stood and looked around in amazement.
"Good lord Max, what is all this crap?"
Max looked around, and winced. "Um...stuff."
The machines were everywhere, on every available surface. The beeped and spat out pieces of paper, which littered the floor. Liz looked around for somewhere to sit, but couldn't find anything. She shucked off her coat and placed it carefully on one particular machine that looked like it cost well into six figures. As she touched it, it set up an alarming noise, and she yelped and jumped back.
"I only put my coat on it," she yelled, backing away quickly. "Do something before it blows up."
"It's not going to blow up," Max said, swallowing a chuckle. "Just don't touch anything."
He punched a few buttons and the machine was quiet again. Liz approached it cautiously. "What is it? Why does it do that when I touch it?"
"It measures disturbances in energy," he explained. "Abnormalities in pressure, changes in temperatures, the sort of thing that normally happens around someone with power like yours."
"And the pieces of paper?" She said, gesturing to the floor.
"Readings."
Max picked one up and handed it to her. Liz looked at it for a minute, then looked up.
"This makes no sense to me whatsoever," she told him.
Max looked around himself, then pushed a huge pile of papers onto the floor. Liz was amazed to find a chair under it all.
"Sit down," he invited. "Can I get you anything?"
Liz shook her head, still holding the piece of paper. "So, this squiggly line is me?"
Max nodded. "Every person gives out...waves I guess you could call them. Energy. But in most people the energy is not detectable by machines of any kind. You might get a slight reading, kind of like a humming in the machine, and the line will move slightly, but not much, and you wouldn't see it if you didn't know what you were looking for." Max punched a few buttons, took another piece of paper from another machine and handed it to her. "This is me. Completely ordinary."
Liz looked down at it and had to agree. She screwed her face up and handed it back to him.
"That's a ridiculously straight line," she said disgustedly.
Max laughed. "I know, I know. Nothing exciting whatsoever. But you're different. Maria's different. And I'm sure Jessica would be different as well. The power you have gives you a different energy, one that the machine picks up."
"Picks up how?"
Max took out the small receptor, the one he'd been carrying the day he met her, and crouched down beside her. He pointed to the very top of it, where a red light glowed dully.
"Sensors," he told her. "Every machine has them."
"Who makes these things?" Liz wondered, intrigued in spite of herself.
Max cleared his throat and stood up, moving away from her. Liz watched him in surprise, then her heart sunk.
"Oh," she said, her voice hardening. "The people you work for right?"
Max didn't look at her, only nodded. Liz stood up to pace.
"Are you still reporting to them?" She asked him, unaware of the sudden motion in the machines around her. "Is that why you brought me here?"
Max knew better than to tell her to calm down, or to check the machines.
"I brought you here because of the man outside your house, and because of what almost happened before he showed up," he told her honestly. "I still want you Liz."
Liz looked around the room, hugging herself tightly.
"What you've got here, what you do here, could bring a lot of trouble Max," Liz told him.
"I would never do anything..." He protested.
"You might not mean to, but that won't stop it from happening," Liz said brutally. "The people you work for know where you are. They have to. They sent you here. When you don't give them what they want, they'll just send someone else. You know it. And he might not be as open minded as you, certainly won't want me like you do. And he'll give them whatever he finds. And then they'll come after us."
"I can stop that from happening.."
"Only by giving them what they want," Liz interrupted again. "And you won't do that."
Max stood where he was, helpless. What she was saying was true. He could argue with her, but he'd be lying and he knew it. Battling useless frustration, and a sense that, first the first time in his adult life, everything was out of his control, he picked up her coat for her, and held it out.
"I'll call Michael," he said quietly. "He can come and pick you up, take you to Maria's. All I ask is that you call me if anything happens."
"I don't want to go Max," Liz said, her eyes widening in surprise.
"Liz, you don't trust me," he said simply. "What you've just said tells me that. And I'm not going to take you to bed while you're still wondering if, when I do, I'm going to phone someone about it."
"I don't think that!" Liz protested. "I would never think that."
He was tired, Max realised. Suddenly so very tired.
"I can't keep promising you that what I do for a living won't affect you," he said quietly. "I have my own doubts about the society, you know that. And you'll keep asking. You have to. I won't deny that your survival may depend on it."
Confused, hurt, Liz took her coat and folded it over her arm. Max moved away, towards the phone, when a knock on the door stopped him. He swore under his breath, then stalked over and opened the door. When he saw who was standing there, he almost slammed it shut again. He moved so that he blocked any view of Liz.
"Hello Alex."

Jessica raised her head and looked around, getting up from the chair. She stepped over to the window, looking out into the night, trying to discover where the feeling was coming from. She grabbed a coat and ran outside, starting down the long road towards the middle of town. Ten minutes later, she stopped outside the hotel and looked up, taking a minute to catch her breath before she ran inside. She walked straight past the front desk, and the protesting man in uniform standing there. She jumped into the elevator and rode it to the floor she had looked up at from the street. She didn't question her certainty, she was going to the right floor. When the doors opened she hurried down the hallway and pounded on the last door.
"Liz!" She yelled. "Liz open the door."
She kept pounding until the door flew open, and she rushed into the room, looking around wildly. She spotted Liz standing in the corner, and she hurried over.
"Are you ok?" She fretted, reaching out for her hands.
Liz nodded, looking a little bewildered. "I'm fine Jessica."
Liz smiled when she found herself being patted down. She stood still and let Jessica reassure herself. When ti was obvious Liz was fine, Jessica stepped back with a frown. "I could have sworn something was wrong."
She turned her confused look on Max. "Are you ok?"
Max nodded. "I'm fine."
Jessica looked around, and finally realised she'd missed someone in her headlong rush to get to Liz. He sat on a chair quietly, watching everything that was happening. There was something different about him, she knew it, but she didn't know what it was. Yet, she promised herself. She approached him, and he watched her, his eyes calm, his body relaxed. Only Jessica knew better. His was the voice that had called her here. She stopped right in front of him, leaned down, and looked him dead in the eye. She could sense both Max and Liz watching her curiously, but all her attention was focused on the newcomer. She looked into his eyes for a long moment, slowly straightened, and her question shot out like a bullet into the silence of the room.
"What are you so afraid of?"

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone.
posted on 2-Mar-2002 6:08:59 PM by Mikyla
Part 14 - The more the merrier

Max stepped forward to make introductions.
"Alex Whitman, this is Jessica Solito. Jessica, Alex is a work colleague."
She continued to watch him, waiting for an answer to her question. Liz approached her warily, still a little unsure of her reception. She laid a hand lightly on Jessica's arm. Jessica turned around and faced her, effectively dismissing Alex.
"I'm about to call Michael to take me to the cafe," Liz said quietly. "Maybe you should come too."
"Why are you going to Maria's?" Jessica asked. "Why aren't you at home?"
"I'll explain on the way," Liz promised. She turned to Max, her eyes still hurt. "Could you phone Michael for me now please?"
Max gestured to Alex.
"You, follow me," he ordered, not willing to leave him alone in the room with the two women.
Alex shrugged and stood up, throwing one last curious glance at Jessica over his shoulder. When the two men left, Jessica blew out a breath.
"Ok, screwed that one up," she murmured sheepishly. "Sorry."
Liz waved her hand. "Forget it. I feel a whole lot better knowing you'd run this far because you thought I was in trouble."
"Who is he?" Jessica asked, pointing in the direction the men had disappeared to.
"I'll need to talk to you," Liz said. "And Maria. But I won't do it here. I don't know either of these men well enough."
Max walked in and caught her words, and acknowledged the punch of feeling to his stomach even as he tucked it away. He stared at her with bad tempered yearning from the other side of the room, and she glared right back at him.
"So what brings you to town Alex?" Jessica asked, trying to fill the thick silence in the room.
"I'm here to help Max," he said vaguely.
She raised an eyebrow, and a slight smile touched her lips. "Afraid we might have sacrificed him already?"
"Jessica.." Max said warningly. "Not funny."
"Were you on the beach tonight?" Liz asked suddenly. "Have you been watching me?"
Alex started in surprise, then frowned in confusion, first at Liz, then at Max.
"I haven't been down to the beach," he told them. "I swear to you. I'm not who you're looking for."
Liz knew he was telling the truth, and she sighed. Everything was getting so complicated, so frightening. She just wanted to go home and bury her head in a pillow, pretend for a moment that she'd never met Max Evans. She moved towards the door when someone knocked.
"That'll be Michael," she said. "Alex, it was nice to have met you. Jessica..?"
She opened the door, and Michael looked at her sourly.
"I don't remember you ever being this much trouble before," he grumbled.
"Of course I was," Liz said sweetly.
He chuckled and shook his head at her, then reached out a hand for Jessica. She hesitated, unused to such easy familiarity, then walked over and smiled when he slung his arm over her shoulder. He spotted Alex, and she was surprised to feel his body tighten. He glared at him, then at Max.
"You and I are going to talk," he said softly. "Tomorrow."
Max was curious, but he only nodded. Michael looked at Alex carefully again, then turned the two women and walked out.

"You shouldn't have come here Alex," Max told him.
"I may be the only thing that saves your ass in the long run," Alex said harshly. "Jesus Max, what the hell are you in the middle of?"
"Those girls have nothing to do with why I'm not reporting in," Max told him. "I'm not blind Alex, and neither are you."
"What are you talking about?"
"The Society," Max told him. "The people we're working for. You don't wonder about them? About the all the people we're supposed to protect? Where are they Alex?"
"All right, you need to calm down," Alex said urgently. "Think clearly. You have to give them something Max. Or they're going to send someone else. Someone who doesn't question like we do."
"You're not here to turn me in?" Max said, clearly surprised.
"Of course I'm not," Alex said quickly. "I came because they told me to, and to refuse would have brought you more trouble. I can hold them off for a while, but we're going to have to come up with something."
Max rubbed a fretful hand over his head, trying to think. The look on Liz's face as she'd tried to get him to let her stay was haunting him.
"I need to think," he told Alex. "How much time do you think I have?"
"I'll have to give them something in the next couple of days."
Max swore, and began pacing.
"I know you have a lot on your plate right now," Alex told him. "Clearly you have feelings for Elizabeth Parker. And she's being followed by someone else, someone we have no clue about. Let me deal with the board the next time they call. Give yourself some time to think, put everything into perspective. Talk to the women, maybe find out if they can think of anything to do."
It wasn't what he wanted, but it was the best he was going to be able to do. What he wanted was Alex gone, Liz to be normal, and to be back in the house with her, picking up where they left off before he'd realised they were being watched. Frustration still grated on his nerves, need swirled slickly in his stomach. He'd handled it badly tonight, he knew it, and all he could do was start fresh tomorrow. Try to fix things.
"Go," he told Alex. "I'll go with your plan until I can come up with something better."
"We need to start looking into The Society as well Max," Alex reminded him. "If our suspicions are right they need to be stopped."
Max nodded. "I know, but I'm too tired tonight. Just go now. We'll talk tomorrow."
Alex let himself, and Max slumped down onto a chair, sighing hugely. Things were getting a hell of a lot more complicated than he liked. And right in the middle of it all was the woman he was falling in love with.

The next morning Max had lost a whole night's sleep, and wasn't any closer to the answers he was looking for. He turned on the coffee machine and yawned hugely, looking around hopefully for a clean cup. When he couldn't find one he turned the machine off again and decided to go down to the cafe for breakfast instead. He walked through into the other room and grabbed his coat. He was shoving his arms into the sleeves when someone knocked on his door. He looked at the clock, surprised. Who the hell was knocking on his door at this time of the morning? He flung it open and stared at Michael.
"What's happened?" He said, panic sharpening his voice. "Is Liz all right? Did something happen last night?"
Yeah it did," Michael told him, his voice cold. "But Liz is fine. I'm not too sure about you though."
Moving back so the other man could come in, Max frowned. "What do you mean? I'm fine."
"Right now you are," Michael agreed. "But if you don't give me the answers I want, you won't be."
"It's too early for you to be this cryptic," Max told him. "Why don't you just spill it?"
"You work for The Society," Michael told him, and Max jerked in shock. "Now I want to know what the hell you're doing here, how many more of you there are, and what you're going to do to the girls."
Max needed a minute to get his thoughts back on an even keel, then he watched Michael suspiciously.
"Those are all very good questions," Max said softly. "But I have a few of my own now. Like how the hell someone like you even knows The Society exists."

To Be Continued...

Thanks so much for all the feedback everyone. You guys rock *big*
posted on 4-Mar-2002 1:40:47 AM by Mikyla
Part 15 - Explanations

"I asked first," Michael said shortly. "Talk."
Accepting that for the time being, Max gestured to the chair, and after shuffling a few papers, managed to come up with one of his own. He sat down.
"I'm here, or at least I was here, to investigate Liz," he admitted. "I was sent after they received a letter from one of the locals claiming Liz was a witch. It's standard procedure to send someone out if they feel the situation warrants it."
"I know how they work," Michael told him. "How much have you told them?"
"Nothing," Max told him. "I have my doubts about them, and after I met Liz, I chose not to tell them anything."
"What about this guy that showed up last night? What's he going to tell them?"
"Nothing," Max snapped. "He's in the same boat I am. There, I've answered all your questions. Now you tell your story."
"This stays between us," Michael growled. "I've never told Maria, and I don't intend to. Not until it's absolutely necessary."
"Alright," Max agreed.
Michael settled back in his chair.
"Right before we all went off to college, I was approached by a man from a government agency. I was told they'd been watching me and I was hand picked to join their operation."
"Why you?" Max asked.
"I still have no idea," Michael said, shrugging. "But it was what I was looking for, so I took it. I'd been planning to leave the island anyway. So I took the ferry, they picked me up on the mainland, and I've been working for them ever since."
"You couldn't take Maria?" Max asked, remembering what Liz had told him.
Michael shook his head. "I tried to convince them to let me, but there was no way. All I could do was work my ass off for as long as they wanted me, then come back to her when I had some time off."
It explained why he only came back every so often, and never for long. Max felt a deep sympathy for the man, but he said nothing. He knew it wouldn't be appreciated.
"So, how do you go from working for the government to knowing about The Society?" Max asked. "Not even the guys you work for know about it. At least I didn't think they did."
"They don't," Michael said honestly. "This was something I started on my own. Can I please get a coffee?"
Max almost chuckled. "Got up early to come and chew me out?"
Michael nodded. Max got up and turned the coffee machine on again. He once again looked around for cups, then giving up, turned the machine off for the second time that morning. He picked up the phone and called room service, ordering breakfast for the both of them while he was at it. When he was done he sat down again, and Michael started talking.
"We had an agent go missing about a year ago," he said quietly. "In the routine investigation I came across some things that I kept to myself. I wasn't sure what they could mean for the agent, what the bigwigs would think."
"She was a witch," Max guessed.
Michael nodded. "Nothing like Liz or Maria, but yes. She was only dabbling, but I saw the potential for real power there. Apparently so did the guys you work for. She was found dead two months ago, and everything I've been able to find out points to your guys."
"They're not my guys," Max told him. "Not anymore."
Michael acknowledged what he was saying with a nod, and went on.
"When I walked in this morning and saw the new guy it just clicked. Don't know why I didn't see it before."
"I'm very stealthy," Max joked, judging it was time.
He was relieved when the other man chuckled.
"So what happens now?" Max asked. "Do you think we need to tell the women?"
Michael shook his head. "Not yet. I need time."
Max could clearly hear the frustration in his voice, and he looked at him intently.
"You're leaving again," he guessed.
"I don't have any choice!" Michael yelled. "I can't find out anything from here. I have to go back in."
"Ok, ok," Max said, holding his hands up. "I'm on your side here Michael."
It was tearing him up, Max realised.
"I'm going to need you to take care of Maria for me," Michael said, his voice heavy. "I'll get back as soon as I can."
"She won't understand," Max said quietly.
Michael nodded. "Not yet, but this is the last time. I'll tell her everything when I get back."
"When do you leave?"
"Tonight," Michael told him. "We're running out of time here, I can feel it. There's something bigger here than your guys, or Jessica."
Max blew out a breath. "Like we need anything else on our plate. I'm going to be in enough strife when The Society finally figures out that not only am I not on their side, but Alex isn't either."
"How long can you hold them off for?" Michael asked.
"I'm working on that," Max promised.
A knock on the door heralded the arrival of breakfast, and with silent agreement the two men shelved the serious discussions. But Max couldn't help wondering what would be left in his hands when Michael left.

Jessica wandered into the cafe that morning, and looked around with interest. Her eyes settled on the man from last night, Alex Whitman, she remembered, and she sauntered over and sat down in the chair opposite him.
"Mind if I join you?" She asked.
Alex looked up and suffered the same twinge in his chest that he'd had last night, the first time he'd seen her.
"Would it matter if I said no?" He asked, honestly curious.
"Nope," Jessica said cheerfully.
"Then by all means..." He murmured, his tone dry.
He returned to his paper, but he'd lost interest in the story he was reading. Still, he kept up appearances as Maria appeared from the back and took Jessica's order. He ordered another cup for himself, then laid the paper down calmly.
"What do you want?" He asked finally.
"You didn't answer my question last night," Jessica said just as promptly. "I want you to answer it now. What are you so afraid of?"
"I'm out of my depth here," Alex admitted.
And he was, he knew it. Out of depth with these witches, with The Society, with her.
"We're not looking to harm anybody," Jessica said, her voice softer. "Least of all you."
"An it harm none," Alex quoted softly.
Jessica nodded. "I don't know about other witches, but that's my philosophy. It was one of the first things my mother ever taught me. I couldn't use my power to harm someone else. It's just not in me."
"I'm not afraid of being hurt," Alex said. "Not like that."
"Then what makes you think you're out of your depth?"
Alex waved his hand around to encompass any number of things, and Jessica frowned.
"You're going to have to be a little more specific," she said dryly.
"I can't explain it," Alex finally said, frustrated. "Not just yet. It's just a feeling I have."
Jessica knew more about feelings than most people. They were what had brought her to the island, what had made her start searching for it. So she nodded and let it go.
"It'll come to you," she told him. "When it does, you let me know, and we'll talk again."
Maria returned with the coffees, and Jessica smiled up at her. "Is Liz around?"
"She's upstairs," Maria said. "She asked me to say hello, but I wouldn't bother trying to get her to have a civilized conversation. She's started reading Abigail's diary."
Understanding completely, Jessica nodded and sat back in her chair. She eyed Alex carefully, and fought back a grin when he blushed. Maria looked at him too, then winked at Jessica before heading back to the kitchen. Jessica sighed happily. Things were about to get very, very interesting.

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone.

posted on 5-Mar-2002 3:32:28 AM by Mikyla
Part 16 - Bird in a cage

May 15 1692

This small book, this record of the events to come, is all I have with me in this place. I do not know if anyone will ever read this. But if they do, I want them to know of the events that took place in this village. Of the religious fervor, the spiritual blindness that lead to the deaths of too many innocent people.
My name is Abigail Soames, a resident of Salem Town, and one of a growing number of women being accused of witchcraft. I was taken from my home two days ago, and thrown here, the town jail, to await trial. We are victims of a foolish child, and a society gone mad.
I have protested my innocence to anyone who would listen, but here, in this passage, I must confess. I have had no dealings with the devil, have harmed noone. I am truly innocent of the accusations cast upon me. I will go to God with a clear conscience. But for this. I have power in me, power that is not natural to those who do not possess it. And I have done things, observed things, that are not of this world.
I do not believe this makes me evil, and only God himself can judge me. These accusers I must face, these judges who may condemn me, are of no importance. I must be true to myself, and to the two women who have come to mean so much to me.

May 29 1692

I have been here a fortnight now, with no hope of release. Some of the older women are sick. I have appealed to the guards, to their humanity, but they possess none.
I have not seen Margaret or Alice, as we are kept separated, allowed to converse only with the women within our own cells. I miss them so. I yearn for their counsel, for the reassurance of their presence. I am so much stronger with them than I am on my own.
I am new to my power, and to the way of the women of our kind. I had looked forward to learning all I could from these two incredible women. Now it seems I am never to see them again, and I will go to my grave never knowing fully what I might have become. This I regret with all that is in me.
I have decided to try something tomorrow, a small incantation Alice taught me only a little while before our arrests. I fear what I may see, but I cannot go on in ignorance any longer. I must know what is to become of me.

June 10 1692

I fight every day for the will to go on, to see this to it's horrible conclusion. Women around me die, wasting away, death a relief compared to where we find ourselves. Their bodies are not removed quickly, but lie as a constant reminder of the fate to come.
I ache for my sisters. I have looked, seen, and my yearning for them is almost unbearable. To see them, laugh with them, hold them one more time. I felt the power of them with me as I cast protective spells, healing spells, to try and keep what few of us that are left here alive. I hear them bringing more women in every day, screaming their innocence, crying into the darkest hours of the night. Hope is fading fast, something must be done.
I have heard rumours of a possible reprieve. Of a magistrate concerned with the dealings of the court. These whispers mean nothing to me.
I have seen what is to be. This is all that matters. The magistrate will be too late. Margaret and Alice will hang. I have not seen myself, but I cannot imagine living without them. And I will not.

July 15 1692

My heart is heavy, my mind in turmoil. Everything I thought had been decided has been undone.
I have finally seen my sisters, and we rejoiced in the company of each other. We talked of nonsense, nothing of importance, to try and lift ourselves away from this place. But I could not keep silent, and I have told Alice what I saw. She showed no great surprise, and I am sure she has known for some time of the same things I know.
She has told me I must not do these things I have thought of. I must not take my life, but instead go on without her, learning and growing.
She has told me things I did not know, things she did not have the time to teach me. Of the power of the three, of our legacy, and the women who will come after us, decedents, children of our line who will carry us and our names throughout the ages.
She spoke of her daughter, of Margaret's, of mine. The children I will bear after I leave this place. The knowledge I must pass on to them. I raged at her, angered by the burden she has placed upon me, but she will not be swayed. As abhorrent as it may seem to me now, I alone am the one that must keep the power alive.

August 23 1692

Time has ceased to exist for me. I know what day this is only because I ask the guard. My writings are yet to be discovered, but I feel it may only be a matter of time. What becomes of me then is something I cannot imagine.
I doubt myself, my sisters, what I have seen with my own eyes. I cannot comprehend how I can survive this hell here on earth, how I can walk away, build a life for myself, find love and a family. Women hang for their crimes at a rapidly increasing rate, as though those guilty of these atrocities see an end in sight and seek to beat it. I have been told not only does it happen in Salem, but in other towns as well. The madness spreads, curbed by only a few, who shrink under the power of justice, and the might of the church.
Sisters, neighbours, friends, all turn on each other under the watchful eye of the law, expecting some mercy for their confessions, receiving none. I will not turn my back on these women, will not accuse another of these crimes to save myself. My convictions are of no significance in this place, but they bring a small measure of comfort to me.

September 9 1692

It has begun. The destruction of all I hold dear. I awoke from a fretful sleep this afternoon to searing pains in my chest, furious tears in my eyes. I did not wonder at the cause, knew already in my heart what has taken place this day.
Alice stood before the court and pleaded her innocence, to no avail. She has been tried, and condemned. She will hang on the haunted peaks of Gallows Hill. Her words ring in my head, of my obligation, until I fear I will scream. I fear this burden she has placed upon me is too great.
I must leave this place, at whatever time they decide to let those few of us that remain go free. I must go as far away from here as I can, away from malicious eyes, away from all who know of my imprisonment, who believe in my guilt. I am not safe here.

September 17 1692

Margaret has been taken from me. She stood as women from the village, women she saw as friends, women who's children she had delivered, pointed lying fingers and denounced her as a witch.
I have heard she said nothing, nothing to defend herself against the charges. Does she truly believe we are guilty? Why would she not speak up? She knows, as do we all, that our very lives depend on it.
It will not be long now, I feel it. Executions are carried out hastily, but publicly. I will strive to be there for my sisters, although how I will do this is not yet known to me. But I must find a way. We must be together when two of us go from this world to the next. We must take comfort in each other, and in the legacy Alice so depends on.

September 22 1692

It is a scene I will see in my mind for all the ages to come. As I lay on the floor, sleeping lightly, I heard the voices of my sisters calling me, beckoning me outside of myself. I rose, but it was not me. As I looked back, I could still see my body lying there on the floor of the cell, but I was not there.
I witnessed their deaths, the abomination, the unjustness of it all. Women to the left and the right of them pleaded, wailed, but Alice and Margaret said nothing. Simply looked to where I was, unwilling to lower themselves in front of the bloodthirsty crowd that had gathered.
It was swift, although not kind, and in the end I knew they were happier going to the place where they are now, where they can wait for me at peace. I grieve deeply, but I am calm in this final hour. I know what I must do now, for them, for all the women who have died in this time. I only pray I have the strength to go forward on my own. I must do this for myself, for my sisters, for our futures, and for everything I saw on that hill today. Justice and humanity demand it.

To Be Continued...

Thanks again for the feedback everyone.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Mar-2002 7:23:03 AM ]
posted on 7-Mar-2002 2:08:41 AM by Mikyla
Part 17 - Again

Maria walked upstairs, aware of a stillness in her. She knew what it was, had felt it a hundred times before. She walked into the bedroom, and watched Michael put the last of his clothes in the small suitcase he had brought with him. He looked up, into her eyes, and she regarded him solemnly.
"How many more times do you think you can do this to me Michael?" She inquired, her voice calm. "Ten, twenty, fifty?"
He said nothing, could say nothing, in his own defence.
"I'll tell you how many times," Maria continued. "None. None Michael. You walk out of here again today, and I don't want you coming back."
"There are things you don't understand, things I don't have time to tell you..."
"I don't care about 'things'," Maria said, her voice rising.
Michael heard the wind begin whistling outside the window, and he closed the suitcase, snapping the locks shut.
"I have to go," he said firmly, his heart in his throat.
Maria nodded, and Michael almost panicked when the sounds from outside stopped. Everything was calm. Eerie.
"I'll be back," he said hastily. "You know I will."
"Don't bother," Maria said coldly.
"Maria.."
"This is the last time Michael," she told him. "You had to know it was coming."
"Why the hell are you making this so hard?" He yelled. "I always come back. Why do I have to go through this every time I leave?"
"Don't make this about me," Maria warned him. "This has nothing to do with me. This is your decision. Every time."
Michael picked up the suitcase and stalked towards the door. He leaned over to kiss her, but Maria pulled back.
"Wherever you go when you leave me had better be worth it," she said quietly. "Because now it's all you've got left."
He looked at her for a long minute, but said nothing else before he left. Maria waited until she was sure he was gone, out of the cafe, out onto the street, then with a heart broken sob, she let go, and sat down on the bed and wept.

Liz knocked on the door once before opening it, letting it slam against the wall. Max jumped and stood up quickly.
"I'm gonna kill him!" She shouted, stalking into the room to pace.
Max walked over and gingerly shut the door, ready to run out of it if the man Liz was referring to turned out to be him.
"Did he talk to you?" She asked, obviously furious. "Did you know this was going to happen?"
Max considered saying no just to keep himself out of trouble, but he wasn't sure what she was talking about yet.
"Talk to who?" He said hesitantly.
"Michael," Liz said loudly. "Who the hell else would I be talking about?"
Shit, Max thought, running his hand through his hair.
"I gather he's left?" He said, avoiding the question.
"No flies on you," Liz said sarcastically. "Did you know he was going? Did he tell you?"
Lie, Max's brain screamed at him. Lie like a rug. Michael isn't here to contradict you. But when he looked at her, he knew it wasn't just fury fueling her temper. It was hurt. She'd been to see Maria.
"Yes," he admitted. "He told me. But it was only just this morning. There was no way I could have warned you or Maria."
"You're surrounded by all these machines, and yet picking up a phone is beyond you?" Liz asked, gesturing wildly around the room. "She deserved some warning Max. If you could have seen her..."
Her voice trailed off and Max watched helplessly as tears swam into her eyes. He walked over to her, and pulled her into his arms. After last night, he'd thought she might push him away, but she burrowed closer, burying her face in his neck.
"She's hurting Max," she told him in a small voice. "She's hurting so badly and there's nothing I can do to help her. What use is it having power like this when I can't help her?"
"I know you probably don't want to hear it," Max said carefully. "But Michael has his reasons. They're good reasons Liz."
"What reasons?" Liz said, pulling away slightly to look up at him. "Tell me."
He shook his head. "I can't. Michael asked me not to, and I won't break his confidence."
"Now is not the time to play Mr Good Guy Max."
"I'm not telling you," he repeated.
When her mouth opened again, Max solved the problem by swooping down and covering it with his own. Two seconds later he knew he'd made a mistake. Liz grabbed his hair and arched closer, rubbing herself against him with a soft moan. All the arguments that had seemed so logical and reasonable the night before flew out the window as he tore his mouth away from hers and buried it in her neck.
"Don't send me away again," she ordered, breathless. "Not this time."
Max shook his head, moving forward until Liz's back was against the wall.
"Not this time," he promised, pulling back and attacking the buttons of her shirt.
Liz did the same, her blood thickening, hurrying to get it done before he changed his mind again. She got all the buttons undone, and pushed the shirt off his shoulders, letting him get the rest while she raced her mouth across his chest. Max swore softly and his hands shook as he gave up on the rest of her buttons, and just pulled the shirt over her head. He filled his hands with her, his mouth with the taste of her.
"Bed," he managed, turning her around and picking her up.
His breath heaved as Liz hitched herself up to ride the flesh beneath his jeans. He stumbled in the general direction of the bedroom, hoping he could make it before he embarrassed himself.
Liz ran her tongue around his ear, then moved back to his neck, inhaling the scent of him.
"Hmmm," she said happily. "I love the way you smell."
His knees hit the side of the bed, and he lowered her down, coming down on top of her. He stayed to savour for only a moment before he reared up, going to work on her jeans.
"Hurry," Liz said, running her hands over whatever she could reach. "Hurry up."
"I'm trying," Max growled, cursing his trembling hands.
He finally got them undone and without any ceremony he stripped them, and her underwear, off her. Liz fought the inevitable nerves at being this exposed, and plucked at his belt.
Max linked his fingers with hers and raised them over her head, stopping her movements. He looked down at her for a long moment, then lowered his head.
Liz arched up with a groan when his mouth closed greedily over her nipple. She pulled on her hands but he refused to release her.
"Max," she pleaded. "Please."
He wanted to draw it out, to make it last, but this time he couldn't. Rolling away from her, he took care of his jeans. He rolled back and mounted her, pushing her legs apart roughly. Then he took her head in his hands and held her still as he found the entrance to her body and pushed inside. She tilted her hips up to help him, and he groaned into her mouth. He buried himself to the hilt then held still, savoring her heat. He looked down at her, stroking her temples.
"Are you ok?" He asked hoarsely.
Liz rolled her hips. "I'm fine."
His mouth swooped down to feed hungrily from hers as he began to move. They both wanted it to last, just as they both knew it couldn't. As he plunged smoothly in and out of her, Liz drew her knees up higher, moved to take him deeper. Max groaned into her mouth and thrust faster, as he slid his arms under her to pull her closer. He felt the tightening at the base of his spine, and he moved so he could get a hand between them. Liz moaned and tipped her head back when he touched her. Her hips jackknifed, trying to get away from the overload of sensation, but he pushed her ruthlessly, and a moment later she tensed and arched wildly, her inner muscles contracting around him. He buried his face in her hair and with a few hard thrusts, followed her over the edge.

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. The last chapter was important to me, I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

Jess - Here it is. The nookie. Quit hassling me woman lol.
posted on 9-Mar-2002 6:00:45 AM by Mikyla
Part 18 - Afterglow

Max stared at the ceiling, his body still shaking, his breath still heaving.
"Christ Jesus," he whispered, the turned his head when Liz giggled. "What the heck was that?"
Liz rolled over and propped her head up on his chest. "That was great."
He ran his hand down her back, feeling the way she was put together, the silkiness of her skin.
"Not that I'm complaining," he said softly. "But what brought this on?"
Her face darkened, and he was surprised to feel her tense.
"I read something today that made me realise how very short life is, how important it is to go after you want, when you realise you want it, because it's just too easy for it to be gone tomorrow."
Max put a hand on her chin and lifted her face, looking at her intently.
"Abigail's diary?" He guessed.
Liz sighed and laid her head on his shoulder, snuggling closer.
"Nothing Max," she told him. "Nothing you've read, none of the research you've done will prepare you for what you'll see in there. She was so hopeless, so helpless in the face of what she went through."
Max gathered her closer, and the intimacy of the past hour allowed her tears to escape.
"She was so scared Max," Liz sobbed. "She was so scared."
Max rolled her over and entered her gently, comforting her with his body. He knew he had no words, nothing he could say to make her feel any less for this woman she was connected to. She gasped as he rocked softly, and she slowly calmed down, focusing instead on the feel of his body against hers, inside hers.
"You won't be able to do this every time I get upset," she told him with a gentle smile.
"I can try," he said, grinning. "It's no trouble really."
Liz laughed, and wound her arms around his neck, pulling him closer.

Alex stared moodily at the phone. He'd just called in and gave them the speech he'd had prepared. It was enough to keep anyone from being suspicious, to stop them from sending anyone else down here. But he'd done it. He'd lied. And he knew he'd put himself on the wrong side of some very bad people.
He got up and moved around restlessly, considered going over to Max's room to check in, then jumped when someone knocked on the door. He wandered over cautiously, and opened the door only a little. Jessica looked up and grinned at him.
"Expecting an invasion?" She said, looking from him to the barely open door, and back up to his face again. "Not to worry, it's just little ol' me."
Alex opened the door wider, feeling foolish. Jessica walked in and looked around curiously.
"No machines," she noted. "Max has them all over the place."
"I would have had them if I'd been here first," Alex told her, rubbing his hands on his pants nervously. "Ahhh...coffee?"
"Are you always this nervous around women, or is it just me?" Jessica asked, smiling easily.
"Seems to be just you," Alex told her.
"Well now, isn't that sweet?" Jessica said, her smile growing.
"Not from where I'm standing," Alex admitted, smiling crookedly.
Jessica chuckled and nodded, approving his honesty.
"I'd love a coffee," she told him.
Alex nodded and hurried into the small kitchen. Jessica followed him, sitting down on a chair next to the small dining table.
"You were upset when I arrived," she told him. "What's happened?"
Alex shook his head tiredly. "I just don't think I have what it takes to take on these people. But it's too late now."
"You're not alone," she reminded him.
"I didn't want to get the three of you involved," Alex told her, setting her coffee in front of her and sitting down. "You, Liz, Maria. The further away you stay from this thing the better."
"We can't," she told him simply. "Whatever is coming for us has something to do with the people you work for. I feel it. Our involvement is out of our hands. It began when Max walked off that ferry, and I don't know when it will end."
Alex felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck, and he shifted uncomfortably.
"What if I convinced Max to leave?" He suggested.
Jessica leaned over and patted his hand. "I love that you'd try, but it won't work. Things have changed between him and Liz. He's connected to her now, and we won't know fully how deeply connected until it chooses to show itself. But he won't leave."
Alex blinked a couple of times, then cleared his throat. "By changed you mean..."
He wiggled his eyebrows, and Jessica burst into delighted laughter.
"Yes," she told him, swiping tears from her eyes. "That's what I meant."
"How the hell could you know that?" Alex marveled.
"Judging by what the three of us have learnt about each other since we met, I appear to be the empathic one," Jessica said. "It passes down from generation to generation, but not in the usual way, I guess you could say."
Alex frowned in confusion. "Doesn't it pass from mother to daughter?"
Jessica shook her head. "Only from generation to generation. Liz's mother was the empath."
Alex thought about it, tried to figure it out, then just shook his head. "That's just weird. Is anything about you girls ordinary?"
Jessica thought about it, then with a cheeky grin shook her head. Alex laughed softly, and stood up.
"Come on," he said, holding his hand out to her. "I'm taking you out to dinner."
Jessica placed her hand in his, ignored for the time being the desire that radiated through her body, coming from him, and stood up.
"Take me to the cafe," she told him. "Maria needs me."

"Sit down," Liz ordered, pushing Maria down onto a chair.
"I don't want to sit down," Maria snapped. "I have customers."
"Which are being taken care of by your waitress," Liz snapped back. "If she's not capable of doing her job, I wish you'd quit paying her."
"She does her job," Maria protested. "She's the best waitress I've had, you know that."
"Then she's quite capable of looking after things herself isn't she?" Liz said smugly.
Maria looked like she wanted to argue more, but she'd backed herself into a corner, so she relented.
"I"ll be fine in a couple of days," she said with a wan smile. "I promise."
She stood up quickly, and Liz swore.
"Relax," Maria said, almost laughing. "Jessica's here."
"I know that," Liz muttered.
She followed Maria out, and smiled at Jessica. Her smile widened when she saw Alex. He blushed, and Jessica shot her a killing look. Liz raised her eyebrows innocently.
"Hello Alex," she said sweetly.
"I will always remember that it was your idea to bring me here," he muttered at Jessica, before smiling vaguely at Liz and sitting down at a table.
Jessica opened her mouth to reply, but the door to the cafe opened, bringing with it a cold breeze. All three women turned in unison to face the person who entered, instinctively aligning themselves together.
"Who is it?" Jessica asked, eyeing the stranger coldly.
"It's the man from the beach," Liz said, her voice calm. "The one that was watching me. It's started."

To Be Continued...
posted on 11-Mar-2002 4:17:21 AM by Mikyla
Part 19 - Waiting

"I still say I should call Max," Alex muttered.
"No," Liz said again, just as firmly. "I'll tell him when I see him, but I don't want him to know right now."
"Why are we waiting?" Jessica asked. "If we know this guy is the source of the trouble, why aren't we doing anything to him?"
"Bloodthirsty little witch aren't we?" Maria said.
Jessica grinned at her. Liz sighed at both of them and rolled her eyes.
"The source of what trouble?" Liz asked. "That's the problem. All I have to go on is a feeling, and I can't risk anything based on just that."
"It's always been enough before," Maria reminded her.
"There wasn't this much at stake before," Liz said quietly. "We're talking about people's lives here. Ours, Max's, Alex's."
"I liked it better when we had noone to worry about but ourselves," Maria muttered impatiently. "Suddenly we're surrounded by people who matter."
Jessica chuckled, while Alex looked surprised, and pleased, by the idea that he was one of the ones who mattered.
"I can't figure out why he would suddenly come into the open like this," Liz said, frowning.
"I think it's already been established that this guy is a little on the nuts side," Maria said dryly. "Their behaviour does tend to defy explanation."
"Maria," Liz said in her old maid tone. "If you don't have anything constructive to add, please keep your mouth shut."
Alex made a decision and got up suddenly, striding out of the room before any of the girls could stop him. He walked out into the cafe and sat down at the table with the stranger. The stranger looked up, his eyes mild, and Alex sat calmly.
"What are you doing here?" Alex asked, his voice deadly.
"I was wondering which one of you would get around to asking me that," the stranger said, leaning back in his chair comfortably.
Alex made am impatient noise and looked at him with barely concealed disgust. "I should probably tell you not to waste your time with this nonchalant act. It doesn't impress me. Just tell me what you want with Liz, and I can go back to pretending you're homeless or something."
"Watch the way you talk to me," the stranger spat, his voice suddenly coldly menacing.
Alex looked into his eyes, and everything around him swam mistily for a few seconds. He shook his head and almost panicked as the irises of the man's eyes swam, glowed red for a second, then returned to brown.
"What do you want?" Alex continued, fighting the quickened beat of his heart, the little voice in his head telling him to run.
"To enjoy my meal," the stranger said with a grin. "If those little ladies want to know who I am, you tell them to come out here and ask me for themselves."
Alex laughed. "How very optimistic of you. You won't ever get that close."
He was angry again, but this time Alex didn't care.
"Let me tell you what you're going to do," Alex said quietly, leaning forward. "You're going to finish your meal, leave here, and go back to skulking on the beach. If you even try to approach any of these women, I'll make you wish you hadn't. I might not have any idea who I'm talking to, but neither do you."
Satisfied he's got the last word, Alex stood and moved away from the table. He felt an immense heat begin at the back of his neck and move down his spine, but he kept walking, refusing to turn around. He walked back into the kitchen, searched for and found Jessica's concerned eyes, and collapsed.

Inside the walls of the old building, murmurs suddenly stopped, and a man raised his head, almost as if he was scenting the air. Then he smiled in satisfaction and looked around the table at the other men.
"Another transference has taken place," he told them. "Everything is progressing as planned. We'll have the three soon."
The others nodded, and the murmurs slowly began again.

"I'm fine," Alex insisted again. "Stop fussing."
Max gave him a disgusted look. "Men don't fuss Alex. You're ruining my manly image here."
They'd all converged on Max's room, to stay together, and to find out if Alex was alright. Max had him hooked up to two different machines, and each man was watching the readings carefully. Neither of them liked what they saw.
"What do you think it is?" Alex murmured, his voice pitched low so it wouldn't carry to the women.
"I don't know," Max admitted, frustrated. "But you're definitely registering something, and you've never done that before."
"He's inside me," Alex said, his voice shaky. "I can feel it. He's done something to me."
"Don't panic," Max told him firmly. "We'll find out what's going on here. Even if we have to go back to The Society for answers."
"What is it?" Jessica suddenly demanded, walking over and eyeing the machines up suspiciously. "What are the doohickeys telling you?"
Max winced at the term, and Liz chuckled.
"They're not doohickeys Jessica," Liz said seriously. "They're very expensive, furniture eating thingys that are good for a whole lot of nothing."
"I cleared off the couch," Max said, his tone only a little whiney. "Quit it."
"Stop making fun of his baby," Maria said, not really all that sympathetic. "And just tell us what you've found."
Alex shared a look with Max, and Jessica narrowed her eyes.
"I saw that," she informed them. "I can always cast a spell to make you tell the truth."
"Really?" Max said, looking interested,
Jessica turned to look at Liz and Maria. Liz shook her head, Maria shrugged, and Jessica spun around with a grimace.
"Ok no, I can't, but I'll do something else. Something icky. Just tell me what's going on."
Max looked over at Liz, saw her steely look, and decided being on Alex's bad side was better than being on hers. He wasn't sleeping with Alex.
"He's registering," Max said simply. "He's never registered anything before. I'm going out on a limb here, but it could be a transference."
"English," Maria said. "Give it to me in English."
"I've never seen this before," Max said, not a little frustrated. "I'm in the dark too. But the basics are that evil, true evil, has been known to come from wherever it is, and take on a host."
"Our man in the cafe," Jessica guessed.
Max nodded and frowned at Liz, still a little miffed she hadn't called him. She raised and eyebrow and stared back calmly.
"So now you're saying that whatever loogy was in him is now in Alex?" Maria asked, watching Alex closely.
"This isn't the flu we're talking about Maria," Max said, trying not to laugh. "But essentially, if I'm right, yes."
"How do we fix it?" Jessica asked.
Max said nothing, and neither did Alex. But these women weren't stupid. Jessica looked at Maria, saw the rising fear in her eyes, and they both turned to Liz.
"We need to go after the source," Liz murmured.
Max nodded. "And you need to do it now. Before he comes after you."

The new recruit followed his guide, looking around curiously at the paintings on the wall. Excitement shone in his eyes. He was finally here.
He was shown into a long room, dominated by a huge round table. The board, as he knew they were called, sat around it. They all smiled benignly at him, superior. He smiled and stood quietly, waiting to be spoken to.
"Congratulations," Valenti finally said. "Not many people make it this far. I'm impressed with what I've read about you. You've shown a great knowledge of our cause, and a willingness that is refreshing."
"Thank you sir," he said.
"As of today, you will live inside these walls, and dedicate yourself to us. Do you believe you're ready for this?"
"Oh yes," he said earnestly. "Yes sir I am."
Valenti stood, and he kept his smile plastered in place. He couldn't afford to give himself away. Valenti extended his hand.
"Then congratulations Mr Guerin," he said. "Welcome to The Society."

To Be Continued....

Thanks so much for all the feedback everyone. And thanks to everyone who keeps bumping my story. Makes things so much easier. Thanks guys
posted on 13-Mar-2002 11:28:23 PM by Mikyla
Part 20 - Twisted

Michael fought frustration, and a heavy need to get away from these people. He wanted to be back on the island, spending a lazy Sunday morning in bed with Maria, and instead he was smiling enough to make his face crack in a room full of people he was sure had a multitude of personality disorders. He bestowed another benign grin on one of the men, and rolled his eyes behind his back the same way he'd been doing most of the morning.
"So," one of the others said excitedly. "You already have your first case?"
Michael tried desperately to remember his name. Weasel, Wendel, something like that, Michael thought with a mental shrug. Personally he went with the weasel.
"Yeah," Michael confirmed. "Some woman in Massachusetts."
"Not the most original place to be a witch," another man said with a snort.
Michael could only agree. Most of the files he'd been able to get his hands on had been completely bogus, and this one was shaping up to be another one. He was still looking for any information on the girls, but so far he hadn't been able to find anything.
"Have you heard about the big case Evans and Whitman are working on?"
Bingo, Michael thought, fixing a blank expression on his face. "Big case?"
The younger man nodded excitedly and leaned forward, looking around carefully.
"Three women on some island," he whispered. "Looks like the real deal."
Michael almost cursed. Three women. They already knew about Jessica. This was worse than he thought. He shrugged.
"What makes this one any more realistic than any of the others?"
"I got a look at the file," the weasel confessed. "For one thing, it's thicker than any other file I've seen. They've got reams of information on this one. They've had one of us camped there for a long time."
Michael looked up quickly. What the hell was this?
"Evans and Whitman haven't been gone more than a few weeks," Michael said. "Noone's been there that long."
The kid was practically creaming himself with excitement, Michael thought in disgust.
"They're being investigated. They were sent there deliberately. If things keep going the way I think they're going now, they'll just disappear like the others."
Michael stood up quickly and smiled with some difficulty.
"Sounds very James Bondish," he said jokingly. "I have to go now, make some phone calls, see if I can find our woman. I'll see you later ok?"
"Let me know if you want to see the file," the man told him with a wink. "There's a guy in the archives who owes me a favour."
Michael nodded and strode away, heading straight for his room. He walked in and locked the door behind him, quickly going over to the phone. He'd been surprised, and not a little bit smug, when he'd found out it wasn't even bugged. He dialed the number and waited impatiently for someone to pick up.

The phone rang, and Max reached over Liz, ignoring her groan as he pushed her into the mattress. He fumbled with the receiver and finally got it to his ear.
"What?" He snapped.
"Max, It's Michael."
Max sat up quickly. "Where are you?"
"Funny you should ask," Michael said tersely. "Great bunch of people you work for."
Max frowned for a minute, then his eyes widened. He felt Liz sit up beside him, but all his attention was on Michael.
"Jesus, what the hell do you think you're doing?" Max said in disbelief.
"We don't have time for a lecture," Michael told him. "You're in even deeper shit than you thought. You have to get yourself, Alex and the girls as far away from that island as you can."
"What are you talking about?"
"They know about you Max," Michael told him. "They know about you and Alex. You were sent there on purpose. You won't make it back. There's another guy on the island that's doing their dirty work for them."
"We can't leave Michael," Max told him.
"No, you listen to me," Michael said harshly. "You have to get out of there. Now. Tonight."
"We know about the other guy," Max said heavily. "Had a little run in with him this afternoon. It didn't go well, and to make a long story short, if I take Alex off this island, what happens to him, and anyone he comes into contact with, is entirely up in the air."
Michael swore viciously and Max nodded on the other end.
"Yeah well now you know how I feel," Max said. "So what are we going to do?"
"I'm not this case Max," Michael told him, feeling a little panicky. "I can't do anything from where I am."
Max did some quick thinking and made a decision. "Call me in another couple of days. I have a plan, but right now it's nothing. I need time to sit on it, work it out. By the time you call I should be able to bring you in. In the meantime, get the hell out of there."
There was silence on the other end, and Max frowned. "Michael? Did you hear me? You have to get away from there."
"I can't," Michael said firmly. "They have file Max. I have to get it, destroy it. When I've done that, then I'll get out."
Max argued, but two seconds later he was talking to a dead line. He hung up the phone and sat where he was for a minute, then turned to Liz. She sat holding the sheet to her chest.
"He's in trouble isn't she?" She asked quietly.
She didn't ask who he'd been speaking to. She didn't have to.
"We all are," Max told her honestly.
"How much time do we have?"
Max sighed heavily and pulled her into his arms. "None. As of right this minute we have none."

Jessica watched him sleep, worried for him. She hadn't seen any changes in him, but she knew it was only a matter of time before the real Alex would be pushed into the background, and all that would remain would be evil. She scattered the petals into the bowl and added more ingredients, murmuring the soothing chant under her breath. The spell was small, nothing of any great power, but it would keep him with them a little longer. When she was finished filling the small bowl, she stood up, over him, and her voice grew louder. She stumbled when he began to laugh quietly, but continued on quickly when he opened his eyes and she got a look at them.
"This won't work," he said in a low voice. "You can't stop me."
She ignored the thing and continued her spell. His eyes glowed redder, and she looked away. She finished the spell and watched as the petals floated into the air, then disappeared. She looked down to see Alex's eyes again.
"Sorry," he whispered, smiling wearily. "I know I disappeared on you for a minute there."
She smiled and sunk down beside him.
"Sleep," she urged.
"How long do you think this'll work?" He asked. "This spell you're doing?"
"The longer you're like this, the harder it'll get," she said honestly. "But with the three of us, we can keep you here for as long as it takes to draw it out."
He looked like he wanted to say something else, but the fight his body was putting up won over, and his eyes closed as he drifted back to sleep. Jessica picked up his hand and held it in hers, moving to get herself comfortable before laying her head down next to him and drifting off to sleep.

To Be Continued...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone.
posted on 19-Mar-2002 3:02:33 AM by Mikyla
Part 21 - The Hourglass

Michael turned the key and opened the door slowly, making as little noise as possible. He was too close to screw up now. He slipped into the room and closed and locked the door again behind him. He looked around and swore under his breath.
"Thanks a lot Weasel," he said grumpily.
There were floor to ceiling shelves, all packed with files. He moved to the first bank of shelves and breathed a sigh of relief. They were in alphabetical order. He walked around the room on a hunch, stopping in front of the P's. He rifled through files, noting some prominent names with a shake of his head. Ten minutes later he found what he was looking for. He pulled the huge file out and quickly sat down on the floor. He pulled his mobile out of his pocket and dialed the number quickly. Max answered on the first ring.
"Maxwell, I'm looking at a shit load of information here," Michael said quickly. "What kind of information?" Max asked.
"Someone's been following the girls for a long time," Michael said, quickly skimming the papers. "Jesus they've got stuff from when we were all in school."
Max's head was whirling. "They've been watching them that long?"
Michael opened another folder, and photos tumbled out, filling his lap and falling to the floor. "They've got photos Max. Hundreds of them."
"I still need time." Max said, keeping his voice firm, responding to the panic in Michael's.
"Get them off the island," Michael said instantly. "I don't care what you have to do to them to make them leave. Just get it done."
"Michael..." Max began.
"No," Michael interrupted. "No, you have to do this Max."
"There are things going on here Michael," Max told him heavily. "Things you don't know. We can't leave right now. You know I'd do it for you if I could."
"Max...."
Michael heard the scrape of a shoe and in an instant knew it was too late to hide.
"Michael? Michael are you ok?"
Max's voice continued in his ear, but Michael ignored it, watching the end of the narrow aisle. He wasn't overly surprised when Jim Valenti came around the corner.
"Busted Mr Guerin," Jim said lightly, smiling at his own joke.
Michael stood up, aware of Max's silence. He was listening to every word.
"I thought it was charmingly naive of you to think that we didn't know who you were," Jim continued. "You thought you could infiltrate us and what? Bring us down? Destroy us all? Something suitably melodramatic?"
"Why have you been watching us for so long?" Michael asked, ignoring the questions. "How did you find out about the girls?"
"I have my ways," Jim said vaguely.
Michael dismissed the idea of running straight away. He had nowhere to go, and judging by the prickling in the back of his neck, there was someone standing behind him anyway. He didn't turn around to look. He didn't want to take his eyes off Jim.
"So what happens now?" Michael asked. "Do I just disappear like everyone else? What does happen to the people that end up here?"
"Come now Mr Guerin, you know the answer to that," Jim said easily. "They're dead."
"Why?" Michael asked, honestly curious.
"Witches are an abomination," Jim said, his voice suddenly harsh. "They have been given a fair trial and been judged. They all deserve to die."
Michael frowned, something teasing the edges of his consciousness. He knew there was something bout this he should remember, but he didn't have time to think about it now. Now he was fighting for his life. He had no idea if Max was still listening, could only hope that he was.
"There are people who know where I am," Michael warned. "And those people will call other people. Important people. You can't afford for me not to call in."
"Is that a threat Mr Guerin?"
Michael stood his ground, saying nothing. The guy could take it any he wanted.
"I'm bored now," Jim announced. "Please come with me. No fighting, no dramatics. Let's make it easy for all of us please."
Michael didn't see the point in fighting either. He allowed his hand to be bound behind his back, and followed Jim out of the room, watching carefully to see where he was being taken. He needed to be able to get out in a hurry. As they continued on, Michael thought one last time of the phone now hiding in his pocket, the phone they seem to have forgotten, and he prayed Max was doing something, anything, to help him.

"What do you mean you have to go back?" Liz asked quietly, watching Max throw clothes in a bag. "You can't leave now."
"I won't be gone for long," Max promised. "But I have to do this."
"They know about you Max," Liz insisted. "You won't be able to help Michael at all if you get caught too."
"I won't get caught," Max said with all the confidence he could muster. "I know my way around, better than they think I do. I can get him out Liz."
"What about Alex?"
Max sighed and ran his hand down his face tiredly. "Keep him with us for as long as you can. If I'm not back in time, and this thing in him starts winning, take him somewhere safe. I'll find you."
"What do you mean you'll find us?" Liz said angrily. "You won't have any way of knowing where we take him, any way of..."
"I'll find you," Max interrupted, looking at her seriously. "I'll always find you."
Liz couldn't argue with him, with the connection that they had. She couldn't explain it herself, and right now she didn't like it.
"You're going to get yourself killed," she said ominously.
"Such faith you have in me," Max said lightly. "It's awe inspiring how much you believe in me."
Her smile was small, but it was all Max needed. He closed the bag and walked over to her, taking her in his arms.
"I'm going to be okay," he told her again. "And if I'm not, you can always punish me for it later."
"Oh I will," Liz promised him severely.
"I'll look forward to it," Max said with a chuckle, his eyes gleaming.
Liz hung on tighter, breathing in his scent, then stepped back shakily.
"Go," she said, pointing to the door. "Call me when you can."
"I will," he said, leaning over to kiss her one more time.
The kiss lengthened, deepened, and his bag full to the floor with a dull thud.
"You should get going," Liz said, her voice breathless.
Max shook his head and picked her up, carrying her into the bedroom.
"Later," he said as he lay her down. "I'll leave later."
Liz shrugged her shoulders and grinned up at him. "You're the boss."
Max laughed at the absurdity of that statement, then groaned as he lost himself in her.

Maria looked up with a preoccupied frown when the phone rang. She sighed and got up to answer it, her mind still on the paperwork she was in the middle of.
"Hello?" She said absently.
Silence buzzed at the other end, and she made a sound of annoyance.
"Hello?" She said again.
Still nothing, just breathing. Maria frowned, intending to hang up, then a thought occurred to her, and she put the phone back to her ear quickly.
"Michael?" She whispered. "Michael is that you?"
The breathing grew louder, and Maria held the phone to her ear tightly. She listened to it hitch and break, and she blinked away tears of her own.
"Michael," she said achingly. "Say something please."
She strained to hear him as he murmured something, and when she heard it, she almost wished she hadn't.
"Love you," he whispered. "Love you so much Maria. I'm so sorry. So sorry."
"Michael!" Maria yelled. "Michael where are you? Tell me where you are."
"Tell Max," he said. "Tell him to take care of you."
Maria's could actually feel her blood freeze. Her chest tightened until she was gasping for breath, and she felt a scream building in her throat. She waited for him to say something else, but the phone suddenly went dead. She listened to the hollow buzzing for as long as she could, then she broke. Screaming hysterically, she slid to the floor.

To Be Continued...

Thanks for the feedback everyone, and for your patience. The real world sucks, but alas it is there, taking up my writing time. *tongue*
posted on 5-Apr-2002 3:52:37 AM by Mikyla
Part 22 - Outside

Max took a moment to wish a little bitterly that he'd come up with some sort of real plan before he set out on his heroic mission. Right now all he had was his wits and those weren't functioning on the higher levels thanks to the no sleep he'd had. He looked the imposing building over again through his binoculars, searching his memory for a way to get in without being detected.
He watched the security guards changing shift, noted the time, and the fact that they were all at the front of the building. The back door it is, Max decided, lowering the binoculars and walking away casually. He knew exactly where Michael was, he just had to get to him.

"Max told me to keep us here Maria," Liz said quietly.
"Then you stay here," Maria snapped, throwing things in a suitcase. "I'm going."
"To do what?" Jessica asked, keeping one eye on Alex as he stirred restlessly in his sleep. "You don't suit the role of a sacrificial lamb Maria. None of us do."
"If having me makes them let Michael go..."
"You know that won't happen," Liz said quietly. "They'll kill you, kill him anyway, and then come after the rest of us. We've never faced anything like this before. We can't afford to separate."
"Then come with me," Maria said, turning around and lifting pleading hands to both of them. "Please."
Liz felt like her heart was breaking, even before she shook her head and saw the look on Maria's face. Maria just stared at her for a long moment, then turned back to her packing.
"I've asked you for very little Liz," Maria said angrily. "I can't believe you would stand there and take his side."
Liz knew what her friend was saying was driven by hurt, and panic, but it didn't make it any easier to hear.
"This isn't about Max, Maria, or our friendship," Liz said quietly, although she was beginning to become afraid that it could end up about exactly that. "This is about trying to keep you safe. To keep all of you safe."
"We have power," Maria insisted. "With the three of us, we have this awesome power. All I'm asking you to do is use it. Just this once, help me out. Help Michael. There's nothing out there that is any threat to us if we just stay together."
"You know that's not true," Liz said, her voice firming. "This time we're in trouble."
The tension hummed thickly in the air, and Liz waited. Finally Maria's shoulders slumped in defeat, and she sat down on the end of the bed wearily. Liz hurried over to comfort her, but Maria shrugged her away. Holding onto her own hurt, knowing Maria needed her now, she simply sat.
"I hope Max knows what he's doing," Maria said in a low voice. "Because if anything happens to Michael, if he...if he dies, I'll never forgive you."
Liz wasn't entirely sure she would forgive herself either, so she said nothing. She rubbed her hand over Maria's shoulder lightly before standing up and walking slowly out of the room.

Jessica looked up when Liz came in and smiled hopefully, but it faded when she got a good look at Liz's face.
"She's angry?" Jessica guessed.
"She has every right to be angry," Liz fretted. "I'm doing the wrong thing, I know it."
"We can't go Liz," Jessica told her, the same way she'd told her before she went in to see Maria. "Alex can't be moved."
Liz glanced across the room and watched Alex thrash around in his sleep, muttering.
"It's getting worse?"
Jessica nodded. "I recast the binding spell every morning, but I think I'll need your help soon. Just my power isn't enough to hold him much longer."
"You should have asked for it sooner," Liz chided. "I'll talk to Maria again soon. We'll do the spell tonight. Maybe if it works well enough..."
Liz cut herself off before she voiced the thought. If she made plans, began hoping they could leave for Maria's sake, she'd slip up. Make a mistake. And one of them would suffer for it, possibly die for it.

Sweat ran down his forehead and stung his eyes, and Max wiped it away with a whispered curse. He lifted his head slowly again, smiling thinly when he saw the four guards head around the side of the big building. He waited impatiently, making sure they weren't suddenly going to turn around and come back. When he was sure the change of shift was happening, he moved out from behind the bushes where he'd been hiding and ran for the small door on the left of the building. He hid in the doorway and tried the knob. It was locked, he'd known it would be, so he got his tools out of his bag and went to work on the lock. A few seconds later he heard the click and slipped through the door, closing and relocking it behind him. He took a moment to let his eyes adjust to the darkness in the old hall, listening for the shuffle of feet on the concrete floors.
When he was satisfied he was on his own he began walking swiftly, keeping to the shadows, stopping every so often to get his bearings and to make sure he was heading in the right direction. All the hallways looked the same, and as he turned corners and passed rooms, he prayed Michael was in the room Max was expecting him to be in. If he wasn't, things were going to get a lot harder.
An eternity later, Max finally stood in front of the huge steel door. He looked around wearily, but saw noone. With no way of knowing if Michael was behind the door, he said a silent, long winded prayer while he picked another lock. His ears stained to pick up any new noise while he worked as quickly as he could. When the tumblers finally turned over he breathed a huge sigh of relief and pushed the door open, grunting with the effort. He closed it behind him again, then leaned against it, breathing deeply, almost afraid to turn around. In the end, he didn't have to.
"You're an idiot," a voice whispered from the corner of the room.
Max turned around slowly. "Is that any way to talk to the person who's here to save you?"
Max took one look at him and his stomach pitched dangerously. He was a mess. His face was bloody, bruised, one eye swollen completely shut. He lay down next to the wall, hugging himself against the chill in the floor. Max rushed over, taking his jacket off as he went. He knelt down and threw it over Michael.
"We don't have any time," Max told him. "We have to go now."
"And leave this palace?" Michael said, trying to smile. "What on earth for?"
Max grinned, appreciating his humour, then slid an arm around him and helped him stand up. Michael groaned, his face growing even more pale, but he finally sat upright, and Max nodded encouragingly.
"Ok, halfway there. Let's go."
When he grabbed him again, Michael put his hand on his arm and shook his head.
"Max..."
Max followed his gaze, looked at Michael's leg, and froze.
"Jesus Michael, they've broken your leg."
Michael nodded. Max thought it over for a moment, then nodded decisively.
"I'll carry you," Max told him firmly.
"How romantic," Michael said, his voice resigned.
Max heard it, and shook his head. "I'm not leaving you here Michael."
Bracing himself, Max prepared to lift Michael onto his shoulders. A noise from outside the room stopped him, and he looked into Michael's eyes, recognising the fear instantly. Someone was coming.
"Shit," he whispered.

To Be Continued....

Sorry for the long wait everyone. I've been without the net for a couple of weeks. I'm also going back to school, so the parts won't be as frequent, but nothing like the wait you've just had. Thanks so much for all the feedback.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 5-Apr-2002 4:21:01 AM ]
posted on 7-Apr-2002 1:52:36 AM by Mikyla
Part 23 - The Race

Maria's head snapped up, and she got up off the floor quickly, kicking over the bowl of water she'd been staring into. She ran out into the lounge room.
"We have to do something now," she said firmly, running over to an old bookcase to bring out a huge, heavy book.
"Maria?" Liz said, standing and watching in astonishment as Maria ran around the room. "What are you doing?"
"I'll need you both," Maria said, clearing everything off the coffee table by swiping it all onto the floor. "Hurry, we haven't got any time."
She threw ingredients into another large bowl, similar to the one she'd knocked over in the bedroom. Liz looked at Jessica, shrugged, and moved slowly towards the table.
"What spell are you working?" Jessica asked.
Liz reached the table and glanced at the spell book. She frowned and brought her eyes to Maria's determined face.
"You need a cloaking spell?"
"Not for me," Maria muttered, stirring the murky liquid. "Max and Michael are in trouble."
"What kind of trouble?" Liz asked. "How do you know?"
"I looked," Maria said simply. "Please help me. If we don't cast this spell in the next few minutes Max will get caught."
"What do you want me to do?" Liz said quietly.
Maria picked up the book and handed it over. "Read while I get the last of the ingredients together."
Liz balanced the book and began reading aloud while Maria threw more things into the bowl. Jessica came over and added her voice, reading over Liz's shoulder. The liquid in the bowl began changing colour, swirling darkly, and a fine mist rose up to wrap around the three women. Liz continued to chant and the mist moved, slowly swirling around the room before escaping slowly out the open window. As soon as it was gone, Maria beckoned Liz to continue and ran back into the bedroom. She ran more water into the bowl and sat down, casting the small spell and watching the water anxiously. The image swam for a few minutes and she held her breath, then let it out in a huge sigh of relief as she watched the mist swirl around Max and Michael, covering them until they disappeared from the dark room.

Max sat perfectly still, waiting for discovery, trying to smile reassuringly at Michael. He didn't think either of them had a chance, but he was going to try. He was going to talk until his lips fell off trying to get them both out, and if that didn't work he would offer himself in place of Michael. Either way he was going to die.
He indulged in a moment of searing self-pity, picturing Liz's face, the hundreds of different ways he'd seen her smile. It seemed crazy, impossible, but he loved her. Already he loved her. The lock turned slowly and Max closed his eyes, holding the picture of Liz in his head, sending out a stream of wild, disjointed, loving thoughts with the crazy notion that somewhere, despite the distance, she would hear him.
He opened his eyes when the door swung open, and almost smiled. Valenti. Who else?
He waited for some sign that the other man had seen him, but as he continued to look into the room, eventually calling one of his guards to his side, Max sat up with a frown of confusion. It was like he couldn't...
"He can't see us," Michael said, also propping himself up, as much as he could.
"How the hell can he not see us?" Max asked, whispering. "We're both sitting right here."
Michael suddenly smiled blindingly. "I believe our girls are trying to help us along."
Max stared at him, hope a fragile flame. He looked back at Valenti, and let out a delighted chuckle. "Jesus, he actually can't see us."
He couldn't resist. He stood up, walked over until he stood toe to toe with the older man, and waved his hand in front of his face. Nothing, not even a blink. Grinning wildly, he went with it and stuck his tongue out. He heard Michael chuckle behind him.
"To bad I can't hit him," Max mourned, and turned back to Michael.
He walked over and swiftly lifted the other man up in a fireman's hold over his shoulders. Michael groaned loudly, but lay still.
"I'm sorry," Max whispered. "If there was any other way..."
"Just get me out of here," Michael said, sucking in huge breaths.
Max moved as gently as he could, but he felt the added weight when Michael lost his fight against the pain. Juggling the unconscious man and hurrying out the door, he moved swiftly through the hallways, not knowing how long the spell, whatever it was, would last. He cleared the outside door and headed straight for the fence. He had to stop for a moment to consider how he was going to get both of them over, and realised that he only had one option. Whispering a sincere apology, he flipped Michael over the fence, wincing when he heard him hit the ground on the other side. He climbed over, picked Michael up again, and began running.

"How long do you think it will take them to get home?" Maria asked, sipping tea to try and calm her nerves.
"They won't be here before tomorrow," Liz predicted. "The last ferry from the mainland is already gone."
"I hate waiting," Maria muttered into her cup.
"Liz," Jessica said quietly.
Liz turned around and just barely stifled a gasp. Maria stood up quickly, watching the body on the couch warily. His back arched up off the couch and he groaned loudly as Alex fought whatever was inside him. Liz held her hand out without turning around, and felt Maria grasp it. Reaching over the writhing body of Alex, she took Jessica's hand, Maria grasping the other one. Alex's eyes snapped open, pinning Liz in their angry glare.
"You won't stop me," a voice rasped out.
"Yes I will," Liz said calmly, closing her eyes and focusing herself.
A childlike giggle rang out, and Liz felt goosebumps break out on her arms. Ignoring them, she began chanting softly.
"You will die," it said gleefully. "Just as the others did."
Liz's eyes flew open and she stared at the thing, grinning maliciously at her.
"What others?" She demanded.
It giggled again, and Liz felt Maria squeeze her hand. Breathing deeply, Liz closed her eyes again, putting all thoughts out of her mind. She began chanting again, feeling the power within her rise. She heard Maria join in, then Jessica. An angry wind began blowing and Liz opened her eyes again to watch as a vase flew across the room, smashing into the wall and shattering. It was fighting them. She raised her voice, almost shouting, as more things flew around, some of them coming dangerously close to her head.
She finished the spell quickly, broke the circle, and the three women ran for cover as every window in the room blew out, showering the floor with glass.

The Board gathered again around the table.
"It gathers power," Valenti told them. "I can feel it. It's time. I'll gather what I need, and leave for the island as soon as possible."

To Be Continued...

Thanks so much for the welcome back everyone, and the feedback.
posted on 11-May-2002 2:37:20 AM by Mikyla
Before I post I'd like to thank you all for your neverending supply of patience. You guys are amazing. And thank you to everyone who has continually bumped my story. Enjoy.

Mikyla

******************************************

Part 24 - A new life

Abigail watched the land draw closer, excitement quickening her blood. This was it. This was the place she'd been searching for. Sanctuary.
"You're sure this is where Alice wanted us to go?" Ronald Parker said dubiously.
Abigail turned around to face the group who'd made the journey with her. Ronald Parker, Alice's husband, and her beautiful daughter. Logan Scott and Margaret's son, James.
"I'm sure," she told them reassuringly. "We'll have such a life here. Free, away from the madness that still plagues Salem."
The children rushed forward and watched excitedly as the land grew closer and closer.
"What's this place called again?" James asked, leaning forward and almost pitching himself out of the boat.
"Lara's Rest," Abigail said softly, putting a gentle hand on his back to pull him back.
"I like that name."
Abigail smiled and lifted her head to watch the island. She could feel the pull of the land that was to become her home, the peaceful life that was to become hers.
"I like it too," she said softly. "I like it a lot."

Trouble, when it came, came swiftly. Abigail smiled gently to herself as she hung clothes out to dry, breathing in the soft breeze that carried the scent of the lilacs she's planted behind the house. She bent over to pick up another towel and suddenly her head swam, her stomach pitching threateningly. The gentle smell of lilacs was replaced by something foul, the odor of death itself. Steeling herself, she straightened and looked it straight in the eye.
"What do you want?" She demanded.
The man looked strangely ordinary, until she looked into his eyes. They were glowing red, and his mouth stretched in a chilling grin. She felt a stab of sympathy for the poor innocent soul who had got in the way of whatever was in him. She opened her mouth to speak again, then watched as another man came around the side of her house. Him, she thought definitely. He was the power.
"Take this thing and leave," she ordered. "You have no idea what you may unleash here."
"Oh I know," he said silkily. "I know you better than anyone. You and the other two."
That voice, Abigail thought. I know that voice.
"I'm hurt you don't recognise me," he said. "And after I had such a big influence on you."
Abigail closed her eyes, wracked her brain. When she found it her eyes flew open again and she stared at him with revulsion.
"You killed them," she said, her voice eerily quiet.
He waved his hand in the air, unconcerned. "It was the times. I was just doing what I was told."
Here before her, in another body with another face, was the judge who had condemned them all to death.
"William Stoughton," she spat. "How is it you come to be here, like that? This is not you."
"Oh but it is me," he said, looking down at himself in obvious satisfaction. "For the time being. Then this one will die, and I'll choose another."
Then she felt it, the power coming off him. Like hers. Her eyes widened. "You're one of us. You put my sisters to death, and others besides them, and you're one of us!"
"I tried to bargain with them," he said angrily. "I wanted them to belong to me but they wouldn't. You had too much power. I wanted it. If I couldn't have it, neither could they."
Enraged she struck out at him, calling all her power forward. He wasn't expecting it and flew backwards, hitting the side of the house brutally before falling to the ground. She moved closer, preparing to strike again, when the thing she'd seen first grabbed her, preventing her from focusing her energy. She struggled uselessly, then subsided. He closed her eyes as the bitter irony of it hit her. She's fought so hard to make a new life for herself. Now she was going to die.
"I'm sorry I can't allow you to live," he said, standing up and brushing his clothes off. "But I've seen the future, as have you."
He laid his hands on her face, and Abigail looked him in the eye, determined not to cower to him. He smiled approvingly, then began chanting softly. She could feel the cold moving through her body and she slumped against him, her life playing out behind her eyelids. As she reached her final moments she screamed, fighting against his hold on her. Suddenly, without any warning, she was free. She lay on the grass, gasping for air, fighting the blackness the wanted to take her under again. She raised her head slowly and looked around. Lillith, Alice's daughter, stood a few feet away, holding the pendant that was all she had left of her mother and gazing solemnly at the bodies writhing on the ground. She walked over to Abigail and sat down beside her. Abigail gathered her up and stood slowly.
"I heard Mommy," the little girl whispered. "I wanted to find her but she's not here."
Abigail hugged the girl tighter to her as Alice's husband came running. "I know you did sweetheart."
Ronald took in the scene with raised eyebrows, then stared at his daughter. "She did this?"
"I need your help," Abigail said. "I'll need to burn these."
In the time he'd been married to his darling Alice, Ronald had learnt that some questions were better left unanswered. Nodding slowly, he moved away to gather what he would need. Abigail, sparing one last glance at the carnage, walked inside to recover, and to give a warning, as she had always done, for the ones who would come after her.

TBC....
posted on 20-Jun-2002 8:31:41 AM by Mikyla
Yes, it's finally here lol. The new chapter. Much thanks to all who bumped in hopes of this chapter. On holidays now so hopefully I'll get this story finished, and a good portion of All In MY Mind done. Enjoy!!!

Mikyla
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Part 25 - Closing In

Liz bobbed up and down impatiently, waiting for the ferry to dock. She couldn't see any sign of Max, but she knew he was on there. She craned her neck to see further down the deck, then resumed her bobbing.
"Liz will you knock it off?" Jessica finally said despairingly. "I'm getting sick just watching you."
Liz threw a grin over her shoulder, tucked Maria's arm protectively through hers, and continued. Maria laughed softly but didn't take her eyes off the boat. Finally someone threw a rope over, tied it off and put the gangplank into place. People began streaming off the vessel and Liz looked at all of them closely. When the line began dwindling and Max and Michael still hadn't got off, Liz felt a moment's panic.
"I know they're on there," she said softly to Maria. "So where are they?"
The two women moved forward, preparing to walk across to the boat. Before they made it, two men walked out carrying a stretcher, followed closely by Max. Maria took off at a run, and Liz hung back. Max spotted her and gave her a relieved smile. She waited for him to reach her and when he did he said nothing, simply caught her close to him and held her. Liz ran her hands soothingly down his back, standing still to let him take what he needed from her. After a few minutes he let out a huge sigh and pulled back to kiss her gently. She smiled against his lips.
"How's Michael?" She asked when he pulled back again.
Max sighed again and looked over his shoulder to where Maria was kneeling beside the stretcher, talking softly. "Even I had no idea they were capable of this."
"This isn't your fault," Liz said firmly.
He turned back to her, shaking his head.
"It is," he told her, ignoring her sound of protest. "I shouldn't have come here. I knew it but...I knew there was something here. Something I had to find."
"He needs a hospital," Maria said quietly, coming over to stand beside them.
"Maria I'm so sorry," Max said, turning around and drawing her into his arms.
"Michael's always made his own decisions," Maria soothed, rubbing his back before pulling away. "He made this one too. I'll need to talk to you about exactly what went on here but for now I need to get him some medical attention."
Max nodded and put his arm around Liz as they watched Michael being loaded into the car Maria had waiting. She climbed in after him and Jessica walked over as the car left.
"We need to get back," Jessica said. "I don't know how long we can leave Alex alone right now."
Nodding, Liz threaded her fingers through Max's and the three of them headed back towards town.

Valenti smiled as he watched them move off, pleased he hadn't been discovered. His own mother wouldn't recognise him, but with witches you could never tell. He moved off the boat slowly, looking around carefully. Noone noticed anything, and he moved off quickly, eager to begin. The power was building every second. Before too long it would be too strong for even him to control. He had to act now.

Maria watched the nurse carefully, ready to pounce if Michael let out so much as a peep. The woman watched her nervously but said nothing. Finally she was finished and she hurried out off the room. Maria pulled up a chair and sat beside the bed, taking Michael's hand. He stirred, and Maria watched his eyes flutter open.
"Maria," he whispered.
"Just as well you said my name," she told him, trying to sound severe. "You'd have been in all sorts of trouble if it had of been anyone else."
He turned his head and smiled at her. "And who else would it be?"
She grinned at him, then slowly her smile faded. "What were you doing there Michael?"
"There are things," he said slowly. "Things I need to tell you."
"Maybe not now," Maria said softly. "Tell me later."
"No!" Michael said quickly. "No you need to know. I need to tell you. Why I was there. The reasons I leave..."
"Alright," Maria said soothingly. "Lie back and tell me."
He grabbed hold of her hand as though to stop her from leaving before he was ready and slowly he began to tell her everything.

Liz stood in the middle of the room, her heart racing, her stomach churning. She could sense Jessica beside her, feel her panic building but there was nothing she could do for her. They both stared at the couch, dread building in the room until Liz felt like she was going to scream. She walked over to the telephone slowly, leaving Max to deal with Jessica. When the other end picked up she spoke quietly and then waited again. Maria came onto the phone a few minutes later.
"Liz?"
"Maria, you have to leave the hospital," Liz said, her voice toneless.
"What are you talking about?" Maria said impatiently. "I can't leave the hospital, you know that. Michael needs at least a week..."
"Leave now," Liz insisted.
"Liz, you have to tell me what..."
"If you stay in that hospital you'll die," Liz said, her voice breaking. "Alex, and whatever is in him, is gone."

TBC....
posted on 25-Jun-2002 3:01:24 AM by Mikyla
Part 26 - Tired

"Christ I don't even know where to start looking," Max said, running his hand through his hair and pacing relentlessly. "He could be anywhere."
"He won't go far," Liz said, her voice toneless. "He wants us."
Max looked at her anxiously. She looked...lost, he decided. Like something inside of her had died.
"We can leave," he told her, crouching down in front of her and taking her hands in his. They were freezing.
She looked up at him and smiled warily. "There's no point."
Max had never felt panic like this, not even when he was in that cold room and thought he was going to die. "Liz you can't give up now."
Her eyes swam with tears and with a sigh she rested her head on their hands. "I'm so tired Max. I can't run. Not this time. I don't have it in me. He's so much stronger than I am."
"You just need to rest," Max murmured, standing up and swinging her into his arms. "We both need to rest."
"Max, Alex..." Jessica began.
"There's a price she pays for being the strongest of all of you Jessica," Max said quietly. "This is it. She's reached her limit. If she doesn't rest now that thing in Alex and whoever else comes to the island is going to be able to pick you off one by one. You're all going to die if I can't pull Liz back from this."
Feeling hopeless, helpless, Jessica nodded and waved him away. He walked into the bedroom and closed the door quietly behind him. With nothing left to do, Jessica cast a protection spell over the whole house and sat down to wait.

Max woke up abruptly and turned to Liz. She thrashed on the bed, muttering incoherently, her skin freezing.
"Liz," Max whispered. "Liz come back. You're home baby. You're safe. I'm here."
He continued to whisper urgently, holding her tightly as she tossed and turned wildly, stuck in some horrible nightmare. Max pulled the blankets up over them both, trying to warm her up.
"Liz," Max said, louder this time. "Liz please. You have to come back."
He heard Jessica cry out in alarm, but he couldn't leave Liz like this to find out what was wrong. The door to the bedroom flew open, and Jessica ran in, pale, her eyes wild.
"Do something!," she said. "Wake her up."
"I can't," Max said desperately. "What's going on?"
Jessica strode over and began shaking Liz fiercely. "Go and see for yourself."
Trusting Jessica not to hurt Liz, Max got out of bed and ran into the lounge. He frowned when he was nothing out of place. He was about to turn and go back into the bedroom when a flash out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. He turned to the window and felt goosebumps break out all over his skin. His bowels turned to water and for a moment he was afraid he was going to be sick. Grinning in through the window, floating 9 stories above the ground, was Alex.

Maria watched the sky over the hotel slowly change from a pleasant blue to an ugly green.
"Please hurry," Maria told the cab driver. "I need to get my husband home to bed as soon as possible."
The fact that they had just come from the hospital leant credence to her story, and she was relieved when she felt the driver speed up.
"Thank you," she murmured gratefully before turning back to Michael
He too watched the sky, the clouds beginning to swirl and spark ominously.
"He's close," Maria murmured.
Michael watched the sky a moment longer, then turned to her.
"We can still run..." Michael began.
"I can't," Maria told him again. "Without me...Jessica and Liz aren't strong enough on their own. It has to be the three of us."
"I can't lose you Maria," Michael said, grabbing her hand urgently. "Not now."
"Don't be stupid," Maria chided, trying to sound confident. "You're not going to lose me. Especially not now."
Lightning flashed across the sky, hitting the ground only a few feet in front of the cab. The driver swerved in reflex, and Maria quickly chanted a spell. He drove on, no longer aware of the storm brewing around him. He stopped in front of the hotel and Maria jumped out, reaching in to help Michael out. They stood where they were for a moment, then Maria noticed the man standing in the doorway of the building across the street, chanting as he looked up. She raised her head, and saw Alex.
"This is it," she whispered. "They're all here. It's time."
Throwing Michael's arm over her shoulder and supporting his weight, she went inside.

TBC...

Thanks so much for hanging with me guys. And for the feedback.
posted on 15-Aug-2002 5:24:03 AM by Mikyla
Part 27 - Time

"Even if we do help Alex, whatever is in him is just going to jump to someone else," Max said tiredly.
"I'm aware of that," Liz said, her voice sharp. "But we can't just leave Alex like that, and I won't kill him."
Someone banged on the door loudly, making them all jump, and Max grabbed Liz's arm as she passed him.
"You don't know who it is," he told her.
Liz just looked at him blandly. "I'm a witch Max, of course I know who it is. Now can I have my arm back so Maria doesn't have to stand in the hallway?"
Grimacing slightly, Max let her go. Liz hurried over and threw the door open, hurriedly putting her arm around Michael and helping Maria lead him to the bedroom..
"There's one more out there," Maria said breathlessly. "He's standing in a doorway across the street."
"It's Valenti," Michael gasped out, turning his head to look at Max. "He's here."
Max nodded, not surprised. The girls went into the bedroom, and Maria moved to put Michael on the bed.
"No," Liz said firmly. "Put him on the floor."
"Liz, he's only just got out of hospital," Maria cried. "I'm not putting him on the floor."
"Put as many blankets as you can over me," Michael said, understanding what Liz was up to. "Then prop the mattress up against the wall so it's covering me. It's the best we can do."
"You could have left," Liz reminded him testily.
Michael pointed at Maria. "Her fault."
"Shut up," Maria said pleasantly when Liz opened her mouth. "You need me and you know it."
Unbelievably, Liz felt herself smile. They carefully lowered Michael to the floor, covered him, then pulled the mattress off the bed. When Liz was satisfied he was a safe as she could make him, they left the room, Liz chanting a quick protection spell on the way out.
"Max, I'll need my book," she said, all business now as she kept her eyes on Alex. "It's in the other room. There's a black bag under the bed. I'll need that too."
Not wanting to leave them, but knowing Liz needed her things, he left the room. Drawing a deep breath, Liz approached the window. When she stood a few feet away from it, she looked evil dead in the eye...and smiled.
"You won't win," she told him.
"Of course I will," it said, the voice eerily childlike. "You're no stronger than the others, and you will die."
"Ok," Liz said agreeably. "Let's say for a minute I agree with you. No point in keeping secrets now. Who are the others?"
"The ones who came before you," it told her, beginning to sway. "The beginning of the line."
"Abigail," Liz guessed. "Margeret and Alice."
He grinned, nodding. "They were destroyed, as were all that came after them."
"Who are you?" Liz said harshly. "Your name, give me your name."
"So easily forgotten," it murmured almost sadly. "William Stoughton, my lady, at your service. Take it to heart, Miss Parker, it's a name you'll remember for all eternity."
Liz wracked her brain, then nodded as she remembered. "Abigail warned us about you. You're the judge."
"I was the one that could have saved them," it hissed. "If they'd only come to me as I asked them to do."
"Well they didn't," Liz spat, then turned away when she heard Max and Jessica come back through the door. "And neither will we."
Moving swiftly, the three women gathered ingredients while Liz began casting a spell. Max stood back, feeling helpless but aware he could not enter the circle without risking harm to both Liz and himself. She took a moment to smile at him encouragingly, then turned back to her work.

"What here has passed by evil's name
Let body return, and mind the same
By all the power that lives in me
And the power of one times three
As I will it
So mote it be."

Liz watched the window, chanting the spell over and over again as the thing writhed.
"Come on Alex," she whispered.
She continued her chant, stirring the mixture she had made, hearing the others joining her. She watched as the face began to flicker, it's expression changing from anger, to derision, then fear. When she saw the fear she quickly raced to the window.
"Alex!" She yelled. "Fight, you have to fight for me."
"Liz!" He screamed. "Liz help me!"
Again she chanted, her voice growing louder, the air in the room swirling dangerously. Alex continued screaming but Liz blocked it out, intent on calling him forth from wherever the evil had taken him. She could sense victory, was ready to smash the window and bring Alex inside, when suddenly he flew backwards, and disappeared. Cursing, Liz kept her eyes on him until she saw where he had gone.
"The beach," she yelled. "He's taken him to the beach. Hurry!"
Breaking the circle and taking only a few moments to check on Michael, the group headed for the beach.
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Thank you all so much for bumping, and for watching out for this story. I know I'm hopeless on updates, but the story is winding to a close, so you will get your happy ending (maybe lol) Thanks again to you all
posted on 24-Aug-2002 9:05:36 PM by Mikyla
Chapter 28 - Confrontation

Liz rushed ahead, stopping when she saw Alex, and the other man, standing a few metres away.
"I appreciate the scenery," she said, her voice calm. "I find it so much easier to do this sort of thing in pleasant surroundings."
She didn't even flinch as a bolt of lightning hit the ground in front of her.
"You're going to have to do better than that," she chided as she flicked her wrist and had a howling gale blowing all around them. She looked beyond Alex. "The infamous Valenti I assume?"
"I've wanted to meet you for a long time Miss Parker," he said, smiling benignly. "I can't tell you how much it grieves me that before this night is over you and all your friends will be dead."
Liz cocked an eyebrow and smiled. "You think?"
She felt Jessica and Maria come up behind her, and she tossed her head recklessly.
"Before we get this show underway, I just have one question if I may," she said calmly.
Valenti nodded politely.
"What the hell is your problem?" Liz said, only mildly curious. "Why us? Why witches at all for that matter?"
"You are an abomination," he said coldly. "You and all your kind. If you had only joined me when I asked you we could have avoided all this. We could have been a thing of beauty."
Liz frowned, turning her head to look at Maria. She shrugged.
"I think your wiring may be coming loose a little Jim," Liz told him. "You've never asked us for anything."
"You, them, you're all the same."
"Them who?" Jessica asked. "Who are you talking about?"
"The sisters," Valenti spat. "Those who came before you. Those who turned away from me and chose to die."
"Alice," Liz guessed. "You're talking about Alice and Margaret."
"They had their chance," he said coldly. "And chose to doom themselves, and all those who came in their path. Including you."
"Ok, I know I said one question, but now I've got another one," Liz said quickly. "Who are you?"
"If I remember correctly, Abigail fondly referred to me as 'The Judge'," he said, smiling. "Judge William Stoughton, at your service. At least until I kill you, that is."
Liz just looked at him blankly. Valenti clucked in disapproval.
"Know your history Miss Parker," he intoned. "We are nothing without it. I presided over the witch trials. I'm the instigator, and the one who put Alice Parker and Margaret Scott to their deaths. I'm sure Abigail mentioned me in that damn diary of hers."
Liz shook her head. "She never mentioned you. Mustn't have thought you were very important."
His eyes flickered at the insult, then he sneered. "You talk too much Miss Parker."
"You'll have to forgive my cynicism," Liz said lightly. "It's not everyday someone tries to tell you they're over 300 years old. How'd you manage it?"
"Transference," he said simply. "When I felt one body failing, I would simply pick another, and live out my time in it until the next. I could have taught you such things if you'd only cooperated."
"Those sort of things belong in the dark arts Mr. Valenti," Maria told him. "We tend to shy away from those."
"What about Alex?" Jessica asked quickly. "What's inside of him?"
"My life's work," Valenti said fondly. "Born of years of research. It's evil, Miss Solito, pure and simple. A wonderful blend of the thoughts, hope, dreams and plans of some of the most depraved minds of our time. I'm very proud of it."
"Yeah, that's a doozy," Liz said sarcastically. "And I gather this thing just skips from body to body as well. Convenient."
"I tire of this talking," he said suddenly. "This is not what I came here for. I will end this tonight."
He quickly raised his hand, sending a bolt of blue light flying at Liz. She closed her eyes and sent it shooting upwards, opening her eyes again to stare at him.
"Pitiful," she murmured. "Truly pitiful. You're wasting my time Mr. Valenti."
He continued his attack, sending wave after wave of energy at the girls. Liz deflected them as best she could with Maria's help, while Jessica worked on freeing Alex while Valenti's attention was diverted. How long it continued that way, Liz had no idea, but it all came to a halt when Alex dropped to the ground, groaning.
"I got him!" Jessica said happily. "He's out."
Liz started forward to help Alex but before she could reach him a foul-smelling mist rose from his body and floated towards Valenti.
"Liz..."
Maria yelled out the warning, but it was too late. They all watched as the mist floated around Valenti for a moment before disappearing. Valenti closed his eyes, drew a deep breath, then opened them again.
"Now it begins," he said, his voice booming.
Liz wobbled as the ground beneath her shook, and she dived for Max, pushing him down to the ground.
"Don't move," she ordered. "No matter what happens, you can't move."
"He's too strong now Liz," Max said frantically. "You can't beat him like this."
"I have to try," she told him.
She pressed her lips against his for a moment, then stood and turned around. A swirling vortex surrounded Maria and Jessica, and she calmly walked into the middle of it. Closing her eyes, she called the power of the elements, smiling when she heard Jessica and Maria join her. Huge waves crashed down on top of Valenti, wind swirled the sand around him and large balls of hail battered him. But still he stood. Liz watched him carefully, and swore.
"What's wrong?" Jessica yelled. "Why aren't you doing anything?"
Liz opened her mouth to begin again, calling any and all powers to her, but a vicious pain clutched her stomach and she doubled over, gasping.
"Maria," she cried. "Do something!!"
She heard the two girls begin chanting frantically, but the pain intensified and with a groan she dropped to her knees. Maria was the next one to fall. Clutching her head and screaming, she fell onto the sand, writhing in agony. Liz watched helplessly as Jessica frantically tried to help them both, continuing even when Liz could see that whatever Valenti was ding to her was causing her great pain. Eventually she too could do nothing more and with a mournful cry she fell, clutching Liz's hand where it lay before her. Reaching out, Liz took hold of Maria's hand, until the three of them connected. Chanting with what strength she had left, she prepared to spare them the last pains of the dying. As she chanted, she became aware of a strange white light flickering just off shore. Squinting, she tried to make out what it might have been. What happened was something noone on the beach that night would ever forget. Slowly, appearing first as a flicker, then as a mist, then as a solid form, were Alice Parker, Margaret Scott, and Abigail Soames.

TBC.....

Thanks so much for the feedback.
posted on 25-Aug-2002 7:48:26 PM by Mikyla
Chapter 29 - An Ending

Liz sat up slowly, the pain still gripping her, and stared at the apparition in front of her. She squeezed Maria's hand.
"Look," she whispered.
Maria turned her head, as did Jessica and the three of them sat, dumbfounded.
"What the hell are they doing here?" Jessica asked.
Noone spoke as the women floated across the water to stand over Liz, Maria and Jessica. With a gentle smile Alice raised her hand, and Liz was deliriously happy to feel the pain slowly subside. The three of them stood swiftly, facing Valenti again, renewed purpose in their eyes. Valenti stood gaping, his eyes moving wildly over the six women.
"This is not possible," he yelled. "This is a trick. A juvenile trick that will not work."
He sent another bolt out, straight at the women, but it passed through them. He tried again, but Alice only smiled.
"Your time is over," Margaret said, her voice strong. "Leave this place now, willingly, or we will send you from it."
In his arrogance, Valenti struck out. It was his first, and final, mistake. Alice, Abigail and Margaret began chanting, taking the hands of Liz, Maria and Jessica as they did it. Liz could only hold on, stunned, as the air immediately began to hum with the kind of power even a witch of her strengths only dream of. Lighting crackled in the air, and thunder boomed in the distance.
"Someone's going to see this," Jessica fretted.
Abigail opened her eyes and smiled reassuringly. "Noone will see what happens here aside from those here now. We have made sure of it. Now focus please. We must do this together."
Soon their chanting was drowned out by the screams of the man standing only metres down the beach from them. Liz watched, her eyes calm, as he writhed in unspeakable agony, his eyes bulging, blood gushing uncontrollably from his nose. The chanting continued, grew louder, as the power in the six women rose, sending up a swirling wind. Standing, Max covered his eyes to protect them from the flying sand and watched as Liz and the others rose from the ground, hovering in the air.
Liz raised her head, a chant coming to her mind, and with a nod and a smile to Alice, she turned her eyes to Valenti.

Evil stands here, and with it power
But let this be it's final hour
As six now call the powers as one
Till this and all the times are done
Let evil sons of evil be
By the power of one times three
So I will it
So mote it be

With an unholy scream Valenti tried one last time, calling all his powers to him, and sending a stream of fire towards the circle. It wasn't enough. The stream reached the circle, turned, and hurtled back at him. Fire burst from within him and they all watched as he slowly burned, all the vil that was within him slowly dying. When it was done, and nothing but ash lay on the shore, Jessica hurried over to Alex, as Liz searched for Max. She smiled when she saw him.
"Some party huh?" She said, her voice breathless.
Max shrugged, walking over to her on weak knees.
"I've seen better," he boasted, folding her into his arms tightly.
Maria turned to the three women, who still remained, waiting quietly.
"How did this happen?" She asked.
Abigail smiled sweetly as she moved forward.
"You have read my diaries," she said, speaking to Liz. "You know I have confronted this evil before."
Liz nodded.
"When I had assured the safety of those I had brought here, I left," Abigail told them. "Since then, through all the generations, we have kept ourselves separated for our own safety. Each knew of the others, once the diary was found, but each generation choose to keep themselves apart, hoping not to draw the attention of the evil. Tonight, this place, is the first time in over 300 years that a circle has been cast by all three."
Liz looked at Jessica, who shrugged.
"Whoops," she said weakly. "Guess I should have stayed on the mainland."
A small breeze blew gently as Alice laughed.
"No, for it was meant to be," she assured them. "Now was the time, and the three of you were the one's chosen to end this. It was decided long before your time. And ours."
The three women turned back towards the sea, walking gracefully across it until they once again stood just offshore.
"Those are fine men you've chosen," Abigail said, bestowing a sweet smile on Max. "Keep them forever."
"We will," Liz promised.
"And have fun," Margaret added.
Alice let out a sigh of exasperation and turned.
"Have fun?" She said as the figures began fading. "300 years of waiting to appear again and all you can say is have fun?"
"Don't lecture me Alice," Margaret griped, her voice fading. "I'm getting mighty tired of you lecturing me."
Liz blinked, then burst out laughing. Maria joined her, and pretty soon the beach rung with the sound of relieved laughter.

"I can't believe it's finally over," Liz said later that night, as she curled up next to Max in bed. "What the heck am I supposed to do with myself now?"
"Paint," Max suggested. "Go back to normal. Marry me."
Liz shrugged. "I guess that's all I can do but....Did you say marry you?"
"Kinda slipped it in there," Max said, grinning. "I was hoping you wouldn't notice, and just say yes. You promised to keep me forever remember?"
Liz rolled over until she lay on top of him, and smiled.
"So I did," she said, catching his lower lip between her teeth and biting it lightly. "Think you can live with a witch for the rest of your life?"
"Maybe," Max said, grinning. "We'll have to see won't we?"
Happy, secure, Liz laughed softly. "So, Mr. Evans, why don't you tell me exactly what you're going to do with me for the next 50 or 60 years?"
"Or better yet, I could show you," he murmured.
Laughing, Liz let him roll her over...and show her.

Epilogue

"I'm so nervous," Maria said, holding her stomach. "I'm going to puke."
"Like hell you are," Liz said severely. "This dress cost a fortune."
"What have you got to be nervous about?" Jessica asked, her tone mild.
"I don't know!!" Maria wailed. "I just am."
Michael's head appeared around the door, and he smiled. His girls looked amazing. Maria was gorgeous in a flowing dress of deep royal blue, and Liz looked ethereal in ruby red.
"It's bad luck for a guy to see the bride before the wedding," Liz reminded him.
"That's a dumb rule, and I'm breaking it," Micheal informed her. "Besides, it's only bad luck for the groom, and I'm not him. It's time."
The women gathered their bouquets, took one last minute to make sure everything was in place, then walked out to stand in front of the big wooden doors, as Michael slipped in the side door to take his place as best man.
"Gonna puke, gonna puke," Maria chanted.
"For Christ sakes Maria, it's my wedding," Jessica said, exasperated. "You've had yours."
"Maybe it's like post traumatic shock," Liz mused. "She was fine at her wedding, now she's a wreck at yours."
"I don't care what it is, she'd better get over it," Jessica said, trying hard not to laugh.
"Ladies," Max murmured as he joined them. He was here to walk Jessica down the aisle, as she'd asked him to do. She beamed at him as he took her hand and placed it gently on his elbow, just as the doors opened.
Maria strode out first, her face only a little green. She kept her eyes on Michael, and managed to make it down the aisle without losing the contents of her stomach. She was very proud of herself.
Liz came next, smiling gently, her mind already anticipating the coming night, when she would give Max a very special, very intimate present to go with this joyous day. A child.
Walking slowly, her arm lying calmly in Max's, Jessica kept her eyes on Alex. She could see his nerves, and she smiled sweetly. He wanted her, of that she had no doubt, but he wasn't sure if he wanted everything that went with her. He was still, even after all these months, fiercely protective, despite the fact that they had been told The Society had broken down with the loss of Valenti. Jessica had debated many times using a spell to wipe his knowledge of the evil that he had housed from his mind, but she liked the way he was with them, however maddening it could be at times. They reached the end of the aisle, and Max lifted her veil to kiss her lightly on the mouth before replacing it and giving her hand to Alex, taking his place beside Liz as she murmured quietly, sending a stream of light through the stained glass window above them to bathe the couple as the priest began to speak.
"Dearly beloved..."

8 months later, the final entry would appear in Abigail's Diary. Jessica wrote it before she dropped into bed, exhausted but joyous.

Born to Max and Liz Evans
A daughter named Lianna
Godchild of Alex and Jessica Whitman
Michael and Maria Guerin

First of the three

THE END

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I want to thank everybody who stuck with me through this story. You guys are amazing. And a special thanks to Faith for keeping me on the path, and making me write. You're a wonder sis, you truly are.

Mikyla