Title: I'm With The Star
Authors: Annie and Liz
Summery: Based around Maria's rising career in the music business, but the romance is Max/Liz.
Disclaimer: We don't own a thing, except our words. Three are many pop-culture references, and we don't claim any of them as our own (Weezer, J-Lo, Dido..etc..), nor mean to infringe anything.

"Cuz I'm with the star
Cuz thats what you are
A beautiful star..."
'I'm With The Star' ~ Ben Lee

Prologue by Annie

Maria’s silky voice filtered out into the hallway from the West Roswell High music room. She sat cross-legged on the floor strumming her guitar flawlessly, the words harmonizing with the instrument. It was a beautiful melodious sound, enticing passerby’s to look in the classroom.

My eyes are open,
And I can see the world
Where my future lies holding dreams
Just waiting to be unfurled.
I reach out and embrace fate,
For he respects me so.
And together we dance through
The flames of hate
To where the written word is spoken.

Liz just watched her friend in amazement. Maria was so talented. They had only been friends for a few months, since Liz moved to Roswell, but they were now inseparable.

Liz hated to remember her first days at West Roswell High. She didn't know anyone and by lunch on the first day there were rumors about her, most of them were invented Pam Troy. But that was how Liz met Maria. Maria and Pam were practically mortal enemies. So when Maria heard the rumors, she told Pam to shut her "big mouth."

Maria finished singing the verse she was working on as Liz pulled out of her daydream. "So what did you think," she asked in anticipation, pushing her black framed glasses up her nose a little, and smoothing back her blonde locks.
Liz jumped up from her chair. "Maria, that was wonderful," she exclaimed as she hugged her friend. "One of these days you are going to be a big star. I just know you will be."

Maria sighed. "That is what I want more than anything in this world, Liz. Do you really think it will happen?"

Liz gave Maria a really big smile. "Let's make a promise right now. We will do everything we can to make each others dreams come true," Liz said as she held out her little finger.

"Well, we already know what my dream is, but what do you want," Maria asked.

Liz got a dreamy look in her eyes. "I really want to settle down and have a big family someday. I know that it is corny, but my dream is to marry a man the truly loves me."

Maria shook her head. "You are a hopeless romantic, you know that?"

"Yup," Liz smiled. "That's me."

Maria reached over and latched her little finger with Liz's. "Well, it's a deal. You make me a star and I will get you a guy."

Both girls broke out into fits of laughter, which ended when the realized they had to get to class. Over the years, Liz never forgot her promise to Maria. Her friend's talent was to precious to go to waste and Liz did
everything in her power not to let that happen.

Part One by Liz

Her hand throbbed with pain as the hand grew tighter, knuckles white. "Maria," Liz hissed urgently. "Calm down. You’re breaking my hand."

Maria stared down at their hands, clenched between each other, her eyes growing wide. She pulled her hand away. "Sorry," her voice was laced with tension. God she was nervous, its not everyday you get to do something like this. She tucked a strand of her long honey hair behind her ear and pushed her glasses up on the bridge of her nose out of habit. Some things just never changed.

It was like her friendship with Liz. Sophomore year of high school way back in Roswell they’d met. Their friendship was instantaneous. Liz had looked so wide-eyed and scared when she’d arrived, slowly taking her seat beside Maria.

Maria had never been shy, and felt sorry for the new girl. While the teacher droned on, she pulled out a pen, and jotted a hello down on a ripped off piece of paper. She’d thrown onto Liz’s desk, and when Liz read it she looked over, her eyes shining, giving a dazzling smile. ‘Hi,’ she had mouthed. It was the beginning of their friendship.

And now, here they were, still together. They were 22 now, grown up in the eyes of the law. And here they were, standing in the lobby of this massive building right in the heart of Los Angeles. And this was likely the most important day in Maria’s life so far. Valenti records, her dream come true.

Kyle Valenti had come to visit Maria a week before. He’d sashayed up to her, wearing a designer suit, and flashy glasses. Everything was flashy when it came to Kyle Valenti. He’d whipped out a crisp beige business card, placing it delicately in her hand. "9am, Monday. Be there." He’d simply stated, turning and leaving Maria to gawk in silence. He was President and owner of the most high-profile, and successful record company in America, hell---the world. And he wanted to see her, to…sign her?

She looked up at Liz, who was completely professional. She looked cool as can be, ready to take on the world. But Maria knew Liz, and she knew that her friends heart was beating probably about as fast as hers. Two years ago, when Maria started trying to get gigs, Liz had agreed to become her manager part-time. She was studying at UCLA to become a lawyer, and this was a perfect job for her.

And then Maria looked down at herself. Her hair was a windswept mess compared to Liz’s, and her clothes her casual. Just a denim skirt, and a sky blue tank top, topped off with a hemp purse. But that was her look, the Maria Deluca style.

Liz approached the desk confidently. "Hello, this is Maria Deluca, I’m Liz Parker, her manager. We have a 9 o’clock appointment."

The secretary fixed her bored stare on Liz, then Maria. "One moment please," she drawled in a southern accent. She pressed a red button. "Mr. Valenti, your 9 o’clock is here. Uh-huh…" She paused to listen. "Yes, okay." She peered over her glasses at the girls again. "Mr. Valenti will see you now. Through those doors, please."

"Thank you," Liz said coolly, and Maria sent her a warm appreciative smile. She tailed behind Liz, pushing her way through the big glass double doors.

"Ladies, welcome." Kyle boomed, standing from his plush black leather chair behind his big mahogany desk. It seems it was only the best for him. "Have a seat," he motioned to two chairs in front of the desk for them to sit in.

"Thank you," muttered Maria shyly, taking a seat beside Liz. She didn’t know why but Mr. Valenti made her feel shy, and unsure of herself. The man was certainly intimidating.

"I see that you’re interested in my client," Liz began. "Would you like to elaborate?"

Kyle cleared his throat, picking up a silver ball point pen from his desk, and rocking it back and forth in between his fingers. "Indeed, I’m very intrigued by Ms. Deluca. Not only is she talented, but beautiful as well. Her voice is very unique and strong. I’d like to sign her for a record deal." He opened a file on his desk, and pulled out a thick stapled together wad of paper. "I’ve drawn up a contract. I’d like to see her put out an album within the year, and before that tour with one of our already established stars."

"Really?" Cried Maria, forgetting her woes, and jumping out of her chair excitedly. Liz put a firm hand on her friend’s arm, settling her back into her chair. "Wow…" she breathed.

Kyle gave a deep laugh. "Yes, really. Of course, we’ll have to set up a few more meetings to discuss everything, and you’re sure to want to look that over. It’s a long read. But, I must say, Ms. Deluca, in advance…It’s nice to have you aboard." He smiled charmingly, and held out his hand to her.

Maria shook it firmly.

Part Two by Annie

Maria held Kyle Valenti's hand firmly within her own. When she heard his comments about her, her nervousness seemed to melt away. That was until the door to his office burst open.

"I cannot believe that you did this to me," an angry voice bellowed into the room. A tall, beautiful blond came striding into the room, followed closely by an equal tall man with dark black hair and Kyle's secretary.

The secretary opened her mouth to apologize, but Kyle held out his hand. "It is alright, Sylvia." He then turned his attention to the irritated blond standing in front of him. "What can I do for you Isabel?"

Maria just fell back into her seat next to Liz. "Do you know who that is," she whispered into Liz's ear.
Liz nodded, but her attention was else where. She hadn't been able to take her eyes off of the man that had followed Isabel in the room. Maria glanced in the direction Liz was looking and smiled to herself. She had to hand it
to her best friend. She had taste. Maria waved her hand in front of Liz's face. "Earth to Liz."

Liz jumped a little bit as she was jolted out of her staring session. "What is it Maria," she asked.

"I asked if you knew who that was," Maria restated with a big grin on her face.

"Yeah, its Isabel Evans," Liz said nonchalantly.

"You say that like we're not just a few feet away from the biggest female vocalist of the year," Maria exclaimed in shock.

While Liz and Maria were chatting, Max Evans was trying to calm his sister down before she managed to insult the man who made her famous. "Isabel, does it really matter that Dido has a bigger dressing room than you?"

Isabel turned to her brother and shot him an angry glare. "Yes it matters, Max. She has had like one actual hit song. I have had three this year alone, and she gets the bigger dressing room?"

Kyle opened his mouth to speak, but it was Liz's voice that filled the room. "Don't forget that she does sing the theme song to that teen alien show," she stated matter-of-factly. "What is the name of it?"

"Roswell, I think," Maria added.

Max could help snickering. That was until he noticed who spoke. Sitting here before him was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her chocolate colored hair was pulled back from her face and her dark brown eyes
focused intently on his. However, the intense moment was short lived. "Who are you," Isabel asked, finally acknowledging Liz and Maria's existence.

Liz stood up and stuck her hand out. "My name is Liz Parker and this is my client Maria Deluca."

Isabel turned away and looked directly back at Kyle. "You are signing her," she whined. "Are you just going to let anyone record for this label?"

Liz went to defend her friend, but Max beat her too it. "Isabel, that was uncalled for. Apologize now."

Isabel began to pout, but didn't say a word. Instead, she stormed out much the same way she came in. Max turned his attention back to Liz and Maria.

"I am really sorry about that. Sometimes my sister can be pretty spoiled."

Kyle chuckled at what Max was said. "If you don't mind me saying, Isabel has a lot people beat when it comes to spoiled."

Max nodded he head in agreement before shaking Kyle's hand. "I am really sorry about this, Mr. Valenti."

Kyle smiled. "Don't worry about it."

"Thanks again," Max added, then turned to face Liz. "I better get going. My sister has left me stranded before, and I bet she wants to do it again. "

Liz smiled at Max. "It was nice to meet you."

Max nodded. "It was nice to meet you too."

Part Three by Liz

Three Months Later

"Maria, doll," Kyle called airily to his starlet-to-be. As usual, he was decked out in a formal business suit and tie, looking crisp and professional. It was part of the routine. Always look good for the client. He approached her in an embrace, kissing her gently on the cheek. Thats how these industry types seemed to work. A lot of it was business, and when it wasn’t business it was bullshit.

"Hey Kyle," she said, playing along. Truthfully, it made her a bit uncomfortable, this whole LA facade. After all, deep down she was really just a small-town girl. And it was just weird…But Kyle was a perfectly nice guy. Just a little absorbed in his life, which was pretty much work. He was an egotistical, charming workaholic, really.

Maria glanced around nervously. She’d never been in a real recording studio before. It didn’t seem that foreign. But then again, she was only in the lobby. There was a secretary at a desk, and three long, cold corridors. Kyle took his hand in hers, pulling her into the studio farther. He took her forward into the hallway, and then turned into a studio. They opened the door. A man sat at the control panel, working intensely on something. He was tall, and lean with chocolately brown short hair. He wore a pair of loose jeans, and a simple blue button-down shirt. The man was completely absorbed with jotting down notes on a pad of lined paper.

Kyle ushered her in, approaching the man. "Maria, this is Alex Whitman. He’s going to be collaborating with you on some songs. He plays the guitar expertly, and some background vocals. Also, a pure genius when it comes to writing. He’s written a few songs for the album to add to your own."

Maria nodded, gazing at Alex, who was still completely enthralled in whatever he was doing. "Alex?" Kyle’s voiced imposed. The man jumped, looking up with a sheepishly embarrassed expression on his face.

"Oh hey," he said easily, with a warm smile. "Sorry, I was just writing something. Got caught up. You must be Maria," he said, holding his hand out to her.

She shook it, and smiled back at him. There was just something about him…This mischievous boyish look to him. It seemed he was one of the good ones, one who had not been affected yet by this whole famous atmosphere. "Yeah," she nodded. "It’s nice to meet you."

"Likewise," he said, pushing the papers aside, and standing up. "I’ve heard some of your stuff. You’re amazing."

Maria blushed, looking down timidly. "Thanks, it’s just…my passion."

"I know what you mean," he agreed whole-heartedly. "I think we’re going to get along great."

"So anyway, Maria, where is Ms. Parker?" Kyle asked casually, seating himself in a swivel chair.

"Traffic. She called me earlier saying she’d be late."

Kyle nodded, his face disapproving. "Mmmhmm," he muttered to himself. "I guess I’ll just let you know now, then. Well, the PR team has decided that the best thing for you after your first single hits the air is to go on tour. Now, we tried to fit you in with Weezer, but we’ve decided over at the label that you should work with someone more close to your specific genre. That’s why you’re going to be placed on tour with Isabel Evans and her entourage. You’ll be her opening act."

Maria gasped. Isabel Evans. On tour. This was like…A dream come true. Okay, so their first meeting hadn’t exactly gone what you could have called smooth. But she was probably just in a bad mood, stressed out. Touring with Isabel was just, amazing. They would probably get really close, and maybe she’d even consider doing a song together or something? A duet. She liked the sound of that. She let out a long hiss of air. "Thank you, Kyle," she managed to choke out.

"No problem, babe. You’re the one who got yourself here. But that means we’re going to be really busy working on the album for the next four to five months or so. I want this baby out as soon as possible. The marketing people will want a photo shoot, videos and probably a gig on MTV. But it’s going to happen quick. We have a schedule here." He paused to look at his watch. Rolex, of course. "Which means, to be on time, if not early. And be ready to work, I don’t want any attitude. This is hard work, and you’ve got to want it so bad you can taste it. Otherwise you’re not going to get it. You get it?"

Maria nodded, overwhelmed. She knew he was mad about Liz being late. But, that wasn’t the most important thing right now. She was going to be touring. She was going to have an album. And music videos---MTV for God’s sakes! She was going to meet Carson Daily and all. "So does that mean—" she started, but was interrupted by the shrill ring of a cell phone.

"Sorry, thats me," Kyle said, pulling it from his pocked, and switching it on. "Kyle Valenti…Yes…No, I said now! Isabel, you have to….No. No…..One minute." He glanced over at Maria and Alex. "You two get acquainted. Excuse me." With that he let himself out into the hallway, slamming the door behind himself.

Maria bit her lip nervously, glancing out the door at Kyle’s increasingly reddening face. He was pissed. And it seemed that it was because of Isabel again. Maybe it wasn’t such a good thing after all that she was going to tour with her. But it’s not like she could pull out, there was no way she’d ever do that. She glanced at Alex.

He smiled goofily, taking a bite out of a donut. "Donut?" He offered, holding up a rainbow sprinkled one. She nodded, taking it from him and slumping down into a chair. She had feeling it was going to be a long wait.

Part Four by Annie

Max flopped himself down unto the couch in Isabel's condo. She hated this place, but Max liked it because it was close to the studio. Which was a good thing today. Isabel had him running errands up and down, making plans for her upcoming tour. Hell, Max felt more like an errand boy then a manager.

Lately, Isabel was impossible to live with. Nothing pleased her and she had no problem complaining about it. Max was just tired of dealing with it. The worst part was that the tour was still months away.

"Maaaaxxx," he heard her call into the living room.

"Isabel, there is not a chance in hell that I am getting off of this couch," he yelled back at her as he pulled a cushion over his head.

Isabel walked into the room, grabbed the cushion off of his head, and threw it across the room. "Did you hear who is opening for me?"

"Maria Deluca," he said, barely opening his eyes. "She is pretty good. I heard a couple of her demos. Why?"

"You planned this," she yelled. Isabel grabbed another cushion and began to hit him with it.

"Damnit Isabel," Max managed to spout out in-between getting hit. He managed to grab the pillow, but Isabel was still pulling at it to wrench it from his grasp. "If you hit me one more time, Isabel, I will quit," he said

Isabel let go of the pillow and sank down on the chair across from the couch. "Why do I have to tour with her," she whined.

Max sat up. "What is so bad with Maria Deluca?"

"You can't fool me, Max," she said, pointing at him. "You just want to see Liz Parker again. You don't even care that you have signed me up with a no name who could bring down the entire tour."

Max rolled his eyes at his sister. "You have never even heard her sing. She is really good. She is the perfect act to open for you and that has nothing to do with Liz Parker."

"Don't even try to get around it Max. I have seen you look at her," Isabel accused.


"Just last week. We were walking out of the studio and she was walking in. You were looking at her like you had never seen a woman before."

"None as beautiful as her," he mumbled under his breath.

"What was that," Isabel asked with a smirk on her face. "Did I hear the word 'beautiful' being used?"

Max got up off the couch. "Are you twelve, Isabel?"

Isabel's smile got wider. "And are you getting defensive, my dear brother?"

Max walked over to the door and opened it. "I am taking the rest of the day off. For your sake, don't call me for the rest of the day." With that, he closed the door.

Isabel sat in her chair, triumphant in the knowledge that Max was getting defensive over a girl. She hadn't seen him date much in the past couple of years. It would be good for him to go out. But she still did not like the fact that in order for him to get this date, she would have to be stuck on tour with Maria Deluca.

Part Five by Liz

"Mmm, coffee, my lifeblood," mumbled Liz to no one particular as she drunk in the warm rich scent of her flavored coffee. The steaming coffee was her one release from the stressful day which she was having. First of all, that horrible jam on the highways, and then getting to the studio and finding out that she wasn’t even needed. Liz had gratefully found solitude in a nearby cafĂ©, her cell turned on in case of a duty call. Most likely there would be, considering Kyle seemed especially perfectionistic. It was like nothing could be completely right for him.

She relaxed, easing herself down in one of the lush padded chairs, letting her tired and aching body sink into the padded comfort. It was nice to finally take a break. God knows she needed one. She’d been busy non-stop ever since Maria had been offered this contract, in fact, she’d taken a leave-of-absence at school so she would be free to devote more time to her best friend’s impending superstardom.

Liz closed her eyes for a moment, cradling the hot over-sized mug in her hand, letting a serene feeling overwhelm her body. It was almost like a meditative state for her. She inhaled deeply, smelling the coffee, then exhaled. Inhaled, exhaled.

"Mind if I join you?" came a deep, velvety voice whispering in her ear.

Liz jolted suddenly, spilling the hot substance all over her skirt. "God!" she cried irritatedly, jumping up and placing the cup on the table in front of her. Then she winced painfully, "…and, ‘ow’." It hadn’t even occurred to her to give any recognition to the source of her accident, until she found a masculine hand, blotting away the coffee stain with a napkin. And god, what was attached to that hand…Well, it was worth the pain, she could admit. "Hi," she said hoarsely.

Max scrubbed at the stain, his black jacket removed, and his blue-colored button-up shirt’s sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He kneeled on the floor, at her feet, and his head flicked up, shooting her a worried glance when she spoke. "I…" He sputtered, "I am so sorry about that."

Liz shook her head. "No, no. Look, it’s all my fault. I don’t know what happened there. I’m just a total spaz!" She exclaimed, taking a napkin, and helping him with his clean-up.

He looked up from the stain again, his face lit up in a breath-taking completely charming smile. "But a cute one," he muttered lowly to himself.

Liz blinked. "Excuse me?"

He shook his head. Oh god, he had said that out loud. Out. Loud. He could feel himself flushing, knowing that a blush covered his entire complexion by now probably. "Nothing…I, uh.." He stumbled for a word or phrase he could use. Something witty, charming, smart. Something coherent, perhaps. There was just something about this girl…He studied her quickly. Her warm brown eyes were round orbs of concern, her face slightly tinted with a blush. Her silky long tendrils were worn loose, tucked haphazardly behind her ears. And the cute little half grin, half smirk that was playing on her lips…It was just breathtaking. He’d never seen anything more perfect in his life.

He diverted his eyes back to her skirt. "Oh! Look, it’s gone."

She smiled warmly, "thanks." She placed a hand tentatively on his upper arm. It was hard and muscular. She took a long intake of air before snatching it away, like his arm was on fire. "Here," she said, flustered. "Join me."

Max stood slowly, his eyes locked with hers, not wanting to betray himself by uttering all that he felt. He slung his suit jacket over his shoulder, and gave her another charming toothy grin. "Thanks. So what brings you here?" He questioned, taking a seat across from her.

Never in her life had she been so physically attracted to a man before. Of course, she’d felt it before---when first meeting him, and run-ins at Valenti Records. But never so strongly, and never in a social atmosphere. His chocolate brown hair was slightly rumpled, gold tie loosened, shirt unbuttons undone casually, and a five o’clock shadow across his face. Now, it’s not that professional, sleek Max wasn’t sexy. But now…just sitting there looking so rumpled and yet so adorable. She just wanted to ravish him right then and there.

Of course, that was not an option. First of all, they were professionals. And it was never good to mix business with pleasure, so says Cosmo, television, and her cousin Stacey. Also, the fact that she’d never even had a full, intense conversation with the man. Oh, and of course, the fact that he had absolutely no attraction to her, most likely. Thats the way it was for her. She’d be the crushee, not the crush. So sad and pathetic, but true. To even comprehend that this male-model, sexy, adonis guy would even go for her was mind-boggling.

"Ms. Parker?" Max asked, his eyebrows knitted together in concern. "Are you okay?"

"Liz," she babbled. "Call me Liz…And yeah, long day---you know, distractions around, lots of stuff and yeah…Whew," she sighed. "I was late, Kyle was pissed, I got coffee. Your excuse?"

Max liked the way she babbled. It was like one of those cute adorable quirks that people either thought were great, or loathed with a passion. Of course, it was the former for him. He could listen to Liz talk all day through those gorgeous, supple lips. She could say anything she wanted to, as long as he could be in her presence. He could smell her perfume. It was a like walking through a field of wildflowers on a summer day.

He groaned. "Isabel is a pain. She’s always a pain. Maybe not so much at the beginning, but as soon as the second number one single came out, suddenly she’s J-Lo. She got all diva on everyone, and won’t let anything get in her way, including her brother."

Liz laughed. "Oh God, if Maria ever got that way I’d disown her. But she’s too grounded. It’s just…a passion for her, I guess."

Max nodded. "Mmm, I get that. She’s got a beautiful voice. Too bad Isabel is in such hysterics she won’t even sit and listen to her demos."

"She’s that bad, huh?" Liz brought the mug to her lips, taking a small sip of the scorching hot liquid. "Maria’s so starstruck I don’t think she even realizes how much Isabel seems to dislike her."

"It’s not even that," Max assured Liz. "She just…gets in these moods. She wants to be number one forever, and intends to do anything in her power to stop her fame from pummeling. And if that means stomping on starlets, then so be it. She can be heartless and cruel."

Liz shook her head. "God, what fun this will be."