posted on 26-Mar-2002 11:36:56 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Okay guys. I have this story all planned out. If you read this and like it, let me know. I will continue. I already have a couple fics going, but I had to get this one out before I forgot it.

Title: Chasing Arizona
Author: ISLANDGIRL5
Category: Starts out with Liz, but everyone will appear in due time.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to, well, you know who they belong to.
Summary: It's 1876. Liz has run away from home. She doesn't know where she is going or what whe will do. This is her story.
Note: I know the dates and the history aren't correct. The titles and themes just fit.

chasingarizona2
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CHASING ARIZONA---PROLOGUE

My father has always hated me. Even the mere mention of my name can send him into a rage. I was named after the state I was born in. He never has treated me like a daughter. I guess that's because I'm not. And I guess that's the reason he hates me so much. Because I am a constant reminder of my mother's infidelity. But he is still my father. Even if he doesn't acknowledge me, he's the only one I have ever known.

He's always loved my mother more than life itself. As she has loved him. She stood by him through everything. She was there when he started out as nothing. And she was still there when he became one of the richest railroad tycoons in America. She never left his side. Not even when the going got rough. He would do anything for her. I guess that's why he blinded himself to the fact the she did mess up. If only for one time, she was unfaithful. And I am the only proof of that mistake. I am the only thing of my mother's that doesn't belong to him. That's why he blames me. That's why everything in the world that goes wrong is my fault. Because I was a mistake. An accident. An unwanted child.

The only other person in the world he loved as much as he loved her was their son. My brother. Alexander Dallas Parker. He was born in Dallas. My mother had a weird way of naming us. After places. My father always loved him. Gave him everything. His pride and joy was Alex. The one thing Alex always did that my father never understood, but never questioned out of respect for my mother was love me. I was his little sister. He always protected me. Helped keep me away from my father. Comforted me after I had been beaten. After my father had taken his frustrations out on me, Alex was my only consolation. And he loved me no matter who my father was. Alex and I used to go out on the horses all the time. We loved to play games in the immense fields behind our father's mansion in Texas. That's what we were doing the day he died. Saving me. That was what finally sent my father over the edge.

We had taken the horses out and were riding through the fields when something spooked my horse and I was thrown to the ground. Alex jumped off to come and help me, and noticed that Vilandra, my mare, had raised her front feet in the air and was coming down on me. Alex didn't hesitate. He pushed me out of the way and gave his life for mine. When my father heard, he went crazy. He kept hitting me. Over and over. The look in his eyes was one I had never seen before. There was so much hate and anger there that I was scared to death just looking at him. I did the only thing I could think of. I picked up the poker from the fireplace and hit him back. I knew he wasn't dead. But I also knew that I couldn't be here when he woke up. He would kill me. Finally have his vengeance on me for being the product of my mother's mistake. And for being the reason his only son was dead.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I packed my things and left my only home. I had saved money over the years. Here and there. Whatever I could get my hands on. My father was one of the richest men alive, after all. I had quite a small fortune of my own. And I took it all with me. I don't know where I am going. I don't know what will happen. But I do know one thing. When he wakes up, Jefferey Parker will come after me. I have to write this letter in case he ever finds me. I want people to know what he did.

My name is Arizona Elizabeth Parker. And by the time someone reads this, one of two people will be dead.


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Okay, guys I need to know. Continue, or not? You be the judge! In other words, Feedback!!

[ edited 54time(s), last at 25-Nov-2002 2:47:27 PM ]
posted on 28-Mar-2002 12:04:01 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHASING ARIZONA
CHAPTER 1

Sheldon, Texas
March 23, 1876

She looked at the letter one last time. She signed it with her name, marked it with her tears. Then she folded it up and put it in an envelope. She put no name on it. She needed it in case anything ever happened to her. She wanted people to know who she was and why she was running from the only home she had ever known. Quietly, she took one last look around her room. The room she had grown up in. The room in which she had spent so many nights crying in Alex's arms.

She tiptoed down the immense hallway, and stopped to look at the picture hanging at the top of the stairs. It was a family photo, that had been painted last Christmas. It was huge and had been very expensive. It was of the four of them. The smiles were bright and unwavering. It showed the perfect family. And it told the perfect lie. As a last thought, she threw her bag down and ran into her room. She took out of a drawer in her bureau a portrait of her and Alex that had been taken for a newspaper article that had run on the Parker family just before Alex's death. In the photo, she and Alex were on their horses, and they were looking at each other laughing at something one of the reporters had said. It was the last time she could remember smiling. She put the picture inside her small jewelry box and took it back to her bag.

She descended the stairs, and tiptoed to the living room. He was still there, not moving, but she could see him breathing. She moved to the parlor where her mother was dozing. That seemed to be all she ever did. She had withdrawn from the world and spent all her time staring out of the window. Sometimes, she would talk to her mother, but it seemed as if she didn't even know anyone was there.

She kissed her mother's forhead. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I love you."

She walked out the door and headed for the stables. As she walked through the doors, one of the stable boys ran over to her.

"Evenin, Miss Liz," he said, tipping his hat at her. "Need me to saddle your mare for you?"

"Yes, Joseph. Please," she said. Her friends had always called her Liz. Arizona seemed like a name meant for someone special. And she was nothing of the sort.

"Taking a trip, Miss?" he asked, noticing the bag in her hand.

"Yes, Joseph. I'm leaving," she smiled at the boy. She had always liked the boy. He was the same age as her, and they had been friends. She had often snuck him food and drinks from the lavish parties her father was always hosting.

When he had finished saddling Vilandra, Joseph stood to the side and helped Liz secure her bags. He pulled his hat off of head as she turned to speak to him.

"Joseph, you take care of yourself, ya hear?" she said.

"Yes ma'm. I'm awful sorry to see you go," he said.

Liz smiled as she climbed on the horse and started to ride away. She turned around as a last thought. "Joseph, if my father comes to you, you tell him you never saw me, understand? Tell him you came in and found my horse already gone."

"Yes miss," he said. He waved at her as she rode off into the sunset.


As Liz was riding past the Evans home, she stopped momentarily and looked at the house.
Isabel Evans and Liz had never gotten along. Isabel was always jealous of Liz and all the money and fame her family had. Max Evans was a different story. Max and Liz had been the closest of friends when they were younger. Max was a year older than Liz, but their sense of adventure had made them close friends. , Their houses were only a mile away from each others, and they would spend hours on hours playing in the fields and near the river. They had been together every minute of every day when they weren't at home. They shared everything and did everything together. The one thing Max never knew about was how Liz's father had beat her. She was too ashamed to tell him. She was afraid he would hate her ifhe knew that she wasn't really a Parker. Her father had convinced her she was a freak. And that if anyone ever knew, noone would love her. So she never told anyone. Instinctively, Liz reached for the thing gold chain and the precious treasure that was at the end of it. She could still remember the day Max had given it to her. It was the day she realized she loved him. It was a little over a year ago. It was the night of her 16th birthday.

*FLASHBACK*

"So, Happy Birthday," Max said.

"Thanks," she said smiling at him. They were sitting on a rock at the edge of the river watching the sun set. They had done it so much when they were younger, but as they got older, time seemed to slip by too fast to have time to play.

Liz felt a shiver run down her spine. Max stood up and took off his jacket. He slipped it around her shoulders, and let his arm rest around her back. He couldn't help but watch her. Never before had he noticed how beautiful she was. How her long brown hair fell like silk down her back

"Seems like we never see each other anymore," Max said.

"Yeah, I know. It's just busy, I guess," Liz said.

"I miss you," Max whispered.

Liz turned to look at him and was instantly swept up in the deep ocean of amber that was his eyes. "You do?" she questioned.

Max didn't answer her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvet bag. "This is for you," he said.

Liz took the small bag and opened it. Inside was a small ring with an amber stone set in the middle of it. Liz gasped. It was beautiful. It was so exquisite. And rare. And it was from max.

"Max-"

"I thought you might like it. It reminded me of you. It was just so. . .pretty."

Liz took the ring and slipped it onto her right hand. She held up her hand and looked at the stone.

"Thank you, Max," she said.

"It's a token of friendship. I want you to know how special you are to me, Liz," he said.

With that, Max leaned down and brought his lips to meet hers. It was just a brush of the lips. But it left them both aching for more. And it made Liz realize that Max Evans had stolen her heart.

"I have to go," Max said. "Happy Birthday, Arizona," he said. He was the only one that ever called her that. It just seemed so right coming from his mouth. It made her feel important.

He kissed her forehead. Then he was gone.


A week later, the Troy's moved to town. Max was taken with their daughter, Pamela. Pamela never liked Liz. Was jealous of the fact that Liz and Max were friends. Gradually, they drifted apart. Then one night, Liz received news that her grandmother had died. The only other person in her family that had loved her unconditionally except for Alex. She had laid in her bed and cried for hours. When her father came home, he was drunk and had called for her. He was mad and needed someone to take it out on. Liz knew she couldn't take it this time. If he got her tonight, it would be the end of her.

So she went to the one person she had thought she could count on. Max. When she got to his house, he was with Pamela. She had asked him to come outside, and he had tried to make her go away. When she pleaded with him, he came outside. She needed him to go with her, she didn't want to talk there. But he wouldn't go. He had told her that he was making plans with Pamela to be married. Plans for his future. And they didn't include her. Pamela wouldn't allow it. He didn't have time for her. Liz felt her heart tear into two. Max didn't care about her anymore. The one person who told her would be her friend forever didn't want her around. Not as a friend, not as anything. Hearbroken and rejected, Liz went home. And faced her father.


The pain he inflicted on her that night didn't compare to the damage Max had done on her soul. Liz stayed inside for weeks after that. Letting the bruises heal. Both inside and out. And she never spoke to Max Evans again. She was going to throw his ring away, but never did. It was from the one person in the world she had given her heart to. Even if she had gotten nothing in return. She hated Max Evans. For deserting her when she needed him the most. But couldn't bring herself to let go of the one thing she still had of him. So she had put it on the thin gold chain Alex had given her, and she had never taken it off.


Liz pulled on Vilandra's reigns and urged her down the road. She had to make one more stop before leaving town. She had to tell her cousin, Maria that she was leaving. For Maria was the only person left alive that cared about her.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Mar-2002 5:11:26 AM ]
posted on 31-Mar-2002 5:15:46 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 2

Liz rode to the Deluca residence and tied Vilandra to a post at the end of the driveway. She walked up to the door and paused before knocking. She smoothed down her dress and tucked her hair into a knot at the back of her neck. She tried to calm her breathing before she knocked. The last thing she wanted to do was clue anyone in that something was wrong. If anyone knew, they might try and stop her from going. Liz took a deep breath and raised her arm to knock on the door. Before she could, she was startled when the door flew open.

"Lizzie!" Maria said, running outside to give her cousin a hug. Liz relaxed when she saw it was Maria at the door.

"I am so glad you are here! This day has been so dreadfully boring. My mother and her new male companion for the week have run off for the week to his family's home somewhere south of here, and I have been cooped up in this house for the last two days! The only people I have even talked to have been-"

Maria stopped talking when she saw the tears forming in Liz's eyes.

Maria stepped outside and led Liz to the swing hanging at the side of the porch. "Liz, sweetie, what's wrong? "

"Maria, I have to leave. I have to go," Liz said tearfully.

"What do you mean? Where are you going? Why?" Maria asked.

"I did it, Maria. I hurt him. Real bad. And I can't be here when he wakes up. He'll kill me. I know he will."

"Who will?"

"My father," Liz whispered. "He'll kill me because Alex isn't here to protect me anymore."

"Liz, what do you mean, you hurt him?"

"He went crazy, Maria. He attacked me. He's a horrible man, he just started hitting me. I grabbed the poker from the fireplace and I hit him. I just left him there. I didn't know what to do," Liz sobbed.

Maria put her arms around Liz's shoulder. Maria was seething inside. She was the only one other than Alex that knew the truth about Liz. She knew everything, right down to they way Jefferey had always treated Liz. And she hated him for it.

"Liz, you can't leave. You have never been away from home except for that one time your parents took you to Dallas. Where will you go, what will you do? You have no money."


"I've been saving. I have a lot of money. And I am going. I have to. I just came to say goodbye."

Maria was quiet for a minute. She knew that it would be unsafe for Liz to leave home by herself. And she also knew that when Liz made up her mind, Liz made up her mind. She couldn't let Liz leave by herself. And she couldn't let Liz stay and face her father's wrath either. There was only one thing she could to.

"Fine," Maria said. "Then I'm going with you."

"Maria! You can't- I mean- I didn't come here to get you to go with me, I just-"

"Liz. You know as well as I do that my mother will never miss me. She'll be off again in a day or two with some guy. If you are gone, then I have noone here. I don't even have any friends left other than you except for Max."

As soon as she mentioned Max's name, Liz's eyes clouded over. Maria knew that Max had always been a sore spot for her cousin. She had never forgiven him after he turned his back on her. Max had been her best friend, and the one time in her life she needed him the most, he hadn't been there for her. And Liz had never forgotten it. She hadn't even spoken to the boy in over a year. Not even after he and Pam Troy cancelled whatever relationship it was they had. Maria had always suspected that the reason Liz never got over the hurt Max caused was because she loved him. But she never asked, and Liz never told. Maria, on the other hand was still friends with Max. Max kept up on how Liz was doing through Maria. He felt bad about the fact that they weren't friends. He never knew the reason Liz had come to him that night, and Maria had never told him. But he had never stopped wishing that he and Liz could still be friends.

"Okay, Maria. But we have to hurry. Please. We have to go quick. And you can't tell anyone"

"I have to go pack some things. Sit here and rest. I'll only be a few minutes."

Liz sighed in agreement and leaned her head back against the porch column as Maria headed back into the house. How had her life come to this? How was it that she now had to run from everything that was familiar to her? She laughed sarcastically to herself when she looked down at her clothes. She was wearing a pale blue dress of the finest fabric money could buy. It was lined with a dark blue hem and had a full skirt. The funny thing was that it was the least nicest piece of clothing she owned. Jeffery Parker made sure that she was dressed in the best. The girl had already ruined his marriage and made his family a mockery. He wouldn't let her ruin his image. Liz never had his love. But she certainly had his money. And everything it could buy. As long as it made him look good.



Once inside the house, Maria stopped to try and figure out what to do. She headed to the back of the house. On the way out of the parlor, she grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled a note on it. She walked out the back door and motioned for the stable boy to come to her.

She handed him the piece of paper. "Take this to the Evans home. Give it to Max. Go the back way, and hurry. It's urgent."

With that, the boy was off to the stable for a horse.


When someone knocked on Max's door, his head jerked up. He realized he must have fallen asleep sitting at his desk.

"Master Evans," the boy said. "Miss Maria said to get this to you right away." The boy handed the note to Max and was gone.


Liz is here. We have to leave. She's in trouble. Leaving soon. We need your help. Please hurry. Maria.


Max felt his heart flip flop. Maria was his closest friend. Well, at least she was after Liz and he stopped speaking. And no matter what she thought of him, Max still thought of Liz as his best friend. He didn't know what kind of trouble she was in, but he wasn't going to let Maria and Liz leave. Not without him, anyway. He left a quick note for his sister, and headed out the door towards the Deluca residence.



Maria stepped out the back door and saddled her horse, Zan. She tied her bags to his saddle, and headed to the front of the house to meet Liz. She kept looking around, waiting to see if Max would come. She had sent him the note because she didn't know what else to do. She was scared to think of what Liz was going to do when she found out that she had told Max. But she was even more scared to think of what could happen if she and Liz left out on their own. Two girls out on their own. It could be dangerous. And the west was no place to play with danger. Especially if your name was Arizona Parker. Everyone in America knew that name. So she had to tell Max. She had to tell someone.

When Maria got to the front porch, Liz was already standing up. "Maria, what took you so long?"

"I had to umm. . .pack."

"Maria. If you don't want to go with me, I'll understand. You don't have to leave. You have nothing to run from."

"Liz, honey. I am not running from anything. I am running with something. I will not let you go off to who knows where alone." She handed Liz a small bag. "Here. Put this on her. I've got a lot already. It's just some apples, bread and cheese. We might need it."

Liz smiled, and walked over to Maria's horse. "Thanks. Maria. I'm glad I don't have to do this alone. I'm glad there's at least one person left in this world who cares about me. I guess it's just you and me now."

Liz and Maria spun around when they heard hoofbeats come thundering up behind the house. Maria held her breath. She knew she could count on him. Slowly, she turned to Liz for her reaction.

Liz was frozen. Her eyes were wide with fear. Anger. Sorrow. Maria could see the emotions flickering across her eyes. For a minute, she thought she was going to bolt and run.

Max got off his horse. He nodded at Maria. Then he walked to Liz.

Liz felt her breathing get heavier. She felt like her head was spinning. Max was here. Max. Her best friend. Max. The one that had pushed her away. The one who told her he had no use for her. Yet here he was. Liz looked at Maria accusingly. She knew Maria had somehow told him they were leaving. And now he would try to stop them

"Hello, Arizona," he whispered. It was the first time he had spoken to her in over a year. Since he had pushed her away. Since he had lost his best friend in the whole world.

Liz saw the sky spin. Max's arms shot out as he saw Liz sway to the side. Then everything went black.
posted on 5-Apr-2002 12:01:29 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 3



When Liz woke up, she saw Maria in her face, waving something funny smelling under her nose. For a second, she didn't know what had happened or where she was.

"Maria, what happened?" Liz asked.

"You took one look at Loverboy and passed out," Maria whispsered, gesturing towards the trees where Max was watching the two girls with a worried expression. "Now we better hurry up and get a move on before that beast you call your father wakes up. Come on girl, up." Maria was helping Liz to her feet.

Liz looked over to the trees and her eyes widened when she saw Max standing there. "Maria! What did you do? I asked you not to tell anyone! And you told him of all people! What are you thinking?" Liz whispered back.

"Liz. Max is my friend. And believe it or not, he is your friend too. What happened is in the past. Leave it there. Forgive and forget, remember?"

"Maria! You don't even know what happened. You have no idea what he did to me!"

"Aww, honey, it couldn't have been so bad as to push the boy out of your life forever. I mean you two were like two peas in a pod growing up. Do you really want to hate him? Cause I think somewhere deep down, you still care for him."

Liz stood up, and straightened out her dress. She looked at Maria. "It doesn't matter if I want to hate him or not, things just turned out that way. And it is all his fault. And what is he doing here?"

Maria took a deep breath. "He's going with us."

"What!" Liz asked, a bit too loud.

"Shh, Liz. Be quiet. Look I knew you would get upset. But it's not safe. You know it, and I know it. You are Arizona Parker, for goodness sake!! What if someone out there saw you and wanted your money? We need a guy with us. For our own sake! And if you don't let him come with, then I won't let you go."

Liz looked at Maria and knew she was fighting a losing battle. She didn't know anyone who had ever argued with Maria Deluca and won. Come to think of it, she didn't know many people who would actually argue with Maria. The girl was impossibly stubborn. Liz narrowed her eyes at Maria.

"Maria Deluca," Liz said. "I am not going to argue with you simply because I don't have the time, and because my life depends on it. But this is not the end of this discussion!"

Liz stomped angrily over to Vilandra and proceeded to double check her bags.

Max ran past Liz, glancing in her direction. He ran to Maria and stopped in front of her.

"What did she say?" He asked, running a hand through his dark hair.

"She said that we better go. She has got to get out of here, Max. I need your word that you will go and ask no questions. Not until Liz is ready. She will speak to you eventually, but you have to give her time."

"I have to apologize to her Maria. I don't blame her for hating me. I don't. But I have to tell her the truth."

"Of course you do, Max. And you'll get your chance. All in due time. Now I suggest you go over there and get on that horse of yours and follow us."

Max turned to walk back to his horse. He paused for a moment when he got to where Liz was still checking her horse. He wanted to badly to talk to her. But he knew her well enough to know that if he tried to push it, he would push her away. And she was already so far away from him. He sighed and walked past her. He never noticed her eyes follow him to his horse.


Liz got on Vilandra, Maria mounted Zan, and Max climbed atop his horse, Rath. The three teenagers disappeared into the shadows. They were running from secrets. Running into a world that held some of its own.



Hours later, Jefferey Parker moaned and opened his eyes to see his celing spinning. He raised his head, but immediately plopped it back down. What was wrong with him? Why did his head hurt so much. And where was everyone? Why was his house so quiet? He looked towards the hallway, and that's when it hit him. Liz had come running into that hallway not long ago. To tell him that Alex was dead. His son. The apple of his eye. The only one of his children that was truly his. She had come in, he had hollered at her, and she had- She had hit him! The last thing he rememered is seeing her reach for the fireplace poker. That miserable child had hit him! With a renewed energy, and vengeance gleaming in his eyes, he raised himself off the ground and ascended the staircase.

When he got to her room, he threw open the door and stomped angrily inside. He went into her dressing area, and to the vast closet inside.

"Where are you?!" he screamed.

When he saw the clothes thrown aside and astray, his temper flared even higher. She had run away. She had hit him and run. But she would not get far. He would track her down. Once and for all, he would rid himself of her.



"Joseph!" Mr. Parker screamed, heading into the stable. Joseph leapt up from his small bed in the bedroom at the corner of the immense stable. He stumbled out into the stables, and saw a very angry Jefferey Parker holding a lantern at Vilandra's stall.

"Where is she?" He demanded.

"She's gone, sir. I came in earlier today and she was gone. I figured Miss Liz had taken her out for the evening," Joseph managed to say. He had never seen Mr. Parker so angry. He wondered what Liz had done to make her father so mad.

Jeffery turned on his heels and ran outside. Liz couldn't have gone far. Even if she had gotten very far, she doesn't know where she is going. She had never been away from home before. It would be easy to track the girl down. But it would have to wait until morning. Sunrise was in a few hours. Jefferey knew that if the went knocking in doors at this time of night, it would be all the more shocking to people. He couldn't have people figuring out why Liz had gone, even if noone around knew. He couldn't risk it. It could ruin everything he had worked so hard for. He would wait until sunrise and simply go ask questions. First stop, Evans residence. Then the Deluca home. After that, he would just go wherever he could. He was going to find Liz. And she was going to pay.



Liz turned over and saw Maria fast asleep beside her. A little ways back, she saw Max's sleeping form and felt a twitch in her heart. When she had seen Max yesterday, she hadn't been in the least bit prepared for what seeing him would do to her. It had opened up so many wounds that she had fought hard to keep hidden.

She got up and went to sit in front of the fire. They had found a small alcove in the trees near a small lake. They had stopped for the night and decided to rest there. Not only did they need to stop, but the horses needed a rest to. They had run for hours. She pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged them tightly. How she wished Alex were there. He was just what she needed to block her from the pain that her life had so often brought her. He was her escape. And now, she had noone. Just Maria. The tears started to form in her eyes, and eventually started to fall freely from her cheeks. She closed her eyes and was assaulted with the memories of Alex's death.



"Liz! I'm going to get you!" Alex said, laughing.

"Alex! Come on! I never beat you! You must be getting old!"

Liz hunched down and urged Vilandra to go faster. She snuck a look behind her and saw Alex gaining on her steadily. When she turned around, she remembered Vilandra being spooked and next thing she knew, she was flying through the air. She landed on her knees, and was standing up when Alex came running at her. It had all happened so fast. He was saying something to her and flailing his arms, but she couldn't hear him. It was like everything was going too slow. He ran to her and pushed her out of the way. She had landed on the ground, and turned to see Alex's crumpled body laying at Vilandra's feet.

"Alex?" Liz asked. "Alex? Alex answer me!" Liz cried. She reached his side and touched his hand. His body shuddered, but he didn't answer her.

"Alex?" she whispered. She touched his face and turned him over. She saw the thin trickle of blood coming from his mouth. His eyes were open, and she saw them cloud over. She sat down and put his head in her lap. "Alex, it's gonna be okay. I'm going for help."

Alex reached his hand up and brushed her cheek. "I saved you," he whispered. "I saved you."
Then he shuddered one last time. His eyes went blank and his hand fell from her cheek.

"Alex?" Liz said. "Alex! Alex!" she screamed. He wasn't answering her. "Alllllleeeeexx!" she hollered. He didn't move. Liz shook him and cried and hollered and screamed, and didn't stop until strong arms from behind grabbed her shoulders. It was the neighbor, who had heard her cries and come to see what was wrong. Silently, she stood back and cried as he looked over Alex. When he turned around, she waited for an answer, but she saw it in his eyes. Alex was dead.

"Nooooooo!" she screamed. She ran back to Alex's body and dropped to her knees. She started hitting him with her fists, soaking his shirt and her dress with her own tears. "Wake up Alex! Wake up! Right this minute!" She screamed.

The man reached out for her, but she jumped on Vilandra and ran towards home. Once she reached the house, she fell to the ground and lay there crying. How cruel had life been to her? Now the only person in the world who loved her unconditionally was gone. She stumbled up the steps into the house in search of her father.



Max turned over and was awakened by what sounded like muffled sobs. He looked towards the fire and saw her. She was curled into a ball, her head resting in her hands and her body heaving with her quiet sobs. He got up from where he was laying and walked over to her. He reached out and put his arm around her. Liz looked up, her face streaked with tears. She pushed his arm off her shoulder. He looked at her hurt and wanted to comfort her. He didn't know what was wrong with her, but he knew that she needed someone right now. Once more, he reached out and put his arm around her.

"Leave me alone Max!" she cried. She raised her arms to fight with him, but his grip tightened.
She tried to hit at his chest, but her arms were pinned by his. She tried and struggled, but her tears were blurring her vision, and she was too exhausted to fight with him. Finally, she just collapsed in his arms. She laid her head against his chest and let the sobs come freely. Max stroked her hair and just let her cry.
posted on 9-Apr-2002 6:42:37 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Maria woke up from a sound sleep and turned to find Liz gone. She turned in the direction that Max had been sleeping in, and didn't see him anywhere either. Starting to panic, Maria turned to grab a blanket to wrap in so she could go look for them when she saw them in front of the fire. She contemplated going to them but decided against it. It had been over a year since Liz and Max had last spoken. Now she was seeking comfort in his arms. It was at least a start. Maria laid back down. Part of her wanted to cry for all the pain Liz was going through. But a part of her couldn't help but want to smile at the sight of Liz and Max together again. Maria fell back to sleep with thoughts of Liz and Max.

Since the day Max and liz had stopped being friends, she had been caught in the middle. Liz had talked to her about Max from the start. She had been caught in the middle . Liz had come to her from the start, broken hearted and upset. She had, after all, lost her best friend. The friend she had grown up with. Shared her child hood with. The one person outside her family that she had thought she could count on. When he was no longer around, she had turned to Maria.

Max had been a different story. It took him a little longer to realize what he had lost. But when he finally did, he had run straight to Maria, because Liz would have nothing to do with him. Both Max and Liz had poured out their frustrations on her, and she had done her best to comfort them both. Each of them knew Maria was close to the other one, and they respected her. She had never been asked to take sides. And for that, she had respected them.

Maria had long suspected that the reason Max and Liz had been so miserable without each other was because deep down, the feelings they had for each other went way past friendship. She had voiced her opinion to each of them, and both had denied it. She never brought it up again, but the suspicions never went away. She was pretty sure she knew Max better, and she was positive she knew her cousin better. She had even once seen the ring that Liz kept hidden on the chain around her neck. And she had seen that ring before. On the finger of Diane Evans.



Liz cried for what seemed like hours, and Max just let her cry. Finally, they both drifted off to sleep, Liz resting her head on Max's chest. Sometime later, Liz woke up when Max shifted beneath her. At first, she had thought she was dreaming, but was mortified when she realized she wasn't. As quietly as she could, Liz slipped out of Max's arms and went to lay back down on her pallet. Seeing Max shiver from the loss of warmth, Liz walked over to Max's stuff, and picked up his blanket. She walked over to him and carefully covered him with the blanket. She didn't want him to wake up.

Liz stood there for a minute and looked at Max. She wasn't ready to talk to him yet. She wondered if she'd ever be. But she sure didn't want him dying of a cold from being out with nothing to keep him warm. Once again, she reached for the ring and the thin chain that held it around her neck. She touched it, and tears once again sprang to her eyes. It was the only two things she had left of the only two men she had ever loved.


When morning came, Max woke up and was surprised to find himself alone. He was sure he had remembered falling asleep with Liz. He looked over at the girls, who had just awoken themselves. He got up and stretched, and walked over to where they were standing.

"Good Morning," he said.

"Morning, Max," Maria said.

Max looked at Liz expectantly, but she just looked at him and nodded in his direction. No smile. No words. Just a nod. Trying to hide the hurt, he looked back at Maria.

"Sorry" she mouthed. Max nodded at her and turned around. Maria knew that Max wanted so badly to apologize to Liz, but she also knew that it was going to take Liz some time before she was ready to forgive him.


Liz wanted to talk to Max, but she was scared. Hurt. Angry. Embarassed. She had spent so long blaming Max for turning her away. She couldn't yet bring herself to forgive him. It had taken everything she had in her to go to him that night. She was finally going to tell him her secret. Who she was. Who she wasn't. How her father treated her. And he hadn't cared enough to listen.

Liz turned and walked off towards the lake, but Maria called to her.

"Hey, Liz wait for me. I need to wash up, change clothes."

Max headed in the direction of the lake also. Maria turned around to him.

"Max, there is a little alcove on this side of the lake," she said, pointing in one direction. "We'll go there. You stay on that side of the lake," she instructed, pointing in the other direction. "That way, we'll all be safe and noones virtue will be at risk."

Max nodded and headed off to his side of the lake to change his clothes and get washed, and Liz and Maria headed off to their side.



Isabel was eating breakfast when she heard someone pound on the front door. She made no move to answer the door, knowing the maid would get it. When she heard a commotion, she went to the front of the house to see what was going on. When she saw an outraged Jefferey Parker, she took a deep breath and went to talk to him. Isabel had never cared for Arizona Parker, but she had downright hated Jefferey. The man had an arrogance to him that made her want to attack the man. He acted as if the world had owed him something. As if he were better then everyone. But she knew better.

"What can I do for you, Mr. Parker?" Isabel asked.

"Are your parents home, child?" he asked angrily.

"First of all, I am not a child. And secondly, they are not. They have gone for the day."

"Well, then, is your brother here?"

"What reason do you have with my brother?"

"I need to know if your brother is home."

"Why do you need to know that?"

"Look, Miss Evans. My daughter is missing. She assaulted me and ran off. She has money and her horse. I believe that her cousin went with her. I need to know if your brother is here."

Isabel narrowed her eyes and looked at him. "Fine. You wait here. I will go check."

Isabel turned on her heels and headed up the starirs to her brothers room. When she got there, she knocked and received no answer. She knocked again, but still no answer. Easing open the
door, she expected to see him still asleep in his bed. She was surprised when she saw his bed empty. She ran in the room to see if he was in his dressing area. It too was empty. Worried, she turned to leave his room when she saw an envelope with her name on it on his desk. She sat down and opened it.

Isabel,
Something is wrong with Arizona. She is in trouble Maria sent for me, and I have to go. I don't know where we are going. I will be int ouch as soon as I know more. Please, don't tell anyone. I am not sure what kind of trouble it is. Please, Isabel. Do this for me.
Love Max


Isabel folded the letter up and sighed. "Max, what have you done for that girl now?" she said to herself.

She stood up and straightened her dress. She went back downstairs to where Jefferey was waiting.

"Well?" He said.

Isabel took a deep breath and held her head up. "He is still sleeping in his bed, Mr. Parker. Now if that is all," She said, motioning him back towards the door.

Jefferey glared at the girl, trying to see if he could tell whether or not the girl was lying or not. Unable to distinguish, he turned and headed out the door. Turning back at the last minute, he walked up to Isabel and pointed his finger in her face. "For your sake and your brothers, you better be telling the truth, girl."

Not flinching at all, Isabel gritted her teeth. "It would be best of you to leave his property, Mr. Parker. NOW!" she said.

Jefferey turned and walked out the door. Isabel let out a deep breath. She leaned back against the wall. She hoped she was doing the right thing. For Max, and for Arizona. Something inside told her that Jefferey Parker was dangerous, and she wouldn't wish him on anybody. Isabel had an odd feeling that he would stop at nothing to find his daughter. "Max, wherever you are, I hope you know what you've gotten yourself into," she whispered. "And you better be careful."
posted on 13-Apr-2002 10:52:06 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 5

Jeffeery Parker stormed into the front door of his home and slammed it shut behind him, causing the servant girls milling around in the front part of the house to go scurrying towards the kitchen. They knew better than to be around when Mr. Parker was mad. Because it was possible that the beatings that were inflicted on poor Arizona may one day be aimed at them.

He picked up the vase of flowers on the table at the bottom of the stairs and threw against the wall with a grunt. He laughed sarcastically as he watched the glass scatter across the floor. It had been very expensive. Probably more money than most people would spend on a piece of china. But Jefferey Parker wasn't most people. He had money. And lots of it. He could buy anything. Jewelry. China. Fine clothes. The best horses. But the one thing Jefferey Parker couldn't buy was the one thing he didn't have. A happy family. And it was all because of the girl.

And now she had run away. Left him for dead, and run. He knew that Maria had gone with her. He had gone to the Deluca home, and the servants had been instructed to keep the house clean until Ms. Deluca returned from her weekly trip in a day. Miss Maria had gone somewhere, but noone knew where. He knew, though. She was gone with his sorry excuse for a daughter. And now, he was sure she had gotten the Evans boy to go with her. He was almost positive Isabel Evans was lying. He saw her stop at the top of the steps and take a breath. Like she was getting ready for something. She was getting ready for something all right. Getting ready to lie to him about the whereabouts of her brother and his own daughter.

Jefferey made his way to the kitchen. If he was going to go after her, he needed all the strength he could muster. He had the cook make him a meal, and he ate in a hurry. Then he instructed to have some food for a couple day's packed and ready in an hour. He sent for Joseph to saddle his horse, Khivar, and he himself went upstairs to pack a bag. One hour later, he was ready to go out to the stables, when he heard it. It was raining. He threw his bag down and hit the door facing. Now he would have to wait until the rain was over. Khivar absolutely refused to run in the rain. It would be useless to take him out in it.



Dressed, changed, and having eaten some breakfast, Max, Liz, and Maria climbed on their horses and were back on their way. Max nor Maria knew where they were going, but Liz seemed to know exactly where she was going, so they followed her. Several times, Max made advances to talk with Liz, but each time, she wouldn't allow him. At first, he had been hurt, but now he was just mad. Frustrated. He was trying to apologize for being such a terrible friend, but she wasn't allowing him. And now it was making him more angry than anything.

After what seemed like about an hour, a storm had caught up with the three. Luckily, Maria had spotted what looked like a house in the trees, and they headed for it. When they got there, they saw that it was actually a small abandoned two room building with a fire place in the back room. They found what was left of an old stable and put the horsed in there to keep dry, and went back to the house. They decided to get some rest. Max tried two more times to speak to Liz, but two more times, she pushed him away. Finally, he got so frustrated that he went to sit in the front room, while Maria and Liz put pallets out in the back room and shut the door to lie down.

"Liz," Maria whispered. "He's trying. Just give him a chance."

"I can't," Liz whispered back. "I'm scared, Maria."

"Liz, he cares about you. He's your friend and he wants to apologize. Let him."

"What if I do? What if I let him back in and he hurts me again? What if he turns me away again when I need him the most? I don't know if I could take it again," Liz said. She tried to fight the tears that were welling up in her eyes.

"He won't Liz. Do you know that he dropped everything and came with us, and you wanna know why? Because he knew you were in trouble. He still cares, and he deserves an explanation. And I know that deep down, you still care too."

"No Maria, I don't," Liz said shakily.

"Well then, why do you still wear his ring around your neck?"

"Maria-how did you- I mean. I keep it hidden, how-"

"I saw it once. It slipped out of your neckline, and I saw it."

"Well, how did you know it was Max's? I never told anyone but Alex."

"I've seen it before. It belonged to Diane Evans."

Liz's eyes widened in surprise. "He gave me his mothers ring?"

"Yes he did. Because he cares, Liz. And if you don't go in there right now and talk to him, you will be making the biggest mistake of your life. Trust me, Liz. I have seen you two with each other and without. I won't make you guess which one was more pleasant."

Liz sunk down on the floor and leaned her head against the wall. Maria was right. Life had been a lot easier to deal with when Max had been a part of it. She had smiled a lot more, been happier a lot more. And now, it seemed like she was always miserable. But she knew that Max could change that. She sighed, and looked at Maria in defeat. Maria smiled at her and kissed her cheek.

"I won't wait for you," she said, knowing she had won yet another argument.

Liz stood up and walked to the door of the room where Max was. She took a deep breath, then held up her hand and knocked.



Max was sitting on an old wooden crate watching the rain through an opening in the front wall where a door had once hung. He was hurt, angry, and frustrated. Partly at himself, partly at Liz. But he was more angry than anything. He had felt so bad about what he had done her, and he had tried time and time again to apologize. What happened was in the past. Why couldn't she just leave it there? He guess it was because she was just too good for him now. Maybe Isabel was right. Arizona Parker was nothing but a snooty little rich girl. When he heard the door, he turned around, telling them to come in. He was sure it was Maria. When he saw who it was, he stood up, and couldn't help but stare. He tried to speak, but no words came out.

Liz stood in the doorway staring back. Part of her wanted to run to him. Part of her wanted to run away. She took another deep breath and stepped into the room, shutting the door behind her.

"Max, I-I just came to- I mean I just wanted to say. To tell you thanks."

"For what?"

"For last night. I really needed someone, and you were there. I was having a dream. About Alex." Liz put her head down and looked at the floor.

"Liz, I'm sorry. I-" Max took a step towards her, but her head shot up, and she stepped back from him.

Liz looked at him intently. Liz. She had waited so long to hear him say her name again. Granted, he hadn't called her Arizona. He only did that sometimes. But either way, she felt her heart speed up at the sound of his voice.

Max watched her and frowned. Was she purposely trying to play tricks on him? Coming in here to talk, then acting like she didn't want to be near him. What was wrong with her?

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I just want to apologize. To say sorry for pushing you away."

‘Great,' Max thought. ‘Now she wants to be nice to me. I mean, sure I did her wrong, and I tried to make it right, but she wouldn't have it. Now it's convenient for her, so I'm supposed to forgive and forget?'

"Yeah, sure," he said.

"Yeah sure? That's all you have to say?"

"What do you want me to say, Liz?"

"I don't know. I thought maybe you'd apologize or something," she said.

"Oh I get it. You weren't ready before, but now you are, so I'm just supposed to apologize again, cause you said so? I tried that, remember, you didn't want to talk."

"No, Max. That's not what I meant."

"Well, then what did you mean? Did you mean you just want to forget? Go back to the way things were before? When we were friends? Forget any of this ever happened?" Max said angrily.

"Liz felt the tears stinging her eyes. This was not how it was supposed to happen. He was supposed to accept her apology. She was supposed to accept his. It wasn't happening that way.

Max watched the tears spring to her eyes, and realized his anger had gotten out of control. He had gone too far. She was reaching out to him. And now he was the one pushing her away. But it was too late to turn back now.

"I've got a good idea, Liz. Why don't you talk to me? Why don't you tell me why I'm here? Why we're running? Why I just up and left to come with you? Explain that to me. Or am I not good enough for an explanation from the famous Arizona Parker?" Max asked, his voice edgy still with his anger.

Liz looked up at him as the tears fell from her eyes. She had had enough.

"You want to know why we left Max?" She screamed. "This is why!" Liz reached to her sleeves and ripped the buttons off each one, pulling them up past her elbows. She held her arms out to Max so he could see the bruised and welts that she had spent 17 years trying to hide. "You happy now, Max? How about this?" She pulled up her dress and he could see even more bruises on her long slender legs. "But you know what? If that makes you happy, then you're gonna love this one. Wanna know why Jefferey Parker beats his daughter? Because she's not really his. That'
s right, Max. I'm not really a Parker. I'm not really a Parker. Name only." Liz threw her hands up in the air.

"That what you want to hear, Max?" She continued screaming. "Cause that's why I ran away. Because I don't know who I am or where my home is. Because I don't belong anywhere. But I had to go. Because if I didn't this time, Jefferey Parker wouldn't have stopped at bruises. He would have killed me. So you see, Max, it's not that I think you're not good enough for me," Liz sobbed, "Maybe it's that I think I'm not good enough for you."

With that, Liz pushed past Max and ran out into the rain.
posted on 13-Apr-2002 6:04:44 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Whoa!! Am I on a roll, or what? I wanted to get this part out so badly. I couldn't stand Max and Liz not speaking. So, here it is. 2 parts in one day. I am so glad you guys like this story. Your feedback is awesome!! Thanks alot.

Christian

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


CHAPTER 6

Max was floored. He felt like his heart was being ripped out of his chest. He felt sick to his stomach when he had seen the bruises. His beautiful Arizona. With her flawless skin marred by those terrible marks. How could he have done this to her? Hurt her like that? Max felt every bit of anger and frustration he felt towards Liz melt away. In its place, he felt anger. Hatred and an unmistakable surge of rage. At the thought of Jefferey Parker hitting Liz. When his anger surged past, he was reminded of the pain in Liz's eyes, the heartbreak in her words, by the dull throbbing he felt at that place in his chest where he was sure his heart was supposed to be beating. All this time she had hidden it. Kept it all locked up inside of her. The death of her brother must have opened her up. He had to catch her. He had to. Turning on his heels, he ran out the door and went after her retreating figure.

Liz was running as fast as she could, but she was no match for Max. In a matter of seconds, he had caught her. He grabbed her shoulders, and they slipped in the mud and fell.

Liz pushed him backwards. "Leave me alone!" she shouted. She pushed herself back up and started to run again. Max ran after her once more.

"Liz!" he called out. "Liz! Please stop! Please! I'm sorry! Just stop!"

She kept running, but her dress caught on a tree, and once again, she tripped to the ground. Max fell to his knees at her side and reached out to her, but once again, she was fighting him.

"No,Max. Please! Leave me alone!" she cried.

"Liz! Stop it! I'm sorry Liz! I'm sorry. I din't know. If I had known, I would have- I just-"

"Why Max? Why me? Why does he hate me so much? It's not my fault. Why doesn't anyone love me?" she sobbed. She didn't wait for his answer, she just put her arms around her knees and rocked herself back and forth, crying in the pouring down rain. For the umpeenth time that day, Max felt his heart sink in his chest. He reached out and put his arms around her.

"Liz, it's gonna be okay. I am so sorry this happened to you, so sorry," he said. Max wasn't sure any more if it was rain or tears he felt running down his cheeks.

"Come on, we have to get out of the rain. We'll be sick," he said. He stood up and tried to pull Liz up with him, but her legs wouldn't hold her, and she started to tumble back to the ground. Max caught her, and scooped her small shaking body into his arms and carried her back to the cabin.

When he got to the cabin, Max walked into the front room and kicked the back door open with his foot. He came rushing into the room, and Maria jumped up.

"Omi gosh!! What's wrong? What happened? Is Liz okay? Are you okay?" Maria asked.

"Yes, Maria. She's fine. I'm fine. It's okay."

Max leaned down and put Liz on the floor. When he tried to go make a fire, Liz grabbed him when he tried to move his arms.

"No, Max. Please. Stay, don't leave me. I'm sorry. Please just don't go."

Max scooped her back up and sat down, putting her on his lap.

"Okay, Liz, I'll stay. I'm never leaving you again. I promise. I'm staying with you."

Liz put her head on Max's shoulder and wrapped her arms around her chest. For the first time in her life, Liz felt safe. As she cried, she started to shiver.

"Maria, We need a fire. Quick. She's freezing," Max said.

Maria started to build a fire in the fireplace with some wood she found in a corner. Max took off his jacket. He started to take the outer jacket from Liz's dress off, and when he did, he froze. There, hanging on a thin gold chain around her neck was the ring he had given her fro her 16th birthday. All this time she had kept it. Not only kept it, she had worn it. She had never stopped caring. And he had been so awful to her.

"Liz," he whispered in her ear. "I have to go get some dry clothes. Maria's going to stay with you. You'll be fine, okay? I'll be back."

Liz looked at him, her big brown eyes all red and swollen and nodded at him. Max felt that all too familiar pang in his chest that had come so many times in the last few minutes.

Max reached over and kissed her forehead, then put her in front of the fire. She curled up into a small ball and lay on the floor.

Max walked over to Maria. "Undress her. Keep her in front of the fire, and keep her warm."

If it had been any other situation, Maria would have flown off the handle at being ordered around. But the look in Max's eyes kept her temper from flaring. And the sight of Liz's shaking body curled up in front of the fire made her forget about being ordered instead of asked. She immediately snapped into action and started doing exactly what Max had told her.


Max ran from the small cabin to their horses in what was left of the barn. When he stepped in the door, he was greeted by Rath. The horse walked up the his master and nuzzled his head.

"Hey buddy!" Max said softly. "How ya doin? Ya wet?" Max quickly checked his horse, then Maria's and Liz's, to make sure they were al dry. Then he took their bags from the horses and ran back in.

Walking in the front, Max knocked lightly on the door.

"Here," he said opening it slightly and passing the girls bags inside. He was careful not to look. After all, he was a gentleman and Liz was a lady. He didn't want to compromise the situation.

"Ill be in here," he told Maria through the door.

Max shut the door behind him and started to change into some dry clothes. The whole time, he was berating himself for treating Liz so horribly. He couldn't imagine what she must have been going through. And now, with her brother gone, it must have gotten even worse. And he was partly to blame for it. And this whole time, she had held out hope. For him. Because she still had his ring around her neck. That was not just any ring. He could still remember the night his mother gave it to him. It had only been a week before he had given it to Liz.

*FLASHBACK*

"Max, honey, I want to give you something."

"Sure, mom what is it?" He went over to his mother and sat beside her. It was hers and his fathers anniversary, and she had been especially happy. But why was she giving him a present on her anniversary?

"When I met your father, we were only 10 years old, have I ever told you that?"

Max shook his head, so she went on. "We lived right next door to each other, and became pretty good friends. Soon, we were best friends. He gave me this ring for Christmas one year. Told me it was a friendship ring. And that I was his best friend. That was the day I realized I loved him. It was almost 5 more years before he wised up and fell in love with me too." Diane paused a moment to chuckle at the memory. "That's when he told me that he had bought the ring as an engagement ring that he was going to save until we were old enough. Can you imagine! I 15 year old boy buying an engagement ring. But he was so excited, he couldn't wait. So he told me it was a friendship ring and gave it to me. I haven't taken it off since."

Max was speechless. "Well, mother, why are you giving it to me?"

"Well, I just figured that you're getting older everyday. Soon, maybe you'll find that special girl to give it to. OR maybe you already have."

"Who are you talking about?"

"You know who I'm talking about, Max Evans. You can't fool your mother."

"Mom! Arizona is my friend! That is all!"

"If she's only your friend, then how did you know that's who I was talking about?" She asked, a twinkle in her eye.

"But mother-"

"Listen Max. It's yours. Your father gave it to me, and one day you will give it to someone special. Be it friendship or more. But this ring means a lot. It holds so much sentimental value. Make sure you don't give it to just anyone. Make sure she's special, Max. Special to your heart."


It was a week later he gave it to Arizona. He hadn't realized then how special she was.

Max was already dressed and was sitting on his milk crate when Maria came back softly into the room. She looked at Max who had his head between his knees.

"Max?" she asked quietly.

Without raising up, Max said, " Is she okay?"

"Yes. She's sleeping."

That's when Max raised his head, and Maria could see his eyes. They were swimming with emotion. Fear. Anger. Tenderness. And she saw a lone tear fall down his cheek.

"I'll kill him Maria. I'll kill him for what he's done to her."

posted on 14-Apr-2002 3:49:34 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 7

Maria wanted to cry when she saw the look on Max's face. It was so many things, she didn't know how to describe it. But she knew that she couldn't lose it. Not right now. Liz and Max had some things they needed to get out. And it was time for them to face the storm. So she knew that she had to be strong for them. Because her friends needed her. She was glad at least that the worst part seemed to be over.

"Max, don't say things you don't mean," Maria said, quietly.

"I do mean it, Maria. I do. How could he have done that? What kind of a man does that make him?" Max asked.

"One that is far less then you are. Don't bring yourself to his level, Max. You must stay above him. Let it go. Help Liz get over it. We need you. Liz needs you."

Max shook his head. "Okay. I can get past it. But Maria, he better not ever find us...If he does..."

"He won't Max. We'll run. We'll be safe. We have each other. And plenty of money. We are going to be fine."


Maria reached over and put her hand on Max's shoulder, in gesture of support. Friendship. Reassurance.

Max looked up and smiled. "Thanks."

"Anytime, Max. That's what friends are for, right? Now I'm going to go in there and get some sleep while it is still raining. You do the same, okay?"

"Yeah. I will."

Two hours later, Liz woke up and for a second couldn't remember where she was. She squinted in the darkness, and the hard floor beneath her made it all come rushing back to her. She strained her ears to see if she could hear anything, but nothing could be heard except for the soft fall of the raindrops still coming down outside. She looked at Maria, still peacefully sleeping, and went to the door. She knocked softly, but got no answer, so she opened it. She felt a slight sense of panic when she saw the room is empty. Max should have been in there. She shut the door and was going to go out and see if his horse was there, but she was startled when a cloaked figure appeared in the doorway.

When he saw Liz, he stopped. He didn't want to scare her or make her run again. He stepped into the room, and stood there not moving a muscle.

Liz watched him for a second, then noticed he was standing there, his arms full of something. She rushed over to him.

"Here, let me help," she said. She reached out to him and when his arms opened, berries spilled out all over the floor. Liz laughed at Max's embarrassed expression, and they both bent down to pick up the runaway fruit.

"Where did you find this Max?" Liz asked, putting some of the berries in her mouth.

"Saw some bushes on the way here. Went back to get some. Looks like we'll be here the night. Doesn't look like this storm's gonna pass anytime soon."

Liz stood up and eyed Max suspiciously. "Can we talk, Max?" she asked nervously.

"Of course, Liz."

"I just wanted to apologize-"

"Liz, don't," Max said. "You have nothing to apologize for. I do. I am an awful friend. I am the one who messed up here. When you came to me that night, I had no idea why. I swear, Liz. If I had known, I would have let you in that night. I am so sorry," he said.

Liz looked up at Max and could see the sincerity in his eyes. "I know you are, Max. And I accept your apology. Thank you. And I'm sorry too. For pushing you away. I know you tried to make it right, and I just wasn't ready. I should have let you apologize."

"Liz. This isn't your fault," he said. Then he turned to her and asked her the question she had known would have eventually been asked. "Why didn't you tell me, Liz?"

Liz got up and started to walk out the door. Max followed her, sensing that she was thinking about what to say. "I was ashamed, Max. I was scared that you would hate me."

Max walked over to Liz and touched her hand. "Never Liz. I wouldn't be ashamed of you. And I could never, ever hate you. You know that right?"

Liz turned to look at Max, and for the second time in the last five minutes, she was caught up by the emotion she saw swimming in his eyes. She nodded at him and looped her arm through his. She walked with him to the edge of the porch, and sat down on the top step. They had walked like that so often when they were younger. It had been so long. She continued talking as they sat down.

"My brother was a little over a year old when my mother and father had a terrible fight. It was so bad that he took off and left. It was the first time she had ever been left alone. That's when it happened. She met someone. A man. She only remembers his name. Not where he's from, why he was here, nothing. John Ray. Passing through town. He came at her weakest time. Just showed up." Liz started to cry, and Max put his arm around her shoulders. He didn't say a word, he just wanted to listen to her. "It was a mistake, Max. A mistake. And I was the result."

Liz took a deep breath and went on.

"Father came back a few days later. My mom couldn't stand it. She told him, and he was furious, but he forgave her. Nine months later, I was born. They had gone to Arizona, to start a new railroad. That's where I was born, and that's how I got my name. but he knew I wasn't his. They both did. They hadn't been together for months after their fight. He was outraged. He hated me from the start."

"Liz, when did he start umm..." Max trailed off, not sure how to put his words.

"I don't know. It's been part of my life since before I can remember. I've spent my whole life trying to hide it. The bruises. The marks. He always told me that I was a mistake. That if I told anyone who I really was that they would hate me as much as he did. And I believed him. I was scared to death that noone would love me. All I had was Alex and Maria. They knew everything. Alex was my hero. I know that there were times if Alex hadn't been there, he would've killed me."

"What about your mother?" Max asked.

"I think she turned a blind eye to it. Soon after I was born, she kinda withdrew. Started getting worse and worse. At first it was little things. She would space out, forget where she was. It got worse with time. Now, she doesn't do anything. Just sits in front of a window and looks outside. But I don't blame her. Not one bit. It's my father. She loves him. She loves me. The pressure was too much to handle. She isn't as strong as I am. Alex and I were both stronger than she was."

"Why did you run Liz? I mean, why now? After all this time?"

"I came to tell him about Alex. He went crazy. I have never been more terrified in my life. I could see fire in his eyes and feel the ice in his words. He just started hitting me. I did the only thing I could. I took the poker from the fireplace and hit him. Then I just left him there. I knew I had to be gone by the time he woke up. I went to Maria, she went to you, and here we are. I am so sorry you got mixed up in this."

"I am the one that is so sorry, Liz. I don't know what else to say. I wish I could have been there for you," Max said. Then he put his head down, and realized what he had said. "I was a terrible friend. Terrible. But all I can say is that from now on, I WILL be there. Whenever you need me. Max Evans to the rescue," he said, pausing a moment to watch the corners of Liz's mouth turn up. It had been so long since he had put a smile on her face. "Can you ever forgive me?"

"Max," Liz said. "If there's one thing I have learned from this, it's that people should be forgiven for their mistakes."

Max took a deep breath. Deep down, he already knew she would forgive him. That was just...her. "She hated you, you know."

"Who hated me?"

"Pam. She despised you. I was so infatuated with her. Before I knew it, we were engaged, and planning a wedding. It was so fast. I was so stupid, Liz. I can't believe I chose her over you. Of all people. Pam Troy is a snake in the grass. She will she snuck up on me and bit before I had a chance to run. She almost ruined my life."

"How did she almost ruin your life?"

Max took a deep breath. "Because. She almost cost me my best friend in the whole world. The most important person in my life except for family. She almost cost me you."

Liz looked at Max, her eyes sparkling. "Max Evans, we sure do have a lot of catching up to do, don't we?"

In that instant, everything between them disappeared. Two people became friends. Again. Best friends. Forigiving all the wrongs that had been done in the past.

Max couldn't help but smile back. "That we do, Arizona Parker," he said. "That we do."



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Apr-2002 4:33:42 PM ]
posted on 14-Apr-2002 4:31:22 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
bubbles It was explained in the first couple parts. Her full name is Arizona Elizabeth Parker.

Her dad hated her name, because he hated her. Liz herself always thought she wasn't worthy of such an elgant, important sounding name.

So, she just shortened her middle name, and people called her Liz.


Max called her Arizona more than anybody. She said he was the only one that was able to make her feel special when he said it.

Alex and maria did it sometimes too, and that'll be seen in some of the flashbacks. But Max was the only non family who used her real name.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Apr-2002 4:36:34 PM ]
posted on 18-Apr-2002 10:07:36 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Hey Guys! Sorry it took so long. This week has been extremely busy for me. Hope you guys like this part! And thanks for all the great FB. It really makes my day!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 8

A few hours later, it was still raining and it had gotten a lot darker. They decided to stay in the small shack until morning.

Sometime during the night, Maria woke up and noticed she was still alone in the small room. She got up quietly and went to check and make sure the Liz and Max hadn't killed each other. She walked to the door, and stopped when she hear voices. She thought she heard Liz laughing, but she couldn't be sure. She turned the doorknob and opened the door as quietly as she could. She saw Liz and Max, still on the front porch, talking and laughing quietly. Both of them had smile on their faces she hadn't seen in a long time. Smiling to herself, she shut the door and laid back down. It was about time those two kissed and made up. Then she giggle to herself and put her hand over her mouth so Liz and Max wouldn't hear her. Well, maybe they hadn't gotten to the kissing part yet, but they would soon. And if they didn't on their own, she would have to give them a little push in the right direction.


Max and Liz had been talking for about an hour. Neither one of them was surprised at the ease with which they were able to slip right back into their old friendship. It was like nothing had ever changed. They spent the time filling each other in on what had happened in their lives since they had last spoken. For the first time since he died, Liz was able to talk about Alex with a smile, no tears. She and Max were reminiscing about the time Alex had gotten them out of trouble with Isabel.

Loz closed her eyes and could remember it like it was yesterday. She was sure she was in for it. But Alex had saved the day.

FLASHBACK

"Arizona Parker! You better get back here right this minute!"

"Oh no, Max, you've got to catch me first!"

Jefferey Parker was throwing his annual Christmas Ball. Max and Liz had gotten bored at the party, and had slipped away to play hide and seek in the upstairs part of the house. When she was supposed to be hiding, Liz had slipped downstairs, which was against their made up rules, to get a cup of the dark burgundy cranberry punch. Max had caught her, and now they were running into and around the guests downstairs, Max hot on Liz's heels. Liz ran and ran, and did ‘t stop until she was stopped. By someone else's body. Whose dress was now covered in dark red stains.
Isabel's hands clenched into fists so tight, her knuckles turned white. Her breathing became ragged, and her eyes were nothing short of spewing fire as she glared back and forth between her brother and Liz. She turned to look at the stains on her dress, and the unsuccessfully hidden smiles on their faces made her even madder.

"Arizona Parker, you will pay for this! Look at my dress! It's ruined!"

"Isabel, it was an accident. She didn't mean to, we were just-"

"Max, I will deal with you when I get home! As for you- you- you- horrible child! When I tell your father, you will be in big trouble!"

"Ahem."

Isabel flipped around to see who it was, and nearly died of embarrassment. Alexander Whitman. The most sought after boy in Sheldon, probably even Texas. And he had just caught her hollering at his little sister.

"Good Evening, Miss Evans," he said, bowing slightly in her direction.

"Hello, Alex. How are you?" Isabel managed.

Alex looked at Isabel's dress, then at Max and Liz, noticing the horrified looks on their faces. They knew they were in for trouble. With a sparkle in his eye, he held his arm out to Isabel.

"I was just thinking of going out for some fresh air. It's rather stuffy in here. Care to join me, Isabel?"

Liz beamed from ear to ear when Isabel took Alex's arm. He was going to get her out of trouble!! As Alex led her down the hallway, she turned to glare once more at Liz and Max. Alex turned to say something to her, and Isabel had no choice but to save face and smile cheerfully back. Max and Liz breathed a deep sigh of relief, then had to laugh. Pretty, prissy little Miss Perfect Isabel Evans. Walking through the Parker Christmas party in a long flowing dress complete with big red spots. It was definitely a sight to see.

Max and Liz finished laughing at her and took off running once again



"That was pretty funny," Liz said. "Alex made me listen to him practicing on his guitar every night for the next week because he had talked her out of being mad at you," Liz said. Then she mad a funny face. "Now that was horrible!"

Max laughed at Liz. "He was a great guy, Liz. I'm sorry he's gone." Max said seriously.

"Me too, Max. And thank you. ?"

Max smiled at her, and put his hand on her shoulder in a show of support. She smiled back gratefully.


After a minute, Liz broke the silence. "Max, can I ask you something?"

"Yes, Liz. Of course."

"It's about Pam. It's okay if you don't want to answer. But, why didn't it work out between you two. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm glad you didn't marry her, but why didn't your plans go through?"

Max thought it was odd that the thought of Arizona being glad he didn't get married made him all giddy inside. He smiled at her. "Because, Maria beat me up one day. She fussed at me and told me that If I married her, I'd be making the biggest mistake of my life."

"Why?"

"Her nose was big." Max said, without cracking a smile.

Liz cracked up laughing. "That's why you didn't marry her?"

"Not really," Max said, smiling. " I didn't marry her because I realized my heart belonged to someone else. Someone I've loved all my life."

Liz kept a smile on her face, but inside she wanted to cry. Max loved someone else. Liz imagined her being beautiful, tall, and elegant, with blond hair, and eyes that made the men around her swoon. Kind of like Isabel.

"Oh," she said.

Max smiled. He couldn't tell her yet. She might run away from him again. And he couldn't handle that.

"Liz, where are we going? Where are we running to? What are we gonna do when we get there?"

"I don't know what we'll do, Max. But I know one thing. We're going to Dallas."

Max nodded. Dallas . Of course. She had been there once before. And it was the place Alex was named after.

"Come on," he said, standing up and offering her his hand. "We better get some sleep."

They walked inside, and Max walked Liz to the door of the small back room. He leaned over and kissed her cheek.

"Good night, Arizona," he whispered.

"Good night, Max." She watched him walk away, then she shut the door and laid down to sleep.


The next morning, Jefferey Parker rose up with a start. He had been up all night waiting for the storm to pass. He had gone over maps and marked all of the surrounding cities. He would ride to each one, checking to see if Arizona was there. Someone somewhere would know her. And three kids riding into town would definitely be noticed. She would slip up, eventually. Arizona was a smart girl. She could change her name, her appearance, anything. But she couldn't hid from him forever.

He went out to the stables and mounted his horse. He was going to find her. And she would be punished. Noone crossed Jefferey Parker and got away with it. No one.


Down the street, at the Evans home, Isabel Evans paced nervously. When her parents arrived home, they had asked about Max. Unable to lie to them, and unable to hide her nervousness, she had told them the truth. That he had left with Liz because she was in some kind of trouble. And that Maria had gone with them. When asked, she told them that she didn't know what kind of trouble she was in, but that she believed it had something to do with Jefferey Parker. Shocking her, the Evans didn't get mad. They just said a prayer for Max and his friends. And even more surprising, was the fact that Diane Evans didn't even seem surprised. It was almost like she had expected it.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 18-Apr-2002 1:52:20 PM ]
posted on 21-Apr-2002 4:44:58 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Hey Guys,

If you read Where the Road Leads, I posted the same note there. I haven't been at work, so I can't post the next part until Tuesday when I get back. Sorry to keep you guys waiting, but thanks for sticking with me.

PS--Wanna know what's in the next part? It's a little more of M,L, and M, but there is a little talk between Mama Evans and Isabel, so don't miss it!

~Christian~
posted on 23-Apr-2002 11:49:39 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 9

Knock, Knock

"Come in!"

Isabel reached for the door handle and opened the door to her mother's library.

"Isabel, darling, what's wrong? Are you ill?"

"Not really. I'm just well, I guess I'm a little confused."

"What about?"

"It's about Max. And Liz. When I told you and dad yesterday, you didn't seem as surprised as he did. You were actually rather calm about it. And to think I debated telling you. Did you know about this little trip?"

Diane Evans smiled at her daughter. "Of course not. I knew nothing about the trip. But you are right. I am not surprised."

"I don't understand."

"Liz Parker is a very special girl. She has a presence about her that pulls people in. It pulled our Max in the first day they met all those years ago. When they were just children. I saw it before they did. He loves her. "

"How did you know?" Isabel asked, still quite confused.

"Call it a mother's intuition. I could tell by the way they look at each other. Those two share something that will never change. Not even with your brother's engagement and wedding plans. You see where he ended up don't you? Right where he started. With Liz. Those two share something rare. Max would do anything for her. And I could tell that one day, she would ask for his help."

"What kind of help?"

"I'm not quite sure. But there is much more to Arizona Parker than you or I could ever know. Her life isn't all that it seems. Her eyes give her away. Somewhere deep down inside of her is a very sad girl. And I knew that one day, Max would help her through whatever it was that made her so sad. Looks like I was right."

"Mother, What do you think it is?"

"Isabel, I can't say for sure. But I believe it has something to do with her father. I don't trust the man as far as I can throw him. He too has a presence about him. But his does not pull you in. It makes you want to run as fast as you can in the other direction."

"He's evil. He's a heartless man, and I never have liked him. I wish we knew what it was she was running from."

"I have a very bad feeling. Isabel, did you ever notice that she always wore long sleeves? Even in the summertime. It would be the hottest day of the year out, and she would have on long sleeves. I saw her once. In the fields by the lake. She was crying, and her face was red, and she looked like she'd been, well, like she'd been hit."

"Mother!" Isabel said, her eyes filling up with tears. "You don't think he-he hurts her? We have to go after them. We have to save them from Jefferey!" Isabel could feel all the dislike and jealousy she felt towards Liz slipping away. In its place was sorrow. Guilt. Fear. For the first time in her life, Isabel was scared about the well being of Arizona Parker.

Diane Evans reached over and grabbed her daughter into a hug. "It's okay, Isabel. They will be all right. All of them. I have faith in your brother. Love can make people do funny things. It can make them stronger than they ever imagined. And I believe the love that your brother feels for that girl is strong enough to move mountains. Jefferey Parker doesn't stand a chance against it."






When Liz woke up, she felt like she had slept better then she had in a long time. She was happy, and woke up with a smile on her face. Maria was already up, and was looking at Liz with a smug look on her face.

"What?" Liz asked.
"So, I woke up in the middle of the night, and I saw you and Max attached at the hip out there on that porch. And by the smile I see that's blinding my eyes, I take it somebody had a good time last night?"

"You got me. We talked. A lot. We got some things straight. We're okay, now."

"So," Maria asked. "Did he profess his undying love to you yet?"

Liz looked at Maria with a funny look, and all the suspicions Maria had been harboring were true. She had feelings for Max. Maria was instantly sorry she had said anything when she saw Liz's eyes all but cloud over with tears.

"Liz, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you."

"It's okay, Maria. You didn't. But I can tell you. He doesn't love me, Maria," Liz said, her voice breaking. "I am so in love with him it hurts. Have been for so long. And he loves someone else. I waited to long. I should have told him."

Maria sighed. So Max must have told her there was someone else. Who in the world could it be? Since he and Liz stopped being friends, the only person she had ever seen him with when he wasn't with her was his sister. In fact, she had never seen with another girl at all. There was something going on here. And she was more than willing to bet that Max wasn't telling the whole truth. She would get to the bottom of it.

"Liz, no tears, you hear? We will settle this Max thing. I don't want you crying over him, okay? Just be friends. You two deserve that much!"

Liz smiled at her cousin. IT was going to be difficult to be sad around Maria. She was way to bossy to let anyone be unhappy. And if you weren't happy after a some time with her, you would at least be so mad at her for being so bossy that you would forget about not being happy.

When Maria and Liz knocked on the door, they got no answer. They wanted to find a place to wash up, and they didn't want to get into the room and catch Max in an embarassing situation. They opened the door, and saw that Max wasn't there. He must be up already. They went outside, and walked around in the woods until they found a small stream that looked barely more than a trickle. They decided it was better than nothing, and used it to clean themselves up and walked back to the shack. When they got there, Max had the horses out of the barn and ready to go. He had packed the girls things and tied them to their horses.

Max heard the girls walk up behind him. "Hey, you two," he said. "I was about to come looking for you. I went to get some breakfast. Help yourself," he said, motioning to a sack sitting on the porch.

When Liz opened, she looked at Max excitedly. "Max Evans! Where did you get fresh croissants? And there is bacon in here! Where did you go?"

"I was looking for some fruit this morning, near the road a little ways back when a man came through on his way out of town. I told him my father and I had gotten lost, and that we didn't have any food. He sold me some, then gave me directions to the nearest town."

Maria and Liz ate breakfast, then got ready to leave. They all got onto their horses and started off down the road. They made sure to stay in the treeline so that if anyone came by, they could hide quickly if needed. They had only been gone for a few days. But already, having known each other practically all their lives, having such strong bonds of friendship between them, and the fact that they had been together 24/7 since they left Sheldon made the trip an easy one. They were able to travel with no words, making the going a lot faster. If whoever was in the lead got tired, someone else would simply step their horse up, and take their place. It wasn't long before they reached the town the man Max had met was talking about.

They three friends looked at each other, and wondered what to do now.

"I think we should stay a while. At least a day. We are all exhausted. We need some good rest. In a bed. Some good food. We can't keep going non stop."

Max and Maria looked at Liz. Both of them had wanted to suggest staying, but neither one of them wanted to suggest it if it would make Liz uncomfortable. They wanted her to feel safe, and she felt she had to keep running, then they would. But Liz was the one that wanted to stay.

"Liz, are you sure?" Max asked.

"Yes. I'm sure. I want to stay. But please, we have to be careful. We can't say anything. Someone here might know me."

"We'll be careful," Maria said. "And we won't separate. For anything."

Maria and Liz turned their horses to follow Max into town.

posted on 25-Apr-2002 2:49:51 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 10

As they rode into the town, Liz riding between Maria and Max, all three teenagers were swirling with emotion inside.

Max was being very cautious. He wasn't sure about staying in town overnight, with them only being a couple days ride from Sheldon. But they had passed several towns since leaving home, and surely noone here would know them. All he wanted to do was make sure Maria and especially Liz were safe.

Liz was terrified. She knew that she had to get some rest. And if their poor horses didn't get a full days rest, they might give out on them. She was scared to death that someone here would recognize her. She wasn't sure if she was far enough away from home. But at least she had Maria. And Max. And that was her only source of comfort.

Maria was nothing but angry. She could see the rigidness in Liz's posture and knew that she was scared. And she could be nothing but angry at Jefferey Parker for forcing her into this position, and for putting fear into the life of her cousin.

As the townspeople watched, they saw three teenagers riding into town in the middle of the day. Nothing unusual. This town caught a lot of passers-through. It was, after all, the last big town before Dallas. Nothing but small towns and woods and plains until then. But the really odd thing about them was what they were wearing. They weren't your run of the mill average wanderers. These kids were dressed like they were worth millions. And people like that don't just come through Summit City.

As he stepped outside for some fresh air, Michael Guerin was transifxed by what he saw before him. There was a man riding through town being followed by two women he had never seen. One of them, looking vaguely familiar, had long dark hair and deep brown eyes. She held her head high and her back tall as if she was someone of importance. Her dress was a pale yellow color, with lace adorning every edge. The had that was resting on her back looked as if it had been made to match perfectly. She looked prim and proper. She looked like royalty.

But what really caught his eye was the flaxen-haired beauty that followed her. She was following the girl closely and kept looking around her as if she was mad. Actually, she did look mad. She had a permanent frown on her face. But her eyes. They were absolutely gorgeous. She was wearing a dress of a deep jade color. It had lace the very same color adorning every edge, and it looked almost like the one her friend was wearing, but it wasn't nearly as expensive looking. But it was still expensive. Her eyes seemed to match the color perfectly. They were green and large and sparkling. Suddenly, he felt the urge to get closer to her. To look at her eyes from right in front of her. He could only hope that they were staying in town.

As she rode, Maria noticed a figure step outside. She couldn't see much about him, the brim of his hat was hiding his eyes. He was tall and slender, muscular, with blond hair that was sort of shaggy and long. She could tell by his posture that he was watching her. She looked at him and frowned. ‘Did he recognize Liz?' She tried to read his face, but was unable to read anything in the shadow of his hat. She made a mental note to watch him and see what he would do.


Max stopped his horse in front of the Inn, and hopped to the ground. As Liz and Maria did the same, he walked to each one and helped them down. Together, they walked to edge of the building and stopped to look around. By now, most everyone had gone back to their daily business. The excitement was over. Three rich-looking people were in town. There was nothing more to know or see.

"I'll go in. Two rooms. One for me, one for you two. But I will be right next door. If anything happens, I'll be right there," Max said.

"It's okay, Max. I think we can let down our guard a little. I don't think anyone here recognizes me. We're gonna be fine," Liz said, offering him a reassuring smile. Max looked around again, then went inside.

Maria watched Liz. It was a wonder what being away from Sheldon and Jefferey had done for Liz. She looked different. She looked well, alive. "So, I am starved. And I want some real food. I sure hope there is somewhere to buy a good meal around here!" Maria said.

Liz smiled. "You know, Maria, I didn't notice until now, but I am starved too. Let's look around and see if we can find a place."



Michael watched the two girls intently. That dark headed one. What was it about her? Something was so familiar, and it was tugging at the back of his mind. He thought about all the places he had been in the last few months. He had been to more cities than he could imagine. And he never stayed in one place for long. He had always gotten bored with the people. With the surroundings. He wasn't sure what, but he hadn't found that special thing that make him settle down and stay in one place. He tried to think if the was one of the many girls he had been with. Then shook the thought off. She was dressed way too neat and proper to have ever been in any of the places he had ever met his girls. Then he tried to think if he had ever met her at one of the train stations. He had met many people at the different stations he had visited, trying to get questions answered, and find new towns to visit. Nope. He didn't know here from the train stations either. But why did he picture her at a train? She was wearing pale blue dress. Her hair was up on the top of her head. She was with a boy and a man. Then it hit him. She had been with Jefferey Parker the day he had christened his new Railroad in Sheldon. That girl was none other than Arizona Parker. Daughter of the richest man in America. What in the world was she doing in a place like Summit City? What would have made her run from all that money?

As Maria and Liz turned to walk to the other side of the building, they were stopped by a very large body.

Maria looked up and narrowed her eyes. It was the cowboy that had been staring at her. Instinctively, she reached for Liz and stepped up in front of her.

"How do you do," Michael said, tipping his hat off his head at the two girls.

Maria was about to say something rude, when the man took of his hat. She had never seen anyone like him. He was tall, and had brooding dark eyes and blond unkept hair. He was rugged and rough looking, but somehow, he was the best looking thing she had ever laid eyes on. She felt herself blushing under his intense scrutiny, and tried to shake the funny feeling she had in the pit of her stomach.

"Good day to you too," she said.

"What brings you two ladies to Summit City?" he asked. "Not a lot around here but mines and prairie. You girls don't look like miners or farmers."

"We are simply passing through," Maria said.

"Passing through, are you. Passing through to where?"

"I don't think that concerns you at all," Maria said.

Liz watched Maria interact with the man and raised an eyebrow. Somehow, she had a feeling that this man wasn't dangerous. She didn't know what it was about him, but he seemed like someone who she may have been friends with had the situation been different. And now, she was sure Maria would have been friends with him. Not one man in Sheldon had ever made Maria blush. After a few words, Maria was all but shaking with nervousness.

Max walked back out side, and eyed Michael with suspiciousness. "Who's that?" he whispered to Liz.

"Not sure yet, but he's harmless," Liz said.

"How do you know?"

"I'm not sure. It's just a feeling, I guess."

"Well, come on girls," Max said, taking Liz by one arm, and grabbing Maria with the other. "I believe we better find something to eat."

"That man is wretched. I am glad we won't be after tomorrow," Maria said stubbornly.

"What is wrong with that man?" Liz asked. "He seemed harmless enough."

"Harmless? He kept asking me questions. And expected me to answer. Then when I would ask him something, he would just ask me something else. And to think! He asked me if he could take me to dinner!! He doesn't even know me! What kind of a girl does he think I am?"

Liz smiled. Yep. Maybe it was good that they weren't staying here for good. Because whoever that man was, he was already starting to get to Maria DeLuca.
Max, Liz, and Maria went into the small restaurant inside the Inn. They ordered food and were eating when Liz noticed a woman in the corner of the room staring at her. She couldn't even hardly eat, the woman was making her so nervous.

"What's wrong, Liz?" Max asked. "You've hardly touched your food?"

"I can't eat right now, I just, I feel weird."

"Weird how?" Maria asked.

"Weird because that woman over there keeps staring at me. What if she recognizes me?"

Max and Maria turned around just in time to see the woman get up from her seat and come to their table. What she said next made Liz nearly faint.

"Oh my goodness, it is you!"

"Excuse me?" Max asked.

The woman looked at Liz. "Arizona Parker, I would know you anywhere!"
posted on 29-Apr-2002 2:56:39 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 11

Watching from a corner table in the restaurant, Michael watched as the emotions played across Arizona's face when she was recognized. The girl was scared to death. Helpless. He watched as the three people exchanged panicked looks with one another, without uttering a word.

"What's wrong dear? Arizona! What are you doing so far away from home? Is your father here?" The woman turned to look around the restaurant to see if she spotted Jefferey's face.

"I-I'm sorry, you must have me confused with someone else," Liz managed to stutter.

"Don't be silly! I organized the opening of your father's railroad in Sheldon, surely you remember me!"

Again, with the the mention of her father's name, Michael watched as Arizona stiffened in her seat. He could have sworn that the girl was terrified at the mention of her father. He couldn't stop watching the scene unfold before him. He was transfixed by the girl with the golden blonde hair and was filled with interest at the way that Arizona seemed to be running from something. Or rather someone. Again, he watched as the lady attempted to talk to the three teenagers, but again, they just looked back and forth, panic written all over their faces. He realized that if her friends were willing to run with her and protect her by keeping quiet, then it must be something terrible that she is running from. When he saw Arizona start to shake, he decided to take action. He saw a girl that needed help. And she was clearly terrified at the thought of someone finding out who she was. With only one idea in his head, Michael stood up from his table and went to where the three teenagers were sitting.

"It is you, isn't it? I mean, you are Arizona Parker, right?" The woman tried again to get the girl to tell her who she was.

"No, I'm sorry, she's not, I mean, her name is-" Maria stopped short as she noticed the buy she had spoken to earlier walk up to the table and reach down to grab Liz in a big bear hug.

"Susie!" Michael exclaimed walking over to the table. He watched as the three teenager's faces looked up at him, registering cautiousness. With his eyes, he tried to tell them it was okay. He wasn't sure if they noticed. "Give your old cousin a big hug!"

Michael put his arms around Liz's shoulders and hugged her tightly. "It's okay. I want to help. My name is Michael," he whispered into Liz's ear. He felt Liz's body momentarily relax, then tighten up again. He knew she was figuring out whether or not to trust him.

The woman looked on in confusion as Michael hugged Liz. She waited for Liz's response.

Liz saw the woman watching her intently from the corner of her eyes. She snuck a glance at Max and Maria, both of whom looked completely helpless, glancing between Liz and Michael and the woman standing at the table. Breathing in deep, and making a split-moment decision, Liz decided that whether she could trust him or not, Michael was her way out of this situation. And she wasn't going to pass it up.

"Michael!" she said, standing up and hugging him around the neck. "I can't believe it's you! It's been a couple years, at least!"

Michael and Liz pulled away from each other, and looked at the woman, still watching them with a confused look on her face.

"Well, who's this? Susie, do you have a boyfriend?" Michael asked, gesturing towards Max.

Max's face turned a deep red. "Hi, I'm uh...Susie's friend. Johnny. And this is my cousin, Mary," Max said, standing up. If Liz was playing along, then he could too. For her.

Max shook Michael's hand, and Maria stood up. Michael took her hand and kissed it. He smiled when he saw her blush furiously. "Nice to meet you two. Any friend of Susie's is a friend of mine," Michael said.

"Then, you are not, Arizona Parker?" The woman asked. She was almost certain this was the richest girl in America.

"Miss, meet Susie Williams, my cousin," Michael said, nodding at the lady.

Liz turned to look at the woman, and let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding when the woman uttered a sincere apology, and walked away from the table.

"Who are you?" Max asked Michael as soon as the woman was out of ear shot.

Michael smiled at Max, despite the glare being returned in his direction. "Just smile back, she might still be watching. Let's go out side," he said, taking Liz by the arm and heading out the door. Max was hot on their heels, Maria close behind.

When they got outside, Max, Liz and Maria followed Michael as he walked behind the building they had just walked out of.

As soon as they were behind the building, and out of sight of anyone else, Max grabbed Liz and pulled her protectively behind her.

"Who are you?" Max asked. "What do you want?"

"My name is Michael. Michael Guerin. And I don't want anything. I saw you needed help in there. You didn't want that lady to know her true identity," he pointed at Liz as he spoke. "I saw the fear in her eyes, and wanted to help. I'm sorry if I alarmed you."

"You know who I am. How? Why did you help us back there?" Liz asked. She came from behind Max and stood just in front of him, facing Michael. Her eyes were wide with curiousity. Somehow, she knew she could trust him.

"I recognized you when you came into town. But I figured you were in trouble. I mean, you had to be to be running. And you look so scared. I figured that if you had friends helping you run, then it must be important."

"Well, why? Why didn't you tell them who I was?" she asked.

"Because, Ms. Parker. I too have run from trouble in my life before. But I never had anyone to help me. And I've had to pay for it the hard way."

Liz felt Max start to step forward behind her, and she turned to him. "It's okay, Max. We can trust him. Michael is our friend."

"Liz, you don't know anything about him!" Maria whispered. "He might be like some ruthless outlaw out to get your money, or worse yet, he might be after our innnocence!" she said. She glared when she heard Michael snicker after overhearing her words.

"I just know, you guys. He helped us out back there. He's safe."

Max looked from Liz to Michael, to Maria and back again. She was right. He felt that this man was of no harm to them. He had barely known them ten minutes, and he had already lied for them. He stuck his hand out the Michael.

"Michael Guerin, I'm Max Evans," he said. Michael smiled and shook his hand. Then he turned to Maria.

Still miffed at how rude he was to her earlier, Maria just said her name and made no move to greet him. "Maria Deluca."

"Nice to meet you, Miss," Michael said, sweeping his hat off of his head. He bowed in Maria's direction, and Liz watched, amused, as a bright red blush swept over Maria's face.

"So, what do we do now?" Max asked.

"Leave."

Max, Liz and Maria all turned to face Michael. "What?" Max asked.

"Leave. Look, I won't ask questions, but that woman you were talking to has a mouth that runs faster than a horse. She will be talking in no time about you three. She might put two and two together. If you leave, she may just forget about it. It's not safe for you to stay here."

"Right. Well, then, we'll have to go," Max said. Liz and Maria nodded their heads in agreement.

"There's just one thing. I want to come with you."

"No," Max said.

"I will follow you out of this town, whether you like it or not, it would be best for you to like it. I know this part of the state by memory. I have traveled it for the last few years. I can take you where you need to go. I have spent my life moving from place to place. You three are the first people I have met that I feel I can be friends with. I can help you."

Max thought about it, and turned to Liz and Maria. Clearly, they were looking at him waiting for him to make a decision. He saw that Liz had already accepted him, and that Maria was going to do whatever Liz did. He felt he had no choice.

"Fine, you can come along. But if we have any trouble, then you are on your own," Max said.

"Agreed."

One hour later, the four teenagers were making their way out of Summit City.

~~~~~~~~~~~

All righty, peeps. Next part: Read Ch. 12 of Chasing Arizona to find out what Jefferey Parker finds on his first stop in the search for Arizona.
posted on 3-May-2002 4:17:39 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 12

Jefferey Parker made one stop on his way out of town. Leaving his horse at the post out front, he stopped in front of the saloon and pulled his hat over his face. After all, he did have a reputation to protect. Jefferey Parker would not be seen in a place like this, and he wasn't about to start now. Not if he could help it. But desperate times called for desperate measures. If Arizona Parker wasn't found and taken care of, his reputation would be gone, anyway. This was definitely a desperate time.

He pushed open the door and walked in. A few faces turned to see who it was coming in, but noone noticed him and went back to their own business. Scanning the faces, he found the one he was looking for. One he knew all too well. He walked over and sat down.

"I think you need to step outside, Sir," he said.

"And I think you need to leave me alone, and get back to your own business."


"Get up, and follow me outside," Jefferey said gruffly.

"Who do you think you are, coming in here and ordering me around?"

Jefferey reached up and tipped his hat just enough for the person to see his eyes. Then he got up and walked out, sure that the man would follow him.

As soon as they stepped out side, Jefferey turned to man. "We are taking a trip. We leave in ten minutes," he said.

"I'm not going anywhere with you."

Jefferey grabbed the man and threw him against the building. Holding him by the collar, Jefferey spoke through clenched teeth. "Nicholas, I have been keeping you out of jail for the past three years. You will go with me, or our little deal is off."

"I'll expose your little secret. Did you forget about that daughter of yours belonging to someone else? Because I am sure if I told people they would be-"

"Listen to me, you twit. She has run away, and my name is in danger of being blemished. If I don't find her soon, people will know anyway. If you don't help me, you lose too. If you go, then we can find her, and you will continue to be paid for your silence. It's your choice."

Nicholas rubbed his neck when Jefferey let go of him. He watched the anger in his captor's face. He had no choice but to go. When he had found out about Jefferey's secret by accident, he had used it to his advantage. He had black mailed him for money. And up until now, it had worked. But if his secret got out anyway, he would lose too.

"Fine. I'll go. Where?" Nicholas said.

Jefferey showed Nicholas a map where he had marked the largest towns surrounding Sheldon. They headed out of town, unbeknownst to them, in the opposite direction Liz and her friends had gone.

Four hours later, Nicholas and Jefferey arrived in Chelsea, Texas. They went first to the Sheriff. Showing him a picture,they told him that she had runaway, and that they had wanted to find her and bring her home. They were worried about her. The sheriff had told them he hadn't seen her, but had told them they were welcome to ask around town. Eager to help out the famous Jefferey Parker, the Sheriff offered to help.

One hour later, after asking several of the townspeople and showing it to people at the different business, Jefferey and Nicholas left town. Jefferey was furious that they had found nothing. Heading to the next town to the North East, Jefferey let his anger cool down. They better find her soon. Before she told someone who she was. Or worse yet, why she was running.




Max and Michael rode ahead, Liz and Maria following behind them. Liz had said she was tired, and Michael was leading them to a place where they could stay the night. Maria and Liz were chatting happily, but Max and Michael rode in silence.

Michael and Max were each dying with questions to ask the other one. Michael didn't ask because he didn't want to pry, and Max didn't ask because he wasn't sure where to start. Finally, Max spoke.

"So, where are you taking us?" he asked. He wasn't sure how, but he had a feeling the Michael could be trusted.

"There's a cave, doesn't lead anywhere but a dead end, just outside of town. Off the road, and well hidden. We can stay there safely for the night."

"How do you know about it?" Max asked.

Michael looked over at Max. He could tell that Max was worried about the girls safety. He felt a tad bit jealous. He had never had friends before. Moving around so much, you don't get to know people. But he guessed it was his own fault, after all, it was always because he got bored with people that he had moved. How was he going to get to know anyone if he always got bored of them? Turning his attentions back to Max, his curiousity skyrocketed. He wondered what had made them run, and what would have made Max so protective over them. He wanted to ask, but he could tell none of them wanted to talk about it. Somehow, though, he felt at home with these three. He wanted to help them, though he didn't know how, but he was willing to wait until they were ready to talk.

"I like to know my surroundings. I was out here one day, just looking around, and came upon it purely by chance. But don't worry, noone can see it. And I'm pretty sure noone else ever goes there. Noone will find you."

Max took a deep breath. "Thank you, Michael. For what you did back there. Thanks for helping us."

"It's okay. Glad to do it," Micheal said, tipping his hat.

Thirty minutes later, as the sun was going down, everyone laid down to sleep. The girls laid near the back of the cave, pallets right next to each other. The boys laid near the front, in case anyone found them.

Sometime during the middle of night, Max jerked awake. He was sweating, and breaths were coming ragged and heavy. He had a nightmare. He closed his eyes, and tried to calm himself, but the images from his nightmare came flooding back to him.

He had dreamed about the night he had pushed Liz away. He saw her run from his house, tears streaming down her face. He saw her go in her own house. And then he saw Jefferey. Grab Liz and slap her across the face. Hollering onbscenities at her and jerking her around. He saw Liz being thrown to the floor, begging Jefferey to stop. He saw Jefferey hit Liz again, and this time when he saw Liz's face, it was blood, not tears, running down her cheek.

That's when he had woken up. He had almost screamed in pain, as if he himself was being hit, and he looked around to make sure that noone had heard him. Michael was still sleeping across the ground from him, and Liz and Maria were still sleeping side by side. Needing some air, Max went outside, and sat against a rock, staring at the stars.

It wasn't until he got outside that he realized he was crying. Suddenly, it hit him. He had let Liz down when she had needed him most. She had come to him for help, the one person she had thought she could count on, and he had thrown her away like she was nothing. What kind of a friend did that make him?

He put his head between his hands and sighed. How could he have ever blamed Liz for not letting him apologize. Truth be known, if the roles were reversed, he probably still wouldn't have forgiven her. He had committed the ultimate betrayal in a friendship. He had pushed her aside when he'd thought he didn't need her any longer. When the going got rough, and she came to him for help, he had shut the door in her face. It was that night Liz Parker changed. The little sparkle of light that she had been able to muster up in her eyes disappeared. And he had been responsible for snuffing it out. A single sob escaped from his lips before he could stop it. He waited to see if anyone had heard him, and when noone came, he let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

Max felt his heart constrict in his chest. He was in love with Arizona Parker. And after the way he had treated her, how could he ever expect her to love him back? How would she ever be able to fully trust him again? How much pain had he caused her? Jefferey Parker had wreaked havoc on his body. With his hands. His temper. He, himself had wreaked havoc on her emotions. Her soul. With his words. With his actions.

Getting up and stretching his arms, Max wiped his face and headed into the cave. He had caused Liz so much pain. But he swore to himself he would spend the rest of his life protecting her. Never again would he be the cause of hurt in her eyes. He had let Liz down in a way that had hurt her to the core. And he would spend the rest of his life making up for it.

Walking into the cave, Max walked over to where Liz and Maria were sleeping. He watched her for the longest time, asking himself over and over how he could have been so cruel. She looked so young and innocent in her sleep. Like she didn't have a care in the world. But he knew better. There was a lot more to Arizona than meets the eye.

Sighing, Max stood up and walked over to where his pallet lay at the entrance to the cave. He picked it up and walked back towards where Liz and Maria slept. Placing his palled on the other side of Liz, but not to close, Max laid down and closed hie eyes. He felt he needed to be close to her. Just in case she needed him. He wanted to be there for her. Never again would he leave her side.


posted on 7-May-2002 6:33:34 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 13

Waking up the next morning, Liz was surprised to see Max on the ground a few feet away from where she was sleeping. At first, she thought something was wrong. She was going to wake him up and ask him if everything was OK, but decided against it. After all, Michael was still sleeping at the mouth of the cave, and Maria was still beside her. If anything had happened, she knew they would have woken her up. Liz turned around to say something to Maria, and was not surprised to find her already awake. She was laying down, her chin propped on her hands, staring at Michael's sleeping form with a serious look on her face.

"Ahem"

Maria turned to see her cousin awake. "Liz! Thank goodness you are awake! I have been up for some time, now and because I couldn't sleep, I have been bored out of my mind!"

"Yeah, well at least you had some scenery to admire," Liz said, nodding her head in Michael's direction.

Maria pretended not to hear Liz, but she couldn't hide the blush creeping up her neck. "Let's go, Liz. I want to find a place to change clothes."

Liz smiled and got up to get her bags. Then she followed Maria out of the cave. They found a small clearing in the trees near the backside of the cave. They decided to change there.

"You know," Maria said. "The next place we stop better have a lake, or a river, or at least a really big puddle close by."

"Why is that, Maria, you want to go swimming or something?"

"No, but I need to wash my clothes. Whatever will people think when they see me in dirty dresses!"

"Are you worried about people, or a certain shaggy haired, cowboy tagalong we picked up?"

"Liz Parker! I can't believe you said that! I was not thinking of Michael Guerin!"

"I saw you watching him this morning. Watching him sleep."

"I was not!" Maria said, a little too loud and too fast to convince Liz. "I was just sizing him up. You know, making sure he's trustworthy."

"Sure you were, Maria. Sizing him up."

"Liz, don't even start teasing me about him."

"Who said I was going to tease you?"

"I know you. Everytime I find a guy that I think is even remotely attractive, you start teasing me mercilessly about him, and you better-"

"Aha! So you do admit you think he's attractive. The rest is only a matter of time."

Maria sighed. "Fine. If I say he's attractive, will you leave me alone?"

"Yes, I will," Liz said, a smirk on her face.

"Okay, so he's attractive, but that is it! I don't even know the boy, for heaven's sake!"




Max woke up, and looked to see Maria and Liz gone. When he saw their bags gone, but their horses still there, he knew they had just gone to change clothes somewhere. He got up to stretch, and noticed Michael was waking up also. Max walked up to the front of the cave.

"So, Michael, what made you want to come with us?" Max decided he might as well try to get to know him. Looked like they were kind of stuck together.

"I always have moved around. I get bored. With towns, the people, everything. I have never had any real friends. You three seem like the type that I would be friends with, if I had any. Figured it might be fun to travel with people this time."

"Don't you have family? Parents? Siblings?" Max asked.

"Just me. Been on my own since I was 13. My parents died in fire. Been just me ever since. What about you?"

"I have a sister. Isabel. She's a year older than me. It's just me and her. We live with our parents. In Sheldon."

"You guys get along?"

"Me and Is? Sure. We didn't when we were younger, but we're a lot better now."

"Well, why'd you leave? If you have a family, a nice place to stay. Why go?"

"Because, Liz needed me. I had to help her."

"So, you just left? Because she asked you to?"

"Yeah, I did. I'd do anything for her. All she has to do is ask. I owe her that much."

"Max, why is she running? I mean, she's the richest girl in America. Why run?"

"I can't tell you that, Michael. It's Liz's place to tell you. Maybe she will, maybe she won't. But I can't."

Michael nodded his head. "I respect that. She's very lucky. To have friends like you and Maria. That would help her when she needs it."

"Well, I think it's the other way around. I think I'm lucky to have her as a friend."

"Can I ask you something, Max? Tell me if I'm overstepping my bounds here."

Max smiled. He knew what was coming next. "It's about Maria?"

"It's that obivous?" Michael asked. "I've never met anyone like her. She's like, a little angel, or something. Well I mean, she looks like one. The way she acts is a different story."

Max laughed, in spite of himself. He was positive he and Michael were going to get along just fine. "Well, Maria is Maria. She's feisty. She's cute, she's independent, and don't even thin about arguing with her. Because, take it from experience. You will not win."

"Sounds like my kind of girl," Michael said. "I think I'm gonna get to know her better."

"Good luck," Max said. "Just don't try to take her food, and you'll be fine."

Michael smiled. He was beginning to like this guy.

Max and Michael had already changed clothes and were saddling the horses when the girls came back. Michael went immediately to Maria and took her bag from her. Maria was very surprised, to say the least.

"Thank you," she said. She watched as Michael tied it to her horse, then helped her up. She nodded at him, and blushed when he tipped his hat and winked at her.

Liz and Max watched Maria and Michael with interest.

"She likes him," Liz whispered.

"Did she say that?"

"Nope. Didn't have to. I can tell."

"Well, then it's only a matter of time, Michael thinks she's the prettiest girl he's ever seen."

Liz giggled. "This ought to be fun. Maria hasn't liked anyone since that Pierce boy in the 8th grade. Poor boy, he turned her down, and she beat him up."

"Well, I think she's got her work cut out for her with this one. And he does too."

Liz smiled at Max, then dug her heels into Vilandra's side. Liz laughed out loud when Vilandra took off. She looked back over her shoulder.

"C'mon, Max. I'll race you to the edge of the woods!"

Maria took off after Liz, leaving a stunned Max and Michael behind. Michael and Max looked at each other, and without a word, took off after the girls.
posted on 8-May-2002 3:58:30 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 14

By sunset that evening, they found themselves approaching a small town. Michael told them that it was the town of Clemenceau, he had been through it once, on his way to Dallas.

As they got closer, they could see that there were people everywhere, and that the whole town was lit up. They could hear the notes of fast paced waltzing music drifting out to their ears.

"Are they having a party?" Liz asked.

"That's what it looks like," Maria said. "I wonder what for?"

"I don't care what for. Let's go join in the celebration. It looks like fun to me," Michael said.

"Yes! A great idea," Maria agreed.

"Umm. I don't think that's such a good idea," Max said. "What if someone recognizes us? Or you?" he asked Liz.

"Max, lighten up. We are hundreds of miles from Sheldon, and there must be at least a hundred people there. We can blend in easily."

Max looked from Liz, Maria and Michael to the crowd of people, and back. It did look like fun.

"Okay," he said reluctantly. "But don't get too far separated. Just in case."

Maria clapped her hands together, then took off in the direction of the crowd. Just outside, they got off their horses and headed into the crowd.

Maria grabbed Liz's arm, and led her straight into the middle of the people. A man came up to the girls and gave each of them a flower to wear in their hair. "Welcome to Clemenceau's 30th Birthday Celebration, enjoy yourselves!" he said. Maria squealed in delight, and led Liz to the group of people. She wanted to dance.

In the middle of the crowd, Maria and Liz grabbed each other, and started waltzing around to the beat of the music.

Twenty minutes later, Maria and Liz laughing and out of breath, walked to a refreshment table where there was lemonade and cookies. After getting something to eat and drink, they decided to look for Max and Michael.

Searching through the crowd, they were unable to find their friends. They circled back around to look again, when Liz spotted Michael standing against a building. He was wathcing something, and Liz's eyes followed in the same direction. What she saw sprung tears to her eyes.

Max was there, walking arm in arm with a girl, two more girls following closely behind. Max had a smile on his face, and the girls were laughing at something he was saying. When Liz stopped walking, Maria was about to ask what was wrong when she saw Max and the girls.

"Liz-"

"I'm giving up on Max Evans. He doesn't love me. He never will."

"Liz, don't talk like that."

"Maria, look at him. Just the other night, he told me he was in love with someone else. Someone he had know all his life. And now, he's practically throwing himself at some girls he just met! He said that just because he knew how I felt about him!" Liz's voice faltered, as she thought of Max with another girl.

"Liz, don't be like that," Maria said. "Just give the boy a chance! Let him explain-"

"Stop it, Maria!" Liz screamed. "Why do you do that Maria, huh? Why do you always take up for him? You want me to forgive him, you want me to let him talk to me, you want me to talk to him! Stop being so selfish! You should just be there to listen to me, not tell me how to make my decisions. For once, stop being Max's friend, and be mine!"

With that, Liz stormed off, leaving behind a very confused Maria. Maria was lost. She had no idea Liz had felt that way. She realized that maybe she was pushing Liz, but she'd had no intention of that whatsoever. Maybe it was time to lay off Liz where Max was concerned. There were still some ghosts in that closet, and it was up to Liz when to let them out.

When he saw Liz go running off, Michael looked from Maria to Liz, and back. Deciding that Liz looked like she needed a friend more than Maria, Michael followed her in the direction she had gone running. He found her sitting on the porch of the General Store, which was closed for the festivities. She was sitting in a rocking chair, her eyes closed, her head back. He walked up and sat down next to her.

Liz opened her eyes and was surprised to see Michael there. "You here to take up for Max too?" she asked.

"No, I'm not. I'm here because you looked like you needed a friend."

Liz looked at Michael, thankful that he was there. "Thank you, Michael."

Michael just nodded, sensing Liz needed to talk.

"You know, I just don't get it. Maria is supposed to be my friend, and all she does is take up for Max! Doesn't she care how that makes me feel? How he makes me feel? Why can't she take up for me for once! Why doesn't she run over to Max and just fuss at him? Tell him to give me a chance for once? Why don't they both just leave me alone sometimes?"

"I don't have an answer for you, Liz."

"Well, then, tell me this. Is it too much to ask that she just listen to me? Just let me talk and not say anything back? I deserve that!"

Liz stopped, wide eyed and looked at Michael.

"I'm sorry, Michael. I shouldn't have let it out on you. It's just that sometimes I get so frustrated, I just can't help it."

Michael grinned. "It's okay. I know how it feels to want to let it all out sometimes."

Liz looked at Michael intently. She wondered why he had wanted to travel with them so badly. She also wondered if he knew the reason they were running. She wondered about the reason he was running. She knew he hadn't asked any questions, and she appreciated that.

"Michael, thanks for not asking questions, about, well, you know, why we're running and all. Sometime, I hope I can tell you. Just not now. And sometime, I hope you will be able to tell me all about you."

"It's a deal."

"And Michael, thanks for letting me talk to you. It's nice to have a friend that just listens."

Michael smiled. That was the first time anyone had ever referred to him as their friend. He stood up and held out his arm to Liz. "So, looks like we're missing a great party. Wanna dance?"

Liz stood up, smoothed her dress, and linked her arm in Michael's. "I thought you'd never ask."

Michael led Liz to the middle of the crowd, and the two friends laughed as they danced around in circles.

On the side, Maria watched with interest. She had an overwhelming urge to run and grab Liz and tell her she was sorry, that she didn't mean it, but thought better of it. She looked like she was having too much fun, and lately, that seemed like something she didn't have very often. Watching the two laugh and dance, Maria couldn't help but wish she was dancing with them. Subconsciously, she smiled with them. She jumped when she felt someone touch her shoulder.

"Maria, I'm sorry I scared you."

"It's okay, Max. Where have you been?"

"I got us 2 rooms for the night, one for me and Michael, one for you and Liz. I got us some fresh food. And, I found out that it's only a 2 days ride from here to Dallas. There were some girls here that are from there. They told me which way to go, and how to avoid the hottest parts of the trip. They told me where we could go once we get there to get settled in."

"That's what you were doing with those girls? Getting directions?" maria asked, amused.

"Yes, why?"

Maria giggled, thinking it was funny how Max had made Liz jealous, and hadn't even done anything. "No reason. So, Max. Are you gonna ask me to dance, or not?"

"Well, where's Liz and Michael?"

"Oh, I think they are a bit pre-occupied."

Maria giggled again as she saw Max's brow wrinkle at watching Liz and Michael dance. He seemed jealous that Michael could make Liz smile so brightly. He sighed, and took a deep breath. He held out his arm to Maria.

"Ms. Deluca," he said, "May I have this dance?"

In seconds, Maria and Max were on the floor, dancing and and laughing just like their friends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ch. 15- Find out what Jeffery and Nicholas have been up to. and how Nicholas found out about Arizona.
posted on 13-May-2002 12:01:15 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 15

Nicholas was making his way up the long driveway to the Parker mansion. Lately, he hadn't been able to find work, and noone was willing to give a common criminal a job. He had been lucky to get a job delivering parcels from the Train Station to their respective addressees. Granted, it was a temporary job, but it was at least something. His meager income on pick-pocketing had become even less lately. The sheriff was keeping an eye on him, watching him closer than ever before.

Nicholas tilted his head back to look at the mansion. It seemed like it went on forever. This place was huge! He wondered what it was like to be a Parker. Alexander, for instance. He was only a year older than the Parker boy, and he couldn't imaging having all that money. One of the richest men in America, and all he had was two children. It must be grand, having money at your fingertips. Forget thinking about it. Maybe he would have a look around while he was here. Take a souvenir or two for himself, sell it, and make a little money.

Making his way up the steps, he saw a man on the front porch. There were empty liquor bottles around, and the man was mumbling incoherently. Hestiantly, Nicholas began making his way up the steps, when he saw a young girl come from inside the house. The man jumped up from his chair, and grabbed the girl by the arm. Nicholas watched, with interest, as the man slapped the girl across the face. The man hit her again, and forced her into a chair to sit. Man, she must have really done something to get that beating.

The man began to holler at the girl, and Nicholas realized who he was and what he had just walked up on.

"You wretched girl, you! Can't you do anything right? Everything you do ends up in a mistake. Just once, could you get something right?" The man paused to hit the girl again, but he staggered, and took a drink of the liquor from the bottle in his hand instead. "You know, girl, I ought to send you right back wherever it is you came from. You ain't no kid of mine, and I don't want you here at all! Hah! You couldn't even come into this world right! Nooooooo! You had to come from him. Why?" Jefferey stopped to take another sip of his liquor, then brought his hand back down across the girls face. He leaned in close to hear, and Nicholas could hear the hatred dripping from his words. "If it wasn't for your mother, I would have taken care of you the day you were born. You were a mistake! A product of her unfaithfulness. I'm ashamed to even look at you!"

The thoughts were swimming in Nicholas' head. Arizona Parker didn't belong to Jefferey. Hah! What a scandal that would be! The richest little girl in America was illigetimate. This information might come in handy.

When Nicholas stepped up to the top of the porch, he paused for a moment. The change in movement caught Jefferey's eyes, and he turned his head. Wideyed, tears streaming down her face, the girl ran off the side of the porch, and through the field next to the house.

"Who are you?" Jefferey asked.


As Nicholas manuevered his horse silently behind Jefferey's the day he had found out the news that changed his life kept running through his mind. That one little question Jefferey asked had been the start of an arrangement that had all but kept him alive the past couple years. Jefferey's money had kept him fed, clothed, housed, and out of jail. Sure, he'd had to do a little dirty work for the man now and then, but hey, dirty work was no stranger to Nicholas Whittaker. He chuckled to himself, wondering what people would think if they knew that the famous Parker family was nothing but a very well told and even better concealed lie.

Jefferey Parker stopped abruptly in front of him and jumped off his horse.

"What's wrong?" Nicholas asked.

"We have to stop here for the night. We can get up early and make it to town by evening. The horses need a rest."

Nicholas jumped off his horse, and left him tied to a tree. He took out a blanket, and laid on the ground. How did his life get to be so much fun? Yesterday, he was nothing. Just someone who got by how he had to. Today, he was running over Texas with the richest man in America, helping him chase a daughter that wasn't even his. Hopefully, when they caught her, he'd have a chance for a little fun before Jefferey took care of her.

Jefferey put his pallet down, and lay back on it. His breathing was ragged, and his eyes were dark and stormy. Tomorrow. Tomorrow they would ride into town and find Arizona. Then he would handle her. And she would be gone for good. Maybe, then, just maybe he could have a little peace in his life.



Michael and Liz stumbled out of the crowd, still waltzing to the porch of the Inn where they would stay the night. Maria and Max were waiting for them. They hadn't wanted to go to sleep without making sure Liz was okay, but the had given up dancing much earlier than Michael and Liz.

Liz simply nodded at them, then paused to wait while they got up and followed her and Michael inside.

When they got to their rooms, Maria went inside the girls room, and Max went inside the room he and Michael would occupy. Maria was still unsure of whether or not Liz was mad at her still.

Liz gave Michael a small hug and turned to head into her room.

"Thanks, Michael. For being there."

"You're welcome. Thanks for letting me be."

Liz smiled and went into the room. Wordlessly, she undressed, and slipped into the twin bed Maria had left for her.

"Liz? Are you awake?" Maria asked softly.

"I'm awake."

"Liz, I'm sorry. You're right. I am a terrible friend. I should have been there for you. But I wasn't. I tried to push you. I wasn't listening, I was just..I just..." Maria's words faded off as tears sprang to her eyes.

"Maria," Liz whispered. "I'm sorry I fussed at you like that. I just, it's just, that sometimes, I don't know what to do. You were just there, and I was so frustrated."

"Liz, you don't have to apologize. I probably deserved it. I just hope you don't hate me."

"Maria, I don't hate you."

"You don't?"

"No, You're my cousin, and my friend. I love you."

"I love you too," Maria whispered back, the smile evident in her voice. Both girls lay in bed smiling at the darkness around them. Liz was thinking about how her life had seemed to get a bit better the farther she got from home. Maria was laying in bed, trying to get the Michael Guerin's face out of her head. What was wrong with her? She hardly knew the guy, and she was already falling asleep, his face in her mind.

"Maria," Liz said after a while.

"Yes?"

"He's a great dancer."

"Who?"

Liz smiled. "Michael."

"Liz, why would I want to know that?" Maria asked embarassed. She was glad the lights were off and Liz couldn't see the blush spreading across her features.

"I don't know. I just wanted to tell you. He doesn't seem like the type, but who know's what other surprises he's got hiding up his sleeves."

The thought of Michael being full of surprises made Maria smile. She turned over, so her back was facing Liz. "Well, let's hope we don't have to see those surprises anytime soon." She tried to sound nonchalant.

But Liz wasn't fooled. She had sensed the same stubborn streak in Michael that she had long since gotten used to in Maria. And she had seen Michael and Maria exchange looks more than once. Looked like Maria Deluca had finally met her match.


Going into the room, Michael couldn't help smiling. He had friends. Friends. Well, one, at least. Someone that he could actually have fun with. And for once, he didn't couldn't imagine ever getting tired of them.

"Be careful with her. I'm not going to let anyone hurt her," Max said when he saw Michael come into the room.

"Who?"

"Liz. I saw you two dancing out there."

Michael chuckled to himself. "Don't worry yourself, Max. I ain't movin in on your territory."

"She's not my territory."

"Sure she ain't."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well, I'm a guy. Youe're a guy. I see the way you watch her. I know the deal. And I ain't movin' in on her. She needed a friend, that's all. I was there. Besides, it ain't her I'd wanna move in on."

Max smiled. Relieved that Michael wasn't going to try something with Liz. And at the same time amused. If he was going to move in on Maria Deluca, then he definitely had his work cut out for him.
posted on 17-May-2002 5:55:19 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Okay, I know it's kind short. But I wanted to get something out. The characters (well, actually, Max and Liz,) are going to do some maturing and growing in the next few parts. but don't worry- I did say this was a M/L fic, okay!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



CHAPTER 16

Liz woke up in the morning and was greeted by the sounds of the little town below her wakikng up. The first thing she thought of as she looked outside was the fun she had the night before. She had only known Michael for a few days, but in some weird way, he reminded her of Alex. Like dancing. That was something Alex would have done for her. Danced with her when she wasn't in the highest of spirits. She was grateful that they had let him come along. He provided a welcome relief from Maria's run-on babbling, and Max's overprotective broodiness.

Smiling to herself, Liz went to wash off and change her clothes. When she was fully dressed, she frowned to see Maria still sleeping. She walked over to Maria's bed and shook her gently.

"Maria, time to wake up. It'll be time to leave soon."

Maria mumbled something incoherently, and turned over to go back to sleep.

"Maria," Liz said. "It's getting late, get up!"

"Sleeping," Maria mumbled.

Liz smiled. "Maria Deluca! If you do not get up out of that bed, I will go next door and get Michael," Liz said to the air. "There she is. Just wake her up. She can fix her hair and get dressed later."

Maria raised up out of bed, her eyes filled with sleep, but wide shock. When she saw only Liz in her room, smiling at her, she narrowed her eyes.

"I knew that would get you up!" Liz said.

"Liz, that was mean," Maria said, laying back down.

Liz stomped her foot on the ground. "Maria! If you don't get up right this instant, I will go next door and get Michael to come over her for real!"

Maria sat up. "Fine, fine fine. I'm up."

Liz smiled satisfactorily at her cousin, and finished making the beds and picking up their stuff while Maria went to change and get dressed.


Max woke up, and saw Michael was already gone to get dressed. He woke up, and began to get his things together. His thoughts kept drifting off to Liz. He had realized last night when he saw her dancing with Michael that more than anything in the world, she deserved to be happy. He wanted that for her. Max knew his feelings for Liz were strong, and very deep, but if that were the case, then he should want whats best for her, right? Then that meant that he would want her to be happy. Even if it meant she was with someone else. But would he be able to handle seeing her with someone else? How could he really expect her to love him back after what he had done to her. She would be able to forgive him, but deep down, Max knew he couldn't blame her if she would never be able to love him.


A short time later, Max and Michael had already tied their bags to their horses, and went back in to check and see where Liz and Maria were. They came just in time to see the girls head out the door, with bags in hands.

Liz tied her bag to her horse, but Maria was having trouble. She was trying to eat an apple and tie her bag at the same time, and it wasn't working. She was too proud to ask for help, and it made her even more determined to see that Michael was snickering at her.

"Need some help, Maria?" he asked.

She cut her eyes over to him and shook her head no. Once again, he smiled at her. Finally, Liz went over to help her get her bags on. Minutes later, they were on the road.

"So," Liz asked, pulling Vilondra up next to Michael's horse. "How far is it to Dallas? It shouldn't be much longer, right?"

"Actually," Michael said. "We could be there by tonight. It's the next town out," Michael said, pointing North.

Liz smiled. Finally, she was going to reach her destination. Dallas had been the perfect choice. She could start over, change her name, begin a new life. It was the only other place she could imagine going. Somehow, she figured being there would help her remember Alex. After all, he was born there, and had it as part of his name. And once, when she was only 6 and Alex was 8, they had been there. Jefferey had taken on a railroad project there, and they had to be at the opening. That was when Alex had whisked her away.

FLASHBACK

"C'mon, Liz. They won't even know we're gone!"

"Alex! Momma said to stay here!"

"She is up there with Father. Let's go, before we do get caught."

"But momma said-"

"I wanna show you something really neat. Pleeaase?" he begged.

"Fine. But if I get in trouble, I'm telling them you made me."

"We won't get in trouble, Liz. I promise." He took her hand and led her to the field behind the railroad station. There were 5 trees standing there. Alex went to the middle one and took out his pocket knife.

"Alex! What are you doing?" Arizona asked, hands on her hips.

"Shh! It's a surprise!"

Minutes later, Alex stood back and let Liz see. She couldn't help but smile.


Liz found herself smiling once again. Alex had always managed to do that. Make her smile when she least expected it. That was one of the things she would miss about him. Those unexpected smiles.

"Hey, Liz," Maria asked. "What's so funny?"

Liz shook her head. "I was thinking about Alex. That's all."

Maria and Max looked at each other in understanding, and surprise. Understanding, in that they both knew Alex would be ever present in her mind for some time to come. In surprise, that it would be with a smile. They were both glad, however, that it didn't make her cry.

At dusk, Liz sighed. Up ahead, she could see the lights.

"There it is," Michael said, stopping his horse. Maria, Liz, and Max pulled next to him. For a minute, the all sat there, staring. That was where their new life would be. That was where their future was. There, they would start all over. From scratch.

Liz smiled, and for the first time in days, she felt a load disappear off of her shoulders. She dug her heels into Vilandra's heels and urged her in the direction of the city.

"Last one to Dallas buys dinner!" she said, as she galloped towards her new life. And for the first time in as long as she could remember, Arizona Parker was excited about going home.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 22-May-2002 1:17:10 AM ]
posted on 23-May-2002 1:36:34 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Allrighty, guys. Here's the deal. I am so sick right now, and I was going to type up new parts to Chasing Arizona and Where the Road Leads, and Destiny Always Comes with a Price. But I just don't feel good at all. And on top of that, I am stuck at work. I have a bottle of Dayquil attached to my hip, but I don't think it's working.

I hate to keep you guys waiting, but I just can't promise anything. I am going to try my hardest to get something out, but I'm not promising. Even as I write this, I keep having to turn away to sneeze or cough. I feel a visit to the doctor coming on very soon.

I hope you guys don't hate me for taking so long. I love you guys for waiting, really I do!! Thanks for being patient and understanding.

Pray for me

Christian

PS. If nothing comes out today, then Saturday is the day. And I can promise that!
posted on 26-May-2002 2:25:54 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Here it is guys. I hope you like it. I think this part kind of sucks, but I couldn't make it better. Hope you guys like it.

Thanks for all the well wishes! I feel great.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 17

Liz was the first one to reach Dallas. She stopped, just at the edge of town, and hopped of her horse. She was pacing back and forth, looking between the town and her feet.

Liz was suddenly frightened of what lay ahead of her. Never before had she done anyghint on her own. She had always had Alex before. When she was discouraged, he had been there to cheer her on. When she was sad, he had been the only one able to make her smile. When she was frightened, he had been the one to ease her fears. Now, she was alone. She wouldn't have the security of Alex' presence to fall back on.

Coming up behind her, Max pulled his horse up and jumped off. He knew she was frightened. But he also knew that it was going to be okay.

"It's okay, Liz," he said. "You've got us now."

"Yeah," Maria said, coming up. She turned to look at Michael. "All 3 of us. We're like a 4 person..."

"Family." Michael finished. He had never considered himself part of a family before. But now, it sounded so....right.

Liz turned to look at them. She knew they were right. She had left home that day after confronting Jefferey not knowing what she would do or what she would find. Standing there, on the edge of new life, she realized exactly what it was she had found. A brand new family. She ran to each one, and in turn gave them all a hug. Max was first, then Michael, then Maria.

"Wait!" Maria said. "We can't just march in there and tell them your name," Maria said. "Everyone knows who Arizona Parker is."

"She's right," Max said. "Why didn't we think of that earlier?"

"We'll just pick new names," Michael said. "All of us."

Liz nodded. "What will we tell people?"

"How about that we're related?" Maria asked. "It will be more believable that way. We can tell them we're like brothers and sisters."

"That's a good idea," Max said. "Maria, you can be my sister. Liz and Michael can be brother and sister." Max knew the sparks would be flying between Maria and Michael very soon. If they were supposed to be brother and sister, it could ruin their cover. "Now, we have to think of new names."

"I want to be Alexis," Liz said.

Michael nodded. "How about....Tyler. Tyler and Alexis...Johnson."

Liz nodded. "Good bye, Arizona Parker, hello Alexis Johnson," she whispered sadly.

Maria put her arm around her. "Well, Max, got any ideas for us, brother?" she asked.

"I'll be Jason...and you can be...Maryanne. We'll be Jason and Maryanne Lerner."

"Hmm. Maryanne Lerner. I like it," Maria said.

"Well, then, Tyler, Jason, and Maryanne. Shall we go?" Liz said. "We have a whole new life waiting for us."

Max nodded, helping Maria and Liz up to their horses. "What are we waiting for, then?"


Ten minutes later, the four were making their way through town.

"We'll need somewhere to stay, Max said.

"I'll ask around. See what I can find. I have some money."

Maria snapped her head up. He had money? Man! That boy was just full of surprises. "We all do, Michael."

"Make sure you don't call me that in front of people," Michael said.

"OF course!" Maria said indignantly. Did he think she was stupid?

"What about food, and clothes? We only came with small bags," Liz said.

Max nodded. "Okay. You two go together," he said, motioning to Liz and Michael. "Try to see about a place to stay. We'll go see what else we can find. Somewhere to buy some things."


Michael and Liz were looking for somewhere to start, when the spotted a Post Office.

"Let's try there," Michael said. "We can ask around, see exactly what it is we can find in Dallas."

They tied their horses out front and went in. There was a small bell jingling on the door signaling their arrival.

"Hello, what can I do for you?" the lady at the window asked. "Are you two new in town? I know Dallas is big, but I've been here all my life. I don't think I've ever seen you before."

"Yes m'am. We are," Michael said, sweeping his hat off his head. "My name is Tyler Johnson. And this is my sister. Alexis."

"Well, I am Patty Ross. Postmistress for this here town. Welcome to Dallas."

"Thank you," Liz said. "Mrs. Ross, we were wondering. We need a place to stay. We want to live here. In Dallas. And we have two friends with us. We can all stay together. But we need somewhere permanent. Can you help us out?"

"Please, child. It's Patty. You make me sound older than I am when you call me Mrs. But to answer your question, I don't have a clue of someplace. But that man coming in right now might be able to help you."

Liz and Michael turned around when they heard the bell above the door jingle. The man who walked in was tall, with dark skin and dark hair. He had a star on his vest, and they knew he was the Sheriff. Surprisingly, he was rather young.

"Sheriff, these young people need your help," Patty said. "They're new in town."

The sheriff looked over at them and walked over. He held out his hand to Michael. "Kyle Valenti, Sheriff. What can I do for you folks?"

"Well, I'm Tyler Johnson. And this is Alexis. My sister. We just moved here. We were wondering if there is a place we could stay. Permanently."

"Actually, there is. My father just put his place up for sale. It's quiet a nice little ranch. Just south of my place, actually. You folks interested? Or is to soon to buy a place?" Secretly, he hoped they would take it. His father had passed away, just after the place was put up for sale, and Kyle was hoping someone would buy it and take care of it. The two people in front of him looked very well taken care of. And for some odd reason, he found himself liking them instantly.

"No, that's great! Can we see it?" Michael asked.

"Sure. But I'll tell you what. It's almost lunch time. How about you come home with me. The missus would love some company. Then I'll show you the ranch."

"Well, we'd love to. But we have two friends with us."

"Well, bring them along. My wife cooks for an army, when it's just the two of us. Besides, she hasn't been out much. She's expecting, and doesn't like going out anymore. I'm sure she'd love some company."

Liz and Michael looked at each other and smiled. Yep. Dallas was going to be a great place to live.

Walking outside the post office, they were about to go find Max and Maria when they saw them coming up the street. Maria was grinning broadly, and Max looked quite...sullen to say the least.

"I wonder what's wrong," Liz said.

"Let's hope it's not bad."


Coming up to Max and Liz, Maria hopped off her horse.

"Well, I hope you two found a place to live, because I found us jobs. All four of us."

"Jobs? What for?" Michael asked. "We have plenty of money."

"Try telling her that," Max said. "I don't want a job."

"Well, we need them. We can't live off the money we have forever," Maria said.

"A job! What kind of job?" Liz asked excitedly.

"Well, you and I will be working at the Inn. In the restaurant. And these two," she said, gesturing towards Max and Michael. " Will be working at the Inn. As butlers, so to speak."

"Wait a minute, I have to wait on people?" Michael said.

"Do you see why I'm not smiling now," Max said.

"Hush, brother dear," Maria said, swatting Max playfully on the arm. "Well, I went in to see if they had a dress shop inside. And this dear old lady, Claudia, was running the place. She looked straight at me and asked if I was there about the ad she posted in the Post Office. I said no, but then she offered me a job. And Max too. I took it. I told her about you two, and she offered you jobs too. She says she needs us real bad. C'mon, you guys. It'll be fun. We gotta make a living somehow, right?"

"Right," Liz said, taking Maria by the arm. "They'll learn to like it. But, now for our news. We met the Sheriff just now. He's invited us to lunch at his place. And then, he's gonna show us his father's ranch. He says it's for sale."

"A ranch! We get to live on a ranch?" Maria asked. "This town gets better and better!"

Just then, Kyle walked outside. "You must be their friends we were waiting on. I'm Kyle Valenti, Sheriff. Welcome to Dallas."

"Maryanne Lerner. And this is my brother. Jason. Nice to meet you, Sheriff Valenti."

Kyle nodded at Max and Maria. "Please, call me Kyle."

Kyle asked if they were ready to go, and they all nodded. The mounted their horses, and followed him to his home.

When they got to Kyle's house, they looked around. It wasn't a huge place, but it was a nice size. Only a few minutes out of the main part of town.

"I'll go in and tell her we've got company. You can put your horses in the barn. Theirs water and feed if they need it."

After they put their horses in the barn, Max, Michael, Maria, and Liz walked onto the porch. They were about to knock when the door was opened for them.

"Come on in. I'll show you the kitchen," Kyle said.

Walking into the kitchen, they were greeted by smells of home cooked food, and they all realized how hungry they were. They were greeted by a cheerful blonde-haired blue eyed girl they assumed to be Kyle's wife.

"Hi, I'm Tess. Kyle's wife. He says your new in town. Welcome to our home," she said.

After introductions, they all sat down to eat. Maria and Liz instantly took a liking to Tess. She was bubbly and cheerful, and gushed about how excited she was to be having her first child. When she found out that they might be moving into the ranch, she was ecstatic. The property lines met at the back, and they would be neighbors.

After lunch, Kyle told asked them if they were ready to see the ranch. They all agreed, and got up to leave. Tess was almost sad to see them go, and made Liz and Maria promise to come back. It had been almost a month since she had been anywhere, and she really didn't have any so called friends in town. She was happy to have had company.

As they left the house, they followed Kyle down the dirt road. As the ranch came into view, Liz sighed. This was going to be a great place to start a new life.




posted on 1-Jun-2002 3:29:20 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Chapter 18

As Kyle led them down the dirt road leading to the ranch, Liz felt the butterflies buzzing in her stomach. She was so excited she was practically jumping around, and when she saw the ranch, she knew she was home.

As they passed underneath a wooden archway, Liz saw the sign proclaiming the name of the ranch. "The Silver Hand." She smiled. Nice name.

"Well folks, this is it. The Silver Hand. Built by my dad's own hands. With a little help of course. But he designed the whole thing himself."

"Where did the name come from?" Liz asked.

"Well, there's a small lake out behind the main house. My dad said when he was looking for somewhere to build, the lake was the first thing he saw. Said he stuck his hand in it, and the water was so clear and cool that he could have sworn his hand was silver. The idea kind of stuck, I guess."

"It's beautiful," Maria said. "Can we see inside?"

"Sure. Let's go."

Liz, Max, Michael, and Maria followed Kyle inside. As they stepped in, they found themselves in a large sitting room. The ceilings were high and airy, with crossbeams stretching from one side of the room to the other. There was a fireplace against one wall, and off to the left, was the dining area. Just beyond that, they could see thru a doorway that led to the kitchen. The house was fully furnished, as Kyle had not removed any of the furniture when his father had passed away.

"This place is great!" Max said.

"Well, let's show you the bedrooms," Kyle said. "This house has only three bedrooms. My father and mother lived here, as well as me. There was an extra room built that was meant for the second child, but they never had one."

When they opened up the first room, everyone stepped inside. It was large and spacious, with a fireplace against the right handed wall. There was a large closet on the left wall, and a large window looking out over the field that would be used for horses.

The next bedroom was identical to the first one, except instead of having one large window, there were two small ones.

When they entered the last bedroom, which was at the end of the hall, Maria and Liz both squealed in delight. The window directly opposite was a large bay window, with a windowseat underneath, overlooking the lake that the ranch was named after. On the right hand wall was a large walk in closet, and a small bathroom and dressing area. On the left wall was a fireplace, and two huge armoires, one on either side.

"This was my parent's room," Kyle said. "It's the biggest in the house." After the saw the house, Kyle showed them the rest of the property. He showed them the large porch out back, and the storage shed. He took them to the barn and showed them the barn and the loft, and where the horses would stay. After they had seen the whole place, Kyle offered to let them talk it over while they made a decision.

"Well, what do you guys think?" Max asked.

"I think it's great. And it's big enough for all of us," Michael said. "I say we take it."

"Me too," Maria said.

"I agree."

Max smiled. "Well, then. Let's go tell Kyle."

Maria and Liz squealed with glee, and began to make decorating plans.

"We'll all split the down payment. Then we'll split the monthly payment four ways a month," Max said. "I'll take care of the paperwork."


Two hours later, Max, Michael, Liz and Maria, otherwise known as Jason, Tyler, Alexis, and Maryanne, stepped into the door of their brand new home.

"So, how are the rooms gonna go?" Michael asked. "Well need to decide who sleeps where."

"There's nothing to decide," Maria said, grabbing Liz by the hand and leading her towards the bedrooms. "Liz and I will share the big room. You two can each have your own."

"Who decided that?" Max asked.

"Maria did," Liz said, giggling. "And it would save you a whole lot of time and breath if you didn't argue," she said over her shoulder.

Max and Michael looked at each other. Liz was right. If Maria had made up her mind, then there was no changing it. Each of the boys headed to a room to put their things in and make themselves at home.

"Oh mi gosh! Liz! This place is amazing!" Maria said, as she plopped herself down in the huge bed. I can't believe it! I mean we are on our own! We have this great house, and we live in Dallas!"

Maria's jovial mood soon caught on, and Liz and Maria jumped up into the middle of the bed. They were jumping up and down giggling and squealing, making plans, when the door to their room opened.

"What is going on in here! You two are absolutely-"

"Crazy." Max finished Michael' sentence.

The girls looked over at Max and Michael, who sounded madder than they looked. Both boys had huge grins on their faces.

"Well come on," Maria said. "Join in the fun."

"I think I'll pass," said Michael. "But I have a better idea. Let's go into town. We'll go shopping. Get some food, some necessities, things like that."

"Shopping? Now?" Liz asked.

"Hey, if we go shopping now, then we can come back and cook dinner. In our brand new house."

Liz and Maria looked at each other, then jumped off the bed at the same time.

"Well?" Liz said, grabbing Max and Michael by the hand. "What are we waiting for? Let's go!"

Michael turned around and grabbed Maria by the hand just in time to pull her out the door with them.

Two more hours later, they were back. Dinner was cooking, bags had been unpacked, and they were all sitting in the sitting room, a fire burning brightly in the fireplace. For the first time in days, all of them settled down to relax, smiles of contentment etched on their faces. Not a word was spoken between, gbut the thoughts were all the same. They were all happy to be.....Home.



Jefferey slammed down his mug, causing the beer to spill out over either side.

"Three towns!! Three of the biggest towns surrounding Sheldon, and noone has seen her. Someone has to have seen her. She can't just disappear. She's got Maria and Max with her, for goodness sake. Three teenagers on their own are not hard to spot!! Darn that girl!"

Nicholas flinched as Jefferey slammed his other fist on the table. "We still have four more cities to try. We'll find her. Tomorrow, we'll go to Summit City. We're bound to come up on them sometime. There's only so far they can go without being seen."

Jefferey shook his head. "We have to go back into Sheldon tomorrow."

"Why?" Nicholas asked. "I thought you wanted to catch her. In case you didn't notice she ran away from Sheldon. Going back there would be going in the wrong direction."

"Look,"Jeffery said, pointing his finger in Nicholas' face. "I run this show. I say where we go and when we go. You WILL NOT undermine my authority. Understand?"

Nicholas glared at Jefferey but didn't say a word. He looked at the saloon girl that had made herself at home on his lap. She was nibbling on his ear. She had seen him come in and made a bee line for him, thinking she could make some money off of him. Nicholas hadn't shyed away from her advances, but he hadn't intended on spending any money on her either.


"Answer me!" Jefferey screamed. "Do you Understand?"

Nicholas shook his head. "I understand," he said through clenched teeth. He pushed the girl off his lap, and she turned to say something. She saw the glare in his eyes, and instead, pouted and walked away. Nicholas was beginning to hate this little arrangement of theirs more and more every time Jefferey spoke to him. If it wasn't for the fact that he had a chance to have some fun with Arizona after her father found her, then he would have been gone a long time ago. But the prospect of having his way with Arizona Parker was too much of a chance to pass up.

Jeffery got up and stomped out of the saloon. He had to go back home. The only person in the world he loved was Nancy. And tomorrow was her birthday. He was not going to let Arizona ruin that for him.

Jefferey was a mean, hard man. But the one thing that he had a soft heart for was Nancy. She had been the love of his life since they had met almost twenty years ago. And she had been the only thing in the world that he hadn't given up hope on. He would see her tomorrow. Then he would be off to Summit City. To Find Arizona.
posted on 8-Jun-2002 4:15:53 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 19

Liz woke up at the crack of dawn, and hoped that she would be the only one up. She had waited for a quiet moment like this since they had first arrived in Dallas.

It had been three days, and they were still settling in. They were buying things to fill their house with, and were busy moving furniture and making the place more comfortable. Tess and Kyle had come over and helped, Tess eager to make friends with Liz and Maria, and Kyle eager to help his newfound friends move into the home that he had grown up in. In the three days that had passed, the six people had already struck up a close friendship. Liz, Maria, Michael, and Max had their secrets between them, but they had all welcomed friends with open arms. It was one of many first steps to starting life over.

Liz crawled quietly out of bed and dressed carefully, taking care not to wake Maria. It was way to early for her to get up with a good mood, and Liz knew that if she woke up, it wouldn't be a quite day any longer.

Walking outside to the barn, Liz stopped and closed her eyes. She breathed in long, deep breath, and sighed. This was what her new home smelled like. It was weird, but she was almost sure she could smell life. She walked to the edge of the lake, and stuck her hand in it. She smiled at the reflection cast through the water. Her hand was silvery and almost shining. She pulled her hand out of the water and dried it on the skirt of her dress. Turning into the barn, she thought she herd a noise coming from inside. At first, she thought about turning around to get Max or Michael, but at the last minute decided to check for her self. After all, this was her home now, and she would protect it.

Pushing slightly, the barn door gave way under pressure and creaked open. Liz stuck her head inside, and saw nothing but the horses. Stepping cautiously in, she gasped when someone grabbed her from behind. Whirling around, her fists in the air ready to attack, a pair of strong hands clasped her wrists.

"Liz! What are you doing up?" Micheal asked.

"Michael! What in heaven's name are you doing up? You just about gave me a heart attack!"

"Sorry. You startled me. I heard you coming, and didn't know who you were. I came in here early today because I couldn't sleep. I brushed the horses down and gave them fresh water."

"Well, I came in here because I woke up early, and quietly for a change. I'm going for a ride."

Liz turned and proceeded to saddle up her horse. "Care to join me?" Liz asked.

"Sure. Where we going?" Michael asked as he stepped next to Liz to saddle his own horse.

"I'm kind of not sure. I was here once, a long time ago. I just want to find something."

Michael shrugged. He wasn't sure what it was they were going to find, but he wondered if it had something to do with the reason she was running.

Twenty minutes later, Liz and Michael were in town, headed for the Inn. Liz pulled her horse up to the post in front of the building and tied her up to keep her from running.

"We're here," Liz said.

"At the Inn? That's what you wanted to find?"

Liz smiled. "What I wanted to find is behind the Inn, Michael. Come on."

Michael followed Liz around the building, and stopped when she did.

"Micheal, there must be a hundred trees here!!" Liz said, pointing to the field filled with trees.

"Liz, what are we doing here?"

Michael watched as Liz ran to the tree nearest them and walked around it, looking up and down the trunk. She walked to the next one, and the next, scanning both of them before she stopped to look at Michael.

"Well, you wanna help me look?"

"Look for what?"

"Just check the trees. You'll know when you see it."

Michael and Liz walked from tree to tree scanning them searching for whatever it Was that was important to Liz. They had gone about a quarter of a way through the field, when Michael called Liz over to him.

"Liz, I found something. Come over here for a minute," Michael called.

Liz ran to the tree Michael was leaning against, and looked up. She smiled as tears sprang to her eyes.

There, on the bark of the tree, just above Micheal's shoulder was a small flower. There were two names etched near it. Alexander and Arizona Whitman March, 1864

"What is it?" Michael asked.

"My brother drew it. When we were here in Dallas when I was 6." Liz giggled slightly as she remembered that day. "I thought we were going to get in so much trouble. And we would have. Father was furious. But Alex, he, he-" Liz choked back a sob as she thought of her brother. "He saved me. Just like he always had."

Unsure of what to do, Michael reached out and gingerly touched Liz's shoulder. She stepped up and gave him a hug, needing to feel the support of a friend. "Can I tell you about him, Micheal? I want you to know about him. You would have liked him very much."

Michael shook his head, and sat down at the base of the tree. Liz sat down next to him. She told him everything she could remember about Alex. Everything she loved about him, and everything that irked her about him. She told Michael things about her brother that day that she hadn't talked about in a long time. And it was like a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Somewhere in the course of her talking, Liz switched to talking about herself. Before she realized it, she had told Michael everything. The truth about who she was, the truth about who she wasn't, and the reason they had run. She even told him about Max. How she loved him, how she hated him, how she sometimes didn't know how she felt about him.

When she was done talking, Liz stopped to look at Michael. She realized she had talked for a long time, and Michael had done nothing but listen. She was afraid she had talked him deaf. When she looked at him to see if he would respond, she was about to speak when he beat her to it.

"I had a sister," Michael said. "Her name was Katie. She was 8 years younger than me, and she was my best friend. She was everything. I loved her so much. I used to take her on these long walks, through the woods behind our house. She would ride on my shoulders, and talk the whole way. She used to laugh at everything. And she loved flowers. I would always have to stop and pick her flowers."

Michael paused as images of a small, giggling 5 year old sprang to his mind. She had blond hair and blue eyes that rivaled the color of saphires. She had an air about her that made people want to laugh right along at the butterflies, the frogs, the flowers waving in the wind. She was absolutely gorgeous. "One night, I went to the next town with the neighbors. They were going to sell some stuff, and my father had given me money to buy a present for Katie. It was her birthday, and he had ordered a doll from a lady there who used to make them. It was night time, and as we got closer to my house, I could see this huge orange ball glowing in the sky. I jumped off their wagon, and ran the rest of the way there. My house was gone. There were men everywhere, trying to put the fire out. I kept asking where Katie was. Where my parents were. Noone would tell me. Then I saw our neighbor. The one I had been with. He had been talking to the Sheriff. I knew it when he called my name. My family was dead. Gone. I was the only one left."

A tear slipped down Liz's cheek as she heard Michael's story.

"I ran to the barn, and got a horse. I jumped on and rode away. I just kept riding and riding. It wasn't until I reached one of the surrounding towns I realized I was still holding her doll in my hands. The one I had never gotten to give her."

"What did you do?" Liz asked.

"I kept it. For the longest time. I went from town to town, just doing odd things for people for money. Helping build new towns. Taking care of horses. Making repairs. I have been moving around ever since. I always got tired of place. Never felt comfortable settling down. Never, at least, until now."

Liz smiled and wiped the tear from her eyes. "Well, Michael Guerin, you are really in for it. Cause I'm afraid you're stuck with us now."

Michael stood up and offered Liz his hand. "Well, Alexis, dear," he said. "Nothing could make me happier."

Liz gave Michael her hand and he helped her up. "Michael, thanks for listening to me."

"Thank you for listening to me. I've never told anyone about Katie. Or my parents. You're the first one. She was a lot like you, Liz. She was so full of life and promise."

"Well, I know I have brown hair. And I'm a lot younger. But I was a sister once, too. If you ever want another one, you know where to find me."

"Thanks, Liz."

"Anytime."


Michael and Liz got home before Max or Maria woke up. It was Saturday and none of them had to work, so they had slept late. Michael and Liz decided to make breakfast for their friends. The talked and laughed in the kitchen, and cooked for their friends. For the first time in a long time, they felt like family for real. They had so much in common, including losing the person in their life who had meant the most to them. Michael had lost Katie, and Liz had lost Alex. But now, they had found each other. Finally, someone to fill the void that only losing a sibling could cause.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next Chapter, find out what Jefferey found when he got back to Sheldon, and a suitor calls on Liz.
posted on 19-Jun-2002 1:08:25 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 20

Jeffery Parker rode up the winding driveway to his home, and was seething inside. It seemed every single one of the servants or groundskeepers that he passed stopped to watch him ride by. He made a mental note to come back and let them know exactly what he thought of their gaping stares. How many times in the past had he told the help to keep prying eyes out of places they didn't belong? And now, they were all watching him, as if him being here was a big shock. Or a big surprise. This, after all was his home.

Jumping off his horse, Jefferey tied him to the post out front and went fishing in the bags for the gift he had picked up for his wife. He had left Nicholas at the Saloon in town, with strict orders to stay there until he came back for him. He intended to spend some time with Nancy before he headed off in search of Arizona again.

Stepping into the house, Jeffery was bombarded by the eery silence. The house was never this quite. There was always someone milling about, one of the servants doing one of their chores. It was never this quite. The house was dead silent. And stuffy. The air seemed unusually thick, and there was this weird...smell. It smelled like....oil or gas....or medicine. As he headed up the stair to Nancy's bedroom, he wondered if something was wrong. Or if someone was sick.

Reaching Nancy's room, Jefferey knocked lightly on the door, then pushed it open. He gasped at the sight before him.

Nancy was lying in her bed, covers pulled up to her chin. Her face was a deathly pale shade of white, and her eyes were open, staring blankly at the wall opposite her bed. As he came in the room, he noticed that the Doctor was sitting in a chair, writing intently in a book on the table.

"Mr. Parker. I hate to inform you of this, but your wife took seriously ill just a day after you left. She has uttered nothing over and over except your daughters name. She is running a dangerously high fever, and there is nothing more we can do for her. She seems to have taken on a terrible case of the flu. That's what her symptoms show, but this is the worst case I have ever seen."

Jefferey dropped the small package in his hands and immediately went to her bedside. He picked up her hand and held it close to his hands. For a brief moment, the cruel heartless man that had been chasing Arizona the last couple days was gone. In his place, a heartbroken husband whose only thoughts were of his wife's health.

"Nancy, darling. Please, tell me what's wrong."

Ever so slowly, Nancy turned her head in Jeffereys direction, and her eyes widened as she recognized that he had come back.

"Arizona?" she whispered, her voice raspy and shallow sounding.

Jefferey shook his head. "She's gone. I don't know where. She's gone. She just left and didn't tell anyone."

Nancy's face dropped, and her eyes contorted into a painful stare. Tears welled up in her eyes as realization hit her. She had failed her daughter. She had chosen the man she loved over her daughter. All these years, she had closed her eyes to the abuse he had inflicted on her only daughter, and now, she had run away because of it. All these years that the pressure had been too much, she shut herself off from everyone, not being able to force herself to come to terms with the cruel side of Jefferey Parker. And now, she would never see her daughter again. She should have protected Arizona. And instead she had done nothing. In truth, she was in part, as much responsible for the abuse as Jefferey had been. For not stopping it. Now, her son was dead, her daughter was gone, and she was on her deathbed. The glorious life that had once been hers was only a memory now. As was she.

Jefferey felt his world go black as Nancy' hand relaxed in his own, and he knew she had taken her last breath. He stared at her, all the anger and loss building up inside of him. Arizona had done this. Her mother had been sick, and her leaving had been the last straw. It had been the thing that pushed her over the edge. Now she was gone. His breathing heavy, and his eyes dancing with fire, he stood up. He kissed Nancy's hand, picked up the small gift he had bought for her. He placed it in her hand, and turned to the doctor.

"She will be buried in the family plot in the field beyond the woods near the edge of the property. Do it tomorrow."

"But sir, you will be here?"

"I have business to attend to."

"But Mr. Parker-"

"I said DO IT TOMORROW! I have business to attend to, and I am leaving immediately."

The doctor nodded his head as Jefferey stormed out of the room.

After stopping at the saloon to pick up Nicholas, Jefferey headed out of Sheldon, towards Summit City. The rage in him against Arizona had deepened even more the minute he saw Nancy take her last breath. It was yet another thing he blamed the girl for. The death of the only woman he loved. For that, Arizona Parker would pay even more.




"That man is staring at you again!" Maria said.

Liz turned to look at the young man with blonde hair sitting at the table in the far corner. The man had been in the restaurant every day for the past week, and had done nothing but eat and watch Liz work Liz smiled at him, and he nodded at her, motioning her to come over. For some reason, she felt butterflies start to flutter in her stomach. She had never seen a man look at her that way.

"Well, you gonna go over there or not?"

"I don't know what to do? What if he talks to me?"

"That's usually what a guy does when he's been staring at a girl he finds attractive for the last week."

"Attractive?"

"Liz, darling. You are quite the looker. And it seems like that young man over there has noticed. N ow you march your self right on over there and see what he wants."

"Fine. One condition."

"What?"

"You take Michael out to dinner."

"Liz! That's crazy!"

"Maria, take your own advice. Michael had been head over heels for you since the day we met him. And you still keep turning him down. If you take Michael up, I'll go over there and talk to the mystery man."

Maria thought for a minute, and sighed. Liz had spent too much time wallowing over Max. For the better part of their trip, Liz had talked about Max and what could never be between them. Now, she seemed to be moving on. And if she had to go to dinner with Michael to help Liz find someone that may or may not be the final step in getting over Max, then so be it. It was a small sacrifice to make for her friend.

"Fine. You drive a hard bargain, Liz, but I'll do it. For you."

Liz smiled triumphantly. She headed off in the direction of the man's table as Maria went back to work. Maria kept an eye on Liz and the mystery man, and smiled as she watched the two chatting for quite a while until Liz was forced to leave the table to help Maria serve other customers.

Later on that night, Maria and Liz got home and found Max and Michael already there. The girls went straight to their room.

"Liz, this is so exciting!"

"Maria, it's nothing. He's coming and we are simply going to go walking. That's it. He just wants to make a friend."

"Yeah. Sure. A friend."

"Maria, he's only in town for month, for goodness sake."

"But didn't you say he spends every other month here?"

"Yes, but that doesn't mean anything. A man like him probably has a siginificant other in some other town waiting for his return. All I want to do is be his friend. I wanted to meet new people. This is my chance. Just leave it be."

"Liz, I'll leave it be if you can look at me and honestly say that you don't find the man the least bit attractive."

Liz turned to look at Maria, sprawled across the bed. A slow smile spread across her face as she finished zipping up the dress she had changed in to. "He does have a great smile!"

"Ha! I knew it. I knew it.!"

"Shhh, Maria. Be quite. You know how protective Max and Michael are. I have an odd feeling that they aren't going to like this. Now help me finish dressing so I can go outside and meet him before Max and Michael do."

Max and Michael heard a knock at the door, and Max got up. "I wonder who that could be?"

"Must be Kyle. Maybe Tess had the baby!" Michael said.

When Max opened the door, he saw a man not much older than him standing in front of him. The man had blonde hair, and blue eyes, and his black cowboy hat in his hands.

"Yes, can I help you?"

"My name is Sean. Sean Douglas. I'm here to call on Alexis Johnson."

Max's eyes widened in surprise. He felt a knife go through his heart. He had sworn that night in the cave that he would be Liz's friend. And he had come to terms with the fact that Liz would never love him. But he had never bothered to prepare himself to see her with a suitor. Once again, Max felt his unworthiness hit him in the face. He couldn't help but wonder if things might have turned out differently had he not been so disloyal to Liz. If he had only been a true firend. But this was what his actions had caused. He was going to be forced to watch Liz being courted by someone else.

Max forced a hurt smile to his face. Somehow, he was going to have to force himself to be her friend. Because he had promised her that. And he had sworn to himself that he would never again break a promise to her. And to once again come to terms with the fact that he was going to have so spend the rest of his life as Arizona Parker's friend. Max stepped aside and motioned the man into his home. And into Liz's life.
posted on 19-Jun-2002 1:11:07 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Guys, I forgot to say. Thanks for all the FB, and the repeated bumps. This part was difficult to write, because I couldn't decide on how to introduce Sean to the story. So I just introduced him, and in the next part, we'll learn more about him and see the reactions he causes.
posted on 24-Jun-2002 1:10:54 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
This part dedicated to~~~mpls muse,Eccentric One, nickeygurl13,applebybehr,KitKat,Rapunzel,Lindsey,the better twin(two replies, thanks!), French Kiss 70, cole 81, marteloise, goddessgurl5000,behrstars,Pixie,and behrbabe.

Thanks for the awesome FB you guys leave. It's inspiring.

Wow. I didn't expect that much response to introducing Sean. I just have to say that he has to be here. He has a purpose, and that's all I'm gonna say.

Well, who cares. Let me say this, and you can make of it what you want. I wasn't big fan of his in the show, soooo.......

Thanks again for all the FB, you guys are so great!
~~~~~~~~~~~~

As Liz and Sean left the house, Max shut the door behind him and leaned against it.

This was it. He had let her go. He had taken the first step in becoming a friend to the girl that owned his heart. And it had been the single most difficult thing he'd ever had to do. Because deep down, Max was coming to terms with the truth. He was losing Arizona Parker.

Shoulders slumped, head down, Max headed straight to his room. He went in, shut the door, and threw himself on the bed. Wanting to wallow in self-misery, Max hadn't bothered to say anything to anyone.

"Tough break, man," Michael said, slapping his back on the way bye. He hadn't missed the heartbreaking look that had swept across his friends face when Liz's suitor showed up. Michael shook his head and walked over to a window, after Max didn't answer him back.

"So," Maria said, after Sean and Liz left and Max had shut himself in his room.

"Soooo," Michael replied.

"So, I was thinking. I'm pretty hungry."

"Yeah, me too," Michael replied.

"Sure would be nice if I could go into town and eat at the Inn," she said, wringing her fingers nervously. She kept telling herself she had promised Liz, and that if Michael would only ask she would have to accept.

"Yeah, it would," Michael said, tapping his foot and looking out the window.

"It's a nice night for the walk there, too," Maria said once again.

"Sure is."

Impatiently, Maria waited for Michael to take her hint and ask her to dinner. Again. But after a few minutes of silence, he hadn't said a word.

"If someone offered to take me, I wouldn't turn them down, that's for sure," Maria said, her patience wearing extremely thin.

"Well, good Maria. I hope you won't."

Finally snapping, Maria put her hands on her hips and glared at Michael.

"Michael Guerin, are you gonna ask me to dinner or not?"

Amused, Michael turned around and smirked at Maria.

"Why Maria, darling. I have asked you out to dinner more times than I can count on one hand," Michael said, holding his hand up, fingers spread to emphasize his point. "And as I recall, you politely turned me down every single time. I just gave up trying."

"Well, I mean, I just-" Maria sighed and let out a deep, frustrated breath. "I mean, if you asked me now I wouldn't refuse."

Michael smiled at her, but didn't say a word.

"It's okay. If you don't want to, I mean I can just stay here," Maria said, after a moment awkard silence. She turned on her heels, slightly dissapointed, and headed down the hallway.

"Maria?"

A little too quickly, Maria spun back around to face Michael, an anxious look on her face.

Michael swept his hat off of his head and held out his arm. "Would you do me the honors of accompanying me into town for dinner?"

Maria was unable to stop the slow smile that spread across her features.

"I thought you'd never ask," she said, crossing the room, linking her arm in his.



"So, Alexis, you never told me what brought you and your brother to Dallas," Sean asked, as he and Liz walked through the fields behind the Silver Hand.

"Well, we all just decided to get out on our own. We wanted to start new lives, and we wanted to do it somewhere other than home."

"Ahh. And where is home?"

"Oh, it's just a small town down South. Very small, actually. But enough about me. What about you. What is it that brings you in and out of town so much?"

"I'm a banker. My family owns the bank here in Dallas, and I come into town every other month to update the paperwork. When I'm not here I live in Jasper, just on the northern border of the state."

"Banking? Is it...fun? I mean I don't want to sound rude or anything, but it seems awfully boring, counting money and doing paperwork all day."

Sean chuckled, and answered her. "It's not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but it's a living."

Liz smiled as the time passed, and before she knew it, they had been out for hours. Sensing the time and the late hour, she told Sean she needed to get back home.



Giggling, Maria stepped up the porch and into the small restaraunt where she worked. Michael had kept her entertained during their walk to town with stories of all the mischief he had gotten into over the years. She was surprised by the fact that she was having such a great time with this man who had often at times played on her last nerve. ‘Who knew there was a differnt side to Michael Guerin?' she thought. ‘One that made him.....likeable.'

"What can I bring you folks tonight?"

Michael looked up at the young woman who had stepped to their table. "We'll both have the baked chicken, green beans, and potatoes, thank you." The girl nodded, and went to prepare their food.

Michael turned to look at Maria, and saw her angry expression.

"What?" he asked.

"Do you think I can't order for myself? I am capable, you know."

"Maria, I-"

"Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean that I need you to do everything for me. I am not helpless."

"Well, it's just that-"

"And just when I was starting to like you, too. Here I was thinking there was a side to you I have never seen before, and you go and do something like-"

"Maria, be quiet for a minute," Michael said, shocking Maria into silence.

"If you notice the board behind you, Chicken is the only thing they have on the menu for an entree tonight. They only have three side items available, and the third one is carrots. I have noticed that you never eat carrots, and you always turn then down when offered to you. So I ordered chicken and the other two items for the both of us. I didn't order for you because I thought you couldn't. There simply aren't any other choices," Michael said calmly. He knew just how to get Maria. And he was not going to play into her over active emotions.

Maria covered her mouth with her napkin, and shocked, laughed nervously. "I'm sorry, Michael. I over reacted. This is just so new. I've never been, well, you know, to dinner with someone I liked before, and I am just extremely nervous."

Not letting her words pass him Michael smiled, and accepted her apology. The rest of the dinner passed uneventfully, and soon they were on their way home. Arriving near the Ranch, they stopped long enough to wave at Sean as he passed by them on his horse, headed back into town.



When Max heard Liz come in, he sighed, and turned over to sleep. He had lain awake since she had left, not wanting to go to sleep until he heard her come in and knew she was safe. He heard her come down the hall, and the fact that she was humming to herself sent another jab of pain straight through his heart. She sounded so happy.


Maria and Michael had come in the door and been there only twenty minutes, talking to Liz in the living room when someone banged on the door.

Momentarily freightened, Liz resisted the urge to turn and run. It was late, and they hadn't been expecting someone, and she was afraid her father had found her.

Hearing the banging, Max jumped out of bed and threw open his door, not bothering to put button the shirt hanging loosely open as he headed down the hallway. Michael and Maria too stopped and stared, thoughts of Jefferey Parker racing through their minds.

Stepping out into the living room, Max stepped protectively in front of Liz and grabbed her hand from behind him to ease her fears. He looked at Michael and nodded at him to open the door.

Michael opened the door, and let out a relieved sight.

"Come quick," Kyle said, out of breath and smiling from ear to ear. Tess had the baby and she wants to see you all. She's been asking for Alexis and Maryanne since it was over."

After grabbing clothes and running out the door, Maria, Liz, Max and Michael arrived at the Valenti home, and went inside, greeted heartily by Kyle.

"She wants to see you two," he said, motioning Liz and Maria back to the bedroom.

"Honey," Kyle said, knocking gently on the door. "Alexis and Maryanne are here." After a pause, he turned to the two girls. "You can go in," he whispered.

Easing open the door, Liz and Maria stepped into the room and saw Tess sitting up in bed staring lovingly at the small bundle in her arms.

"Hey you two," Tess whispered.

"Hey to you two," Maria whispered back.

"So, what do we have? A boy or a girl?" Liz asked.

"A girl. A healthy baby girl," Tess said, holding her out to Liz.

Liz took the baby in her arms and smiled. She was so tiny, so beautiful. So perfect. Her heart ached for the day when she would be able to hold a baby of her own.

"What's her name?" Maria asked, reaching over Liz's arms to touch the baby's tiny fingers.

"I named her after my two best friends in the world," Tess said. Her words made Maria and Liz gasp, and Liz started to shake.

"I named her Elizabeth Maria."

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 24-Jun-2002 1:37:27 AM ]
posted on 24-Jun-2002 5:59:18 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
HEHE....knew I couldn't fool you guys.

Anyways, this is just a shameless bump for myself.
posted on 24-Jun-2002 11:40:32 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Yowzers!!! What's this? Two parts in one day!?!?!? Is there a blue moon outside?

Nope. It's just cause I love you guys! I know. I'm in a wierd mood, hence the two parts in one day.

Anyhoo, here's the next part...CH 22, I believe...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 22

I named her Elizabeth Maria. Elizabeth Maria. I named her Elizabeth Maria

Tess had only said the name seconds ago, and already, they were echoing over and over in Liz's mind. She knew. Tess knew who she was. And who she wasn't. She knew, and she was married to the Sheriff. Then that meant.....The sheriff knew. She had been found out and now she was going to get caught.

"I have to go. Please, take her. I have to go," Liz said frantically, holding the baby out to Tess.

Tess shook her head. "No. I won't take her. And you won't go either."

"Please, I have to go. Her just take her. Take your daughter, Tess," Liz whispered, tears spilling their way onto her cheeks.

"I'm not taking her. And you're not going anywhere. Please, just listen to me. I don't know why you've run. I don't know why you changed your name. But I won't tell. I'm your friend. I want to help you."

"No," Liz cried. "I have to go, I have to!" Liz gently laid the baby on the bed beside her mother and got up to go out the door.

"I've known since the day I met you. I haven't told anyone. Please you have to believe me. I know you must be in trouble, and I want to help."

Liz stopped, one hand on the doorknob, one flat against the door ready to pull it open. "You knew?" she asked.

"I have an uncle that lived in Sheldon for a few years. I've been to visit his family. The day Kyle brought you here, I recognized who you were. I told Kyle, and he's made some inquiries. We found a picture. I know who you are. You, Maria and Max."

"Why didn't you tell anyone?" Maria asked. Until this point, she had sat silently on the bed, unable to comprehend the fact that Liz may be in danger. Because someone had recognized her.

"Because it's no one else's business," Tess said.

Liz turned around and walked slowly to the bed. She grabbed Tess's hand and squeezed it. She knew Tess was telling the truth. She had liked Tess the moment she met her, and now she knew why. Because she was a true friend. "Thank you," she said. "Thank you for not telling anyone. And for not asking questions."

"It's okay," Tess said, smiling. "I know you will tell us when you are ready."

"Kyle knows?" Maria asked. "Is he...mad?"

Tess shook her head. "No. He feels the same way I do. You need our help, we can tell. And you've got it. All of you," she said, looking from Maria to Liz and back. " I don't even know what to call you," she added.

Liz smiled. "My name is Arizona, but you can call me Liz," she said, pointing to Maria. "This is Maria. Tyler's real name is Michael Guerin, and Jason, is well, you know he's Max."

The girls looked up when they heard a soft knock at the door. Max opened the door and stuck his head in.

"You girls okay?" he asked. Kyle had told him and Michael that they knew. After convincing him they could be trusted, he told them that Tess was going to tell Liz and Maria. He wanted to make sure they were okay.

Liz got up and went to the door, whispering something to Max. Max looked at her questioningly, then nodded at her and closed the door.

"It's my father," Liz said quietly, turning back to face Tess. "He's the reason we left Sheldon."



When Liz finished telling her story, Tess was crying softly, as were Liz and Maria.

"Oh Liz, I am so sorry," Tess said, hugging her friend. "You never have to go back there again. We can be your family now," she said.

"Thank you, Tess," Liz said, hugging her back.

Maria soon joined in, all three girls sitting with their arms around each other, whispering, smiling and crying at the same time.




"I'll kill him," Kyle said. "If he ever comes near her again, I'll kill him."

"Stand in line, Kyle," Max said. He hadn't wanted to tell Kyle at first, but Liz had asked him to. And reluctantly, he had. Surprisingly, it had made Max feel better to know that they had allies on their side. That if need be, they had people in high places that could help.

"Thank you, Kyle," Michael said. "Thank you for not telling anyone. And thank you for being our...friend."

Kyle nodded. "I can't help it. You guys are good people, I can tell," he said. "My father would have been proud to have you live in his home," he added.

"And we would have been proud to know him," Max said.


Two hours later, after oohing and aahing over little Elizabeth Maria, they realized how tired they were and headed back home.

Liz and Maria were walking arm in arm, Michael and Max walking a few steps behind them.

Liz was thinking about how lucky she had been that it had been Kyle and Tess that had found her out. Because they were her friends. And she knew that she could trust them. But what if it hadn't been them? What if someone else recognized her? She had been recognized in Summit City, and it was possible that anyone she passed could recognize the daughter of the richest man in America. It was dangerous. Her being recognized. And it made her one step closer to being found. Realizing her situation, Liz stopped mid stride.

"Liz?" Maria asked questioningly.

"I have to leave here," Liz said.

"What?" Maria asked.

"I have to leave here, Maria," Liz said, a tear rolling down her cheek. "It's too dangerous. People are recognizing me. We have to leave now." With that, Liz took off running in the direction of the Ranch.

Maria turned to Max and Michael, a questioning look in her eyes. Max pushed past her and ran after Liz.

"Liz, wait! Stop!" he hollered.

"I have to go, Max!" she hollered back. She didn't bother to stop, and as Max was running after her, he tripped on a rock in his path and fell. Unable to get up in time to catch her, he saw her run into the house.

Getting up and going after her, Max reached the house first. He went in, and found Liz laying across her bed, sobbing into her pillow.

"Liz," Max said quietly.

"I don't want to leave," Liz said, through her tears. "I like this life. I like it here. I have...friends. I don't want to leave, Max, but I'm scared. Scared he'll find me."

Max sat down on the side of the bed, and Liz raised up, throwing herself into his arms. He hugged her back. He stroked her hair and let her cry.

"If you want to leave, Liz, I'll go with you. But if you want to stay, then I'll stay."

"But he'll find us, Max. People are recognizing me. And he'll find me eventually. He's going to kill me."

"Then he'll have to go through me," Maria said softly from the door way. She was crying too, and she smiled when Michael put his arm around her shoulders.

"And me too," Michael added.

Liz pulled away from Max and looked at her friends. Then she turned to look at Max.

Max smiled at Liz and tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. This was Liz. His sweet, beautiful, innocent, Arizona. Her eyes were red and swollen, her face was tear streaked, and her clothes were rumpled. But he wanted nothing more than to pull her close to him and kiss her and tell her how much he loved her and to never let her go. But he knew he couldn't. He just had to be there for her. She needed him. "I'm not going to let him get you, Liz. He's not going to hurt you anymore," he whispered.

Maria and Michael walked over to the bed, and Maria sat down on the other side of Liz, Michael sitting down next to Maria.

"You have us, Liz. And we make a darn tough team to go through," Maria said.

Liz let go of Max and turned to her cousin, giving her a tight hug around the neck. She looked at Michael over Maria's shoulder, and he smiled at her, and reached up to take her hand. And Liz knew it was going to be just fine. Even if Jefferey Parker did find her. Because she had people that loved her. And they were going to protect her.
posted on 25-Jun-2002 2:00:45 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
No replies yet. Was this a bad chapter? hmmmm...
posted on 25-Jun-2002 3:17:05 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
So, I was wondering. For anyone who is reading this that does Fanart...Is there any way someone could make me a banner, or picture, or whatever it is you call it for this FIC?

This is my favorite fic out of all the ones I've written, and I don't have the capabilites to do FANART, and I am not that computer literate. I was just wondering.

Thanks alot.

If anyone can help, let me know. I would be forever in your debt. B-mail me.
posted on 2-Jul-2002 2:41:13 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 23

As Jefferey and Nicholas rode into Summit City, Nicholas rode a few steps behind. As they neared the city, Jefferey slowed his pace immensely. He had ridden hard since leaving Sheldon, and they had made the three day ride an about a day and a half. Watching his shoulders slump, Nicholas wanted to laugh out loud. They had been to over half of the biggest cities surrounding Sheldon, and they had yet to find any sign of Arizona Parker. And that had only added more fuel to the rage burning inside of her father. Since leaving Sheldon, Jefferey had hardly uttered a word, save to order Nicholas to do something for him.

Nicholas had been surprised to see Jefferey ready to leave Sheldon so quickly. He had expected to stay at least a day, but they hadn't even stayed the afternoon. Jefferey told him that his wife had passed away, and Nicholas had been surprised to say the least. If he hadn't known better, he would have thought that Jefferey had actually lost someone he cared about. But Jefferey Parker was a hard and unfeeling man. Nicholas was sure he didn't care about anyone.

Just on the outskirts of the town, Jefferey stopped suddenly and Nicholas looked to see what he wanted.

"I'll go the Inn, the Saloon, and the Sheriff's Office. You go to the Post Office, the Church, and the General Store. If you don't find anything, we leave in one hour. Understand?" Jefferey asked turning to Nicholas.

Nicholas shook his head and nodded. Jefferey turned around, and Nicholas followed him into Summit City.



After checking the Inn, the Saloon and the Sheriff's Office, Jefferey was angry that he hadn't found anything. Not one person he talked to could remember seeing Arizona. Deciding to catch some lunch before heading back out, he went back to the Inn to eat in the restaurant. He was eating lunch, and was about to leave when he was approached by a woman he wasn't sure he knew.

"Excuse me, but aren't you Jefferey Parker?"

"Miss, I'm sorry. I really have to go."

"But wait, I saw you in Sheldon at a Railroad opening once. We met. My name is--"

"M'am," Jefferey said, tipping his hat at her. "I'm sorry. But I really have to be going." Jefferey turned to walk away.

"Well! I never!" he heard the woman say. "First I could have sworn Arizona Parker was in town, and now him! And neither one claims to be who they really are.!" She turned and headed off in the other direction.

Jefferey turned around and ran to the woman.

"Miss, excuse me. What did you just say about Arizona Parker?"

The woman looked at Jefferey and turned the other cheek. "You didn't seem very interested a second ago. In fact you seemed very anxious to leave."

"Miss," Jefferey said walking after the woman. "I am Jefferey Parker. Now please, tell me what you know."

"Sir, you are quite rude. Now it is I who wishes to leave quickly." She turned and walked away but stopped when she heard Jefferey speak.

"I can pay you for your information." Jefferey waited while the woman turned around to face him, then we walked the few steps to her. "Please, tell me what you know. My daughter has run away, and I am trying to find her."

"She was here. With another boy and a girl. I knew it was her, but she denied it. Then this other fellow joined them. He was collaborating with their story. I had no choice but to drop it. They were here a couple days ago. They left just as quickly as hey had come."

"Did you see what direction they went it?"

"Yes. They headed North out of town."

Jefferey pulled some money out of his pocket and handed it to her. "Thank you."

As he turned to walk back to his horse and meet Nicholas, he couldn't believe his luck. Finally, after days of looking, he had finally gotten some kind of clue as to where she had gone. Now all he had to do was pull out his map and check all the big towns to the north of Summit City. Heading out to his horse, his mood lightened considerably. It was the first time in days Jefferey Parker smiled.



"So, I hear you've been seeing a lot of Sean Douglas," Tess said to Liz.

"I have."

"Well, tell me about him."

"Tess, he's great. He's well mannered, and successful, and kind, and..."

"And Liz is totally in love with the guy!" Maria interrupted.

"Maria Deluca! How could you say such a thing?"

"It's true," Maria said to Liz. Then she turned to Tess. "She's quit pining over Max Evans, and now, she's a different woman."

Maria and Tess turned to Liz when they heard her draw in her breath sharply. Not realizing until that point that Max was still a sore spot for her cousin, Maria was at a loss for words. Sensing the moment was an awkward one, but making a mental note to ask Maria about it later, Tess got up and went to the bassinet in the corner.

"Well," she said, picking up little Bethie. "I think someone wants to wake up!"

Forgetting the moment, Liz looked at the baby and smiled. "I'll take the little cutie pie," she said. Tess handed the baby over to Liz, and they all started talking and gushing over the little bundle in the tiny pink blanket.


"So, Liz has been seeing a lot of this Sean character, I hear," Kyle asked Max and Michael, who were outside waiting for the girls to finish cooking the dinner.

Max groaned and Kyle looked at him questioningly. "What's wrong with you?"

"Mister Evans, it seems," Michael said. "Is quite taken with the one and only Arizona Parker. But he has long since resigned himself to the fact that she doesn't love him back."

Kyle tried to hide his smile. "And now he has to put up with the fact that she has...someone in her life?"

"I have tried and tried to hate the guy. But he hasn't given me any reason, except for the fact that he's got her and I don't!" Max whined.

"Why don't you just tell her?" Kyle asked.

"It won't do any good. I blew my chances long ago. She needs me as her friend. Watching her love someone else is just my punishment," Max said sadly.

"What did you do?" Kyle asked.

Michael shook his head over Max's shoulder trying to signal Kyle not to ask, but Kyle didn't see him.

"It was a long time ago, before we left Sheldon. One night, she-"

Michael, Max and Kyle turned to the door when they heard Maria calling them inside for dinner.

"Well, I am so hungry I could eat a horse!" Michael said, changing the subject quickly. They were celebrating the arrival of little Elizabeth Maria tonight. Michael knew how moody Max got when he talked about Liz. And tonight was a happy night. He pushed Max and Kyle inside for dinner, and motioned to Kyle that he would tell him all about Liz and Max later.
posted on 3-Jul-2002 6:10:08 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
For KitKat, LizPark, Applebybehr, Rapunzel, frenchkiss70, thebettertwin(twice!), roswllluver, Pixie, Spicytrini1, and TDDreamerBehr.

You guys are relentless, LOL! Just for all the wondeful FB, here is another part. Now you can tell me how much you love me....hehe.....Enjoy, guys!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 24



"I was an idiot," Max said. Sighing, he put his face in his hands and closed his eyes. Max, Michael and Kyle were sitting on the fence separating the two properties. Tess and Maria were a little ways down, picking flowers in the dusky light of the evening. Liz had gone on a walk with Sean. He had told Kyle all about what had happened between he and Liz. He told her how horrible he had been to her, and how he had promised himself that he would spend his life making it up to her. As her friend.

"Max, I'm sorry," Kyle said. "But look at it this way. You know what you did was wrong. You've accepted it, and apologized. You're trying to do right by her now. By being her friend. At least you still have your friendship."

"Max, are you okay?" Michael asked. His friend hadn't moved in the past few minutes, since he had put his head in his hands.

Max looked up, and Kyle and Michael saw his eyes glaze over. "I broke my own heart," Max said. Sighing, he jumped down and kicked the fencepost in frustration.

"Because of what I did, I ruined any chance I have with her. It took her so long to even talk to me again."

Michael and Kyle watched as Max turned around and walked back towards the Ranch.

"Max, aren't you coming back with us?" Maria hollered when she saw him walking away. They had planned to go back to Kyle and Tess's to help them get ready for the dinner being held at their home the next day to honor little Bethie's dedication at church.

Max turned around and shook his head at Maria, then headed back home. All he wanted to do was go home and sleep. When he was sleeping, he was able to forget the mess he had gotten his own self into.

Walking away, Max kicked at the grass beneath his feet. He wanted to be angry, but he could only find himself to be angry at. All those nights ago, when Liz had come to him for help, and he had turned her away, he had sealed his own fate. He had thrown away years of friendship for someone he had been momentarily infatuated with. And it was his own selfishness that had caused him to do so. She had trusted him, and he had let her down. If he had stopped just once, long enough to see the pain in her eyes, he may have been able to help her. But when Pam had come breezing into his life, she had shaken him up. And it was because of her that he had turned Liz away. Wiping a tear from his eye, Max took off running as he felt rain falling from above.



"So, how long does it take you to get back?"

"Only two days," Sean said. "I stop at night, and ride during the day."

"Must be hard. Traveling all the time like that."

"Not really," he said. "Only when the weather's bad."

Sean and Liz were walking arm in arm through the orchard of trees behind the Inn in Dallas. Sean was leaving the next day, and he would be gone for a month. He was telling Liz about the trip back.

"Do you ever get tired of it? I mean don't you ever want to just stop and stay in one place?"

Sean looked at her and smiled. "I don't get tired of it." Looking at Liz, he realized that for the first time in years, he didn't want to leave Dallas. He had been making the one month trip for the last two years, and he had never once wanted to settle down. Until now. In only the last month, Alexis Johnson had taken him by surprise. He had fallen for her. Making a split decision, he turned to face her.

"Alexis, can I ask you somehing?"

"Yes, Sean. What is it?"

"If you don't want to answer, it's okay. It's kind of personal, I guess."

"What is it?" Liz asked hesitantly. He sounded so...serious. Had he guessed who she really was?

"Is there...anyone special in your life? I mean is there a male subject in your life?" Watching her, he couldn't imagine her not being taken already. She was so beautiful. With her silky brown hair, and her beautiful brown eyes. She was the kind of girl that a guy dreams about at night. She had certainly been in his dreams.

The moment Sean asked his question, an image of Max popped into Liz's mind. She had tried as hard as she may to get over her feelings for him, and it wasn't until Sean had asked her about a special someone that she realized her feelings hadn't changed. She was still in love with Max, and she was beginning to think she might never get over him. She still wore his ring around her neck, hanging just above her heart on Alex's gold chain.

"N–n- no," Liz stammered.

"Marry me, Alexis."

Liz turned to face Sean, her eyes wide with surprise. "What?" she asked.

"Marry me. I want you to be my wife."

Liz shook her head as a tear fell, and Sean went on.

"I know it's sudden. But I don't want to leave here knowing you might not be waiting when I come back. You make me want to settle down. You make me want to stop and make a life. And I want to make it with you. I've only known you a short time, but I'm afraid I've fallen in love with you." He reached down and picked up her shaking hand. "What do you say Alexis? Please. Say yes. Say you'll marry me."

Liz pulled her hand away from Sean. " I can't," she whispered. "I'm sorry, Sean. I can't marry you."

Sean put his head down. He had known the answer. Feared the answer. And he had been right to do so. Because deep down, he had known she would refuse him. "It's because of Jason."

Liz's head shot up to look at him. "What?"

"It's because of Jason. I see the way you look at him sometimes. I know you feel strongly about him. And you have never looked at me like that. But I see the way he looks at you too. It's the same way I do. He loves you."


"He doesn't," Liz said, turning her attention to the ground.

Sean reached up to Liz's chin. Using his forefinger, he lifter her head to face him. "He does. I don't know what happened. But whatever it is, you haven't gotten over him. And he hasn't gotten over you. If you have something here, don't lose it. Don't let a chance pass you by."

Liz nodded at him as another tear slid down her cheek. "Thank you," she whispered.

"I'll walk you home," he said.

"I want to walk alone, please," Liz said.

Sean nodded at her. He reached down, kissed her cheek, and walked away.

Liz stood there, watching him walk away. Was what he said true? Did Max love her? Often times, Liz had caught Max watching her. But she had assumed that it was because he was just watching over her. Being a concerned friend. The thought that Max might love her back was too much to hope for. She was scared to think that Sean was wrong. That Max didn't love her. But she was terrified to think that Sean was right. That Max did love her. If he did, then there was one question that kept tugging at her mind. Could she trust him?

Max Evans had hurt her once, more than she could have ever imagined. And she had vowed to herself that she would never let him hurt her again. What if he did love her? She was scared to death that allowing herself to love him back would only get her hurt. What if something better came along, just like it had long ago, and Max turned her away? Could she handle being hurt by him again?

Liz held out her hands and looked up into the moonlit sky as she felt the raindrops. Turning and breaking into a run, she headed back home.


As Liz headed up the walkway to the front door, she saw Max running from behind the building. Seeing Liz before him, he stopped dead in his tracks. Liz too stopped running to stare at Max.

Not caring that it was raining on them, Liz and Max walked slowly towards each other. Never once losing eye contact. The thoughts that had just passed through their minds racing a mile a minute.

Liz felt her heart skip a beat when she looked Max in the eye. His deep amber eyes were swirling with emotion, and she wanted nothing more than to curl up and get lost in them. But she was afraid.

Max watched Liz, as his breathing shallow, and his head swam with emotions. She was so beautiful. And he knew at that moment that he would love her forever.

"What's wrong?" he asked. He saw the tenseness in her stance, the questions in her eyes.

"He proposed. Sean. He asked me to marry him," Liz whispered back.

Max felt his heart break. He felt the tears come, and was grateful for the rain that Liz couldn't see him cry. Not trusting himself to look at her, he put his head down. "Oh," was all he could manage to say.

"I refused."

Max's head shot up, as he looked at Liz. He wasn't sure he had heard her right. It was barely more than a whisper.

"What?" he asked.

"I refused him."

"Liz-"

Seeing his eyes fill with emotion, Liz flung herself into his arms. She wasn't sure what was going to happen. She wasn't sure if he even loved her back. She wasn't sure that if he did, that she could trust him. But she needed him right then. She relaxed when she felt his arms come around her waist.

Pulling back slightly, Max looked down at Liz's upturned face. She was staring at him with her big brown eyes, and he couldn't help himself.

He reached up and smoothed the hair back from her face. She shivered, and he instinctively pulled her closer. He knew they should go in out of the rain, but he couldn't bring himself to break the contact with her just yet.

She reached a hand up to touch his cheek, and he leaned into her. He tried to deny what he was feeling. Mentally, Max was urging himself to stop. But his body had a mind of his own. Opening his eyes briefly, he saw Liz close hers. And he lost all control.

As the rain poured down on them from above, Max closed the distance as his lips met Liz's in a soft, tender kiss.

posted on 3-Jul-2002 6:15:09 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
My computer is acting all wierd. I posted, but it didn't bump to the first page. So....Bump.
posted on 7-Jul-2002 11:41:50 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
This part dedicated to my faithful readers, and their great FB. Thanks guys!

Pixie Feel sorry for Sean? Never!!

TD Dreamer Behr Are you nuts yet? Cause I'm not...yet.

KitKat! I know. Sean as decent? What a different thought. PS....got any chocolate? Hehe

goddessgurl5000 hehe...I always liked Janice. Thanks for the bump!

Rapunzel Glad you liked this part. I liked writing it!

Adrianna I know what you mean. A M/L kiss can make everything better!

Frenchkiss70 I know it was a long time. But I figured you guys had waited long enough!

Carolina moon Yep Rain kisses. My favorite *insert dreamy sigh here*

Miss dreamergal Yes. They are moving somewhere. Just remember. It can't be all at once.

Lindsey thanks for the bump!

the better twin Thanks for the FB, and the bump!

Kira Lianna Thanks for reading, and Welcome!

nickeygurl13 Your wait is finally over.

crazeesmillee you missed three parts? It's okay. I'll forgive you. At least you came back!

Lil Blu BubbleSamBub!!! you made it! WooHoo! Glad you liked it!. Can't wait to see the picture! *muah*


Sorry, to say, but I will be gone for a week. My sister is getting married, and people are coming from across the country to take over my house—AAAHHHHH!!! I am the maid of honor, so I have lots of jobs to do. So, I'll be out for a week, but I will be thinking of you all. And I'll have a part ready when I come back. But don't forget...a bump or two wouldn't hurt. I wouldn't want my story to fall off the board. You guys have fun, and I hope this holds you for a while....

Luvs!
Christian

posted on 7-Jul-2002 11:42:34 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
The first part of Max's note are the lyrics from Gary Allan's "The One" I thought they fit well...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


CHAPTER 25

As the rain poured down from above, Max and Liz broke apart, faces still merely centimeters from each others.

Max couldn't help but feel the tingling in his body. Not from the cold. Not from the rain. From the feel of Liz so close in his arms. He had waited for this since the day he had realized his feelings for her. He had also known that what she needed was a friend. Something he had neglected to be in the past. And it had almost cost him her permanently. And now, he was more than determined to be that friend. He had waited, watched, and hurt, while she was with Sean. It was just a necessary part of being her friend, given his feelings for her and his past actions with her when Pam had been part of the picture. But as he looked at her face, searching her eyes for a reaction to the kiss, he was deathly afraid he had overstepped his bounds.

Liz could feel her body burning where Max had touched her. She could feel her lips aching from where he had kissed her. And she could feel her mind reeling with all the questions she was dying to ask. Suddenly, she was afraid. She had waited a long time for Max to notice her, and it had only been Sean that had made her realize she still had some issues to come to terms with before she was ready to let herself go any further with Max. He had hurt her once. Hurt her more than the physical beatings inflicted by her father ever had. He had sworn since then to be her friend. But could she trust him to be more? She was putting her heart on the line here, and she wasn't sure yet if Max could handle it. Could she be sure that he wouldn't drop her again, when the next Pam crossed his path? The indecision flicked across her face and she felt Max's arms loosen their grip around her waist, but they stayed gently there. Suddenly, it wasn't just rain running down her cheeks.

"Why?" She whispered

"I'm sorry, Liz. I couldn't help it. I just, I mean you were so close, and the rain, and then you told me you turned Sean down, and I just----"

Max stopped when he saw Liz shaking her head violently. "Why, Max? Why did you just forget me? Why did you let her ruin what we had?"

Max's heart lurched, and he saw the tears in her eyes. She wasn't talking about the kiss. She was talking about Pam. Silently, he cursed himself yet again for causing her the heartache he saw in her expression. "I'm sorry, Liz. So sorry. I was young, and naive, and blinded. By lust, or what I thought was love. I let it get the better of me, and the real things, the things that mattered, slipped through my hands. you slipped through my hands."


"You broke my heart, Max," she sobbed. "He broke my body. But you, you broke my spirit." She took her arms from around Max's shoulders and brought her hands up to cover her face as the tears came.

He pulled her closer, crushing her to his chest, and he too found himself crying. "I know, Liz. I hate myself every day for it. And I am so sorry. I can't find words to tell you how sorry I am. I want to make things right, again, Liz. I want to be your friend. I want to be what you need me to be. I'll do anything you ask of me. The way I feel for you, Liz, it's never going to go away."

Liz slowly pulled her face from her hands, and looked up at Max. For a minute, she said nothing, nor did he, they both just stared at each other. Max reached up and put his hands on either side of her face, pushing the damp hair back and tucking it behind her ears. Then she spoke.

"I need you to give me time, Max. These....feelings I have. I need to sort them out. I need to be sure....that I'll be...okay."

Max nodded his head. She had feelings for him? Hearing her say that was more than he could have ever imagined. It meant there was still hope. "I'll wait, Liz. As long as I need to. I'll be here when you're ready." He knew Liz well enough to know what she was thinking. She wanted to make sure she wouldn't get hurt. And he couldn't blame her. Because that was all he had done in the past. Hurt her.

Liz shivered, this time from the cold, wet rain, and Max turned her around and put his arm around her. "C'mon," he said. "We need to get you inside." Liz nodded and let Max lead her in.

Once inside, Max walked Liz to her room, and watched as she went inside. Stopping just before she shut the door, she turned around and looked at him. Her brown eyes swimming with emotion. She offered him a small smile, then shut the door behind her.

The next morning, Liz awoke to find Maria hustling around the room, getting ready to go to Kyle and Tess's.

"Looks like I missed something last night," Maria said, when she saw Liz watching her.

"What do you mean?" Liz asked.

"I mean that," Maria said, pointing to the table on the other side of the bed next to Liz. "Asked me to leave it for you. Very mysterious," Maria said, her eyes twinkling.

Liz turned over to the table next to her bed, and saw a single white rose and a note.

"Well, I am going to help Tess get ready for her dinner today. I'll see you soon," she said, hurrying out the door.

Liz sighed, and reached for the flower and the note. She picked up the flower, and smelled of it, closing her eyes, letting the scent fill her nostrils.

The name on the front of the folded piece of paper told her who it was from.

No rush though I need your touch
I won't rush your heartUntil you feel on solid ground
Until your strength is found, girl
I'll fill those canyons in your soul
Like a river leads you home
And I'll walk a step behind
In the shadows so you shine
Just ask it will be done
And I will prove my love
Until you're sure that I'm The One.

Arizona,
I'm not sure whether or not I should apologize for last night. What I did was heartfelt, and spur of the moment. I hope I didn't overstep my bounds. But we did get some things out between us. I hope that someday, you will be able to forgive me with your whole heart. Until then, just know that I will wait for you. Forever, if that's what it takes.

Yours,
Max


Liz smiled, and folded the note. As she got up, and got ready for the day, she thought about Max. She loved him, and she knew that much. She was almost certain that he loved her too. He had all but said it last night. But she was still a bit cautious. She had to one hundred percent sure that she wasn't going to get hurt before she was able to have something more than a friendship with Max. And for that to happen, it would take time.

She opened the door, and made her way down the hall towards the kitchen, where she could smell breakfast. When she walked into the kitchen, she saw Max at the table, talking and giggling softly...to a baby?

Liz cleared her throat, and Max looked up. He smiled at her, eyes twinkling, and motioned her over. She smiled back, and walked over to look into the small wooden cradle sitting on the table. Little Elizabeth Maria lay inside, smiling her loopy toothless grin at the small toy she was holding.
Max watched Liz as she whispered and talked to the baby, holding her hand and smiling when Bethie wrapped her fingers tightly around Liz's pinky. He couldn't help feeling his heart swell at the sight. Liz was wearing a long floor length dress of pale yellow, with small green flowers, and green velvet trimming. The bodice was fitted, hugging her curves nicely, and the skirt was flowing and full. The lace peeked out from under the sleeves, at the neckline above her chest, and at the floor where the skirt touched. And there, just around her neck, disappearing below the neckline, hung Alex's chain where he knew his ring rested at the end of it. He wondered if he would ever be able to see Liz as happy with a child of her own...of his own. A future with Liz was still something to dream about.

"They dropped her off this morning," Max said. "They asked if we wanted to bring her to the church. Michael and Maria are doing most of the work for the dinner, and won't make it, so Tess and Kyle have asked you and I to stand with them at the dedication."

Liz smiled. "Well, I'm starving."

"Here," Max said, pulling a plate off the counter. "I heard you waking up and made you something to eat."

Liz took the plate, and sat down next to the baby cradle to eat.

"Thank you, Max," she said, "for the note."

Max nodded his head. "I meant it," he said softly.

"I know you did."


When Liz was finished eating, she picked up the baby, and headed out the door to church to take little Bethie to her dedication service. She handed the baby to Max, then climbed into the carriage. She put a wide brimmed yellow hat, with green trimming and a green bow to tie under chin, on her hair, and reached back down. Max handed her the baby and they went to church.

On the way there, with Max at her side, and a precious baby girl in her arms, Liz beamed from ear to ear. She felt so proud. She couldn't help but wonder if that was what it was like having a family of your own. If that was what it was like to be happy.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 7-Jul-2002 12:07:28 PM ]
posted on 17-Jul-2002 2:27:32 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Wow!! I'm back, and here with a new part as promised. Hope you guys didn't miss me too much! hehe....Anyways. Had a great time at the wedding, and lots of fun, but I am so glad it's over. It was soooo hectic!

Here's your new part.

PS look at the banner Lil Blu Bubble made for me! Isn't it cute!?!?!?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

chasingarizona

CHAPTER 26

Riding into Clemenceau, Jefferey Parker's jovial mood was quickly disentegrating. When he had ridden into Summit City, he was angry, and in a foul mood. His unsuccessful search for Arizona had so far been fruitless and had yielded no clues as to where the girl had gone. After searching the city, and asking all the people in high places if they had seen her, he was all but ready to give up. Almost. But his anger had gotten the best of him. He was ready to storm on to the next town and yet again search for his missing daughter.

But when he had been approached by someone claiming to have seen Arizona in Summit City, his anger quickly turned to elation. That meant he was headed in the right direction. And it was only a matter of time before he found her and was able to wreak his revenge. So, he had taken a map and marked every single city surrounding Summit City. And once again, he headed out to find Arizona. Once again, in the next three cities, his search turned up unsuccessful. And the elation he had felt at finding her was quickly fading away. Only to be replaced by more anger. She was only a seventeen year old girl. With two possibly three companions. How far could she possibly go on her own? And how could she have managed to get that far without someone recognizing her?

Jefferey stopped and looked at Nicholas. Nicholas nodded his head and rode onto town. The procedure had been the same at the last three towns they had come to. Jefferey would check the Sheriff's Office, the Post Office, and the Church. Nicholas would check the General Store, and any other businesses he could find. If nothing was found, they would stay about an hour, enough time to rest and give the horses a rest then head back out.

Stepping out of the Sheriff's office, Jefferey felt his shoulders begin to slump. But once again, his anger got the best of him. He lifted his chin, and headed to the post office. The Sheriff hadn't seen Arizona in his town. Hopefully, he'd have better luck at the post office.

Walking in the door, Jefferey heard the bell hanging above jingle slightly. An older gentleman with wire rimmed glasses came to the counter, and a young girl sitting behind a desk busy writing something looked up and nodded at him.

"How can I help you today, sir?" the man asked.

"I am looking for some information. My name is Jefferey Parker." Jefferey stopped talking when the man inhaled a sharp breath, and the girl behind the desk dropped her pencil and got up to stand near the man. "My daughter, Arizona has run away from home. I have information that she might have been headed this way. If I show you a photograph, would you be so kind as to help me?"

The man didn't say anything, just merely stared at him.

"I would be willing to pay you for your help."

The man shook his head as if to clear away the disbelief of the fact that the richest man in America was standing right in front of him.

"Sure, Mr. Parker. Anything. What can I do to help?"

Jefferey reached into his pocket and pulled out a photograph of Arizona. He slid it across the counter and watched as the man picked it up and straightened the glasses perched on the end of his nose to give himself a better view. "This is her photo. Have you seen her here in town by any chance?"

The man looked at the photo, and took a moment staring at it. He narrowed his eyes in concentration, as if trying to remember something he'd forgotten. "She looks strangely familiar. Although I can't seem to place her. Suzanne, dear, look at this picture and see if you recognize this girl." He handed the picture to the girl, and Jefferey watched as her eyes dawned recognition.

"Father," she said, looking at the man. "I have seen this girl. The night of the Birthday Celebration, I believe. One of her companions was asking for directions."

"Ahhh. Yes. I do believe she's right," the man said turning back to Jefferey. "I remember her now. She was with another girl and two young men. I handed them flowers as they headed into town."

Jefferey looked questioningly at the two. "Is there anything else. Anything you can remember at all?"

The man and his daughter shook their heads, then Jefferey nodded at them, thanked them, and turned to head out the door. He stopped and turned back to the girl. "You said they asked for directions. Do you remember to where?"

The girl nodded. "Dallas. They wanted to know how to get to Dallas."



Max looked at Liz and smiled, as they walked arm in towards the ranch. Their walk in the evenings had become a nightly ritual. It had started out as a getaway and some relief from the constant bickering between Michael and Maria that had started as soon as their new found coupledom had. But it had turned into a part of the evening that both Max and Liz had begun to look forward to. They used the time to relax and wind down from the events of their day. Some nights they would walk and talk, but some nights they would just walk arm in arm in silence, content just to be in each other's presence.

The day of Bethie's dedication had been a day of changes all around. Kyle and Tess had emerged as parents of Dallas's newest baby girl, and it seemed they were still, even one week afterwards, receiving gifts from the towns well wishers. Liz and Max had emerged even closer friends than before. They had spent the entire day with little Bethie, and it had made them both realize how much they looked forward to a future with one another, regardless of how long it would take before that was possible. And Michael and Maria had started the day separately, and had ended up a couple. Michael had caught Maria crying because she was so happy, and the sensitive moment had caught him off guard. Wanting to comfort her, he let down his walls to reach out to her, and she had kissed him. The rest had come naturally, and they had stuck to each other like glue ever since.

Liz sighed and smiled back and Max, then looked back towards the ground. Since the morning he had left her the note, Max had stayed true to his word. He hadn't pushed her or pressured her for anything. He had simply been her friend. Their conversations were much more in depth and longer than they had been before. The new found status of their feelings being out in the open had opened them up and left a deeper understanding for each other. Liz knew that it was only a matter of time before she was ready to go beyond friendship with Max, and she was grateful that he was willing to wait.

Max sighed and looked towards the ranch. He waited each day for this little late night walk of theirs. It had become a regular part of their day and he knew that Liz looked forward to it just as much as he did. His body was crying out to him to reach out and grab her and pull her close, but his heart and his mind was telling him to wait. He had promised her that he would wait until she was ready. And she trusted him to do just that. He was determined not to destroy her trust or her faith in him this time around. She had given him a second chance and he was not going to ruin it.

"So," Liz said, breaking the silence. "Do you think it's safe to go home?"

"I'm not sure it's ever safe to go anywhere near Michael and Maria in the same building."

Liz giggled, and the sound made Max join in as well. "Who would have ever thought?" Liz said.

"Those two are made for each other," Max said. "Who else can match Maria's stubborn streak with one of his own."

"But they argue and bicker so much!"

"I think it's just their weird way of flirting. The always end up kissing and making up anyway."

"That can't be normal."

Max stopped and turned to face Liz. "Of course it's not normal. But this is Maria and Michael we are talking about. Neither one of them even comes close to normal."

Once again, Liz giggled. "I suppose your right. They do seem like the perfect match."

A few minutes later, Liz and Max stepped in the front door of their home, and looked around. The fireplace in the fire was dying, and Maria and Michael were curled up on the couch, Michael sitting up against the arm, and Maria next to him with her head resting on his chest.

"You gonna wake her up?" Max whispered.

Liz shook her head. "Maria comes up swinging. And that would leave me and Michael both injured," she whispered "They'll be fine until they wake up on their own."

Max nodded and took Liz's hand, leading her down the dark hallway towards her room. Reaching her door, he stopped and turned to look at her. He could just barely make out her face in the dim light from the fire making it's way down the hallway. He smiled at her, and reached up to graze her cheek with his hand.

"Goodnight, Max," she said, reaching up to kiss him on the cheek.

"Goodnight," he whispered back. He watched her walk inside, then reached in so he could shut the door behind her. Then he headed back to his room to get some sleep.



[ edited 1 time(s), last at 17-Jul-2002 2:29:18 AM ]
posted on 21-Jul-2002 2:20:23 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 27

"Liz, if you don't come out of there right this instant, I'm going to lock you in the barn with Kyle's pigs!" Tess said frustratingly to the closed door.

"But I feel so...exposed!" was Liz's muffled reply.

"Liz, honey, you are nothing of the sort. It's a Founder's Day Dance, and every single women there is going to have on a dress that shows off their....blessings. Now come out here right now so we can make sure it fits!" Maria said impatiently.

Tess, Maria, and Liz were at the Valenti home, making last minute preparations to attend the Founders' Day dance being held at the Inn on the following evening. Little Bethie was sound asleep in a cradle in the corner, and Max, Michael, and Kyle were at the Inn helping set up for the annual event. The girls had offered to help, but Claudia had insisted they stay at home and make preparations to look beautiful. Then she had enlisted the help of the three men, who mumbled and grumbled the whole time, until she promised to make it worth their while with some fresh blueberry pie to take home with them.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Tess had Maria and Liz come to her house to get ready for the evening out. Neither Liz nor Maria had brought anything fancy enough for a formal dance with them. So, Tess had one of her dresses altered for Liz and had given Maria a dress that had been given to her as a gift but had never been worn. Maria's dress had fit her perfect, and now Liz was in Tess's dressing area, trying hers on. But for some odd reason, she refused to come out.

"I'm not so sure this is me, Maria. It looks more like something...well, something you would wear!"

Maria looked at the shut door in disbelief, then back at Tess. Then she narrowed her eyes and looked back at the door. "Arizona Parker, if you don't come out of that closet right this instant, I will take personal offense to that statement and never speak to you again!" she said in a loud voice.

Maria smirked triumphantly when she heard the click of the door lock, and she and Tess turned to look at Liz as she stepped out of the dressing room.

Tess's hand flew to her mouth, and Maria broke out into a wide grin. "Girl," Maria said. "Max Evans is going to keel over and die when he sees you in that dress, but only, and I do mean, only, after he fights off every other single guy in Dallas!"


"So, what do you think the girls are doing?" Michael asked, from his perch atop a ladder hanging colored lanterns from the walls.

"Well," Kyle said, handing another lantern up to Michael, "If we're lucky they're starting to get ready so that when tomorrow night does come, we can all be on time!"

Max stifled a giggle from the ladder a few feet away, and Kyle walked over to hand him another lantern.

"They aren't that bad!" Max said in their defense.

"Oh no?" Kyle questioned. "Last year, Tess started getting ready mid afternoon. And we were still late!"

"Well, maria would say that late is fashionable. So no matter how early they start getting ready, I'll be willing to bet that we will still be late!"

"Guys this place looks great! Absolutely wonderful!" Claudia said walking over to the boys. "Now you three have done your share for tonight. Run along home, and I'll see you tomorrow night. But I do have a favor to ask. I already spoke to the girls. They agreed to meet you three here. Would you mind terribly coming early to help me start things off? I just need help making announcements, and starting the evening off."

Claudia looked questioningly at the three boys, as they looked back and forth between themselves. She knew they would agree. She had saved them from having to hear the girls fuss while preparing for the dance.

"Sure, Claudia. We'll be happy to," Kyle said.

"That's great!" she kissed each boy on the cheek. "Now run along and get some rest. We're done for tonight." Claudia turned to walk out of the room.

Michael and Max looked at each other, then Max looked at Kyle. ‘I thought we got pie?' he mouthed. Kyle shrugged his shoulders, then looked back at Claudia. The boys had waited all night for a fresh pie, but were too polite to remind Claudia that she had promised them each one.

Just as she was reaching the door, Claudia turned around and winked at the three guys. "Oh I almost forgot!" she said, pointing he finger in the air. "Your pies are at the front desk."

The boys heaved a sigh of relief, then headed off to get their pies and get some sleep.


The next evening, Liz, Tess and Maria were putting the finishing touches on their appearances for the dance.

"Well, if I do say so myself, we look absolutely smashing!" Maria said.

"I can't believe that is really us staring back!" Liz said.

"Well it's amazing what a little hard work could do. And to think. We are only going to be a little late! We won't miss much," Tess remarked.

Tess had arrived at the Silver Ranch as Kyle had come to pick up Max and Michael to take them back to the Inn. They had left Bethie with the Postmistress, Patty Ross, for the evening. Patty had been a great friend of Kyle's mother, and she was the only person other than Max, Liz, Michael and Maria that he or Tess felt safe leaving her with. The girls had spent the next two and a half hours helping each other get ready amidst a whirlwind of conversation, giggles, and compliments. Now, finally ready to leave, they were staring at themselves in full length mirrors, giving approving nods and compliments. At first, Liz had been a bit apprehensive about her dress, but encouragement and compliments from Maria and Tess had changed her mood. She had been worried what Max would think, but they had assured her that he was going to like it, to say the least.

A short time later, Maria, Tess, and Liz arrived at the dance. Stepping inside, Tess was greeted by Kyle who almost attacked her.

"Tess you look gorgeous!" Kyle said, kissing his wife on the lips. He turned briefly to Maria and Liz nodded and greeted them, then grabbed Tess and led her in another direction.

"I hope they behave themselves," Maria whispered to Liz.

"What's this? Two beautiful girls with their heads stuck together and no man around? I'll have to change that!"

Liz and Maria turned around to see Michael standing there, smiling his approval.

He stepped over to Liz and kissed her on the cheek. "You are absolutely beautiful, Liz."

"Thank you, Michael."

Michael smiled at Liz, then turned back to Maria. He looked at her smiling, his eyes twinkling. He couldn't say anything he just stared at her. She was so beautiful. She had on a jade green dress, with small white flowers embroidered every couple inches. The waist was fitted, and had a white ribbon tied around as a belt. It had a scoop neckline, which was trimmed in white ribbon as well. The dress was long, barely skimming the ground. Her hair was pulled back on the sides, and hung in curls across her shoulders.

Feeling a bit uncomfortable under Michael's intense stare, Maria shifted from foot to foot as she saw Liz walk away out of the corner of her eye. "What?" she asked impatiently. "Is there something on my face?"

Michael grinned and shook his head. "It's just that..you look...you look gorgeous," Michael whispered.

Maria smiled. Michael was. "Thank you, Michael."

Michael reached out and grabbed Maria's hands, and pulled her out to the dance floor.

Standing in a corner, near the side door, Liz craned her neck in every direction looking for her date. But Max was nowhere to be seen. People were still coming in the front and side door, but Max was not among the faces. She stepped to the side to see if he was near the refreshments. Then she moved forward a little to see if he was sitting at a table. She spotted Maria dancing with Michael and looked at her questioningly. Maria shook her head, indicating she didn't know where Max was either. After a few more minutes of scanning the crowd, Liz frowned. Max still wasn't there. Sighing in frustration, she turned to head out the side door, when she saw him come in. Their eyes met, and Liz stopped, waiting for Max to react.

As Max walked in the back door, eager to see if Liz had arrived yet, he stopped short when he spotted her standing just a few feet away from him. He opened his mouth to speak, but his voice caught in his throat. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest and his blood racing through his body at the sight of the angel that stood before him. He let his eyes wander down Liz's form to take in her full appearance. She had on a pale mauve colored dress that reached all the way down to the floor. Around her small waist was a deeper mauve colored sash. The dress was off the shoulder, exposing her silky shoulders, with small mauve colored rosebuds along the top from shoulder to shoulder. Her arms were bare, and a small gold bracelet hung loosely around one wrist. The neckline ran straight across, exposing even more of the silky skin beneath her throat. Around her neck was a black ribbon choker, with a mauve rose pendant hanging from the end of it, sitting just inside the hollow of her throat. Her hair was up, loose curling tendrils hanging at odd intervals framed her delicate features. She was staring back at him, her beautiful brown eyes looking at him expectantly, waiting for his reaction. And Max fell in love all over again.

Max forced himself not to put one foot in front of the other as he walked towards Liz. Unable to speak more than one word, he held out a trembling hand. "D-d-dance?" he managed to stutter.

Liz looked at Max. She had worried and waited to see what Max's reaction would be. Liz usually wore more toned down dresses. Dresses that didn't reveal as much as the one she had on tonight. And her one worry had been that Max would disaprove. Looking deep into his amber eyes, Liz saw what she had desired. Aprroval. Acceptance. And an unmistakable show of love. And it was at that moment, as she placed her hand in his and felt the spark from the contact, that Liz decided she was tired of waiting.



posted on 22-Jul-2002 4:25:33 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
All righty. I am so on a roll here. So would you guys mind terribly if I posted two parts in two days? I didn't think so.....So...here goes!


Disclaimer: The words to the song are from Alabama's 'Forever's As Far As I'll Go.'
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 28

Jefferey Parker slammed his empty mug down on the table and motioned for the barmaid to bring him more beer.

How could he not have guessed? Dallas was the most logical place in the world for Arizona to go. It was the only place outside of Sheldon she had ever been. And it was the city her beloved Alex was named after. The son that she had taken away from him. The only person in the world that she had loved who had loved her back, unconditionally.

Why hadn't he thought of it sooner? When had pored over the maps, night after night, sneering and cursing wondering where in the world she had gone, why hadn't he ever let his eyes drift so far north as Dallas? If he had only guessed, he would have found her by now, and she would no longer be a problem. And if it had only been sooner, he may have been able to be back home in time to help nurse his beloved Nancy back to health.

Jefferey growled, and swiped his arm across the table, causing the assortment of mugs to crash to the floor. The eyes of every other person in the room turned to him at the loud sound.

A tall, built man against the wall stood up to make his way towards the man losing control in his boss's establishment, but his boss reached out and touched his arm. He turned to look at his boss, who shook his head. Gruffly, the man stepped back against the wall.

The bar's owner turned back to look at the man who had almost been thrown out by his bouncer. But he had stopped him. After all, the drunken man surrounded by broken glass and burnt cigarettes was Jefferey Parker. If anyone had the money to pay for damages inflicted by themself, it was him.

Watching from the upper level, one of the local...girls nibbling at his ear, Nicholas smirked evilly.

When Jefferey had found out that his daughter was in Dallas, he had opted to stay in Clemeceau for the night. After all, now that he knew where Arizona was, he had all the time in the world.

Nicholas hadn't been so sure that Arizona would still be there, and he had voiced his opinion to Jefferey. Jefferey had silenced him with an angry glare and a few choice words, assuring him that he knew she would be in Dallas. Nicholas didn't know how or why Jefferey was so sure that Arizona was still there, but the tone in Jefferey's voice had been enough to make him keep his thoughts to himself.

Standing on the upper level, Nicholas could feel his excitement mounting. In less than a day, they would be in Dallas. And he would get to show little Arizona Parker just exactly what it was he had wanted to do to her from the first time he had seen her.


Kyle looked at Liz and Max, obviously deeply engrossed in one another, and raised an eyebrow at his wife, who was grinning from ear to ear as she watched her two friends.

"What are you grinning bout, darling?" he asked her.

"Max and Liz. They remind me of me and you when we first met."

"Oh they do, do they?" he inquired. "Then they will be extremely happy when they finally do settle down."

Tess smiled at Kyle. "I love you Mr. Valenti."

"And I love you, Mrs. Valenti." Kyle watched as his wife suddenly frowned.

"What's wrong, Tess?"

"I don't want to ruin the night, it's just that..I mean...well, I miss Bethie."

"She's fine. She's with Patty."

"I know. It's just that we've never been without her this long before. I miss her."

Kyle kissed Tess's forehead. "Okay. We'll leave right now. And go get our daughter."

Tess kissed Kyle's lips, "Thank you," she said excitedly. She let Claudia know they were leaving early, and asked her to tell their friends, then she pulled her husband out in the direction of the Ross home.



Not trusting herself to make an audible sound, Liz nodded at Max and silently let him, lead her on to the dance floor. She let her eyes wander to his feet briefly to take in his appearance. He had on black pants, and a black jacket. His jacket was open, and she could see the white shirt underneath, and the black bolo tie hanging from his neck. Completing the look, perched atop his head, was a black cowboy hat, shielding his eyes from everyone in the room but her.

And it was at her and her only that those deep amber eyes focused. Max and Liz walked side by side, Max's right hand clasping Liz's left hand tightly in his own, not once breaking eye contact. As they walked, the crowd seemed to part, to allow the two young people to walk uninterrupted to the dance floor. Just as they reached the floor, another song started, as the guitarist perched on stage strummed his guitar.

Max whirled Liz around to face him, sweeping his hat off of his head. He held his hand, still grasping hers, out to the side and put his other hand against her back. Still holding his hat, he let the brim of it rest against her back as they started to step in tune with the slow notes, swaying from side to side as the words that were softly being sung wafted throughout the building. His breathing was deep and shallow, as he tried to suck in enough breath to slow down the heart he was sure was pounding right out of his chest.

I will give you my heart
Fathful and true
And all the love it can hold
That's all I can do
Cause I've thought about
How long I'll love you
And it's only fair
That you know,
Forever's as far as I'll go


On the edge dance floor, Maria leaned her head on Michael's shoulder, but slowly brought it up as she spied her friends dancing in the center of the floor.

"Michael, look," she whispered, tapping her hand lightly against his back.

Michael shifted slightly, turning Maria with him so he could see Max and Liz. What he saw made him stare in wonder. "Well, its about darn time," he mumbled, then he turned back to Maria. "But tonight, there's only one couple I want to concentrate on."

"And who would that be?" Maria asked teasingly.

Michael's eyes looked at hers intensely. "I'm crazy about you, Maria. You know that, don't you?"

Maria looked at Michael, wide eyed and surprised, then pulled him closer and let her head lean against his chest. "Yeah, I know that," she whispered. "I'm just surprised it took you this long to figure it out."

Michael rolled his eyes, and tightened his grip on the girl that had stolen his heart right out from under him.



The crowd on the dance floor seemed to have surrounded Max and Liz, who were the only two dancing. They were so in tune with each other that their steps matched perfectly. Everyone had stopped to watch the young couple in the middle of the room that seemed to radiate with the feelings flowing between them. Max and Liz had yet to look away from one another, and had no idea that practically everyone in the room had stopped to watch them. The men watched, puzzled looks, not quite sure what was going on, and every woman in the room sighed and watched the young couple dreamily.

Unable to resist himself, Max eased his hand from Liz's grasp as her hand fell limply to his waist. Trembling, he reached up to graze her cheek, and his heart soared as she closed her eyes and leaned into his touch.

She opened her eyes, then closed them yet again, and stood up on her tiptoes, grazing her lips against Max's in a soft, tantalizing kiss. Her eyes flew open, and searched out Max's, eager for his reaction. She hadn't intended on doing that, it had just come naturally for her. Her body was crying out to make contact with his, and she had done what it was telling her to do.

"Liz," he whispered hoarsely so low that she could barely hear him, "Liz, I can't..I mean, I thought you wanted to wai-"

"Shhh, Max," she whispered back, leaning in and bringing her lips close to his ear so he could hear her. "I'm tired of waiting, Max. I know what I want. And it's you."

Max felt every fiber in his body respond to her words. He was tingling from head to toe, and for an instant, he thought he was going to explode with the emotions he felt coursing through him. She had said it. She had said that she was ready to accept him. His dreams had come true. His past had been forgiven, and this time Liz was ready to trust him. With the most precious thing she had to offer. Her heart. And he couldn't have been happier if he had been offered the world. For in that moment, he knew that Arizona Parker was his world. And she had just accepted him into hers.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 22-Jul-2002 4:38:40 AM ]
posted on 22-Jul-2002 4:37:24 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Gracie, I boo booed with Max there.

I was fixing that part, and I erased what I had written...but I guess I forgot to rewrite it...hehe....I'm going back to change it. Thanks for the heads up.


posted on 23-Jul-2002 4:53:24 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Applebybehr Gracie, hun, your FB makes me giggle. Here and on WTRL. Thanks fro reading. And if you kicked my butt for two posts in two days, how about 3 in 3 days???

frenchkiss70I try my best to spoil all my readers. And is this soon enough for you?

goddessdiva You are so welcome. Glad I made you happy!

Rapnzel Thanks for reading and always leaving FB.

the better twin Who? what? Propose? Don't get ahead of yourself, now, LOL! But Remember. Good things come to those who wait!

Nickeygurl13 Whoa! What a mega dose of FB. But I love long replies. Glad you liked that last line. It was a last minute thing. It was originally in the middle, but I liked it so much I moved it to the end. And I'm not saying anything...but Jeff WILL get what he deserves. OOPS! Did I just say that? *wink*

roswellluverSorry...I don't do nookie. But the will have a little peace. Will you settle for that?

maxismyhearHey hun! Glad you liked this part. Thanks for reading.

Thanks for all the replies, guys. This story is so much fun to write, and that's why I can't stop posting new parts. I love hearing what you all think.

Christian


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 23-Jul-2002 4:57:36 AM ]
posted on 23-Jul-2002 4:54:39 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 29

Without waiting for another second, Max swiftly set his hat back up on his head and turned to lead Liz off the dance floor. He wanted to take her outside. He wanted to talk to her. He wanted to make sure that she was certain she was ready to move on. Because the last thing he wanted her to do was to take that step before she was ready.

"Hey where you two love birds headed?" Maria asked, as Max and Liz brushed past her and Michael.

Liz turned to look at Max, since she had no idea where he was taking her.

"We're going outside....to talk," Max answered, stopping to look at Maria.

"Talk. Riiiight," Maria said, raising an eyebrow at them. "Well, you kids have fun," she said, turning her attention back to Michael.

Michael watched as Max and Liz went out the door. He frowned, wondering briefly if it was going to be okay. He had come to think of Liz as his little sister. The one he had lost so many years ago. They had spent many mornings sitting under ‘Alex's Tree', as Liz called it, telling each other all about their lives. He knew all about Max and about Liz's insecurities about being hurt. Again.

"Relax, Michael," Maria said, sensing his worry. "They're old enough to handle this themselves. Let them work it out."

"But,-"

"I thought you said there was only one couple you wanted to concentrate on? Because I could have sworn at the time you weren't talking about Max and Liz.

Michael took a deep breath. Once again the little green eyed spitfire had gotten the best of him. "Actually, I do think I remember saying something along those lines," he said.

"And what to do you plan on doing about it?" Maria asked slyly.

"Haven't got a clue. Got any ideas?" Michael asked.

And as Maria's lips met his, all thoughts of Liz and Max were wiped from Michael's mind.


Stepping out into the cool night, Max turned and walked alongside the building until he came to the small wooden bench perched at the edge. He sat down on it, and Liz followed, waiting for him to say something.

"Are you sure, Liz? I mean, are you really sure?" Max asked softly. "I don't want you to if you aren't ready."

Liz nodded. "I trust you Max. I know you won't ...hurt me again. I'm sorry you had to wait."

"Don't apologize, Liz. You have nothing to apologize for. I'm just grateful that you forgave me." Max turned to look at Liz, and saw her eyes shining with unshed tears. "I feel like crying," he whispered.

Liz shook her head. "Me too. Because I'm happy. You have no idea how happy."

"I do," Max said. He reached over and picked up Liz's hand and placed it flat on his chest, above his heart. He rested his hand softly over hers.

Liz's eyes widened. She had never know of someone's heart to beat so fast. Was something wrong with him? She wondered. "Max, what's wrong?"

"It's what you do to me, Liz. You make everything...different."

"Oh."

"Liz?" Max said.

"Yes?"

"Can I kiss you? I mean really kiss you. Not like before."

Liz nodded. "I don't know what to do," she said, suddenly feeling embarrassed.

"Just close your eyes. Your body will do the rest."

Liz lowered her lids as Max's face inched closer to hers. As he consumed her entire line of sight, Liz closed her eyes tightly.

As soon as Max's lips touched hers, Liz felt herself relax. He was kissing her, small tender kisses, and she yearned for more. She brought her hands up to the back of Max's neck, as he brought his hands up behind her back.

Max felt Liz's arms go around his neck, and he pulled her closer. As he deepened the kiss, she opened her mouth, and Max had his first taste of heaven. He had never tasted anything so sweet, or felt anything as powerful as kissing Liz. He pulled a fistful of her chocolate brown tresses into his hand, and brought his other hand up to caress her cheek. Max felt everything within himself respond to Liz so much that he thought he was in pain. But it was the most blissful and welcomed pain he had ever felt.

Liz thought she would explode when she felt Max's tongue flick across the inside of her lips. Max was the only boy she had ever kissed, and that had only been twice. Those kisses had been short, and tender. This was one so much more. It was deep, and passionate, and so...fulfilling it almost hurt. Before she knew what she was doing, her hands were threaded through his dark hair, and she was angling her head to get even closer to him.

Slowly, and needing air, Max and Liz broke apart. Max rested his forehead against Liz's as he stroked her back.

"I Love you, Arizona Parker. I always have. I was just too stupid to realize it," he said.

She smiled at him, but was unable to bring herself to say it back. She knew she had to take it slow. One thing at a time. One day at a time. She would say them eventually, because in her heart she already felt them. But she was taking it slow.

Max looked at Liz. He hadn't expected her to say anything back, but he couldn't stop the disappointment from hurting. When he felt her shiver, Max mentally slapped himself. They were outside, in the cool night air, and Liz had on a dress that was surely not meant to be worn in the cold. He took his arms from around her and pulled his jacket off. He put it around his shoulders, and rubbed his hands up and down her arms to keep her from getting cold.

"Thanks," she said, looking up him.

Max reached leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips, still feeling the jolt of electricity that being close to her sent through his body.

"Just think," Liz said, grinning at him. "You can do that whenever you want," she said, giggling.

"That is the best news I've had in the last...five minutes," he said, grinning back.

Liz sighed, and turned herself, snuggling into the warmth of Max's body. He put his arm around her shoulders, and she rested his head against his chest.

"I wish Alex were here," Liz said. "He always said I'd end up with you."

"He's here," Max said. "In your heart. And who knows," Max said, using his free hand to gesture towards the starry sky. "Maybe he's watching us right now."

"I hope so," Liz murmured.

"Me to, Liz. Me too," Max said. "Do you think we should go back in?"

"Can't we just stay here, a little while longer?" Liz asked.

Max tightened his hold on Liz. "Sure. As long as you want." He kissed the top of her head, and leaned his head back against the building.

"Well, that's my kind of talking!"

Liz's head shot up, and blushed furiously when she found Michael and Maria, arm in arm, smirking at them. She turned to bury her face in Max's neck, and Max chuckled at Liz's embarrassment.

"We were talking," Liz said.

"And that's why your hair is all rumpled?" Maria inquired.

Once again, Liz felt the blush creeping across her face.

"Oh don't go shy on me now," Maria said. "It's time to go home. Dance is over. Besides, this was bound to happen sooner or later."

Michael chuckled. "Yeah. And besides. If you saw what Maria tried to do to me in there, you wouldn't be the least bit embarrassed!"

Maria scoffed, and swapped Michael on the arm playfully. "Michael Guerin take that back right this instant!" she scolded.

Michael shook his head. Maria turned around to walk in the direction of the Ranch, Michael still attached firmly to her arm. "It's true. You were like a wild woman in there!"

"I was not!" Maria squeaked.

Max chuckled, as Liz pulled away to look at him. "I think we better follow them. They might need a referee soon."

Liz laughed, and Max leaned down and kissed her again. "We sure didn't do much...talking, did we?" Liz said.

"Is that a complaint?" Max asked.

"Nope," Liz said. "Just an observation."

Max smiled, and kissed Liz's forehead, then stood up and pulled her with him.

"Come on, Liz. It's time to go home."

And under the clear, starry sky, the four friends headed home, leaving all their cares behind them. Just happy to be with each other. Actually, just happy.
posted on 30-Jul-2002 3:52:03 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Aaack!! The showdown is almost here....Is the suspense killing you yet??hehe....Enjoy the happiness!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 30

Liz woke up, and could hear weird noises coming from the kitchen. Stretching her arms, she raised up and saw Maria standing at the doorway, her head sticking out of the partially closed door.

"Maria! What on earth are you doing?" She asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

Maria jumped, then shut the door and ran to the bed, jumping in next to Liz.

"Liz, something really weird is going on out there."

"Like what?" she asked.

"I'm not sure, but someone has taken Max and Michael and put duplicates in their places."

Liz giggled. "Maria, your imagination must be working overtime this morning."

"No, Liz. For real. Max and Michael are cooking breakfast, and get this. They're smiling. Smiling and singing. They're like, happy or something."

Liz giggled. "Yeah, well, me too."

Maria looked at Liz. "Great. They got you too. Am I the only one who didn't get a happy pill this morning?"

"Maria. Tell me you are not in a good mood. Tell me that you aren't happy over what happened last night."

"What, the dance?" Maria asked.

"No, Maria. You and Michael."

Maria smiled. "Well of course I'm happy, Liz. But I knew it was coming. I mean, honestly. How can any man resist the Maria Deluca charm?" Maria asked, batting her eyes and flipping her hair.

Liz laughed out loud, and Maria covered her mouth to keep her quiet. "Shhh, Liz! Don't let them know we're awake. They might make us help cook. Let's wait until breakfast is done, then we'll go out there."

Liz pulled Maria's hand away from her mouth and smiled. "Maria, you are so bad!"

"Yeah," Maria said, smirking as she got off the bed and headed towards her wardrobe. "But that's why everyone loves me!"

Liz rolled her eyes and got out of bed to dress for the day.


When they finished cooking breakfast, Max went down the hallway and knocked lightly on Maria and Liz's bedroom door. He stood there, fidgeting nervously waiting for one of the girls to open the door. He was a bit unsure of how to greet Liz. He was happier than he had ever been at the new found status in his and Liz's relationship. But he was still unsure of how to act around her. What did he do when he saw her? Was he supposed to kiss her? Or was that too much, and he should just hug her?

Liz opened the door, and saw Max standing there, wringing his hands. She smiled a heart stopping smile, and suddenly, Max's instinct took over. "Good morning," he said softly, as he leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips.

"Good morning yourself," Liz said, grabbing his hand. "Smells good in there, what'd you guys cook?"

Max had been worried that kissing Liz was overstepping his bounds. But when she grabbed his hand and smiled at him, he knew it was okay. Kissing Arizona Parker whenever he wanted? This was definitely going to take some time to get used to!

Max and Liz turned to head down the hallway, and Maria stepped out to join them. She grabbed Max's free arm, and turned to smile at him. "Well, Mr. Evans. It seems today is your lucky day. You get to take two beautiful women to breakfast!"

"Well, I'll take you," Max said, grinning. "But it seems a certain Mr. Guerin has been talking about you non stop today. So I'm not sure how long I'll get to keep you!"

Maria giggled when they walked in the kitchen, as Michael grabbed her arm and brought her around to kiss her on the lips.

"Now that's what I call a Good Morning!" she quipped.


"So," Michael said when breakfast was over. "Max and I were thinking we'd go over to Tess and Kyle's. See Little Bethie. You guys wanna come?" he asked.

"Sounds like fun," Liz answered.

"I'll go. I wanted to take a walk anyway. It's so pretty outside!" Maria'

"Well, then," Max said, pushing his chair out of the way. "Let's go."



"What are we waiting for?" Nicholas asked.

"We're waiting for me to say I'm ready," Jefferey snapped.

Nicholas scowled at Jefferey's back. They had been sitting about a mile away from Dallas, concealed beneath a grove of trees, watching the town from their hiding place for most of the day. Jefferey had told Nicholas he needed a break, and wanted to let the horses rest, but that had been early in the morning. It was now well into mid afternoon, and they were still there. And Nicholas was more than his share of impatient. He turned once more to look at the town. That's where she was. The famous Arizona Parker. He could hardly contain his excitement. An evil grin crossed his lips when he thought about finding her. He had been promised a chance to have a little fun. And he had more than earned that chance. He had done everything he had been told since they had left Sheldon. And he was about to get paid.

Jefferey watched the town, thought after thought reeling through his mind. This was it. He was about to come face to face with his problem. But how would he go about it? He already knew she had two friends with her. And possible a third one. That made for two boys and two girls. It wouldn't be easy with just he and Nicholas. And there was no telling how many friends she had made in Dallas. If he wasn't careful, he could ruin everything. He could lose his chance to rid himself of his problem once and for all. Timing was essential here.

He would have to wait. He would have to go into town quietly. Watch. See what her life was like. He would have to wait for the perfect opportunity to make his move. Then revenge would be his.

Jefferey turned abruptly to Nicholas, causing him to jump slightly.

"Don't talk to anyone. Follow me. Don't make yourself noticeable. Lay low."

"What are you going to do?"

"We have to watch. Wait for the right time. Don't let anyone see who you are. And for goodness sake, if you see Arizona or her friends, don't let them see you."

Nicholas was going to just follow him, but he couldn't help but wonder how long it was going to take. Hadn't he waited long enough? Finally, his impatience won out. "How long is this going to take? I'm getting very impatient."

Jefferey turned around and pointed his finger in Nicholas' face. The look he wore told Nicholas that he was not messing around. "It will take as long as I say it will. And if you do anything, and I do mean ANYTHING before I tell you, you will not live long enought to regret it. Understand?"

Nicholas rolled his eyes and nodded his head.

Then he copied Jefferey Parker as he pulled his hat down over his eyes and rode into Dallas.
posted on 4-Aug-2002 5:55:54 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 31

As they headed into Dallas, Jefferey Parker couldn't help but reach up every few seconds to make sure his hat was covering his eyes. His success depended on whether or not anyone noticed him. Keeping his identity a secret was the key to getting what he wanted here.

He kept his hat turned down, but his eyes wandered from side to side as he made his way into the town. Between the buildings. Through the street. Around the crowds. He noticed people glance up at the two newcomers, then go back to what it was they were doing before. He figured that new people were coming into town everyday, and that it was nothing unusual. When he had first found out that Arizona was in Dallas, he had been angry at the fact that it would take longer to find her in such a large city. But now, entering the town, and anxious to blend in, he was suddenly thankful Dallas was such a big city.

Spotting an inn, with a restaurant inside, Jefferey suddenly realized how hungry he was. He led his horse to the Inn, jumped off, and tied him up. Nicholas did the same.

"Remember what I said," Jefferey snapped.

Nicholas pulled his hat down, nodded, and followed Jefferey inside.


"I can't believe how much work we did today! We must have served the entire town lunch!" Maria complained.

Exhausted, Liz sat down, and sighed. She and Maria had just gotten off work, and were waiting for Max and Michael to come down.

"I am just glad we didn't walk to work today. If we hadn't brought those horses, Max would probably have to carry me home," Liz said, rubbing her feet.

"And he probably would if you asked him to," Maria said. "Michael on the other hand, would most likely laugh at me and ask me to carry him home."

Liz giggled. "He would not, Maria. He'd carry you too, if only to keep you from complaining all the way home."

Maria giggled and rolled her eyes, but smiled when she saw Michael and Max walking towards them.

"Hey girls," Max said, smiling at Maria and leaning in to kiss Liz on the lightly on her lips. "Why the frown?" He asked, cupping her chin.

"My feet are killing me. I must have served half the town today, and I'm not even sure I can make it out to the horse!" Liz complained.

Max grinned, and Liz felt herself smiling back. He turned around, and bent down, holding his arms out behind him. "Well, hop on," Max said.

"What?" Liz asked.

"You said you're feet are hurting. The horses are out back. I'll give you a piggy back ride."

Liz laughed, and grabbed her shoes.

"Told you so," Maria said.

Laughing, Liz jumped up on Max's back, and laughed as she felt him pretend to stumble under the weight of his body. She slapped his chest where her arms were linked together, holding on, and felt him laugh along with her.

"Well, come on Deluca," Michael said turning around and holding out his hands. "If I make you walk home, I'll never hear the end of it."

Liz looked over at them, and was about to smirk to Maria, when Michael turned back around.

"I don't suppose I could talk you into giving me a ride to the horses?" Michael asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Michael Guerin! I cannot believe you asked me that, you should be asha-"

Michael busted out laughing, and turned around. "Relax, Maria. It was a joke. That was your cue to laugh."

Maria tried to be mad, but Max and Liz were laughing, as was Michael, and the good mood was infectious.

"You're lucky you're so cute, Michael," Maria said, smiling, as she jumped on Michael's back.

"Wait," Liz said, sucking in a breath. "What will people think?"

"Do we really care?" Maria said.

"Good point," said Liz. "Lead the way, Maxwell!" she said, pointing in the direction of the back of the Inn.


Eating his food, Jefferey Parker looked up at the sound of people laughing in the doorway. What he saw made his heart race. Arizona was there, with Maria, and the Evan's boy. There was another boy with them, and they looked like they had just gotten off work. So they worked here. At least they'd be easy to find. The sight he saw was quite interesting, to say the least. He'd never seen her so happy. He'd never seen her in short sleeves. He'd never seen her so carefree. She was almost...glowing, she looked so happy. Her skin was a healthy bronze color, her hair was loose and framing her face, and her dress was....fitting to say the least. No wonder Nicholas wanted to have some fun with her. Suddenly, that didn't seem like such a bad idea. Jefferey heard Nicholas' sharp intake of breath beside him and knew he must have seen her too.

"Let's go," Nicholas whispered.

"Don't be stupid," Jefferey answered. "I said we're gonna wait. Watch. Figure her out. I need time to make a plan. Timing has to be precise here. We have plenty of time. She's not going anywhere."

Nicholas huffed, and leaned back in his chair, as both men continued to watch the group of friends interact.



Stepping out back, Max let Liz down long enough to untie the horse. Max and Liz had come on Rath, and Michael and Maria had brought Zan. They had left Vilandra at home in the barn.

Max untied Rath, and jumped up, then put his hand down for Liz. "Your horse awaits, m'lady," he said.

"What, no carriage?" Liz asked.

"Nope. Just a horse. No cover. The wind blowing through your hair. Only the best for my girl," he said, grinning.

"Well, then," Liz said, climbing up behind Max and putting her arms around his waist to grab hold. "How could I ever resist?" Liz leaned up and put her head on Max's shoulder, as Max turned his head to kiss her again.

Maria cleared her throat, and Max and Liz turned to look at her.

"Please, can you two just not do that, for like, 5 minutes? It's kind of weird to see your cousin slash best friend kissing boy you've know since you were crawling."

"Oh shush, Maria, they can't help it if they like to touch each other."

"But,-"

"No buts," Michael said, interrupting her by placing his lips on her own.

Liz covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud, and she could feel Max's body shake when he started giggiling.

When Maria and Michael parted, Maria's lips were pink, and her cheeks slightly flushed.

"Well, that was um....refreshing," she said, smoothing her hair.

"What was it you said about not kissing," Liz questioned.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Maria said as Michael led their horse past Max and Liz. "Now come on," she said, motioning to Max and Liz. "Let's get these boys home before the whole town sees them falling all over us!"

Max chuckled, squeezed Liz's hands around his waist, and turned Rath to follow Michael and Maria home.As they headed into Dallas, Jefferey Parker couldn't help but reach up every few seconds to make sure his hat was covering his eyes. His success depended on whether or not anyone noticed him. Keeping his identity a secret was the key to getting what he wanted here.

He kept his hat turned down, but his eyes wandered from side to side as he made his way into the town. Between the buildings. Through the street. Around the crowds. He noticed people glance up at the two newcomers, then go back to what it was they were doing before. He figured that new people were coming into town everyday, and that it was nothing unusual. When he had first found out that Arizona was in Dallas, he had been angry at the fact that it would take longer to find her in such a large city. But now, entering the town, and anxious to blend in, he was suddenly thankful Dallas was such a big city.

Spotting an inn, with a restaurant inside, Jefferey suddenly realized how hungry he was. He led his horse to the Inn, jumped off, and tied him up. Nicholas did the same.

"Remember what I said," Jefferey snapped.

Nicholas pulled his hat down, nodded, and followed Jefferey inside.


"I can't believe how much work we did today! We must have served the entire town lunch!" Maria complained.

Exhausted, Liz sat down, and sighed. She and Maria had just gotten off work, and were waiting for Max and Michael to come down.

"I am just glad we didn't walk to work today. If we hadn't brought those horses, Max would probably have to carry me home," Liz said, rubbing her feet.

"And he probably would if you asked him to," Maria said. "Michael on the other hand, would most likely laugh at me and ask me to carry him home."

Liz giggled. "He would not, Maria. He'd carry you too, if only to keep you from complaining all the way home."

Maria giggled and rolled her eyes, but smiled when she saw Michael and Max walking towards them.

"Hey girls," Max said, smiling at Maria and leaning in to kiss Liz on the lightly on her lips. "Why the frown?" He asked, cupping her chin.

"My feet are killing me. I must have served half the town today, and I'm not even sure I can make it out to the horse!" Liz complained.

Max grinned, and Liz felt herself smiling back. He turned around, and bent down, holding his arms out behind him. "Well, hop on," Max said.

"What?" Liz asked.

"You said you're feet are hurting. The horses are out back. I'll give you a piggy back ride."

Liz laughed, and grabbed her shoes.

"Told you so," Maria said.

Laughing, Liz jumped up on Max's back, and laughed as she felt him pretend to stumble under the weight of his body. She slapped his chest where her arms were linked together, holding on, and felt him laugh along with her.

"Well, come on Deluca," Michael said turning around and holding out his hands. "If I make you walk home, I'll never hear the end of it."

Liz looked over at them, and was about to smirk to Maria, when Michael turned back around.

"I don't suppose I could talk you into giving me a ride to the horses?" Michael asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Michael Guerin! I cannot believe you asked me that, you should be asha-"

Michael busted out laughing, and turned around. "Relax, Maria. It was a joke. That was your cue to laugh."

Maria tried to be mad, but Max and Liz were laughing, as was Michael, and the good mood was infectious.

"You're lucky you're so cute, Michael," Maria said, smiling, as she jumped on Michael's back.

"Wait," Liz said, sucking in a breath. "What will people think?"

"Do we really care?" Maria said.

"Good point," said Liz. "Lead the way, Maxwell!" she said, pointing in the direction of the back of the Inn.


Eating his food, Jefferey Parker looked up at the sound of people laughing in the doorway. What he saw made his heart race. Arizona was there, with Maria, and the Evan's boy. There was another boy with them, and they looked like they had just gotten off work. So they worked here. At least they'd be easy to find. The sight he saw was quite interesting, to say the least. He'd never seen her so happy. He'd never seen her in short sleeves. He'd never seen her so carefree. She was almost...glowing, she looked so happy. Her skin was a healthy bronze color, her hair was loose and framing her face, and her dress was....fitting to say the least. No wonder Nicholas wanted to have some fun with her. Suddenly, that didn't seem like such a bad idea. Jefferey heard Nicholas' sharp intake of breath beside him and knew he must have seen her too.

"Let's go," Nicholas whispered.

"Don't be stupid," Jefferey answered. "I said we're gonna wait. Watch. Figure her out. I need time to make a plan. Timing has to be precise here. We have plenty of time. She's not going anywhere."

Nicholas huffed, and leaned back in his chair, as both men continued to watch the group of friends interact.



Stepping out back, Max let Liz down long enough to untie the horse. Max and Liz had come on Rath, and Michael and Maria had brought Zan. They had left Vilandra at home in the barn.

Max untied Rath, and jumped up, then put his hand down for Liz. "Your horse awaits, m'lady," he said.

"What, no carriage?" Liz asked.

"Nope. Just a horse. No cover. The wind blowing through your hair. Only the best for my girl," he said, grinning.

"Well, then," Liz said, climbing up behind Max and putting her arms around his waist to grab hold. "How could I ever resist?" Liz leaned up and put her head on Max's shoulder, as Max turned his head to kiss her again.

Maria cleared her throat, and Max and Liz turned to look at her.

"Please, can you two just not do that, for like, 5 minutes? It's kind of weird to see your cousin slash best friend kissing boy you've know since you were crawling."

"Oh shush, Maria, they can't help it if they like to touch each other."

"But,-"

"No buts," Michael said, interrupting her by placing his lips on her own.

Liz covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud, and she could feel Max's body shake when he started giggiling.

When Maria and Michael parted, Maria's lips were pink, and her cheeks slightly flushed.

"Well, that was um....refreshing," she said, smoothing her hair.

"What was it you said about not kissing," Liz questioned.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Maria said as Michael led their horse past Max and Liz. "Now come on," she said, motioning to Max and Liz. "Let's get these boys home before the whole town sees them falling all over us!"

Max chuckled, squeezed Liz's hands around his waist, and turned Rath to follow Michael and Maria home.
posted on 5-Aug-2002 7:13:21 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
quote:
roswellluver originally wrote:
Drat, Arizona and the others are just like sitting ducks! thanks for writing!


hehe...that's funny. I almost used that phrase in some of Jefferey's thoughts. Funny that you should use it too....Great minds think alike, right?
posted on 9-Aug-2002 6:32:34 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
I know. It's been forever. Sorry. I just got caught up with other stuff.

Hope you like....hehe...the suspense is killing me. Is it killing you???

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 32

Jefferey Parker sat, not moving a muscle, except to breathe. He was cloaked in the shadows, well concealed behind a clump of bushes just on the other side of the fence at the side of the Silver Hand.

He was actually pretty proud of himself. For the last week, he had effortlessly followed Liz and her companions around town. He knew where they lived, who they were friends with, where they worked, what days they picked up their mail, even what time of the evening they usually went to bed. He'd managed to hole Nicholas up in the Inn, and paid a couple of the bar girls to...keep him company. And so far, they'd done just that. He'd been out of sight for days.

Jefferey sat patiently, waiting for anyone to come out of the house. It was almost time for Max and Liz to take their evening walk. He closed his eyes, and let the air breeze across his face. He never expected to doze off.

He walked up to the door, and put his hands on the knob, hesitated.

It had been a trivial argument. Over something so small and unimportant that he'd already forgotten what it was. But it had made him so angry that he'd left for his trip without so much as a word from her.

If the truth be known, he wasn't exactly angry. He'd been hurt beyond anything he'd ever thought he could feel.

His trip had been miserable to say the least. He'd done nothing but think of Nancy and berate himself for leaving her like he did. He could only imagine the torment she was going through at home, waiting for him to come back to her.

He shook his head, and turned the knob, waiting to hear anything. It was Sunday, so everyone except Maddy, the housemaid had the day off. It would be quiet in the house.

He made his way through the foyer, to the sitting room, the dining area, the kitchen, and the living room.

No sign of Nancy.

He wandered out the back porch, and along the length of the house to see if she was out on her reading bench.

And suddenly, he panicked.

What if she had left him? What if he had hurt her so bad by leaving that she'd walked out on him?

The fear gripping him, Jefferey Parker turned and ran up the stairs.

He threw open the bedroom door, and his heart caught in his throat.

She was sitting in the chair at the window, her head resting against the back, sleeping.

And she couldn't have looked more beautiful. He walked over to her, and touched her cheek.

She woke up, and he was instantly alarmed. She looked upset. Had she been...crying?

"Nancy, darling...what's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Jefferey. I don't know.."

"Shhh," he said, touching her lips. "It was me. My fault. I shouldn't have left. I'm the one who's sorry. I never meant to leave so suddenly. I'm sorry, Nancy. Can you forgive me?"

Nancy paused, and shook her head.

"Don't be upset, Nancy. It's okay," he said, taking her in his arms.


For a few days things were fine. Until they got the news. The news that had changed his life forever. The news that had made him the man he was today.

She told him about the other man. The one that had come into his home and gotten into bed with his wife. The man that had been there to console her when he had not. The man that had conceived a child with the wife of someone else.

It was that day that Jefferey Parker stopped feeling. And it was nine months later that the one thing in life he hated the most arrived. In the package of his wife's little girl.




Startling awake, Jefferey eased his eyes open to see Liz and Max walk onto the porch and settle into the bench at the edge of the house.

"Four days is way too long, Max. Why can't someone else do it?"

"Because. Claudia doesn't have anyone else. And she asked me to do it."

"But can't she just-"

"Why don't you come with me?" he asked, interrupting her.

"I can't. Tess is sick, and Maria is staying over there for a couple days to help with Bethie. Michael is helping Kyle rebuild the Sheriff's office. I have to cover for Maria at the Inn, so I'm working extra."

"I'm only going to Shannon, Liz. It's only a couple hours ride."

"But four whole days? I won't see you for four whole days," Liz said, pouting. She raised her hand in the air, four fingers up, to emphasize her point.

Max chuckled, and pulled her close to him. "You are just too cute for words sometimes," he said, kissing her forehead.

"Max," Liz said pulling away. "I'm upset here. And your're telling me I'm cute?"

"Liz, if it helps, I'll be thinking of you the whole way?"

"You better be," she teased. "I can't have you off in another city not thinking about me, now can I?"

"That's not even a possibility, Liz. You are in my thoughts. Always. Every minute of every day."

Liz smiled, and touched his cheek.

"I love you Arizona. No distance will ever change that. You're it for me. Whether I'm right beside you, or across the country, you will be always on my mind." He picked up her hand and put it on his chest, against his heart. "And in my heart."

His eyes searched hers out, and found them swimming with unshed tears. He put his thumb under her chin and pulled her closer to him. Kissing her softly at first, then deepening the kiss as her felt her relax in his arms. Kissing Liz was like walking on air. It made Max feel like nothing in the world mattered but them. He could feel her all the way through his body. And his lips burned with her touch. He couldn't get enough of her. But eventually, he had to come up for air.

He sighed, and leaned his forehead against hers. She looked at him, kissed the tip of his nose, and scooted closer to him.

Liz huffed, crossed her arms, and leaned back into Max. When she felt his arms tighten around her, she snuggled in even closer, closing her eyes and reveling in the feel of Max all around her. Arizona Parker was hopelessy in love. Max knew it. Maria knew it. Michael knew. Even she knew it with every fiber in her being. But something had stopped her from saying the words. Max had told her on several occasions before that he loved her. And he kept it no secret. She had tried to say the words back, she had just never gotten them to sound audible. She'd open her mouth, with no sound. And the fact. She supposed she was just scared. Liz Parker believed that love was forever. And she was deathly afraid of saying the words and not getting her forever.

The next day, Max was leaving on a four day trip to Shannon, a town just south of Dallas. Claudia had ordered some supplies, and her runner had gotten ill at the last minute and was unable make the trip to retreive them. She was depending on Max to help her out.

He had only hesitated briefly when asked. The only thing that made him uneasy was that he didn't want to leave Liz. But Michael was here. And Kyle. If anything happened, they would help her.

Besides. Jefferey Parker hadn't been seen or heard from since they had left Sheldon.

Arizona would be fine for a couple days without him.


Grinning evily in the moonlight, Jefferey Parker had to use every ounce of self control not to jump up and go running down the street to tell Nicholas the news.

Liz Parker was going to be alone.

Finally, he was going to be able to rid the world of the cause of all his problems.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 9-Aug-2002 6:54:14 PM ]
posted on 14-Aug-2002 9:38:21 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Bumpers.

Hope to have a new part up soon.
posted on 14-Aug-2002 10:52:18 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
nickeygurl13 Thanks for your FB. It's always amusing. About the Nicholas getting drunk and pushing Jefferey off a cliff. That would be funny. But then there'd be no climax. What's the fun in that? Thanks for reading.

crazeesmilee Hope this part doesn't get you too worked up!

Gracie Don't be worried. Just flash me your happy ending insurance card every once and a while and everything will turn out fine...hehe...and here's to hoping for a new part of Cutting Edge. Hint hint *happy*

NATEVANS, Lindsey, Dreamers4ever,thebettertwin, roswelluver Thanks for reading and always leaving me FB. Your support is greatly appreciated and loved.

Now on to Chapter 33. I can't wait. I'm going nuts here. I wonder what will happen next????

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 33

As soon as it was clear, and he had made sure everyone was in bed asleep, Jefferey Parker crept from his hiding place behind the clump of bushes and made his way quietly down the dirt road and back into town.

He could hardly contain himself as he made his way back to the Inn so he could see Nicholas. For once, he felt like skipping. Whistling. Even actually laughing. Because revenge was so near, he could almost taste it. And what a sweet taste it was!

He had stumbled upon news that made his trip worthwhile. For four days, she would be alone, and he would have no obstacles in his way. Noone would stop him, and he would have time to do whatever he wished with her. Already, the scenarios were playing out in his head. Whether he would torture her or make it quick. Whether he would let Nicholas have his fun, or have a little himself first. Whether he would leave her there for her friends to find, or take her somewhere noone would ever find her. The possibilities were endless.

Throwing open the door to Nicholas' room, Jefferey actually laughed at the boys shock at being so suddenly interrupted.

"Out." Jefferey said to the two scantily clad girls occupying the room with him.

The girls looked at Jeffery funny, then turned to Nicholas with a questioning look.

Jefferey smirked when Nicholas reluctantly nodded his head towards the door. The girls paused for a moment, frowned, looked back at Jefferey, then got up and finished getting dressed. They pushed past Jefferey and exited the room without saying a word.

"We're doing it tomorrow."

"Doing what?" Nicholas questioned, then as realization dawned on him, his eyes grew wide. "Oh."

"She's going to be alone. Everyone is going to be gone. For about four days. We have four days to do whatever we want. With her."

"What are we going to do?" Nicholas asked. Suddenly, the thought of being with pretty little innocent Arizona Parker seemed much better than being with the two paid girls he had been with since being brought to Dallas.

"I don't know. But whatever it is, it will be tomorrow. We'll wait until evening so we can be there. There is less of a chance of anyone calling on her during the evening. When we get there, we'll think of something."

After a minute or two, Jefferey got up and headed to the door.

"Be ready early. We may go and watch for a while before we do anything. Just to make sure. I don't want to be interrupted."

"Okay," Nicholas said.

"And Nicholas. You will do everything I say. I didn't come this far only to mess up. Don't forget. You are just as dispensable as she is."

Nicholas nodded, and waited for Jeffery to leave. Then he lay back on the bed, his hands behind his head. Tomorrow was going to be a great day.


Early the next morning, Max, Michael and Liz stood outside the ranch, as Max was preparing to leave. Michael offered to secure Max's bags to the small horse and buggy so Max could take a few minutes with Liz alone.

Max and Liz had fallen asleep on the couch the previous night. They had sat down, wanting to just be together and relax, and had ended up falling asleep in the middle of the night. Max had woken up in the middle of the night, and hadn't had the heart to wake her up. So he had simply shifted his position, and lay down more comfortably, as he did, Liz stirred, and snuggled in closer to him, resting her head on his chest. Max put his arms around her and spent the rest of the night watching her sleep until he had fallen asleep himself.

When the morning came, Liz had retreated to her room as Max had begun to make final preparations for his trip to Shannon. Now they were outside, and Max was going to leave soon.

Liz had been mopy all day, and her eyes were red from crying. She followed Max to the corner of the porch and sat down as he pulled her onto his lap. She couldn't stop the tears.

"Liz, honey, please don't. It's only a four days. Then I'll be back."

"But Max, I'm scared."

"Scared of what?" Max asked. He reached up and brushed a tear away, as his eyes, full of concern and worry, searched her face.

"It's just that since Sheldon, we've all been together. What if...." Liz trailed off, not wanting to say what was on her mind.

"He won't, Liz. Your father...I mean Jefferey Parker hasn't been heard from or seen since we left Sheldon. He doesn't even know where you are. You are safe here."

"I know," Liz said, the tears welling up in her eyes. I just can't help it. I just know he'll come after me. One day, he'll find me."

"That's all he'll do, Liz. Find you. Jefferey Parker won't do anything to you. Too many people here care about you to let him hurt you. Me. Maria, Michael. Tess, Kyle. We're going to protect you."

Liz looked at Max, and was overwhelmed at the concern and worry that was etched on his face. She threw her arms around his neck, and hugged him tightly.

"I Love you, Max," she whispered. She said it. All those times she had tried, and nothing had happened, and this time, it just came out.

Liz felt Max's arms tense around her waist, then tighten as he buried his face in her neck, and kissed her skin lightly.

"I love you too," he whispered, tears threatening to fall from his own eyes. "More than you'll ever know."

Max made motions to move, and Liz let go of his neck and stood up. She waited as he put on his hat, and made sure he had his gun strapped securely to his waist. He tipped his hat at Liz and winked, and she couldn't help but smile. He grabbed her hand, and she walked with him out to his horse.

Max turned to Michael, and shook his hand.

"Travel safe, buddy," Michael said.

"I will." Max looked at Liz, then back at Michael. "Michael, will you-"

Michael put his hand up to stop Max from talking. "No need to even ask, Max. I've already told Kyle I couldn't help until you come back. I'm not leaving her here alone."

"Thank you," Max said.

"I care about her too. She's like...my sister."

Max smiled gratefully at his friend, then moved back to Liz. He kissed her softly, and put his hands on either side of his face.

"I love you," he said. "And I'll be back in four days. You'll be fine."

Liz shook her head and gave him a small smile. "I know. I love you too."

Max kissed her forehead, and grinned at her. "See you before you know it," he said, hopping on his horse.

Liz watched as Max rode away, disappearing into the distance.

"It'll be okay," Michael said. He walked up to Liz and put his arms over her shoulders.

"I don't know about you, but I could use some breakfast. What do you say. I'll cook if you'll eat."

Liz looked at Michael and smiled. Max was right. She was going to be okay. Michael would be there with her. She looped her arm in his, and they turned to walk in the other direcion. Together, thee headed back into their house, oblivious to the danger that was waiting just down the road.
posted on 18-Aug-2002 4:14:00 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Dri! How's it going, girl? Haven't talked to ya in a while. Glad you liked my story. This parts for you, chica!

Everyone say hi to Audrey, (gothgirl)!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 34

"Liz, let's go see Tess and Kyle."

"I don't feel like visiting."

"Well, then, let's go for a walk."

"I don't feel much like walking."

Michael sighed, and went to stand at the fireplace. Turning, he looked at Liz. It had only been hours since Max had gone, and Liz had done nothing since then except eat breakfast and stare out of the window.

"Liz, can't you just relax? He'll be back in a few days. He isn't gone forever."

"We shouldn't have let him go, Michael."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I don't know. I just...I have a bad feeling. That something is going to happen."

Michael crossed the room, and picked up Liz's hand. "Nothing is going to happen, Liz. He's going to be just fine. He has his gun, and he knows where it's safe to stop. Max is going to be okay."

Liz looked up at Michael. "Promise?" She asked.

"I promise."

She looked up at him and smiled.

"Well, then, if you still want to take a walk."

"You know, go see Kyle and Tess?"

Michael smiled at Liz and ran a hand through his hair. "Just give me a minute. Let me grab my hat and the present I have for Bethie. I got something for Maria too."

"But I don't have anything for them."

"It's okay. It's not a special occasion. I just wanted to give them something I saw at the General Store. And you know, there's something in there with your name on it. Tess's too."

"But I didn't get you anything."

"I know," Michael said over his shoulder as he made his way down the hall. "But what can I say. I have a big heart."

Liz smiled and rolled her eyes, then turned back to look out of the window. A few minutes later, Michael still hadn't come back.

"Michael?" she called. No answer.

Getting impatient, Liz stood up. "Michael, I'm going out to the barn for a minute. I want to see Vilandra."

When she got nothing but what sounded like a mumbled okay, she shrugged and made her way down the hallway.

She stopped long enough to grab her hat off of the dining table, and walked towards the door.

When she opened it, her breath caught in her throat. She felt the world spin, and was sure she was dreaming. She blinked her eyes, and opened them again. Only to see that Jefferey Parker was still there, grinning wickedly at her, a scar running down the side of his temple where she had hit him with the poker so long ago.

"Hello, Arizona."

Turning to run, Liz dropped her hat to the floor. "Michael!" She screamed. It was a scream full of fear and anguish.

And it cut Michael to the very core. She ran towards the hallway, when the door opened and Michael stepped out. His hands were in the air, and his eyes sought out Liz's. There was a man behind him, someone she knew she should know, but couldn't quite place. He had a gun to Michael's back, and he too was staring straight at Liz.

"I'm sorry." Liz heard Michael whisper, before the room spun once again, and everything blacked out.




After a few hours, Max could see Shannon not far away. Shannon was a little over four hours away, so he reasoned he must have been riding for 4 hours. However, needing a break, and figuring Rath must need water also, he stopped under the cover of some trees and sat down, near a small pond.

After a few minutes, Max saw another horse and carriage approaching from the distance.

"Hello there," the man said as he stopped at the pond to let his horse drink too.

"Good afternoon," Max said, tipping his hat.

"Where you headed?" the man said.

"Shannon. I have to pick up a load of supplies to run an Inn in Dallas."

The man stuck his hand out to Max and smiled, tipping the brim of his hat with his free hand. "James Mason. Headed to Shannon myself. From the other side of Dallas. I'm from Clemenceau."

Max stood up to shake the mans hand. "Jason Lerner. And I'm actually not from Dallas. I just live there."

"Where ya from?"

Max was about to answer. But he realized that telling someone where he was from could be putting Liz in danger. It was a minute possiblity that telling this man would be of any danger, but he wasn't going to take that chance. Any chance that Jefferey Parker might find Arizona was too much to risk. "Down South. What are you headed to Shannon for?"

"My wife has family there. I'm going to pick up my nephew who's going to stay with us for a few weeks. His mother just had a baby."

"Well, congratulations on the new...niece. Or nephew." Max said.

The man smiled. "Thanks, And it's both. She had twins. So, do you travel a lot?"

"Not much," Max replied. "Haven't been much anywhere since I came to Dallas. You travel?"

"Not often. Just between Clemenceau and here. And only to see family."

"Must be great having family so close."

"My wife enjoys it. You married?"

Max smiled. "Not yet."

"Well, that sounds promising. Must have your eye on someone."

"I do," Max said. "She's very special to me."

"Well, she must be, to put a look like that in your eyes," James said. "Say, you wanna hear some news?"

Max nodded. "Sure."

"You will never guess who I saw in Clemenceau last week."

"The president?" Max asked, taking a guess.

"No," James said. "Better. Jefferey Parker."

Max's head shot up, and his whole body tensed. "Who?"

"Jefferey Parker. Don't tell me you've never heard of him. He's the railroad guy. Parker Rail Industries?"

Max fought to keep control. "I've heard of him. What we he doing in Clemenceau."

"From what I hear, his daughter ran away. He tracked her to Clemenceau. He got word there that she was in Dallas, and that's where he went. And I'll tell you what. That man is something-"

Max never heard the man finish his sentence. In an instant, he was on his feet, and disconnected his wagon from Rath. Turning into a cloud of dust, Max took off in a run back towards Dallas.

‘God, please keep her safe. Let me make it in time,' he prayed silently as he thundered towards Dallas. And towards Liz.
posted on 24-Aug-2002 5:44:07 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
If you guys haven't already, take alook at my awesome banner on page 1. Made for me by Lil Blue Bubble.

And I have this nagging feeling Gracie's gonna kill me for this one.....

~~~~~~~~~~~
CHAPTER 35

Just opening her eyes, Liz couldn't help but groan. She was sitting up. Somehow she must have fallen asleep...during the middle of the day? She could see blurs in front of her, and it was clear that it was daylight outside.

Hanging her head, she closed her eyes again. How in the world had she fallen asleep? Hadn't she had plans today? Yes. Today was the day Max was going to Shannon to pick up supplies. And she and Michael were going to Tess and Kyle's. She was waiting on Michael. He was getting dressed and someone was at the door....

Suddenly, Liz's head shot up so suddenly that she could feel the blood rushing. Her eyes opened, and all her worst fears came true. She was staring into the face of Jefferey Parker.

She closed her eyes again, and shook her head, at a weak attempt to wake herself from the nightmare she knew she was having.

Panicking, Liz watched as Jefferey smirked at her, and sat back against the back of the couch. She looked down at herself and saw that she was sitting in the rocker that had been pulled to sit directly in front of the couch.

She looked to the door, as Jefferey spoke.

"Arizona, my, my. It's been a while, hasn't it?"

Eyes wide, Liz could just watch him.

"What's wrong, girl. Forgot about your dear old ‘father' already?"

Jefferey stood up and walked over to Arizona. He traced a finger from her temple to her jawbone, and snickered when he felt her tense beneath his fingertips.

"That Nicholas was right when he said you were a pretty little thing. It's a wonder I never noticed it before."

Hearing a slight thud come from the other room, Liz looked in the direction of the hallway. She knew Michael was down there, and the guy she had glimpsed holding a gun to his back earlier must be there with him.

"Where's Michael?" She asked almost inaudibly.

"Ahhhh. Michael. Must be the young man we encountered earlier. He was giving us a few...problems to say the least. We had to deal with him."

"Michael!" Liz screamed.

"Arizona, dear," Jefferey said, the calmness in his voice eerily present. "He can't hear you."


Jefferey leaned back to watch the terror spread across Liz's face. He decided to have a little fun with it. Pacing back and forth in front of the chair Liz was in, he spoke.

"He was quite worried about you. Kept asking us what we were going to do. Of course, we didn't tell him." He stopped in front of Liz and smiled. "That would have ruined the surprise."

"You can't do this. Max will be here any minute."

"Oh, I think not, girl. Max won't be back for four days. And that," he said, bringing his face to within and inch of hers. "Is plenty of time for me to have a little fun." He made a show of looking at Liz's body, then licked his lips.

Liz was about to burst out in tears when she saw a movement out of the corner of her eye. It was the guy she assumed was Nicholas. And he had....blood on his shirt.

Liz muffled a sob as she watched the guy walk over to her. He too stopped just in front of her chair. She thought he was going to say something to her when she saw Jefferey turn to him.

"Nicholas, why don't you go outside and wait a while. I have some...things I need to show this pretty little thing."

Nicholas turned to Jefferey. "You said I could have her first."

"I changed my mind."

Nicholas was beginning to get angry. He would not let Jefferey Parker go back on his word.

"You gave me your word, Jefferey."

"Yes, well, now I'm giving you some more words. Wait. For. Me. Outside." Jefferey put emphasis on each word to let Nicholas know he meant business.

Seething, Nicholas turned around and faced the door, but didn't take a step.

"I said NOW!" Jefferey hollered.

Jumping at Jefferey's reaction, Nicholas had a better idea. Moving his arm so that Jefferey couldn't see him, he reached for the gun that was tucked inside the waistband of his pants. Smirking to himself, he took a deep breath and pulled the gun out. He spun around to face Jefferey, and everything happened at once. He heard the pop, heard Liz scream, and felt the bullet tear into his skin.

Once again, Liz screamed as Nicholas fell to the ground.

Jefferey shook his head, and put his gun back in its place on his side. "Tsk, tsk. Boy should have known not to go against me. He was asking for trouble. But then again, he never was one for staying out of trouble in the first place."

Jefferey turned to Liz, and she felt his stare boring into her. She struggled with the ties that bound her to the chair she was in, but it was useless. They only seemed to tighten with every move she made.

Jefferey walked around the back of the chair and grabbed Liz's wrists. He untied her and yanked her up out of the chair.

Liz cried out at the pain Jefferey caused when he grabbed her by her wrists. "Leave me alone. Please. I didn't do anything to you. Please."

Jefferey grabbed her hair and pulled her head backwards so that she was looking him in the eye. "You are the product of every awful thing in my life. You are the result of a sin. Adultery. You were never meant to be. You never should have been."

"Please," Liz whispered through her tears and her pain.

"Noone ever loved you. You should have never come into my life. We could have forgotten about her awful mistake. But no. You came along and forced us to remember."

"It's not my fault," Liz cried.

"And not to mention the fact that you killed my son."

"I didn't kill Alex. I loved him!" Liz said desperately.

"I think it's time you and I had a little fun," Jefferey said, ignoring Liz's pleas to stop.

Liz struggled against him, but he was far stronger than her, and in no time had her down the hallway and pushed her on the bed. She struggled to get up, but he grabbed her hands held them above her head, pushing her down once more.

Suddenly, the door was thrown open, seizing Jefferey's actions.

"Leave her alone!" Max hollered.

Jefferey jumped off of Liz, and pointed his gun at Max, and as he did, she jumped up and ran to the opposite wall.

Now, Liz was staring back at Jefferey, who was looking straight at her, but had his arm out and pointed at Max.

"Well, well. If it isn't Max Evans. This is definitely a surprise. I thought we'd have at least a couple days before you came back. Guess you'll just have to watch while we have our fun." Jefferey took one step

"Get away from her. You should be sorry you ever laid a hand on her," Max seethed. He saw Liz out of the corner of his eye, and his heart ached to rush to her side and gather her in his arms. But first things first. Jefferey had a gun pointed at him, and one wrong move could be crucial.

"I really don't think you are in a position to tell me what to do."

"I swear. If you hurt her...."

"If I hurt her, you'll what?" Jefferey turned to look from Liz to Max, and back to Liz. "You know," he said, hatred dripping from his words. "On second thought, I might have to forego the fun and get right down to business."

With that, Jefferey turned his gun towards Liz and cocked the hammer.

Liz closed her eyes, and waited for the shot, and the bullet to tear into her. But it never did. She opened her eyes, and everything happened at once.

"Noooooo!" Max hollered, and leapt in front of Liz just as the shot rang out.

Almost instantaneously, another shot ripped through the air, and Liz saw Kyle rush into the room. And walk straight to Jefferey Parker who now lay crumpled against the bed. Taking a deep breath, she cried out, and realized how long she had been holding it. She was about to sink to the floor in terror, when her eyes widened in horror.

She cried out again, this time in agony, as she sank to her knees.

Max was lying there, just below her feet. The blood already pooling around his chest.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know. I'm bad. Don't you just hate cliffhangers?
*insert evil laugh here*

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 24-Aug-2002 6:08:15 AM ]
posted on 27-Aug-2002 5:29:10 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 36

Quickly assessing the situation, Kyle bent down and checked Jefferey's neck to see if he was still breathing.

There was a slight thumping beneath his fingertips, but he couldn't be sure the man was going to live. Not that it particularly mattered. Because Kyle was sure it wouldn't bother him to see the man rot in jail for the things he had done to Arizona.

Raising up and looking around the room, he looked towards the whimpers that were coming from the opposite wall, and his felt his heart plummet.

Liz was kneeling in the floor, a look of pure agony marring her features. She had her hands on Max's chest, and was hesitant in placing them on his bloodsoaked shirt. When she finally laid them down on his chest, he shuddered slightly, and she lifted her hands to eye level to look at them. When she saw that they were covered in Max's blood, she let out a strangled cry and looked to Kyle, her eyes pleading with him to help.

Kyle put his gun back in the holster strapped to his belt, and ran out the door.

"I'm getting the doctor," he said over his shoulder as he ran out the door.


Kyle ran out the door, past Tess, Maria, and Michael on the front porch.

Kyle, Tess, and Maria had been sitting in the living area of the Valenti home, when they heard a scuffling outside on the porch. Kyle had drawn his gun, and opened it cautiously, and a beaten and panting Michael had fallen into his arms.

"Michael!"

The alarm in Kyle's voice had brought Tess and Maria to the door, and Maria immediately took Michael's side and began to look over his bruised and swollen face and the rest of his body to see what was wrong, as the tears began to fall from here eyes. But when Kyle started talking, Maria kept quiet, wanting to hear what had happened.

"Kyle...have...to...Liz..."

"What?!" Kyle asked.

"Liz...she's at home..he's there.."

"What, Michael, who's there?" Maria asked frantically, suddenly even more worried about Liz.

"He's there...Jefferey....and I..I left her there..." Michael's last words came out mumbled, a mix of pain and frustration. He had suddenly realized that he had left the house at the first chance possible and left Liz alone at the mercy of Jefferey Parker and the man that had beat him.


Kyle turned briefly at Tess's sharp intake of breath.

"Go, Kyle. We'll follow," Tess said. "And hurry!" She kissed him on the cheek and pushed him out the door, then turned to help Maria get Michael outside.

Together the girls had gotten Michael outside and helped into a wagon, then they made their way to the Silver Hand, with little Bethie and a badly injured Michael in tow.


He paused briefly to answer their questions.

"Where's Liz, is she okay?" Maria asked.

"Jefferey, is he in there?" Tess asked, the panic rising in her voice.

Kyle nodded his head. "Liz is in there. Jefferey too, but I shot him."

Maria and Tess sighed in relief, but it was short lived.

"Max is there too. And he's hurt. Real bad. I have to go for the doctor."

"Take the horse," Michael said, pointing to the post where two horses he guessed belonged to the unexpected visitors stood tied securely.

"I'll stay with Bethie," he said turning to the girls. He motioned for them to go in towards the house.

Kyle jumped on the horse, and cut the ties, then turned and thundered off towards town as Maria, and Tess jumped up to go in to check on Max and Liz.

Michael took a deep breath once the girls were gone, and tried unsuccessfully to fight back the tears threatening to run down his cheeks. He hadn't cried since the day his sister had died, and the tightening in his chest now was a haunting reminder of how bad he had taken the news that his family was dead. When the tears broke through, he hugged little Bethie close and cried to himself.

He had left Liz by herself, and had broken his promise to Max to take care of her. Now Max was hurt, and it was his fault. He was scared to go back inside, afraid of the sight that would greet him as he entered his own home. If Liz was hurt, he'd never forgive himself. He had promised Max and Liz both that he wouldn't leave her alone, and that he'd be there to protect her. He had broken both promises. All he could do was pray that they would be all right.



When Tess and Maria entered the house, Tess yelped when she saw Nicholas's body laying in front of the fireplace. Maria looked to see what she had seen, and took Tess by the hand, her urgency to get to Liz even more heightened. When they finally got to the bedroom, they stopped at the doorway, as their hands flew to their mouths in an attempt to keep their cries from escaping.

Jefferey Parker lay sprawled across the floor at the foot of the bed, the blood causing a dark red stain to spread across the floor. But the sight that made them sick was on the opposite wall.

Liz was sitting on the floor, cradling Max'z body in her arms. She was rocking back and forth, crying softly, her hands caressing his face, now pale and lifeless in her blood smeared fingers. She had wiped her hands across her dress, which was now stained with the dark red smears of Max's blood.

"No, no, no," she said through her tears as she rocked him back and forth.

She raised up briefly, and acknowledged the fact that her friends were there only after they walked over to her, and kneeled alongside Max, Maria taking his hand, and Tess putting her arm around her shoulders. Then she turned back to Max.

She leaned in close to his ear, and kissed his temple.

"Max, you can't leave me. Please, you said you'd never hurt me again, and this would break me for life," she whispered.

She tightened her grip on him when she heard Maria start to cry softly as she held his hand in her own.

"Max, I love you. You know that. You have to make it through this. Please. I can't lose you now, I can't."

Liz's body shook with her sobs as she rested her head against Max's neck, and continued to rock his lifeless body.

Tess and Maria looked at the door when Kyle came rushing in, followed closely by Dr. Edison. When the small old man came into the room, his eyes widened in alarm at the sight of Jefferey's body laying in the floor. He rushed to his side, and put his medical bag down beside him.

"No, not him," Kyle said. "Him," he clarified, pointing to Max.

The doctor looked from Max to Jefferey, unsure of where to go. "Doctor, this man is a criminal. He attempted to murder Arizona Parker, and has shot the man you passed out front as well as this man on the floor. If he dies, it will be on great loss. But if this man dies, there will be some very upset people. Please, help him." Kyle decided not to mention the fact that the man who had done the shooting was America's richest railroad tycoon. The doctor would have most likely had more questions, which could cost the doctor precious time that needed to be spent saving Max's life.

The doctor's gaze fell upon Liz, holding tightly to Max's body, and as the realization dawned on him that Arizona Parker had been living right here in Dallas, his eyes widened in surprise as he lifted his bag and scooted across the floor on his knees.

"Please," he said softly as he reached for Liz's hands. "I need to see him."

Liz shook her head frantically, and tightened her grip.

"I need you to let go. I can help him," the doctor said, his own voice wavering at the look of anguish on Liz's face.

Once again, Liz shook her head, and Maria stood up. "Liz, honey, you have to let go. The doctor is the only one who can help him now."

Liz looked at Max, then back at the doctor one last time. She turned to Maria, then to Tess who brushed the hair off her face and reached for her hands, clasped tightly across Max's chest.

Reluctantly, Liz loosened her grip, and let Tess and Maria pull her away. "I love you," she whispered shakily as she kissed Max's lips lightly. "And I need you, Max. I need you to live."

Trembling from head to toe, Liz lay Max down and let Maria and Tess pull her to her feet. She followed them numbly to the door, stopping briefly when she came across Jefferey Parker's body lying motionless at the end of her bed. She closed her eyes, as if to fight off a wave of nausea, then turned back towards the door.

Numbly, she continued onto the porch where they led her, and as she stepped outside, she was consumed by her sobs as she sank to her knees with Tess and Maria falling into place beside her.

posted on 31-Aug-2002 5:38:55 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
CHAPTER 37

The town had been in an uproar to learn what had happened. Some of the people were upset that Arizona Parker had been living in their own city under an assumed name, and had been lying about her identity. Others were too overcome with excitment that America's richest girl and her railroad tycoon father had been in Dallas to even care about the ordeal Liz had been through. And then others, including Claudia, and Patty, from the post office, had done everything they could to help since the ordeal. Some of the people had understood Liz's situation from the start and had offered their support after the terrible ordeal she had suffered.

And at the moment, support from her friends was what Liz desperately needed.

"Liz, honey, you need to eat something," Maria said, as she took in her cousin's sickly appearance. Since the day Jefferey had found them and shot Max, Liz hadn't eaten a single thing.

"I'm not hungry," she said, still wringing her hands in her lap.

"It's not healthy. You haven't eaten in days."

"I don't feel like eating, please," Liz said, turning to look at Maria with pleading eyes.

"Liz, listen," Tess said, stepping around to stand next to her friend. "I know you're worried about Max. We all are. But there's nothing more we can do but pray. When Max wakes up, he's gonna need you. And if you're sick, you won't be able to be there for him when he asks. You need to eat something. You'll be sick soon if you don't."

Reluctantly, Liz nodded, and turned back to the bed.

When the doctor had come in to look at Max, his prognosis hadn't been good. Max had been shot in the chest, and had lost a lot of blood. The doctor said the only thing they could do was wait. The next few days were critical. If Max didn't wake up soon, then there was a chance he might never wake up.

Jefferey Parker had only been shot in the abdomen, but had hit his head, knocking him unconscious. He too had lost blood, but not as much as Max. He was now in jail, in Sheldon, where he would spend the rest of his life. The doctor had tended to him once Max had been checked over, and put to rest in his own bed, down the hall. By the end of the day, Kyle had called in deputies from another city to transport Jefferey Parker to jail.

Nicholas was already dead, Jefferey's bullet had hit him in the neck, and the doctor assumed that he had died instantly.

Since that day, Liz hadn't left Max's bedside. And that was three days ago. She hadn't slept except for the times when she would doze off in her chair, her head resting on Max's bed.

She'd only drank water, and hadn't eaten anything. She'd kept a vigil at Max's bedside, Keeping the cold rag on his forehead fresh, and only moving aside whenever the doctor came to check on him. Part of Liz felt guilty. The only reason he was hurt in the first place was because he had jumped in front of Liz and taken a bullet meant for her. She blamed herself for Max being shot. She was scared to death that she was going to lose him, and that it would be all her fault.

"I'll be back, Max," Liz whispered. She kissed Max's cheek, and pushed the bangs out of his face. Choking back tears for the hundredth time in the last few days, she stood up and followed Tess and Maria down the hall to the kitchen.

"Hey you," Michael said, limping over to Liz. He grabbed her and hugged her tightly.

"Thank you, Michael," Liz said into this shoulder. "You saved us. Me and Max."

"He'll be okay, Liz," Michael said softly.

Liz nodded her head as a tear slid down her cheek. "I'm just scared, Michael."

"I know. But he's gonna be fine. We're all praying for him. He'll be okay."

Liz smiled, and helped Michael limp back to the table. He had been beaten and was bruised and sore all over, but no serious injury had been done, except to his ankle, which had been sprained as he had made his way over to the Valenti home to get help.

Sitting down at the table, Liz's stomach growled, and she couldn't help but offer a small smile. She hadn't realized how hungry she was until she sat down in front of all the food.

"Liz," Maria said nervously.

Liz looked up at her cousin, her mouth full, unable to answer.

"You might want to get dressed. Freshen up a bit. Put on your good blue dress. The one with the little yellow flowers," Maria said.

"Why?" Liz asked, wondering what she would need to dress up for.

"We're going to have company."

"I don't want any company," Liz said. "I'll just stay in the room with Max."

"Actually, Liz, it's Max's company. I sent for his sister in Sheldon. She'll be here this afternoon."

Liz's spoon stopped mid-air as Maria's words registered. Isabel Evans was coming here? To her house? But Isabel didn't even like her. And now she would find out Liz and Max were involved in a relationship. What in the world would she say to her?

"She can't," Liz said, her breathing getting heavier. What if she took Max back to Sheldon? She had taken him away from his family in the first place. What if she forbade Liz to see him? What if she blamed Liz for Max being hurt? It was, after all, because of her that he had left Sheldon in the first place.

"She deserves to know," Maria said quietly. "She and Max were always so close. I knew they couldn't all come, so I wrote a letter and sent for Isabel only. He's hurt, Liz. He needs his family here."

"She hates me," Liz said flatly.

"That was a long time ago, Liz. Things have changed. We're all older. We're adults now. I'm sure you two have a lot to talk about. Now go change," Maria said, standing up to clear the table. "Before she gets here. She's hasn't seen you in months. You need to make a good impression."

Numbly, Liz nodded, and headed towards her room to change clothes and prepare for Isabel Evans to come to her home.


After Liz had washed and changed into good clothes and fixed her hair, she was surprised at how much better she felt. She tiptoed down the hallway and eased Max's door open. She saw that he still wasn't awake yet, and feeling a pang of guilt that he was in that bed in the first place, she eased the door closed again and walked back down the hallway.

Stepping into the living room, Liz froze when she heard a faint knock on the front door. Maria stepped out from the kitchen, and Tess, Kyle, and Michael stood up from their seats in the living room.

Taking a deep breath, Liz smoothed down her dress and headed for the door. Pausing just a moment, she turned the knob and found herself staring into Isabel's eyes.

"Arizona?" Isabel almost whispered.

Liz didn't say a thing, but was surprised when Isabel stepped inside and grabbed her in a fierce hug.

"I'm sorry, Liz," she said softly. "I didn't know. I mean, I don't know what happened, but I know about your father.....I know he..." Isabel let her voice fade off, not knowing how to continue.

"It's okay," Liz whispered softly. "I'm sorry too."

"Sorry for what?" Isabel asked, letting go of Liz.

"For taking your brother away. From You."

Isabel shook her head. "He'd do anything for you, Liz. Even I know that. You didn't take him away from me. He'd follow you anywhere." Isabel paused, as she and Liz stared at each other, neither one knowing what to say.

"Is he..."

"Oh, Isabel, I'm sorry," Liz said, motioning the girl inside. "He's in bed. He hasn't woken up since."

After quick introductions, and after saying hello to Maria, Liz took Isabel down the hall towards Max's room. Opening the door, Liz heard Isabel's sharp intake of breath at seeing her brother for the first time in months.

Isabel walked into the room, and stood next to his bed. She reached down and was about to take his hand, when she stopped and looked at Liz. She wanted to make sure it was okay to touch him. That it wouldn't put him in any pain.

Liz nodded, and Isabel smiled.

Seeing the tears start to fall down Isabel's cheeks, as she whispered caring words to her little brother, Liz decided to tell Isabel the truth. She was worried Isabel would suddenly hate her, finding out she wasn't really Jefferey Parker's daughter. Jefferey had told her all her life that when people found out she wasn't really his daughter, that they would hate her like he did. But that was a risk she was willing to take. Max had left his family with no explanation to follow her out of Sheldon. The least she could do was tell his sister why.

She shut the door behind her, and walked over to the bed, taking the seat on the other side of Max, opposite Isabel.

"Isabel," she said softly. "There's something I have to tell you."

Liz took a deep breath, and started to talk. She settled into the chair and took her time, knowing it would be a long day. And as she talked, she prayed that Isabel Evans would except her for who she was.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 7:17:33 AM ]
posted on 2-Sep-2002 10:41:16 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
For dreamforever88, Rapunzel, Dri (gothgirl), and roswellluver

Thanks for all your FB, guys. It keeps me inspired.

Christian


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHAPTER 38

Liz finished telling her story, and realized she was looking down at her hands. Taking a deep breath, she raised her face to meet Isabel's after she got no reaction from the other girl. Looking into her eyes, Liz almost gasped. Isabel Evans was crying.

"Isabel?" Liz asked softly, after several minutes.

"I'm a horrible person, Liz. I hated you. I was so jealous of what you had and I didn't. I never stopped to really get to know you. How can you even be in the same room with me?"

"I've learned a lot in the past month or so. And the main thing is that people can be forgiven. If my fath- I mean, if Jefferey had forgiven my mother all those years ago, he might have loved me. But deep down, he never forgave her, and he blamed me for it. I don't want to end up full of hate like him. I don't," Liz said.

Isabel got up and walked around the bed, sitting on it beside her brother, facing Liz. "I'm sorry, Liz. For everything, the past, me, all of it. I know sorry doesn't cut it, but I hope you can forgive me. I want to be your friend. We may not know a lot about each other, but we have time."

Liz smiled, and touched Isabel's arm. "Thank you, Isabel. I want to get to know you too. I know we're going to be great friends."

Isabel smiled, and reached up to wipe the tears from her eyes. Then she stood up as Liz stood up, and she grabbed her and squeezed her into a hug. "Thank you for being here for him," Isabel said.

Liz shook her head. "It was him who was here for me. He knew when I needed his help, and he never asked questions. I'd do anything for him, Isabel....I...I love him."

Isabel smiled at Liz. "Well then we've found our first common ground. Because I love him too."

Isabel gave Liz one more gentle squeeze, then pulled away and turned to Max. She took his hand in hers again, and leaned over to whisper into his ear. Pulling away, she turned her head towards Liz as she walked out the door.

"I'll leave you two for now. It's going to be lunch time soon, and I want to get to know everyone and help get food on the table. We'll come when it's ready."

Liz nodded, and sighed. She pulled her chair as close as she could get it to the bed, and she picked up Max's hand and kissed it.

"Oh Max," she whispered. "Please come back to me soon. I need you."

Liz laid her head down on the bed next to Max's hand, and before she knew it, she was fast asleep, days of missed sleep finally catching up to her.


Back in the kitchen, Isabel was getting acquainted with the people her brother had spent the last few months considering family. And as they talked, Isabel realized how close knit this group of friends really was. Suddenly, she found herself wishing she were part of their group. Since Alex died, she hadn't been around friends much, and the few people she had considered friends had pulled away when she had withdrawn into her grief. Isabel Evans had been madly in love with Alex Parker. And she had never gotten the chance to tell him.

A knock sounded at the door, and Isabel tore herself away from her thoughts.

"I'll answer it," she told the others.

Isabel got up and walked to the door, pulling it open. A young boy, a message carrier, was standing on the other side of the door, and handed Isabel and envelelope. "For the Sheriff, Miss," he said, tipping his hat at her. "The postmistress said I'd find him here."

Isabel thanked the boy, and shut the door. She walked back to the kitchen and gave Kyle the message.

Everyone in the kitchen watched quietly as Kyle opened the message. Sighing, he put the piece of paper into his vest pocket.

"It's from Jefferey Parker's lawyer. He contracted an infection and died in prison yesterday."

Everyone took a second to let the new information sink in. Finally, Maria put down the dish she was holding, and wiped her hands on her apron. "I'll tell her."

Kyle nodded his head, and Maria went towards Max's bedroom. Opening the door quietly, she saw Liz had fallen asleep leaning on Max's bed. She walked over to the bed, and was going to change the rag on Max's head, but she noticed he wasn't sweating anymore. Idly, she wondered if that meant he was getting better. She changed the rag anyway, and left the room quietly.

"She's sleeping," Maria told her friends. "She needs the rest, so I didn't wake her up."

"We can tell her later," Michael said. "She hasn't slept much. We can wait for her to wake up."


Opening her eyes groggily, Liz thought she had felt something brush her face. She wiped her hand across her cheeks, to wave away any bugs that may have been there. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes once again. There it was again. That feeling that something was touching her. Raising up and opening her eyes, she was prepared to swipe away the fly she knew was in the room.

Instead, she found herself staring into Max's eyes.

"Max?" Liz said softly.

"Hey beautiful," he whispered, stroking the back of her head with his hand. "How ya doin?"

Liz offered a half smile. "I should be asking you. How do you feel?"

"It seems I have a hole in my chest," Max said. "But other than that, I've never been better."

Liz smiled at Max's half attempt to make her laugh. But her tears found their way through. "Why did you do that, Max? Jumping in front of me like that. You could have been killed."

Max smiled as he traced an invisible line from Liz's temple to her cheek, pausing to wipe away her tears with his thumb. "I'd jump in front a firing squad if that's what it took to protect you."

Liz closed her eyes, and leaned into Max's palm, still cupping her cheek. She kissed it gently, then turned back to him. "I love you, Max Evans. More than I can say."

"And I love you, Arizona Parker. More than I can say."

Liz smiled, as Max tugged on her face, and raised his head up. Liz stood up and leaned over Max, kissing him softly on the lips.

"Your sister's here," Liz said, sitting on the side of the bed, as Max laid his arm across her legs.

"Isabel's here? In Dallas?" Max asked, his eyes wide.

Liz nodded her head. "Maria sent for her. She came right away, got here a little while ago."

"Liz, I'm sorry, I didn't expect her...I mean, I know she-"

Liz put her finger on his lips to silence him. "It's okay, Max. We talked we're okay."

Max let out a deep breath. Well, maybe something good came of him being injured after all.. He knew that his sister and Liz had never gotten along. Now, it seemed as if they had put their differences behind them. It was more then he had hoped for. His sister, and the love of his life....friends?

"Can I see her?"

Liz was suddenly embarrassed she hadn't called everyone else the moment Max woke up. "Of course, Max. I can't believe I didn't think!"

Liz got up to walk towards the door, but Max grabbed her wrist. "I'm glad it was you, Liz, here when I woke up. I came back because I knew you needed me. I was hurting, and I was ready to give up, but somewhere, in the back of my mind, I heard you talking to me. Your voice pulled me through."

Liz looked at Max, as her heart swelled with emotion. She went back over to Max, and leaned in, cupping his face with her hands. "It would have killed me, Max. If I had lost you, I wouldn't have been able to stand it."

"Thank you," he said, kissing her hand.

"No, Max. Thank you." Liz leaned in to kiss his cheek, then pulled away to go get the others.


"Guys," Liz said, stepping just outside the door. "Hey everyone, come here, Max is awake."

Liz heard as shuffle in the kitchen, and stepped back as Isabel turned the corner, followed closely by Maria, and Michael. Kyle was right behind them, Tess with little Bethie in her arms hot on his heels.

"Max!" Isabel said, hugging him as best she could without hurting him. "Max, you're okay!"

"Of course I'm okay," Max said. "Did you ever doubt me?"

Maria slapped Max's leg. "What took you so long to wake up buddy?" She asked.

Max laughed, happy to have Maria' exuberance back in his life. "Sorry, Maria. There was a bullet in my chest. I kinda got held up."

"Max, it's great to see you back," Michael said, shaking Max's hand.

"Thank you," Max said, then he turned to Kyle and Tess.

"Hey guys, thanks for being here."

"We wouldn't be anywhere else, Max," Tess said.

"And neither would she. She's missed her uncle Max. Asked about you everyday."

"She's talking already?" Max asked, his eyes wide as Tess handed him the baby.

"No," Kyle said. "But she would have asked if she could talk."

Everyone in the room giggled, and began talking all at once. They spent the next few minutes catching up and filling Max in on what happened. Surprisingly, Max didn't feel the least bit tired. And he hardly felt in pain at all, except when he moved awkwardly. Whatever the doctor had given him had worked.

"Liz, I need to tell you something," Maria said, after the talking and laughing had died down.

"Yeas?" Liz said.

"It's Jefferey. He's dead. He caught an infection where he had been shot, and died. Yesterday."

Liz suddenly felt a ton of weight disaapear from her shoulders. She had never wished anyone dead, not even Jefferey Parker, but hearing the news that he had died swiped every last ounce of fear she felt towards him from her mind.

"That's not all," Kyle said, as Liz started to speak again. "He had a will. Said he left everything in it to his only child. He, of course, meant Alex, but when he died, you became his only child. Legally, he never had his claims to you changed, so you were still his daughter."

"What does that mean?" Liz asked quietly.

Kyle reached into his vest and handed Liz the letter, so she could read it her self. "It means that you are now the richest woman in America."
posted on 10-Sep-2002 10:54:14 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
“Hey! How are you feeling today?” Isabel asked Max as he came walking into the kitchen.

“Like there’s a hole in my chest.”

Isabel smiled slightly, and rolled her eyes at her brothers joke.

“Really though,” he continued. “I feel a lot better. It still hurts, but it’s a lot better. It has been three weeks, after all. But I won’t be running or working for a while, that’s for sure.”

“Well, you need to rest. You’ll be back at work soon enough. And sit down, for goodness sake. Liz will kill me if I let you get sick again.”

“Speaking of Liz,” Max said as he moved slowly from the doorway to the table. “Where is she? Everyone’s gone.”

“Well, Liz and Maria went over to see Tess and take her some cake they made. Michael is at the Inn, helping Claudia with some new employees. I volunteered to stay here with you.”

“I don’t need a baby sitter, Isabel. I am injured, not invalid.”

“I know, but just in case.”

“Well, in that case, where’s my breakfast?” Max asked with a grin.

Isabel turned around, plate in hand. “Already ahead of you, little brother. Here you go.”

Isabel set the plate down on the table in front of Max, and took a cup of warm milk for herself. She watched as Max ate, and finally spoke.

“Why didn’t you let me know Max? I have been so worried about you. There were nights I couldn’t sleep, because I didn’t know if you were safe or not. Why didn’t you let me know where you were at?”

Max stopped eating, and looked at Isabel. “I’m sorry, Isabel. I should have let you know. I knew you would be worried.” Max looked down at his plate, and put his silverware down. “But I couldn’t risk it. Protecting Liz was too important. I had to put her first.”

Isabel nodded, and looked down into her cup, playing with the handle on the small tin mug.

Being left in the dark had hurt her immensely. Despite the few years age difference, she and Max had been close growing up. They had shared everything, and the only constant thing they had ever disagreed about was Max’s friendship with Arizona. When Max had left her, with nothing but a brief note, and she had been hurt, worried, and angry. She wanted to know why. But the minute she had laid eyes on Liz, she knew why.

Love.

“You really love her, don’t you?” Isabel asked.

Max nodded, and looked up at Isabel. “More than I can say. I love her so much, it hurts. I’d do anything to protect her. I don’t know what I’d do if anything ever happened to her. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t risk putting Liz at danger.”

Isabel sighed, and looked at her brother. She saw the guilt, the protectiveness, the love, flashing through his eyes. That’s when she realized he had changed. The last time she had seen Max, he had been nothing more than an overgrown boy. Now, she could see that in his place was the man standing before her. He had been through a lot the past couple months, and he had everything he was to show for it. He had risked everything to save the girl he loved, even though they hadn’t been on speaking terms. And somewhere along the way, he had been rewarded for it. He and Liz had gotten their relationship back and more. And Isabel Evans couldn’t have been happier for her brother.

“You love her, Max. You don’t need to apologize for that. Her safety was your first concern. I understand that now.”

Max smiled, and took a deep breath. “Isabel, can I ask you something?”

“Of course, Max, anything.”

“It’s about Liz. I want to marry her. I want to ask her to be my wife. What do you think?”

Isabel looked at Max, and couldn’t help but smile at the nervousness etched into his features. “Max, I think that would be wonderful. She’s practically part of the family already. Why not make it official? Besides, we knew it was coming.”

“We?” Max asked, narrowing his eyes.

“Yeah. Me, Maria, Michael, Kyle and Tess. We all guessed you two would get married.”

“Oh great. So while I’ve been getting well, you guys have been discussing my love life. And have you shared these suspicions with Liz?” Max asked.

Isabel rolled her eyes, and reached for Max’s plate, picking it up and taking it to the seat. “Of course not. It’s supposed to be a surprise for her.”

Max sighed, and shook his head. “And to think I was worried about what you’d think.”

Isabel walked over to stand right in front of Max. She leaned down and hugged him slightly, then pulled away. “I’m happy for you, Max. I know Liz and I have had our differences in the past, but we’re okay now. We’re friends. I coulnd’t be happier to have her be family.”

The last couple weeks, Isabel and Liz had spent time getting to know each other. They had caught up for years of lost time. They talked about everything, and knew almost as much about each other as Max knew about each of them. And the one thing that had made their friendship stronger was the fact that each girl realized how much the other loved Max.

Max smiled, and hugged Isabel back. “Thanks, Iz.”

Isabel smiled at Max, and turned back around to clean the dishes.


After an hour, Liz and Maria came walking back in the door. Liz was headed to Max’s room to check on him, when she heard him clear his throat from the other side of the living room.

“Hey you,” she said, walking over to him. She sat down on the sofa next to him, and grabbed his hand. “How are you feeling?”

“Better,” Max said. “Now that you’re here.”

Liz giggled. “No, Max really. How do you feel?”

“I feel great, considering the circumstances. It hurts still, but it’s a lot better.”

“That’s good,” Liz said. “The doctor will be by this afternoon to check on you.”

Max raised his eyebrow at Liz. “Couldn’t you do my checkup instead?” He asked, smirking at her.

Liz swatted Max playfully on the arm. “Max Evans, I can’t believe you just said that!”

Max giggled, and leaned in to kiss Liz’s cheek. “I was just joking, Liz.”

Liz turned her head, and caught Max’s lips. Surprised he wasn’t kissing her cheek, Max almost stopped, but instead put his hands on either side of Liz’s face and kissed her gently. He opened his eyes when Liz pulled away.

“Max, I have something to tell you.”

“What is it?” he asked, sensing the seriousness in her voice.

“You know Isabel’s going back to Sheldon in a few days, don’t you?” she asked.

Max nodded his head.

“Well, I want to go back with her.”

Liz waited for Max’s reaction. She had decided what she was going to do once she got there. And Jefferey Parker’s money was going to help her. She couldn’t wait to tell everyone else, but she wanted to wait until she got there, and tell them all at once.

Max was surprised, but nodded his head. He had known that they would go back eventually, and that It would be Liz’s decision to decide when. He didn’t want to push her into going back before she was ready.

“Well then I’ll go too.”

Liz smiled, and threw her arms around Max’s neck.

“I knew you would come, Max, I knew it.”

Max pulled back and looked at Liz, smoothing the hair back from her face.

“I told you, Liz. I’m never going to leave you again. All you have to do is say the word, and I’ll follow you anywhere.”

Liz nodded her head, and leaned in to kiss Max once more.

“Well,” Liz said, grabbing Max’s hand and helping him up. “Looks like we’ve got some packing to do.”



posted on 11-Sep-2002 12:38:09 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Original idea from sansucry.....

I am not going to post an update on my stories on this day of remembering. Instead, I have posted a link to a page with the names of the 9/11 victims. I encourage you to visit this page. If you click on the name, you can read more about the person, and leave a message. Names not in bold pring have no messages. I encourage you to leave a message for the families of anyone of these individualas. On this, the one year anniversary of the day they lost their loved ones, any encouraging, or kind word will surely help.

http://www.september11victims.com/september11victims/victims_list.htm

posted on 12-Sep-2002 12:37:05 AM by ISLANDGIRL5
Bump!
posted on 24-Sep-2002 8:26:18 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Sorry, guys,

But I have temporarily lost my Internet capabilites. Don’t know how long it will be before I’m back on, but I only have a few minutes, decided to leave the same not on all my stories.

I have the next parts for CA, WTSE, and Objects.... Already written. I will get them up by Thursday, Friday at the latest.

I hope you don’t give up on me, I just don’t have access to the internet for while.

Just bump me every once in a while, so I don’t disappear, and I’ll be back soon to post the new parts.

Love you all,

Christian

posted on 27-Sep-2002 12:53:33 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Just want to let you guys know I'm still not giving up.

I have a few minutes to catch up on some reading, but not long enough to type out this part.

It's saved at home.

But trust me. The next part, is definitely worth waiting for!

Christian.

See you guys as soon as I can.


posted on 2-Oct-2002 3:07:58 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
“Are you guys sure?” Liz asked.

Tess shook her head. “We’ve been wanting to make a change like this for quite a while. But we wanted to wait until after the baby.”

“What about your job?” Max asked Kyle.

Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “I trained a deputy for Clemenceau last year, and they’re going to send him back up here to take my place. And as for me, we had already checked into Sheldon before you guys got here, because I have a friend there. He says there’s an assistant Sheriff’s position available if I want it.”

Looking from Tess to Kyle, and back to Tess again, a smile spread across Liz’s face as she leapt from her seat to hug Tess tightly.

Liz and Max had come by the Valenti home to tell their friends that they would be gone by the end of the week. They had planned on saying goodbye, but Kyle and Tess had surprised them by asking if they could tag along, and move to Sheldon also.

“What about Maria and Michael?” Tess asked.

Max rolled his eyes. “Maria was raised there, with Liz and me. She’s going back, and if I know Michael, he won’t be far behind. He’ll go too.”
“Are you going to be okay moving back there?” Tess asked worriedly. “ I mean, after everything?”

Liz nodded. “It’s where Alex and I grew up. I have good memories there too. I want to settle down there.” She smiled as she looked from Kyle to Tess. “And I know you two will love it just as much as we do.”

Tess giggled, and covered her mouth with her hand. “This is going to be so much fun!” she said.

Kyle chuckled. “Well then, I guess we have a lot of packing to do,” Kyle said, motioning his arms around the room.

Max nodded and held his arm out to Liz. “And I guess that’s our cue to leave,” he said.

“Oh no, I didn’t mean that,” Kyle said.

Liz held up her hand. “It’s okay. We really have to go. We have lots of packing to do ourselves.”

Liz and Max said their goodbyes, and headed outside to walk back home.

Walking arm in arm, Liz and Max made their way back to the Silver Hand. Max seemed deep in thought, so Liz just walked along silently, enjoying the beautiful night and the feel of her arm linked tightly with Max’s.

As they approached the ranch, Max led Liz to the back of the property, near the lake for which the home was named after.

“Can we sit here for a while?” Max asked. “It’s a beautiful night, much to clear to spend it inside.”

Liz smiled and nodded. Max sat down on a large rock on the edge of the lake, and Liz sat down next to him. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer, kissing the top of her head gently.

For several minutes, neither one spoke, both of them just being happy to be near one another. When Max shifted his body, and squeezed his arm around her waist even tighter, Liz sighed.

“What?” Max asked.

“It’s just that a few months ago, I couldn’t have cared less if I had never spoken to you again. We hadn’t spoken, and weren’t even friends. Now look at us. We have a life together.”

Max pulled away from Liz to stare into her face. “Liz, I’ve known from the day we met you would always be a part of my life. It just took me too long to realize it.”

Liz smiled, as Max leaned in to kiss her softly on the lips. “I love you, Liz,” he whispered onto her lips.

“And I love you,” she whispered back.

Liz settled back into Max’s arms, and for a few more minutes, they both stared out across the distance at the setting sun.

Behind her, Max was starting to fidget.

This was it. It was now or never, and he was so nervous he could hardly stand it. After he had talked to Isabel, Max had talked to Maria and Michael.

Flashback

“Maria, Michael can I talk to you guys?” Max asked, coming in to the kitchen to stand against the door frame.

“Sure,” Michael said, stuffing a bit of his breakfast into his mouth. “But if you’re gonna ask for a bite, then don’t bother.”

“Ouch!”

Max giggled as Maria reached over and smacked Michael on the back of the head.

“Go ahead, Max, what is it?” Maria asked. “Do you want some breakfast?”

“No, thanks, I just have to ask you two something. You are the only family Liz has left,” he said, looking at Maria. “And she’s come to think of you as family as well,” he said, looking over to Michael.

“Yeah, so?” Michael asked, shrugging his shoulders.

“I want to ask Liz to marry me. But I want you guys to give me permission. I want to do this right, and she doesn’t have a father for me to ask.”

“EEEEEEE!” Maria screamed, getting up and coming over to where Max was standing.

“Maria, hush, it’s a surprise!” Max said, sneaking a look out the window to make sure Isabel still had Liz occupied hanging laundry.

“Aaaaacck!” Maria hollered again, trying unsuccessfully to not be so loud.

Max winced, but let out a deep chuckle when Michael came up behind Maria. He watched as Michael snuck his arm around Maria’s neck, and brought his hand around the other side of her head to cover her mouth. And despite the fact that Maria was kicking and mumbling, he extended his free hand to Max’s and shook it.

“You have my blessings,” Michael said, then turned to look at Maria, and back to Max. “Maria’s too.”

“Thanks, you guys. Thanks.” Max shook Michael’s hand, then turned to leave the room. He shook his head and laughed to himself as her heard Maria and Michael’s argument fading out.

The next day, Max went out and bought his ring. And at this particular moment, it was about to burn a hole in his pocket.

He had planned to propose to Liz once they got back to Sheldon, but with the setting sun in the distance, and the silver lake in front of them, he couldn’t think of a better time or place to ask the most important question he’s ever asked anyone.

He had been debating whether or not to ask, and trying to work up enough nerve, ever since they had left Kyle and Tess. He had changed his mind several times, going back and forth between waiting and asking. But now, he had decided to ask.

Not giving himself a chance to change his mind yet again, Max pulled away from Liz suddenly and stood up in front of her.

“Max? Is something wrong?” Liz asked worriedly, startled by his sudden movement.

Max shook his head as he paced back and forth.

“Are you hurt?” Liz was worried that Max was in pain again.

Max shook his head again. Stopping suddenly in front of her, he dropped to one knee.

“Oh, Max! Should I go get Michael and Maria?” Liz asked, getting to her feet.

Max grabbed her hand and startled her by pushing her back down to a sitting position. “No, Liz, I’m fine. Just give me a second, I’m trying to propose here.”

“Oh!” Liz said as she sat down quietly.

Taking a deep breath, Max grabbed Liz’s hand in his own. “Liz, for as long as I can remember, it’s been me and you. I stopped hating girls when I was five years old, and you were the first one I stopped hating. We always came as a pair. You’ve been my closest friend since we were old enough to know what friends were.” Max looked down at their clasped hands, then back up to Liz. “There were times when the going was rough, but look where we ended up. Right where we started. Right where we belong. With each other.”

Max smiled as he reached up with his thumb to wipe a lone tear from Liz’s cheek. “My life has always been complete, as long as you were a part of it. And I’m not sure when or where, but I fell in love with you. You’ve been there for some of the best times in my life, and you’ve held me up during some of the worst times. You are the meaning in my life, the reason behind my smiles. And I don’t want to ever be separated from you again. You are already in my heart. Now I want you in my life, in my world. Forever.”

Taking the small velvet bag from his pocket, he opened it up and held it out to Liz. “Arizona Elizabeth Parker, will you marry me?”

Max turned his head up to wait for Liz’s reaction.

Through her tears, all Liz could manage was a nod.

“Is that a yes?” Max asked tentatively.

Liz nodded again. “Yes, Max, yes, it’s a yes!” Liz screamed when she could finally talk. Jumping from her seat on the rock, Liz tackled Max around the neck and knocked him over backwards. Laughing out loud with happiness, Max let himself and Liz fall backwards.

“You make me so happy, Liz,” Max said, smoothing the hair back from Liz’s face with his hands. “I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy. I want to give you everything you’ve ever wanted. ”

Liz leaned in close so that their lips were almost touching. “You already have,” she whispered, before she covered his lips with her own.

Max and Liz stayed outside for a few more minutes, then went in together to tell their friends the good news.

Four Days Later

“I can’t believe this is it,” Liz said.

“It’s like leaving home all over again,” Maria said.

“We’ll always have this place,” Max said. “It’s ours. Kyle gave it to us. The new Sheriff will be staying here, and his sister and her family will be in Kyle’s place. We can always come back.”

“It is kinda sad, though. We’ve got a lot of memories here.” Michael remarked.

Max, Liz, Maria, and Michael were standing outside of the Silver Ranch, staring up at the sign marking the roadway to the place they had called home for the last few months. They were on their way out of town, back to Sheldon, but wanted to stop one last time. Isabel was waiting for them in the carriage.

So much had happened here. They had found friends for life in Kyle and Tess. Maria and Michael had found love in each other, and Max and Liz had re-discovered the love they had always felt. Liz’s father had been dealt with, and Liz had been freed from his clutches here.

“Come on, guys,” Liz said, taking Max with one hand, and Maria with the other. “Let’s go make some new memories.”

Throwing one last look over her shoulder, Liz climbed into the carriage, as Max took the reigns and led them down the road, where they met with Kyle and Tess who followed them out of Dallas.

posted on 25-Nov-2002 2:53:10 PM by ISLANDGIRL5
Whoa! What was that? I do believe, that it was, in fact a pig flying by my window. And looky here! An update too! Wonders never cease! Sorry this took so long, guys, but I can promise you it won't be that long anymore. Thanks for staying supportive and bumping. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



“Wow,” Liz said softly as they approached the outskirts of Sheldon. “I can’t believe we’re here. When I left, I never dreamed I’d be coming back. I thought it would be too hard.”

“Liz, we can go back,” Max said, worriedly. “If you’re not ready, we don’t have to-”

Liz held her finger up to Max’s mouth to hush him.

“It’s okay, Max. I have so much more now than I did when I left.” She smiled, squeezed his hand and looked around at the other occupants of the carriage. Michael, Maria, Kyle, Tess, and Isabel smiled back at her. “I have a family.”

“Where are we going?” Maria asked.

“My house,” Liz answered.

“Are you sure you want to go back there?” Tess asked.

Liz shook her head. “It’s my home. There are bad memories there, but there are good ones too. I had Alex. That’s the only place I can remember him, and I want to live in the house where we grew up. ”

“He’s buried there,” Isabel said.

“He is?” Liz asked, her eyes suddenly filling with tears.

Isabel nodded her head. “Some of our groundskeepers helped your staff make a grave site for him. Under the old oak tree at the back of your property. I’m sorry. I thought you knew.”

Max squeezed his arm around Liz’s shoulders and pulled her closer to him. “We didn’t know. We hadn’t talked to anyone from home until you showed up in Dallas.”

“Guys?” Liz asked, wiping a stray tear from her cheek with her gloved finger. “You know that I inherited all my father’s money. I want to tell you all what I’m doing with it. I’m using it to make it into a home. For orphaned girls, and girls who…have situations like mine. I want to help out girls who have to go through the same things I did. I’ve named it after Alex. It’s going to be called the Dallas Parker School for Girls. Girls can come live there, and they will be schooled and taken care of until they are old enough to move out. ”

“Liz, that’s amazing!” Tess exclaimed.

“Alex would have loved that idea,” Maria said. “Who’s going to run it?” she asked.

“Well,” Liz said. “I was hoping I could. I’ll need some help, of course, and we’ll have to hire live-in teachers, but I want to be there. I’ve already talked to Max about it, and we’ll be living in the rooms on the third floor. There’s room for more living quarters. If you guys want to stay, you can.”

“If it’s okay with Michael,” Maria said.

“If Maria says it’s okay. Of course we’ll have separate bedrooms until after the wedding.”

“Their wedding?” Isabel asked with a confused look, pointing at Max and Liz. “What does that have to do with you two?”

“Nothing,” Michael said. “I was talking about mine and Maria’s.”

“We’re having a wedding?” Maria asked, shocked.

“Yeah, of course. I mean, if you want to, you know, we can.” Suddenly very nervous, Michael began to fidget. “But if you don’t that’s okay, I mean, I just thought-”

“Michael Guerin, you better propose to me properly!” Maria said, causing their friends to stifle their giggles.

Michael cast a warning glance in Max’s direction, then turned back to look at Maria.

“Wanna get married?” He asked.

Maria yelped, and grabbed Michael’s neck. “Yes!” she screamed, as their friends erupted into hoots and laughter.

“That was a proper proposal?” Isabel asked.

Kyle reached over and slapped Michael on the back, and offered a congratulations. “For Michael, that’s as proper as it gets.”

“Did you get her a ring?” Liz asked.

Michael’s face fell. “You mean, you gotta give her a ring too?”

“Uh!” Maria uttered, disappointment evident in her voice. “It’s okay, Michael, I-I don’t need a ring.”

“Well then,” Michael said, a smile spreading on his lips, as he reached into his jacket pocket. “Who will I give this too?”

“Michael! You did get me a ring!” Maria said.

“Yeah, I did. Kyle helped me pick it out.”

“Kyle! You know he was going to propose, and you didn’t tell me?” Tess asked, slapping her husband playfully on the arm.

“Tess, he wanted it to be a secret. You would have run straight to Liz, and you two wouldn’t have been able to keep it.”

“I suppose he’s right,” Liz said. “But it doesn’t matter now. This is a cause for celebration. We’re getting married!” She said, looking between herself and Max and Michael and Maria.

Looking over at Isabel, who hadn’t said much, Max cocked his head to one side. “What’s that goofy grin for?” He asked.

Isabel just shook her head, and pulled the end of the thin gold chain around her neck out from under the neck line of her dress. “We wanted to tell you guys together. His name is Justin, and his father is Sheldon’s new Doctor.”

“Isabel! This is great, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” Max said as he leaned around Liz to grab his sister’s hand.

“Justin wanted to meet you so we could tell you together. Besides, you had a lot on your plate, Max. I didn’t want to excite you.”

“This is great,” Liz said, grabbing Max’s hand. Everyone’s happy, and we’re all starting new lives. How amazing is that?”

“It’s great,” Maria said, across from Liz. “I love you guys!”

“Awwww …..” Tess said. “We love you all too.”

“Now, I know this is like, a mushy, girly moment, but there are men in here!” Kyle said.

“Oh, C’mon, Kyle. You know you love us too,” Max said, reaching across the carriage to grab Kyle’s hands.

Kyle jerked his hand away from Max’s and snickered. “Don’t forget, Evans, I’m the law. If you ever do that again, I might have to arrest you.”

“Don’t worry, Max,” Tess said, grabbing Kyle’s chin. “His bark is worse than his bite.”

“I ain’t scared of him,” Max said. “I got Liz to-”

Max stopped talking mid sentence, as a commotion sounded outside, and the carriage drew to a rocky stop.

“Hey! What’s going on?” Michael hollered out the window.

“Nothin, Sir,” a strange man said, poking his head in the window. “Nothin but a holdup.”

Kyle, Max and Michael tensed up, when the man pointed a gun inside the carriage.

“Outside, now, all of you,” he said, waving the gun towards the carriage door.

Stiffly, but slowly, Max got out of the carriage and noticed several other guys standing outside, both with guns in their hands. He turned around and helped Liz out, then Isabel, pushing both girls protectively behind him. Michael and Maria followed, then Kyle and Tess.

“So, you where you folks headed?” one man asked, stepping up to the group of people.

Noone uttered a word, and the man clicked his teeth and turned around to say something to his men. Max studied the man carefully. He was about as tall as himself, with dark hair, and dark eyes. He was clean cut, and looked well taken care of. Max briefly wondered why a guy wearing such nice clothes would want to rob someone.

Max flinched when the man walked up to him, stared him in the eye, and tipped his hat with the barrel of his gun.

“I said….WHERE ARE YOU FOLKS HEADED?” The man asked angrily.

“Sheldon,” Liz said shakily.

“Well, well, aren’t we a pretty little thing?” the robber said, reaching around Max to touch Liz’s arm.

“Don’t touch her,” Max said.

The man made another move to touch Liz’s arm, and Max knocked his hand away, pushing Liz farther behind him.

The man turned to his friends and snickered, pointing towards Max with his free hand. “Can you believe this guy? He’s forgetting that I have the gun!” The man turned back to Max and fired a shot in the air, causing the guys behind him to chuckle and utter smart comments when their hostages jumped at the loud sound.

“Now listen, here,” the man said. He paused briefly, then reached out this time to touch Isabel’s arm, but Michael took a step towards him.

“Uh-huh!” The man said, pointing his gun at Michael. “Remember I have the gun.”

Michael took a deep breath, and stepped back only when Maria pulled on his arm.

The man was about to say something when the heard what sounded like a herd of horses approaching from just around the curve behind them.

Moving quickly, the man grabbed another gun out of a second holster on his hip and pointed them both at the group of frightened hostages. “Quick, your money,” he said. When noone moved, he cocked the hammers on both guns. “NOW!”

Everyone jerked into motion, pulling money out of pockets and satchels, throwing it into the sack that one of the men was holding out. The man turned around, put one gun in his holster, and put both fingers in his mouth, curling his lips and emitting a shrill whistle. Instantly, from every direction, empty horses emerged from the woods, and the men scrambled to get on them.

“Well, missie, here’s to hoping I’ll see you again,” he said, turning around and putting his hand on Liz’s cheek.

“I said leave her alone!” Max said angrily. Having had enough, he pulled his arm back and punched the man, sending him flying to the ground.

“Boy! I warned you” The man said, spitting a small spot of blood to the dirt, and fumbling to retrieve his guns from their resting place on his hip.

“Come on, man, we have to go. Now!” one of the men said, hurriedly, grabbing his companion from the ground as he glanced backwards towards the sound of the approaching horses.

The man scrambled to his feet as he realized the horses were approaching at a high speed. “You’re lucky, boy,” He said as he jumped on his horse. “Lucky!” He hollered over his shoulder as he rode away.

As soon as the men were out of sight, everyone started talking at once.

Max turned around, and covered Liz’s cheeks with his hands. “Liz, sweetheart, are you all right?” he asked worriedly.

Shaking, Liz nodded her head and pulled herself and Max into a tight hug.

“Max, my man, I have got to congratulate you,” Kyle said, coming up to Max and slapping him on the back.

“Come on, don’t be ridiculous,” Max said, turning his head, but not letting Liz go. “He was messing with Liz. I won’t hesitate to do the same to any guy who messes with Liz.”

“Max,” Kyle said, chuckling, causing the others to look at him funny. “That wasn’t just any guy. You, my man, just sucker punched Jesse James!”






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