|posted on 10-Nov-2001 12:37:32 PM|
M/L w/ some M/M & A/I no tess!!
AU early 1900’s I guess
Rating: PG for now R later
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything, except what is given to Elizabeth
Summary: Liz is born an orphan and adopted by the Parkers. Something is given to her that is very important to shaping her future.
A scream tore from her throat as another contraction came to its climax. ‘ It wasn’t supposed to be this way.’ Patricia thought. ‘He was going to be here, be able to hold her… love her… and now…’ The next contractions rippled through her, each one more intense then the last. Tears streamed down her face, their moisture going unnoticed as the rain continued to fall around her. She clutched her one possession to her chest, as if the book she carried was the most important thing to her. All at once her previous thoughts vanished as the need to find shelter for her and her baby took president. It was so hard to see as the storm blew rain and debris at her from all directions. She turned her head wildly from side to side as she stumbled forward, each time praying that she would find some sort of refuge. Suddenly, as if someone had heard her prayer, a light appeared in the distance. Taking it one step at a time Patricia dragged herself towards it, thinking of nothing but her baby’s safety. She finally reached the gates of a large manor. She stopped for a moment to rest herself, before using what little strength she had to push open the immense gate. After a few tries she managed to open the gate a bit and slip into the grounds of the estate. The world was starting to spin even more and her head became so unbearably heavy that she found herself loosing the battle to keep going. She finally made it to the door where the light had been coming from, but she could go no further. Lightening flashed in the distance as she threw herself at the door in a desperate attempt to get in. She managed to hit the door with a loud thud before collapsing and finally dropping her beloved book.
“ Now who could that be, out in this storm?” Jessica thought. She considered not answering it since the master of the house was not home and she was not expecting company. But the thought of anyone out at night in this weather was enough to push all doubt away. Cautiously opening the door, it took all of her will power not to let out a scream at the sight she saw. There, on the doorstep was girl. If she had not been obviously pregnant there would have been nothing to her at all. She was facing the door and the light from inside illuminated her face. Her eyes were red and puffy, as if she had being crying herself to sleep for sometime. Her dark straight hair was wet and sticking to the sides of her face. But even soaking wet and obviously malnourished there was something about her face, even now she was breathtaking. Once the shock wore off Jessica tried to pull the poor girl inside. “Paul! Call the doctor quick and help me get her upstairs!” In all of her years living and then working at Parker manor taking care of the children Jessica Whitman had never seen such a sick girl. With much care Jessica and her husband Paul carried the lost girl upstairs. After the doctor had delivered the baby he somberly added that he didn’t think the mother would make it through the night, and the baby probably wouldn’t fair much better.
As she sat the mystery girl’s beside Jessica’s mind wandered. A baby girl had been born on this stormy night, five days before Christmas. Although one would never guess it from the unseasonably warm weather they were having. Well it was lucky for the baby, if this rain had been snow she doubted that they would have made it this far. Just how far had mother and child come? She had no idea. The women had no form of identification, her clothes were slightly unique but nothing she hadn’t seen before in the neighboring areas. Jessica felt much compassion for the woman who was still such a girl herself, she was probably only a little younger than she was; but the girl was so tiny. She was thin yes, but she also had a small frame and her long hair just made the rest of her seem smaller in comparison. Jessica sat with her all night. Her heart went out to this dark-haired beauty who would never get to hold her little girl.
At the first rays of daybreak, Jessica stirred thinking she heard a voice. ‘But that’s impossible,’ she thought. ‘There’s only one person who could be talking, and surely she did not make it through the night.’ Jessica rushed to the bed. She was alive!
Her head was pounding and why was it so hard to breathe? As Patricia slowly opened her eyes her memory cleared slightly. “My baby. Where’s Elizabeth?” Suddenly her baby was in her arms. It got even harder to draw air into her lungs, but Patricia fought to live; ‘Let me just look at her once,’ she thought. Slowly, she gathered enough strength to shift her head so that she could see her baby’s face. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. “Oh Elizabeth. I love you so much. Your father wanted to be here, but I bet you he’s watching over us right now.” The tears she had been holding back flowed freely now. But those soon stopped when her feeling of awe was replaced by the realization that she would not be here much longer. With desperation in her voice she said what needed to be said, her daughter’s future depended on it. “She must have it, you will make sure of it won’t you?” Jessica looked towards Paul, the utter confusion she felt written across her face. “Give who what?” “Give Elizabeth… give Elizabeth…” “Give Elizabeth what?”, Jessica prompted in hopes of getting an answer sooner. Patricia looked towards the women who had cared for her and with a look of determination in her eye she uttered the last word she could, “This.” And with that she used the last of her strength to lift her right hand and place it in the women’s. The hand soon went limp in Jessica’s. Paul looked at his watch, “Time of death, 6:52am.”
*~* Chapter 1 *~*
Christmas and New Years had come and gone, but Jessica still thought about that stormy night, not so long ago. That night had changed her life.
‘Just breathe and think Jessica, breathe and think. Give Elizabeth this. What did she mean? It was her last wish so it must be very important. Who is Elizabeth? It must be the baby, yes she had used that name moments before when she was talking to the baby girl. How did she know the baby had been a girl? No one had told her and there is no way to know for sure. But that’s not important now Jessica, think; what could I give the baby.’ Jessica then remembered the weight in her hand and looked down. ‘She put her hand in mine, but how can I give the baby her hand?’ Jessica placed the hand back down on the bed. This was a lot for her to deal with right now. She was so tired, if she looked half as bad as Paul did; they both needed some rest. She would be no good to her cause if she was not rested. “Come on Paul lets get some sleep and then we can decide what to do with the mother and child.” “Thank God the baby made it through the night, I think she’s going to be ok now,” Paul said, obviously relieved.
Paul had woken up a few hours later. Jessica was still asleep. She looked so peaceful he couldn’t bring himself to wake her. He kept the curtains drawn and made his way into the room that contained the lost girl’s body. ‘ Well we have to find out what she meant, but at least we know what to name the baby. The name seems to fit her well. I better prepare the body for the burial.’ Paul walked in the room and opened the curtains, letting the morning light flood the small room. This particular room was always very lit up in the morning because its one huge window faced the east and the rising sun. He turned towards the bed and something caught his eye. Could this be what she meant to give to Elizabeth? Paul ran to get Jessica.
‘Could that be what she meant? Could it? Jessica could think of nothing else as she made her way towards the guest room.’ “This is it Paul! This is what she was talking about, this is the hand she gave to me and here it is. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.” “Well it was dark in here; I just saw it because the sun hit it.”
Jessica bent down to get a closer look at the object that was so important to this girl; she had used her last breath to alert them to it’s existence. There, on her second to last finger was a ring. Jessica had never seen anything like it. Nine diamonds came down to form a V, which complimented the girl’s long slender finger. The band, which could not be seen at the front of her finger, was made of gold. The ring was small, delicate and beautiful… just like its wearer. Paul stared at the ring in his wife’s hand. “Its absolutely beautiful…” “… and it’s Elizabeth’s,” Jessica finished.
*~* Chapter 2 *~*
It was Christmas time again. You could smell it in the air at Parker Manor. Jessica loved this time of the year. But her heart had never been as light ever since that stormy night, two years ago, when one life had been given to her and another taken away.
At the time Elizabeth was born the Parkers had been away; the Parker family owned the large estate. Mr. and Mrs. Parker had taken their one-year-old daughter Maria and gone to South America for the winter, sighting that their daughter was too young to endure a New York winter. As ridiculous as this sounded to Jessica, she, Paul and their three year old son Alex were happy to have the house for themselves from the end of November until the beginning of April that year. But their relaxing few months were anything but once Elizabeth was born. While taking care of a baby is a lot of work, Elizabeth was a happy baby and she was loved dearly. Even Alex tried to help out as much as a three year old could. No, the extra stress was added on when Jessica and Paul tried to locate the baby’s family so that she might be returned. At first the task seemed impossible, since the only thing the mother had on her was a ring. They tried asking around if anyone knew of such a ring being worn by someone, but no one did. They almost gave up hope, until one day when Jessica was sweeping the steps leading up to the main door of the house. As she was sweeping she uncovered a crimson colored leather bound book that had been covered with leaves, so as not visible to anyone who didn’t know it was there. Jessica picked up the book, and upon later examination discovered that it had belonged to Elizabeth’s mother. Her name had been Patricia Vanessa Mayfair, her last name changed to Vitello when she married and she was only 19 at the time of her death. The book was obviously a diary of Patricias that she had been keeping since she was 15. The diary told of how her family lived in England but Patricia had come here with her husband Carmelo when they were both 17. Although the diary was an insight into the kind of person that Patricia was and the kind of life she led, it was also rather cryptic when it was talking about Elizabeth’s ring. The ring and it changing Patricia’s life was talked about frequently, but never very clearly. Jessica tried to make sense out of it to Paul. “Well apparently Patricia’s grandmother, Kerri used the ring as her mother had instructed her to do. But Patricia’s mother, Krystyn, did not. Patricia wrote about how her mother did not use the ring, and forbid her to use it as well. She also writes how her mother is not like her or her grandmother, that she is money hungry and doesn’t care about anyone but herself.” “Does it say how Patricia used the ring? She must have used it somehow if she wore it and considered it important,” Paul asked. “It might, but the rest of it is in Italian. She talked about learning the language her husband’s family spoke and then all of a sudden that’s all she was writing in. And its not even regular Italian, it’s a rarely used dialect. I don’t know what to do.”
‘Poor Patricia,’ Jessica thought ‘ she was so unhappy with her family. I wish I could read what she wrote in Italian, that’s most of the writing.’ Suddenly a thought occurred to Jessica. ‘If she was so unhappy with her family, then why should I send Elizabeth to them?’ But she had already made her decision. No one but her and Paul would ever know that Elizabeth had a family out there. Jessica would do everything in her power to keep her away from what Patricia ran from. She just knew the Parkers would take pity on the small orphan and raise her as their own. She didn’t know how to explain it, but Jessica knew she doing the right thing for the little girl who had so quickly stolen her heart.
*~* Chapter 3 *~*
“Elizabeth Vanessa Parker and Maria Rose Parker! You get yourselves in the house right this instant!” Green eyes quickly met their brown counterparts as Maria and Liz exchanged horrified glances. At the ages of 9 and 10 they already knew that when someone uses your full name, it can only mean trouble. “Sorry, Alexander Paul Whitman,” Maria exclaimed using her best grownup voice. “Me and Liz. I mean, I mean Liz and I must return home now. I have a feeling we’re wanted.” With Alex and Liz still giggling Maria started to run towards the house. Liz turned towards Alex, unlike Maria Liz was shy and didn’t have too many friends, so her time spent with Alex was always hard to turn away from. “I’ll see you later right Alex?” “Sure. I’ll come over and we can take our walk.” Just then they heard Maria call out, “Come on Liz your going to loose the race!” Liz started to run to catch up with Maria, the ring hanging from a chain around her neck bounced as she moved. “Bye Alex!” and with that she was gone.
Alex turned to walk back to his house. His parents had saved up enough money and last year they bought their own house on the plot of land next to the Parker’s. Although Alex was happy his house was bigger now, he was also sad to leave Liz and Maria. But it was in walking distance so it wasn’t too bad. As he looked around and started the walk home, he realized why Liz and Maria had been called back so forcefully. It was so dark he almost couldn’t see. His mom was going to mad this time! Alex broke out into a run and made it home faster than he ever had. But that still wasn’t good enough, his parents had wanted him home early today because his dad’s friend was moving into the old house at the edge of the Parker’s property. Apparently he had two children, twins, both 2 years younger than Alex. ‘ I have to remember their names! Mom told them to me this morning and told me not to forget so that when I meet them I know what to call them. There was something weird about their names too. But I just can’t seem to remember. Why does this always happen to me? I can never remember anything. I was supposed to come home early… I forgot. I was supposed to remember their names… I forgot. Now I’m babbling.’ He sighed. “Note to self, cut down on the Maria time,” he mumbled as he walked in the door. “Ah, there he is,” Jessica said. “I’m sorry, I guess I lost track of the time. It’s getting dark so much earlier now that it’s almost summer time you know.” Alex smiled his widest smile, to his surprise his father smiled back saying that it was ok. “Philip, I would like you to meet our son Alex. Alex this is Philip Evans, he is the father of the twins we were telling you about.” ‘Well he doesn’t sound mad at all. Yay! I won’t get in trouble!’ “It’s very nice to meet you Mr. Evans.” Relieved that he wasn’t going to be punished and having met the other adult in the room, Alex now looked around the room to see if the twins were there. Sensing Alex was looking for his children, Philip Evans decided to help him out. “If your looking for who I think you are, their outside looking around.” “Why don’t you go outside and play for a little while, but not too long. The Evans have had a long trip and they will be wanting to get to their new house to get a good nights rest.” “Ok, thanks mom.” ‘I wonder if I’ll be able to tell them apart,’ Alex thought.
*~* Chapter 4 *~*
Liz rounded the corner just in time to see blonde curls make the next turn. “Maria wait! No fair I have shorter legs than you and you had a huge head start!” Liz pretended to be hurt that she was loosing but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Liz was just happy to be playing, she never took anything for granted. She could be in last place in a game and still be having the time of her life. Maria gave her last burst of energy to hit the column at the front of the house. “I win! I win!” Liz also touched the column, “Well I came in second place,” she said with a smile. Just then the front door opened and the two girls were faced with Maria’s mother, Nancy Parker, and she did not look so happy. “I thought I told you girls to come in a little early today. You both know very well that Michael is coming tonight. And Maria you be nice to him this time, you know his father was a very dear friend of ours, the poor boy, and I want him to feel right at home for his visit. Now come along, you girls will have to wash and dress very quickly. Your clothes are laid out on your beds. Now hurry! He will be here in less than an hour.”
Maria and Liz talked as they walked up to their rooms. “Ugh! I completely forgot that porcupine of a boy was coming today. Don’t you remember his horrid spiky hair! Who wears their hair like that? Any way, I can’t believe I forgot! Alex is the forgetful one! I think I’ve been hanging around him for too long. Note to self, cut down on the Alex time.” “I don’t know Maria; maybe if you give Michael a chance you can learn to like him. He’s not too bad once you get to know him; he’s just a little shy… like me. And I don’t think you thought his hair was too horrid last year, if it was so bad then why were you always staring at him like he was a big bowl of your favorite ice cream?” Maria’s intake of breath was obvious, Liz knew she had done it this time. “Stare at him!! I never stared at him! You don’t know what your talking about dear sister.” Maria then turned into her room and closed the door. Liz could hear her muttering under her breath, something about what kind of girl would like a guy with a porcupine on his head. Liz’s room was right next to Maria’s and a bathroom connected the two rooms. Liz’s room and Maria’s room were identical in size and structure but that’s about it; the rooms were as different as the two girls were. Maria’s room was bright, with tons of toys and lots of color. Liz’s room was decorated in pastels with large bookcases to hold her many books and a few select dolls. Both rooms had doors at one end opening up to a balcony that they shared. There was a large oak tree that grew right next to the balcony. Alex would use it to climb up and down so he wouldn’t have to go through the house when star gazing or talking with Liz and Maria. Star gazing was Liz’s favorite. During the summer Maria, Liz and Alex would sit out there and look at the stars some nights. For the rest of the nights, Liz was on her own, just her and the billions of stars in the sky.
Liz and Maria finished getting dressed at almost the same time. Maria took a little longer, but that always happened, so Liz waited for her as usual. When they were both ready, they walked down the staircase and into the living room. “You girls are just in time,” Jeff Parker beamed. Maria, Elizabeth, I trust you remember Michael from last summer. Maria couldn’t believe her eyes. Michael looked the same; same hair, taller maybe, but not much had changed. Then why couldn’t she take her eyes off of him?
‘It’s so dark out here, they couldn’t have gone far,’ Alex thought. ‘See if I would have remembered their names like mom told me I could call them, but no I have to find them myself in the dark because I forgot.’ Alex was so deep in thought he nearly walked into someone. “Oh I’m sorry, I can be such a klutz sometimes. It’s a good thing we’re not too far away from the house so we still get some of the light right? You must be one of the Evans twins. Hi I’m Alex. What’s your name?” The other boy stared at Alex but didn’t say a word. Alex decided to try again. Smiling even wider this time he put out his hand. “I’m Alex nice to meet you.” To his surprise the boy took his hand and started shaking it. He didn’t want to push his luck but he really wanted to know his name, so he asked. “What’s your name?” His answer came out almost as a whisper, and if Alex hadn’t been standing so close he might have missed it. “ I’m Max.” “Oh good, Max, well it’s nice to meet you. Where’s your twin brother, I bet you guys can play lots of tricks on people looking the same and everything.” Max removed his hand from Alex’s and stared past Alex to a point behind him. ‘I hope his brother isn’t as shy as him, I think Max might be even shyer than Liz’ “Is he behind me? Well you stay there so I can remember which one is which,” Alex said with a grin. “ Oh I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that.” “Well its usually hard for me to tell…” At that point Alex had turned fully around and just now realized why he wouldn’t have a problem telling the two twins apart. He was now facing the other Evans twin, and just remembered the names he had been told this morning Max and…Isabel.
*~* Chapter 5 *~*
‘It wasn’t the names that were weird, it was that it was a boys name and a girls name. Good one Alex, yeah I bet I won’t be able to tell you guys apart! I’m quick.’ Alex finally opened his eyes to see the girl who was obviously pissed that she had been called a boy. His eyes opened but his mouth opened even wider. Even pissed, there was something about her that he had never seen before; and it was intriguing. “Isabel… Hi! My name is Alex, its really nice to meet you.” ‘So he knew my name but he still thought I was a boy, maybe he is as stupid as he looks?’ Isabel reluctantly took the hand that was offered. “Hey. Well me and my brother better get going now.” With that she turned and headed towards the house, Max silently followed her, nodding in Alex’s direction before catching up with his sister. Moments later the Evans family emerged from the house, Mr. Evens was the only one who waved good bye. Isabel didn’t even look at him. Once they were out of sight Alex let out a long sigh. “That went well,” Alex muttered to himself. “Between Max being the shyest person I’ve ever met and Isabel hating me with a passion, it looks like making friends will take a little more work than I thought.” Tonight was Michael’s first night at the Parker’s, so of course they had to have a formal diner; complete with formal conversation. Maria hated that. As much as she loved normal conversation, people were always telling her she talked too much; formal conversation was another story. She could never say the first thing that popped into her head like she normally did, she had to “make it more polite” as her mother put it. But this didn’t stop Maria tonight. Michael had changed somehow, she just knew it, and she was determined to find out how. “Michael we are so happy to have you for the summer. You are going to have so much fun what with Elizabeth and Maria right here. Plus there’s Alex and the Evans twins just moved in, so you will have plenty of friends.” Mrs. Parker was glad they had gotten Michael out here for the summer. The poor boy lived all alone with his aunt, since his parents died shortly after he was born. It would do him some good to have children around to play with. “I’m glad to be here,” Michael said trying very hard to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. ‘Great, I’m stuck here with these brats. Well they’re not both brats. Liz is real quite, which is good, maybe she’ll leave me alone. Plus, I don’t remember her being too bad last year; in fact I kind of liked her. Now Maria, she’s a brat. The first time I see her she just stares at me and makes me uncomfortable. At least she’s kept her mouth shut for dinner.’ “So Michael…” he had spoken too soon. “… your hair, is that the same way you wore it the last time you were here?” Maria asked. “Uh… yeah I guess so.” “Hum… well have you changed anything about yourself since the last time you were here? Anything at all, even if it’s really embarrassing you could tell me. I need to know.” ‘What?? Where is she going with this?’ Before Michael could answer Mr. Parker stepped in. “Maria that’s enough with making him uncomfortable. Really, I’m disappointed in you. Eat your dinner and I don’t want to hear another word out of you unless you have something nice to say, you hear me?” “Yes sir,” Maria answered quickly. ‘ Now how am I supposed to find out what’s different about him if I can’t ask him? Not talk unless I have something nice to say? How can I do that?’ Across the table the petite brunette had been thinking about how she had to miss her walk with Alex because dinner would take longer tonight. Liz was shocked out of her thoughts when her father raised his voice. An unexpected spark of intrigue was felt upon hearing her father’s last sentence. ‘Maria only speak when she was saying something nice to Michael? This should be interesting.’
*~* Chapter 6 *~*
Social events brought about mixed emotions in Liz and tonight had been no different. On one hand, she hated them. Everyone was staring at you; everything you did or said had to be perfect. Funny at the right times and serious the next minute. She would rather be with her small group of friends staring at the stars or taking a walk in the woods. But social events weren’t all bad. Liz loved to watch Maria as she interacted with everyone else in the room. While Liz was kind to everyone and tried very hard to make conversation, Maria did this with ease and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She would talk to anyone as long as they would listen. Sometimes Liz envied her sister, and wished that she could open up more to people.
Dinner had ended a while ago, but Liz was still awake. She got out of her bed to go to the bookshelf. Whenever she couldn’t fall asleep, which was quite often, she loved to read her mother’s diary. She called Mr. and Mrs. Parker mom and dad and Maria sister, but she knew that wasn’t entirely true. While she loved them all as if they were her real family, they weren’t and she felt the need to connect with her real mother. She pulled the crimson volume from its place amongst the rest of her books. She knew the whole thing by heart, but the most exciting part was one that she had just recently translated. It turned out that not the whole Italian section of her mother’s diary was in dialect as Jessica had first thought. There was writing on the back cover, Mrs. Whitman told her it must be a fairy tale of some kind. Jessica and Liz worked together to translate it and they were almost done. All of a sudden, Liz heard footsteps out in the hall. She hurried to hide the book. Her door then opened with Mrs. Parker peeking her head in. “Liz dear, are you still awake? You really should be getting to bed, its late and you had a long day.” “Your right mom, I’ll get in bed right away.” “That’s my little girl, good-night.” “Good-night mom.” ‘Phew, that was close,’ Liz thought. No one but her and Alex’s parents knew that she had family. When Liz was old enough, Mrs. Whitman explained to her about her mother running away from her family. She had also given Liz her mother’s diary that day. Liz knew how important it was to keep this knowledge a secret. If anyone found out, the law of the land would take her away from the Parker’s and force her to leave them and go live with her real family. The thought of leaving Maria and Alex brought her to tears. She couldn’t let that happen, so she never told anyone. She kinda thought her life depended on it.
Liz laid the book on her desk. She also took out her Italian dictionary. She would finish translating the fairy tale just like Jessica had shown her, one word at a time. But tonight she would finish, for she only had 19 words left. There, on the back cover of the diary was the beautiful fairy tale she as deciphering. It was written in perfect Italian and translated in Elizabeth’s flowing handwriting it said:
All Mayfair women are given the most precious gift, starting with the first Mayfair, Vanessa. Vanessa befriended a poor old woman, when everyone else turned her away. The woman was horribly disfigured so most people couldn’t get past what she looked like on the outside, to find out what kind of person she was on the inside. But the woman’s appearance didn’t bother Vanessa. She visited the woman everyday and they both became very close. As the old woman lay on her deathbed Vanessa, of course, was at her side. It was then that the woman told Vanessa she was a powerful witch and she wanted to give Vanessa a gift. Vanessa refused at first but the old woman insisted. She gave Vanessa the only pieces of finery she owned, a gold ring and nine diamonds. She took the gifts in her hand and covered them. When they were uncovered the diamonds had joined with the ring in the shape of a V, “for Vanessa because of your good heart,” the old lady said. “But that is not all, there is a gift that comes along with this ring. Because you did not rely on your sight to judge me I will give you a new and different kind of sight.” Heed my words well, and with that the woman uttered the spell.
“Meant for this Mayfair ring, one wearer will always be born.
For not using your sight as a gift of hatred a new sight is being bestowed upon you and your descendants as this ring is worn.
My sight will show you the one, your soul mate; it will be your light in the dark. You will know him for he will bear your mark.”
After taking a deep breath she gave Vanessa her last words of advice. “You are still young and have a long journey ahead of you.”
The last sentence of her advice was in Italian, Il mio regalo contribuirà a rendere la tua vita ancor più bella che avete fatto la vita di me. ‘Just one more sentence,’ Liz thought ‘and then the entire story will be complete.’ Literally translated the sentence read, my gift will contribute to render your life even more beautiful than you made my life. Translating the entire story, Liz knew that you must change the sentence slightly for it to sound proper in English. ‘My gift will contribute to render, how about my gift will make. My gift will make your life even more beautiful than you made my life. Too many my life’s, just mine will do. Ah, perfect. My gift will make your life even more beautiful than you made mine.’ Liz’s whole face lit up; “I did it, I’m done.”
*~* Chapter 7 *~*
“Max?” “Yeah Iz?” “I was just wondering, what do you think of Alex?” “You mean the kid we just met?” “Yeah, do you like him?” Max thought a moment, he knew Isabel felt that Alex had meant to offend her. Max didn’t feel the same way, he thought it was an honest mistake. But he didn’t want his sister to think that he didn’t care about how she felt, he did very much. He would have to choose his words very wisely. “Well we did just meet him, so I obviously don’t know him very well. But he didn’t seem too bad… except for that whole twins misunderstanding. ‘That was close. Wait, Isabel never cares about anyone else (except dad and me). What’s going on here? Why would she change all of a sudden?’ “Why do you want to know Isabel?” “Oh no reason. I’m going to go into my room now. See you in the morning. Good-night, I love you.” “Good-night Iz, love you too.” With that Isabel left to go think about why exactly she wanted to know if Max approved of Alex.
‘Why do I care what Max thinks of Alex? Why can’t I stop thinking about Alex? This is scary. This has never happened to me before. What went wrong? I had my guard up just like I always do; I wasn’t nice to him or anything. In fact I was quite rude, even if he didn’t really deserve it. I wonder if he’s mad at me? No, he seems like the kind of person that wouldn’t stay mad at their friends long. Friends? When did we become friends? I have to admit though; it would be nice to a real friend for once. Not someone who listens to me just so they can say they talked to Isabel Evans. How long has it been since I’ve had an actual friend, it seems like forever.
Ever since I became Miss. To-cool-for-anyone I guess. Maybe I should give him a chance? But I always have tons of people who like me when I act the way I’ve been acting, at least they pretend to like me. How do I know I’ll even have that much if I stop acting and start just being me? I guess I don’t. I never know anything anymore.’ Isabel turned over to face the wall. She missed the times where it was just her and her brother, being themselves. Ever since mom died, Max became even more shy than he had already been and Isabel had build a wall around her, a wall that she thought was impenetrable.
Mrs. Whitman had mentioned to Mr. Evans that there were other children that lived near the Evans new house besides Alex. Maria and Liz, they were around the same age as Max and Isabel. Their father was so excited. He couldn’t stop talking about it on the way over, you would think he had just discovered life on another planet or something. The truth was, he was excited because Mr. Evans saw this as an opportunity for him to get his kids back. Max knew he and Isabel had changed since their mother had died, but who wouldn’t? He couldn’t help being as shy as he was, other people were scary. They could easily reject him and then what would he do. No, he was happier watching life rather than living, or at least he had never experienced the other way to live so this was all he knew. Either way he was comfortable with the way he acted, and he never saw anything that made him want to change that. ‘Liz and Maria. I wonder if they’re like Isabel? I hope not.’ He snickered, kidding of course. He loved his sister more than anything. Being around Isabel most of the time, he had seen plenty of girls. None of them really interested him though; they all seemed the same. There were the select few though; the ones that were different, unique. He liked watching them, but even they weren’t that great. ‘Maybe Liz and Maria will be different, maybe they will want to have fun and maybe they’ll be nice to him. All this thinking, I’m not tired anymore. Maybe Isabel is still awake? Nah, I don’t want to wake her; it’s pretty late. I’ll just take a walk like always, at least it will be new scenery this time.’
*~* Chapter 8*~*
The full moon illuminated Liz’s room nicely. She loved nights like these. There was no need to turn on her light and risk alerting her parents to the fact that she was still awake. Up until a few minutes ago, clouds covered the moon. But now it was clear and Liz was happy for that. It meant she could sit outside a read, just her and the stars. Her mind wandered to the fairy tale she completed just minutes ago. Nine diamonds in the shape of V. Liz took of her chain, the one that held her mother’s ring. ‘This is in the shape of V,’ she thought. ‘Wouldn’t it be weird if it had… it does! Exactly nine diamonds!’ Just then something clicked in Liz. ‘This isn’t a fairy tale at all. It’s true. That means that these words actually have meaning for me. The background is fine to understand. But that spell, that’s where the real meaning is and its so confusing.’ Liz struggled with how she should make sense of the enigmatic spell. Then it came to her. ‘I’ll do it just like I translated the Italian, take the sentence and make it simpler. It’s almost as if that was a practice and now that I know what to do, I can figure this out.’
Maybe reading it out loud will help. “Meant for this Mayfair ring, one wearer will always be born.” ‘Well who wears the Mayfair ring? A Mayfair girl does. So this sentence must be saying that one girl will be born to every generation of Mayfair’s. One sentence down, three to go.’ “For not using your sight as a gift of hatred a new sight is being bestowed upon you and your descendants, as this ring is worn.” ‘Well, that means Vanessa got this gift of the new sight, and if I wear the ring I’ll have it too.’ “My sight will show you the one, your soul mate; it will be your light in the dark.” “Soul mate.” ‘I’ve never thought about that before. Sure, I read about true love and love at first sight, but for me?’ Liz had to admit the idea of someone being out there that would love her for who she was thrilled her. She read on. “You will know him for he will bear your mark.” ‘My mark? What’s that? I have a few birthmarks, but nothing unusual or anything. What could my mark be?’ Her thoughts were disrupted when she heard a noise. She stood up so she could look over the balcony railing. She scanned the garden that lay before her. Suddenly, a quick movement caught her eye. She looked just in time to see a boy with dark hair duck into the shadows. ‘That must be Alex, how sweet. He remembered that we didn’t get to take our walk so he came over now. I’ll go and meet him.’ Liz’s last words were said as she started to climb down the large oak and started towards her friend.
‘It really is a nice night for a walk. If only the moon was out, that would make it perfect. It’s so hard to see now.’ As if on cue the clouds parted letting the moon light Max’s way. He continued through the woods, not really knowing exactly where he was going, just enjoying being outside. Just him and stars, exactly the way he liked it. As he walked his mind drifted here and there. He was so lost in his thoughts he had to bump into a statue before he realized he had long ago walked out of the woods. ‘Where did I walk myself to this time,’ he thought. Max surveyed his surroundings. He felt as if he had walked into a picture book. The garden was right out of Alice In Wonderland, complete with a small hedge maze. ‘I wonder where I am…’ All thoughts of where he was rapidly dissolved and were replaced with a much more important question. ‘Who am I with?’ Maybe ‘with’ wasn’t the right word, more like ‘staring at’. There, high above the garden, was a small balcony. And on that balcony was the most beautiful thing Max had ever seen. A girl about his age was sitting on a blanket, holding a book and looking up at the stars, as if it was the first time she had seen them. Her long dark hair served as a lovely contrast to her ivory skin and nightgown. Max absently wondered if it was as soft and silky as at it looked. He couldn’t take his eyes away from her, he knew it wasn’t polite to stare at people. Especially if they didn’t know you were watching them, but she was so striking. Just then a voice rang out to break the silence of the night. Max’s breath caught in his throat. ‘She’s talking,’ he thought. What she said, he did not know. All he knew was that her voice matched her angel appearance. He could stand forever here, just watching and listening to her. Forever came too soon for him. He had been watching her for so long he didn’t realize that he kept taking steps to get closer to his angel. He was now faced with yet another statue. Only this one was smaller, and out of his sight range when he was looking up at her. And he wasn’t as lucky this time either. He didn’t stop walking soon enough, and knocked the statue over accidentally. She must have heard it fall for she stood up and started searching the garden. It took a minute for Max’s clouded brain to clear enough to realize that he was in plain sight, and needed to find a place to hide. He ducked in the shadows of the tall hedge maze, but not soon enough. He turned to face the bush as if that would help hide him further. ‘She saw me! She must have, because she’s coming down here now. Maybe I’ll get to talk to her. What am I saying? What if she doesn’t like me? What if…’ His thoughts were broken by a voice behind him. It was the most poetic and wonderful thing he had ever heard. “Hey you!”
*~* Chapter 9*~*
‘Is she talking to me? No, she doesn’t even know me. But then who else would she be talking to?’ It took Liz about 30 seconds, after she called out her greeting, to realize that she was wrong, this wasn’t Alex. Then who was it? “Who are you?”
Was that her voice? Liz never talked to anyone she didn’t know, but for some reason she felt comfortable around this faceless stranger. Max slowly turned around, she was even more beautiful up close. “Max,” he said, taking a chance and meeting her gaze for the first time. His eyes, she had never seen eyes such as his. Hazel, she guessed, but with the brightness of amber and… they were indescribable really.
He never knew eyes could be so deep. It as if, when looking into her eyes, he could tell exactly what she thinking and feeling. How the beautiful brown had changed from shadowy doubt and then softened to awe in a matter of seconds, and he had seen it all. For how long they stood there, neither speaking with their eyes locked he couldn’t say. But he did change his earlier statement. He could stay forever staring at her, especially her eyes, up close. This was much better than faraway staring. His mind abruptly realized how close he was to her. ‘This would be a great time to test my hair theory,’ he thought. Before he could stop himself, his hand moved on its own up to her face. Once there, he ran his fingers through her hair, stopping to lay his hand across the length of her cheek. To his surprise she snuggled into his touch and closed her eyes, a slight smile playing on her lips.
‘I don’t know why he touched my hair, but I’m glad he did. His hands are so warm and soft. Everywhere he touches I heat up, as if the sun was heating a path to follow his hand.’ With her eyes still closed Liz felt Max’s hand move. He traced her features, as if he were blind and trying to feel what she looked like.
Max moved his hand around his angel’s face. If she wasn’t real, he wanted to remember her forever just like this. As Max continued Liz started her own exploration of his face. Her eyes opened and were drawn to his as she brought her hands up to his face. After a few moments both children were startled when a light came on in the house behind them. Liz gasped, what if her parents woke up and found her out here? Surely her father would punish her and what would he do to Max? Liz suddenly felt an urgent need to have Max closer to her. She closed the small distance that was between then and tucked herself under his arm, hugging his chest close to her. Max’s arm instinctively wrapped around his angel. He would never let anything happen to her. But to Liz’s delight she realized it was Maria’s light that had been turned on, and a soft music filled the air. Whenever her sister woke up she would put on music to help her fall back asleep, and it gave her an idea. “Max,” she looked up and he looked down to see each other’s faces. “Will you dance with me?”
For the second time that night, Max Evans stopped breathing. ‘Dance with her? That would mean I get to touch her, hold her. It would be heaven. Does she even have to ask.’ He then noticed his angel’s eyes loose their shine, ‘She thinks I don’t want to dance with her.’ “Of course I’ll dance with you.” She smiled so brightly, almost as bright has her eyes had just gotten, her whole face lit up. Max couldn’t help but smile back at her with the same intensity. It hit him then, he had never danced before, and he hesitated. As if she knew exactly what he was thinking his angel told him not to worry, she would show him what to do. Liz had taken dance lessons, so it was no problem to show Max how to dance, she would lead for now. “I’ll lead and you can follow me ok?” “I’d follow you anywhere.” ‘Did I just say that out loud?’ ‘Did he just say what I think he said?’ Liz looked at Max questioningly, “Excuse me?” “Oh nothing, it was nothing… lets dance.” Liz nodded. As Liz lead them, Max just enjoying being close to her. Their bodies touching really, he was just holding her hand on one side and her shoulder on the other, but this was close enough for him to feel something. Something he had never felt before, a fullness almost.
Liz had never considered any boys handsome, as her mother called it. But Max, he was different. Dancing with him now was like a dream, he was perfect in every way, and he was here with her. The pair danced gracefully around the garden, Max dipping and spinning his angel as he got the hang of dancing. Neither could stop smiling or staring at the other, neither wanted to. They were brought back into reality by an abrupt darkness. The clouds that were once covering the full moon returned, and the couple broke apart. Max remembered he still had to walk back home, as much as he didn’t want to leave he knew he had to get back. “I have to go now.” “Me too.” Max took a deep breath, “Will I ever see you again?” “I don’t know, but I really must go, my father will be awake soon to go to work.” Liz started to run back towards her tree. Once at her window she stopped and walked to the balcony railing. “Good-night!” “Good-night.” Liz walked inside, and Max started to walk home. He thought as he walked. ‘That was amazing, I wonder if I will ever see… ever see… Wait. I don’t even know her name.’
*~* Chapter 10 *~*
Liz awoke surprisingly early, considering she got almost no sleep the night before. She had too many things to think about to sleep anyway. She was so confused about everything.
First, there was the mystery with her ring. Before she climbed into bed last night she took off the necklace too look at her ring. She experimented with wearing on her finger and to her surprise it fit. Now the ring finger of her right hand would permanently be adorned with the precious ring. But what had the spell meant? It was obvious her ring was supposed to help her find her soul mate, but how? He would bear her mark. ‘What is he going to have my name tattooed across his forehead?’ She smiled despite herself. If only someone could help me, even just listen and be there for me. Then it came to her, the next time Liz met Alex she would visit Jessica. Mrs. Whitman would help her she knew it.
And then there was Max. Where had he come from? Liz realized that despite the closeness she felt towards Max, in reality, she knew almost nothing about him. ‘Well he is beautiful, I know that. And he’s kind, and gentle, and those eyes… But none of that is going to help me find him again. I need expert help on this one.’ She sighed, ‘Maria will just have to do I guess.’
In her room, Maria was having her own guy problems. ‘It’s just Michael,’ she thought. ‘Then why can’t you stop thinking about him?’ No matter how much she tried, Maria couldn’t silence that little voice. As if he knew she was thinking about him, Michael chose that moment to stroll in.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” Michael noticed how Maria’s green eyes glowed with annoyance, and something else he couldn’t quite place. Her voice kept getting louder by the second. “I’m not even dressed yet! And where were you raised, a barn?” “Maria.” “Don’t you knock before you enter someone’s room?” “Maria?” “Especially when you come into a girl’s room! Why I ought to…” “Maria!” “What?” “Calm down, your mother sent me in to make sure you guys were awake. Obviously you are, so I’m going to go now.” Michael then turned leaving the room and closing the door behind him. Maria sighed unhappily. ‘What is with me? He didn’t do anything to me. I could have talked to him, but no I have to scream at him instead. Now he probably hates me, this is going to be a great summer.’
Michael stood outside of Liz’s door debating if he should go in or not. He didn't think it was a big deal when Mrs. Parker asked him to go make sure the girls were awake. Oh how wrong he was. ‘Maybe I should just skip it, I mean she couldn’t be sleeping now. Maria yelled loud enough to wake up the whole damn town and Liz was just in the next room.’ If that’s what it was like dealing with Maria, what would Liz do to him? He summoned up all of his courage and raised his hand to knock before he entered. (He had learned that much at least.) But before he got the chance the door swung open and there stood Liz with a shocked look on her face.
“Michael… hi,” she smiled. “Hey Liz, uh… your mom sent me to make sure you were awake, and you are so I think I’m just going to…” Liz wasn’t sure exactly what he was saying to her. She was too busy rationalizing, ‘I’m confused about a guy. And here, right in front of me I have a guy. He should be able to help me find out about Max. Plus, I’d like to get to know Michael, he looks like he could use a friend.’ “No wait Michael, don’t go.” ‘Uh-oh. Is she going to yell at me like Maria did? Maybe I should just run for it. No that won’t work.’ He reluctantly turned to face Liz once again, “Yeah?” “I have… well a job for you… sort of.” ‘This can’t be good.’ “What kind of job?” “Come on. We can talk in my room.” Michael closed his eyes and took his first step into the unknown; ready to face whatever horrible task Liz undoubtedly had in store for him.
Across the hall Mrs. Parker also closed her eyes. Her headaches had been getting worse lately, and the conversation she was having wasn’t helping at all. “I’m sick and tired of all these kids Nancy! We were supposed to send Maria to boarding school when she was six, we planned it before she was even born. But then you made us take Liz in, so we didn’t have enough money to send them both. Now we do, we have more than enough. We can send them away and we won’t have to deal with them anymore. We could focus on us again.” “But Jeff, the girls are getting older now. They can be on their own more, you’ll see. Mr. Parker raised his voice, “This is not up for discussion Nancy! I already enrolled them in The Surico Academy for Girls. They have to take their placement tests day after tomorrow and they’ll be out of our house by the end of the week. No sense in drawing things out.” He started to leave, when he turned slightly at the door. “You can tell the girls that their leaving in a few days… and do it when I’m not around.” Mrs. Parker would have pressed the issue if her head wasn’t pounding so much. Her last thought before the pain took over once again was, ‘What am I going to tell those poor girls?’
*~* Chapter 11 *~*
‘I’m with a girl, in her room, alone… this is not good. Not good at all.’ Michael didn’t feel right about this whole situation. ‘Liz having a job for me? Why me? Why not Maria? She doesn’t even know me.’ “Listen Liz, uh… I uh… I think we’re supposed to get down to breakfast soon, so why don’t we get this over with. What kind of job do you need me to do?” Liz grinned at Michael’s blatant awkwardness with the situation. “It’s really no big deal.” ‘Oh here we go,’ Michael thought. “I was just wondering if you knew a kid named Max?” “Max? No I don’t know anyone named Max, why?” “Just wondering, well then I have a job for you, find out who he is, where he lives, stuff like that.” “You got a last name?” Liz bit her lip regretfully, “No I don’t.” “I’ll see what I can do.” Michael had been known to do a little bit of detective work in his days, this would be fun. Upon hearing Michael’s agreement Liz couldn’t help but squeal with joy. “Oh I knew you would help me! With you working on it I know I’ll find him again! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!” She ran over to him, throwing her arms around his neck, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. That was way too much for Michael’s 11 year-old mind to handle, he muttered his good-byes and ran out of the room. Liz was still so excited she didn’t even notice how he reacted to her show of affection. She spun around one last time and collapsed on her bed, “I’ll be able to see him again.”
Neither Maria nor Liz could sit still during breakfast. Liz had told Maria all about her late night visitor just before they came down and they were both very excited. Michael was glad he had something to do now, something to work on. Mrs. Parker was quite through out the meal, but no one noticed for they were all too wrapped up in their own lives to detect the disturbance.
Michael was deep in thought as he walked about the gardens. He had no idea how he was going to find this Max. But he would try, Michael made it a habit never to do anything half way; and this would be no different. As he turned a corner he saw a boy about his age standing slightly hunched over, with his back to Michael. ‘There is no one else living here except for Maria, Liz and me. Then who is this? He shouldn’t be here that’s for sure.’ Where Michael came from, strangers meant one thing, trouble. ‘He could hurt someone, he could hurt Liz or Maria.’ With that last thought Michael ran full speed at the figure, easily knocking him to the ground. “Hey! What the…” This boy was taller than Michael but obviously much less experienced when it came to fighting so the stranger was easily pinned with in minutes. He got in one good punch before he asked questions. “Don’t try and beg for me to let you go or anything, cause its not going to happen. Who are you? Why are you here? And don’t lie, I know when people are lying to me.” “I was just here to see Maria…” Just the mention of Maria’s name and Michael’s anger tripled. It surprised him that he would get so fired up over some girl, but he couldn’t help it. “How dare you break into here! What do you want to do with Maria? Well it doesn’t matter, cause when I’m done with you you’ll be lucky if you can walk let alone…” “MICHAEL, NO, STOP IT!!!!” two voices rang out simultaneously. Michael looked up and grimaced at what he saw. ‘Now what did I do wrong?’ he thought. Alex looked up as well, but sighed with relief. ‘Finally, a rescue.’ Liz and Maria walked out to the garden to meet Alex; he had told them he had something important to tell them. As they neared the garden they were shocked out of their chitchat. There on the ground was a scared out of his mind Alex with a furious Michael on top. The girls didn’t even look at each other, both running and screaming the same thing. “MICHAEL, NO, STOP IT!!!!” Maria reached the boys first and ripped Michael off of Alex so fast he didn’t even have time to stop her. But that wasn’t the part that shocked Michael, to his surprise Maria got him off of Alex, but then starting beating him up.
Liz was so concerned to see if Alex was ok, she didn’t even notice what was going on with Maria and Michael, at first that is. Once Alex assured her that he would be fine, she realized that Maria wasn’t standing next to her anymore. Turning, Liz wasn’t too surprised by what she saw; she was surprised that Maria was still winning though. Well, when that girl was angry there was no telling what she could do. “Maria! Maria, get off of him! I think he’s had enough! Please don’t hurt him!” Maria continued as though Liz hadn’t said a word. Fighting was one thing Liz had no patience for; it never solved anything in her eyes. She knew where Maria was coming from, seeing someone threatening to beat up Alex had made her so scared. It was easy to see how Maria had gotten out of hand. Soon Liz couldn’t take it any more though and decided to take matters into her own hands. She grabbed Maria’s shoulders and started to pull her off of Michael. Maria’s green eyes flashed with anger, but softened the minute they met Liz’s compassionate gaze. Michael was shot one more angry glare, before Maria started to get off him.
The silence between the children was deafening. No one knew what to say after what had happened. Although Liz was shy, she always tried to fix things whenever she could. So she broke the silence linking them, “So Michael, I guess you met Alex.”
*~* Chapter 12 *~*
“Alex? This is the Alex you guys have been talking about?” Michael exclaimed as realization dawned on him. “Yeah, the one and only. Who did you think was standing there? Or do you just attack anyone who stands too close to you… I bet that’s it.” Michael could tell Maria was still mad. Liz tried her best to help Michael, “It was an honest mistake Maria, plus I bet he has a really good reason as to why he did what he did.” But she had to admit; she too wanted to know his reason. “Well I do have a good reason, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have a good reason.” “Enlighten us, because as I am the one who got beat up, I think I should know,” Alex said the best he could considering his face was starting to hurt already. “Well all I was trying to do was protect you guys.” Maria didn’t even try to stifle her laugh. “Protect us??” * laugh * “From….” *gasp of air* “Alex!!!” * roar of laughter * Maria then fell on the ground laughing while a seemingly annoyed Michael looked on. The truth was Michael wasn’t annoyed. He was so relieved that this Alex person wasn’t anyone bad and he wouldn’t hurt his girls. But no one could tell he was feeling that way, except maybe Liz.
“Alright Maria that’s enough. Michael didn’t know Alex, and he was just trying to protec… look after us I mean.” Maria’s laugher died down only when she heard her mother calling her and Liz. “Ok fine, I’m sorry Michael. Come on Liz, lets go see what mom wants.” “Yeah, we’ll see you guys later.” “Now Michael, don’t do any “protecting” while we’re gone!” Of course Maria just had to make one more comment before she ran to catch up with Liz. “You guys are coming back right?” Alex called, Michael just grumbled. Liz turned and nodded, then continued running. After all that had happened, Alex still didn’t forget why he was here; he needed to talk to Maria and Liz as soon as possible.
Mrs. Parker paced the length of the living room. She had just called the girls in; she had to tell them the news now. As much as she wanted to give them one last day they had to start packing; this was all happening so quickly. She heard their voices as they entered the house. “Well I guess it was kind of sweet of Michael to do, but it was Alex. Alex would never hurt anyone.” Mrs. Parker looked at her two girls. They were standing in front of her, talking as if they had not a care in the world. If only they knew the world they knew was going to be taken away from them so quickly.
“Girls. Will you sit with me please? I have something to talk to both of you about.” Maria smiled, “Sure, what do you want to talk about?” Nancy Parker took a deep breath, as if it would give her the strength she needed to break her daughter’s hearts. “Maria Rose… Elizabeth Vanessa…” Liz and Maria exchanged quick glances, she was using their full names, this couldn’t be good. Liz smiled as best she could and urged her mother on, “Whatever it is mom, we’re listening.” That’s what broke her. The sound of her daughter being her understanding self, when all she was going to receive in return was hurt. Tears began to slowly fall, “Oh my girls! I don’t want you to go! But I don’t know what to do about it!” She turned away from her daughters, as if she was ashamed. Now Maria was really confused, and she was not the type to just stand around while things were happening. “Mom…Mom. You have to tell us what’s bothering you. We can’t help if we have no idea what your talking about.” Gathering her strength, she turned back to Liz and Maria. It was now or never.
Her mother’s fake smile didn’t fool Maria for a second. “Now girls your father… your father… and I, well we decided that it would best for the both of you, if you went away to school. It was always a plan for you two, and now we have enough money so that you can go.”
‘She can’t be serious.’ “But we’ll go away to school next year right? Not this year, its too close to the beginning of the school year.” Liz processed what Maria had just said. “She’s right, isn’t she mom?” “We want you girls to be able to benefit from this school as soon as possible. It’s really a great experience. This is the best school in the country and the sooner you start there the better educated you’ll be. If we could have started you last year we would have but…” “When are we leaving?” Maria raised her voice considerably in the quite living room. “We wanted you girls to start this wonderful…” It was Liz’s quite voice that stopped Nancy Parker once again in mid-sentence. “When are we being sent away?” She didn’t even try to make her voice sound cheerful anymore, “Day after tomorrow.”
*~* Chapter 13 *~*
Numb. That was the only way to describe how she felt the moment her mother had confirmed her worst thoughts, they were leaving very soon. Walking out of the house her legs had no feeling to them. But her stomach was just the opposite; it felt as if a huge pit had gathered there. Even now, outside the immense house, she could hear Maria yelling and crying. Tears wouldn’t come for Liz. She was leaving her home, her parents and her friends, the people she knew loved her. All to go to a place where she knew no one and no one knew her, where she couldn’t be herself. It was her worst nightmare coming true. All her life she had hid who she really was from everyone so that she could stay here. It seemed her efforts were in vain, now she was being sent away nonetheless.
Alex saw Liz coming towards him just after he heard Maria’s angered ranting getting louder as she too exited the house. Liz silently headed for the garden maze while Maria walked towards the woods mumbling to herself. Michael exchanged a look with Alex and each boy took off in separate directions to go speak to separate girls. Both having no clue what was going on, but willing to do anything to help their friends. Alex thought he knew what was going on, but he wasn’t sure. Well there was only one way to find out.
“Maria! Maria!” Michael’s calls just made her run faster. Finally both children were running at the same pace. Michael glanced over a Maria and saw that she was crying, but didn’t show any indication that she was going to slow down anytime soon. So Michael handled the situation the only way he knew how, and it was exactly what Maria needed.
He sped up to pass Maria; this caused her to strive to meet Michael’s pace. Maria ran faster than she had ever ran in her eleven years, and it was freeing. This feeling that running with Michael was giving her, this feeling that she wasn’t alone and out of control, it was just what she desired at the moment. She stopped crying and gave Michael a run for his money. Soon, they both collapsed in the grass spent. After catching their breaths, Michael broke the silence. “So, what’s the matter?” He never was a man to beat around the bush. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Maria turned and faced away from Michael. “I know that feeling. I hate talking about what’s bothering me. But if it will help any I promise not to tell anyone, or laugh at you or anything like that. I know we didn’t get off on the right foot, but I don’t want you to hate me. You can trust me.” That little speech even amazed Michael, Maria was blown away. She didn’t know Michael could even say more than two words at a time, let alone all that. It was enough to make her turn back around. This was all new to Maria, besides Alex and her sister, she never told people her true feelings.
Alex walked after Liz, deciding to catch up with her before he started talking to her. With the long strides his substantial height allowed; it didn’t take long for him to get within arms length of her. But the second his fingertips brushed her shoulder, Liz sprinted away. She was heading towards the garden that her bedroom window overlooked. Alex would catch her if it was the last thing he did.
Bounding over bushes, and dodging statues; Alex ran as fast as he could towards Liz’s garden. Alex’s efforts were in vain, for when he reached the garden the only thing that greeted him was silence. He frantically looked around, ‘I was sure this was where she was heading. Where could she be?’ A faint cry from the other side of the garden promptly grabbed his attention as if it were a thunderous scream. He followed the crying until it lead him to the side of the garden that was right across was Liz’s balcony. “Liz?” he called. As he turned the corner he found her.
Liz didn’t even realize Alex had been following her until he grabbed her shoulder. She didn’t want to be the one to have to tell him that she was leaving him, so she ran as fast as she could. Her destination was unknown at first, she then found herself at the same spot she danced with Max. ‘I’ll never be able to see him again. I’ll never be able to see anyone again.’ With that last thought she collapsed on the floor, tears running down her face and her breaths coming in tortured gasps. It was like that that Alex found her.
Seeing Liz crumbled like that, it was as if someone had punched him in the stomach, hard. He knelt down beside her and easily lifter her small body into his lap. Liz clung to him as if her life depended on it and continued to cry. Alex did all he could to try to calm her down, with soothing words in her ears and small kisses on her hair. After a little while Liz finally started to calm down. Now only having occasional bursts of tears and hiccup. Sniffling, she finally looked up at Alex. He smiled the best smile he could muster, “Want to tell me what’s wrong now?”
*~* Chapter 14 *~*
Liz took another breath as she finished relaying this morning’s sad events to Alex. “We’re being sent away day after tomorrow. I’ll never get to see you or… or…. anyone anymore…” Tears once again followed a path down Liz’s face, pooling in a space between her check and Alex’s chest. As he listened to his best friend pour her heart out, Alex too struggled with something. Neither Liz or Maria knew it, but he did have a real reason for coming to speak to them this morning. At the time it seemed like such a big deal, but now, it didn’t really matter.
Looking up finally, Liz stared at Alex. “Aren’t you going to say something?” “Liz, do you remember how I came to see you and Maria this morning, earlier than I usually do?” “Yeah, I guess, why?” Alex took a deep breath, “well I had something to tell you guys, something important.” Liz sat up and wiped the remaining tears out of her eyes. “What is it? You can tell me.” Alex looked Liz right in the eye, “your not the only one going away.”
Michael felt his stomach lurch once again as Maria explained that she and Liz were being sent away to some school. “And my parents didn’t even tell us! I’m almost twelve years old I think I should have some say in where I live! How dare they do this to me!” Michael looked up at the canopy of trees towering above them. Anything not to have to look at Maria, to see how she acted angry, but he knew better. He could tell, how she really felt, hurt; it was written all over her face. Risking a glance in Maria’s direction, he saw she had her head down. “What? The grass isn’t that interesting.” He waited for a reply, when none came he turned to face her. It was then that he noticed she had started to cry. This was the hardest for Michael, he hated when girls cried, and he always felt like it was somehow his fault. “Why are you crying? Tough Maria doesn’t cry, she gets angry… and then gets her way.” Maria smiled despite herself. “I am angry.” “Then why are crying?” “I can handle this Michael.” Michael’s perplexed look prompted Maria to explain what she had meant. “I can handle this, but Liz can’t. It will be so hard for her, what with her being so shy and self-critical. And how am I supposed to be there for her all the time, I’m the only one she has?”
Before he what was happening words started pouring out of Michael, words that he always thought but never dared to say out loud. “When I used to live with my dad, he would get drunk sometimes. He would hit me, not mean it of course; he didn’t know what he was doing. Now living with my aunt, I’m alone all the time. I’ve felt so bad; I would do anything so that no one else would have to feel the way I felt. I feel like I have to make sure everyone has a perfect life, so they can be happy the way I haven’t been. But you know what? No ones life is perfect. No matter how much you want to shield Liz from life, it’s not going to work. She’s going to have to learn to fend for herself and deal with what gets thrown her way. She is so lucky to have a sister like you, and together you can help each other. Just don’t feel it’s your responsibility to protect her from everything, its not.”
For Maria, listening to Michael was like having someone list every single one her fears and then make them all better. “You’re right Michael. I guess I just needed to hear it out loud for it to sink in,” she smiled. “I still don’t want to go, but I feel better about it. I don’t know what I would have done with out you.” Although Michael was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with all this emotion, he was extremely happy that Maria wasn’t sad anymore. And oddly enough, he felt even better knowing that he was the reason she was happy. “Well, since your better now, I’m sure you would love to race me back!” With that he darted back towards the house. “Hey you cheater!” Maria started to run back towards the house also, feeling more her old self with every bound she took.
*~* Chapter 15 *~*
Alex’s cryptic comment caused Liz to sit up and compose herself as best she could. “What do you mean, ‘You’re not the only one leaving.’ What’s going on Alex?” “I’ll tell you, but lets go find Maria and Michael first, they should know about it too.” Liz and Alex walked hand in hand towards the house, neither wanting to loose contact with the other.
When Maria caught her first glimpse of Liz and Alex relief flooded over her. Relief that Liz was with Alex, and that she wasn’t crying any more. She ran to her sister, pulling her into an embrace. “I’m sorry I didn’t stay with you, I didn’t mean to leave you alone like that.” Liz took a deep breath and buried her face in Maria’s hair, “That’s ok, I had Alex and I knew you were just as shocked as I was.” The two girls stepped away from each other. Alex took this moment as his cue to start talking. He cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention, and as they turned towards him he suddenly became very nervous. “I… I want, no I need, to tell you all something.” The three friends gave Alex their full attention. Noticing his hesitation, Liz smiled and gave him an encouraging look. Alex smiled back and started. “Well I guess I should just come out and say it. I thought it was a really big deal, but now with what happened to Liz and Maria…” Maria was never the one to be patient, “come on Alex, just tell us, whatever it is.” “Well… I’m moving.”
Mrs. Parker wearily started to move up the stairs, ‘one at a time, I just have to lye down for a minute then my headache will go away.’ After what seemed like an eternity she finally made it up stairs to her bedroom. Sitting on the bed for a few moments she felt better already. Glancing over at her night table, her eyes stopped at a picture there. She hadn’t really looked at it in a while. It was a picture from when the girls were little; she used to love to dress them up in different colors of the same outfit. Maria and Liz were sitting on an oversized swing they have in their garden, each girl holding on to the swing with one hand, and holding their sister’s hand in the other. Maria was grinning widely at the camera; Liz was smiling too and had her head leaning towards Maria’s. Staring at that picture really hit it home for Mrs. Parker. She wasn’t going to be able to see her little girls grow up. Tears started to blur her vision as she heard her bedroom door close. Looking up, she saw her husband. She quickly wiped away her tears, “home for lunch dear?” “Did you tell them?” She didn’t even have to ask what he was referring to, she knew he didn’t want to be around when she told the girls. “Yes, I told them this morning.” “Good, well now that that is over with we can start packing them up and getting them ready,” he went to open the door when his wife’s voice stopped him. “Aren’t you even going to ask how they are? How they took the news? They were heart broken and I’ve decided that I don’t want them to go anywhere.” Turning, he stared at his wife for a moment. “What does it matter what they think? Or what you think for that matter? They’re going and that’s that. I made the decision, you knew about it and they are leaving day after tomorrow.” Mr. Parker turned on his heel and left the room, slamming the door as he went, leaving a dejected Mrs. Parker still sitting on the bed.