posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:01:51 PM
Title:
Lost in the Rain

Author:
Renee (a/k/a Dreamer)

Category:
M/L - who else?

Disclaimer:
I do not own anything relating to "Roswell" the TV show or anything affiliated with it; however, the idea for this story is my own. I also do not own the rights to any of the lyrics that have been used in this story.

Rating:
NC-17

Feedback:
PLEASE!

Summary:
You don''t have to know the show to get this (at least the plot, etc.). This story is an alternate fic! I hope you enjoy. AND yes, this is my first NC-17 style fic. Please let me know what you think.
****************************************************************************


All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You
by Heart

It was a rainy night when he came into sight
Standing by the road, no umbrella, no coat
So I pulled up along side and I offered him a ride
He accepted with a smile so we drove for a while
I didn't ask him his name, this lonely boy in the rain
Fate tell me it's right, is this love at first sight

All I wanna do is make love to you
Say you will if you want me too
All I wanna do is make love to you
I've got lovin' arms to hold on to
So we found this hotel, it was a place I knew well
We made magic that night.

Oh, he did everything right
He brought the woman out of me, so many times, easily
And in the morning when he woke all I left him was a note
I told him "I am the flower you are the seed"
We walked in the garden we planted a tree
Don't try to find me, please don't you dare
Just live in my memory, you'll always be there
All I wanna do is make love to you

One night of love was all we knew
All I wanna do is make love to you
I've got lovin' arms to hold on to
Oh, oooh, we made love
Love like strangers
All night long
We made love

Then it happened one day, we came round the same way
You can imagine his surprise when he saw his own eyes
I said "please, please understand I'm in love with another man
And what he couldn't give me was the one little thing that you can"
All I wanna do is make love to you

One night of love was all we knew
All I wanna do is make love to you
Say you will, you want me too

All night long
All night long
All night long
All night long

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


*Prologue*

[Voice Over - Max Evans]

I'm Max Evans and it's another stormy night here in Roswell, NM. Actually, it's the fourth night in a row the storms have rolled in. I was out walking by the park when it began to rain lightly. That is when I saw her again sitting in one of the swings. She didn't have an umbrella or raincoat. She was drenched from head to toe. Her hair clung to her face but she just continued to swing and stare aimlessly at the ground. She had this almost desperate look about her. She didn't look at all as composed as she did the first time I saw her.

The first time I saw this most intriguing, most beautiful, mystery woman was almost a week ago. She was sitting at the Main Street Coffee Shop downtown. She was dressed in a nice business suit and was looking over the morning paper. She smiled at me when she noticed I was staring at her. It wasn't that I meant to, but she was a vision. She has the longest silky brown hair that I've ever seen. Her eyes captured mine and I couldn't break away - even if I had wanted to - which I didn't. I had wanted to speak to her but as I was getting up the nerve, she left. I didn't see her again for nearly two days.

The next time I saw her she was walking down the sidewalk in blue jeans and a red short sleeve sweater that was a little tight but fit nicely. She didn't notice me on the other side of the road but I watched her until she turned the corner. I was awe struck. I could barely breath. Not only was her beauty astounding but her mannerisms struck me as she was raised to be very proper. I kept wondering what she was doing in this small God forsaken town.

The next few times I chanced to catch a glimpse of the beauty, I have been in the park. The first time it was just beginning to get dark. She was sitting on the swings watching the children play. She had the most adorable look on her face and her smile radiated for miles. I held my breath waiting for her to turn her gaze to me, but she never did. She maintained her watch on the children until her smile evaporated. She almost looked as though she were going to cry for some reason. I watched from a distance as she left. I didn't dare disturb her until the smile was back on that incredibly flawless face. I didn't want to chance rejection. She was definitely someone I wanted to get to know, though. I had the feeling like there was a reason I kept running into her but couldn't figure it out.

Then last night I was walking along trying to get some fresh air. I had been working long hours at the office the past few days so I could finish up a few loose ends before leaving for LA. I have taken a position at a very prestigious firm there. My parents are pleased and my sister is ecstatic because she already lives there. When I had just entered the children's play area of the park, I stopped in my tracks. There she was again. She was just swinging along staring up at the night sky. The stars were out but just as I started walking toward her, a huge thunder cloud rolled over us and rain poured down hard. I waited to see which way she would run but she didn't. She just continued swinging and letting the rain pour down on her. It wasn't until an older gentlemen came over to her and put an umbrella over her head that I noticed the car that was waiting for her. She smiled at the older man and started walking toward the car. The old man was her driver. She didn't even notice me standing there I couldn't hide the disappointment on my face as I watched the car drive off into the night. Then I realized what a fool I was being. I was standing in the rain for nearly 20 minutes before I could stop watching the direction that her car went. I quickly ran back to mine and got in. I sat there for almost an hour trying to figure out why this exquisite stranger was captivating my attention. Tonight, well, tonight is going to be the night I talk to her.

******

Max made his way to the swings. It was dark and stormy but the street lights gave off a soft serene glow. He knew he looked like a wet puppy but didn't care. He had put this off until it was nearly driving him mad. He needed to know who she was, why she was there in his town, and why she was so sad. He didn't know why it mattered to him, it just did. As he approached her, she slowly stood up facing him. She had the most haunted look in her eyes. She met his gaze and a look not of fear but of sadness radiated from her. Max felt so unsure of what he was going to say and so he didn't say anything he just stared at her. She didn't shy away from the romantic glare but kept her glaze steady. His breathing became shallow and his heart was pounding a wild beat.

Without saying a word and keeping their eyes locked, they slowly radiated towards each other meeting in the middle. He opened his mouth to speak but she quickly placed her hand to his cheek and her thumb over his mouth. She gently shook her head and willed him to stay silent. He did as she requested. She traced the outline of his face with her tiny hand. His eyes drifted around her face. Studying her, memorizing her amazing features. It was if silent communication were possible and they both moved toward each other, her tilting her head and leaning upward and he tilting opposite her and bending down. Their lips met softly and it was as if a butterfly were fluttering over them. It was an extremely gentle yet passionate kiss. He willed her with his thumb on her chin to open her mouth. When she had done as he wanted, he deepened the kiss sweeping his tongue in a vigorous manner exploring every inch of her wet, hot mouth. One of his hands twisted around her wet silken hair to insure his hold while the other braced her back pulling her toward him. She ran her hands around his neck and played with his soft wet hair. The rain continued to pour over them in sheets. It didn't seem to matter.

He knew he should stop but couldn't. His body was reacting to being so near this stranger. He could feel himself growing hard but couldn't stop. She didn't want to stop but knew it was wrong to be so bold. Her body was reacting in ways she didn't know possible. She couldn't get enough of this stranger. When they finally broke apart he rested his forehead against hers trying to catch his breath. Who was this most wonderfully passionate creature? Max thought. He wished to speak but yet knew that it wasn't the time. He couldn't, no wouldn't break this moment. He wanted it to remain in his memory for a long time to come.

After recovering from the wave of passion just slightly, she took one finger and placed it to his lips. It was the sign not to break the mood with talk. She wanted him to stay silent so that her nerve wouldn't leave her. She gently took hold of his hand and led the way across the street from the park. There was a motel there and she brought her key out from her skirt pocket and placed it in his hand. She was giving him the choice. It would be his decision to enter into the room with her. There was no mistaking the motives for it was a seedy motel. He looked at the key he held and then at her. She just stared innocently at him still holding one of his hands. Then Max looked up at the sky and the rain. It didn't look like it was going to let up. Thunder clapped in the background and then lightening lit up the sky. She jumped as if she was scared of the storm and that's when the decision was made. He needed to protect her from her fear. He wanted to hold her close until the storm passed. Yes, that was his reasoning for what he was about to do. Max placed the key in the lock and opened the door to her room.

The lights were off in the room, but there was enough light seeping through the curtains of the front large window to see. It wasn't a fancy room with only one bed, one round table, one chair and two lamps which were secured to the wall. There wasn't a television or dresser or even a mirror in the bedroom portion. There was a tiny vanity with a sink directly in front of the bathroom door opening. There was nothing personal about the room.

After shutting the door and locking it, Max turned back to her handing her the key. She placed the key on the round table to her right. When she turned back to Max he was about to say something she just knew it, so she placed her arms around his neck and gently tugged him back to her waiting lips. He didn't protest. He knew he should at least get her name but didn't.

The kiss intensified and as passion and hunger took over, they began to undress each other slowly. It was her who first began unbuttoning his shirt never breaking the kiss. Then he took the lead pulling off hers. He broke the kiss long enough to look into her eyes for permission. He didn't want to take advantage of her in the state she appeared to be in, but she wasn't giving him time to think. He could see the acceptance in her eyes as she ran her hands gently over the taught massive chest muscles that rippled under his skin. He was bronzed and had a slight shimmer from the rain and the outside light pouring onto his skin.

He couldn't resist looking at her without her shirt. She wore a black lace bra which outlined her breasts perfectly. He could see her chest heaving and placed his hand to her neck to feel her quickened pulse. When he was just sure he couldn't take it another minute without touching her, he leaned in for another kiss. She met his passion and continued to run her hands gently over his chest and then to his back. She could feel the goose bumps her touch was causing him and couldn't help but smile inwardly. It felt so right with this stranger but she couldn't explain it. When he released her bra she gasped but quickly recovered. Her breathing was erratic but when she didn't pull away, he continued to slip the straps of her bra over her shoulders letting it fall to the ground.

Still biting at each others swollen lips, Max gently cupped one of her breasts with his hand while holding her hair twisted in the other. He was tugging softly on her hair while he kneaded the breast. The soft whimpering sounds she made deep in her throat nearly made him lose control but he wasn't about to give in. This was going to go slow. That way if she changed her mind, he could stop. Then it hit him, he needed to hear the words. Before she realized what he was doing, he broke the kiss and all contact. She stood with a look of concern on her face and a slight blush. Max thought she must be feeling a little shy or a bit embarrassed.

"Just say the word and I'll stop." Max whispered, while swallowing hard and wondering just how he was going to do that now that he was so far gone.

She didn't verbally respond but nodded her acceptance before reaching for his pants button. She swallowed hard. She appeared to be praying for the courage to complete this simple task. His indrawn breath as her hands slid to free him from his binding was almost her undoing. It was apparent that she hadn't done this before but it seemed to be instinctive. He stayed her hands by placing his on top of hers.

"Are you sure?" Max asked in a whisper. Again she nodded and he removed his hands from hers. She was able to unbutton the pants but the zipper appeared to be stuck. Max assisted her but left them up. He then reached for the zipper to her skirt but she moved before he reached his destination. She quickly kicked off her sandles and shrunk almost an inch. He smiled as he ran his hands down the sides of her breasts and then over her flat stomach. Her skin was so soft, and she smelled of soft vanilla.

Then he reached around to her back and ran his hands down her spine causing sensations she hadn't ever felt. She was burning with her desire for him and didn't know how long she could stand this pleasurable torment. He felt her draw in her breath and that she held it as his hands reached their destination. He quickly unzipped her skirt causing it to fall to the floor. Underneath he found her bra's mate, black satin lace panties which were already wet. He placed a finger in each side of the binding and in one swift motion pulled the panties to the floor bending to allow her to step out of them. He could smell her sweet musky scent and see the dew on her soft curls. He wanted to taste her but was afraid that would be too bold just yet.

However, the realization of how ready she was for him was almost his undoing. He had never had this much trouble maintaining control before. This wasn't his first time. Lord, he was almost 25 but this was different. It might be the excitement because she was a stranger or maybe it was her beauty. Her easy acceptance of him or her trusting nature might have also added to his emotions. Those were the last conscious thoughts he had as she pushed his pants and boxers to the floor, as he shed his shoes.

She trailed soft kisses along his body on her way to stand back up. He captured her hair once more and then tugged it slightly to tilt her head to an appropriate angle. Without forewarning, he thrust his tongue deep inside her mouth and she imitated his motions. They played a fierce game of intimacy using their mouths until it was almost too much for either of them. He released her hair only to capture her backside with his hands. Cupping her cheeks, he lifted her up and her legs easily found their way around his waist. He then stumbled toward the bed never breaking their demanding kisses. Her arms remained locked around his neck and he used one arm to sweep back the covers on the bed as he ever so gently laid her down in the middle.

Then the kiss was broken. He began placing light butterfly kisses down the length of her neck and nibbling on her ear. Without hesitation, he trailed kisses down to her already stimulated pebbles. With his tongue he swirled first one and then the other. Just as he heard a soft cry of pleasure, he sucked almost an entire mound in his mouth. After feeling satisfied that one was attended to, he went to the other. Giving it the same sweat torture. After a few moments, he continued his quest. As he reached the edge of her soft curls he heard her breathing become labored. He knew the anticipation was just as good as the actual act, but he couldn't wait. He began by nibbling gently on her outer thighs and then with one hand, he used his fingers to run the length of her slit. It was soft, hot and wet. As he slid one finger into her core, he suckled her most sensitive spot. He could hear her cries of pleasure and then her hips began to thrash back and forth as he replaced his fingers with his tongue. After just mere minutes of the sweat torture, he wasn't able to withhold from his own body's demands for pleasure. He made his way back up her body to look into her eyes once more. He still needed to make sure this was what she wanted.

God knows if she asked he would stop, but how could he? He was so far gone now. For some reason, he didn't feel that she would. As their eyes met, she placed her arms around his neck and tugged him to her for another kiss. The sweet honey taste of her mouth joined with her scent drove him wild. He released her mouth ever so slightly and moved his hand to his already hard waiting shaft. She was quicker though and as her tiny hand encircled him he didn't know how but he became even more aroused. She softly ran her fingers the full length and then guided him to her. When he was in place, she removed her hands and encircled his neck once more. Just as he was about to thrust into her, they met into a kiss. As he entered, he didn't hesitate or take it slow and wasn't overly gentle. He was demanding in his initial invasion. That is when he realized, this was her first time. He had broken the barrier and silenced her cry of pain with a kiss. He hadn't known.

"Why didn't you tell me? I would have been gentle." He choked out in a emotional whisper but she silenced him with another passionate kiss. He could feel her tears slip onto his cheek but she wouldn't allow him to break the kiss. She held him captive with her hands firmly placed around his neck. He waited for her to adjust to him before moving. She wasn't as patient. As soon as the initial pain passed, her desire took over and she began rocking instinctively against him. It was all the encouragement he needed to continue. He had wanted to be gentle, but she wouldn't let him. He knew without a doubt that he would make sure her first time was enjoyable. He would not reach fulfillment without taking her with him. As he knew he was about to find release, he slid his hand to her sensitive spot and began to stroke. Within mere seconds, she found her release clasping down internally on him and with that he lost his own control. Their cries of ecstacy were indiscernible.

Max collapsed atop this beautiful silent creature trying to capture his breath, and return to Earth from the heaven he had just been to. When he found his strength, he rolled to his side taking her with him. He held her close and the last thought he had before drifting into the most peaceful sleep was, he didn't even know her name.


**********

As Max slowly drifted out of the dream world which had captured him so quickly last night, the realization of what had transpired struck. He quickly reached for her but she wasn't there. His hand explored the far reaches of the king size bed and he realized she was gone. As his hand slid across the pillow which would have been hers, Max felt a tiny slip of paper. He quickly sat up and turned one of the bed side lamps on. The curtain was still drawn and there was very little light streaming through the room. From the brightness of the light which was cascading under the curtains, he could tell that it was now daylight. He quickly reached for his watch to discern exactly how long he had slept and then realized it wasn't important. What was important was that she was gone.

Max lifted the folded paper to his nose. He could still smell her. It was a distinctive smell. Soft vanilla and a clean scent that was her own. The smell radiated from the paper he now held in his hands. He delicately unfolding the paper as if it would shatter the fantasy which had played out during the dark stormy hours of the night. He instinctively closed his eyes and took in a deep breath and held it while he opened his eyes. As he read the note, Max slowly exhaled the breath he had been holding, and noticed the dots sprinkled on the note. There was no mistaking them, they were tear stains. The note itself was simple, it merely said "Please forgive me."

After quickly showering and getting dressed, Max made his way to the motel's front office. He was going to return the key but not before he got an answer as to who had checked into the room. After a simple inquiry, Max was able to find out that a man had reserved the room over the phone but stopped by with cash for not only the room but a deposit against giving a name. This little encounter was growing in it's mystery. Max thought.

Where could she be? Why would she leave? Why leave a note at all? What does ‘please forgive me' signify? Did she regret last night and that's why she left? So many unanswerable questions ran through Max's mind. He began trying to think of all the places he had seen her and then began his search. He needed to find her. He needed answers. He couldn't stop thinking of her face and how he felt last night.

After nearly a month of searching, Max decided it was time to give up. Apparently, she didn't want to be found. His heart was heavy as he began preparations for his move to LA. He had already delayed as long as he could without refusing the position. It was going to be a fresh start, he thought solemnly. Maybe he could get her out of his mind if he was out of this town - where everything reminded him of her.

As he loaded the last of his possessions into his jeep, he pulled out his wallet and the little slip of paper which she had left him. He lifted it to his nose and closed his eyes. Her smell was still there. As he opened his eyes, reality hit home. It began to get cloudy and the storm settled in. It began to rain just as it had the night of their encounter. The thunder and lightening lit up the sky. It was time for him to leave. He knew he would never find her, and the question that popped into his mind was ‘could she ever forgive him for not continuing the search?'
My Favorite Mistake
by Cheryl

I woke up and called this morning
The tone of your voice was a warning
That you don't care for me anymore
I made up the bed we sleep in
I looked at the clock when you creep in
It's 6 a.m. and I'm alone

Did you know when you go
It's the perfect ending
To the bad day I was just beginning
When you go all I know is
You're my favorite mistake

Well, your friends are sorry for me
They watch you pretend to adore me
But I'm no fool to this game
Now here comes your secret lover
She'd be unlike any other
Until your guilt goes up in flames

Did you know when you go
It's the perfect ending
To the bad day I've gotten used to spending
When you go all I know is
You're my favorite mistake
You're my favorite mistake

Well maybe nothin' lasts forever
Even when you stay together
I don't need forever after
It's your laughter won't let me goSo I'm holding on this way

Did you know, could you tell
You were the only one
That I ever loved
Now everything's so wrong
Did you see me walking by?
Did it ever make you cry?

You're my favorite mistake
You're my favorite mistake
You're my favorite mistake

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

*Chapter 1*

The file he held in his hand read ‘Elizabeth Marie Parker' and this would be his most valued client. At least that's what the senior partner Douglas Manters stated over and over as he gave Max Evans, Esq. the list of clients he finally would handle for the firm. Apparently this Parker lady had lots of money and the companies she held brought in a lot of corporate business. Max sat in his office now trying to decide what to do first. It had taken him nearly a month to get moved and settled in his new apartment. Now, he was going to have to adjust to new firm policies, new clients and just where was his coffee? He had asked his new secretary to bring it in when she got it.

"Ms. DeLuca have you been able to find the coffee machine yet?" Max asked harshly. He wasn't sure why they felt the need to hire someone who obviously didn't have the skills necessary for the position she held. Then he remembered the newest partner hanging around smiling a lot at her. He thought maybe once he caught him pinch her rear. What kind of place is this? Max thought shaking his head.

His frustration was clear. He needed to work to get ‘her,' his mystery woman off his mind. He had thought that moving from Roswell, the place where their brief encounter had taken place, would help him get her off his mind. It hadn't. At night all he could think about was her. Her sweet scent, her beautiful face, her long silky hair, her luscious breasts and her..... URGH! Max thought. Stop this torment! He screamed inside his head. He had to forget her. It was a one night stand. That is all it was. Yeah, if you keep telling yourself that maybe, just maybe one of these days you'll believe it. The voice inside his head clearly was mocking him.

"Ms. DeLuca?" Max asked again a little louder. Still no answer. Damn. I guess I'll just go try to find it myself. And with that he opened his office door but before he was able to exit, his secretary, Maria DeLuca rushed in with his coffee.

"It's about time." Max muttered under his breath.

"Sorry. Michael. I mean Mr. Guerin asked for some assistance." Maria stated with a shy smile.

"I'll bet." Max smirked back.

As Maria began to walk back to the door, Max quickly realized they had started off on the wrong foot. What was that old saying, ‘your secretary can make or break you'? Well, he wasn't going to be broken because of a little misunderstanding. After all, he was brought into this firm because of his great business sense, and the fact that he was able to settle several large mergers while living in a tiny town like Roswell, NM. He would make his mark on this big city but not before he conquered his secretary.

"Ms. DeLuca. Please come in and have a seat." Max stated calmly and quickly trying to catch her before she reached the door.

Maria did as was requested and then folded her hands in her lap. She sat looking Max straight in his eye wondering what this guys problem was? The only reason she had agreed to take this position was because of Michael. He was now the junior partner and thought about how great it would be if we actually worked together. At least until my trust money is fully under my control. Just one more year, Maria thought. Well, it wouldn't be bad to learn some skills either, she amended.

"I realize we may have started off on the wrong foot. I am new to LA and to this firm and it might take me a little while to get adjusted. I may be a little irritable while doing these adjustments. I apologize in advance. However, I do expect certain things from my assistant. I do expect coffee every morning and when I request it. I expect her or him, whatever the case may be, to be on time and proficient. I realize I didn't hire you but I am relying on the judgment of Mr. Guerin on the matter of your skills. You do have skills don't you?" Max asked sweetly and in a teasing manner. A hint of a amusement was clear on his face.

"Yes. At least some." Maria stated quietly. She clearly didn't understand what he found so amusing.

"Would you like to elaborate?" Max requested in a light tone.

"Well, ...um...I've never been a secretary before. Bu, I do know how to type ...at least a little. I can answer the phone. Other than that, they have assigned someone to help me figure things out." Maria wished he would get this over with she was getting a crick at looking up at him. Sometime during his impassioned speech, he had stood up behind his desk and began pacing. This was not a desirable trait. Why couldn't he just go play golf? At least that's what Michael is doing right now. Maria thought.

"I see. Well. We'll work it out. Don't worry. I'll try not to be too demanding." Max assured her. He gave a nod to add emphasis to his new goal. Then tried to give her a reassuring smile. It apparently didn't work he noticed, because Maria stood and was about to bolt.

Still pacing back and forth with an expression that seemed to be all business, Max stated "I have been assigned Elizabeth Parker's account. I would like you to find out all you can about her affairs and then we will discuss it. For now, I would like for you to schedule a meeting with her for this afternoon." Max concluded. It was her dismissal but she remained seated.

"Mr. Evans, you should probably know that Liz doesn't come into this office. I mean, she never has. Well, really she doesn't go anywhere here lately but she doesn't set foot in this office. I would have thought they would have told you that." Maria was waiting for the explosion. She had heard new hot shot attorneys were difficult to deal with and hated when they didn't get their way. This guy didn't seem any different. She was so glad she had grown up with Michael. He wasn't at all egotistical.

"Liz? Are you personally acquainted?" Max asked.

"Sort of. She's one of my closest friends." Maria stated simply as she stood behind the chair she had been sitting in. She was tired of him looming over her. Maria's father was strict but he never intimidated her as much as her new boss was doing. She couldn't figure out how to win with him. Her father wanted her to experience life after college. Life working. It wasn't so bad until she had to get a real job. Thankfully Michael took pity on her and helped her get on here. Why was she allowing him to make her worry? She could easily find another job, but she really wanted to show everyone she could handle things on her own. It was her stubborn nature, but she was going to do well. With that reassurance came a new burst of knowledge. She could be an asset to her new boss if he would let her.

Max's face all but radiated disbelief. He couldn't figure out how someone who was supposed to have so much money would be best friends with his secretary, a working class person. Not that he was prejudice but it didn't seem logical.

"I see." Max stated again.

"What do you see?" Maria inquired trying to keep the irritation out of her voice.

"I just mean...I'm trying to absorb all of this. So, if ‘Liz' as you called her, doesn't come into the office how do we transact business?" Max asked getting back to the matter at hand.

"She will see you at her home or at her corporate office. Probably at her home. As I said, she hasn't been going anywhere here lately. If you want, I'll call and see what she's doing this afternoon and tell her you'll drop by. However, I'm sure Mr. Manters will want to go with you. So, I'll check with his assistant. I'll let you know when it's all set." Maria said as she slowly moved to the door awaiting his response. I guess it didn't hurt that her father's money and businesses added to the firms growing client list, or knowing the senior partner because he attended most of the family's large social gatherings. Yes, these added perks are probably going to have advantages. Maria thought with a smile.

"Why would Mr. Manters want to attend my meeting?" Max inquired a bit confused.

"I'm just sure he will. Normally, he always is the one who meets personally with certain clients. Liz's family is one and he always does with my dad." Maria blurted out. Oh great! She thought. Now he's going to know that I grew up without worry, etc. and all that crap about being spoiled will start. I just hope he's smart enough to realize if he gives me a chance I will work hard.

"Your dad is a client?" Max asked curiously. His expression was neutral. Nonjudgmental.

"Yeah. Um...I'm not a spoiled brat or anything. I didn't get this job by doing favors or anything but I will admit it was mostly because of who I know and who I'm dating. Look, Mr. Evans. I will work hard and try to do my best. I don't want you to think just because of Mich...Mr. Guerin or Mr. Manters you have to treat me special or anything. I wanted this job. If you'll let me, I'll prove I can do it." Maria had a sincere face after her tirade but also a slight look of concern.

Smiling brightly Max replied, "do I have a choice?"

Not realizing he was teasing Maria tensed up and replied quickly. "Sure you do. They want you to be happy. If getting someone else will suit you better, they will."

"I was kidding." Max said teasingly.

"Oh, yeah, right. I knew that." Maria broke out in to a fit of giggles. She always seemed to do that when she was nervous. When she was able to control herself, she decided to get back to the task at hand. "I'll just go call Liz." And with that she was out the door.

**********

After nearly two hours of reviewing the files he had been given and formulating a plan of attack on each one. Max became a little concerned about Maria taking so long in arranging the meeting with the Parker lady. He kept reviewing his earlier conversation with Maria in his head. She had told him that ‘Liz' was one of her closest friends. So did that mean that this multi-million dollar woman was young or old. How did she come by the companies and the money? What type of client would she be? Would he have to be ‘gentle' with the way he handled her? Was their a possibility of her not wanting him for her attorney since he was so young? STOP! He ordered himself.

Self doubt and pity had never came to mind before that single most glorious night nearly two months ago. That is when his confidence had been shattered. Now every thing he did, he questioned. There were no more spontaneous actions. It ended up getting him hurt in the long run. Even when he wasn't thinking about ‘her' he was thinking about ‘her'. He scolded himself for being so shallow and allowing her to consume his every action. He wasn't a child. He knew what was happening. He didn't protest. He did give her every chance to back out (as well as himself). Why couldn't he get over this? It was simply a mistake. An error in judgment on his part, but God she was so incredible. She was beautiful but seemingly sad. Why would she have allowed him to take her virginity? She could have probably anyone she wanted, so why did she choose that moment with him to ‘become a woman' so to speak?

Shaking his head, he thought again it may have been a mistake but one he wouldn't change even if he could go back.

Max stood and began to pace back in forth in front of his large office windows. He didn't hear her knock or enter until she cleared her throat. He had his fingers gently messaging his forehead and his eyes closed. Without even looking up he directed a simple question to her, "what time?"

"I assume your talking about your meeting with Liz. Well, she had plans that couldn't be changed so she can't meet this afternoon. She agreed to tomorrow though. Brunch at her house. Her ultimatum was that I join you. Mr. Manters agreed to this time also. He was looking for another opportunity to visit with her." Maria stated softly. She walked to stand close to her boss before she continued. "Hey, are you okay?"

Max raised his head to look at her and after seeing the look of concern on her face he simply nodded. "It's just been a long day."

"Well...um...I'm not sure how you see fraternization but if your not doing anything...." Maria began but Max cut her off stating "Maria, you're a very nice woman but..." as he trailed off.

Maria cut him off with an appalled look "I wasn't offering that or whatever you were thinking. I merely was going to invite you to a little get together at my house. Mr. Guerin will be there as well as Liz. If you would like to meet her before our brunch meeting. It's just that I didn't know if you would want to see me outside of work."

"Look, I'm sorry. We really should start over. I didn't mean to jump to any conclusions. And please, call me Max. I would love to come." Max responded with a sincere and tired look on his face.

"And you already call me Maria so if you'll be patient with me I know this will work out." Maria turned to leave but then turned around and smiled adding, "don't forget to bring a date."

After Maria left him to his thoughts, Max's mind reeled. A date? Where was he going to get a date at this short hour? It wasn't like he was interested in anyone but ‘her' and he couldn't find ‘her.' Then one name came to mind and he picked up the phone. After a few short rings she answered. Max gave no greeting he just jumped into his request, "Isabelle,....."
Lean On Me
by Bill Wit

Sometimes, in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But, if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on For, it won't be long
Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill
Those of your needs that you won't let show
You just call on me brother when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on
For, it won't be long
Til I'm gonna need somebody to lean on
You just call on me brother when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
If there is a load
You have to bear, that you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load if you just call me
Call me if you need a friend
Call me ...

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

*Chapter 2*

Opening the door and ushering in one of her closest friends, Maria felt her heart sink just a little. The sadness was still in her eyes. She hadn't been able to get even a little past the death of her parents and younger brother even though it had been a little over two months. This would truly be her first ‘social' gathering since that fateful day. Actually, Maria didn't think that Liz would have agreed had it not been for Alex. This was after all his homecoming party.

Alex, second closest friend to both Maria and Liz. He has been away for six months. He wasn't here when it happened and didn't get to attend the funeral, but when a messenger had tracked him down in the middle of his safari and gave him the news, he was on a plane home. Problem was it had taken nearly two months to get him back. Alex always knew how to make them laugh. He knew how to make things seem better even in their darkest times. Alex was a true friend to them both. And Maria knew Liz needed him now more than ever.

"Hey." Maria said quietly hugging Liz.

"Hey, yourself. So, how's work?" Liz asked inquisitively.

"Fine. I think I might like my new boss. He's supposed to be here tonight so you can meet him." Maria wiggled her eyebrows and shut the door behind Liz. Then began walking back to the kitchen with Liz in tow. Maria had to finalize the preparations for tonight's get together.

"So, how are things with Michael?" Liz asked with a sheepish grin.

"Good. Anyone tripping your trigger lately?" Maria asked with a teasing tone.

"Well..." Liz started with a sheepish grin then broke into another question to sidetrack Maria's interrogation, "When does Alex get in?"

"Smooth... like I wouldn't catch that? Off the hook for now, but soon you'll have to tell me. Anyway, Alex should be here by 8:15 if all goes as planned." Maria couldn't help but wonder what Liz was hiding from her. She knew that Liz was always ‘busy' and that it couldn't only be work. Maria knew her friend needed time alone and that could be why she stayed at home, but could there be another reason? A guy perhaps? Maria's thoughts were swirling in her head. A guy was exactly what Liz needed. Someone to help ease her back into life....living.

"Why whatever could you be talking about?" Liz side batting her eyelashes and then sobering at the thought of the last time she was here in this kitchen with Maria. It had been the night after her parents and brother died. She couldn't go home and didn't have anyone else but Maria. She was alone as far as family went, no aunts, uncles or grandparents. Everyone was gone but her friends, her only true friends...Alex and Maria. Maria had insisted they drown their sorrows in ice cream and over tears they had shared memorable stories of her parents and brother.

Realizing Liz's look, Maria quickly embraced her and whispered in her ear "sorry" just to reassure her that it was alright.

"It's okay." Liz said shaking her head of the thoughts and blinking back the tears.

"If you want to talk, we can go somewhere without so many people fluttering around. The gardens?" Maria suggested.

"No. I am getting better. It just takes something to trigger the overwhelming emptiness I feel now. I can't describe it but it's like there is this huge piece of my heart that is missing. I just miss them a lot, I guess." Allowing one tear to slip down her cheek, Liz swiftly added, "I did make it in to the office to go through dad's desk, though. I decided to leave it all just the way it was, and I plan to work from there soon. It made me feel closer to him somehow. And mom, well, she would be proud that I'm back at the house. She spent a lot of time, effort and money in putting together her master piece as she often called it. The one room I haven't had the courage to enter yet is Justin's room. I don't know if I'll ever be able to go in there. He was just so young. I can still here him screaming, Maria." The thoughts were to much and Liz began to sob. Maria took her by the shoulders and helped Liz up the back stairs to her room. She sat holding Liz until the sobs began to subside. Liz straightened herself and muttered an apology for Maria's blouse. It was now smeared with make up.

"Now, have I ever worried about ruining my clothes?" Maria teased. Remembering all the times she had been so busy trying to throw mud pies at the other little boys and Lizzie was the one who always screamed not to ruin her dresses. She was always the neat and tidy one. Maria, on the other hand, was the most rambunctious of the three friends. Always a wreck and Liz always trying to make her better in some way. Always being there for her. Even when Maria's parents would fight and she'd feel all alone Liz would be her rock. The one person to make it all better, with Alex's help of course. So now all Maria wanted to do was be there for Liz and make Liz better.

"So, I was wondering if you might be interested in going away this weekend. Michael and I thought we'd go up to Aspen for a long weekend since Monday is a holiday. I would love it if you'd join us. We're going to ask Alex and Michael thought about asking my boss, Max. What do you think? It would do you good to get out of this town. I know how much you enjoy skiing so, what do you say?" Maria said insistently.

"I don't know. We'll see. I have to go to New York on Tuesday and I'm not really sure I have everything ready for that trip." Liz sat quietly going over all the things she needed to get done for her trip.

"Come on. For me?" Maria stated battering her eyes and pouting her lips.

Liz never able resist Maria and her outlandish ideas just nodded and said, "okay."

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

"Iz come on! We're going to be really late as it is." Max shouted up the stairs.

"Coming, coming. Have you never heard that it is best to make an entrance!" Iz shouted back.

"I don't care about making an entrance, I just want to meet my mystery client." Max countered.

"What's so mysterious about an old bag with lots of money?" Iz retorted in a teasing manner coming down the stairs.

"Who said she was an old bag?" Max said shaking his head at his materialistic sister. Iz was a glamour girl. Loved good clothes, jewelry and make up, but had a heart of gold. Sometimes you don't always get to see the good heart because of her "ice princess" facade, but it's there none-the-less.

"Well, let's see. How many girls in their mid-twenties would have the money and run the number of companies Elizabeth Parker does? I mean, I haven't heard a lot about her but when you were telling me why you needed to go to this dinner party, I did a little checking." Iz said with a smirk.

"You, what? Iz, you shouldn't do things like that." Max admonished his sister then added, "what did you find out?"

"Curiosity wins out, huh?" Iz smirked back.

"Oh, shut up!" Max said teasingly.

"So, well what I found out was that she is extremely rich. Apparently her parents were in a fatal crash and that's it. You can find out that she owns lots of different companies but you can't find any pictures of her or of her family. They pretty much kept to themselves. Problem is, I couldn't find a birth date either so I'm not really sure how old she is." Iz stated proudly and began twisting her mouth in thought.

"And so you base your ‘old bag' theory on what?" Max said ushering Iz to the door of her condo.

"On the fact that it wouldn't be fair for her to be so young and have so much. I mean, not that I begrudge people but I've found that the people here...if they have money...are mostly stuck up. I haven't met anyone who doesn't respond to money. They seem to thrive on it or something. If I didn't dress like I do, I wouldn't even get a friendly hello." Iz said putting on her jacket.

Continuing the conversation in the car, Max sat with a hint of a smile on his lips listening to his sister rave on about the throws of rich society.

"If you don't like it, why do you try to fit in? Why don't you just be yourself?" Max asked.

"Because myself doesn't get me where I want to be in this fast paced world." Iz retorted.

"And where is that, Iz? Do you want to be some rich housewife? I just can't see that." Max countered.

"I don't know for sure but I don't not like things, you know. I like material things. Sometimes I just don't know if it's worth all the hassle. It seems that the rich guys only want one thing and that is...well...you know." Iz felt uncomfortable talking about sex with her brother. She wasn't really sure how he would take, what he considered his ‘little' sister getting hit on by guys.

"You should watch yourself, then. I wouldn't want to see you get hurt." Max stated quietly and then reached to turn up the radio. He wasn't in the mood to talk about ‘sex' with his sister.

Not wanting to stop talking since it was one of the first conversations Max had ventured into in nearly two months, Isabelle countered Max by turning the radio back down.

"Max, I wanted to ask you something." Iz started.

"What?" Max asked with a shy grin. Whenever Iz started a conversation by stating she had something to say, it always turned out that she wanted him to date one of her friends or something similar.

"Is there someone special your interested in? I mean, you seem to be distant and always busy. I just wondered if there was someone you hadn't thought to tell me about yet."

"Well...not really. I just have a lot on my mind. I'm trying to adjust to this new position and life in general. Don't worry. If I find someone, I'll make sure you're the first to know." Max then turned the radio back up.

********

Getting lost using Maria's instructions, Max ended up about 20 miles North of LA. At Isabelle's insistence and since they were now over an hour late, Max phoned Maria's house.

"Hello" the female voice answered.

"Hi, um.. Is Maria DeLuca there?" Max asked.

"Yeah, hang on." the voice countered and got Maria to the phone.

"This is Maria." she stated.

"Hi, this is Max. Look, I'm sorry we're lost and I can't seem to figure out your directions." Max replied.

"Max. Oh my gosh, I'm sorry. I may not have made them clear. Tell me where you are." Maria countered.

*********

After trying to get Max on the correct path, Maria then returned to the party. It would take him about another 35 minutes or so to get to her house. By that time it would be nearly 10:00 pm and everyone was getting extremely restless. They had already eaten and were having a good time drinking and listening to music but since it was Thursday and most of the guests did have to go to work, they began leaving. And Alex insisted on going home with Liz.

By the time Max and Iz arrived, everyone but Michael and Maria had gone. Maria apologized for the directions again, the four had a drink and then Michael asked Max about the upcoming weekend.

"Maria and I would love it if you would join us in Aspen this weekend. We're going up with some friends. Since it's a long weekend we thought it would be good to get away. Actually, we're sort of doing this more for Liz but still it will be fun." Michael stated with a sympathetic tone and gave Maria a small smile.

Maria smiled back and then added, "It would give you a chance to get to know Liz better. I mean, you are going to be her attorney and that means you need to have some personal knowledge of her. Not many people around the firm have been given the opportunity, that would be one of the reasons that her account continues to get fluttered about the office. The other attorneys seem to get tired of chasing her down to help her. She's very active in the businesses her father left her. Isabelle should come to."

"Sounds like fun." Isabelle shot back with a bright smile.

Max just shot her a ‘your in trouble when we leave' look and smiled at Michael and Maria nodding his response.

When they were safely in the car Max asked, "what was that about?"

Iz responded softly, "why whatever are you talking about?"

"I mean, why did you volunteer to go without us discussing it. I really don't know these people all that well and quite frankly, I'm not sure I want to. Maria is my secretary for peat's sake." Max stated sternly with his voice rising.

"I'm telling you Maxwell, she may be your secretary but she's someone to know. Just look at that house. What harm could it do?" Iz shrugged off the conversation and began flipping through the radio.

"Well, lets see....my secretary and my major account are close friends, and my secretary and senior partner, my boss, are apparently close. Not to mention all the other people she seems to have wrapped around her little finger. If I don't treat her like she wants I could be out of a job. Did you think of that? It's just too weird. This whole place is strange. Sometimes I think I should have stayed in Roswell." Max stopped in a defeated tone.

"Max. It's just the way it is here. It's different. I really don't think Maria will be out to get you. She seems nice. And even though they all know her, that doesn't mean with one word you'll be out the door. You've more than proven yourself. You don't have to put up with anyone's crap and you know it." Izzy patted Max on the shoulder before opening the sunroof to the car.

"I guess you're right. I just really wanted to get the initial meeting with Parker over with tonight. It's just ... I don't know." Max stated. He had an strange feeling that he needed to meet this woman to put his mind at rest. Was he stressing to much over this? After all, she was just a client.

"I know what you need....." Iz trailed off with a sheepish grin.

Max catching the lull in her speech caught a quick glimpse of her grin, "Oh no. I don't want to be set up on any of your ‘blind' dates. I'm not desperate."

"So, that means there is someone. I thought so. I can sense when your holding things back, Max. Now, are you going to tell me about it or ...." Iz stopped again with a quick thought of what she was going to do to get whatever he's holding back out of him.

Max thought a minute then realized it might feel better to get it off his chest. His sister was just like his best friend. She was always there when he needed her. Maybe she could make sense out of his mystery woman's behavior. Lord knows he can't get ‘her' out of his mind. So he began, "Well, it's just this girl. See, I met her one rainy night...."

**********

Alex and Liz sat on her extra large King size bed with two pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. They hadn't had an ice cream night in a long time and Alex was glad he talked her into it. They had a lot of catching up to do. Liz just couldn't seem to open up without the ice cream, though. He knew she had to get all the stuff off her chest that she had been holding in for the past few months or she might not ever return to old self.

"So, tell me about the safari." Liz began.

"Well, not much to tell. Lots of jungle, lots of animals, lots of heat. Nothing spectacular. Except this one waterfall. You and Maria would love it. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It was magical. How are you?" Alex slipped in the last question with a solemn face.

Noticing that Alex really wanted to hear how she was coping and knowing he wouldn't let up, Liz decided maybe he could help her with this moral dilemma that she got herself into. He was always there when she needed him. Lord knows she can't get ‘him' out of her mind. So she began, "Well, it's just this guy. See, I met him one rainy night...."

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:03:35 PM
INSENSITIVE
by Jann A

How do you cool your lips
after a summer's kiss
how do you rid the sweat
after the body bliss
How do you turn your eyes
from a romantic glare
how do you block the sound of a voice
you'd know anywhere

Oh, I really should have known
by the time you drove me home
by the vagueness in your eyes
your casual: "Oh, goodbye"
By the chill in your embrace
the expression on your face told me
maybe you might have some advice to give
on how to be insensitive
insensitive, insensitive

How do you numb your skin
after the warmest touch
how do you slow your blood
after the body rush
How do free your soul
after you found a friend
how do you teach your heart
that it's a crime to fall in love again

Oh, you probably won't remember me
it's probably ancient history
I'm one of the chosen few
who went ahead and fell for you
I'm out of vogue,
I'm out of touch
I fell too fast
I feel too much

I thought that you might have
some advice to give
on how to be insensitive
insensitive, insensitive

Oh, I really should have known
by the time you drove me home
by the vagueness in your eyes
your casual: "Oh, goodbye"
By the chill in your embrace
the expression on your face told me
maybe you might have some advice to give
on how to be insensitive
insensitive, insensitive

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

*Chapter 3*

Max Evans, Maria DeLuca and Douglas Manters rode up the long circle driveway lined with wonderful shade trees. It had almost a ‘southern' plantation look to it; however, the difference would be the backdrop to the ocean. Out of all the wonderfully expensive places he had seen since arriving in LA, this was by far the most beautiful. When the house came into sight, his breath caught in his throat. It was exquisite. It was a mansion none the less but it was the beautiful gardens that surrounded the entrance that made the structure a home. There was also a carved slate plaque mounted to the side of the entranceway which was a well-crafted brick wall border. The name plate read "Parker."

Max's mind began racing again. What would this ‘client' be like? For the life of him he couldn't figure out why he was so worried about this particular client. He had experience behind him, as well as a charming exterior personality. He could get along with anyone, he was sure of it. In any case, all of his fears were about to either be realized or put to rest.

Maria noticing Max's discomfort gave him a pat on the back, which resulted in a brief smile of thanks. Finally something I know how to do - comfort, she thought with an inner smile.

Douglas Manters, senior partner of Max's law firm and longtime friend to many of his clients was eager to see his ‘god' daughter. She had been through so much since the death of her family. He hadn't had a lot of free time to just visit and comfort her. He had been trying to assist with the various matters of the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Parker. Being one of their closest friends, he was put in a position to be responsible for so many things dealing with their holdings. And then when Max Evans had agreed to join the firm, he had been extremely happy and relieved. Max had excelled in his field and Doug knew that it was important to have the best to assist Liz with her company dealings. Liz was extremely bright and well educated, but a little overwhelmed by all the responsibility which was abruptly placed on her shoulders. He just hoped that Max and Liz would get along well. Of course there is always Maria, too. His other ‘god' daughter who would assist with that. Maria and Liz were the closest friends, as well as his ‘god' son, Alex.

As Doug was about to push the doorbell beside the large entryway door, Maria just pushed the door open and started inside.

"Maria, shouldn't you knock or something?" Max asked with a sharp tone. He wanted to make a good impression.

"No. Besides, I have my own key. I stayed here all the time growing up." Maria continued to walk through the large parlor.

"I have my own key too, but I still always ring the bell." Doug said scoldingly.

"Okay, why does everyone have a key to this house?" Max asked curiously.

Doug smiled and turned to Max, "Oh. I'm sorry, dear boy. I should have told you Liz is my ‘god' daughter. Her parents and I were very close. As is Maria's. And even though I insist she is adopted sometimes, she is also my ‘god' daughter." Hearing Maria's grunt and seeing her frown, Doug patted her on the back and then shouted for the butler. "Marcus."

Marcus startled by the intrusion hurried to the parlor. Seeing familiar faces, the elderly man smiled as Maria rushed to give him a hug.

"Oh, my sweet little pixie." Marcus said softly hugging Maria back. Then shaking Doug's hand and saying, "It's good to see you again sir." Doug responded in like shaking Marcus' hand with a smile.

Max seeing the exchange was a little confused. He had expected some formality to this meeting but it was quickly turning into a family gathering. He couldn't shake the feeling that he knew Marcus from somewhere. But where?

Doug introduced Max to Marcus and then asked where Liz was hiding. Marcus smiled and then his face saddened. "Lizzy is out by the pool. She decided it best to have brunch out there with the cool ocean breeze. Maria, dear if you'll lead the way I'll go have Margaret start the meal."

Maria led the way through to the back of the house and then pushed through two large glass double doors.

Liz was sitting at the large patio table, her back was to the house and she had her head bent concentrating on her writing. Maria came up behind her quietly motioning for Doug and Max to be quiet. Doug shook his head at the thought of scaring Liz. He wasn't sure that was the right thing to do just yet. He knew they had always prided each other on being able to sneak up on the others, but with Liz's tragedy he wasn't sure this was the right thing to do.

Just as Maria's hands were up to circle around Liz's head and cover her eyes, Liz spoke softly. "Not a chance, DeLuca. I can hear you a mile away." Liz stood up and Maria quickly circled in front of her and they embraced in a hug. Maria then turned Liz to meet Max.

As their eyes met, their breath caught in their throats. Liz's mouth was opened just a bit and her chest began rising and falling quickly. She stood in shock and knew her expression was giving her away. She could only imagine the panicked look she must have on her face. What if he didn't recognize her, after all it was dark? She tried to reason with herself and then mentally shook herself for just standing there. She thought quickly of an escape to her dilemma....hug Doug. Yes, that is what she needed to do so she threw herself into his arms and gave him a big hug. She said softly, "I've missed you. I haven't seen you in almost a month."

Doug hugged her back and just continued smiling. He countered her sentiment by explaining that he had been extremely busy with the arrangements which were to be made. Liz was hoping to buy some more time to re-compose herself.

Max couldn't believe his eyes. He blinked a few times trying to make sure she wasn't a delusion. He couldn't believe that he had been searching for this girl for nearly two months and now she was right in front of him. It had to be her, right? Problem is she's acting like she doesn't remember me. He realized he was just being stupid, of course it's her. She just doesn't want everyone to know, right? It just wasn't making all that much sense. He needed to get her alone and talk to her. And that's what he'd do just as soon as he started breathing again.

"Can I get in on that action?" Alex said coming up behind the group seeing Liz and Doug hugging.

Liz let Doug go and then stepped back, Alex then embraced Doug. "Good to see you again, son." Doug stated. "Good to be back." Alex replied then added looking over at Liz, "I wish it would have been sooner." Doug just gave a nod of acknowledgment.

"Oooh! Sorry Max. It's like a family reunion of sorts." Maria said apologetically. Then she turned to everyone to introduce Max. "Liz, Alex this is Max Evans. He is a new attorney at Doug's firm and my new boss. I guess he's also Liz's new attorney." Then Maria turned to Max. "Max, this is Elizabeth Parker. However, you should never call her Elizabeth unless you don't care much for your life."

"Maria!" Liz interjected giving Maria a stern look and then shooting out her hand to Max. "It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Evans." Liz felt the jolt of emotion overtake her at the mere contact with him. There was no way she was going to make it through this meal with him so close. He was acting like he didn't know her, and all she wanted to do was hit him over the head and drag him upstairs to her bedroom. The thoughts of what they had shared together were making her start to blush. How was she ever going to be able to work with him?

A little stunned by the contact Max was able to breathlessly say, "pleasure is all mine" with a smile. His body was reacting in ways he had never dreamed, just by the mere sight of her. Finally noticing he hadn't let her hand go, he released it. He had held it a little longer than was necessary. How was he ever going to get any work done with her around?

Maria began again, "and Max this is Alex Whitman. He's our third musketeer."

Alex shot out a hand to Max who shook it with a nod. Alex had made his way to stand by Liz and placed a hand on the small of her back. They stood very close to each other. Max couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy. Why do you care? He chided himself for being foolish. Of course this beautiful exotic creature belonged to someone else. She didn't belong to him. He had to just keep reminding himself that it was just a one night stand, right? Yeah, keep telling yourself that buddy! The little inner voice shouted. Why did he have to fall so hard? Why couldn't it be him with his arm around her like that? STOP! He ordered silently. Just get through this meal. It will all work itself out and then you can just go find a rock and crawl under it. Yeah, that's it. Just hide away for the rest of your life wondering why you didn't fight for what you want. They obviously aren't married. No rings. Not the same last names. Was dueling still illegal? Max was brought from his rambling thoughts by her angelic voice.

"Shall we have a seat?" Liz asked and as she turned Alex pulled out her chair for her. Doug in turn pulled out Maria's. Liz was at the head of the long patio table flanked by Alex and Maria. Doug sat at the other end and Max sat beside Maria. There was one empty chair across from Max.

There was little conversation from Liz as the servants brought out the food. Most of the talk was Doug asking about Alex's safari. Alex kept looking at Liz and then Liz would give him a smile or a nod of encouragement. Again with the pang of jealousy, Max thought. He tried to act as though he was paying attention to Alex's story, but in actuality he was taking every chance he could to glimpse at Liz. It appeared that Liz was doing the same thing. She would glance at him until he noticed then she averted her eyes to Doug or Maria. But why would she being doing that, Max wondered. Could she possibly be as desperate for contact with him as he was for her? Or could she just be wondering if he was about to shatter her precious little world? If the latter was true, that meant that she didn't want to be with him and that thought made him sick to his stomach.

After the meal was finished and close to the end of Alex's story, Alex took Liz's hand. Maria did the same and then they all smiled at each other. Alex had returned because he had received news of Liz's family tragedy. Max could see the tears fresh in Liz's eyes but she blinked them back and in the span of a second, her composure was once again flawless.

Standing up, Liz stated "I have forgotten something in the library, I'll be right back."

"I'll go get it." Alex volunteered.

"I've got it, thanks." Liz said patting Alex's hand.

Seeing this as his opportunity, Max stood and asked, "may I use your restroom?"

"Of course. Um...well...just follow me." Liz said turning toward to the double doors.

As they made their way inside the house, Liz could feel Max's gaze burning the back of her head. She was a little uncomfortable but even more embarrassed. She wasn't sure what to say to him. How could she explain? What would he think? Shaking off the negatives, Liz gestured and stated that the restroom was down the hall to the right. Then she turned to go to the library but found that as she entered the room, Max was right behind her. He shut and locked the door behind them.

Swallowing hard and turning to face him, Liz felt her breath catch again. What was with her? She couldn't seem to breath normally when she was around him. She stood with her back to her desk and just waited patiently for him to speak.

Max wasn't sure what he wanted to say but he felt the need for an explanation. After all, she had left him rather abruptly after their night of passion. How insensitive can she be? After what they had shared, she didn't bother to even attempt to contact him again. Was it all that horrible? The thought struck him and his confidence wavered. How was he going to begin? How could she not have known how her leaving would affect him? The realization hit him that he didn't know whether to be angry or relieved. He should be angry and possibly feel used, but on the other hand, he was so relieved to finally have found her and know her name he wasn't sure how to handle this situation.

After several moments of silence, Max made his way to stand in front of her. She was close enough that he could just reach out and embrace her. That was what he really wanted to do. He just wanted to grab her and throw her down on the nearest sofa and make wild passionate love to her....again. The only thing stopping his thoughts at this moment was that she looked scared or frightened. He didn't want her to be either. For some reason, no matter how much she had hurt him or he had felt used after waking up in that hotel room, he wanted to protect her feelings. Shaking himself internally, he thought of how unfair life could be. Then the first thought that he had when seeing Alex with her jolted him back to reality. There was what he needed to know. Why had she done it?

"I won't tell him." Max said softly staring intently into those eyes that held so many conflicting emotions. God those eyes! Why couldn't she be single?

"Who?" Liz asked softly. She couldn't figure it out. With all the discipline she knew she had, she couldn't muster up just a little to not appear as conflicted as she was in his presence.

"Alex." Max replied.

"Alex?" Liz shot out stunned. "Alex knows. I mean, he doesn't know it's you specifically but he knows."

"You told him?" Max asked incrediously.

"Yes, of course. I ...um..I needed to talk about it." Liz said then she turned her eyes downcast.

"So you two have some sort of open relationship, is that it?" Max asked stunned and sounding a little angry despite himself.

"What?" Liz asked raising her voice a little. Max just had a stunned unbelieving look on his face. And his eyes, GOD THOSE EYES, they looked angry. Really angry. Then it dawned on her what he thought. Her and Alex? How could anyone think that? Alex was like her brother. But then again, Max didn't know that.

"Is that what you think?" Liz asked in a hurt voice as she came around him and sat on the little leather sofa . She kept shaking her head and then buried her face in her hands.

Max wasn't sure what to think. All signs pointed to a closeness between her and Alex. One that he hadn't gotten the chance to develop with her.

Liz began mumbling through her hands and still shaking her head. "I can't believe it. Of all the things I thought you'd think, I never thought you'd think I was cheating on someone. My god, I ...I ...what have I done?"

Not sure what he was to do, Max could hear her muffled sobbing. He felt like such a heel. Why did he have to make her cry? Not sure what to do, Max sat on the edge of the coffee table in front of the little sofa. He patted Liz lightly on her shoulder and began saying soft encouraging things. "Liz, it's okay. Shhhhh. It's okay. It's not that bad, really. I just ...well...I guess I was a little hurt that you left the way you did."

Liz stopped shaking her head and then she slowly raised her face. She quickly swiped away the tears that had escaped her eyes; however, there were still tears brimming in her eyes like glass. She knew she owed him some sort of explanation but wasn't sure what to say. "Mr. Evans, I..." Max interrupted her. "It's just Max, okay."

"Max, I...um...I'm so sorry. I know I used you, but I didn't cheat on anyone. I didn't." Liz was very sincere.

"I just thought...." Max started but trailed off thinking she might continue. Then realized she wasn't going to. "I thought that you were with Alex."

A small smile tugged at the corners of Liz's mouth. "No. Alex is like my brother. Just like Maria's like my sister." Then the sadness returned.

Noticing the abrupt change, Max realized then it must have something to do with her family. "Why?" was all he could say.

"You mean, why I chose a complete stranger? I swear I haven't ever done anything like that before." Liz assured him.

Max couldn't help but smile and say, "I know."

"You know?" Liz replied then the realization hit her. She hadn't been with anyone but him, "Oh!" was all she could manage. A light blush tinted her cheeks. She knew she owed him something more but wasn't sure what she could say without having a total breakdown.

"Look, I know you must have had your reasons. I just, well, I haven't been able to think of anything else since." Max stated honestly. Silently he was pleased he could make her blush even now after what they had shared.

"Really?" Liz's voice was so soft but he still heard her and he couldn't help but smile at the wonder in her voice. "I ...um...I thought maybe it was just me. I mean, I wasn't sure how to explain myself and everything but I....um...I couldn't believe it when you walked in here."

"Me neither. I looked all over Roswell for you but gave up when I moved here. I didn't think I'd ever see you again." Max continued.

"Max, I don't know that we can work together. I mean, won't it be difficult for you?" Liz asked shyly.

"If that's what you want, I'll tell Doug. If it's uncomfortable for you." Max was kicking himself for being so damn agreeable. He wanted her. He wanted to be deep inside her. Where was that coming from? Just a little while ago, he was wanting answers. Now, well, now he wanted just to take her up to her room and have his way with her ....again.

"I think, I mean, maybe that's best. I don't want you to be uncomfortable. And, well, trust is a key issue in this type of business relationship. How could you ever trust me?" Liz asked sincerely.

"Trust? We were both consenting adults, Liz. Right?" Max asked hoping he was right. She had to be his age but that doubt was still there. And just what did she mean by trust her? She hadn't broken any promises to him. Hell, she hadn't even spoken to him that night.

"Right, we were both consenting adults. As for trust, Max, I wasn't honest with you that night. I shouldn't have used you. I am really sorry." Liz continued.

"Okay. Well, I'm glad we were both adults. But I don't agree with your reasoning as to your being honest. And I didn't feel used..well..at least not until I woke up the next morning and you were gone. If you'll remember, though, you didn't say anything to me that night. Nothing. An aspect that I couldn't believe when analyzing the situation later. So, I shouldn't have had any expectations. Therefore, you didn't really use me. And, at the time, I didn't think to ask if you'd be there in the morning. So, I don't see how you can feel that you weren't honest with me or that resulted in a breaking of a trust that really hadn't been established." Max argued.

"Typical lawyer. I'm not going to argue the merits of my shameful behavior with you. I think it would be best if we didn't discuss this further. It is all my fault. I just hoped you could forgive me. Since I see that it isn't that simple, well...maybe we shouldn't work together." Liz said getting a bit angry and rising from the couch. She wanted to feel guilty for using him. It was the only thing right now keeping her from grabbing him by the lapels and throwing him back on the sofa. She wanted him deeply. She hadn't been with anyone but him and it just felt so right. She quickly turned her back on him so that he couldn't see the fresh tears springing from her eyes. Why did she have to be mean to him? Oh, right you can't get involved. It wouldn't be right. You used him. There's no way to start over and form a lasting relationship, is there?

Not sure what to do, Max stood and walked to the door. He glanced back at her still form and then exited. Liz attempted to try to get her composure back. She didn't hear him leave. What was she going to do? She didn't want to lose him again, did she? Would it really hurt for them to work together? How was she ever going to let him go? But then again, how was she ever going to get any work done when he was around? After contemplating her circumstances, Liz started back to the patio.

After exiting the study and shutting the door quietly behind him, Max slumped against the door. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do. Well, that wasn't exactly true, he wanted to rush back in there and show her how much she meant to him - this perfect stranger who without words had captured his heart. How was he going to let her go? But then again, how was he ever going to get any work done with her around? Yes, she was right. They couldn't work together but did that mean they couldn't be together? He wanted her more than he did anything else in his life. Could he let her go? How had she done it, sneak up on him like this, without even saying a word that night? If the tables had turned and he was the one who had used her and then left, wouldn't she be upset? It was all too confusing. However, he knew what he had to do. First, he would ask for her account to be transferred. Then, he would work on finding a way to get to know the ‘real' her and not just the passionate alluring woman he had been with in Roswell. Feeling as though he had a plan, Max continued back out to the patio.

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

When she was just sitting back down at the table, Liz looked to Max. He looked back but with an unreadable expression.

"Doug. I don't think I can work...." Max started but was interrupted by Liz, "from the office. He will need to accompany me to the meetings in New York. I ...um..I need his assistance with reviewing the merger documents. That is what you were going to say, right Max?" Liz had this strange fearful but yet hopeful expression on her face. She wasn't sure there was any way he'd want to be around her, especially after the way she reacted in the library, but she gave him the choice this time. If he wanted to try, she would. After all, it was the least she could do.

Max stared at Liz with a stunned look. Then he just nodded acceptance to her explanation. He wasn't sure what she was doing. She just gave him a soft smile and then turned to look expectantly at Doug. "Sure, whatever you want. But, what changed your mind? You were set on doing all of this by yourself." Doug asked.

"I just realized that maybe sometimes ... you can't do everything by yourself. Sometime you have to share responsibility for things." "Sometimes it takes two." Liz added quietly. Then she glanced at Max again.

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

After reviewing a few details of the upcoming merger and trip to New York, the meeting was coming to an end. Liz interjected stating there were a couple of things left on her agenda for today's meeting. The first was to get Doug's input on assigning Alex to oversee the three record companies she held. The second was a discussion with Maria on the upcoming trip to Aspen.

"Doug, I want Alex to take over the three record companies we hold." Liz explained.

"Sounds like a fine idea." Doug retorted.

Alex started shaking his head and began, "I don't think so. What if I screw them up?"

Liz laughed. A real laugh. Alex, Maria and Doug all just looked at her for a moment before smiling. They were relieved to see that she could. "I don't think Mr. Music himself can mess them up. Besides, it won't hurt anything even if they go belly up."

"Liz..." Alex started.

"I won't have it any other way. Besides, what do I know about music?" Liz's expression left nothing left for argument.

"Okay." Alex relented.

"I thought you'd see it my way....Mr. Whitman." Liz said playfully narrowing her eyes.

"Now, on to the last item on my list. Maria, I called Triston this morning and he's going to open up the house." Liz continued.

"No, Liz you can't. Not yet. Are you sure?" Maria asked sincerely worried for her friend.

"Yes. Yes I can. What better time then when surrounded by friends?" Liz asked then stole a glance at Max.

"Well, I was going to tell you guys anyway we can't go." Maria shot a sympathetic look at Liz.

"Why not?" Liz asked worried.

"It seems that dad called for his plane and all other charters seem to be booked." Maria said sadly.

"Is that all?" Liz asked incrediously. "Maria, I have two. I believe we can manage."

"Are you sure you want to ride on them?" Maria asked with a large hint of concern.

"We'll look at it as a test run for Max and I. We will have to use one of them to get to New York." Liz stated looking over to Max then back to Maria. Maria just nodded.

"Well, I guess with that this meeting is adjourned until we meet at the airport. Doug are you going?" Liz asked politely.

"Not this time sweety. I have business to attend to, but I want you all to go have a wonderful time and don't think about business. Max you going?" Doug asked nicely.

"Yes." Max replied softly. "And Isabelle will be joining us." Doug had met Isabelle and knew she was Max's sister. Liz did not. The feeling of pain she felt deep within her heart made her stand and walk quickly back to the house. What was she doing? She actually thought there might be hope for them. If he could forgive her shameful behavior, that is. The idea of him being taken never crossed her mind. And why shouldn't he be? After all he is an adonis...a Greek God of sorts.

Liz didn't quite make it to the double doors before she swayed and then fell back to the ground. Luckily, Maria was right behind her since she herself was headed to the ladies room before leaving. Maria caught Liz's head before it hit the hard patio.
Feels Like Home
Performed by Chantal Kreviazuk
Written by Randy Ne

Something in your eyes makes me want
to lose myself
Makes me want to lose myself
In your arms
There's something in your voice makes my
heart beat fast
Hope this feeling lasts
The rest of my life

If you knew how lonely my life has been
And how long I've felt so low
If you knew how I wanted someone to
come along
And change my life the way you've done

Feels like home to me (2x)
Feels like I'm all the way back where
I come from
Feels like home to me (2x)
Feels like I'm all the way back where I belong

A window breaks down a long dark street
And a siren wails in the night
But I'm alright cause I have you here with me
And I can almost see through the darkthere's light

If you knew how much this moment
means to me
And how long I've waited for your touch
If you knew how happy you are making me
I've never thought I'd love anyone so much

Feels like home to me (2x)
Feels like I'm all the wayback where I come from
Feels like home to me (2x)
Feels like I'm all the way back
where I belong
Feels like I'm all the way back
where I belong

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

*Chapter 4*

As Liz began to open her eyes, she squinted against the light. What had happened? She thought nervously. She had never passed out before and this strange feeling of not knowing wasn't at all pleasant. As she adjusted her eyes to the light she began to look around her. Where am I? She thought wildly. It looks familiar but still a bit strange. After a few moments of focusing her eyes and looking about cautiously, she figured it out. She was in the pool house. It must have been the closest place out of the sun. Liz finally realized she was holding onto someone's hand. She quickly let go and tried to sit up. She finally met his gaze. "Max?" Liz whispered.

"Shhh. Liz, you need to stay down. We don't know what made you faint." Max said trying to push Liz back onto the lawn chair.

"I'm fine. I just..."Liz was interrupted by Maria entering with Marcus.

"Liz! You're awake. Thank God! What are you doing? Stay still." Maria was insistently pushing Liz back on the chair.

"Marcus, make her stop." Liz pleaded. "I'm fine."

Eyeing Liz carefully, Marcus then put his hand to her forehead. "No fever." he muttered. Then Marcus proceeded to examine Liz's face. "Your still very pale. I think Maria is right, you should rest."

"I'm fine. I won't say it again. Now, let me up." Liz said sternly turning to Max who had a hand on her shoulder keeping her in place. His face was full of concern and a hint of fear. Liz lowered her voice and repeated her plea that they believe she was okay. "I really am fine. I just haven't been sleeping. That's probably why."

"The nightmares again...Liz you promised you'd tell me if they started back." Maria was screeching.

"Maria!" There was a huge hint of warning in Liz's voice. Maria just nodded that she understood. Liz didn't want everyone knowing about her dreams. When her family died right in front of her, she began having hideous nightmares about what she thought she could have done to prevent the crash. Maria tried to convince Liz that she had nothing to feel guilty about, however, Liz knew different.

"I'm sorry. I just worry. You need to rest. We are going to call off our trip. I'll be by tomorrow to stay with you." Maria was nodding her head as if to confirm her plans.

"No. I am fine. I have already made the arrangements. Maybe this is what I need...to get away from here for a few days." Liz's eyes left no room for argument. Maria thought maybe her friend was right. This place was big and other than her servants and bodyguards, Liz was all alone. She needed her friends now.

"Okay." Maria responded.

"Liz..um..are you sure?" Max said finding his voice again finally. It was strained and full of emotion. He couldn't seem to get the fear out of it. He didn't know how to react to seeing her fine one minute and then on the ground the next. Why was he so concerned? Why did he care so much that he didn't know what he would do without her?

"Yeah." Liz stated quietly reaching her hand up to cover Max's on her shoulder. She squeezed lightly and then lifted his hand from her and sat up. She was still a little dizzy but for the most part fully recovered.

Just as Liz stood and was preparing to walk out of the pool house, Alex and Doug entered frantically. "Liz, oh God." was all Alex could say as he rushed and embraced Liz firmly. "I'm fine, Alex. Really." Liz assured him.

"The doctor thinks you need rest. And a break from the stresses of running the businesses. I agree. Liz you have to take better care of yourself." Doug was scolding her like a child. She knew he was only trying to be helpful but she was an adult.

"Doug. Thank you for your concern. I am fine, really. That is what this weekend's trip is about. I plan to relax and enjoy myself. Now, please everyone go get ready and I'll see you at the airport." Liz then made her way around everyone and out the door. They all quickly followed and didn't want to leave her alone.

As Liz went upstairs, she left the others in the parlor watching. She needed a few minutes alone to figure out what had happened to her. She didn't feel sick, so why did she faint?

Downstairs, Alex, Maria, Doug, Marcus and Max all stood in the entryway. "I'll stay." Maria volunteered. "Michael can get my clothes and stuff and meet us at the airport."

"No, Maria. I'll stay." Alex volunteered. "I've got some clothes and what I don't have I'll buy when I get there."

"Um...well...if you two want to go on, I'll stay. I have everything packed in the trunk already. Iz is going to meet me at the airport so I don't have to be anywhere until then." Max offered.

"Are you sure?" Maria asked sort of relieved. She wasn't sure what Michael would pack for her, and she didn't think she could make it in the snow in a teddy.

"Um... well if you're sure Max. If not, I'll stay. I don't mind, really." Alex assured him.

"I'm already packed to go, so it's no problem. We'll meet you at the airport." Max watched Maria, Doug and Alex leave in Alex's car before turning back to Marcus.

"Mr. Evans if you'll follow me you may wait for Ms. Parker in here." Marcus then gestured to what appeared to be a sitting room just off from the entryway. As Max walked in, he then turned back to Marcus with a small smile.

"You remember me, don't you." Max asked.

"I assure you, I would not have allowed her to be alone had I known you were going to take advantage of her." Marcus replied scoldingly.

"Advantage of her? I didn't take advantage of her." Max protested.

"And what exactly do you call it, given her state of grievance and need for comfort at the time when you decided to acknowledge her existence?" Marcus retorted.

"Um...I didn't realize at the time what her intent was. I assure you I did give her ample opportunity to stop." Max's voice dropped to a whisper. He was scolding himself for not realizing it sooner. Of course, she was grieving for her family when he met her. He should have known by the sadness in her eyes.

"I see. Well, she appears to have forgiven you or rather never did hold you responsible. I on the other hand, feel as though you were the man and should therefore have been more responsible. In your defense, I will say that my Lizzy is a very lovely young lady and very stubborn. If I know her, she probably took the lead. She always has done things on her own terms." Marcus was then shaking his head with a frown on his face.

"We probably shouldn't be discussing this." Max thought to steer Marcus away from the topic at hand by adding, "will you let her know I'm still here."

Marcus just nodded. As he was about to leave the room, Marcus turned back once more and issued a soft spoken command. "I know you may not believe that I am capable of causing harm to anyone, but let me make it clear to you. I love that dear girl just as much as her father did, and I swear I won't see her hurt anymore." With that he was gone leaving Max to revel in their conversation.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, Liz appeared in the room Max was waiting in. Max was staring out the front window oblivious to her entrance. She stood for a few minutes before deciding to interrupt his thoughts.

"Is this a bad time?" Liz asked laughing nervously.

Max was startled by the sound of her voice but quickly turned with a smile on his face. "Not at all." Max replied softly.

"So, why did you wait?" Liz inquired.

"I was already packed, and the others weren't. And, well...um...I thought it might give us a chance to talk." Max stated sincerely.

"I'm ready if you are. We should get going." Liz said turning to leave the room. Max's voice made her stop in her tracks.

"I just want to know why?" Max's tone was soft and inviting. Liz just felt an overwhelming urge to run into his warm arms. Those arms that held her tight and made her forget everything else, or at least they did the one night she needed him most. It was a night she felt she couldn't go on, but somehow he made it all better.

"Why what?" Liz asked innocently. She wasn't sure as to which situation he was asking an explanation for.

"Why did you change your mind about us working together?" Max clarified.

"Oh. Um...well there are several reasons. Some of which I would hope will redeem me in your eyes, others a little more selfish." Liz a little unsure of how to hide how she was feeling now decided against looking him directly in the eye.

Max made his way to stand in front of Liz before addressing her again. "And?" Max urged her to go on.

Liz wasn't trying to be rude but she couldn't make her eyes meet his. In an effort to appear somewhat in control, she stared at his chest. Oh, what a mistake that was. Her breathing became labored and her heart pounded fiercely. Even through his dress shirt, Liz could see his bulging muscles. In an effort to calm herself, Liz closed her eyes.

Max watched her intently unsure of what she was feeling. He couldn't tell anything from the strange look that crossed her face. When she closed her eyes, he became concerned and whispered her name. "Liz?"

Not opening her eyes, Liz placed a hand on his chest to steady herself before speaking. For some reason, she was a bit dizzy. She reasoned with herself that it had to be because he was so close. Just the idea of being so near was causing a large range of emotions she hadn't known she could fee. "One reason is that it wouldn't be fair for me to ruin your life, your career. You obviously are good at what you do or you wouldn't be working for Doug's firm. Which leads to the more selfish reasons. I need help Max. I can't do everything that needs done with the mergers and other business dealings by myself. That's why I need someone who knows what they are doing, someone I can trust. And obviously you know what your doing. If you didn't, Doug wouldn't have assigned my account to you. As for trusting you, I was the one that initially broke that bond, not you. Therefore, it would have been stupid to let you go."

Liz then opened her eyes and attempted to stare directly at Max's face. Mistake again, she thought silently. Why did she torment herself like this? There was no way he could want her now. She had all but threw herself on him at that hotel and then turned into a shrew in the library. However, she wasn't prepared for the internal rush of emotions his gaze thrust upon her. It was as though he was gently caressing her with his eyes. She felt warm all over.

Max attempted to keep his eyes locked on hers. The fear of the unknown often stops people from doing rash things, but in his case it just pushed him to go further with this woman he barely knew. He could feel her soft, sweet breath brush against his chin. Her body had migrated closer to his, or did he do that? All he knew was that he wanted her more than he did before if that was possible. He wanted to feel her bare skin against his. He wanted to trail kisses down that flawless body. For the moment, however, he would be ecstatic with just brushing his lips against hers. As if reading his mind, she licked her bottom lip lightly. His eyes remained on her mouth for a long moment and then his mind began to interrupt his physical reactions. He had to know what other ‘selfish' reasons she had for wanting him to stay.

With his face just mere inches from hers, Max whispered "And."

As if braking the trance Liz was in, she shook her head clearing it of the haze that had settled in with being so close to Max. She had all but forgot everything else existed. "And, what?" Liz asked honestly.

Mentally kicking himself for breaking the moment, Max replied. "And what other ‘selfish' reasons did you have for changing your mind about us working together?"

"Oh. Um...well, it was obvious that you were willing to give becoming friends a try. You were weren't you?" Liz asked hesitantly. She was a little unsure of everything at this moment. He hadn't kissed her. She had so wanted to kiss him, but knew that wouldn't prove she wasn't a slut to him. She just had this weird pull when it came to him, for some reason she migrated toward him like he was a magnet.

"I'm willing to try, if you will." Max replied.

"I will." Liz assured him then held out a hand to him. Max took her hand and allowed her to lead him to the waiting car.
Higher
by: Cr

When dreaming I'm guided through another world
Time and time again
At sunrise I fight to stay asleep
'Cause I don't want to leave the comfort of this place
'Cause there's a hunger, a longing to escape
From the life I live when I'm awake

So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?
Can you take me higher?
To the place where blind men see
Can you take me higher?
To the place with golden streets

Although I would like our world to change
It helps me to appreciate
Those nights and those dreams
But, my friend, I'd sacrifice all those nights
If I could make the Earth and my dreams the same
The only difference is
To let love replace all our hate

So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time
Up high I'm strong enough to take these dreams
And make them mine

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

*Chapter 5*

Sitting in the airport waiting for the others, Alex Whitman began daydreaming. This was supposed to be a weekend for Liz. She needed to get away from all the stresses she had been under lately. He needed to spend some quality time with her. However, sitting here alone he couldn't help but dream that maybe he'd find someone on this trip. He wasn't necessarily looking for a commitment like Maria and Michael's but someone to snuggle with, and maybe, just maybe develop that lasting relationship like theirs. Before leaving for his safari he had met such a girl he thought he could have fun with, and maybe develop something long lasting. Problem was she was with someone else.

Seeing the Greek Goddess standing by herself on the balcony, Alex approached carefully. He didn't want to scare her, but he felt drawn to her somehow. He had seen her at several other society-type parties, and he just had to find out her name. Tonight, he had seen her with one of the preps from the club but for some reason he didn't sense that she actually fit in with that crowd. Neither did he for that matter. He had always tried to distance himself from those who didn't have a sincere bone in their body. She seemed different from them, and therefore somehow more approachable to him. Like someone who might actually like to get to know him, for him and not his money. Correction, his family's money. So, he approached carefully and decided against any lame pick up lines. He would be direct - and himself.

"Hi, my name is Alex." Alex put his hand out to her and she took it. A little hesitantly at first but then she smiled. "Hi, I'm Isabelle."

That was how they had started. Then they spent the rest of the evening just talking. They found a quiet place in the gardens away from the stuffy party and just got to know each other. They had quite a bit in common despite growing up in two different atmospheres. However, their night was interrupted by the appearance of her date, who by the looks of it wasn't too happy. That didn't seem to matter to Isabelle. She still took the time to say goodbye. Trying not to be forward, Alex had slipped one of his business cards into her hand which had his home number on the back. But she didn't call. And since he had left on safari, he hadn't attended any more parties to at least be given the chance to see her. Wonder if it was all an act? It had to be .... noone like her would want someone like me, right?

Alex was broken out of his revere by the pilots and flight attendant's scurrying around. He was sitting in the private waiting area. This area was restricted to those with private planes or charters. Noticing the time, he began to get worried that something had happened to Liz and that was why they weren't here. Giving up on waiting, he stood up and walked over to one of the viewing windows. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Liz's number. Been gone for at least half an hour, Margaret had said. They should be here soon then, Alex reasoned.

He was standing with his back to the entryway but was sure that if they entered the small area, they would be able to see him. That was the reason he didn't hear her approach. A little shyly, Isabelle tapped him on the shoulder. As he turned her face lit up. She knew it was him even before he turned around. When he didn't immediately smile, she began to worry that he didn't remember her. That was a little astounding to say the least since she thought they had become friends, or at least somewhat friends, that night. She wasn't drunk then and he didn't appear to be either, so what's the problem now? Tired of guessing, Isabelle decided to try a different approach.

"Hi, my name is Isabelle." She then extended her hand in greeting.

Caught off guard by this display, Alex couldn't help but chuckle. "Hi, I'm Alex."

"So you do remember me?" Isabelle then asked.

"Of course. It's just when I didn't hear from you...." Alex started but then trailed off shyly.

"I tried to call." Isabelle assured him. "You were always gone and when you didn't return my calls, well quite frankly I got a little mad." she admitted. "So, I finally gave in and called your office. They were the ones to tell me you were gone on some safari."

"Oh. Well...um...I'm sorry. I was gone. I didn't think about the people at the house not telling you...and frankly, they didn't tell me you had called and didn't give me your number, or I would have called you back sooner. Well, at least yesterday. I mean, I just got back yesterday." Alex rambled. He was beginning to get nervous. Why? He asked himself. The night they met he had been able to talk to her without hesitation, so why not now? Oh yeah, she was with someone at the time. That had to be it. He had been relieved from the pressure of making a good impression then. She obviously wanted to talk to you again, she did try to call. He reasoned with himself before realizing they had lapsed into silence.

The silence was quickly broken by an irate Maria. "Have you seen Michael?" Maria shouted to Alex.

Alex just shook his head at her. "Oh, where are my manners. Alex this is Isabelle Evans, Max's sister. Isabelle this is Alex Whitman, my best friend."

Isabelle and Alex were both a little taken back by the introductions. Both smiled internally though, after all, they would be on this trip together. It would be a chance to see if there were anymore of those sparks left that were ignited during their initial meeting. They just smiled at each other and then Alex spoke to Maria. "Maria, we've actually met before. I met Isabelle at a party before I left the country."

Maria was pleased with this news, "good. That will make the trip a little less awkward, I think. Now, getting back to my problem. Somewhere between here and the parking lot I lost Michael."

"He'll show up. He knows where we were going to meet up." Alex assured her.

"Yes, but what if he's looking for me? I didn't mean to get side tracked but I saw this adorable stuffed teddy bear in the gift shop window and I just had to buy it. I only stopped for a minute but when I turned to grab his arm to tell him I was going in to the shop, he was gone." Maria was beginning to pout a bit. She was really worried that Michael was wondering around the shops trying to find her and the LAX was no place for that.

"We'll just have him paged." Isabelle suggested.

"Good idea." Alex agreed.

"Yes, why didn't I think of that." Maria countered.

Maria was preparing to walk up to the information desk when Michael, Liz and Max walked through the sliding glass doors into the waiting area.

"There you are." Maria said running to Michael. He dropped everything and embraced her in a tight hug. She was so happy to see him she immediately brushed her lips to his. It was a feathery light touch at first, but the passion between the two was unmistakable. The kiss grew more intense. Before they knew it, their hands were roaming. Maria's fingers were tangled in his hair and his hands were gently rubbing up and down her back.

"Ahem." Alex cleared his throat. This broke the two apart.

"We'll join the mile high club again once we can get alone." Michael whispered to a breathless Maria. She just nodded unable to speak. She needed a minute to recover and so she placed her head on his chest. She could hear his racing heart beat under his massive chest muscles. She closed her eyes in bliss. She was so happy to have him. She loved him with all her heart. As did he.

"So, Max are you going to introduce me?" Iz asked walking up to stand in front of Liz and Max.

"Oh, yeah. Isabelle this is Liz. Liz this is Isabelle." Max gestured between the two. Max intentionally left out the last name and the fact she was his sister. He wanted to see if there would be any hint of jealousy in Liz's reaction as she met Izzy.

"It's nice to finally meet you, Liz." Iz countered offering her hand in greeting.

Liz took Iz's hand with a smile. "Same here, but I believe we might have already met. Didn't you do a shoot some 8 or 9 years ago for Female Discovery magazine?"

"Yeah, I did. It was my first professional shoot." Iz said smiling. "But I don't remember meeting you."

"I was sort of behind the scenes. We only actually met at the beginning. You appeared nervous, so I wouldn't be surprised if you don't remember me. I own that magazine now. At the time, I was doing an internship." Liz explained.

"So, your in the magazine business?" Iz asked curiously.

"I was experimenting. Actually, I'm just ‘in' business. Not one in particular." Liz said smiling joyously. She had just realized that Isabelle was an Evans. And since she had been even at age 17, she had to be Max's sister and nothing more intimate. An overwhelming sense of relief flooded Liz's mind, and her body began to relax. She hadn't known how tense she had been until the realization that there was a chance for Max and her hit.

The pilot then approached and waited for Liz's attention. She noticed him waiting and excused herself to give him instructions. The group then boarded the plane.

The plane was smaller than the industrial planes but still spacious. There were 8 captains chairs which sat four on each side of a long aisle. The four chairs faced each other causing two people to sit backward during take off and landing. There were tables which could be extended between the chairs or retracted to allow you to place your feet on the chairs facing you (sort of like a bed). At the back of the plane there were a row of chairs that lined up against the wall. This allowed 6 more people to ride on the plane. This row was secluded by the kitchen and conference room walls. There was also a small kitchenette, a mini conference room, and a bathroom with a shower. There was a lush carpet lining the floor.

Once they were in the air, Maria and Michael excused themselves. Maria's excuse was she wanted to show Michael the rest of the plane. Liz knew what part she really wanted to show him, the mini conference room with the couches that lined the walls.

"Um..Maria, you'll need the key. That door stays locked." Liz stated smiling at Maria. Without a word, Maria held out her hand and Liz placed the key in her hand.

"Thanks." Maria mumbled.

"You know them well." Max whispered to Liz smiling. Then Max's eyes ventured to the seats beside them. Isabelle and Alex were in deep conversation and when they chuckled a little, Max's expression turned to one of concern. Liz caught this and frowned.

"If you want to sit with her, Alex wouldn't mind trading I'm sure." Liz stated sincerely trying not to show her disappointment. They hadn't been given a choice in the matter when it came to seats. Isabelle and Alex boarded first and sat together and then Maria and Michael. Being the last ones they were sort of stuck together.

"No. It's good to see her having fun." Max assured Liz with a smile.

As if on cue, Alex stood up and took Isabelle's hand. He smiled at Liz and then they escaped down the hallway leaving Max and Liz alone once again.

Max noticed how pale Liz was and began to get concerned. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Just a little tired." Liz admitted.

"You should rest then. Where are the pillows, I'll get you one." Max offered.

"In the kitchen pantry. But you don't have to." Liz stated.

"I don't mind." And within a minute, Max handed Liz a pillow. She propped it up against the window and rested her eyes. Realizing she was probably being rude, Liz sat up again and looked at Max.

"Um...I hate to leave you up by yourself. It appears everyone else is in there own world. There are magazines in the side pocket, along with the remote I believe if you want to turn on the TV or the radio." Liz said.

"Don't worry about me. I'll entertain myself. You just rest, okay?" Max's concern was apparent in his voice and Liz couldn't argue with him. She could barely keep her eyes open. She was just so drained.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When dreaming I'm guided through another world
Time and time again
At sunrise I fight to stay asleep
'Cause I don't want to leave the comfort of this place
'Cause there's a hunger, a longing to escape
From the life I live when I'm awake

So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?
Can you take me higher?
To the place where blind men see
Can you take me higher?
To the place with golden streets

Warm breath flittered across her face with her eyes closed. She didn't need to see him to know who it was. It was the man of her dreams. When the nightmares didn't take over, she dreamed of him. What they did that night so long ago. She longed for his warm embrace and to feel his bare skin pressed against hers. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes.

It was dark in the room, the only light was a candle emitting a soft vanilla scent. She sighed from the mere pleasure. She was in heaven once again. Without words, they spoke their feelings as they migrated towards each other swiftly. Then they stood calmly each taking in the sight of the other. She was the first to break the moment and reach for his shirt. She quickly undid the buttons to his dress shirt and slid it off his chest. Then without hesitation, she tugged the edges of his undershirt out of his pants and over his head. His bare chest was gleaming in the light. It was golden and so soft looking. She couldn't resist running her fingertips lightly over the skin. His intake of breath made her peer into his face. She noted with satisfaction that his eyes had closed and a soft sense of contentment rested on his face. She continued her exploration then by circling the already erect nipples. His entire chest was covered with goose flesh. She was pleased that she had affected him so much just by her light touch.

After she had looked back to his eyes and received silent approval, she then reached for his pants and undid the button there. She slid down his pants and boxers leaving him fully exposed to her. Arousal and all. She stood back and admired the adonis before her.

As he reached for her she fell against his chest hard. It was like the ground was shaking below her feet. She couldn't seem to get her balance. He held her tightly to him as her breathing became even more labored. Not from arousal but pure fear. Then the peacefulness took over once more as she was embraced safely in his arms.

Although I would like our world to change
It helps me to appreciate
Those nights and those dreams
But, my friend, I'd sacrifice all those nights
If I could make the Earth and my dreams the same
The only difference is
To let love replace all our hate

So let's go there
Let's make our escape
Come on, let's go there
Let's ask can we stay?
Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time
Up high I'm strong enough to take these dreams
And make them mine
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Max held Liz close to his chest. He couldn't help but smile at the trusting way she allowed him to hold her. She had already hit her head once on the window during the first bit of turbulence, and he wanted to make sure that she didn't get hurt bouncing around. Good intentions aside, he was ecstatic to have a reason to hold her.

When the plane settled once again, Liz remained in his arms. She had a slight smile tugging at her lips. And she had somehow placed her hand on his chest just below where her head was resting. Her breathing was finally slowing down and she sighed in her sleep. He was content to hold her this way for the rest of his life. If only she would agree. That was the last coherent thought he had as he placed his cheek on the top of her head and inhaled her scent.

********

Meanwhile in the mini-conference room, Maria and Michael were enjoying being alone. The excitement of trying not to make too much noise and being so high in the air added to their enjoyment. It was bliss to be in each others arms no matter where or when, but this was something more. It had to be the idea of joining the historic ‘mile high' club that was exclusive for those people who had enjoyed themselves (hint, hint : grin: while riding in an airplane floating on the clouds at least a mile in the sky.

"So, now that you've got me here.....whatever shall you do with me?" Maria asked batting her eyes softly.

Not lost on the subtle role playing that could make this even more erotic, Michael decided to play along. "Hmmmm." Michael appeared to be thinking with his finger pointing at his chin and staring aimlessly upward.

After a few minutes with no response, Maria couldn't take it any more. "I'm not a saint Michael. You must hurry or I'll have to take matters into my own hands."

"Your own hands, hmm? That's somewhere along the lines of what I was thinking." Michael had an almost evil grin on his face as he reached for Maria.

She didn't even try to resist and their love-play began. It didn't take long until they had forgotten that they were on the tiny plane with paper thin walls. But hey, they were all adults here, right?

********

The announcement that the plane was landing brought the two other couples back to the captain's chairs. When they all walked back into the main chamber, they were shocked to find Max holding Liz and them both asleep with smiles on their faces.

Not sure what to do, Maria looked to Isabelle. After all, Max was her brother and if anyone was going to disturb him from what appeared to be a blissful sleep, it was going to be her. Taking the hint, Isabelle jarred Max's shoulder bringing him awake with a start. Which jarred Liz awake. Liz quickly pushed off Max and then looked around at the group. She wasn't sure what to say or how she had gotten in that position. She did however have a knot on the side of her head. Liz reached one hand up to explore the sore spot.

Max saved her from the silence. "You hit your head on the window when we hit a bad patch of turbulence." His expression was neutral but showed his concern none-the-less.

The others accepted this as being the reason she was embraced in Max's arms and took their seats.

***********

After the plane landed, the group made their way to the waiting car. The driver retrieved all of their luggage before settling them in. They were then on their way to Liz's Aspen home.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:05:53 PM
Trick is to Keep Breathing
by: Gar

She's not the kind of girl
who likes to tell the world
about the way she feels about herself
She takes a little time
in making up her mind
She doesn't want to fight against the tide
Lately I'm not the only one
I say never trust anyone
Always the one who has to drag her down
Maybe you'll get what you want this time around
Can't bear to face the truth
So sick he cannot move
and when it hurts he takes it out on you
Lately I'm not the only one
I say never trust anyone
Always the one who has to drag her down
Maybe you'll get what you want this time around
The trick is to keep breathing
The trick is to keep breathing
She knows the human heart
and how to read the stars
Now everything's about to fall apart
I won't be the one who's going to let you down
Maybe you'll get what you want this time around
(the trick is to keep breathing)
I won't be the one who's going to let you down
(the trick is to keep breathing)
Maybe you'll get what you want this time around
The trick is to keep breathing
The trick is to keep breathing

The trick is to keep breathing
The trick is to keep breathing

The trick is to keep breathing
The trick is to keep breathing

The trick is to keep breathing
******************************************************************************

*Chapter 6*

All the feelings that began rushing through her mind at the sight of her childhood vacation home were a little overwhelming. How could she be here without them? Why did life have to take them away from her so soon? She still needed them all. It just wasn't fair. It reminded her of the lyrics to a song she had heard during one of her long drives that she took just after it happened. She was out trying to get her mind off the horrid screams she had heard from Justin. The song kept repeating The trick is to keep breathing. Was that the trick? Would time somehow lessen her pain?

Noticing the solemn face that had overcome Liz, Max placed his arm around her shoulders and gave her a light squeeze. She thanked him for the gesture by giving him a soft smile. He could almost feel the tension leave her shoulders. She was just so relieved to not be coming here alone. She knew it was inevitable. She had to go through her father's desk that was here. They all had come up here frequently over the years, but after she had left for college her parents' visits became long stays. Her father had even begun to work from here just over a year ago. Liz's thoughts began to overwhelm her again and her body tensed immediately. Her mind raced and then she thought of the song's lyrics. That's it. That will be my mantra, Liz thought. The trick is to keep breathing.

Not realizing she had just whispered that out loud, Liz was surprised when Max whispered in her ear, "yes, please keep breathing. And remember, your not alone."

Surprised by his soft words spoken only to where she could hear them, Liz smiled at him again and squeezed his hand that was resting on her shoulder. Then she whispered, "thank you."

**********

The Aspen home is huge by any standard. It's just a little smaller than the house in LA. The difference is it's built like a cabin. It has two large decks that circle the home on two different floors. The top deck has a built-in Sauna and Hot Tub.

On the inside, the bedrooms are all on the top floor. There are 7 bedrooms total [Liz's parents room, Justin's room, Liz's room, Maria's room, Alex's room, and two guest rooms]- all of which have a private bath. This floor is open like a loft. A circular walkway encases the upper floor, which is lined with doors. All of the bedrooms and the walkway of the top floor, encircle the house leaving the middle open. You can see the entranceway from any point along the top floor walkway. The only doorway that isn't a bedroom is a set of double french doors which lead out to the upper deck. The bottom floor houses a den, a play room, the living room, a library, the kitchen, the servants rooms, and a bathroom. All of the decorations are of a ‘southwest' motif.

*********

Taking in just the front of the house, everyone who hadn't been there before - Michael, Isabelle and Max were surprised at the size and beauty of it.

"Great house!" Isabelle stated as she explored the front walkway.

"Most definitely." Michael chirped in.

"Thanks. My mom designed and decorated it." Liz said as she beamed with pride as they entered into the foyer.

As if on cue, Liz's bodyguards emerged with the rest of the house's staff. They immediately came to stand behind Liz. Not acknowledging them directly, Liz began explaining the layout of the house. Curiosity won out and Isabelle had to ask about the two enormous men remaining a discreet distance from Liz but always in sight.

"So who are these fine gentlemen?" Isabelle asked motioning to the bodyguards.

Realizing that not everyone had met the guards, Liz smiled over Izzy's statement of them being gentlemen.

"You must be referring to Jake and Bruce. They would be my bodyguards." Liz explained.

"Bodyguards?" Max asked coming up to stand by Iz.

"Yeah. Doug insisted until the investigation into my parents crash is complete that I have protection. He's not so sure it was an accident." Liz explained shrugging.

"Oh, but I didn't see them on the plane?" Max added.

"That would be because they came up earlier to verify the security of this place. I explained to them that I wouldn't be out of the house other than to go to the airport and so it was okay for them to come up ahead of me." Liz concluded with a smile.

Max let the subject go for now, but mentally noted he wanted to ask Liz about it more later. What did she mean Doug wasn't so sure it was an accident? Could Liz be in danger?

Liz then proceeded to introduce the remaining staff. Judy the housekeeper, Rich the driver, Carlton the butler, and Mrs. Smithson the cook. Mrs. Smithson had been with the family for a number of years but only worked for them while they were in Aspen. Upon entering the room just after Liz had pointed out who everyone was, Mrs. Smithson rushed to Liz giving her a large hug and warm smile.

"I've missed you, my sweet Lizzy. How are you my child?" Mrs. Smithson asked.

"I'm okay." Liz said smiling back at the only grandparent-type she had ever known.

"I'm so sorry for your parents and brother my dear. It was a shame. I wish I could have attended the funerals but there was no way for me to go. We were all snowed in and no flights out." Mrs. Smithson continued.

"It's okay." Liz assured her.

"This must be your lucky fellow." Mrs. Smithson said pointing to Max just as she embraced him.

"Um...not exactly." Liz stated shyly.

"Nonsense my dear, I saw how he looked at you just moments ago and you at him. You can't put anything past this old woman." Mrs. Smithson stated looking between Liz and Max, who were both beat red.

"Um...Bruce, Jake if you two wouldn't mind carrying the luggage upstairs and leaving it on the landing, please. Judy, I assume all the rooms are ready." after receiving a nod from Judy Liz continued, "Carlton, it's good to see you again. Any impending storms?" Liz asked receiving a quick ‘no, ma'am' Liz continued, "Rich, I'm sure we'll be okay by ourselves if you'd like to take the weekend off but we'll need a ride to the airport on Monday. I believe that about does it for now everyone. Thank you all for being here. Oh, I almost forgot where is Triston? I would have thought he'd have been here to greet us." Liz finished. Triston was a family friend who watched over the Aspen house when no one was around. Triston and Liz's father had become fast friends just after he had purchased this home.

"Oh, well he had business in town but should be by in the morning. He was so excited to hear you were coming here despite everything, he won't let you leave without seeing you." Mrs. Smithson replied.

"Well, I think if everyone agrees we should probably get settled in to our rooms and then meet in the den to discuss tentative plans for the weekend." Liz stated.

Everyone agreed and was off to their rooms. Liz had hers from years past. Maria and Alex also had their rooms. Since the three were extremely close childhood friends, Maria and Alex had often come up here with Liz's family. Liz pointed out two rooms she would appreciate being left alone until she was able to go through them - her parents and Justin's. Then everyone who didn't already have a room designated to them, had one assigned. Michael was staying with Maria in her room. Isabelle's room was next to Alex's. And Max was in between Liz and Maria's rooms.

***********

After getting settled and changed, Liz went out on the upper deck by way of a door inside her room. All of the bedrooms had doors which led out to the upper deck. She leaned against the rail and just peered around at the scene in front of her. The house was set to where it was surrounded by snow capped mountains. The view was breathtaking. Liz closed her eyes with the memories of her childhood days spent here. A faint smile touched her lips while tears slowly slid down her face.

"Are you okay?" Max whispered as he walked to stand by Liz on the deck.

Not saying a word, Liz wiped the tears away and turned giving Max a faint smile and nod. Then she returned to watch the setting sun. Not sure whether it was appropriate at this point or not, Max wanted to take her into his arms and offer her comfort. After all, she did say they were friends and friends did that sort of thing, right?

As if reading his mind, Liz backed up until her back was against Max's chest. She then leaned her head back to rest against him. Then she whispered, "isn't it beautiful." Not watching the sunset at all, Max looked down at Liz and encircled his arms around her pulling her up against him further. Then he rested his chin on her head and replied, "yes, it sure is."

They stayed embraced for a long time after the sun had set. Just enjoying the peacefulness surrounding them. Liz finally broke away from Max and turned to look into his face. He had a soft smile and a warm look in his eyes. Liz couldn't help but feel like this was how it was supposed to be. Problem was there were still so many secrets she needed to tell him. Not secrets really, just personal things that very few people knew about. How would he react? What would he think of her after he knew? Would he still have that warm look?

Not able to read the look on Liz's face, Max's smile faded. "You didn't answer my question, you know?"

Liz looked confused now. "What question?"

"I asked if you were okay?" Max replied with a sheepish grin. He just loved the way her face went all flush when she couldn't remember what they had been talking about. He had only been with her for a day and yet, it felt like a lifetime. It felt so natural.

"Oh. Um...I guess. It's just hard being here.....remembering them knowing that their.....that their dead." Liz finished. The sadness was there in her eyes for him to see. She wasn't guarded in any way now.

"Do you want to talk about?" Max asked sincerely.

Liz smiled over his offer. He was so sweet. How could he care even after the way she had left him without a word? "Maybe soon."

"Anytime. I'll be ready to listen." Max assured her.

"It's probably time to meet downstairs. You ready?" Liz asked as she turned to make her way back into her room.

"I want to change shirts first, I'll meet you there." Max concluded but he watched Liz walk back to her room. He couldn't help but notice what she was wearing. God, how could she look even better than before? Liz was wearing a tight black turtle neck shirt which outlined her upper body perfectly. She was also wearing tight-looking black jeans and black snow boots. How will I make it through this night without touching her....everywhere?

**********

The group was assembled in the den. Maria was sitting on Michael's lap in one of the over-sized rocking recliners. Isabelle and Alex sat on one end of a sectional. They were talking quietly as Liz entered.

"Hey guys. Finding everything okay?" Liz asked sitting down on the opposite end of the sectional from Alex and Isabelle.

Just as Max entered the room, Mrs. Smithson came through with a tray of mugs full of hot chocolate. She also had a bag of mini marshmallows and a jar of marshmallow cream. She sat the tray down on the table and then turned to Liz. Max sat down close to Liz on the sofa.

"Not too much or you'll be sick." Mrs. Smithson said with a sheepish grin. She was remembering the time when Liz was 13 and ate 3 jars of marshmallow cream with only one mug of chocolate.

"Yes ma'am. But you know, I only got sick that once." Liz replied with a smile.

"Will you all stay in for dinner?" Mrs. Smithson asked ignoring Liz's remarks.

"Um...guys?" Liz asked looking around at everyone.

"Actually, I was thinking we'd go out. Remember that great restaurant we went to where you appeared to be floating on the clouds? I mean, I know it won't be the same being dark and everything but it could still be fun." Maria chimed in.

"Sounds fun." Isabelle offered.

"I remember. I think that's a great idea." Alex stated.

"So, I guess that's a no." Liz said returning to Mrs. Smithson.

"Okay. Oh, breakfast will be ready around 7:30 in the morning. Venture to the kitchen whenever your ready." With that Mrs. Smithson was off.

After Mrs. Smithson had left, Liz opened the jar of cream and put two big spoonfuls in her chocolate with a big smile.

"Now, Lizzy. You know she's right...you'll be sick." Maria admonished.

"Maria, I ate three jars...three. That's why I got sick. A little isn't going to hurt me." Liz said with a smile.

"So, what else do you guys want to do while we're here?" Michael asked trying to get this over with so they could go eat. He was starving, but then again, he always was.

"I was thinking we could head up to the lodge tomorrow and ski. Anyone up for that?" Liz asked.

"Yeah." Max, Alex, Michael, Maria and Isabelle chimed in.

"Great. After that, we should have an afternoon off or something. Everyone sort of do their own things. That way I can handle some business without feeling guilty, and run a few errands while I'm up here. I also have to make time to go through the rooms and the library. So, why don't you guys plan some other things without me, okay?" Liz rambled.

"Liz, this weekend is for you. We'll help you go through the rooms and stuff." Alex assured her.

"Alex...come on. I can take care of this stuff and I don't want you guys to spend all weekend hanging around here. Have some fun. You don't get to get away very often." Liz argued.

"Yes, but...." Maria started.

"No buts. You heard me." Liz stated without room for any more arguments. "I don't mean that I'm not planning on us doing things. All I'm saying is that I don't want you waiting around while I go through all this business junk." And with that, Liz took a drink of chocolate and sat back with a sigh. The trick is to keep breathing.

"Okay." Maria conceded.

"So, does that mean we can go eat now?" Michael and Alex chimed in at the same time. This elicited giggles from all the girls.
Temptation Waits
by: Garb

I'll tell you something
I am a wolf but
I like to wear sheep's clothing
I am a bonfire
I am a vampire
I'm waiting for my moment
You come on like a drug
I just can't get enough
I'm like an addict coming at you for a little more
and there's so much at stake
I can't afford to waste
I've never needed anybody like this before
I'll tell you something
I am a demon
Some say my biggest weakness
I have my reasons
Call it my defense
Be careful what you're wishing
You come on like a drug
I just can't get enough
I'm like an addict coming at you for a little more
and there's so much at stake
I can't afford to waste
I've never needed anybody like this before
You are a secret
A new possession
I like to keep you guessing
You come on like a drug
I just can't get enough
I'm like an addict coming at you for a little more
and there's so much at stake
I can't afford to waste
I've never needed anybody like this before
When I'm not sure what I'm living for (when I'm not sure what I'm)
When I'm not sure what I'm looking for (when I'm not sure what I'm)
When I'm not sure what I'm living for (when I'm not sure what I'm)When I'm not sure what I'm looking for (when I'm not sure what I'm)
When I'm not sure what I'm living for
When I'm not sure what I'm looking for
When I'm not sure what I'm living for
When I'm not sure who I am
Temptation waits

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

*Chapter 7*

Alex, Isabelle, Maria, Michael and Max were heading out to the ‘floating' restaurant. Liz had persuaded them to just bring her back something. She was just going to stay home and rest. After they were a couple blocks away, Max decided he needed to go back to her. For some unknown reason, he felt the need to just stay close to her for the evening. He refused to allow the group to turn around to take him back to the house, and insisted that he could walk. It was a brisk night but the walk and cool air, he thought, would do him some good.

As Max reached the top of the steep drive, he saw a figure descend from the side of the house. Whoever it was didn't wish to be noticed. This was evident from the solid black attire. From head to toe. Max scooted towards the edge of the drive and quickly jumped behind one of the hedges. Thankfully, it hadn't snowed here yet and so there were no footprints to alert the person of his whereabouts. As the figure passed, Max was just sure it was Liz. The petite frame and slender figure were clues, but what would she be doing out after telling them she wished to rest? And just why didn't she have her bodyguards with her? They were supposed to protect her and yet they obviously didn't know she was leaving. And just why was she walking? There were two other vehicles in the drive. All of these questions, he vowed, would be answered tonight.

Max's protective nature wouldn't allow him to let her roam the streets of Aspen alone. Who knew what dangers were lurking about? However, common sense and curiosity won out. Max followed behind Liz but didn't get close enough to let her know he was there. He wanted to find out just what she was hiding. Max was suddenly thankful they were not far from town. He couldn't imagine Liz walking a long distance in the cold by herself. There was no telling what could happen.

After walking several blocks down a side street and then around several corners, Max lost Liz. He couldn't figure it out. He had kept her within his line of sight but then she just vanished. Panic crept up. His breathing became labored as he ran down the street. As he came upon a corner of a building which led to any alleyway, he slowed down, tried to flatten himself against the wall, and began to ease himself head first around the corner. His intent was to just peek around to see if maybe she had started jogging (yeah, right he thought grimly. You've lost her and you'll never see her again.). As Max's temple turned the edge of the corner, cold steel pressed into his forehead. At first, he wasn't sure what it was but then the reality hit him quickly. The attacker's words reverberated through his mind.

"Give me three reasons why I should allow you to live." The male attacker's voice stated coldly.

Max wasn't sure what to do. What could he possibly say to this person that would make him want to let him live? Okay, man think. You're a lawyer for God's sake. Use your skills to get yourself out of this. Max's mind whirled with possibilities yet none would make themselves clear. He didn't need this guy slowing him down. He needed to find Liz. She could be in danger, sick or who knows what else?

As Max started to speak, his heart pounded in his ears. Before he found his voice, he heard a clicking sound. This is it, he thought.

"I'll give you one." A soft female voice whispered.

It was Liz. Max was sure of it. What was she doing? She could get killed. As Max tried to turn his head to see if she was okay, the gun at his temple wouldn't allow it.

"Is this guy a friend of yours? Did you know he was following you?" The male voice asked.

"Yes." was Liz's only reply.

"I see." The male voice stated with a hint of amusement.

"So, I hear daisies bloom in the Spring." The male voice continued.

With a hint of laughter, Liz replied "So I hear."

After a few minutes, Max wasn't sure what to think. What was this guys deal? And just why did it sound like Liz was about to break into fits of laughter?

"Is there a reason you were following her, son?" The male voice asked Max.

Unsure of how to reply, Max told the truth. "I just wanted to make sure she was safe." The attacker lowered his weapon and Max was able to turn. He saw Liz's weapon trained on the base of the man's skull. Liz...weapon? Max stood in shock for a long moment.

The male attacker obviously found that statement hilarious because he doubled over with his laughter. Liz then removed her weapon and replaced it in her holster under her jacket. Shaking her head at the man now acting like a lunatic, Liz pulled Max behind her. She backed up until she was forcing him against the wall behind her. Her back was inches from his chest. She appeared to be extremely calm; however, his heart was beating loud enough that he was sure she heard. Liz's eyes never left the attacker.

After a few minutes, the man straightened up and turned to face them. He sobered his expression quickly and then spoke to Liz, "Is there a reason you allowed him to follow you?"

Instead of replying, Liz merely shrugged. This seemed to appease the man in front of them. By his appearance, the man had to be at least 50. However, he was extremely fit.

Max remained silent. He wasn't sure what to say. He had no idea what was going on, and it didn't appear they were going to take the time to explain. He tensed a little as he noticed Liz never took her eye off the man. Was he friend or foe? Max couldn't determine.

"Aren't you going to introduce me?" The male asked.

Liz shook her head. This made the man smile. "I've taught you well. Now, lets get to business. I have what you asked for."

"And was I right?" Liz asked.

"You'll have to read it to find out. I can't really say that you weren't but it appears that it was an accident." The male's voice dropped to a note of sincerity and almost concern.

"I see." Liz responded with a mild tone.

"You can't keep blaming yourself. I feel that once you read the contents [he handed her a large sealed yellow envelope] you'll let this go." The male then turned and appeared to be leaving.

"Thank you." Liz replied softly.

"Anything for you." The male replied simply.

After the man was out of sight, Max placed his hand on Liz's shoulder. She quickly turned around and placed two of her fingers to his mouth. Max wasn't sure what she was doing but the touch brought back memories of their first encounter. After she was sure he wasn't going to speak, Liz turned her back to him once again. She backed up against him, but still managed to not touch him. He couldn't figure out what she was doing. The man was gone. As Max was about to ask her to explain, he heard footsteps ...very faint steps...coming down the alley. If they hadn't stopped breathing, he was sure they wouldn't have heard the danger approaching. Not sure what to do, Max tried to remember to breath. He wasn't a coward but the thought of something happening to Liz was just to much for him. How had he allowed her to invade him like this? She was his everything and yet they still didn't know enough about one another to be considered good friends.

Without hesitation of warning, Liz jumped forward into a fighting stance and then took out the threat. It was the same man who had just walked away. Liz had somehow managed within a blink of an eye to take the man out. He was laying in the middle of the alley flat on his back.

When Liz's smile was clear to Max, he was even more confused. Then she did something stranger, she helped the guy up. After seeing this, he decided enough is enough. Time for answers. "Just what the hell is going on?" Max demanded.

Liz walked arm in arm with the attacker to stand in front of Max. "Max this is Conner. Conner this is Max." The older man stuck his hand out to Max and waited for him to take it. With some hesitation but encouraged by Liz's nod, Max shook the old man's hand.

"So, is he a friend? I mean, I've never known friends to greet each other like this." Max asked.

Liz chuckled a little then stated, "Conner is more than my friend. He is my mentor. I'm sure I owe him my life."

"Nonsense my dear. You were my most apt pupil. That is why I couldn't figure out why you allowed him to follow you." Conner was pleased with Liz's performance with the exception of the intrusion of ‘Max'.

"Max is my attorney and my friend, Conner. I thought you might like to meet him." Liz replied simply.

"Oh, I see. Well, since this is the first time you've showed poor judgment I'll forgive you." Conner chuckled before pulling Liz into a tight embrace and whispering to her. "Please be careful. You know I wouldn't know what to do if anything happened to you."

With emotion in her voice, she replied "you too." Then Conner was gone. Liz turned to Max and took his hand leading him from the alley.

After they were on there way down the sidewalk, Liz began to wonder just why Max had followed her?

"Didn't you go with everyone else when they left for the restaurant?" Liz asked knowing the answer.

"Yes." Max replied still a little shaken from the revelations of what he had seen. This fragile looking woman knew how to defend herself, that was for sure. What exactly had occurred? Who was this Conner? And how had Liz come to know him? Damn! More questions and still no answers, Max thought.

"So,...um...why did you follow me?" Liz asked tired of skirting the issue.

"What I said before. I just wanted to make sure you were safe." Max was beginning to question why himself.

"But Max, you didn't want me to know you were there did you?" Liz asked.

"I thought you might just want to walk alone. I didn't want to bother you." Max's tone was becoming defensive. He was trying to keep his voice and feelings neutral but he always seemed to feel like he was the one apologizing or explaining. After what he just watched, it was her turn.

"Max, are you cold?" Liz asked softly.

Surprised by Liz's change of subject, Max just shook his head.

"Good. Would you mind walking to the park with me? I probably owe you some explanations." Liz was sure he wanted to know what was going on and would follow, so she just started making her way across the empty side street to a little play area that was in the middle of town. The park was small. It only had one swing set, a slide, and a mari-go-round. Liz sat down in one of the swings and motioned for Max to join her.

He didn't hesitate but sat down quickly, and turned himself so that he could watch Liz.

"God, where to start?" Liz started. Max was watching her intently and she was feeling self-conscious as it was. What was he thinking now? How would he react to what she knew he deserved to know?

"Max," Liz started again turning to look directly into his eyes. The warmth and tenderness she saw there made some of her fears go away. She smiled softly at this amazing man. He had known her only one night in body only...no words, yet he still seemed to want her (or at least wanted to be friends).

The fear in her eyes made Max's heart ache. He wished he could make it all better for her. It was her feelings at issue. After all there was no way she was afraid for her life or injury....not after what he'd just witnessed. When Liz didn't continue Max decided to assist her progress, so he answered her, "yes."

Max's response jarred Liz from her thoughts and back to the task at hand, explaining. "Max, I haven't talked to anyone about what I'm going to tell you, not even Maria."

Max's full attention was on Liz. He couldn't read her expression enough to know just what to expect now.

Liz continued, "I'm not really sure where to begin. Um...[Liz's gaze was now directed on her feet] I was always daddy's little girl, an only child. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps and I was to take over his businesses someday. He wanted me to major in business and that's why I did an internship with all of his companies. That's how I met Isabelle." Liz stopped, took a deep breath and smiled at Max. She then returned her gaze to the ground and continued, "All that changed when my mom got sick. At first, she was sure it was menopause but we quickly found out she was pregnant. Needless to say, it wasn't expected. And as I found out after Justin was born, somewhat unwanted on my father's part."

Max was watching Liz intently. She was still staring at her feet. The ache in his heart intensified. She looked so hurt, so vulnerable. He wanted to protect her and help her through whatever turmoil that had been created in her mind and childhood.

She continued, "I was about 16...well turning 16 anyway, when Justin was born. My father was never around anymore, not during the pregnancy, not even after he was born. I didn't understand why at the time, I would have thought a son would have pleased him. [Liz shook her head and had a frown on her face] Anyway, I helped mom when Justin was finally here. Well it was just amazing - he was amazing. Thing was mom was going through some major post-pardom depression. She couldn't even look at Justin without crying. So, we hired a nanny and I helped as much as I could. [Liz smiled at the memory] He was as much mine or so I thought, as theirs. I loved him so much. He was so fragile, tiny and I couldn't imagine my loving, devoted parents acting the way they were. My dad was soon jealous of the time I spent with Justin and mom. He was always at work but still seemed upset. So, Justin was about 3 months old when he asked me to meet him at Doug's office. He had a meeting that would be finished by lunch."

Liz stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. She chanced a quick glance at Max. He saw the tears there threatening to flow. He reached for her. He wanted, no needed, to comfort her. However, an abrupt gesture of her hand stopped him. He wasn't sure how to react. Then she spoke with her voice full of emotion, "if you touch me....I won't be able to continue."

Her eyes remaining on the ground, she choked back the tears and went on, "When I went there, like I had so many times before, I didn't stop to be announced. I walked directly to the conference room they always used for their meetings. I walked right in careful not to make to much noise. [Liz paused] I wish I had made noise, before I went in. I couldn't believe my eyes. My father was standing at the end of the long table with a woman. She was sitting on the table with her legs wrapped around him. They were ravaging each other. They didn't even notice I was there. [Liz was shaking her head at the memory] I barely spoke his name and turned to leave as he called mine. I rushed home. I wasn't sure what to do. I, of course, went to Marcus who told me to follow my heart. My heart was betrayed. My perfect father had done the unthinkable, and even at a time when he should have been focused on his new baby that he wanted nothing to do with. After getting my anger in check, I went to my mother. I found out that she already knew, and apparently had for a while. That's why she wanted nothing to do with Justin in the beginning. That had begun to change, though. After I explained what I had seen and how I couldn't believe it, she still refused to leave him. So,....I did."

Liz stopped and glanced at Max. He was still staring intently at her. She decided they should head back. "Max, we should start walking back. We might freeze if we stay out here much longer."

Max nodded, stood and held out a hand to her. She took it. They then began to walk back to the house. Max instinctively pulled Liz into his side for warmth and support. She was a perfect fit, he couldn't help thinking.

After they were on their way, Liz began again. "At 16, I decided I couldn't live with my parents any longer. I had already started an accelerated program to finish high school so I was able to finish school pretty quickly. I went to college then and...well, I rebelled. I did the opposite of everything he wanted. I studied science and self defense. And to make an extremely long story short, I began working for the government. Officially as a consultant and unofficially as part of an elite special ops unit for the Secret Service."

"Max, do you understand that what I'm telling you can't be repeated? I'm telling you this for many reasons but I must claim privilege on this please." Liz pleaded.

"Of course." Max replied giving Liz a quick squeeze for reassurance.

She nodded satisfied before continuing, "I've worked with them for awhile. But everything involving you and my family started about 8 months ago. I was sent on a mission with 5 others. Conner was our leader, whom you met tonight. Just so you know, I trust him with my life because he's saved it more than once. That's why the meeting was more like...a test. It keeps me on my toes - at least that's what he says. Anyway, our mission was a set up. 4 out of our group of 6 were killed." After a long moment, Liz whispered, "Conner and I were the only survivors."

Stopping and forcing Liz into a strong hug in the middle of the road, Max felt his heart breaking for her. From just what he'd been told she'd been through a great ordeal. Liz's hands were braced flat against his chest with her head resting between them. He didn't hear a sound but could feel the wetness through his shirt. He had only zipped his jacket up half way. Oddly, he was glad of that now. He liked feeling her against him...even in distress.

Liz felt safe. She hadn't felt that in a long time. There was something else too, overwhelming her....peace. Just telling Max all the things she had kept to herself, she felt the tight noose around her heart loosen. Strange a man, especially one she didn't know all that well, could cause her such relief. She had always been so independent. Liz finally broke away but took Max's hand in hers and continued the journey home.

After she was sure her emotions were in check, she began again. "Two months after finishing the mission - we did finish it [Liz's voice was strong here with a hint of satisfaction]- I retired. I guess retired is the wrong word. It is more like I took a permanent leave until there's a need for my consulting services, but no more missions. Which leads me back to my parents. After I left for college, they went into counseling. They mended their marriage. Slowly I began to forgive him for what he had done. Mostly because of Justin. I couldn't explain why I wasn't even civil to our father. I mean, I couldn't tell him the truth. So, finally I caved. About 6 months ago, I agreed to come back home and work for him. I was away on business when they....when they crashed. He was going to show us some new development or something. I didn't get back in time for the trip, so I met them at the pad when they were to land. I was there, waiting."

Liz's voice again was full of emotion. She coughed clearing her throat before continuing, " I saw the first hint of fire and then the explosion, and [Liz's breathing had become raspy reliving the memory]...Justin's screams." Lowering her voice to a whisper, she stated "he must have caught fire."

Max didn't want her to continue remembering that horrible day. It sounded terrifying and very...painful. "So, um...that still doesn't explain...us." Max asked in a whisper soft tone.

Liz stopped in the middle of the driveway and turned facing Max. She could see his face clearly from the moon and security lights. He had a soft smile playing on his lips, but he also had a serious face full of concern. Liz took one hand and slid it softly across his cheek. Her brows furrowed with concern. She took a deep breath and smiled softly.

"Max, I had more than one reason for being with you. I knew the moment I saw you in the coffee shop I wouldn't be able to forget your face. That was nearly a week after their deaths. I had gotten through making all the arrangements and getting them buried in Roswell as they requested. I felt sick and wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. They were it for me as far as family goes. But when I saw you and our eyes met...........I didn't feel so........alone. Then it seemed everywhere I turned you were there. So that's one reason, I need you to....to forget. Forget about everything I was going through, about what I knew I would have to do in the future, and about being alone. Another reason would be that every time I saw you, which seemed to be a lot, I felt something more than just the need for comfort. I wanted you. There was an attraction there, or so I thought. Since I hadn't been with anyone, you know, I couldn't understand that really. I had never felt that way about anyone."

Liz paused and then looked into his eyes. She then whispered to him, "I never meant to hurt you." Liz's tears were streaming down her face now, but she wasn't making a sound.

Max couldn't stand to see the fear and sadness in her eyes. He slid his hand behind her neck and pulled her to him. She willingly let him embrace her. He held her tight with one hand on her neck and the other running up and down her spine. He wanted to take away all of her pain. The idea was sudden but he knew he loved this woman with all his heart. Of course, he couldn't tell her that yet but eventually when he was sure she loved him, he would tell her.

Max pulled back a little and looked down into Liz's tear-stained face. She looked like an angel, glowing in the moonlight. He wanted her so much it hurt but she needed comfort. Not necessarily physical comfort, either. That thought held steady until she licked her lips and continued to stare at him so innocently. Just one kiss, he thought.

Liz was afraid he wouldn't want her any longer. She had a complicated past. He had to know that what she had done in the line of duty - it had to be done. He hadn't asked but she knew he had to be wondering if she had ever killed someone. What would he think of you then, Parker? Her inner voice asked. Feeling a little unsure Liz lowered her gaze to his chest. He was such a kind man and that was surely why he was holding her, comforting her. He wouldn't want to kiss her, not now. How could she even hope for that?

As if he was reading her mind, Max took one hand and nudged her chin up so he could see her eyes again. Then he lowered his mouth to hers. It was just a light brushing but it sent chills up and down his spine. She had shivered and her skin that he could see had turned to goose flesh. The thought of how she responded to him made his lower anatomy strain. As she responded to the kiss, he urged her to open her mouth. When she complied he placed one hand behind her neck and pulled her up to him deepening the kiss. Their bodies were on fire. The heat flowed between the two and they continued to kiss until neither could breath. They broke away to allow the oxygen to enter their burning lungs.

Max rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. It took a long while for either of them to recover from the passion that had ignited. After a minute or two, Liz slid her arms around Max's waist and pulled him into a deep hug which he returned. Her head fit perfectly under his chin and he rested his chin there. Without a doubt both knew they wanted more. They needed more.

The magical moment was interrupted by someone opening the front door. It was Bruce. He quickly walked toward the couple and appeared to be a bit upset.

"Liz? Is that you?" Bruce asked.

"Yeah. Have you been looking for me?" Liz asked with a hint of amusement in her voice.

"We sure have. You are supposed to tell us if you go out of the house. How are we supposed to take care of you?" Bruce asked with a stern voice.

"I told you I didn't need taking care of, but you guys and Doug won't listen. I just went for a walk. Max was with me. It's okay. Now, go inside and go to sleep or whatever. We would like some privacy." Liz ordered.

"Okay." Bruce muttered as he went back to the house. He continued muttering things under his breath about not being able to do his job properly, etc.

Liz couldn't help but laugh a little. "They treat me like I'm a little girl."

"They are just watching out for you." Max assured her.

Liz turned to Max with a sheepish grin and battered her eyelashes. "So, um...I'm going to just go in and get out of these clothes......and in the hot tub." After walking toward the house a bit and noticing Max was not joining her she smiled. She then turned a little and called over her shoulder "gonna join me?"

Max didn't say a word just hurried behind Liz. Once he was close enough, he grabbed her around the waist and swung her around to face him. Then asked, "are you teasing me, Miss Parker?"

"Why whatever could you mean, Mr. Evans?" Liz replied in her most southern belle voice.

They walked in hand-in-hand and went directly to their rooms to change. Max was reluctant to let go of her hand but finally agreed after she assured him it wouldn't take her five minutes to change.
Mouth
By: Merril Bainbr

I feel like I've been blown apart
There are pieces here I don't know where they go
I don't know where they go
Kiss me on my salty lips
I bet you feel little crazy but for me
We'll be famous on t.v.

Would it be my fault if I could turn you on?
Would I be so bad if I could turn you on?
When I kiss your mouth I want to taste it
Turn you upside down, don't want to waste it
I jump on you, you jump on me

You push me out and even though you know I love you
I'd be inclined to slap you in the mouth
When I kiss your salty lips
You will feel a little crazy, but for me
I'll be famous on t.v.

Now, will it be my fault if I take your love and throw it wide?
You might restrain me, but could you really blame me?
And you will feel you're blown apart
All the pieces there will fit to make you whole
And I know where they go

Would it be my fault if I could turn you on?
Would I be so bad if I could turn you on?
When I kiss your mouth I want to taste it
Turn you upside down, don't want to waste it
I jump on you, you jump on me

******************************************************************************
*Chapter 8*


"HMMMMM. That is so good." She said.

"You like that do you?" He asked.

"Uh huh. But you know what would make it even better?" She replied smiling.

"No, what?" He asked amused.

"Carmel." She replied with an exotic roll of the tongue.

Michael smiled at Maria's erotic facial expression as she licked the spoon clean. He had ordered a speciality dessert that made his mouth water. He decided to share this wonderful ecstacy with Maria, and she didn't disappoint him with her facial expressions that he knew she would make at the first taste. It was enough to make him hard within moments and she knew it. He could see it in her eyes which sparkled with amusement.

Sitting at the table Alex and Isabelle were engrossed in a conversation as if they were all alone. It made it easier for Maria to slip her shoe off and run her toes up Michael's well toned leg to his inner thigh. When she reached her target, his indrawn breath sent shivers down her own spine. She wanted to get him alone. She needed to spend just a few minutes in a dark corner pleasing him. She didn't mind that they were in public. Then the idea struck. The movies. Yes that's it they would all go to the movies.

"So, you guys. Um... is anyone up for a movie?" Maria asked.

"Actually, I was thinking dancing." Isabelle offered.

"Dancing's good. Alex, do you remember that one club we went to with the private booths? The one where you could get a couch in a room with a curtain? That was loads of fun. You could privately dance and talk or you could join the dance floor mess." Maria stated.

"Yeah, that would be loads of fun. What about Liz and Max? Should we call them?" Alex asked.

"I'll do that right now." Maria said picking up her phone and dialing the number to the house.

********

After entering her room, Liz leaned back against the door and sighed with pleasure and relief. She felt as if a huge burden had been lifted from her shoulders. It felt good to get out everything she had been holding in for so long. Secrets often weighed heavy on the heart and mind, especially ones that could get you killed. She knew she could have talked to Maria about it all, but it wouldn't have been the same. Maria was her best friend and would have listened, but she would have also felt sorry for her, and even probably a little mad because Liz hadn't shared these events with her. But Max, oh Max, he was different. He was able to give comfort, relief, support, desire, and everything else she needed with just a look. What those eyes did to her body. Just the way her name rolled off his tongue made her hot. She needed him...tonight. He was her first and only. She hadn't been with anyone since that night so long ago. She had urges now she didn't have before but she didn't feel the pull, the attraction that she did with Max. So she never acted upon them. However, now that he was here and seemed to feel them too it would be okay to act on them, right?

At first when she saw him earlier today at her house with the sun causing an almost iridescent glow around him, she thought he might just be a vision. That was until they were introduced again. Then the questions began to flow. How could this be? How did they just happen to cross paths again? But now, it really doesn't matter... at least not tonight...tonight was for fulfilling another fantasy. The one where they wake up together in the morning wrapped in each others arms. This particular fantasy had been plaguing her more and more here recently. She just hoped he felt the same. Well, I guess it's time to get a move on and find out. Liz encouraged herself.

With a smile and a sigh of pleasure, Liz walked to her dresser and retrieved her bathing suit. As she began undressing the phone rang.

"Hello." Liz answered.

"Lizzy, hey it's me. We were thinking about going out dancing and wanted to see if you and Max wanted to go. We'll come pick you up." Maria offered.

"Um..actually no. I mean, I don't want to go. I'm already undressing so I'll pass. As for Max, I could go ask him but he's already gone to his room. I'm almost sure he would say no, though." Liz explained hoping she was right. She was taking a liberty in answering for him. Would he mind?

"Oh, okay. Well, don't wait up. We'll see you in the morning." Maria stated in an almost disappointed tone.

"You guys go and have a good time. Okay?" Liz asked.

"Yeah. We'll have fun tomorrow. Bye." Maria said hanging up.

Liz finished dressing and found her bath robe. She then pressed the intercom button from the panel beside her door, which allowed her to talk directly to the kitchen. She asked that a bottle of wine and two glasses be brought up with some snacks and sweets. Then she realized she hadn't even thought about the envelope Conner had given her. She held it in her hands trying to decide whether to open it or not.

After spending several moments thinking, Liz decided to ignore the contents of the envelope tonight. She wanted this night to be special. She didn't want to be thinking of problems she would have to face tomorrow. Tonight was for Max ....and her. She wanted to let him know that he wasn't just a one night stand to her. She had to admit to herself, she wanted more. She needed it. When he wasn't around, like now, she found it hard to breath just right. There was an unbearable tightening around her heart that only seeing him could relieve. How had she come to depend on this man so much so soon? How could she feel love for him? Love? Did she love him? The answer was obvious now. Yes, she loved him with all her heart. But she wouldn't tell him yet. She would wait until he was ready, until he felt it too.

Reassuring herself that everything would be okay, Liz walked out the door to her room. Taking a deep breath, she headed toward the door leading to the hot tub. With a small smile on her face, Liz opened the door and headed toward the man of her dreams, the love of her life. She froze staring in wonder. He had found and scattered candles all around the hot tub and deck. He had brought out a radio and had soft rock playing. He had already removed the top of the tub and was sitting inside waiting. The look on his face made her breath catch in her throat. He had been there a while. The bangs resting on his forehead were damp from the rising hot moisture. His eyes were focused on her. With her expression of awe in place, he smiled. She just stood there trying to catch her breath ...and regain her wits.

Max was the first to break the silence, "I thought you might have changed your mind." It was said in a whisper but with a pleading tone.

"Never." She returned. After a few more minutes of staring at each other from across the deck,
Liz noticed the wine and snacks had already been placed on the deck's table. She moved toward the food.

"Hungry?" Liz asked.

"Not much." Max returned.

"Oh, um...yeah, Maria called and they are all going out dancing. If you want to go, I can call her cell phone and tell them to pick you up." Liz stated nonchalantly.

"You going?" Max asked politely.

"No. I explained I was already undressing." Liz looked over at Max shyly. She was in the process of pouring some wine and grabbed a bite of cheese and popped it in her mouth.

"What about me? What did you tell them I was doing?" Max asked teasingly.

Liz's eyes shot up to Max's. Instant relief was there. He was teasing her. She had almost thought for a moment that she had overstepped the bounds of this shaky beginning. "I explained you had already went to your room." Liz's expression was neutral. She was awaiting Max's reaction.

"So I take it you don't want them to know...about us, I mean." Max asked almost in a heartbroken tone.

"No, not at all." Liz replied sternly. Then she realized the way that sounded. With a growl she tried to explain, "Max. What I mean, is that I don't mind if they know. I just get a little ...um...flustered around you and don't say what I mean."

Max smiled, "Me too. I don't always seem to say things right. So why do you suppose that is?"

Liz grabbed the glasses and made her way towards the tub. She sat them down on the side and took off her robe. Max's sudden indrawn breath startled Liz. "What?" She asked as she turned to see if he was okay. It was all he could do to stare at her face. She was dressed in a two piece string bikini. It was a fluorescent yellow that accented her toned, bronzed body. It also left little to the imagination.

"Oh, nothing. I just ...[Max grinned sheepishly at being caught] you take my breath away." Max answered.

Liz climbed in the tub and handed Max his glass of wine before taking a seat next to him. She turned a serious expression on Max. "Are we being honest here?"

Max surprised by the serious tone wasn't sure how to reply. Honesty won out. "Yes, always."

"Okay. Then I have to ask. Is this how it's supposed to be?" Liz asked concerned.

Max didn't understand, "How's what supposed to be?"

Sitting her glass down in the cup holder beside her head, Liz turned a little facing Max and asked "Max, I haven't been with anyone else. I haven't dated a lot...actually very little. I never made time for such things. I guess I'm assuming you have. That's why I ask, is this how it's supposed to feel?"

"How do you feel?" Max had to ask.

"I feel like when I first saw you that day in the coffee shop that you were my angel. You made me feel special and complete even before we had really met. It was strange. Then I knew I wanted you, like I hadn't ever wanted anyone before. Then when I left you, I can't explain how torn apart I felt. I knew what I had done was wrong on so many levels. I was so sure you wouldn't understand or maybe that you would turn out to be ‘that' kind of person. Someone who could do that sort of thing with no feeling involved. Then today. I felt that sinking feeling, like you wouldn't understand. Then when you seemed to, I wasn't sure how to act. Max...when your near I fight for some where between breathing at all and breathing normal. I guess, it just hurts not to touch you." Liz was staring so intently into Max's eyes which never once wavered. There was only tenderness there. She had finished her rambling in a shy whisper.

"Is that how you feel now?" Max asked quietly.

Liz couldn't respond, she just weakly nodded with her eyes downcast.

Without a seconds hesitation, Max slipped his arm behind Liz's back and swished her into his lap. Her breath caught in the back of her throat as her body came to rest in front of him. She was now straddling his lap with his arms wrapped around her. Slowly, she raised a hand from the warm water to rest against his cheek. There faces merely an inch apart. She could feel his warm breath as he could hers.

He spoke in a whisper, "I had never done what I did with you. I had never imagined doing something like that before. There was this connection I felt with you from the first moment I saw you. It's strange to admit but I knew our lives would be entwined together somehow. Everywhere I was, there you were. Then when we met, without words I trusted you. Even after your leaving, I somehow knew you hadn't meant to hurt me. But, Liz I don't want this to be some one night stand type thing. I'm not like that. I don't think you are either."

His words touched her heart. Tears sprang to her eyes as she closed the distance between them to seal with a kiss what no words could describe. She wanted him more than anything. He had to be the sweetest man alive. And yes, oh yes, she loved him with all her heart even this soon. It must have been love at first sight because the month they were apart was a living hell for her.

The kiss started out soft and gentle but soon Max took over. He slid one hand up to her neck and wrapped a fist in her hair gently tugging her head back allowing him to deepen the kiss. Liz eagerly complied and with his insistent tongue dueling with hers, she let out a moan low in her throat. Before long she was writhing against his arousal with her heat. It was maddening to Max. He wasn't sure how much of this he could take but he was determined not to take her right there in the hot tub. While he still had a bit of control left, he broke the kiss and felt an immense loss. To compensate just a little, he rested his forehead against hers while they attempted to restore their breathing.

Even before she was able to completely stop her heaving chest, Liz placed little kisses along Max's jawline and then enveloped him in a fierce hug. Max reciprocated by wrapping his arms further around her pressing her tiny body to his. He burrowed his face in her hair and inhaled her scent. Oh, that scent. Just being this close to her tangled with her scent made him even harder. After a few minutes, Max realized Liz wasn't breathing. He immediately lessened his hold and she moved back to allow enough distance so they could see each other.

"Are you okay?" Max asked with immense concern.

Liz smiled and teased him, "yeah. You just almost squeezed the life out of me but it was worth it."

"I mean what I said. I don't want this to be just a one night stand type thing. Do you?" Max asked.

"No. I don't. But then again, I didn't think of our first encounter like that either." Liz qualified.

A sparkle lit Max's eye as he apparently understood her double meaning. Was that permission? Not wanting to take things for granted, Max thought there should be clarification before going further.

"So what did you think of it as?" Max asked innocently.

Batting her eyes again with a smug smile, Liz replied in that same fake southern voice she had used earlier in the evening. "Why, Mr. Evans, I do believe it was the beginning of a torrid love affair." Not able to hold smugness Liz busted out into giggles.

Max just smiled shaking his head at this wonderful woman he held in his lap. Her wonderful sense of humor and choice of words, only seemed to enhance the urge to take her right there in the hot tub. He had to shake off these thoughts but when Liz sobered and her eyes met his again the desire was back.

"I mean it Max. What I'm saying is that I want you now." Liz's statements were cut short by the fierce kiss Max engulfed her with.

Breaking it to whisper that he wouldn't take her right here, he stood up lifting Liz with him until her legs were wrapped around his waist. They never once broke the kiss as they made their way out of the hot tub. He shoved her up against the wall next to the door entering the house in order to open it without dropping her in the process. He could have held her up with one hand she was so light, but she was not cooperating. Her legs were squeezing the life out of him and she was moving her body against his in a grinding motion.

Max almost lost his control with the low moan of his name when he broke their kiss long enough to shut the french doors back. Her room was the closest and he knew they wouldn't make it any further tonight, so that is where he headed for. He opened and shut her door with one quick motion.

Max quickly turned around so that Liz was braced against the door and with one hand, he untied her bikini top. He flung it over his head. Liz then untangled her feet and with some determination hooked her toes in Max's shorts. She then slid them down as she slid down his body to stand up. Max stepped out of his shorts and with a tiny chuckle, he hooked his fingers in Liz's bottoms lowering them to the floor as he went with them. Placing light kisses all the way up her legs and inner thighs, Max made his way back up to Liz's breasts. The anticipation had built and one touch of Max's tongue to Liz's taught nipples, caused her to explode. She cried out softly when the first of her orgasmic pleasures erupted.

Max's sense of male satisfaction ran high at just the thought that his kisses and touch were enough to send her right over the edge so swiftly. Quickly shaking those thoughts off before they became graphic, Max decided to end their torment and scooped Liz up to his chest. He cradled her as he walked to the bed and laid her down in the center.

Liz wasn't ready to give in yet. She wanted him to feel all the wonderful things she was. She wanted to touch him and kiss him everywhere. She wanted to know his body entirely. Before Max realized her intent, Liz rolled on top of him. She then began by placing one soft quick kiss on his lips before trailing them down his jaw, neck and chest. She lingered over one nipple while she stroked it with her tongue and then gently allowed her breath to flow over it causing him to shiver. Trying not to neglect any part of his body, Liz repeated the process with the other one. That being done to her satisfaction, she continued her conquest lower. As she trailed kisses over his stomach and was near his manhood, Max drew in a shaky breath and held it. He wasn't sure how much longer he could maintain his sanity.

Then not realizing her intent, Max's heart began to pound as she kissed both thighs at the base of his erection before consuming it entirely in her mouth. The warmth caused him to involuntarily thrust upward with a moan of her name. Liz maintained her torturous pattern until he couldn't take it any longer. He had to be inside her. Max pulled Liz back up to him and with a swift move rolled until she was under him. He spread her knees and thrust into her in one fluid move. The heat and tightness made him shudder. She felt so good, so right. They fit together perfectly. He was determined to pleasure her again and not let go of himself until he did. That in mind, he lowered a hand between their bodies and gently rubbed her clit until he felt her begin to tighten around him. With her release, he found his own. Her with a moan of his name and him with a roar of hers.

Max collapsed on top of Liz and nuzzled her neck with his lips as he placed his head on her shoulder. They laid still, quiet until their breathing and hearts began to slow. Then because Liz had once again stopped breathing, Max rolled to the side taking her with him. He held her close and she snuggled to get closer. With a satisfied sigh, they both drifted to sleep.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:11:23 PM
Breath
by Faith H

I can feel the magic floating in the air
Being with you gets me that way
I watch the sunlight dance across your face and I've
Never been this swept away

All my thoughts seem to settle on the breeze
When I'm lying wrapped up in your arms
The whole world just fades away
The only thing I hear
Is the beating of your heart

‘Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just to be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

In a way I know my heart is waking up
As all the walls come tumbling down
I'm closer than I've ever felt before
And I know
And you know
There's no need for words right now

‘Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just to be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
Just breathe

I can feel the magic floating in the air
Being with you gets me that way

*****************************************************************************
*Chapter 9*

The sunlight was just beginning to shine through the room and without even opening his eyes, Max smiled at the sight. He could still sense the completeness he felt last night after they made love for the second time. It was beautiful. It was unlike any feeling he ever had or dreamed of. Initially, when he awoke to find Liz not lying beside him and her side of the bed cold, Max panicked. Thinking back on it now, he can smile but then it was a horrible feeling.

After realizing she wasn't beside him, Max jumped from the bed and ran to the bathroom. She wasn't there. Then he rushed out the double french doors which led to the upper deck where they had watched the sunset the previous evening. She wasn't there. All of the feelings and images of the past couple months became to much for him, so he returned to sit on the side of the bed. He buried his face in his hands and just started feeling sorry for himself. He couldn't imagine why he would let her do this to him again. He wasn't angry with her just himself. He let his guard down again and she so easily broke into his heart. The emptiness and anger for allowing himself to be so vulnerable were too much.

When Liz entered the room carrying food and drinks for them, he didn't even notice. It wasn't until she had knelt in front of him and placed her tiny hands on his arms rubbing them gently did he realize she wasn't gone. He removed his hands and looked into her eyes which were so full of concern and doubt. Without words, he picked her up and laid her gently in the bed. Then he proceeded to make love ever so slowly until the pleasant torture was too much. After they had both reached fulfillment and were snuggled tightly together, Liz whispered her question to him "are you okay?" He smiled in her hair and responded in the same gentle tone "I am now."

After a few moments, they had both fallen asleep and didn't wake again. As Max slowly opened his eyes, the vision of the goddess laying in his arms made his breath catch in his throat. If possible, she was even more beautiful with her mussed hair and eyes closed. Her breathing was low and delicate. If he hadn't already realized he was in love with her, he would have admitted it now. There was something that drew him to this wonderful woman in his arms.

Max was lying on his side with Liz snuggled close to him. She was on her back but her head was resting on his outstretched arm. Max's other hand was splayed across her abdomen. He could feel the gentle movement of her body with each breath. His eyes roamed the exposed skin of her body memorizing every inch. The urge to softly rub her stomach made Max realize his age. He was ready for a family, that he'd known for a while now. But there was an overwhelming feeling that he wanted this family to be with her. Although their relationship had been anything but normal or traditional, there was no question in his mind that she would be his one and only love.

All thoughts of family went out the window when he realized she was staring at him intently. When he returned his gaze from her exposed legs back to her face, Max's heart began pounding so loud that he was certain she heard it. When she smiled at him, he returned the smile as he leaned down to place a feather light kiss on her lips.

"What were you thinking about?" Liz whispered.

"Last night..... You...... Us." Max replied with a soft voice and expression on his face.

"Is that good or bad?" Liz asked in a teasing voice with a smile on her face.

"Most definitely good." Max said with a serious face.

The teasing atmosphere was gone. It was replaced by desire and passion. Slowly Max began teasing his way from her stomach up to her breasts as he moved down to nibble on her ear. The sudden rumbling of a tummy made them stop and laugh.

"I guess you can't live on love alone." Liz said teasingly but then realized what exactly she said. Without waiting for his response or looking him in the eye, she quickly moved out of bed and grabbed her robe. Then walked to the bathroom shutting the door behind her.

Max was a little dazed at her words. Her actions, however, were clear. She said something that had made her uncomfortable. The questions then began, Did she love him? Was she afraid to love him? Was he reading to much into this? Or was she simply just referring to the act of making love? All these questions and uncertainties began plaguing him to the point where he realized he was a man. He should act like one. If he didn't put his heart out there then how would they ever know? Not giving himself time to think, Max jumped from the bed and went to the bathroom door. He heard the shower running and without hesitation, he entered the bathroom. Through the clear glass doors of the shower, he could see Liz was standing under the shower head with her eyes closed. As he stepped into the shower with Liz and circled his arms around her tiny waist, she jumped. With a startled expression, she turned to face him. "Max..." was all she managed before he captured her mouth with his. The kiss wasn't gentle. Anything but. The kiss was demanding and held his heart.

The love play was short lived because of the urgency they both felt. Not breaking the demanding kiss, Max pulled Liz's legs around his waist and pushed her a little harder than he meant to up against the shower wall. One fierce urgent thrust and Max was fully embedded within Liz. Her cry of pleasure and pain mixed was captured in his throat. The thrusts became harder and deeper until Max was sure he had reached her womb. He was certain he hadn't hurt her because she was anything but gentle herself. Her sighs and moans within his mouth reassured him of her pleasure. Without additional assistance on his or her part, they both reached fulfillment quickly.

As Max poured his seed into Liz and they opened their eyes at the exact moment, no words were needed. They knew without words that this was what was meant to be. They belonged together. "Forever." They whispered together before embracing once again, but this time in a gentle loving kiss and hug.

After holding each other for a few moments, Max's legs began to give way on him. He gently allowed Liz to regain her balance before fully letting go of her waist. Then they proceeded to wash each other. Liz allowed Max to wash her hair and body and then she repeated the process on him. Then smiling they dressed and went to find some breakfast.
With Arms Wide Open
by Creed

Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything

With arms wide open
Well I don't know if I'm ready
To be the man I have to be
I'll take a breath, take her by my side
We stand in awe, we've created life

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything

With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I'll show you love
I'll show you everything

With arms wide open
If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope he's not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world
With arms wide open...

*****************************************************************************
*Chapter 10*

As Liz and Max made their way down to the kitchen, the smells overwhelmed them.

"Wow, Mrs. Smithson must be outdoing herself. It smells wonderful." Max commented.

Liz sniffed the air a little harder and smiled. "Not Mrs. Smithson, Michael. He is a wonderful cook and you can smell the blueberry pancakes."

Liz's smile warmed Max's heart in a way he was sure no one else would ever be able to do. He suddenly stopped on the stairs and tugged Liz around to face him. He smiled down at her and gently kissed her. As they broke away, Liz had a shy smile on her face and her cheeks were blushing a bit.

"What was that for?" She asked shyly.

"Just because." Max replied and smiled mischievously. Suddenly his smile was gone and his tone turned serious. "Have I told you how beautiful you are? You know you are, right?"

Liz was stunned. She wasn't sure how to respond to that. Instead of taking a serious overbearing tone she decided to take it teasingly. With a small turn of her lips that wasn't exactly a smile, Liz replied seductively. "Well, Mr. Evans you better watch yourself or you might not make it down stairs at all today." With that Liz gently tugged Max down where his body was flush with hers and kissed him soundly. Not wanting to break apart, Max stepped down to Liz's step and pushed her against the railing with his body. He continued deepening the kiss and ran his hands behind her gently pulling up on her buttocks to encase his arousal. The passion was growing out of control but a clearing of the throat above them made them break apart like two teenagers caught doing something forbidden.

Both Max and Liz were blushing fiercely. Isabelle was making her way down the stairs with Alex in tow. "So, did you guys have a good night?" Isabelle asked with a raised eyebrow to her brother.

"Yeah." Liz whispered not making eye contact.

"Yes and you?" Max asked meeting his sisters gaze full on. He was an adult for petes sake. He was not going to get in trouble kissing or doing anything else with a single, beautiful, intriguing woman.

"Can I talk to you a minute in private Liz?" Alex asked softly from behind Isabelle.

"Sure." Liz stated clearly recovering her senses of being an adult and met his gaze full on. Then thoughtfully added, "Max, why don't you guys go on to the kitchen I'm sure Michael already has enough food cooked for an army. We'll join you shortly." With that Liz led Alex into the den shutting the door behind them.

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

"So, Liz....what's going on?" Alex asked tentatively.

Knowing full well what he was asking after their ice cream feast the other night, Liz thought the truth was in order. Liz quickly approached Alex and took his arms in her hands trying to control her excitement.

"It's the most wonderful thing. Remember how I told you about the guy in Roswell that I ....well.... you know. Well, it was Max. I didn't know it was him or rather I didn't know his name but when he came to the house yesterday I knew it was him. Then we had this conversation and I didn't want a relationship because it would be based on being loose and well he wouldn't give up. He wanted more and it wasn't just a one night stand for him. And, oh Alex. I'm so happy. I didn't plan on this but I think...well...I think I'm in love with him." Liz finished her ramblings with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. She had finally said it and it made her feel warm all over. But she couldn't help wondering if he would ever love her?

Alex couldn't help but smile back at Liz's excitement but reality took hold. "Oh, Liz. That's wonderful but don't you think you guys should slow down a bit? I mean, it looked like you two were about to do ...you know...again."

Liz's blush was enough answer for Alex. They had already done it again. How should he handle this? Should he just let things run their coarse and then be there to pick up the pieces? No, Liz had been through enough painful things, he couldn't allow Max to hurt her. What to do? If only Maria knew she could point him in the right direction.

"So, are you going to tell Maria?" Alex asked.

"Yeah, I should. I just didn't want her to think bad of me. Do you think she will?" Liz asked worriedly.

"You know better than that. When are you going to tell her?" Alex asked.

"After breakfast. Why?" Liz asked getting suspicious.

"Just wondering. Now, let's go get some of those pancakes Michael is so famous for." Alex added ushering Liz toward the kitchen.

Before they left the den, Liz turned to Alex with a serious tone asked "you will accept Max, right?"

Alex replied the only way he knew how to make Liz feel his support, "as always, with arms wide open."

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

At the same time, Isabelle dragged Max into the library for a private talk. "Okay, spill." Isabelle stated clearly. Then added, "yesterday you were all moon doggie over some girl you met and slept with in Roswell and now your all over your client."

Max smiled at the way Iz always got to the point. "They are one in the same." Max replied.

"What?" Iz asked puzzled.

"Turns out that my client was my mystery woman from Roswell. We knew yesterday at her house. We talked everything out and then came to a decision to try a relationship. I really like her Iz. Hell, I think I'm in love with her. I don't ever want to be away from her. Like now. So if you are through with twenty questions, I'd like to get back to her." Max finished then started walking to the door.

"Max....don't you think you guys are moving a little fast?" Iz asked tentatively.

"No." Was the only response Max gave and it was in a no-nonsense, don't ask again tone.

With that Isabelle and Max headed to the kitchen for breakfast.

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

When Alex and Liz made it into the kitchen, Michael was flipping out the last of his pancakes. He smiled at the two friends and then poured them some juice.

"Okay, what has you so cheery this morning?" Liz asked with fake suspicion.

"I need to talk to you." Michael chimed in with a serious tone just as the back door flew open and in stepped Triston and Jacob.

"Okay." Liz stated as she turned to see who had entered so abruptly. Then smiled because Triston never had figured out his own strength. He never meant to slam doors but always seemed to.

Max and Isabelle entered the kitchen just as the door flew open. They were surprised at the size of the two men standing in the door. One older, tall but still very handsome. The other was a younger version of his father.

Liz ran to Triston and he opened his arms catching her in a bear hug. "There's my Lizzy bear." Triston replied with a warm smile as he put her down.

"I've missed you." Liz replied with an equally warm smile. Then she turned to Jacob. Jacob was two years younger than Liz but was always such fun to play with.

"Hey. You've grown up." Liz stated hugging Jacob. Who in turn smiled down at Liz and kissed her cheek.

At the show of affection, Max's jaw tightened and his body tensed. For some reason, even knowing they were old family friends, he couldn't help but feel jealous. Isabelle nudged him in the ribs with her elbow which brought him to the reality of what he was doing. He had inadvertently started clinching his fists and the expression on his face was deadly. This did not go unnoticed by Alex or Michael.

Maria entered the kitchen in time to see the frowns on both Alex and Michael's faces and see that they were directed at Max. Max looked ready to kill but she wasn't sure why. Then she took notice that Liz was standing by the door with Triston and Jacob. Jacob still had his arm around Liz's shoulders and seemed to be oblivious to anyone else in the room.

Liz interrupted their ‘private' conversation by grabbing both men by the hands and leading them further into the kitchen. She let their hands go and went to stand by Max. Max's body visibly relaxed and so did his expression. Liz introduced everyone but Maria and Alex who both men already knew. Then she turned to Max slipping her arm around his back and placing one hand on his chest.

"And this is Max." Liz said warmly smiling up at him.

Max smiled back down at her and then reached a hand out to the men in greeting. "It's nice to meet you both."

"Will you being staying for breakfast?" Michael asked.

"Sure." Triston replied. "I need to talk to you about a few things after breakfast, Liz."

"Sure." Liz replied. "We were going skiing but Max and I can catch up with everyone else later."

How Liz easily included Max in the meeting did not go unnoticed by anyone. Especially Jacob who couldn't help but frown. Liz obviously had something going on with this guy. That was a disappointment for him. He had hoped that they would be able to get reacquainted.

The group began to descend into the dining room but Maria grabbed Liz's arm, made an apology to everyone and said they would join them in a minute, and pulled Liz back into the kitchen.

"Okay, what is going on?" Maria asked shortly.

"What?" Liz asked honestly.

"Max?" Maria prompted.

"Oh, Maria it is a long story. I planned on telling you after breakfast. Can you wait?" Liz asked hopefully.

"Not a chance. Spill." Maria replied.

"Okay.....Well, it started when I took my family back to Roswell to be buried. You know I stayed for a while after and I sort of met Max then. Only we didn't know each other's names. Well, we got close. I don't know how to explain this to you but we sort of slept together one night. Then I left him, panicked. I hadn't seen him until yesterday. We talked about everything that happened and decided to try for a relationship. Please don't be angry I wanted to tell you but I wasn't sure how. I didn't want you to think I was being a slut or whatever. You don't do you?" Liz asked worriedly.

"No, of course not. But, you didn't know each other and you slept together? I don't understand. Oh, who cares. You do know what your doing, right? I mean, are you two moving too fast? I don't want to see you hurt any more Lizzy." Maria spoke as she hugged Liz to her. She loved her best friend more than anything. They were actually more like sister. She didn't want to see Liz hurt, especially by her boss.

"I think as long as he and I continue to talk things through we'll be fine. I'm not stupid Maria I know I shouldn't get my hopes up too soon into a relationship like this. Especially after the way it started off, but something in my heart tells me that he is the only man I'll ever love. Ever want." Liz finished looking sincerely into Maria's eyes.

"I hope he feels the same and you two are able to grow old together." Maria smiled and kissed Liz on the cheek before tugging her into the dining room.

***********

The dining table had been shorted by withdrawing a sleeve from the middle. Now, the table could only easily seat eight people. Two on the ends and three on each side. Only two seats were left open - one on the side and one at the head of the table. Triston was seating at the other end seat with an open seat to his right and whoever sat there would be sitting next to Jacob. On the other side of Jacob sat Max. On Triston's left sat Isabelle, then Alex beside her and finally Michael. With one glare, Maria sat down beside Jacob causing him to frown at Liz who took the other head seat with Max to her left and Michael to her right. The seating wasn't ideal but it would work for breakfast.

Max inwardly sighed with relief that Liz chose to sit beside him. His hands were sitting on the table and Liz, after adjusting her napkin in her lap, reached over and gently squeezed the closest hand and smiled at Max. He returned the smile but could feel the heated gaze of Jacob sitting beside him. Just what was this guys deal? Max couldn't help but think.

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

After breakfast, Maria, Michael, Isabelle and Alex loaded up and headed toward the slopes. Max and Liz were to meet up with them there later. After meeting with Triston.

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

Liz instructed Judy on the household chores that needed to be completed for the day before joining Triston, Jacob and Max in the library. Since Triston and Jacob had taken the two chairs facing the desk and the only other options were to sit on the lounge couches and be excluded, Max sat in the chair behind the desk. He had every intention of giving Liz the chair and him just stand beside her after she entered. However, Liz motioned for him to stay seated and took a seat on the arm of the chair with her arm around the back.

Max couldn't help but inwardly smile again. For some reason, she kept amazing him at how open she was about their budding relationship. It pleased him to no end because he was afraid she would not want to publically acknowledge it. After all she was an heiress and he was merely an albeit struggling attorney.

Liz's gentle voice brought him out of his revere, "so what did you want to talk about?"

"Actually, this is sort of a private matter Liz. We really wanted to talk to you alone." Triston informed her with a sharp look at Max.

"Max is my attorney, Triston. And a really dear friend. Whatever you have to say to me he can be trusted with it. I've never seen you look so serious. What is it?" Liz asked fully concerned by Triston's behavior.

"Well, Liz....I don't think your parents crash was an accident....." Jacob started off with hesitation.
Fumbling Toward Ecstacy
By Sarah McGlaug

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

All the fear has left me now
I'm not frightened anymore.
It's my heart that pounds beneath my flesh.
it's my mouth that pushes out this breath

and if I shed a tear I won't cage it.
I won't fear love
and if I feel a rage I won't deny it.
I won't fear love.

Companion to our demons
they will dance and we will play.
With chairs candles and clothes
making darkness in the day.
It will be easy to look in or out
upstream or down
without a thought

and if I shed a tear I won't cage it.
I won't fear love
and if I feel a rage I won't deny it.
I won't fear love.

Peace in the struggle to find peace.
Comfort on the way to comfort

and if I shed a tear I won't cage it.
I won't fear love
and if I feel a rage I won't deny it
I won't fear love.
I won't fear love.
I won't fear love...

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

*Chapter 11*

After their meeting with Triston and Jacob, Liz and Max left for the slopes. Max couldn't help but notice the change in Liz. She was quiet and withdrawn from him. He couldn't figure it out. He had heard everything she did and it was all tentative things. Suspicions of an old man that had rubbed off onto his son. There was nothing concrete in what they had said. What was bothering her?

"Liz?" Max asked trying to draw her into conversation.

"Yeah." Liz replied absently.

"Are you okay?" Max asked tentatively.

Snapping out of her thoughts Liz turned and smiled at Max. "Yes. I'm fine. Thank you. I was just thinking about what they said. I know it sounds funny Max, but something wasn't right. What did you think?"

Trying not to sound encouraging or discouraging, Max opted for changing the subject a bit from his opinion. "What did the papers Conner give you say?"

"I don't know. I didn't have a chance to look at them." Liz smiled sheepishly.

"Right." Max smiled sheepishly in turn. Then took Liz's hand in his. He was driving and pulled off the road a bit. He turned to look at her and reached for her other hand. He squeezed both hands and then whispered, "Whatever it turns out to be, know your not alone in this. I'm here with you....always."

Tears sprang to Liz's eyes and she lowered her head trying to pull her emotions back into check. When she felt comfortable enough with her voice, Liz replied softly "thank you."

"Max, I'm so tired of thinking about it. I just ....I know it isn't fair to them if I give up. If it wasn't an accident I need to make peace with them by bringing whoever harmed them to justice. You understand, right?" Liz asked.

"I understand, but if the FAA and others like Conner believe it to be truly just an accident, don't you think you should trust them?" Max asked hesitatingly.

"Your probably right. If I look at the contents of the envelope and it shows it was really just a freak accident. I'll stop tormenting myself with this. I'll move on." Liz sadly.

Against his better judgment, Max couldn't hold it in any longer. He reached up with one hand and cupped Liz's cheek. He tilted her head toward his and kissed her ever so gently. Then closed his eyes before speaking. As he opened them he stared directly into Liz's eyes. "I know this is all happening really fast but I don't want it any other way. Do you?"

"No." Liz replied softly.

"I love you, Liz. I have from the moment I laid eyes on you. I don't want to scare you but I had to tell you how I feel." Max stated with his voice cracking just slightly with emotion.

Silent tears streamed down Liz's face as she lifted her hand to Max's face. "I love you, too. I wasn't going to tell you. I thought it was too soon. I know that this is right Max. It just feels so natural. I don't want to be apart. Just those few minutes with Alex and then with Maria was awful. I don't know what I'm going to do when we go back to our daily lives."

"I know what you mean. But I want you to know if we do anything too fast for you, just say the word. I won't get mad. I won't leave you. Okay?" Max took his thumbs and gently brushed Liz's tears away.

"K." Liz replied as Max brought his mouth down to hers in a crushing kiss. It was urgent, yet gentle and loving.

A horn from a semi barreling down the road brought them back to reality. "You forgot yourself Mr. Evans." Liz scolded teasingly.

"As did you, Ms. Parker." Max replied as he put the car back in drive and continued toward the resort.


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

A man sits alone in a dark hotel room. The curtains are drawn and the only light that can be seen in the room is that of his lit cigarette.

The seed has been planted. It's just time to see if it grows. All she has to do is feel betrayed enough when she finds out to become careless. That's when I'll have my revenge.

Thinking to himself and trying to formulate the new stages of a plan that has been ever changing where Elizabeth Parker is concerned only made the man smile. At first, his last encounter with her was one where he thought she might have become naive with the doubt in her mind that her parent's plane crash was an accident, but it didn't seem to bother her at all. That or she has totally mastered keeping her feelings hidden well beneath the surface.

In due time, my dear. In due time. The man mused.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:13:41 PM
Obvious
Written by: Heather Hol

Can you hear it in my voice
Was it something I let slip
Does the whole world know
Isn't it obvious?

I'm the one who's in control
Now I'm acting like a fool
Do my feelings show
Is my face aglow?
Isn't it obvious?

Chorus:
That I don't know what I'm doing anymore
I'm feeling like a little girl
Caught up in emotions
I'm out of control
Isn't it obvious?

Do you see my hands, they tremble
Wonder why I can't
Look you in the eyes
Don't know how long
I can keep this inside
Isn't it obvious?

Chorus

Suddenly these emotions are in control of my heart
Can you see it in my eyes
Every glance, every smile mst give me away
And I feel so much I can't hide

Chorus

******************************************************************************
*Chapter 12*

Max and Liz made their way to the lodge while trying to keep a tight rain on their control. Although Max couldn't tell, Liz never stopped thinking of their conversation with Triston and Jacob. The questions were swirling in her mind and all of her training with Conner was coming to the surface. How could they have known about the fire in the tail of the helicopter? Liz wondered. She really was going to have to open the package of FAA and other materials Conner had brought her. Things were just not adding up. She wouldn't talk of it to Max any more. He would just worry and this was her problem. She definitely could take care of herself.

"Earth to Liz." Max teased as he parked at the lodge.

"What? Oh, sorry." Liz apologized smiling at Max. He really was wonderful. Liz couldn't help but thinking.

"Are you okay? What were you thinking about?" Max asked concerned.

"Nothing really. Just that I can't believe how wonderful you are and that you're mine." Liz's smile was brilliant and she leaned over for a sweet kiss.

Although Max was certain that if she was thinking of how wonderful he was she wouldn't be frowning, he let it go for now. She had a lot on her mind after their recent meeting he was sure, he just wished she was comfortable enough with him to let him in on her thoughts. Well, if she won't let me help her by just being here, I might just have to do a little investigating on my own. Max thought with determination.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Alex, Isabelle, Maria and Michael were all waiting in the Parker's private lounge for Liz and Max. The group decided what slopes they were going to enjoy and how long they planned to be out.

"Oh, also I was wondering if everyone knew what they were going to do for the afternoon? I really need to get back to the house and go through some things but whatever everyone does, tonight is mine. I have a surprise." Liz stated with a mischievous smile.

"I thought the girls might go shopping." Maria offered.

"Sounds good to me. Liz?" Is agreed.

"I'm always up for shopping, but I need at least a few hours back at the house before we meet up tonight." Liz stated.

"So, guys I guess that means we are on our own for the afternoon. Any ideas?" Max asked.

"I think we can come up with a few." Michael stated as he exaggeratedly watched two girls that would be considered ‘snow bunny's' walk by the lounge window. For this he received a slap upside the head from Maria.

"What?" Michael asked innocently with a huge green.

"I'll show you what. If I hear, oh and I will hear, that you've been skirt chasing I will personally make sure no other woman will ever enjoy Mr. Willie." Maria stated with an evil grin.

"Mr. Willie?" Alex asked choking up on laughter.

"Maria!" Michael shouted.

"What?" Maria mocked with an innocent smile.

"Evil." Max stated wearily then added, "Remind me never to get on your bad side."

"I will." Maria stated with a gleam.

The group then broke up and went to their respective slopes with plans to meet back up in a few hours.

~~~~~~~~~~~

As the girls walked back into the lodge after skiing, they decided to grab some hot chocolate on their way out to the stores. They were laughing with each other and not paying much attention when Liz suddenly bumped into someone.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Liz said as two strong arms were on her shoulders steading her.

"It's okay, Liz." Jacob stated with a smile.

Liz looked up into Jacobs deep brown eyes and smiled, "Hi. What are you doing here?"

"I'm meeting some friends here for lunch. You?" Jacob asked glad to see that Liz's bodyguards and new guy weren't hovering.

"Just finished with the slopes. We're heading out shopping. Well, I better go. The troops are getting restless." Liz said when she spotted Maria and Isabelle waiting by the door with their drinks.

"Okay but Liz?" Jacob asked to stop her as she started walking away.

"Yeah?" Liz asked stopping and turning around just a bit.

"Can we get together sometime soon? Alone?" Jacob asked.

"I don't know Jacob. I mean, I'm not sure when I'd be available we have sort of tight plans and the weekend is almost over. I can't stay any longer." Liz said in her easiest tone. For some reason being alone with Jacob didn't feel like the right thing to do.

"I understand. Maybe next time." Jacob stated and Liz could see the hurt in his eyes. That was something she couldn't take. He had always been like a brother to her and would have remained that way if he hadn't expressed a want for more.

"Maybe." Liz said with a small smile that was meant as friendly. However friendly but not seductive she meant it, Jacob took it as the later. The hope returned to his eyes as Liz walked toward her friends. A plan began to form in his mind. He might just get his opportunity yet, he mused.

As she climbed into the jeep, Liz couldn't help but remember the year before she found out about her father's betrayal to her mother. They were all here at the lodge....Triston, Jacob, her father, mother and herself. All of the sudden out of no where as they were riding up the ski lift, Jacob reached over and pulled Liz to him with an experimental kiss. She hadn't expected it. She was 15 and he was 13. He shouldn't have even been thinking of things like that. Liz thought as she shook off the memory. Liz had made it clear then that she didn't think of him that way. It is obvious that he didn't take ‘no' for an answer. Why didn't guys take no for an answer? Liz wondered.

~~~~~~~~~~

The man peeked out from the hotel's window and sighed. How was he supposed to make his plan work if he couldn't get the players to cooperate? How hard is it for someone to believe the truth?

Shaking himself away from his forming doubts, he headed to the shower. There were things to be done this evening and he had an important meeting before hand.
Blessed
Performed by: Christina Aguilera
Written by Travon Potts and Brock Walsh

When I think, how life used to be
Always walking in the shadows
Then I look at what you've given me
I feel like dancing on my tip-toes

I must say everyday I pray
When realize you're by my side
I know I'm truly...

CHORUS:
Blessed for everything you've given me
Blessed for all the tenderness you show
Do my best with every breath that's in me
Blessed to make sure you never go

There are times that I test your faith
'Til you think you might surrender
Baby I'm, I'm not ashamed to say
That my hopes will grow in splendor

You walked by in the nick of time
Looking like an answered prayer
You know I'm truly...

CHORUS

Blessed with love and understanding
Blessed when I hear you call my name
Do my best with faith that's never-ending
Blessed to make sure you feel the same

Deep inside you fill me with your tender touch...

CHORUS

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

*Chapter 13*

Max had just walked into the lodge when he saw the exchange between Liz and Jacob. He could see the concern and hurt in her eyes. Then as she left and Jacob had turned after he finished watching her walk out the doors, Max caught the hope and mischievousness in Jacob's eyes. What was he up to? Max wondered. Then a thought came to him quickly. He didn't like or trust the guy one bit so it was time he learned more about him. With that Max walked into the private lounge and flipped open his phone.

"It's Evans. I need a favor." Max stated into the phone.

After listening to the man on the other line, Max continued giving the information that he had on Jacob. After the conversation was complete, Max sat to wait on the other guys. He couldn't help but watch the people in front of the lounge's window. He watched as a man Max recognized but couldn't place walked up to Jacob. With a frown, Max thought again how much he didn't like this Jacob. Jacob was obviously upset when the conversation was over and held a large manilla envelope like the one Liz was given last night.

~~~~~~~~~

At the shopping center, Liz was trying on a dress and modeling it for Maria and Isabelle. Suddenly she became extremely dizzy and began to sway. Maria was at her side instantly making her sit down and place her head between her knees.

"Okay, that's it. Your going to the doctor." Maria stated sternly.

Before Liz could argue, Maria added "No ifs, ands or buts about it."

Liz knew it was futile to argue with her so she allowed Maria to lead her back into the dressing room and assist her in changing back into her clothes. Then Maria led her to the jeep and drove to the hospital.

~~~~~~~~

Alex and Michael met up with Max in the private lounge to discuss what they would do for the rest of the afternoon. When they arrived they saw Max staring intently out the lounge window. When Alex glanced around trying to figure out what had Max scowling, he found Jacob standing outside with a man he didn't recognize. This could be trouble. Alex thought with a sigh. He seemed to always get stuck making the peace.

"Max?" Michael tried to get his attention.

"Max? You okay?" Michael tried again. This time Max jerked around to see Michael and Alex joining him in the lounge.

"Yeah. I'm fine. So what do you guys want to do to kill some time before we meet back up with the girls?" Max asked.

"I have an errand to run. It's just actually a quick stop off by the jeweler here in town. I have to pick up something." Michael said with a happy gleam in his eyes.

Alex picked up on the look quickly and couldn't help but inquire. "You're going to ask her aren't you?"

Thinking of how he would have rather talked to Liz about it, Michael decided Alex was her best friend also and would probably be able to give just as much input. Let's make it a reality. Michael though. He hadn't said it aloud really to anyone so this could count as a practice run.

"You can't say anything to her. Promise?" Michael wanted to make sure that Maria was surprised enough not to say no. He knows that if given the time to think, she'll think of all the bad things that happened between her parents and begin to doubt their relationship.

"Promise. Now spill." Alex urged.

"I wanted to talk to Liz, but I guess you'll do. Do you think she'll freak on me?" Michael asked sincerely concerned.

"I don't know Michael. You know how Maria feels about marriage." Alex countered.

"I know. It's just that I want a family, a real family with her. I realize what she always says about not needing some legal piece of paper to tell her we are one, is somewhat true but I don't want my children to be reared out of wedlock." Michael sat rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands.

Max seeing the frustration couldn't help but wonder how Liz would react if he were to ask her. He agreed with Michael so far as he wanted a child with Liz and wouldn't want it to be titled a ‘bastard' by nosy, snooty people.

"How long have you two been together?" Max asked hoping to relieve some of the doubts Michael was obviously having about his decision.

"Going on 10 plus years. We've pretty much lived together for the whole time, but it's just not the same....you know." Michael explained.

"I know. Why do you think she'll start having doubts now? It's obvious that you two are in love and apparently get along well enough to live together." Max offered.

"It's just her parents. They were an awful example of marriage but the only one she had. Especially when Liz's parents went through all of their problems. Now Maria thinks that all marriages are doomed. That's why she thinks our relationship will change and hasn't considered marriage. The one thing I've got going for me is that she wants kids also, and she knows I won't have one without being married to her. I'm not overly religious or anything but one huge sin is enough in my life." Michael was sincerely frustrated with where his thoughts were leading. "But what if she freaks and then I lose her because of it."

"Don't think like that. We'll just have to make her see reason. As much as it pains me to say it, Michael, I think your right. It is about time you make an honest woman out of her." Alex joked. Then decided the death stare Max was giving to Jacob out the window might turn to reality if he didn't get them out of the lodge. "So, I think we should go run that errand now."

Once on their way, Alex had to ask "So, Michael it appears you've been planning this for a while so why are you just now picking out the ring?"

"Oh, I'm not. I had it made for her. Something a little unconventional and it wasn't ready before we left LA, so the jeweler agreed to have it shipped to the local affiliate up here." Michael explained.

"There you go, another mark for you on the old score board. You know how Maria adores unique jewelry. You never know, she might see it as one of her signs." Alex smiled as he teased Michael about Maria's self professed ‘psychic-type' abilities.

~~~~~~~~~

At the hospital, Liz was undergoing all types of tests. She couldn't help but wonder why she was just now realizing (with the prompting of the doctor's questions) all the things that she'd been experiencing.

"Ms. Parker, have you been feeling sick at your stomach or throwing up lately?" Dr. Smith prompted.

"Some. Not a lot. I've not really been eating properly." Liz explained in a small tone of voice. She hated hospitals and going to the doctor. She was never really sick that much as a child and didn't have much use for them as an adult either.

"Okay. How about headaches or anything else that you can think of that isn't normal for you?" Dr. Smith asked.

"Well, I've had headaches. I've been working a lot. I've been under a great deal of stress with the death of my family and learning to run the family businesses." Liz offered.

"I see. Well, we'll draw some blood and do a few other tests that will require you to stay for a few hours. Then, I'll come back in and see you. Don't worry, it is probably just stress causing all of these problems." With that the doctor left and nurses began to assist with all the tests that Dr. Smith ordered.

After the tests were completed and Liz was again dressed, she went to the lobby to wait with Maria and Isabelle. After a little over an hour, Liz was directed back to a ‘conference type' room to discuss the findings of her tests.

~~~~~~~~

The man entered the dark hotel room. In a way, he was glad to be back in a secure environment, but in another way, it gave him too much time to think. To think of Elizabeth Parker was becoming more of a problem then he first realized. The young man was infatuated with her to extremes. He wasn't pleased with the information bestowed upon him. The boy had even demanded to know why the need for the lies. What a fool!

The young man is blinded by beauty and his brain is washed by loyalty. If only I could tell him everything but for now the little truth he knows will be enough to make the seed that was planted grow.

The man began to take off his shoulder harness and stopped. He stared in the mirror and realized how careless he had been. His face was not nearly as disguised as it would normally have been. He was allowing his obsession of making the Parker's pay for the sins that were done to him and his family to cloud his good sense....his sense of caution and use of his skills. Soon it will be over. Soon the last of the line will be destroyed. There can be no exceptions for the pain caused. Not even for the innocent.

~~~~~~~~~

Back at the house, Liz began to wonder around her parents room. She gathered up papers, pictures and other items and sat on the floor. She was just starting to go through the first stack of papers when she sensed she was being watched. It was odd but she knew it was Max. She slowly turned her head until her eyes locked with his. It could have been days, hours or even seconds that they stayed locked in the moment and each other.

Quietly Liz asked, "What are you think about, Max?"

With a small delicate smile and love in his eyes, Max replied "How I'm going to love you for the rest of my life."

With tears shining in her eyes, Liz asked "Promise?" Her voice cracked with emotion and the first tear ran down her cheek.

Max wasn't sure whether they were tears of joy or sadness for some reason he couldn't read her emotions. "Promise."

With that one word, Liz's tears flowed silently down her cheeks as her eyes remained locked on Max. In a swift movement, he was in the floor and had her gathered in his arms. Liz nuzzled her face into the hollow of his neck. She was surrounded by his scent and the feelings of security, peace and love that only she felt with Max.

"Liz, oh please don't. Whatever it is, we'll get through it together. Please. You have to tell me what the doctor said. Maria says you wouldn't even talk to her. She's really worried about you." Max absently rubbed a gentle hand up and down Liz's back as he rocked back and forth with her wrapped in his arms. She fit him like a glove, was all Max could think. They were perfect together. He had no doubts that he wanted this tiny slip of a woman to be his wife. With a sense of overwhelming contentment, Max thought of the little blue velvet box in his pocket and smiled. Then Liz's sobs broke through to him and his thoughts of happiness and pure joy turned to worry.

"Oh, Max." Liz spoke on a sob. "They did all these tests ... and he said in the room...... that he thought it was probably.... just stress.....but then....he got the results back....and Oh, God Max......"

"Liz you can tell me. Anything, I'll be here I promise. Please." Max urged as he pulled her back enough so that she could see the concern and love in his eyes.

The tormented look on her face was making him desperate. He wanted, no needed to take away any doubts or pain that she had. With that in mind, Max leaned down and gave her the softest, gentlest kiss and then hugged her back to him. "Please." He requested again.

Liz sobbed and then spoke softly, "Oh Max...... Can you ever forgive me?" With that she cried harder until her bod was racked with tremors and she could barely breath. All Max could do was hold her tighter.
Love Will Find A Way
Written by: Carl Sturken/Evan Rogers
Performed by: Christina Agui

No one ever said
That love was gonna be easy
Gotta take the ups and downs the in-betweens
If you take this journey
Gotta give yourself completely
Never let nobody ever step on our dreams

You better stop
Listen to these words that I say
You better stop
Don't ya throw this good thing away
Put your trust in me
And I'll make you see

CHORUS:
No the rain won't last forever
Find a way to make it better
Long as we can stand together
Love will find a way
Gonna make a new tomorrow
Say goodbye to tears and sorrow
Better listen when I say
Love will find a way

Somebody tried to tell me
Love don't last forever
Said it only happens in your wildest dreams
After all is said and done
We're still here together
Never listened to the lies and jealousy

You better stop
Don't you let 'em turn you around
You better stop
Hang onto this love that we've found
Nothing that they say can stand in our way

Chorus

I want you, I need you
You know that I believe you
We got it, you know it
So if it's real, just show it
(repeat)

You better stop
Listen to these words that I say
You better stop
Don't ya throw this good thing away
Put your trust in me
And I'll make you see

Chorus (2X)

I want you, I need you
You know that I believe you
We got it, you know it
So if it's real, just show it
(repeat)

Chorus

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

~From Chapter 13~

Liz sobbed and then spoke softly, "Oh Max...... Can you ever forgive me?" With that she cried harder until her bod was racked with tremors and she could barely breath. All Max could do was hold her tighter.

*Chapter 14*

"Liz, whatever it is .... we'll get through it together." Max assured her pulling back enough to look into her eyes.

Realizing how she must appear, Liz straightened herself and released her death grip from Max. She was stronger than this, she assured herself. Wiping the tears from her eyes and straightening herself away from Max, Liz looked him in the eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm stronger than this." Liz stated with a weak smile.

Max sat stunned as Liz stood and walked to the double glass doors leading to the deck from the master suite. "Liz..." Max started but Liz shook herself indicating she needed a minute.

Turning to face him, Liz watched as Max stood. "I didn't mean to freak you out Max. I am stronger than this...it's just....I've lost so many people that I love. I...I couldn't help but thinking that you'd feel trapped or cornered or something. I don't want you to feel that way."

As Liz spoke softly, there seemed to be some recognition in Max as to what she was saying. Taking heart that he didn't look furious, Liz decided it was time to tell him. Standing where she was and hoping he didn't leave her or hate her for what she was about to say, Liz folded her hands in front of her. "Max. I know we haven't known each other that long. Hell, just a matter of days really and I want you to know that I don't expect anything from you."

Max interrupted Liz with a quick movement toward her and grabbing her hands. "What is it Liz? Please you don't have to be afraid to tell me anything."

"Max.....I'm pregnant." Liz stated then lowered her gaze to their hands. He didn't drop hers, merely held on tighter. With the slight pressure to her hands, Liz raised her eyes to meet his adoring ones. The love he had for her was shining brightly through his dark globes. He didn't hate her was all Liz could think. The hate wasn't in his eyes. He didn't appear to blame her either, that much was clear from the adoring look.

As he lowered himself down to one knee keeping her hands in his, Liz realized what he was about to do and began shaking her head. "Max, no...I don't want you to feel as though...."

Before she could continue her thoughts, Max pulled a small velvet box out of his pocket and held it out to her. As Liz removed her hands from Max's and opened the box, she realized that he had this with him before she dropped her bomb.

"I love you. I have from the moment I first saw you in that coffee shop. I felt it then that we were meant to be together. We were meant to raise a family, Liz. I'm not using this as an excuse or anything of the sort but maybe it could be one of the numerous reasons that I know this is right. I don't regret it for a minute. I don't blame you at all. It takes two. I can't say that I wouldn't have wanted to wait a little while...until after we were married and a little more settled, but it is a blessing. One I will take with open arms. Please don't think that having our child is the only reason I would want to spend the rest of my life with you, because it is not." Max took the ring in one hand and Liz's left hand in the other.

"Elizabeth Parker, I feel as though I've known and loved you a lifetime already. I would be the luckiest and happiest man in the universe if you would become my wife. Will you marry me, Liz?" Max's voice cracked as he awaited her response.

Liz's eyes welled with tears. She couldn't speak yet, she knew that without even trying. The tears began to roll from her eyes and she could think of but one thing she wanted to do. Using Max's hand as a leveraging tool, Liz knelt in front of Max and pressed her body to his in a sweeping hug and then pressed an unsteady kiss to his lips. As she began kissing his face through her tears, Liz managed to say "I ....(kiss).... love....(kiss)....you...(kiss)....with....(kiss) ....all....(kiss)....my.....(kiss)....heart!" Then pressed her lips to Max's in a passionate embrace.

Still a little unsure of himself in all the emotion swimming around, Max pulled back enough to take Liz's face in his hands. Holding her still, Max focused on her eyes that he could drown in. "Is that a yes?" He asked softly.

Liz nodded her head slowly as a smile tugged at both their lips. "Yes, Max. I will marry you." With that, Liz held her ring hand steady as Max slipped the ring on her finger. The ring itself was unique. It was a pear shaped diamond with uniquely cut sapphires, rubies and emeralds outlining it and mounted on a simple band. When Max had seen it that afternoon in the jewelry store he knew it was Liz. It was not only a mix of traditional and contemporary but of her many sides. She was a lady, a worrier, a lover and soon to be a mother. The ring symbolized all the different aspects of her.

After taking a moment to bask in the happiness, Max stood pulling Liz to her feet. "We should get ready. The others will be wondering why we're holding up the fun."

"Yeah, we should definitely not make them wait. In fact, we probably should conserve time and resources." With a smug grin, Liz tugged Max out of the bedroom and down to her room.

After entering the room and shutting the door, Max pulled Liz flush to his body. "I think I like the way you think, soon-to-be Mrs. Evans."

"I think I like the sound of that, and I think I like the way you think to Mr. Evans." Liz continued to run her hands up around his neck and through his hair as she spoke in her haughty southern bell accent.

"So, what exactly did you have in mind by the way of conservation?" Max inquired with a raised eyebrow.

"Something along the lines of a buddy system." Liz began.

"Buddy system?" Max asked almost confused.

"Yeah, something like you wash my back and I'll wash yours." Liz finished with a small kiss to his cheek and then pulled herself away from him and headed to the bathroom.

Before she made it through the doorway, Max lifted her up until she was cradled in his arms. "Yes, I definitely like the way you think."

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

After getting ready for the ‘surprise' that Liz has in store for them, Maria and Michael along with Isabelle and Alex sat in the den waiting for Liz and Max to join them.

"So do you know how bad she scared me?" Maria whined.

"Yes, but I'm sure you're going to tell us again." Alex smirked.

"It's just that I was so scared and she wouldn't even tell me what the doctor said. She wouldn't say anything." Maria complained again.

"Maria, she will. Give her time. You know Liz, she likes her privacy and her time to sort through things on her own. She always tells us everything in her own time." Alex assured Maria.

Isabelle scooted further into Alex's side in a half reassuring motion. Alex was sitting with his arm draped across the couch behind Isabelle. It was a gesture that she didn't think he even recognized as possessive or affectionate. Oh, how she wished he would just kiss her already. Why was he taking forever? Is wondered.

Although Alex didn't recognize the gesture, Maria surely did. She wondered what the deal was there and decided it was time to find out straight from the horses mouth. "So, Alex why don't you help me get some drinks while we await the slow pokes."

With a bit of a confused look Alex agreed by standing and heading toward the kitchen with Maria.

~~~~~~~~

After the long and fairly tiring shower, Liz sat on her bed rubbing lotion on her cleanly shaven legs. What a surprise it was to learn that a simple act like shaving her legs could be so sensual and arousing when assisted by the man of her dreams. While Liz was pampering herself with her favorite vanilla bean lotion, Max was cozy in the bathroom with just a towel tied around his waist shaving at the sink. It just seemed so right. They were already so in tune with one another and the simple little intimate routines of every day life.

While her mind wondered, Liz looked around the room at what was always her favorite place. Her room always reminded her of her wonderful, fun filled childhood here in the mountains. Liz's roaming eyes landed on the large manila envelope that Conner had given her the night before. Without really thinking about it, Liz retrieved the envelope and sat back on her bed. She opened it and poured the contents on the bed spread.

The envelope contained pictures of the crash remains, the orbital shots taken from a roaming satellite, the various reports of the FAA investigators, the reports of the tower people and ground people who assisted with any part of the flight itself and the before and after care of the helicopter for her father.

Sorting through the contents is how Max found her. He stood in the doorway not wanting to disturb her while she took time to see for herself that she should trust the officials' judgment on this. She needed to go on with her life, with him, without the looming doubts that were now plaguing her.

While he studied her face, Liz studied the chemical reports. Something she knew something and everything about. After all, she was a biologist by trade, a microbiologist. She knew the components like any chemist would for most any chemical elements. She knew what made everything what it was. She also knew from her training with the exclusive team that she was assigned to what it took to blow things up and make it look like an accident. She knew what it would take to make an explosion that was untraceable. It was this knowledge that had her scouring the lab reports. The low levels of some fluids that were attributed to the ‘after' crash leaks and the high levels of others that could have contributed to the crash itself. Nothing was adding up. The reports were genuine, of that she was sure. What she wasn't so sure of is why everyone was overlooking something so obvious.

The change in her countenance had Max a little worried. He studied people for a living. He was, after all, in the game of gambling. You had to be good at bluffs among other things when dealing with corporate mergers. Something he was sure of is how closely guarded people could be in public but how easy to read they could be when they didn't think they were being watched. Liz obviously didn't realize he was studying her. Her expression was more than clear. She had found something that wasn't adding up.

~~~~~~

Doug sat on a plane heading from LA to Aspen. The information that he had obtained from various outside sources were things he felt Liz needed to be presented with in person. He wanted to see how she reacted to the news he had. Could she forgive him for intruding into her extremely secretive personal life? Would she see past the prying and sneaking around? The lying he had done? Would the end results he had be enough to show her that it wasn't meant to harm her? These questions would be answered soon enough he mused. Knowing how much Liz meant to his dear friend and how much all of his god-children mean to him was what had kept him from running to her immediately with his suspicions. Maybe it won't be too late for her to see the truth.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:16:44 PM
So Emotional
Written by: Franne Gold/Tom Snow
Performed by: Christina Agui

It's either black or white, that's right
We're makin love or we're in a fight
Sometimes you make me so blue

But then it feels so good, I knew it would
You know the things that make me crazy
I want to give it to you

Chorus:
You make me feel so emotional
I can't let go I'm so emotional
I'm sinking fast into an ocean full of you
I'm so emotional

You take me high and low, you know
I'm never sure which way you're gonna go
You're such a mystery to me

But baby hot or cold, you got a hold
Of my imagination
I think you know what I mean

Chorus

Rain is falling down on me
Suddenly the sun comes out
Sometimes north or south of love
But never out

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

*Chapter 15*

When Maria was able to get Alex alone in the kitchen, she began observing his every move. Could he be in love with Isabel? He looks so happy. There is definitely something in his eyes I haven't seen before. HMMM. What are you doing? Why are you just not asking? Maria scolded herself for driving herself insane trying to figure out her best friend. First with Liz acting so strange and being sick all of the sudden, and now with Alex and his feelings.

"So....I was wondering what the deal between you and Isabel is?" Maria asked quietly.

"What?" Alex said being brought back to the present from his never ending fantasy of how Isabel would taste. He promised himself he would make that a reality shortly.

"I said....what is the deal with you and Max's sister?" Maria repeated a little more than irritated. Why did no one take her seriously? She just couldn't help but wonder.

"Oh. Um...well...what do you mean?" Alex asked hedging a little. He really wasn't sure what or how he felt about Isabel at the moment and really didn't want to discuss it with Maria right now.

"I mean, I see the way you two are looking at each other. If you don't give in and kiss pretty soon you'll both probably explode. What is going on Alex? I haven't known you to take so long to pounce on a woman. If I'm not mistaken Liz and me are the only girls in our graduating class you hadn't at least kissed." Maria pointed out with a smug smile.

"It's just different with her, you know. She is more than a pretty face and great body. I really don't want to screw this up." Remembering Maria's observations, Alex couldn't help but ask "so you think she really feels the same. I mean, the attraction. I thought maybe she just liked talking to me....you know....as a friend."

"I've seen that look....hell, I've given Michael that look on more than one hormonal attack occasion. It means KISS ME you FOOL!" Maria stated with a small chuckle. "I think you should definitely consider giving her what she most obviously wants, and soon."

"We'll see. Oh, and thanks Maria." Alex said softly with a smile and a light hug.

"Unhand my woman you scrawny little man." Michael said good naturedly as he came into the kitchen to see what was holding up the drinks.

With a playful look, Alex simply shook his head at Michael then added "she was mine first."

"We'll see about that." Michael said taking on a serious look and stepping toward Alex.

"Hey. What's going on?" Isabel demanded walking in on Michael's last comment.

"Nothing." Maria said hastily hoping Isabel didn't get the wrong impression.

Alex couldn't help but chuckle and walked to Isabel and enveloped her in a hug. "So were you jealous?" Alex wiggled his eyebrows at Isabel and then pulled back to see her huge smile. Yes, she was definitely going to explode if they didn't kiss soon. How could I not see the way she looks into my eyes with that adoration and a nice mixture of lust? Alex asked himself smugly.

~~~~~~~

"Liz? Is something wrong?" Max asked coming into the bedroom fully.

"Um...no." Liz said shuffling the papers back into the envelope and turning slightly too look at Max. He was only wearing a towel at his hips and his chest was bare. With a loving smile and shining eyes, Liz added "everything is just perfect."

"Oh, baby .... Don't cry." Max said coming to the bed and embracing Liz and pulling her onto his lap. As he began to rock back and forth, he absent mindedly stroked Liz's damp hair.

"I'm okay, Max. It's just when I saw you standing there....the first thing I thought of was this tiny little creature that's growing inside me. It's us...ours. It's a part of you and me. I just got this warm feeling and I just had the most overwhelming amount of love shoot straight through my heart. How can you love something so much and not even be able to touch it?"

"I don't know but every time I look at you...I can't help but think of what God I should pray to and thank for sending you to me. I love you and our baby." Max squeezed Liz gently then moved her back enough so that he could fist his hands in her hair, and bring his mouth to hers in the lightest of touches. Teasing just a bit with hot breath and the faintest touch, Max began to kiss Liz. Before he could deepen the kiss, there was a ringing sound.

Max pulled back and realized it was his cell phone. "Oh. I have to get that. I'm expecting an important call from the office. We'll have to finish this tonight, though. I'll just take it and go to my room and get dressed."

"Kay. I'll meet you downstairs." Liz slid off Max's lap and gave him one brief kiss before turning to the closet.

Max gathered his clothes and found his phone. "Evans." Max answered as he walked out of Liz's room and toward his own.

~~~~~~~~

Doug's plane landed and he was able to rent a nice four wheel drive truck. After loading his bags, he headed to the house he had visited so many times over the years. He just hoped Liz would be there when he arrived. What he had in his briefcase wouldn't wait. It couldn't. She might not realize the danger that led to her parents being killed.

The mad man who had been sending her father anonymous blackmail notes obviously wouldn't be satisfied until he got what he wanted. That meant only that Liz would be in danger. Even knowing she was probably the most capable young woman, he couldn't help but worry about her. She was one of his babies. He couldn't...no wouldn't allow anything to happen to her.

~~~~~~~~

The man began pacing his dark hotel room. Should he send her a little message? Would she even know it was her own father who was the reason she was to be caused so much pain? Would she believe that Daddy dearest had been such a monster? Time would tell. The one thing he promised himself was that she would know just what kind of man her father had been. She would pay for his sins. It was her that he loved enough to keep. The boy would be the key. He would be the one person to tie it all together. In time, the boy would know everything and then would he still feel the same about her? Unlikely the man mused. Highly unlikely.

~~~~~~

Jacob could only smile as he thought of how Liz was going to react to his little surprise. He was almost certain that she would cave in to her feelings for him and forget all about that snooty attorney. He was, after all, her first love. She couldn't have forgotten all that he had told her, promised her. She would always be the only woman for him. He knew that....now all he had to do was remind her. And if that gold digging jerk got in the way....well, he would just have to take care of him. The smile grew as his fantasy became dreamy. He couldn't help but think of punching ‘what's his name' in the nose, which would in turn show Liz just what a bad choice he was.

She was his. Would always be and he would prove it to anyone who got in his way. Even the man who thought there was the need for lies. Although he wasn't sure if he trusted him, the man made a good point. Helping to prove to Liz he loved her enough to find out exactly what happened to her family was all that really mattered. He would close that chapter of her life and begin a new one where they would make a family.
Come On Over (All I Want Is You)
Written by: Paul Rein/Johan Aberg
Performed by: Christina Aguilera

Come on over, come on over, baby (4X)

Hey boy, don't you know
I got something going on (yes, I do)
All my friends are gonna come
Gonna party all night long
I know, you know, I just want us to go
The fun we'll have, you'll never be alone
So boy, won't you come?
We will party 'til the dawn

Listen to me...

Chorus:
All I want is you
Come over here baby
All I want is you
You make me go crazy
All I want is you
Now baby don't be shy
You better cross the line
I'm gonna love you right
All I want is you...

Come on over, come on over, baby (2X)

I want you to know
You could be the one for me (yes you could)
You've got all I'm looking for
You've got personality
I know, you know
I'm gonna give you more
I know I've never felt this way before
So boy won't you come
Won't you come and open the door

Listen to me...

Chorus

Come on over, come on over, baby (5X)

Now baby don't be shy
You better cross the line
I'm gonna love you right
All I want is you...

***********************************************************************
*Chapter 16*

The soft light of the evening was just breaking through the double doors in Liz's room as she paced back and forth holding her cell phone in one hand and the lab report in the other. Max had taken his call and himself to his room to get ready for her ‘surprise' that she had told no one about yet. And here she was still in her robe wondering whether or not she should cancel her plans with her friends on this the most wonderful day of her life. Or it was the most wonderful until the pain shot through her heart when she discovered the minor fluid discrepancy everyone had overlooked. She was now to be a mother of her own and a wife. She has the most wonderful man and the greatest friends anyone could ask for. The problem she was having is whether she was being disloyal to her family that had died by enjoying all of this new found happiness.

Scolding herself, Liz threw the phone and paper down on the bed and stalked to her closet. After gathering clothes and fixing her hair and makeup, Liz returned to her bed. She sat down gingerly and took two calming breaths. Is this what they would want? Would they forgive me if I gave up and never knew the truth? What would Max think to know that with all my abilities and outer strength, inside I'm such a coward?

Closing her eyes briefly, Liz decided that it would always haunt her if she didn't at least try and with that picked up her phone and dialed a number she knew by heart. A number that had been her lifeline for so long it was hard to remember a time when she couldn't turn to him.

As Liz heard the all to familiar voice on the other end, she sighed with relief. At least she wouldn't have to carry this part of the burden alone.

"Liz?" The voice of concern echoed in the phone.

~~~~~~~~~~~

After Max was securely behind his bedroom door, he ran a hand through his still damp hair. That was just a little too close for comfort. What would Liz think if she knew he was checking up on one of her closest friends? Would she be angry with him or flattered with his degree of concern? Max was not ready to have those answers yet. This was the best day of his life and he wasn't about to let anyone ruin that for him.

The man on the other end of the line waited patiently for the signal to continue his update.

"So, what did you find on our friend Jacob?" Max asked in a mock cheerfulness, then began to dress for the evening out with his friends.

"Uh. Huh. So, are you going to be able to look further into that?" Max asked.

"Uh. Huh. And when you find out just call me here. I want to know everything about this." Max stated as he shut the flip phone and turned toward the door. Well, well. It seems our good friend Jacob isn't exactly who he appears to be. Pondering a minute, Max wondered if Liz had any idea who Jacob really is. He couldn't help the pang of hurt when he though of how she might react. Clearing his thoughts, Max headed down the staircase to find the others.

~~~~~~~~~~~

"What is taking them so long?" Maria complained from the sofa in the den.

"I don't even want to know." Alex added with a smirk.

"Don't even go there. We are still talking about my brother here." Isabel stated with mock disgust.

"Well, I'll go check on Max. Maria, you go check on Liz." Michael said pulling Maria to her feet and heading to the stairs.

Just as they were about to ascend the stairs, Max was at the top of the stairs. He tried to place a soft smile on his lips as he reached the others.

"It is about time." Maria stated huffily, then realized she was talking to her boss and put on a smile to try to indicate she was just teasing.

"Sorry. I had a business call. Is Liz down yet?" Max replied.

"Not yet. I'm just going to head up and check on her." Maria said as she passed Max and headed straight for her best friends room.


~~~~~~~~~~~

At the door to Liz's bedroom, Maria was stopped by the sound of Liz's voice.

"So, you see you were right. Now I need to find out who had access." Liz heating up to her topic began to as she tried to put it into logical steps in her mind.

"Uh. Huh." Liz spoke.

"I see." Liz answered.

"Well, if we could just figure out the motive I'm sure the who and the means would fall into place." Liz continued.

After a few more noises of ascent and descent, Maria knocked softly on the door and opened it. Seeing Liz on the phone staring out the patio doors, Maria walked over and sat on the bed. The manila envelope was still laying on the bed and Maria, always being comfortable with anything that had to do with Liz, peeked inside. After doing so, she quickly realized her mistake. The pictures of the crashed helicopter brought to life all of the pain and fear that Liz and herself had shared immediately after it happened. Before a sob could break, Maria quickly placed her hand over her mouth. She replaced the envelope in its place on the bed as Liz turned around.

Not sensing Maria come in, Liz jumped a little when seeing Maria. Oh, no. How long had she been there? What did she hear? Your losing your touch Parker. No matter how personal you shouldn't lose your senses - isn't that what Connor always told you. Liz offered a weak smile and then proceeded to end the phone call.

"Well, I'll be in touch. You just see what you can find out for me, okay?" Liz said cryptically.

"Yeah, you too. Bye." Liz closed the cell phone and turned to Maria.

"So, how long you been sitting there?" Liz said with a mock frown on her face. She really couldn't feel anger toward Maria when they had always shared everything. Well, everything but the fact that Liz was a secret agent and did a lot of spy type things. Other than that, Maria now knew everything there was to know about Liz and always seemed to understand.

"Not long. The natives are restless and ready to go. So, who was on the phone?" Maria asked trying to not sound as if she was prying.

"Just something to do with work." Liz said with a straight face but hoped the guilt of the half-truth wasn't showing on her face.

Feeling hurt, Maria stood and turned to the door. She just couldn't understand what was going on with Liz. They shared everything, didn't they?

Liz sensing Maria's mood thought she should do something to make her feel included in her life. After all, Maria was always there for her when she needed someone.

"Maria....." Liz started and touched her arm gently.

Turning to face Liz, Maria's look of hurt was hard to disguise. "It's not a problem, Liz. I just thought that you were my best friend. That we didn't have secrets from each other."

"Maria... you know if I could tell you I would. It's just sometimes I can't tell you things until after the fact. It isn't meant to hurt you. But...." Liz explained and then hoped Max wouldn't be angry with her for telling Maria.

Seeing the change in Liz's countenance, Maria softened. "What is it?"

"Sit with me a minute?" Liz asked and then walked over to the bed.

"Yeah?" Maria prompted a little anxious now that she saw the ring that Liz had obviously been trying to hide.

"Max and I haven't really talked about who, how or when we were going to tell people, but I can't stand that look of ‘if you can't tell me, who can you tell' on your face. Maria, we're getting married." Liz said as tears sprang to her eyes. She wanted to tell her the other part of this good news but thought that was definitely something her and Max should discuss first.

"Oh...." Maria sobbed as she grabbed Liz in a fierce hug. "I always cry at weddings." Maria murmered.

"But this isn't a wedding." Liz tried to say through tears of her own.

"I ...know....." Maria hiccuped and then pulled Liz back enough to see her face. "Is this what you want?"

"Yes. Very much." Liz answered softly.

"Then I wish you both much happiness. Now let me see that ring." Maria beamed as she took Liz's hand.

"Isn't it just spectacular?" Liz asked.

"Beautiful. Just beautiful." Maria said staring at the ring when a sharp pain of envy engulfed her heart.

~~~~~~~~~~

Just minutes later, the entire gang was piled into the jeep. Max was driving with Liz in the passenger seat. Isabel, Alex and Michael were in the back seat with Maria on Michael's lap.

"So.....where we headed?" Max beamed at Liz as he took her hand.

"Well....I thought we might start with dinner." Liz started. Then she turned a bit to smile at everyone in the back. "I sort of took it upon my self to make reservations for us at our favorite place."

As realization dawned on her, Maria squealed with delight. "Jenkins' fun house?"

Liz just smiled and nodded.

"But Liz, won't it be crowded with a bunch of kids?" Alex complained. He never would get to play all the games he wanted if there was a line of kids.

"Nope. I sort of own it now and it just happens to be closed for the night." Liz said with a sincere face and serious tone.

"I see." Alex decided to play the game.

"Oh, yeah. You know. When they wouldn't agree to reserve the whole place for the night, I just had to buy it." Liz continued with the serious face.

"I see. And what exactly do you want with a fun house?" Max asked trying to break into the game.

"Well, I figured since we would all eventually be having kids and be vacationing up here....well, the kids might enjoy having their very own playhouse." Liz beamed a knowing smile at Max before she moved quickly to give him a sweet kiss on the cheek.

"Oh...." Maria said as she started crying.

"Maria?" Liz said with concern.

"Maria, what is it?" Michael asked concerned.

"Nothing." Maria sniffled.

"You told her?" Max asked softly.

"No. Well, yes. I mean not what your thinking." Liz whispered.

"What are you two whispering about?" Isabel demanded with a knowing smile. She had already seen Liz's ring. It was hard to miss something so uniquely beautiful.

"Nothing." Max returned. Then shot a disappointed glance at Liz. He had hoped they could tell everyone together. Make some sort of announcement together. But it was Maria, and she was Liz's best friend. And just what did ‘no...well, yes' mean? What did she tell her?

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

As Doug pulled into the driveway of the Aspen home, so many memories surfaced. Liz as a little girl throwing snowballs at her father. Everyone laughing and making snow angels. He was lucky to have been a part of that. He was lucky to have such wonderful god-children.

Just as he put his rental into park, his phone rang. "Yes?" Doug answered.

"So, I see. Have you got a name for him yet? But you have traced him to a specific time frame?" Doug asked.

"When you do call me immediately." Doug hung up the phone and thought of the forward progress they had made. They now knew that he was somewhere in Aspen. He obviously believed that there was a man here with Parker blood running through veins and was going to make sure that someone payed for that. And his target for that payback was Elizabeth Parker.

~~~~~~~~

Connor entered his hotel room and sat down with a sigh. For some reason since he had last saw Liz he couldn't help but feel that he should stay around and protect her. Even though he was sure the paperwork he'd given her would prove that her parent's crash was an accident, the nagging pain in his gut had him staying. He would watch out for her. There was something that just wasn't right. He could sense that something was going to happen. He just had to make sure he was there to be a part of it.

~~~~~~~~

Jacob entered the house to find another note from his father waiting on the fridge. He had more business and didn't know when or if he would be in that night. Jacob couldn't help but feel disappointed that Triston had forgotten another dinner date with him. Although he worried about how overworked and stressed his father was getting taking care of the Parker businesses here in Aspen, he couldn't help but feel a little left out. The only thing he was allowed to help with was the lodge and even that was limited.

And after receiving the last piece of news regarding the Parker's deaths, Jacob began to worry more about the danger that being involved with their businesses could cause. And just why did he have to meet with the investigator? But, on the other hand, it did enable him the chance meeting with Liz. And if his dad could be in danger that meant Liz probably was too. Okay, thinking to much J. Anger is what is needed. He stood you up again without so much as a call. And just where was he? I went around to all the businesses and he wasn't at any of them. And talking to yourself is going to help? Shaking off his thoughts, Jacob grabbed a beer and headed to the living room to watch a game on satellite.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:21:00 PM
AFFIRMATION
By: Savage Ga

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low esteem
I believe I'm loved when I'm completely by myself alone
I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye
I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires
I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye
I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity
I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other sideI believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

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

* Chapter 17*


The sunlight spears through the glass double doors in the guest room Doug was given the night before. He tried waiting up for Liz and the others but his travel fatigue and stress got the best of him. Judy was nice enough to settle him in a room before retiring for the evening. He also was given the chance to speak with Mrs. Smithson for a while to get a feel for how Liz was handling being back here. This place holds a lot of memories for everyone...especially Liz.

Shaking off what was left of sleep, Doug rose to get a shower and an early start on talking with Liz.

~~~~~~~~~

The sunlight made the ring on her hand sparkle like a disco globe. The warmth of the body laying next to her brought an incredibly arousing feeling to her system. She turned to study the features of the man beside her. Her future husband. The father of her child.

In the moments of studying his face, Maria began replaying the events of the night before with a dreamy smile on her face.

After eating pizza and playing various games, Michael decided it was time to pop the question. The ring in his pocket was burning a hole and seeing how happy Max and Liz were, his envy got the best of him. That was the kind of happiness he wanted with Maria.

"So slick, wanna play with my balls?" Michael asked tugging Maria along to the giant play area filled with colorful plastic balls. Kicking off his shoes, he reached down and took Maria's off while she clung to his shoulder. Laughing he pulled Maria through the little tunnel that led to the netted play room.

Maria was laughing so hard that she couldn't stand up. She kept falling into the balls and seeing the smug look on Michael's face she couldn't help but throw a few balls at him. Before she realized it, Michael had tackled her and dug them into the balls until they were covered up to their head.

The others gathered around the netting watching the two playing and laughed with them in good fun. Then Maria's hand shot up through the balls in a triumphant cry she squealed, "Oh, look what I found." Maria held a velvet box up and struggled into a sitting position. Michael watched (as did the others) as she opened the box and the smile dissolved on her face.

"This is the most beautiful ring. Why would it be in here? How could someone let this out of their site?" Maria went on in awe.

"I wouldn't say someone did. Do you like it?" Michael asked knowing the answer that was written on her face.

"What?" Maria asked finally breaking eye contact with the ring and looking at Michael. His face gave nothing away.

"I asked if you like it?"

"Yeah. I mean, it's gorgeous. Unique. That makes me wonder ....." Maria trailed off realizing that Michael was now smiling smugly.

Taking her hand, Michael swallowed hard. "Maria, I've pretty much loved you all my life. We've always been good together. I think we make a great team. Maria. Will you marry me?"

The color drained from her face. Not knowing it Maria's hand dropped the ring and sprang to her mouth. The tears swam into her eyes and she began trembling. "I.....Michael....you know...I can't do this, you don't know. I can't." With that Maria scrambled to get out of the balls and forgetting her shoes ran straight for the restroom.

Michael sat devastated. He was so sure the timing was right. She would say yes. But she didn't.

"Michael." Liz began but one look from him and she knew she could say nothing to change the rejection he was feeling.

Not sure what to do next, Alex looked at Liz. "I'll go."

"No. I will. You take care of him." And with that Liz shot one hopeful look at Max and walked to the bathroom.

After entering, Liz immediately heard the heart wrenching sobs. "Maria." Liz said quietly.

"Liz...I can't talk....about this...right...now." Maria said between her tears.

"Maria, you can't mean to never marry him. You know he loves you. He won't hurt you. I mean, you've practically been living as man and wife for years." Liz went to the far stall because the door was cracked a bit and opened it gently. Maria sat on the toilet seat with her face in her hands. Liz tugged her up and pulled her from the stall with little effort.

Once Liz was able to wrap herself around Maria in a reassuring hug, she decided tough love was needed. "Okay. Now stop this and tell me what's going on. I know you. You love him as much as he does you. You wouldn't hurt him like this."

"Oh wouldn't I?" Maria retorted getting fired up with self disgust.

"No, you wouldn't." Liz was detoured by the fire in Maria's eyes.

"A lot you know. I did didn't I. He'll never look at me again." With frustration and disgust as motivators, Maria began to pace.

Liz knowing now that she was fired up Maria would spill everything, just stood back and watched the fireworks.

"He wouldn't have asked me if I had told him earlier. He doesn't know. I couldn't tell him. See, Liz, your best friend is nothing but a coward. A disgusting coward. He would leave just like my father did. Only this is different because my mother was carrying another man's child." Maria continued to pace while Liz merely looked at her in shock. Liz knew that Maria's parents had problems but didn't realize the reason they fought was adultery.

Seeing the look on Liz's face made Maria ashamed. She should have probably told her sooner but Liz hadn't felt enough for her to explain her own father's little affair. It had been the gossip that Maria had overheard that filled in the why's of Liz leaving for college so soon.

"Maria, I..."Liz began but one steely look from Maria shut her up.

"You see, I suspected but didn't say anything to him. I didn't know how he would feel since we've never talked about it. I didn't want to lose him or make him feel trapped. What's he gonna think when he finds out I've known for a month and didn't tell him. That I was afraid he'd leave me if I told him?" Maria's look of defeat broke Liz's heart.

"He'll still love you. You and Michael are not your parents. You will work this out. He wants to marry you. He'll want a family. You can't let this defeat you guys." Liz took tissue and wiped Maria's tears away. She placed a smile on her face and turned Maria into the mirror. Standing behind her, Liz looked at their reflection in the mirror. "I'm pregnant. I don't think Max will like that I'm telling you first and without him but he'll get over it. I love you. I want us to remember that no matter what we always have each other."

Maria's tears began again and made Liz start. "I love you too." Turning quickly, Maria engulfed Liz in a hug as the door to the bathroom swung open.

"I am not taking no for an answer! I will not allow you to compare them to us!" Michael shouted as he entered the ladies restroom unannounced.

The girls broke away and stared at normally mild tempered Michael in shock. Then one look at each other had them in giggles.

"I don't think this is one damn bit funny!" Michael roared.

The girls sobered quickly. "I'm just gonna..." Liz said as she began walking toward the door.

After she closed the door behind her, Liz sighed to herself knowing that they would work things out. Her and Maria were going to do what they had always dreamed of doing...being pregnant together.

After the door closed, Maria put a hard look on her face but it didn't exactly reach her eyes which remained vulnerable. "I see."

"Don't go all high and mighty on me. I deserve better than that. I deserve to know why you would throw away what we have...what we could have because of fear." Michael leaned against the wall defeated.

Not saying anything and walking up to him, Maria stared at his closed eyes. After only a moments hesitation, Maria cleared her throat. "Michael, I'm pregnant."

After the words registered, Michael's eyes shot open. "What?"

"You heard me. Now you know. I've known for about a month. I was afraid to tell you. I guess I was afraid you wouldn't want us .... I know it's an excuse but I kept picturing my parents and didn't want that to be us. There are differences I know but it still haunts me. I'll understand if you walk away. We'll be fine. I won't ask you for a thing."

"You won't ask me for a thing?" Michael said in a cold steel tone.

"You know what I mean. We haven't talked about this. Are we ready to raise a child together?" Maria closed her eyes as the tears threatened.

In an instant they reopened as hands were gripping her arms and she was swung up against the wall that Michael had previously been leaning against. It wasn't done hard but in a manner in which there was no doubt Michael was angry.

"Do you really think so little of me? Do you think you would tell me that we've made a child and I would walk out on you? Have I given you reason to believe that I would?" The tone of Michael's voice left no room for arguments from Maria. So she gave none. She merely nodded her head as the tears flowed.

"Michael, you're hurting me." Maria managed knowing she deserved whatever he gave her.

As if branded by fire, Michael dropped his hands and tucked them in his pocket. "I'm sorry. I would never hurt you intentionally." Closing his eyes he shook his head.

"I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you." Maria said quietly.

"Oh, baby. Don't cry. I'm sorry. I just...well damn it I'm tired of you comparing us to them. We're not. You're not your mother. You wouldn't do what she did. I wouldn't give you reason to. I love you. I know you love me. I want to marry you Maria. I know somewhere in that head of yours you know it's right."

"Are you saying you can forgive me for not telling you sooner? That you want this baby." The hope that crept in Maria's voice surprised them both.

"You know I do. As for you telling me, well I'll write it off as fear as long as you never...and I mean never...keep anything from me again." Michael began rubbing his hands up and down Maria's arms as much to sooth himself as her.

"Liz is pregnant." Maria spurted out before thinking about it.

"What?" Michael said on a laugh.

"You said never and I won't ruin it. I won't ruin our marriage, Michael. I won't."

"I know, baby. I know." Taking Maria into his arms, he cradled her head on his shoulder rocking back and forth.

After a few minutes, he was able to pull back enough to take the ring out of his pocket.

"This is yours." Michael said as he pulled the ring from the box and held it up. Maria put her hand out and Michael slipped on the ring.

"I love you." Maria said quietly as she stared at the ring then Michael.

"I love you too. Always."


The movement beside her had Maria smiling. With only one mission in mind, she began an exploration under the sheets. On a sigh of pleasure she straddled Michael and began to make slow, lazy love to the man of her dreams.

~~~~~~~~

While Maria was making Michael's dreams come true, the man in the dark hotel began his plotting. The truth had to come out and it had to happen soon. No one would believe he had a hand in it. His connection with the family has always been secure. No one would ever believe that he was capable of murder. Although he was. He always had been. He had been trained many, many years ago to do the job and do it with as little trace to him or his organization as possible. Feeling all too often interfered with plans. That's why all those he thought he might have felt for her as he saw her as a child had to be extinguished now. Elizabeth Parker was a tool. His tool. Without her around there was no stopping what should have been rightfully his nephews.

His sister would be proud that he was helping her son. Even though she had given up on life didn't mean that he had to watch her son not develop into someone. And who was going to be standing there with him when it happened? Him. With that happy, greedy thought in mind, the man turned back to his notes and photos. First things first.....eliminate the trust.
Truly Madly Deeply
By: Savage Garden

I'll be your dream
I'll be your wish I'll be your fantasy
I'll be your hope I'll be your love
Be everything that you need
I'll love you more with every breath
Truly, madly, deeply do
I will be strong I will be faithful
'cause I'm counting on
A new beginning
A reason for living
A deeper meaning
I want to stand with you
a mountain
I want to bathe with you in the sea
I want to lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me
And when the stars are shining
brightly in the velvet sky,
I'll make a wish send it to heaven
Then make you want to cry
The tears of joy for all the
pleasure in the certainty
That we're surrounded by the
comfort and protection of
The highest powers
In lonely hours
The tears devour you
I want to stand with you
a mountain
I want to bathe with you in the sea
I want to lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me
Oh can you see it baby?
You don't have to close your eyes'Cause it's standing right here
before you
All that you need will surely come
I'll be your dream I'll be your wish
I'll be your fantasy
I'll be your hope I'll be your love
Be everything that you need
I'll love you more with every breath
Truly, madly, deeply do
I want to stand with you a
mountain
I want to bathe with you in the sea
I want to lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

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

*Chapter 18*

Smiling to herself, Liz stepped back into the bedroom as quietly as possible. She had slipped from the bed without waking Max and gotten her shower. She hoped to have a few minutes to study him sleeping now, but she knew immediately that he was awake and staring out the window even though his body was turned away from her.

"Morning." Liz said softly as she walked to the bed and snuggled up against Max. Her hair wrapped in a towel and the terry cloth robe.

Smiling Max reached for Liz's hands that had made their way around him. "Morning."

Giving themselves time to bask in the moment, neither said nothing about this being their last day here. It was almost time to go back and face the real world and all the things that held.

~~~~~~~~~~

In a room not so far down the hall, Isabelle awoke to a warm sensation sprinkling up her spine. The memories of the evening before dancing in her head like a fairy tale. Alex was the most wonderful, tenderhearted man she knew. She couldn't help but feel something more than mere lust for him. It seemed as though they were meant to be together. They talked easily, they obviously were attracted to one another, and without a doubt they did something else very well indeed.......

On a moan, Isabelle arched up meeting Alex's hungry mouth with her body. It was the most amazing feeling that she hadn't felt with anyone else. It was as if her body was a temple and he was only there to worship.

Without breaking contact with her skin, Alex maneuvered his mouth from one breast to the other. Suckling and reveling in the feeling that he had every right to do this to the most glorious creature created. She had taken his breath away the night before with her subtle hints of a kiss which led to there breaking away from the group after returning to take a dip in the hot tub. They had barely made it from the tub to the sauna before hormones took over. It wasn't exactly how he pictured their first encounter. Certainly she deserved better but when she only sighed dreamily after and began the arousal again, he knew without a doubt he was in love with her.

Amused by the thought now but certainly scared to death at the realization last night, Alex had fought nerves when she followed him back to his room. It was an unspoken agreement that she would stay the night with him here. Of course sleep didn't come easily or early after two more bouts of what is indescribable sex. He wanted more now. He wanted it slow, lazy and full of tenderness. He couldn't explain why but the urgency of the evening before needed to be smoothed over with feelings of tenderness today.

Alex made his way lower kissing her trembling stomach. With a kiss on each side of her silky thighs, Alex adjusted their position to allow him more access to her. Without hesitation or permission, he delved in like a man who had been without water in the desert for weeks. She was his oasis. He needed to drink up every drop of her.

He was rewarded with thrusts and moans and madness. He could see her eyes cloud and the feeling that he could do that to her was all empowering. As she arched to meet him and the liquid flowed at her climax, Alex began his journey back up her body. Slow and tormenting, he aroused again to the peak just as he slipped into her with one fluid move.

He set the pace at a crawl hoping to enjoy the lingering feelings of love that swept through him at the mere sight of her. Her hair was tussled, her eyes half closed and clouded, and her lips slightly parted. The look on her face was dreamy. She brought her arms around him to tangle in his hair and with arms that were stronger than he thought. She pulled his mouth to hers and with one final thrust he caught her cry of ecstacy with his.

~~~~~~~~~

Jacob awoke with a start out of his dream of Liz. In the dream they were together but something was pulling her away from him. She was screaming for his help but he did nothing. His father was there and some other people he couldn't recognize. Triston had asked him to let her go. For some reason, Jacob had done as he was told. In the dream, Jacob watched as Liz was taken from him. It pained him even now that he was awake. His love for her was strong so why would his subconscious make him betray her like that?

Taking a couple deep breaths, Jacob got up from the bed and made his way down the hall. He needed coffee and to talk with his dad. But when he realized that no coffee was brewing and didn't hear Triston singing to himself as was his usual way of making breakfast, Jacob went to his room. The bed hadn't been slept in nor had Triston been home he soon discovered. Where in the hell was he when he needed him? It wasn't like him not to come home at all.

On a frustrated groan, Jacob set out to make coffee and calls. He wasn't worried. Not yet....
I Feel For You
Sung by: Lila McCann
(written by: Buddy Brock/Shara John
We keep running into each other
You keep talkin' about your lover
How it's fallin' apart
And she's breaking your heart
Well I hate to see you hurtin'
And I'm sorry that it's not working
What do you want from me
You've got my sympathy
Chorus
I feel for you
Oh I Feel for you
I know what it's like
To reach out at night
For someone to hold onto
I feel for you
Since you left me for someone new
Don't come to me now
When you know how
I feel for you

I could easily be persuaded
To take you back but I'm too afraid it'd
Hurt me even more than it did before
And it'd be the same old story
You'd leave another heartache for me
Oh how I wish I could help
But I've got to think of myself
Chorus
******************************************************************************

* Chapter 19*

Jacob finished his third cup of coffee and seventh phone call simultaneously. From what he could gather, Triston wasn't at any of the businesses around Aspen. No one had seen him since early yesterday morning. According to his assistant, the last phone call he received was from Liz. And just what would he be talking to her about? Jacob wondered.

Sitting looking out the window at the glistening snow, Jacob couldn't help but ponder on Liz's reaction to his surprise this morning. He knew she loved pretty things so this should give him the little boost in making her understand they were meant to be together.

~~~~~~~~~~

Connor dressed for the day in casual clothes. While he waited to hear back from his intelligence officer in the department, he was determined to do a little snooping on his own. Even though he was told over and over how the Parker's deaths were accidents and the documents he was given supposedly proved that, he wanted answers as to why Liz would think otherwise. There had to be answers here in this snug little ski town. Parker lived her for years just prior to his death. There had to be some sign if anyone would have wished him harm. So while he was waiting on a clue as to why he felt he couldn't leave Liz, Conner was going to do a little snooping of his own.

~~~~~~~~~~

Marcus St. Johns was walking into his cozy office in the Parker's snow lodge. He had been working there for well over five years in a managerial position, and two years prior to that as a clerk. Life was good as far as he could see it. He had all he could ever ask for, well, except for the money to buy the lodge outright. Of course he doubted the newest Parker in charge would sell it. That could change, he thought solemnly. It was his life's dream to own a ski lodge, especially here in Aspen.

After setting down his coffee and booting up his computer, Marcus began thinking back to the strange instructions he was given by Triston - the Parker's man who ran things here in Aspen. Apparently Triston was going to be out of touch for a few days and wanted to make sure that any problems were addressed directly to Ms. Parker. That was new. If ever Triston was out of town, which was almost never, Marcus always spoke with their attorneys in LA.

When his assistant knocked on the door and brought in the morning mail, Marcus began sorting through what was important. Of course, his assistant had already weeded out reservations, etc. but being management, he tended to receive invitations for all kinds of organizations wanting him to join. Flipping through, a hand-written note labeled ‘PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL' struck him as odd. It was addressed to him but there was no return address. With a little hesitation, Marcus opened the letter and began reading.

~~~~~~~~~~

Liz didn't want to move. She wanted to stay just as they were snuggled warmly together. Sensing her mood, Max rolled until they were face-to-face.
"When we get back. Are we staying at your place or mine?" Max asked quietly.

"Mine. It's bigger and I can't wait to see you in my bed." Liz said with a sheepish grin.

"You know, I think that people who say it is impossible to fall in love at first sight. Well, I think they truly haven't ever felt love. I knew from the first moment our eyes met in the coffee shop that you were it for me. I wasn't sure how to go about making it happen, but I guess fate worked it out for us." Max ended his speech with a kiss to Liz's nose.

"I know what you mean. I love you Max. I love our baby." Liz stated laying one hand gently over her stomach. Liz's eyes glistened with emotion but she had a sweet smile pasted to her face.

"I love you. And I think if I don't go get a shower, we're never leaving this bed." Max smiled and kissed Liz full on the lips. Then on a sigh he made his way off the bed and into the shower.

~~~~~~~~~~

After spending the much needed time to recuperate from their most recent exploration of each other, Isabelle snuggled closer to Alex.

"I know we should get up and see whatever wants to do - this being our last day, but I wanna be selfish." Isabelle pouted.

"I know, but just look at it this way......since we found each other again - well, we'll be able to spend more time like this if you want." Alex stammered.

Thinking he was so cute when he was unsure of himself, Isabelle maneuvered herself to where she could kiss him. "I'm not letting you go this time." She whispered into his lips.

"Me neither." Alex managed before groaning and rolling onto Is again.

On a laugh, Isabelle managed to bite at Alex's bottom lip just as he plunged into her. The laugh quickly died down and turned into desire. Just how are they going to make it anywhere if they can't get enough of each other? Isabelle wondered.

~~~~~~~~~~

Maria couldn't help but smile at the goofy grin on Michael's face. How happy could two people be, she wondered. The dreams she never thought they could have were finally coming true. They would marry. She would be a wife, he a husband. They both would be parents. She wouldn't allow them to make the same mistakes as her parents. Life was good. That's all there was to it. Her best friends were happy. Her and Liz being pregnant together was like a dream come true. They could go to the doctor together, shop together, take lamas classes together. It was going to be great. No better time to start than today.

"Time to get up, Captain Vigor. I can't handle any more excitement in my delicate condition." Maria managed, barely suppressing her giggles.

"Oh, Oh... No you don't even blame that second time this morning on me. I was exhausted but there is just something about you I can't resist." So saying, Michael rolled onto Maria being careful to avoid placing to much weight on her. Smiling at her as he nibbled on her lips. His soon to be wife, the mother of his child. He was absolutely in heaven.

Trying to catch her breath from struggling with him and laughing, Maria managed to swat at him enough to where he rolled off the bed. "Join me?" Michael asked and held out a hand.

"Love to. You know how I feel about water sports." Maria smiled and placed her hand in his.

Looking at her hand in his, Michael realized how delicate she was. Her hand fit snugly in his but it was tiny compared. The smile he aimed at her was tender and full of love. In one swift move he picked her up cradling her to his chest as he headed into the bath.
Obvious
Performed by: Christina Aguilera
Written by: Heather Holley

Can you hear it in my voice
Was it something I let slip
Does the whole world know
Isn't it obvious?

I'm the one who's in control
Now I'm acting like a fool
Do my feelings show
Is my face aglow?
Isn't it obvious?

Chorus:
That I don't know what I'm doing anymore
I'm feeling like a little girl
Caught up in emotions
I'm out of control
Isn't it obvious?

Do you see my hands, they tremble
Wonder why I can't
Look you in the eyes
Don't know how long
I can keep this inside
Isn't it obvious?

Chorus

Suddenly these emotions are in control of my heart
Can you see it in my eyes
Every glance, every smile mst give me away
And I feel so much I can't hide

Chorus
******************************************************************************

*Chapter 20*

Forty-four year old, Marcus St. Johns sat in his office holding the paper which was enclosed in the envelope labeled ‘PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL.' His apprehension immediately eased. There were few people who knew where he had relocated to over seven years ago.

Marcus had lost his twin sister nearly ten years before. Then just three years later he lost the only parents he ever knew existed. After losing them, he found out that they were adopted. He had no choice in his mind but to go in search of his real family. Of course, that was no easy task.

After almost giving up, he found a lead through bribing the attorney who had represented his adoptive parents in their transaction of him. Just thinking of how anyone had been able to give up one baby little on two was beyond him. Not that he didn't love his ‘parents' but there was always something missing. Finding out that his mother had lived in Aspen was the lead he had needed. He wasn't able to get her name at the time but now, after years of searching, he had it right in front of him. The note was clear, although it was not signed.

Who else could know he was looking? There were few people he trusted with his whereabouts...his grandparents and uncle were the only ones. Well, there was that attorney but that was just in case he found anything else in his old files. And why after so long was someone finally coming through for him? And just who in the hell was it? He needed answers.

Picking up his phone, he dialed directly to the Parker's home in Aspen.

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

Liz was sitting on the bed rubbing lotion on her legs and completing her morning routine. She was almost dressed when Judy buzzed her to take a call.

"Hello." Liz answered.

"Ms. Parker, this is Marcus St. Johns from the lodge." Marcus stated.

"Yes. Marcus. Is there a problem there?" Liz asked sincerely.

"No. No problem here. It's just that something has come up, an emergency of sorts and I need to take a few days personal leave. With Triston out of town, he told me to contact you directly with anything that arose. I have good assistants here who will take care of everything, I just needed to tell someone in corporate." Marcus finished.

"Oh. Okay. I tell you what, I'll call Jacob and have him cover for you while your gone. I'll tell him to come over as soon as possible. Is that okay?" Liz asked nicely.

"Yes, ma'am. I appreciate that. I should be back at work in 2, 3 days tops." Marcus relayed.

"I'll let Jacob know. Thanks." And with that Liz hung up the phone.

~~~~~~~~~

Quickly dialing the number to Triston and Jacob's home, Liz waited.

"Hello." Jacob answered.

"Jacob, it's Liz."

Jacob's smile was immediate and a warm feeling settled over him. She sounded happy. "Hi." He responded.

"Look, I hate to ask you this but Marcus St. John is needing a few days personal leave. He will be back 2, 3 days tops. Would you mind watching over the lodge?" Liz asked sweetly.

Jacob immediately felt disappointed. She hadn't called to thank him for his gift. She might not have received them yet. But she was asking something extremely important of him. The lodge. His responsibility. Maybe he could prove to her how much she needed him. "Sure. I would love to. Thanks for thinking of me."

"Okay, great. If you can, please try to see him before he leaves this morning. I told him I'd have you come by." Liz said as she finished tying her shoelaces.

"Sure. Oh, I was wondering have you seen dad?" Jacob asked.

"Um...no, but I did talk to him and he's actually around doing some business stuff. Do you need him?" Liz asked a little troubled at why Triston wouldn't have told his son where he was.

"No. I just haven't talked to him and he didn't come home last night." Jacob sounded worried.

"He's fine. Just busy. I'm sure he'll give you a call. You might try his cell number." Liz suggested.

"I did, but it says out of range. I'll try again later. Oh, and thank you again Liz." Jacob said the last words almost too sweetly.

"No problem. And if you need anything just give me a call. Bye." Liz offered feeling a bit eery at the feeling she was getting from Jacob.

After finishing the phone conversation, Liz dried her hair at the vanity in the bedroom and was just finishing her makeup when a strange ringing caught her attention. It was a phone ring, wasn't it? Liz thought trying to figure it out. Yes, it was. Where? A cell phone? The light dawned and Liz rushed to Max's pants which were still lying on the floor. She immediately reached inside his pocket and pulled out the phone.

Answering it, "Yes."

"Agent Evans?" The male voice asked.

Liz stood with a shocked look on her face. Agent? Trying to sound clear as possible, although feeling extremely shaky, Liz answered. "No. He's not available."

"Oh. Who is this?" The voice asked.

"Sir?" Liz asked almost stunned at the realization of who was on the phone. Her supervisor. What was he doing calling Max? Agent Evans, Liz corrected herself.

"Who is this?" The voice asked again with an irritation recognizable through her many dealings with him.

"Sir, it's Parker." Liz stated. Stiffening her spine as she heard the water in the shower shutting off.

"Parker? What are you doing with Evan's phone?" Mr. G. asked.

"Sir, Mr. Evans is my attorney." Liz stated hoping to avoid any further questions but wanting answers none-the-less.

"I see. Well, in any case, you're the reason I was calling him anyway." Mr. G. responded.

"Me?" Liz questioned with a feeling of uneasiness. Was she Max's assignment? Had he really known who she was all along? Why had he asked her to marry him? Was it all a joke? All of the blood drained from her face as the realization hit that she was still pregnant with his child. Was it all a lie on his part? What about the baby?

"Yes. I had contacted his office in LA and they indicated that he was in Aspen. My last conversation with Connor put you there also. Since I wasn't able to contact you directly - not knowing if your phones may have been tapped, I thought of Evans. I have a delicate matter that needs to be handled and I needed you to be briefed. Since Connor has yet to check back in and I wasn't sure who to trust to assist you, I thought of Evans." Mr. G. explained.

"I see." Liz answered shortly still trying to figure it all out. How could Max have lied to her? After she had spilled her guts to him?

"I have three other agents combing the area up there looking for Connor. They do not know I'm looking for you. I have new information regarding your family's death. Actually, I now know it wasn't an accident. Someone wanted them to die. I have reason to believe you will also be an obstacle that they will want to dispose of. The problem lies in that you are one of mine. I know you're no longer active - so to speak, but you are still my best. I protect mine and since I have reason to believe that your family's deaths are tied to the deaths of our team earlier this year - well, I feel responsible for me people. Liz, trust no one you know who could have access to both of your worlds. I have to find out who infiltrated our ranks enough to cause this disaster - and since you appear to be at the center of both instances, I need to find out who would want to hurt you. So, my orders are for you to locate Connor if you can. Have him contact base. I also need you to allow Agent Evans into your circle enough to explain this to him. I need his expertise here. I'll leave the briefing up to you. But, Liz. Don't trust anyone else. Connor and Evans only. Understand?" Mr. G. explained.

Liz was a little shell shocked. Who could have infiltrated both of her worlds and why? And Max was an agent? Why hadn't he told her when she had explained? Realizing she hadn't responded, Liz shook herself mentally. "I understand. I will do what I can sir. I'll contact you as soon as I have information. I'll have a new cell phone today." With that Liz shut off the phone and continued to stare at it.

~~~~~~~~~

Max walked into the room and saw the pale expression on Liz's face. He immediately rushed to her. But before he could touch her, she held up a hand palm facing him. "Don't." Liz said in a steely voice Max hadn't heard before.

"Liz, what's wrong?" Max asked sincerely confused.

"What's wrong? What's wrong?" Liz shrieked and shoved his phone into his chest. She then turned to head from the bedroom door.

Max unsure of the situation grabbed Liz's arm before she could open the door. He spoke gently, "Liz, getting upset can't be good for the baby."

The murderous gleam in Liz's eye as she turned around made Max drop his hand immediately. "How dare you tell me what is good for the baby, Agent Evans."

With that Liz bolted from the room and ran down the stairs. Max chased after her. "Liz, wait!"

~~~~~~~~~

Hearing the sound of slamming doors and running feet, Maria bolted to the stairs to see what was going on.

~~~~~~~~~

Also hearing the commotion, Doug quickly came from the kitchen just as Liz slung open the front door. In a blur of white, Doug watched curiously as Max ran after her.

When Max ran into the snow, reality hit hard. He was standing in the freezing weather, hair wet, no shoes and only wearing a towel. There was no way he could catch up to her like this. He watched as Liz ran down the driveway. He could only pray that she was careful and didn't fall. If she fell, it would more than likely hurt her and the baby.

Coming back through the door and shutting it with some force, Max rested his forehead against the cool wood. "Damn it, she wasn't even wearing a coat." Max muttered to himself.

~~~~~~~

Clearing his throat, Doug walked further into the room where Max was standing all but naked. "Max?" Doug questioned.

Hearing the voice, Max swirled around. "Doug!" Max exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I could answer that or I could ask why you are half naked and running after Liz." Doug asked speculatively. He wasn't a prude. He knew his kids had sex. He just couldn't imagine Liz sleeping with Max after only knowing him a couple days. That meant only one thing, Max had seduced his very vulnerable, very loved god daughter.

"Um..." Feeling a bit rough at the thought of Liz being upset, alone and more than likely cold, Max couldn't think clearly.

"Max?" Maria called from the top of the stairs. "Is everything okay?"

"Maria?" Doug asked as he turned to see her standing at the top of the stairs wrapped in a towel. What was going on?

"Doug? What are you doing here?" Maria was confused as to why she had walked out of her room in time to see Liz shoot out the front door with Max running behind her in nothing but a towel. Obviously she was upset. And now, why was Doug here?

"Um...well, I have some things to talk to Liz about. I needed to see her." Obviously uncomfortable talking with everyone walking around nearly naked, Doug began averting his eyes.

"Oh. Well, Max?" Maria asked giving him a pointed look.

"She's upset. We sort of had a bit of a misunderstanding. I'm going to get some clothes on and go after her." Max stated as he walked to the steps.

"Just a minute. I want to know what the hell is going on. Why are you running after her only wearing a towel? I would have thought better of you than that Max." Doug admonished.

"Well, since she is soon to be my wife and is carrying my child, I didn't think about taking the time to put on clothes when she was obviously upset and running off. All I thought about was stopping her and trying to explain our....our misunderstanding." Max said shortly as he began up the steps taking them two at a time. Without waiting for a further reply from Doug, Max walked into his room and began dressing.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:27:49 PM
It must have been love but it's over now...
by: Roxette

Lay a whisper on my pillow
Leave the winter on the ground
I wake up lonely, there's air of silence
In the bedroom and all around

Touch me now, I close my eyes
And dream away

It must have been love but it's over now
It must have been good but I lost it somehow
It must have been love but it's over now
From the moment we touched 'til the time had run out

Make-believing we're together
That I'm sheltered by your heart
But in and outside I've turned to water
Like a teardrop in your palm

And it's a hard winter's day
I dream away

It must have been love but it's over now
It was all that I wanted, now I'm living without
It must have been love but it's over now
It's where the water flows
It's where the wind blows

It must have been love but it's over now
It must have been good but I lost it somehow
It must have been love but it's over now
From the moment we touched 'til the time had run out

It must have been love but it's over now
It was all that I wanted, now I'm living without
It must have been love but it's over now
It's where the water flows
It's where the wind blows

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

*Chapter 21*

Doug stood still completely shocked. Wife? Child? Had everyone lost there mind?

Maria sighed and then spoke softly. "Doug. I'll get some clothes on and come down and try to explain. I'll just be a minute." As Maria turned to go back to her room, Alex and Isabelle emerged. They hadn't heard anything but the door shutting as they had both come out of the bathroom. Isabelle had been blowing her hair dry and Alex brushing his teeth.

"What's going on?" Alex asked Maria.

"Liz ran off. Max is getting on some clothes to go after her. Obviously they've had a spat. Doug is waiting downstairs. He is obviously confused a looks maybe a bit pissed at Max. We have to explain to him, but first I need to put on some clothes." With that Maria went into her room.

~~~~~~~~~~

While Maria was dressing, Alex explained the situation to Doug. He explained how Liz and Max actually met a few months back and spent some time together (since Doug didn't need to know that Liz had gotten pregnant from a one night stand). He also explained the events of the weekend. Maria and Michael quickly joined them and waited to hear Max come down the stairs.

~~~~~~~~~~

However, they would continue to wait because Max dressed quickly and went out by scaling the upper deck. He had to reach Liz and didn't have time to explain. No one heard the car start by the front door and leave quickly with one goal in mind. Find Liz. Explain the truth.

~~~~~~~~~~

Liz walked fast. She was furious and hurt and sick thinking that she had rushed into things with Max. How could she have been so wrong? How could he have betrayed her this way? She loved him with all her heart. How could he not? Was it all a lie? The one who could actually answer her was no where to be seen at this moment. Even if he was, did she want to see him?

"Ughhhhh." Liz growled and then quickly followed a side trail off the road which lead to a creek used for ice skating. It was too warm for that. The ice wasn't all that solid. She had to think before going back. Did she even want to go back? What about the baby? Liz made quick time to the creek and sat down on a bench and watched the water.

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

Max drove slowly looking for the footprints in the light dusting of snow that was on the ground. He saw Liz's but wasn't sure how she had gotten that far away from home so quickly. Then he remembered he wasn't just looking for a normal woman.

Just as a rabbit crossed the road, Max noticed that the footprints led off through the woods. What was she doing going into these woods? Max wondered.

After pulling the car safely to the side of the road, Max grabbed Liz's coat and a blanket from the back. He then made his was way following Liz's steps.

~~~~~~~~~

Soon Liz shut her eyes trying to think. Her mind raced with possibilities of why he would be with her. He was close to her in her personal life now, but wasn't when her parents died. He wasn't part of her team that was all but destroyed. Stop! She told herself. He couldn't do that to you. Not Max. You love him remember?

A soft sound of a broken twig alerted Liz. She knew that sound could be made by any number of animals in the woods but it wasn't. The weight of the object breaking the twig made the sound faster and a bit louder. Allowing the object to get a few feet closer to the bench where she sat staring out at the water, her back to the way she had come, Liz responded by reaching for her gun, aiming and swirling to face the object all in one swift move. Her face was set in determination. Her aim was straight and one handed. The ease of the stance was someone who was comfortable with a gun and obviously was accustomed to using it.

"Liz." Max said softly. He saw her visibly relax some but she still didn't lower the gun.

"There's nothing left to say Max." Liz stated in a defeated whisper.

"Oh, honey, but there is. But first, put on your coat." Max said sternly. He could see how pale she was and the chills on her skin weren't all from the adrenaline rush of her actions.

"I'm okay." Liz replied defiantly.

"You may be but the baby might not. Now put on the coat." With that Max began to slowly walk to Liz. He could see that her mind was working furiously but her expression gave nothing away.

"Stop. Just throw it over here." Liz stated calmly not lowering the gun.

"Liz you can't possibly think I want to hurt you." Max said as he stopped. He pleaded for her to believe him with his eyes.

"I honestly don't know what to think Max. Why would you keep something like you being an agent a secret from me? Why didn't you tell me?" Liz asked accusingly.

"The night you told me. The first night we were here. I couldn't just say ‘oh and by the way I'm an agent too' that would have sounded suspicious. Not to mention it's not true, really." Max said almost with a mocking tone but also with a tad bit of defeat.

"There have been other times." Liz replied.

"When? When we were making love? Sorry but I just wasn't thinking about it then. When you told me you were carrying my child? Again not really thinking about it. You don't know everything and your jumping to the conclusion that I betrayed you. I knew you in bed for one night then now for two days, almost three. I can honestly say that I didn't think about holding it from you but I also didn't think about telling you right now." Max countered.

"When then? After we were married? What in the hell am I supposed to think Max? Tell me. I want to know." Liz demanded.

"First let's clarify what you think you know. I love you. Your going to be the mother of my child. And you damn well will be my wife. I won't lose you. I can't. I tried the not being with you for a month and it almost drove me crazy. As for me being an ‘agent' it isn't really what you're thinking. Mr. G? He's my uncle. George is my mother's brother. He sort of recruited me when I was 17. It was the first time he realized how good I was with a computer. I've not had your training Liz. I've never killed anyone. I've only used my computer to get information for him. He must think highly of you if he called me to do something. He promised mom he wouldn't ever put me in the line of fire. I've never been in on who any of the operatives were. You have to believe me Liz. I haven't done anything for him since I graduated from law school. Nothing." Max pleaded

During Max's speech Liz lowered and replaced her weapon. She also grabbed the coat and put it on.

"Oh, Max. I don't know what to believe. Someone is trying to destroy me and my family. G. was calling to get you to locate me. I just don't know what's real." Liz said softly with tears in her eyes.

"I'm going to touch you now." Max said as he pulled Liz into a hug. "We'll work it out together. We will just have to spend a little one-on-one time telling each other pretty much our life histories and then working on this mess. Is that okay with you?"

Liz nodded against Max's chest and he began leading her back to the waiting car.
Everyday is a winding road...
By: Sheryl

I hitched a ride with a vending machine repair man
He says he's been down this road more than twice
He was high on intellectualism
I've never been there but the brochure looks nice
Jump in, let's go
Lay back, enjoy the show
Everybody gets high, everybody gets low
These are the days when anything goes
Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine

He's got a daughter he calls Easter
She was born on a Tuesday night
I'm just wondering why I feel so alone
Why I'm a stranger in my own life

Jump in, let's go
Lay back, enjoy the show
Everybody gets high, everybody gets low
These are the days when anything goes
Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine

I've been swimming in a sea of anarchy
I've been living on coffee and nicotine
I've been wondering if all the things I've seen
Were ever real, were ever really happening

Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine
*****************************************************************************
*Chapter 22*

When Max and Liz made it back to the house, everyone was in a panicked state. After not hearing Max leave for a while, the group designated Isabelle to go check on him. When they found out he wasn't in his room....panic set in. Everyone was at the opened door when they pulled up into the drive.

"Where have you been?" Maria demanded to know.

"I went for a walk. Max and I needed to talk about some things. Now we're okay but we need to talk with you guys for a few minutes." Liz replied.

"Liz. I know you were upset when you left. Is everything okay now?" Doug asked.

"Yeah." Liz replied.

"Well, if you don't mind, I think I should talk to you alone as soon as possible. I have some information which needs to be gone over." Doug stated.

"It will have to wait. We really need to talk with you everyone first. Shall we go into the den?" Liz asked and waited for everyone to comply. With one last look at Max for confirmation that they were doing the right thing by possibly putting the others in further danger, she grabbed his hand and followed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob was happily fulfilling his duties as temporary lodge manager after assuring Marcus St. Johns that he could handle everything. This was the opportunity he had been waiting for. He just needed to prove himself. However, while thoughts of doing a good job danced in his head so did worry for his father, and wonder at whether Liz was pleased with his surprise.

"Jacob there's someone here to see you. He says it is important." Missy, Marcus' secretary buzzed in.

"Who is it, Missy?" Jacob asked smiling at the position he was in. Missy and him had dated quite a few times over the past six months that she had worked at the lodge and were very familiar with each other. The smile came from wondering what it would be like to bring her into the office and make use of the desk. The thoughts occupying his mind about her were definitely indecent and were warring with the side of his brain that kept reminding him that it was Liz he wanted. Wasn't it?

"He says you know him and it is important." Missy replied.

"Show him in then." Jacob replied with a frown. Who could it be?

As Missy led the man into the office reality hit hard. It wasn't just any man, it was the man that insisted he could help Jacob with obtaining his ultimate goal....Liz.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Connor decided that it was time for a break. He had been talking to people around the lodge without any luck in finding information that might mean Mr. Parker was not well liked. Problem was...he was. The other problem was that everyone indicated he was extremely fair in business and even more generous in the community. So why would there be cause to believe someone killed him and his family. Everyone except his daughter who was out of the country at the time?

Time to do some digging backwards. Apparently, Parker grew up here in Aspen and that was why he moved back here and invested so much time and money into the growing town. Time to go to the library. Only after a cup of coffee, Connor decided. But as he headed to the café he stopped dead in his tracks. The man walking into the office labeled manager looked so familiar, but it couldn't be. He was dead. Wasn't he?
~~~~~~~~~~

Marcus was in his car driving to the address listed on the paper. Could this be the break he was looking for? To actually get to know his birth mother? Father? Since his adoptive parents and sister were dead there was little family left for him. And in actuality that is all he wanted. Just to have someone he could call his own. Who he could belong to, since he never felt that way in his life. It wasn't that his ‘parents' were not good to him in every way but there was always this feeling of belonging here. One that he never quite felt before.

Pulling into the church parking lot, Marcus looked at the address again. This couldn't be right. This was a church not a home. He scanned the area and quickly realized what this meant. Beside the church was a cemetery. He got out and began his search for Linda Bell. Supposedly his birth mother.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Triston arrived back in Aspen and headed straight for the Parker home. It was time he told Liz the truth. Or at least the truth as he knew it. He also had a feeling that the new information he had would be hard for her. It was always difficult to find out that your father is human. But for her this could be worse. His mistakes had not only caused the death of her mother and brother but the death of her entire elite team. Few knew the truth about Liz's training and activities. If he hadn't been in the FBI for years before getting injured and retiring early, she might not have trusted him with the truth. Now it was his turn to repay that trust. He could only hope that the pieces of this puzzle didn't destroy her totally.
Hands
By: Jewel

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all ok
And not to worry because worry is wasteful
and useless in times like these
I will not be made useless
I won't be idled with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
for light does the darkness most fear
My hands are small, I know,
but they're not yours they are my own
but they're not yours they are my own
and I am never broken
Poverty stole your golden shoes
but it didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
but I knew it wasn't ever after
We will fight, not out of spite
for someone must stand up for what's right
cause where there's a man who has no voice
there ours shall go singing
In the end only kindness matters
In the end only kindness matters
I will get down on my knees and I will pray
I will get down on my knees and I will pray
I will get down on my knees and I will pray
My hands are small, I know,
but they're not yours they are my own
but they're not yours they are my own
and I am never broken
My hands are small, I know,
but they're not yours they are my own
but they're not yours they are my own
and I am never broken
We are never broken
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's mind
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's heart
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's eyes
God's hands
We are God's hands
God's hands
We are God's hands
*****************************************************************************

*Chapter 23*

Jacob sat patiently while the man who entered his office took a look around. What more could he possibly have to say? The information he had given him earlier was vague at best but it indicated that he was the only one who would be able to save Liz from whatever problems she had. It also seemed to indicate that her father was the reason for her pain. Mr. Parker was always nice to him in a general sort of way.

"Mr. Carlson." Jacob acknowledged.

"Jacob. It's good to see you again." Carlson (a/k/a Richard Bell) stood smiling at Jacob before sitting down and opening his briefcase.

"What can I do for you?" Jacob asked curiously.

"It's not what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. I have more information that you might be interested in. However, this will be our last meeting. I will be returning to my work elsewhere and will not be available again. You should read this packet of information after I am gone. For now, I have to ask how your little scheme to win Ms. Parker is working?" Carlson asked.

"It isn't a scheme. And for your information my plan seems to be working. I'm here aren't I?" Jacob asked with a smug smile and wave of his hand encompassing the office.

"But for how long?" Carlson asked as he rose and tossed the packet on the desk. He was wearing gloves and did not offer his hand. He turned and quickly left the office silently fuming. The young man was obviously a bit more arrogant than originally thought.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Marcus St. Johns." Marcus introduced himself to the priest.

"Father Mark. What can I do for you son?" The priest returned.

"I'm looking for a woman named Linda Bell. I was given information that showed her at this address. I suppose that could only mean one thing...." Marcus trailed off looking toward the cemetery.

"Ah...and why would you be looking for Ms. Bell?" The priest asked.

"I think...I think she was my mother." Marcus returned.

The priest was in shock for a moment before recovering. "Ms. Bell did not have any children, son. You must be mistaken."

"I don't think so. It is possible. Did you know her well?" Marcus asked.

"Well, she lived here pretty much all her life but she died at a very young age. Not even out of her teen years." The priest explained.

"Oh. Um...would you mind showing me her grave anyway?" Marcus asked and the priest complied.

~~~~~~~~~~

Connor decided it was best to follow Richard Bell as he left the ski lodge. He couldn't stop running it over in his mind....the invasion that was planned months ago which had failed. Had he not watched the man get shot? Why was he in disguise? What type mission was he on? Time to check in with headquarters and see what was going on.

With that thought in mind as soon as Connor was back in his car he grabbed his cell.

"Hello, G.?" Connor asked as he begin following the auto that Bell was driving.

"Connor? It's about damn time. I've got Parker out looking for you. You should have checked in before now. I have information which suggests that someone is related to both the ambush and the Parker family crash. I want you to watch out for Parker and see who around her could have been available to both sides of her life. I want him or her. I plan on this being taken care of by us. Do you understand?" Not waiting for a reply or giving Connor time to ask about the real reason he had checked in G. hung up.

Well Damn! Connor thought viciously. But his feelings led him to wonder just who could have access to both sides of Parker's life. His thoughts continued to run ramped while he followed the Bell vehicle through town and towards the interstate.
~~~~~~~~~~~

Liz and Max waited for everyone to get seated in the large den. Then Max pulled an ottoman in the center of the entranceway so that he could be seated where he could see everyone's faces. He automatically sensed that Liz wouldn't be able to sit while she explained what they had already discussed on the car returning from the lake. They were both taking a huge risk by involving the others. Isabelle already knew that he helped out their uncle but no one else did. And Liz hadn't told anyone but him in this group. However, they both agreed that the risk of them not knowing and being used to get to her was more of a risk. Doug was like a grandfather, Alex and Maria like her brother and sister. Michael had been known forever and was about to marry Maria and have a child. So, from all sides of the argument Liz felt safe with these people and they were needed to help figure out the puzzle of who would want to hurt her and why.

Liz waited until Max was seated and she stood behind him with one hand on his shoulder. Everyone's eyes turned to her.

"Well?" Maria asked in her impatient but concerned tone.

"Um....God I didn't think this would be that hard. There are some things that Max and I want to talk to you guys about. The problem is that although I trust everyone in this room explicitly nothing I say can go out of here. It is crucial that everyone agree. Since there are three attorneys whom I employ...I can claim privilege. Alex and Maria know almost everything about me already and I've trusted them with my life on more than one occasion. That only leaves you, Isabelle. Max trusts you because he loves you and your family. I'm going to trust you because of the same. Does anyone have any problems with keeping our discussion confidential?" Liz asked.

"Well, it is a little hard to say without knowing what it's about." Maria returned.

"Oh, just shut up. I know you won't say anything. So here goes. Max and I met before this weekend.....just after my parents died in Roswell." Liz started but stopped suddenly as if to get her thoughts in order.

"And?" Alex asked.

"And...I guess I should start back at the beginning. Please don't be mad because I didn't share this with you or Maria. I wanted to but just couldn't at the time. Then it became important not to involve you in this part of my life...until now."

Everyone sat patiently waiting for Liz to continue:

"When Justin was about 3 months old I realized my father wasn't the perfect man I always thought he was. I walked in on him with another woman. At that time, I felt betrayed. Mom, however, already knew and apparently had for a while. She refused to leave him. She said she loved him and always would. So, that's why finished school as quickly as possible and went to college. After getting there...well, I rebelled. I did the opposite of everything dad wanted. I studied science and self defense. And to make an extremely long story short, I began working for the government. Officially as a consultant and unofficially as part of an elite special ops unit for the Secret Service. I've worked with them for awhile."

"However, everything involving my family started about 8 months ago. I was on a mission with 5 others. Just a routine one but we quickly found that our mission was a set up. 4 out of our group of 6 were killed. My superior and I were the only survivors."

"Two months after finishing the mission, I retired. I guess retired is the wrong word. It is more like I took a permanent leave until there's a need for my consulting services, but no more missions. After I went to college, my parents went into counseling and mended their marriage. And slowly I began to forgive dad for what he had done."

"So about 6 months ago, I agreed to come back home and work for him. I was away on business when they....when they crashed. He was going to show us some new development or something. I didn't get back in time for the trip, so I met them at the pad when they were to land. I was there, waiting. I saw the first hint of fire and then the explosion."

"Since then, I have been given classified investigation materials which to someone not trained in making explosions untraceable would show that it was all an accident. Then today, I received word from Max and Isabelle's uncle, who is also one of my superiors that he has information that the accident was tied to our sabotaged mission. He also advises me that I should find whoever could have access to both sides of my life. That is where you all come in. I can't do it alone. I need help figuring this out before someone else is hurt because they know me."

With that Max pulled Liz around to sit on his lap. He cradled her rocking softly while they waited for the others to absorb the information just given.


"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau
posted on 1-Sep-2001 11:31:27 PM
Who will save your soul?
By: J

People living their lives for you on TV
They say they're better than you and you agree
He says hold my calls from behind those cold brick walls
Says come here boys, there ain't nothing for free
Another doctor's bill, another lawyer's bill, another cute cheap thrill
You know you love him if you put him in your will, but ...
Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your soul if you won't save your own?
We try to hustle them, try to bustle them, try to cuss them
The cops want someone to bust down on Orleans Avenue
Another day, another dollar, another war, another tower
Went up to where the homeless had their homes
So we pray to as many different gods are there are flowers
But we call religion our friend
We're so worried about saving our souls
Afraid that God will take His toll that we forget to begin but
Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your soul if you won't save your own?
Some are walking, some are talking, some are stalking their kill
You got social security, but that don't pay your bills
There are addictions to feed and there are mouths to pay
So you bargain with the Devil, say you're o.k. for today
You say that you love them, take their money and run
Say, it's been swell, sweetheart, but it was just one of those things
Those flings, those strings you've got to cut
So get out on the streets, girls, and bust your butts
Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your soul if you won't save your own?

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

*Chapter 24*

"WoW! So you're like ‘secret agent woman'?" Maria asked with an trace of awe in her voice.

"Sort of." Liz couldn't help but chuckle. Leave it to Maria to lighten the mood.

"Okay. So, how can we help? I mean, we don't exactly know who else could be a secret agent or whatever." Alex chimed in.

"I realize that. But you are the people I am closest with. I don't want anyone using you or possibly hurting you to get to me. I need you all to be careful. That is why I think it would be best if you all went home early. Leave this to those of us who are trained for this. I have associates already here." Liz spoke freely.

"I don't think so!" Maria exclaimed. "I am not about to turn tail and run."

"Maria!!!" Liz said exasperated by her friend but expecting no less. "If it were just you maybe, but you have a child to think about."

"So do you." Maria retorted.

"Yeah, but this is about me. I can't run. Believe me I am almost to the point where I would if I could." Liz replied.

"None of us are leaving, Liz." Isabelle said softly. "You're family and we're not going anywhere."

With tears in her eyes Liz got up and went to Isabelle who also stood. They embraced. It was a touching moment for Max seeing his past and future collide. His two families joining.

"Well, frankly I agree." Doug spoke up. "I have known you since you were nearly in diapers. And although I realize you might be upset with me, I already found out about your other life. I found out just before coming here."

"What?" Liz asked dumbfounded.

"I have friends and you all are like my children. I have to do whatever I think best to protect you. I did, now get over it young lady." Doug said in a fatherly manner.

Properly chastised, Liz acknowledged that Doug had always been like a father to her and understood his need to protect them. But how did he find out? "How? I'm not mad I just have to know how you found out?"

"Well, I also know G. He was an old military buddy of mine before he went into the Secret Service. I called him about some information I had because he owed me a favor. Trusting me as I do him, I found out what I needed to know." Doug explained.

"Let's go into the diningroom and I'll show you what I've found." Doug continued as he led the way into the diningroom.

Just as they were all seated Judy entered discretely and placed a vase with 2 dozen multi-colored roses in front of Liz and offering her the card.

"Who are they from?" Maria asked. While Max scowled at the flowers. He had an idea.

"Jacob." Liz said in a confused voice. Then with a grown she let her head fall backward.

~~~~~~~~~~

Max had wanted to be calm but couldn't. He reacted to the green monster before he realized what he was doing he was up grabbing the vase and heading to the kitchen. Liz was up and after him like a shot. She couldn't figure out what was wrong.

"Max?" Liz asked as she reached the kitchen door right behind him.

"I can't believe that jerk is sending you flowers." Max said as he was throwing the flowers into the trash.

"Max!" Liz exclaimed. "He is just a little confused. I've known him forever. You didn't have to do that."

"Sorry." Max grumbled. "I just don't like it, that's all."

Seeing something peculiar in his eyes, Liz pressed the issue. "Why?"

"I'll tell you later. We should get back to the others." Max continued.

"You'll tell me now, Max Evans!" Liz asserted.

"Liz, honey." His tone soft, Max didn't want to tell her like this. He wanted to tell her privately when she could get adjusted to the idea that she had a brother.

"Now." Liz repeated.

"I didn't want to tell you like this, but......I found out that....well...."

"Spit it out Max"

"Jacob's your brother, Liz." Max finished.

"What?" Liz stated in a near whisper.

"I found out....that your father had an....affair....with Jacob's mother. She died in childbirth. I'm so sorry, baby." Max said as he reached for her.

Liz allowed Max to rap her in a warm, loving embrace while she absorbed the shock that the one affair she thought her father had wasn't his first. She wanted to weep, she wanted to scream, she wanted to deny it but none of that would get her through the truth.

"I love you. I'm sorry I had to be the one to tell you." Max cooed while he stroked her hair.

Pulling herself together, Liz took a step back from Max looking straight into his eyes. "I love you too. I .... I just can't believe it. He had two affairs on my mother. She had to of known, and yet she stayed with him. I don't understand. I guess I never will."

Not knowing what to say Max nodded his agreement and moved to lead Liz back to the others.

~~~~~~~~~~

As they re-entered the diningroom, everyone was quiet. They were all unsure of what had transpired in the kitchen but when seeing how close Max and Liz were, they knew everything was alright.
The Heart Won't Lie
by: Reba McEntire
written by: Kim Carnes/Donna Terry Weiss

Looking back over the years
Of All the things I've always meant to say
But words didn't come easily
So many times through empty fears
Of all of the nights I tried to pick up the phone
So scared of who might be answering
You try to live your life from day to day
But seeing you across the room tonight
Just gives me away

Chorus:
Cause the heart won't lie
Sometimes life gets in the way
But there's one thing that won't change
I know I've tried
The heart won't lie
You can live your alibi
Who can see you're lost inside a foolish disguise
The heart won't lie
Long after tonight
Will you still hear my voice through the radio
Old desires make us act carelessly
Long after tonight, after the fire
After the scattered ashes fly
Through the four winds blown and gone
Will you come back to me?

You try to live your life from day to day
But seeing you across the room tonight
Just gives me away

Repeat Chorus:
*****************************************************************************

*Chapter 25*

Jacob sat quietly staring at the materials from the envelope Mr. Carlson had given him. He just couldn't believe it, they were fake. They had to be. His father was Triston. His mother had died. Why would Mr. Carlson feel the need to lie and give him these fake papers showing Mr. Parker as his father? Why would Triston have went along with this?

Oh, God. Liz was his sister. Jacob suddenly felt sick. He couldn't figure it all out now. He would have to talk to Liz. Yes, that was the plan. She would know and tell him it was a fake.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After giving Max and Liz time to sit, Doug realized it was time he spoke up. "I'm wondering how long until someone asks me why I'm really here? Since it appears everyone's minds are on other things I'll just be frank. I needed to talk to you [indicating Liz] alone but now I think it might be better to get this all out in the open. With your permission, of course."

"Of course. I don't want any more secrets from my friends." Liz explained.

"Very well. Liz,...this isn't going to be easy dear. I was there the day you walked in on your father and that other woman at my office. I also knew that your mother was aware of this occurrence....as well as others. Were you aware of others, dear?" Doug asked.

"I am now." Liz said sharing a look with Max.

"Oh. Um...I'll assume your referring to Jacob." Doug started.

"You knew about him?" Liz interrupted.

"Yes. I handled the paperwork assigning custody to Triston. But, there was another affair, Liz. Another boy and girl were born to a woman who grew up here in Aspen. The mother agreed .... for a sum.... to give up her children for adoption. However, there were complications with her birth and she died. That left your father with the decision to make. He chose to continue with the adoption. Your mother was devastated because she wanted a child and couldn't seem to get pregnant. The twins were born before you....Jacob after. To my knowledge, that was all of the children your father had. Now, don't get me wrong your father was one of my dearest friends but he had a problem. He couldn't seem to keep himself from straying. That only lead to problems. I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this, but.....I do believe it may have something to do with their deaths and your threats." Doug stopped a moment letting the thoughts he had just revealed sink in.

Liz was numb. How could her father have done such a thing? Her mother had stayed with him anyway? Closing her eyes, Liz allowed Max to embrace her. Drawing on his strength, she straightened her shoulders and prepared to listen to the rest. "Please go on."

"Very well. I'm not aware of the young man's name but the boy is the only one of the twins left. His sister is dead. I have a man working on the name for me. In any case, your father had been receiving anonymous black mail notes for some time indicating that the person sending them was well aware of the child your father gave up."

"Do you know the mother's name?" Liz asked softly.

"Yes. I do. Is it important to you?" Doug asked.

"Yes." Liz replied simply.

"Her name was Linda Bell." Doug replied. He waited for Liz's nod before continuing with his information. "Keep in mind my information comes from personal records that I had to keep as well as information G. has given me." Setting his briefcase on the coffee table, Doug opened it and retrieved the birth certificates for twins delivered to Linda Bell with the father listed as ‘unknown,' as well as the adoption papers for both. He handed these items to Liz before continuing with his knowledge.

"I'm waiting to hear from my investigator and won't know anything else until then. I have him looking into any family that the boy might have had from his mother's side of the family and his adoptive parents'. I do know that his adoptive parents are also deceased. What I don't know is his name, since when the adoption was completed, and he was renamed. I also don't know exactly where he is living; I do know it is supposed to be in this area. At least that is what the attorneys for the adoptive parents were able to tell us. Or if he could have been the one writing the notes to your father. As soon as I've heard more I'll let you know. So, that leaves us to speculate that the person who wrote the blackmail notes probably was the one who killed your family." Doug explained.

Liz sat quietly trying to work it all out in her head. In the space of a few short hours her life had changed dramatically. First, she found out her lover and future husband was a secret agent, as she was. His role was a bit different, but he still had kept that information from her. Now, she had learned that she not only had a brother whom she grew up with and hadn't known about, but also two other siblings which were adopted. One of which was dead. How much more could she take?
I Turn To You
Written by: Diane Warren
Performed by: CHRISTINA AGUI

When I'm lost in the rain,
In your eyes I know
I'll find the light to light my way
And when I'm scared, losing ground
When my world is going crazy
You can turn it all around and when I'm down you're there
Pushing me to the top
You're always there, giving me all you've got

Chorus:
For a shield from the storm
For a friend
For a love to keep me safe and warm
I turn to you
For the strength to be strong
For the will to carry on
For everything you do
For everything that's true
I turn to you

When I lose the will to win
I just reach for you
And I can reach the sky again
I can do anything
'Cause your love is so amazing
'Cause your love inspires me
And when I need a friend
You're always on my side
Giving me faith, taking me through the night

Chorus

For the arms to be my shelter
Through all the rain
For truth that will never change
For someone to lean on
For a heart I can rely on through anything
For the one who I can run to...

Chorus
*****************************************************************************

*Chapter 26*

What is that old saying about not asking what else could happen or how much you can endure? Liz asked herself as it all began to happen at once. Before she knew what was happening, the door bell and the phone started ringing at the same time. Not allowing herself to become edgy even though every instinct she had was to run, Liz thought of her family and close friends that she thought of as family first. Their safety was as paramount as her own. Even knowing that she had ‘real' training didn't ease her mind at all. Judy went to answer the door as Mrs. Smithson peaked in and gestured that the phone was for Liz. Reluctantly, Max allowed Liz to leave his side as he waited for an indication of who was at the front door.

~~~~~~~~~~
Once in the kitchen, Mrs. Smithson placed a hand over the receiver and spoke quietly. "Are you okay, dear?"

The concern in the woman's eyes and voice were evident making Liz want to laugh and cry at the same time. If she was okay, Liz didn't know it. Frankly, she didn't think she would be ever again. Her dad was the worst type of scum there was. Her mother, dear Lord, what that woman must have gone through. And why had she put up with it? Love? Duty? It just wasn't making sense and Liz guessed she might never know.

The light touch on her arm jerked Liz from her thoughts. She had zoned out and forgot about the phone. Mrs. Smithson smiled and whispered "I'm here if you need to talk" before handing Liz the phone and making her way toward the hall leading to the laundry room.

"Hello."

"Liz, it's Triston. I have found some news I'm not so sure you will want to hear over the phone. Then again, I'm not sure you'll want to hear it in person either." Triston was on his cell phone heading back toward Aspen. He hadn't wanted to wait on the news in case this Marcus guy was the one trying to harm Liz.

"If it is about my father and all of his children, I already know. What I don't know are names." Liz replied with steely determination in her voice. She was an adult. She was a well trained special agent. She had killed for survival and her country. This she could handle. The key was turning off the emotions. Nothing would get to her, nothing!

"How? Oh, never mind. I'll be there soon. The only name I have is Marcus St. Johns." Triston replied slowly.

"Marcus? The lodge manager?" Liz was stunned. How could anything new stun her, but this did.

"Yeah. I knew when your dad hired him there was a reason. I mean, he had some qualifications but nothing like what we had been looking for. Then all of the sudden when the resume was in front of him, something appeared to click and he refused to look at anyone else. I should have guessed. I mean, you know about Jacob, right?" Triston rambled. He wished with all his heart he had been the one to tell Liz or at least could have saved her some of the pain she no doubt felt.

"Yeah, I know about Jacob. What I don't understand is how it was kept a secret? Does Jacob know?"

"No. He doesn't. Your father wanted to be around for him but your mom wasn't keen on the idea of raising another woman's child....especially one conceived under the circumstances of adultery. Liz. Your dad wasn't a bad man, just a bit unsatisfied with boring. Does that make sense? He loved your mom and you but had problems with staying faithful. Please try to understand."

"I understand alright. He couldn't keep his zipper up. I don't want to talk about this now. Do you really think Marcus was the one blackmailing dad?"

"You know about that too?"

"Yeah. We tried to figure out who it was but couldn't. I wouldn't think it was Marcus. According to the information I have he couldn't possibly know who his father was, or mother for that matter." Triston skidded a bit on the ice and knew how dangerous it was to be on the phone and driving. He need all of his concentration. "Liz, I'll be there shortly and we can discuss this more. I think Jacob deserves to know the truth, so would you mind calling him and asking him over?"

"I, uh..., okay. I'll see you soon. Bye."

"Liz? Be careful until I get there, alright?" Triston had a sickening feeling. He loved children and felt as if they all needed to be kept safe. Even though Liz was grown up she was still the little girl he had known for years.

"Sure." With that Liz hung up and quickly phoned the lodge. She didn't ask to speak with Jacob just to leave a message and Missy gladly took it down. Specifically, Liz requested that Jacob come to her home as soon as possible. After hanging up, Liz started for the door separating the kitchen and den. Before she opened it, Liz felt the air breeze in from the back door. Spinning quickly, she didn't have time to register who the intruder was before a hand was clamped over her mouth, her back was pulled against a hard chest, and she was being backed out the kitchen door.

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

Jacob was still sitting at his desk when Missy knocked softly and entered. One look at his face and she could tell something was wrong. "Are you alright, Jacob?" she asked softly.

"Uh...." Jacob just becoming aware of her, just stared into those lovely eyes she had and realized that there was no way he was ‘in' love with Liz. He couldn't be and feel the way he did every time he looked at Missy. That must be what was wrong with the whole idea he had about wooing Liz. He had these feelings for Liz that he couldn't place, so he naturally mistook them for the relationship type of love. Looking at Missy he could now admit that his friendship with Liz had always meant more to him that the ‘sexual' type pull he had felt. Sure Liz was extremely attractive but more than that she was pretty on the inside. No wonder he was so confused. Now that there was a possibility she was his sister to have any thoughts of kissing her seemed gross.

"Jacob? Jacob?" Missy was trying to get his attention and her concern was growing. During Jacob's perusal of her, Missy had managed to move beside his chair.

Snapping out of his thoughts, Jacob reacted quickly. Before Missy knew what was happening Jacob had her on his lap and was kissing her. Yeah, this was right. Jacob thought. After breaking the kiss, Jacob was pleased to note that Missy looked stunned and dazed enough to be speechless.

"Was there something important?" Jacob asked softly as his thumb traced her bottom lip.

"Uh....." Closing her eyes and trying to concentrate, Missy immediately jumped as she remembered Liz's message. "Yes, Ms. Parker phoned and needs to see you at her home immediately."

Before releasing Missy to stand, Jacob kissed her once more. "Are you free tonight?" He asked as he walked toward the door.

"Um....yes." Missy got out.

"Good. I'll pick you up by 6:00, okay?" Without waiting for a response, Jacob was out the door. He really did need to speak with Liz about all of this anyway - maybe she already knew. Jacob didn't think so but who knows?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marcus sat in his care going over everything the priest had told him. His head was pounding and his heart ached. He felt extremely sorry for a young girl who had been taken in by an older man. According to what the priest could remember and piece together, Linda Bell was rumored to have been having an affair with an older man. The man was even possibly married. According to the priest, Linda had been a spunky girl turned woman quickly. Although that was a rumor too. Father Mark recalled the Summer that Ms. Bell died fairly well. She apparently had spent almost a year with an Aunt in California before returning home. When she had returned to church with her parents she had looked sad and sick. That could account for why she died shortly after. No autopsy was performed so the cause of death was not determined. She was buried here with her parents. She had been 18 years old.

The most interesting piece of information the rumor mill had concocted, according to the priest, was that Ms. Bell had been seeing none other than Mr. Parker - his old boss. Could it be possible that Parker could have been his father? How would he go about finding out that information? Did he dare confront Ms. Parker? Would she know? Would she admit it? After all the hard work and long years, would he know the names of his ‘real' parents before he himself passed on?

Before he realized what he was doing and what he could lose, Marcus headed toward the Parker house. He had to know. He only hoped this wouldn't cost him his dream career.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marcus was unaware of the car following a safe distance behind him. The man in the car was giddy with the thoughts that maybe this would be when his revenge would finally be inflicted. Is it now that Parker would know her father's true betrayals? Would she even care? Maybe it didn't matter that she cared because soon she wouldn't be in the picture to begin with. It was a shame, he admitted self-consciously, he had always admired the way she handled herself in confrontational situations. Would she be as apt to have the win or die attitude when her family and friends were at stake?

~~~~~~~~~~~
The minute she realized how passive she was being in her own abduction, Liz started to struggle. She was still a bit stunned by all of the news, surely that accounted for her lack of reaction. Before she realized it, she was in the garage of the house through the side entrance. Stamping hard on her kidnappers foot and biting his hand, Liz wrenched herself away.

"Damn it, Parker!" Connor bellowed softly. Even though he was in pain he still knew the need for keeping quiet.

"Connor!" Liz gasped. "What the hell are you doing?" She continued outraged.

"I'm trying to save your pretty hind end again but you bit me!"

"You shouldn't have drug me out of the kitchen that way!"

The conversation was a bit heated but there was no fear in Liz's voice or stance. She trusted Connor. No questions.

"What are you doing here? What do you mean saving me?" Liz asked indignant. He had trained her so that she wouldn't have to be saved. He knew she could handle things so why was he still hanging around?

"I have some information. It seems a dead man is walking the streets of Aspen."

"What? Who?" Liz asked.

"Bell."

Seeing Liz's pale face, Connor reached for her arm. "You look about ready to faint, you okay?"

"Yeah." With a small smile, Liz hugged Connor to her. "Now probably isn't the time to ask but.... Wanna be a Godfather?"

With a small whoop, Connor spun Liz around. "Sure. Who?"

"Umm....." Liz wasn't so sure about telling the specifics but knew that Connor wouldn't be happy with half answers. "Max. We're getting married too. I would love it if you were there."

"Just let me know when. Oh, Liz baby I am so happy for you. But that means no more business. Do you understand?"

"Yes, daddy!" Liz teased then grew serious once again. "So, how could Bell still be alive? I watched him die."

"I did too. I'm not sure but I intend to find out. I just wanted you to know so you would be safe. I tracked him to his hotel this morning. He was extra careful but then again he didn't realize someone was following him. Hey, I also talked with G. He wants us to run checks to find out who had access to both halves of your life. Any ideas?"

"No, none. I have wracked my brain. Few people knew what I was doing. You be careful, okay. I better get back to the den before Max realizes I'm not in the kitchen. Let me know if you find anything, okay."

"Sure. Same with you and be extremely careful with the child I intend to spoil rotten." With a quick kiss on the cheek he was gone.

"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"

-Jean Jaques Rousseau