posted on 3-Dec-2001 10:21:45 PM

Waltzbk1

Waltz for Two

Book One

By

hots4max



Author: hots4max
Rating: NC-17 *shy* ; R *happy* ; PG-13 *angel*
Disclaimer: I don't own the Roswell characters, just borrowing them.
Category: M/L & others
Summary: In this fanfic there are no aliens. The characters are much older than their age in the show. Max’s character is portrayed as cold hearted playboy and heir to a vast multi-national business empire while Liz is an uprising young reporter.
Feedback is encouraged.
This story is also archive at the ‘Repost Fan Fiction’ forum of this board.

Note: Emoticons are placed before the start of each part to signify and warn the readers of their rating (see above for the legend). Also within the NC-17 parts of the story itself, emoticons can also be found before,
*tongue* and after, *big* a scene that is NC-17 so that readers, who are 18 years and above, that are not into reading NC-17 material, can easily skip that part. Please be guided accordingly.



Waltz for Two BOOK I (Parts 1-15)



Part 1 *shy*



*tongue*



New York City


"Max, you should learn to relax."

Tess Harding sat up in bed. The sheet fell to her waist, exposing her breast, but Max took no notice of it.

"You should learn to forget business sometimes and concentrate on pleasure," Tess said.

Max stood naked by the window, staring absently at the sprawling panorama of Central Park.

He has such a splendid body, Tess taught. Like the physique of the statues she'd often admired in the world's great museums. But this body most certainly had to have been designed by some incredible act of sorcery. Surely, she told herself, such absolute perfection could have not been the product of a genetic accident, that chance matching of genes and chromosomes that could produce either a disaster or a perfect specimen such as Maxwell Philippe Evans.

She got out of bed, nude, and crossed the room with graceful determination. She wrapped her arms around his neck and began to nibble softly at his earlobes.

"Come back to bed, and lets make love again and again -"

He chuckled softly.

"And you'll teach me to make more time for pleasure?" he asked as his hands roamed over her flesh.

"Ahh... you couldn't have a better teacher." She ran her fingers through his hair. "You see, Max, I'm an expert in the art of giving pleasure."

"Oh?" He drew back and looked at her, his grin wicked. "Can this expertise - be proven?"

She smiled. "You need proof?"

Tess rose to the challenge, as he'd known she would. She kissed him hungrily as she traced his lean muscular chest with her fingertips. She withdrew slowly, deliberately, and dropped to her knees in front of him. She took his penis in one hand and with the other began to stroke it slowly, gently, all the while murmuring love words.

"Take it in your mouth, Tess," he urged.

"Hmmm... yes...in time. Be patient," she cooed. "Learn to control yourself, or it will all be over too quickly." She took the tip of his organ into her mouth and sucked at it lazily as the shaft begins to swell.

"Ummm...."

She drew it further into her mouth, taking as much of it as she could. Her fingertips lightly stroked his testicles.

Max could feel his desire rising and ebbing like a great tidal wave, threatening to engulf him. With his hands on her head, he held her firmly as he began to thrust his hips. The things she was doing to him with her mouth, her tongue... he could barely control himself, could barely keep from exploding. He had to have her now, or....

He withdrew abruptly and pushed her onto her back on the carpet. Falling on top of her, he entered her in one quick motion, thrusting himself inside her, he entered her with an urgency that made Tess cried out.

"You don't misrepresent yourself, " he gasped breathlessly. "You are indeed an expert at giving pleasure."

He continued to thrust, moving deeper, faster inside her.

She begun to move with him, her hips rising off the floor to meet him, digging her nails into the flesh of his shoulder.


*big*



******


Max stood at the windows of his study in his apartment in the La Belle Tower, staring thoughtfully at the Manhattan skyline before him.

He felt oddly relieved that Tess had left earlier that evening aboard a flight to Rome. In five days, she was to begin work on her latest picture. She'd offered to turn it down, to stay in NY with him, but he had insisted she take the part.

He'd never been comfortable with Tess for long periods of time. She was far too possessive. There were times he felt as though she was trying to swallow him whole. He knew she wanted to marry him. She'd certainly made no secret of it. She felt they had a good relationship. He'd never told her that his interest in her did not go beyond sex.

None of his past relationships, he realized now with a mixture of concern and regret, had ever grown beyond that initial physical attraction. They'd all cooled off after a few weeks or less, and he had always gone off to find himself a new lover without a passing thought for the woman who had just departed his life.

He sat and leaned back in his chair and breathed deeply. Though there had been many women in his life and though he'd enjoyed an active sex life over the past ten years, he'd never spent an entire night in any women's bed, and had never brought any of his lovers here to spend the night. He'd always told himself he needed to maintain an emotional distance between himself and his women, needed to turn himself away from them once he'd satisfied himself.

Max Evans had never been able to care enough for any woman to put her feelings and needs above his own.

Why? he wondered.

The sound of the clock brought Max out of his deep reverie. He pushed this thoughts aside and prepare for his trip to LA with his father.


******


Los Angeles


Max and Philip Evans sat in the back of the limousine that will take them to the Beverly Wilshire for the press conference. They had left NY early morning aboard their private jet.

"Are you sure you will not come back with me to Roswell?" Philip asked his son as the limo traveled on the Freeway.

"You know its impossible for me to get away just now, dad," Max said. "There's so much I'm involved in at the moment, so many meetings -"

The senior Evans looked at him crossly.

"Are you sure it's business that prevents you from coming home?" He shoved a copy of the LA Times at his son, folded back to show a photograph of Max and Tess Harding. "Or perhaps this woman is your reason?"

"Hardly," Max responded indifferently.

"Couldn't you be a little more discreet?"

"That photograph was taken - "

"As you and the lady were entering the lobby of the Plaza- where she is presently staying," his father finished. "You could not be more blatant about this- arrangement- if you had taken out a full-page advertisement in the NY Times."

"It's difficult to be discreet dad, when the press follow me everywhere," Max said defensively. "I have almost no privacy these days."

"That's because you've made yourself such a good target to this people," his father insisted, displeasure apparent. "They know that if they stay with you long enough, sooner or later you will do something worth photographing. Today it is this Harding woman. Who will it be next week- or next month? You have become a media celebrity. Unfortunately, the publicity that you have been getting are not favorable."

"Am I being reprimanded, Dad?" Max asked icily.

"Your mother and I do not approve of the way in which you conduct your private affairs, Max- we have made no secret of our feelings about that- but we are aware that we cannot live your life for you," Philip said, choosing his words carefully. "We are only asking for you to be discreet about it. Your mother is quite sensitive about airing the family laundry, so to speak, in public."

"Very well. I shall try to honor your wishes," he promised. "Now can we discuss something else? I'm getting weary of the subject."

"I'm sure you are," his father agreed. "But tell me one thing, Maxwell- don't you ever give serious consideration to the prospect of getting married? Don't you ever contemplate having a family of your own-children?" There was genuine concern in his voice.


Max’s laugh was weak.

"I'm not ready for marriage, Dad- and I am certainly not ready to become a father," he said. "And even if I were, I have yet to meet a woman I could consider a suitable wife."


******


Elizabeth Anne Parker, a reporter for television station DZLA, parked her car across the street from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and glanced at her watch.

Nine thirty.

Good. She was early.

She peered into her rearview mirror and ran a comb through her long silky brown hair and checked her make-up automatically. She twisted around in her seat and noticed that the DZLA mobile production van was pulling up behind her. Her cameraman had arrived. She got out of the car and waved to Alex as he began unloading his equipment. He grinned when he saw her.

"Hi, Liz," he greeted her cheerfully. "They got you working early today. It's not even noon yet!"

She smiled. "We can't all be night owls, now, can we?" she teased. "You've been spoiled doing the nightshade spot."

"Who is this guy, anyway? A foreign diplomat or something?" Alex asked.

"Philip Henry Evans?" Liz laughed aloud at the taught. "Where have you been, Alex? He's only one of the richest men in the world. You've really never heard of him?"

The cameraman shrugged. "I guess I've led a pretty sheltered life up until now."

"You must have," Liz agreed, amused. "For the record, Philip Henry Evans is an honest-to-goodness tycoon-ships, oil, diamond mines, the whole package. He is a classic rags-to-riches story if there ever was one: the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks who built an empire with nothing but his own ambitions."

"So he is news."

"Definitely." Liz said.


******


At twelve noon, an Evans PR aide interrupted the conference, suggesting they all adjourn to The Fresco, the hotel's restaurant, for lunch.

Liz quickly maneuvered her way to Philip Evans direction, after giving Alex some last-minute instructions before sending him back to the station, hoping to talk to him personally, maybe they could return later and tape an interview in his suite.

Much to her disappointment, the reporters from the shipping news beat her to it. They are like a bunch of hungry vultures, she taught irritably as she headed for an empty table.

Distracted she collided with a man headed in the same direction.

"I'm sorry, I didn't- " Liz was unable to continue.

The man she'd bumped into was not one of her fellow reporters.

He was tall, dressed in a suit that probably cost a small fortune. He has a well-chiseled face with sharp symmetrical features and has the most incredible eyes she had ever seen. They were so dark they appeared to have no pupils. His hair was also dark, neatly styled, falling across his forehead. When he smiled at her, his eyes glowed like polished onyx.

"I'm Maxwell Evans," he introduced himself. His voice was deep, resonant.

"I'm Elizabeth Parker- DZLA News," she said. She stared at him like an idiot, unable to stop herself.



Part 2 *shy*



"A reporter?" he asked, somewhat amused. "I would never have guessed. You're far too lovely to be anything except perhaps a model or an actress."

She smiled.

"Do I detect a bit of chauvinism?" she asked.

"On my part? Never!" He laughed a deep, husky laugh. "You must forgive me......I have been brought up to observe certain old-world traditions- "

She raised a hand.

“No need to explain. Apology accepted, Mr. Evans."

"Max," he corrected.

"Max," she repeated slowly.

Max Evans glanced back at the table where his father sat with four men from the Shipping News.

"You were hoping to join my father, were you not?"

She nodded. "Unfortunately, the sharks got there ahead of me."

"That's very unfortunate for my father," Max commented as he turned back to her. "He usually doesn't have the opportunity to dine with a beautiful women on this trips," he said with a dazzling smile that made Liz blush unexpectedly.

"Thank you, but-"

"I, on the other hand, never pass up such a promising opportunity," he continued. "I would be honor if you would consider joining me, Elizabeth."

"Liz," she corrected.

"Liz," he said with a dashing smile.

"I'd like that," she said without hesitation.

"Excellent." He took her arm, and she felt an involuntary shudder course through her body. "Come, let’s take one of the booths." He guided her across the room to one of the curtained booths that afforded total privacy. "I prefer privacy whenever it can be found. It's such a rarity for me these days," he explained as they seated themselves. "I hope that’s okay with you."

"No problem," she said quickly.

Liz looked around. She had not been there for some time, and she'd forgotten how lovely it was. The red velvet wall covering and the trickling fountain in the center of the room gave it an elegant atmosphere. There were flowers everywhere, literally everywhere. It felt as though they had been transported by magic to some artfully contrived hideaway in Europe, perhaps in Vienna or Budapest.

"It reminds me of a place I once stayed in Austria," Max commented, almost as if reading her mind. "Tell me - have you eaten here before?"

"Once or twice- it's been a while." Liz admitted.

"How's the food?"

"Oh, it's excellent," she assured him. "There's no place close by that can compare."

"I'll trust your judgement," he said promptly.

She smiled. "I hope you're not disappointed then."

Maybe she would get the interview after all; surely no one could be closer to Philip Evans than his own son. She glanced at the menu absently, aware that he was watching her.

“I hope you're enjoying your stay here in LA," she said. The way he looked at her, she felt like a schoolgirl again.

"Definitely," he answered with suggestive smile. "Everything I've seen here so far is quite beautiful."

Liz blushed once more.

The waiter then came and took their order.

Over lunch, Max talked about his parents and his childhood in Roswell. He entertained her with anecdotes about the people and the situations he had encountered in his travels as a senior VP of the Evans Corporation.

Liz found herself wondering if this could be the same man she'd read so much about. She saw none of the arrogant, self-centered playboy in this bright, witty, exceedingly charming man who now sat across from her, going out of his way to be cordial.

But then, she reminded herself , that had to be part of his charm, part of the fascination he held for some of the most beautiful women in the world. Just this morning, she'd seen a photograph of him in the LA times with his woman of the moment, actress Tess Harding.

Max was honest with her when she asked about the possibility of getting an interview with his father.

"We are leaving immediately after this press conference." he told her. "Our jet is waiting for us at the airport. We will be flying back to New York this afternoon. I'm sorry- I think dad would have enjoyed it tremendously."

I guess it would be asking too much to pray for a heavy fog at the airport, Liz thought dismally.

"Maybe next time," Liz said optimistically.

"If there is a next time," Max said slowly. "Dad doesn't come to LA often and he rarely attend this kind of press conference this days. Not since I've taken over as head of our North American operations. In the past few years he has seldom traveled outside Roswell. He's becoming a bit of a recluse in his years, I think."

"Then maybe I can interview you the next time we meet," she suggested.

He flashed her an easy grin.

"You have my word on it," he promised. "If and when we meet again, I'll give you an interview."

"I intend to hold you on it," she warned him.

As if I'm ever going to run into him again, she thought.


******


In her small office at DZLA building, Liz related the events of the afternoon to Isabel Whitman, one of DZLA's technical directors.

"I sat down expecting a Bluebird, and he turned out to be Prince Charming," she confided to her colleague. He was really a pleasant surprise."

"Apparently," Isabel said. "Tell me, is he really as good-looking as his pictures?"

"Better," Liz responded without hesitation. "It's funny... he didn't seem conceited at all. But a man who looks like that has to know it - unless he's never been in front of a mirror in his life."

"Hmmm...he's made an impression on you, I see." Isabel said with a wicked grin.

"It's not what you've got going through that suspicious little mind of yours at all," Liz said. "He seemed like a very nice man. Of course, it's hard to tell much about anyone after spending a little more than an hour with him in a crowded restaurant."

"Of course." Isabel agreed readily. "Tell me something. He obviously scored brownie points with you. Why didn't you interview him?"

"I thought about it," Liz admitted. "He seemed so open at first. I thought it would be simple to get him to talk to me. But the longer we were together, the more I felt I'd be wasting my time asking him. It was all on the surface. He was pleasant and charming, but he didn't discuss anything of any importance. I came away with the feeling that he's actually quite guarded."

"Ah-hah, a man of mystery!" Isabel declared triumphantly. "Sounds intriguing." She perched on one corner of Liz’s desk and peeked at her notes. "Who are you interviewing for tomorrow- or shouldn't I asked?"

"Kyle Vallenti- better known to the movie going public-at large as this year's hottest new director. The studio's words, I might add, not mine. Liz’s tone was skeptical. "Probably has an ego as big as all outdoors."

"You never can tell." Isabel said.

Liz made a wry face.

"The way my luck's been running, I'd be willing to bet a week's salary on it."

Isabel laugh heartily.

"You've just had a rough day, that's all. It's called the I-don't-have-a-tape-for-tonight's-broadcast syndrome," she diagnosed. "Just wait and see. The tide will change. It always does."


******


*tongue*



St. Martin


The ocean was a warm blue green, the waves cresting high but breaking gently, the white froth nibbling at the golden shore.

The sun was a Caribbean caress, a giant ball of lemon red toasting relaxation into his naked flesh.

The bluffs fringing Baie Rouge were lushly green, tangled vines embracing trees with moist, rich brown bark and giant tropical leaves.

The blue sky suffered no clouds, and just as yesterday had promised this perfect day, today promised a glorious tomorrow.

Max Evans was sunbathing gloriously in the nude on the beach of St. Martin.

He had just finalized a deal that would bring billions of dollar to the Evans Corporation. After days of extensive travelling, he decided to stay for a day to take advantage of the sun.

It was while he was sunbathing when his attention was caught by the naked and shapely nymphet. He deliberately responded by directing his gaze back to the naked nymph. She was very voluptuous, her bottoms and breast plump and rosy; her movements as she squealed and cavorted in the surf were undeniably provocative.

Laughing, she started to wrestle with her friend and she fell to the sand facing Max with her legs flung wide apart.

Without his willing it, his naked phallus stirred.


******


The bathtub in Vicki’s black marble bathroom was oversized. Under the circumstances- with her and Max together naked in the steaming water filling the tub- she was glad for its size.

They'd already made love once in the beach. This was the in-between time. There was no doubt in Vicki’s mind that they were building up to making love again.

Would they do it in the tub? she wondered.

At twenty-six years old Vicky was experienced; she had known sex with a wide variety of lovers in a wide variety of circumstances, but she had never made love in a filled bathtub.

Would she and Max do it facing each other as they were now? she mused. Or would they have to change position, splashing water all over the floor?

Just so I don't drown. Vicky giggled to herself. The possibilities were exciting.

Probably there wouldn't be much splashing. Max was very smooth. No matter what they did sexually, his long, supple body was always graceful.

"I'll bet," Vicky said aloud, "that you can do it without spilling a drop."

"Do what?" Max teased, placing his hand on the inside of one of her thighs under the water. His dark eyes regarded her with surprisingly possessive lust. "Did the memory of my aroused penis turn you on again?" he inquired in a rasping voice. His hand moved higher up her thigh, fingertips grazing the wet pubic curls.

"You turn me on." Vicky leaned toward him, her magnificent breast with their erect nipples floating up against his chest.

Her lips parted hungrily to his kiss. She slid her hand down his well-built chest, down to the series of long muscles that were his stomach. "Tell me, when are you leaving St. Martin?"

He lifted one of her breast from the water and suck on the erect ruby tip. "Tomorrow morning."

"That doesn't give us much time." Vicky investigated and found his tumescent penis.

"Time for what?" Max hands were on Vicki’s hips now, pulling her to him.

Vicky was breathless.

She had caught his growing erection between the softness of her thighs and was rolling it there.

"To.....ohhhhhhhhh....ummmmmm....explore the.... ahhh..possibilities."

Max.’s hands were under her bottom now, tilting it up, with her heat grazing his very hard erection in the front.

"Possibilities?" Max asked. Arching up from the bottom of the tub, he guided her onto his erect penis.

"The possibilities to explore..ahhhhhhhhh.....ummm...what ...we ...uhmmm...can do in this tub," she panted.

"Oh!" Max positioned Vicky, who rested tantalizingly over him, and pulled her down fiercely until he was buried inside her to the hilt.

"Maybe you can leave the next day instead." Licking her lips, Vicky began to move slowly, "Ummmmm....ummmmm.... oh...ohhhhh ..."then grindingly, feverishly. "ooooohhhhhhhhhh... I promise to make it worth your while."

"All right."

He moved in and out of her, pushing her up and down, slowly and then faster, harder, their soapy slick bodies rubbing against each other.

"I'll stay."

Under the circumstances, Max Evans was highly motivated to agree.


*big*



******


Los Angeles


"Flowers for Liz Parker," the mail clerk sang out loudly as he carried a large white box through the newsroom to her small office.

"Third time this week," he said with a grin as he handed the box to her. "You must have some guy real hung up on you."

"I wish you wouldn't broadcast it all over the place," she said sullenly as she opened the box. She did not have to look at the card. She already knew who had sent them.

The young man let out a small whistle.

"Roses this time. Nice going," he told her. "Take my advise- hold out for marriage."

Liz scowled, waving a letter opener at him menacingly.

"Out-before I make tonight's evening news for killing you in front of all these witnesses!"

He retreated, laughing.

Liz opened the card and stared at it blankly.

The message was always the same:



Part 3 *shy*



How about giving me a chance to prove I’m a nice guy? Love, Kyle.

Love!

Infatuation, maybe, but certainly not love, she told herself. He didn’t even know her!

Maybe that’s one way to get him to lay off, she thought. I could go out with him once. The fantasy probably wouldn’t match the reality, and-

“More flowers?”

Liz looked up. Isabel was standing in the doorway.

“More flowers,” she said with a nod. “He doesn’t seem willing to take no for an answer.”

“Maybe you should go out with him.” Isabel entered the office and closed the door.

“What?” Liz looked genuinely surprised. “You’ve got to be kidding!”

Isabel’s face was serious.

“Why do I have to be kidding?” she asked. “Obviously he likes you- or he owns a flower shop. He’s going to a great deal of trouble to impress you.”

“Sure,” Liz face was grim. “You know how those movie guy operate. They tell every girl they meet they love her just to get her into bed and then- “

“You’re really down on men aren’t you? You know they are not all orgies, you know.” Isabel proceeded to peel an orange. “If you ask me- “

“I didn’t, “ Liz cut in sharply.

“If you ask me, “ Isabel repeated, “I think you are being unreasonably prejudiced.”

“Prejudiced?” Liz looked insulted.

“Yeah, prejudiced. You’ve got it in your head that because Valenti’s a hotshot director, he’s a leach. Apparently it’s never occurred to you that there are some very nice people in the motion picture industry who do not do drugs of any kind, who do not change spouses like we change our clothes, and who do not participate in the decadent Hollywood scene. Some of them,” she added smugly, “even go to church on Sunday’s and have long and happy marriages.”

“Okay. You’ve made your point,” Liz said resignedly. “Now, could you please close the door on your way out?”

“I’m not leaving yet.”

“That’s what I was afraid off.” Liz groaned.

Isabel pulled up a chair.

“Look, I’ve never met the guy, but from what you’ve told me, he seems to be a pretty nice guy. He’s obviously got it bad for you, because the flowers and the phone calls have been coming nonstop for almost two weeks. I think the least you could do is give him a chance. You don’t have to marry him or anything. Just have dinner with him. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised, you know.”

“I’ve been so busy lately- “

“Poor excuse,” Isabel said promptly. “You can’t spend your whole life working.”

“You can- and you’d better- if you want to get ahead in this business. Especially if you’re a woman,” Liz insisted.

“Our lead anchor just got married.”

“What are you trying to tell me?” Liz asked, putting down her pencil.

She hadn’t had much of a social life since she’d come to work at DZLA, it was true, but it had been her own choice. She wanted to give her career her full concentration now. A serious relationship could only get in the way. Besides, how could it have any chance of survival under these circumstances?

“Ambition’s great,” Isabel said, “but success can get pretty lonely if you’ve got nobody to share it with. You know what they say- it’s damned lonely at the top.”

Liz smiled for the first time.

“Okay, okay. You win. The next time I see Kyle Valenti, I’m going to accept his invitation- and while I’m at it, I think I’ll tell him what a champion he has in you.”

Isabel grinned.

“Good. You can tell him right now. He’s out in the reception area.”


******


“Do you come here often?” Liz sat across from Kyle Valenti at a corner table in a small, cozy dimly lit Italian restaurant in Glendale, sipping a glass of white wine.

He nodded. “I discovered Angelino’s right after I was hired by Warner Fox, a few years back,” he recalled. “I liked it right away- mainly because it’s nothing at all like the so-called ‘in’ restaurants. Nobody comes here to see or be seen.” He grinned. “If they did, they’d be out of luck.”

Liz glanced around the small, nearly deserted dining room.

“Obviously,” she commented with mild amusement in her voice.

“Personally, I hope it stays this way,” Kyle said as he put down his fork.

Liz smiled. “If it does, it’ll be out of business within a year,” she predicted, brushing a strand of hair back over her left shoulder.

Kyle shook his head. “It’s not always this slow.”

He paused, admiring her in the flattering light. She wore a simple green linen dress, cut low with pencil-thin straps over her shoulders, and little jewelry, just a single strand of pearls and small, simple earrings. Her hair hung unadorned about her shoulders.

“You look especially beautiful tonight,” he told her.

She accepted the compliment graciously. “Thank you.”

Then she took a bite of the lasagna. It was just the way she liked it- lots of thick, gooey cheese.

“I take it you’re not exactly fond of the Hollywood scene,” she said.

He shrugged. “I just lock my door to it,” he said simply. “It’s just not my style.”

“When I interviewed you at the studio, you made a rather offhand remark about your middle-class background,” she remembered as the waiter refilled her glass. “Where are you from? Originally, I mean.”

“LA,” he answered. “I grew up out in the San Fernando Valley.” He took a forkful of pasta. “What about you?”

Liz hesitated for a moment.

“I’m from one of those small mid-western towns that nobody’s ever heard of,” she said, reaching for her wine. “One of those towns that’s so small it doesn’t show up on any maps and where everybody knows everything about everyone else.”

“Sort of like Hollywood, right?” he quipped.

She laughed. “Not exactly- but you get the picture.”

He studied her for a moment.

“Why’d you leave?” he asked, hoping he wasn’t out of line. “What made you want to join the rat race?”

She thought about it for the moment.

“I don’t know. I suppose I always felt the need to get away- as if I didn’t really belong there. I wanted to be somebody, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen there.” Her tone made it clear she didn’t want to discuss it further. “What about you? Ever get the urge to get away from the rat race, as you call it?”

He shrugged. “Not so much as I wanted to get away from my own background,” he admitted. “I always had the feeling my life got off on the wrong foot. Dad was a Catholic and Mom was a Jewish, and neither of their families ever accepted their marriage- let alone the fact that they had a child. Needless to say, I didn’t see much of any of them while I was growing up.”

Liz looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to go on. God, she thought, he’d known the same kind of emotional isolation she’d felt as a child!

“Dad left us when I was seven,” Kyle recalled with a frown “one day he just didn’t come back.”

Liz looked down at her plate.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly. And to herself: I know the feeling. Liz was silent for a moment. She would never have guessed that anyone as cheerful and optimistic as Kyle could have been the product of such a lonely, troubled childhood.

“Is that when you become interested in making movies?” she asked.

He nodded. “I had this little cheapo Brownie camera. I was always taking pictures, always in sequence. Then I’d arrange them appropriately in a scrapbook with captions under each one so they told a story,” he recalled. “When I told my mom what I wanted to do with my life, she was behind me one hundred percent. She held down two jobs for over five years to put me through UCLA. I’m just glad I’m able to take care of her now.”

“Where is she now?” Liz asked as the waiter arrived with dessert.

“Israel,” Kyle replied. “She always wanted to go there, so I sent her. She’s been there almost four month’s now, and from her letters, I get the feeling she’s in no hurry to come home.”

“Not too many successful people think of their families once they’ve made it,” Liz commented. She hadn’t seen her own family in years.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He looked at his watch. ”Listen- the night’s still young. After we leave here, I know a great little place- “

She shook her head. “I can’t, I have to be at the station at five tomorrow morning.”

“What about tomorrow, then?”

She reached across the table and took his hand affectionately.

“I’ve really enjoyed tonight, Kyle,” she said softly, “but let’s take it one day at a time, all right?”


******


Roswell


Philip Evans stared at the papers on the desk in front of him until he was bleary-eyed. It had been a long day, but he’d accomplished a lot and was satisfied with the results. That day, he had signed contracts that would mean billions of dollars’ worth of new business for the Evans Corporation. The majority of those deals were connected with the North American offices, and he was pleased. Max was doing a marvelous job in New York.

“It’s late Philip. Why don’t you put your work aside for tonight and come to bed?”

Philip looked up. His wife Dianne stood in the doorway of the study. He stood up and extended his arms to her.

“I’m sorry,” he said as she came forward. “I did not realize the hour.”

“Apparently.” She looked up at him and embraced him gently. “You push yourself too hard.”

“Nonsense! I do what must be done, that’s all.”

“If, it must be done, I agree. But do you have to do every thing? I was under the impression that Max would be given more control over the corporate affairs,” she said. “Isn’t he capable- “

“Max is more than capable,” Philip said quickly. “He is brilliant and he shows great potential. Unfortunately, there are other factors that prevent me from allowing him the authority I would like to give him now.”

“What other factors?”

Philip shook his head.

“I am very disappointed at the lifestyle that he has chosen for himself.” He took a folded newspaper clipping from his desk folder and passed it to her. “This turned up while I was in LA.”

“Tess Harding,” she said. “So she is back in his life again, is she?”

“Apparently,” Philip said tightly. His disapproval was clear in his voice. “It would seem that this one has outlasted the others.”

“Perhaps we should be encouraged by this,” Dianne began slowly, still looking at the picture.

“Encouraged?” Philip turned to look at her in disbelief. “I cannot believe you said that. Are you telling me that you would be happy to see our son married to this woman?”

“No, of course not.” Dianne folded the clipping and returned it to him. “I am not suggesting that Max marry this woman- or that he may be considering such a thing. I’m only pointing out that he may finally be learning to maintain a relationship. In the past he has never continued to see the same woman for more than a few weeks.”

“You are right. It is encouraging- if he is not serious about this particular woman,” Philip agreed. “But of all the choices he could have made…..Tess Harding is an actress who has had many lovers. She is hardly suitable consort to Max- at least not for a permanent arrangement.”

“Arrangement?” Dianne’s laugh was light. “My God, you sound like as if you live in the Dark Ages! I am surprised you have not tried to arrange a marriage for him yourself!”

“You know perfectly well that arrange marriages still take place in our social circles.”

Dianne shook her head. “And you know Max would never stand for such a thing.”

“No, our son definitely has a will of his own,” he conceded. “I think, however, having seen some of his
‘choices,’ that I might be able to select a better wife for him than he could choose for himself- if he would choose a wife at all.”

“I would like to think that he is almost ready to give up his cherished bachelor status and settle down,’ Dianne said.

“I would like that, but it’s not something I expect to happen soon.”

“Is this what you meant by other factors that had influenced your decision not to grant Max more responsibility within the corporation?” she asked. “You feel that his private affairs will interfere with his ability to handle those responsibilities?”

“Let just say that Max has never been wise in his dealings with women,’ he said quietly. “He has gained notoriety for himself as far as the media is concerned. I think not a day passes that his name or photograph does not appear in a newspaper or magazine somewhere in the world. The publicity has not been good for the corporation’s image.”

“That’s what you are concerned with? The corporation’s image?”

Philip shook his head again.

“Dianne, it’s more complicated than you may think,” he told her. “We do business with some of the largest banks in the world. From time to time we take out loans- large loans- to finance projects for the corporation in various parts of the world. We are on good terms with those banks- now. The fact that Evans is a solid, conservative corporation is in no small way responsible for the security those bankers feel when they do business with us.”

“And you think the bad press Max has been getting in the recent years will make those conservative bankers reluctant to do business with him?” Dianne asked.

Philip turned to look at her.

“Yes, I do,” he said slowly. “They read about him, they hear all the stories about the shallow, jet-setting life-style he lives, and they are cautious by nature. They question his ability to make sound business decisions. They see him as irresponsible.”

“I think it’s unfair to judge him by his private life,” Dianne said.

Shaking his head, “Sometimes I think you are blind where Max is concerned.”

“And sometimes I have exactly the same feeling about you,” she admitted. She kissed his cheek affectionately, “We are both hopeless, aren’t we?”

He smiled. “So it would seem.”

“Come to bed. It’s late.”

“I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he said.

“Very well.”

He watched her climb the staircase and went back to his chair in the study.

Dianne’s devotion to Max was stronger than her disapproval of the shallow, superficial life-style he had chosen for himself. Dianne, he realized long ago, would forgive Max anything.

The question was would he be able to forgive his son if Max’s reputation jeopardize the future of the Evans Corporation?


******


Los Angeles


“At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m willing to pay a penny for your thoughts, pretty lady,” Kyle said in a teasing voice, holding up a coin.

He smiled at Liz, and his eyes seemed to dance. “You’ve been sitting there for the past few minutes with your fork in your hand and a faraway look in your eyes, and you haven’t touched your plate.”

Liz smiled too.

Her face, her silky brown hair now falling loosely about her shoulders, even the rose-colored silk of her dress seemed to take on a golden glow in the candlelight.

“I was just thinking about the last time we were here,” she said slowly, her eyes drifting around the crowded restaurant. “Do you remember?”

He let out a groan of mock anguish as his eyes rolled upward.

“How could I forget?” he asked. “I was trying so hard to impress you that night. I did everything but balance a ball on my nose!”

Liz gave a little laugh.

“And I was trying just as hard not to be impressed.” She paused, looking down at her plate. “You know, it’s nothing short of a miracle that we ever got together.”

He reached across the table and took her hand in his.

“I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I’m glad it did,” he said in a low voice.

She looked up at him, and her doe eyes were shinning in the flickering light of the candle. She reached out and placed her free hand over his.

“So am I,” she said softly.


******


Chris Wallace, the shows executive producer, appeared in the doorway of the editing room.

“Liz, I need to talk to you as soon as you are finished here. It’s important,” he told her. “I’ll be at my office.”

After twenty minutes, Liz appeared on the doorway of Chris Wallace office.

“What’s up Chris?”

“I have a good news to you kiddo.”

“Good I could use some today,” Liz said.

“A few months ago I got a memo from NY,” he began. “The network brass was interested in seeing some tapes of local talent. I figured they were looking for possible replacements for some of the people on the network news team. I sent them tapes of some of your interviews.”

“And?” Liz knew there had to be more.

“They like what they saw. As I’ve told you many times before, you have screen presence. The cameras adore you, Liz. You photograph like an angel. But the network people saw something else: honesty.” He paused. “The people in NY feel that nothing has more impact on an anchor’s popularity with the viewers than perceived honesty- the way they come across the screen. They gave you very high marks in that category.” He was smiling like a proud father.

“Have they made an offer?” she wanted to know. He was driving her crazy, telling her what they had to say but still withholding the bottom line.

“You might call it that,” Wallace said, pulling himself upright in his chair. “Their anchorwoman, Jessica Manelli, is leaving for Europe next week to tape a series of interviews. They need someone to fill in at the anchor desk while she’s away. They want you- if you are interested.”

“Of course I’m interested!” She did not bother to restrain her enthusiasm.

“Then you are accepting the offer?”

“Did you doubt it for a minute?” she asked incredulously. “How soon will I have to leave for NY?”

“Friday.”

“Can I leave immediately after Thursday broadcasts?” she asked.

“That’s fine with me,” he said. “I’ll give them a call this afternoon to let them know.”

“Let me take care of that, too,” she said quickly.

He shrugged. “If you want.”

She stood up and walked to the door.

“I suppose my feelings should be hurt,” she said in a teasing voice. “It would appear you’re trying to get rid of me.”

She winked and closed the door as she walked out.


******


New York City


Pam Troy was feeling restless, bored and alone amidst the throes of people in the party but her eyes lit up as she saw the new arrival.

Her husband wasn’t due home until the following day, but even if he were there, he wouldn’t be able to give her what she wanted.

This might not be a boring party after all, she thought as she made her way to join the new guest who has just arrived.

The night was hot and sultry and Pam wanted sex ……hot, primitive, rough, mind-buggling, demanding, passionate sex.

She didn’t want polite, predictably boring sex that her husband called “making love”.

She didn’t want to make love at all; she wanted to make madness.

She didn’t want her husband…….

She wanted Max Evans.

Closing her eyes, she conjured up a vivid image of Max, his shoulders broad and heavy with muscle, his skin sleek with sweat as he drove into her with the tireless brute force she preferred most of the time.

She shuddered as her thighs involuntarily tightened against the delicious recollection.

She hastily swipe a glass of wine from the passing waiter and go to the direction of the object of her desire.

Max was greeting the host and hostess of the party, they are one of the major investor in a project that Evans Corporation was embarking in the cable network in Japan, when another guest came to join them.

His hostess politely included the striking blond in the conversation.

“Max, have you met my niece?” he asked. “Pam Troy? Perhaps you’ve ran into her husband?”

Max turned to the beautiful blond. He took her hand and kissed it casually.

“No, I don’t believe I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Troy. But I am acquainted with his lovely wife,” he said smiling, “which is how I know that Troy is a very lucky man.”

Pam was starring at him intensely. “Thank you.”

Their host and hostess left the two after awhile to mingle with their other guests.

“I missed you today,” Pam said in a low, careful voice. “I came by the Plaza, but you weren’t there. I waited for an hour, Max.”

“I’m sorry, Pam, but I was held up in a meeting.” He smiled, glancing around the room.

Then, because no one was paying them any mind, Max held her gaze with heady promise. A small smile tilted the beautiful curve of his mouth; his hand touched her waist, his thumb moving sensually across her satin gown. He leaned close.

“We can make up for lost time later, don’t you think?” His drawl was smooth as silk and rough as sandpaper.

“Meet me upstairs in the blue guest room in half an hour,” Pam whispered, and then she walked away.

For a brief moment, Max gazed after her.

He was remembering their last hot interlude.

He quickly felt the stirring of his desire as he felt the tenting in his pants, so he tried to ease his position unfortunately, he still ached.

He ached all over but mostly he ached in the one place that Pam could satisfy.


*tongue*



Max still managed to chat amiably with some of the party guests, finding the time to say a few brief words, but exactly thirty minutes later he was entering the blue guestroom and closing the heavy rosewood door behind him.

Pam was waiting with a look no man could possibly mistake. Max pulled her slowly and completely against him.

“Hello, Pam,“ he murmured, and then his mouth found hers gently, stroking and sensual.

He plundered with his tongue, fully aroused now, pressing his hot hardness against her, rubbing lithely back and forth.

She moaned.

He cupped her small breast and kneaded it.

“Oh, oooh, Max, Max,” she gasped, her hands wild in his thick hair.

“I know, Pam, I know, “ he groaned back.

Her dress was full-length, it boasted a fashionably full bustle and a set of collapsing hoops, which annoyed Max immensely- especially at times like these.

He pulled it up to her waist with skilled determination and was glad to discover that Pam has already removed her underwear. His hand immediately went to her thigh, delicately tracing its inner softness to the wonderfully full and swelling joining of her legs.

She sagged against the door.

Deftly he found the damp, warm flesh, stroking gently, searching, and gliding insistently.

Pam shuddered and whimpered.

He kissed her softly, barely, teasingly. His tongue played and tormented.

“Come on, Pam, come on, reach for the stars,” he drawled thickly, urgently.

She moaned, low, ragged sound, then tensed and cried out, again and again.

“Yes, ahhh, yes” he whispered, swiftly unbuttoning his pants.

Swollen and thick, Max bent his knees, and trust in.

She gasped.

He did, too.

With her legs around his waist and her back against the door, she rode him as he moved, hard, rhythmically, his face buried in her neck.

“Max,” she whimpered, “I think- ohhhhhhhhhh.”

She sobbed.

With his own guttural cry, he exploded, spasm after spasm.

After they had regained their breath and as they readjusted their clothing, Max squeezed her waist fondly.

“Sweet,” he murmured. “Now let’s go and mingle with the other guest before we’re missed.”

She gave him a look of utter adoration.


*big*



******


The three weeks Liz served as a substitute anchorwoman on the network news was the most hectic period in her professional life.

She found herself putting in long hours at the network’s massive broadcast center, either in front of the cameras or in the office she’d been assigned for the length of her tenure there, writing or reviewing material for the evening broadcast.

Her free time- what little of it there was- was spent socializing with networks executives and others she felt could help her reach her goal. Though she would never have admitted to Kyle, she was positioning herself for a more permanent spot on the network team in the future. Kyle promised to fly east and spend the weekends with her despite his lack of enthusiasm over her stint in NY, but his own hectic schedule had made it impossible for him to do so.

During her last week in NY, she accepted an invitation from the executive producer of the news program to join a group from the news department to a party.

Liz accepted without hesitation.

She had a feeling that she was being evaluated and scrutinized by the network people, but this knowledge did not bother her. She was confident in her ability and in the way she presented herself to them. She’d worked hard for this opportunity, had planned carefully for it, and she knew she was ready. More than ready.

“I must say, you’ve done a marvelous job, Liz,” their executive producer told her. “You’ve been a- “ He stopped short as Liz became vaguely aware of someone approaching her from behind.

“Would any of you mind if I borrow Miss Parker for a few minutes?”

The voice that had interrupted the conversation was unmistakably familiar to Liz.

Everyone had stop talking.

They were all looking at Max Evans, who now stood at Liz’s side, smiling down at her.

Her heart was beating wildly as she struggled to maintain her composure. She took a deep breath and looked up at him. He was still the most devastatingly handsome man she’d ever seen.

Why does he affect me this way? She asked herself.

“It’s been a long time,” she said evenly.

“Too long.” He extended his hand as the band began to play a waltz. “May I have this dance?” he asked politely.

She hesitated for a moment, aware that her colleagues were starring at her.

Let them stare! She thought defiantly.

“Of course,” she said, smiling, as she accepted gracefully.

She could almost feel the eyes of everyone in the room on her as he took her hand and led her onto the dance floor. Her heart was still racing, and as he took her in his arms, she wondered if he could feel it. I hope not, she thought.

“You’re full of surprises, aren’t you, Mr. Evans?”

“Max,” he corrected.

“Max.”

“It’s been a long time, isn’t it?” he asked as they move to the waltz.

“A year, at least,” she responded, keeping her voice light. “I’m surprised that you remembered me.”

She’d always had the feeling that he wouldn’t recognize a woman an hour after they’d met- unless he was sleeping with her.

“I never forget a beautiful woman,” he assured her. “Certainly not as lovely as yourself.”

Liz looked over his shoulder.

She could see her group staring at them openly and a very attractive blond glaring at her. She remembered her first meeting with Max in LA.

“If you remember me,” she began carefully, “then you must also recall the promise you made to me at the Fresco.

“Promise?” he asked innocently.

“You told me that if and when we meet again, you’d give me an exclusive interview.”

“So I did.” He held her a little closer as they waltz across the dance floor. “It wouldn’t be proper to go back on one’s word now, wouldn’t it?”

“Certainly not,” she agreed.

“I will definitely consider it.” His hand caressed her bare back imperceptibly. “Do you live in Manhattan now?”

She shook her head. “I’m on assignment. Temporarily. This is my last week here.”

She felt his hand lightly stroking her back, but she had no desire to stop him.

Why? She asked herself.

“I see.” He studied her face. “Then perhaps we should get together to discuss it before you leave. Dinner, tomorrow night?”

She thought about it for a moment, remembering she’d made other plans.

She shook her head. “I’m not free tomorrow night,” she told him.

“Make yourself free,” he said simply.

Liz looked up at him, and she saw something in that disarming smile, in those incredible black eyes, that she did not quite understand.

“It’s not that simple,” she said finally.

“Of course it is.”

She hesitated. Getting an interview with Max Evans, who almost never gave interviews, would impress the network people.

“I’ll see what I can do,” she told him.

“Do that.” He leaned closer and she could feel his breath, warm against her neck. “You look lovely tonight,” he whispered huskily. “Even more so than the first time I saw you.”

Liz felt his lips brush lightly against her neck, and she drew back and looked at him suspiciously.

“Your dinner invitation- it has nothing to do with my request for an interview, does it.”

“What do you think?” The black eyes glittered wickedly.

“I think you should tell me why you really want to see me,” she insisted.

“I think that’s obvious.”

“You’re wasting your time.”

“Am I?” he asked, unconvinced.

“Yes.” She tried to make her voice firm. He was still rubbing her lower back gently.

“One will never know unless one tries. The first time we met, we only had a brief time together and I had to rush off the airport with my father. I promised myself I would rectify the situation if I ever found you again. And now ……” He let his voice trail off, but the message was clear.

She managed a slight smile. A year ago, she might have been tempted.

“You’re just a little bit too late,” she told him.

“Oh?” He raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Husband or lover?”

“That’s none of your business.”

The black eyes flickered with amusement.

“Have I struck a nerve?”

“No. It’s just that I don’t like being questioned about my private life.”

“I see.” There was a taunting note in his deep, resonant voice. “But it’s all right for you and your colleagues to continually pry into my private affairs?”

“That’s different and you know it.”

“So I’m fair game and you’re not, is that it?”

“You’re news,” she pointed out. “The public cares about what you do, who you see.”

“And I care about what you do and who you see,” he countered. “I should have stayed on in LA last year. I should never have let you slip away from me then.”

“There’s nothing to let slip away,” she reminded him.

“There could have been given the opportunity.”

“We met on strictly professional terms, if you’ll recall.”

“Not my fault,” he insisted.

“I have to maintain my professional distance.”

“Why?” he ask. “Why is that so important to you?”

“Not important,” she said. “Necessary.”

“You do have someone waiting for you at home,” he concluded.

She hesitated for a moment.

She wanted the interview, and she did not want to antagonize him when she was this close to getting it, but she had to make it clear that their relationship could never be anything more than a professional one.

“Yes,” she said finally. “Someone who is very important to me- and I will not risk losing that for anything. Not even a story.”

He smiled. “I admire your loyalty,” he said. “But you cannot blame me for trying- or continuing to try. I’m not accustomed to not getting whatever I go after.”

“Are you still willing to consider the interview?” she asked.

“I will consider it.”

Liz changed the subject. “You dance very well,” she observed.

“I’m accustomed to leading, “ he said simply.

The band stopped playing. Liz pulled away from him slowly, breaking his embrace.

“About tomorrow night,” she began. “If I can change my plans, where shall I meet you?”

“I’ll come for your hotel.”

Liz shook her head emphatically. “I’ll meet you at the restaurant,” she insisted. “Just tell me where.”

“Do you like Lutece? At eight?”

“Eight will be fine.”

He watched her walked away, smiling to himself as she rejoined her group.

He’d been intrigued by her the first time they met, and was even more so now. She was unlike any woman he’d ever known. She was bright and beautiful and independent, traits he found surprisingly appealing. She touched him as no other woman ever had, and he was not sure why he felt as he did.

Max vowed to himself right then and there that sooner or later he was going to have her, and no one or nothing was going to stop him.



Part 4 *shy*



The overhead Fasten Seat sign clicked off abruptly.

Liz stretched her arms and legs as much as the narrow space between the rows of seats would allow. She opened her briefcase and took out the two magazines she’d bought at Kennedy, the current issues of Vanity and Town and Country.

On the cover of Vanity was a teaser, a one-line mention of an interview with actress Tess Harding. Tess Harding…… Max’s former lover? There were rumors that their affair had endured over the past few years on an on-again, off-again basis.

Liz flipped through the magazine until she found the article. There was a full-page black-and-white photograph of the actress at the beginning of it. She is beautiful. Liz thought as she studied the photo. There was also a photo of Tess with Max, who looked almost as handsome and elegant as he was in the flesh.

As attractive as he had been at dinner that night at Lutece, where she spent the entire evening fending off his advances and suggestive comments. She told herself it had been a waste of time, since they’d accomplished nothing as far as the interview was concerned. He probably feels the same way- since he went home alone, she thought wryly.

Liz stared at the picture for a long time, oddly disturbed by the sight of Max with another woman.

Why should it bother me? She asked herself. It’s not as if there’s anything between us, though God knows he tried.

So why did it bother her so much?

It had never bothered her when she saw photos in the trades or tabloids of Kyle with actresses who appeared in his films. She’d always told herself she wasn’t jealous because she had no reason to be. She trusted Kyle; it was as simple as that. He worked with beautiful women all the time. It went with the territory and she understood it perfectly. Still…...

She closed the magazine and drew in a deep breath.

She wasn’t emotionally or physically involved with Max Evans, yet the photo of him with Tess Harding made her feel extremely jealous. It was a feeling that made her acutely uncomfortable. She hated the way he’d managed to get to her.

I don’t care what you do, Max, she thought angrily. I don’t care about you!

She leaned back and closed her eyes.

If she had any doubts about her relationship with Kyle for not being supportive about her trip to NY before, Max had managed to confuse her with minimal effort.

In her mind, she could still see his face clearly, that devastating smile, those hypnotic black eyes. If he knew, he’d have a good laugh over this, she thought.

But he’d never find out.

Not from her.


******


Malibu


“Now, close your eyes,” Kyle told Liz as they entered the beach house together. “No peeking.”

She gave him a quizzical look.

“What is this all about, Kyle?” she asked. “Why all the secrecy?”

He smiled patiently.

“Humor me, okay? It’s a surprise.”

Liz forced a smile. It had been enough of a surprise that he’d come to meet her at the airport, and even more of a surprise to her that she hadn’t been all that happy to see him.

“Oh, all right,” she sighed.

Closing her eyes tightly, she allowed him to lead her down the three steps into the sunken living room.

“Watch your step,” Kyle cautioned as he led her around the furniture to the other side of the room. “Okay, now you can look.”

She did as instructed.

In front of her, positioned near the windows overlooking the ocean, was a large easel covered with a green velvet throw. Kyle lifted it slowly to reveal a painting underneath, it’s a portrait of a mother and her child. They’ve been to an art exhibit before her trip to NY and she just fell in love with it the moment she saw it.

“Why- “ she began.

“I know how much you love it,” he said simply. “ And I wanted to show you how much I love you. This seemed like a good way to do that, and to say I’m sorry for the things I said before you left.”

Liz embraced him gently.

She was happy to have the painting, but she still felt troubled and unable to understand why.

Why, she asked herself, wasn’t she happy to be home, back with the man she loved?

Why did she wish she was still in NY, fighting off Max’s advances?


******


New York City


“I think my father is being terribly narrow-minded about this,” Max complained, pacing the length of the room like a caged animal. “Surely he realized the advantages of moving the corporation’s world headquarters here in NY.”

He stood at the windows of his La Belle Tower office, starring thoughtfully at the Manhattan skyline. He turned suddenly.

“You don’t have much to say Michael. What do you think?”

Michael Guerin. One of the senior VP of the corporation and Max’s only real confidant, sat in one of the black leather chairs in front of Max’s desk, his feet propped up on one corner of the desk, his arms folded behind his head.

“You know I agree with you,” he began, “but regardless of how either of us feels, he still has control. His vote is the one that counts.

“And his word is final,” Max said grimly.

“Absolutely. Unless you know of a way to bring him around to our way of thinking, the headquarters office will remain in Roswell as long as he’s still breathing and able to fight us on it.”

Max frowned. “I’m afraid you’re right. I’ve tried to talk to him, to reason with him, but my father is a very stubborn man,” he admitted. I was hoping I could rally the board members to pressure him a bit, but if it came down to a vote……” His voice trailed off.

“You’ll lose,” Michael concluded. “Fifty–one percent gives him the deciding vote, unfortunately. Either way you go, you’re going to lose.”

Max sat down, thoughtful… “Maybe I should talk to him again. He’ll be flying in for a meeting this week.”

Michael smiled but said nothing.

He knew that Max was not about to give up, not when he thought he was right. Michael knew his friend well. He and Max had forged an alliance while both were attending the Harvard Business School, and it was a solid friendship built upon mutual respect and admiration.

Michael Guerin was the only executive within the upper echelons of the Evans Corporation aside from Philip Evans himself who dared to speak his mind to Max without fear of immediate dismissal. He alone could tell Max when he thought his friend was wrong or behaving irrationally.

Max, who normally discourage anyone who tried to get close to him, regarded Michael as the brother he had never known. Those who wanted to get to Max’s attention knew that the key to reaching him was Michael Guerin, for Michael had the ear of Max Evans himself.

“Maybe you ought to just give him a little more time,” Michael said. “You said yourself he’s really impressed with the growth of the North American operations. The figures speak for themselves. He can’t go on denying the obvious much longer: the future of Evans Corporation is right here in the Big Apple.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Max said slowly. He paused for a moment. “Have you made plans for your winter vacation yet? I’ve rented a chalet near Gstaad…..”


******


Gstaad, Switzerland.


Max arrived in Switzerland at the end of the first week in December, planning to stay for at least two weeks. He’d rented a chalet for the season, certain that a number of corporate executives would take advantage of its availability over the next three months.

Max discovered that he’d arrived at the time of the cross-country ski run.

Skiing enthusiasts from all over the continent had turned out in record numbers. Max however, did not share their excitement. Though ha was a natural athlete who excelled at many sports including skiing, he’d never been interested in competition. Polo was his sport, the only one he took seriously. Skiing was only for recreation.

In years he had been growing in Roswell, he’d spent winter holidays at some of the most glamorous resorts in Europe: Gstaad, St. Moritz, Chamonix, and Kitzbuhel. He’d quickly discovered that those elegant winter paradises provided a splendid backdrop for the most romantic interludes, as well as a wide range of willing and eager partners. While the days on the slopes were exhilarating, he invariably found the nights to be even more so.

He met Courtney during the afternoon of his second day in Gstaad. He’d seen her for the first time that morning on the slopes, and decided then that she was without a doubt the most beautiful sight Gstaad had to offer.

She was slim but full-figured, with a heavy mane of blond hair that framed her exquisite oval face. Her features were delicate and as close to perfection as could be, her eyes large and dark as his own. When she smiled at him, they seemed to glow. He’d wasted no time in introducing himself to her, inviting her to join him for lunch at an inn nearby.

“I’ve seen you out there,” he said in French, gesturing to the slopes. “You ski quite well.”

“So do you,” she said in a voice that was soft, her French fluent but with a strong German accent. “You handle yourself like a professional. Do you ski often?”

“Not as often as I would like,” he admitted as they walked together through the crowded restaurant. “Are you from Gstaad?”

“No, it would only seem so, since I spend so much time here,” she said with a little laugh. “I’m originally from Zurich. My father is an officer with the Schweizer Bank. He was transferred to Neuchatel when I was eight, and that is where I grew up. Now I’m studying at the University of Geneva.”

She was younger than he would have liked, Max realized as he listened to her speak with the unrestrained enthusiasm of a university student, but she was a woman. A woman he wanted and intended to have.

He’d had no trouble convincing her to go with him that night. He thought about it as they drove up to the magnificent chalet overlooking the village in the hills surrounding Gstaad. There had never been any doubt in his mind that he would end up in bed with her. He’d known it the moment he saw her on the slopes.


*tongue*



When they arrived, Max immediately built a fire in the fireplace and chilled a bottle of wine.

Courtney explored the chalet, taking in the splendid interior with the awe of a child on Christmas morning.

“This is beautiful!” she exclaimed, her eyes shinning as she turned to face him. “Do you own it?”

“Unfortunately, no,” he said as he took two glasses from the cupboard. “It’s rather nice, isn’t it?”

“Nice?” She laughed aloud. “It’s like a small castle!”

“Then it’s fitting that I have brought you here,” he said, settling down in front of the fire, motioning for her to join him. “After all a castle is the only place for a princess.”

She blushed. “You’re too kind.”

“Kind?” he asked. “No, Courtney, kindness has nothing to do with it.” He took her in his arms. “I don’t think you realize what a beautiful, desirable woman you are. Tonight I intend to show you.” He kissed her hungrily.

“Oh, yes, Max,” she whispered, her nails digging into his shoulders. “Yes……love me……please……love me……

He held her close, kissing her and stroking her hair, caressing her through her clothing. He sensed her shyness, her reluctance to give herself to him. He’d known it would be no simple matter to seduce her. She probably had not had much experience with men. The wine would release her inhibitions, he thought confidently.

He released her abruptly and reached for the bottle. Opening it, he poured her a glass and insisted she drink all of it.

“It will help you relax,” he told her.

“I don’t need- “

“Drink it, Courtney,” he said firmly. “I want you completely relaxed. I want you to enjoy what’s going to happen between us tonight.”

Max was not disappointed as soon as they finished the bottle of wine, the alcohol took its effect, and Courtney lost her inhibition.

He took her in his arms again. He kissed her, his lips moving slowly, searchingly down her neck as he lowered her to the floor. He slid one hand under her sweater and his fingers squeezed one of her nipples gently.

“I want you, Courtney,” he whispered hoarsely. “I want to make love to you.”

“Yes……” she moaned.

He pulled her sweater up and lowered his head to her breasts, nuzzling each of them as she trembled nervously at his touch.

“Let yourself go,” he whispered. “Relax and enjoy what I’m going to do to you.”

He begun to suck her nipples as he unzipped her wool slacks and pulled them off. His fingers explored the dampness between her thighs as she began to relax under his manipulations.

“Soon, Courtney,” he whispered as he unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants.

He struggled out of his clothes and return to her, pressing himself into her.

“Feel how much I want you,” he breathed. “Feel it, Courtney……”

She was determined to please Max. What she lacked in experienced she made up for her enthusiasm.

"Ohhhh....this looks tasty!" she cooed, holding him tightly in her fist and stroking up and down his length clumsily at first and then eventually with practiced movements.

She knelt between his thighs and gently licked up one side of his shaft and down the other.

There was a large mirror on the wall and he could see the back of her head as she bobbed down to take his length between those perfect lips.

He groaned deeply as she closed her mouth over him, the sensation was hot and luxurious as he slipped easily in and out of her mouth. This girl knew how to please a man with her mouth, he thought.

Courtney built up an exquisite suction with her lips and gently tugged his balls, tickling the underside playfully.

The pressure was building up in his loins like a pressure cooker without a release valve, only he did have a release valve and it wasn't going to be too long before it blew!

Courtney seemed to sense this, and tilting her head, she gulped hard and swallowed him to the back of her throat.

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh……” that sensation was indescribable, Max thought as he lost all control over his balls. With a cry of satisfaction, he jerked his hips and shot stream after stream of hot cum deep into her throat.

Courtney didn't flinch. She took it all, swallowing steadily and maintaining the suction until she had drained every last drop from his spent body.

When she felt the softening of his shaft, she let it slip from her throat. His shaft was streaked with saliva and still dripping semen onto her chin, Courtney looked up with a smile.

“Mmmmm…….” As she licked her lips, her mouth full of cum, dribbling from the corners and trickling down to splash obscenely onto her large breasts.

"Mmmmm... she giggled wanting more.

It seems like I have unleashed a monster, Max thought.


******


"Ohhhhh….Max that's nice," murmured Courtney as Max kissed her .

But kissing wasn't what Max had in mind. He knew what she needed as he dropped to his knees in front of her. As his hands slowly moved up her long slender legs, Max nuzzled gently into the light fuzz of her mound.

"Mmmmm...ooh that's so nice," mumbled Courtney.

As his tongue slipped out towards her already wet slit, the lips unfolded before his eyes revealing her hard little clit. Max proceeded to lick the length of her lips, pausing every now and then to suck and gently nibble on her button.

Briefly he looked up. Courtney, with eyes tight shut was massaging her large breasts and moaning her encouragement.

“Harder Max…..ummmm….harder…ohhhh....faster…faster...ummmm…..”

With a smile, Max went back to his task.

Up and down her slit he lashed his tongue becoming more fervent more impassioned, more intense. He sucked her clit, using his teeth to bite gently the way he knew she would liked. It wasn't long before he felt her legs tremble and her hands push his head further into her cunt.

"Aaahhhhhhh yessss.....ooooohhhhh..I'm gonna do it...yessssssssss," cried Courtney as the orgasm crashed through her lithe body.

Max took one more swipe with his tongue causing her legs to buckle as he stand and pushed himself into her very wet mound, taking possession of her flesh, fulfilling the promise he’d made to himself the first time he saw her.

“Ah…ah..ah..ah..ummm….” His breath came in harsh gasps and he moved powerfully, taking her swiftly. His orgasm came quickly, explosively, before he could satisfy her needs completely, and he fell off her in gratified exhaustion.

“Come with me- to the bedroom,’ he told her. “We’ll make love again and again, until we have both been satisfied.”

Courtney was not disappointed.

Max did make love to her again and again that night ….under the eiderdown quilts in the bedroom……..

……in the kitchen table…..

……in the thick carpet….

Though Courtney had been to bed with other men before Max, she’d never had an orgasm. Max, with his mouth and his hands and his splendid body, had enabled her to experience a kaleidoscope of exquisite sensations she’d never dreamed possible.


*big*



Later, in the darkness, Courtney lay beside him in silence, thinking about what happened between them, and she was filled with a joy so complete she could not believe it was real. This is just the beginning for us, she told herself. He was all she had ever wanted in a man. She finally drifted to sleep, to happy dreams of a future with Max.

When she woke the next morning, he was gone.


******


New York City


Max looked over the papers spread out on the desk in front of him.

“The reports are excellent,” he said slowly. “Your people are quite thorough.”

Michael, seated across the desk, nodded. “That’s why I picked them.”

“So what do you think?” Max asked, looking up at him.

Michael shrugged.

“Any one of these companies would make an excellent acquisition,” he answered without hesitation. “Any or all of them would be a wise investment.”

“But if it were your decision to make, which of them would you choose?” Max wanted to know.

“Well, since you are asking for my opinion,” Michael began with a grin, ”NT gets my vote. Their record is impressive. Right now they’re getting a large number of government contracts.”

Max nodded. “You’re absolutely right. But what about –“

Both men turned at the sound of voices raised in anger on the other side of the door. Suddenly the door flew open and Philip Evans burst into the office, his face was dark with rage.

Max got to his feet.

“Dad- I was not expecting you-“ he began.

“I know you are not expecting me!” Philip snapped. He turned to Michael. “Will you excuse us?”

Michael took one look at his face and got to his feet quickly.

“Max- call me when you’re free, okay?”

Max nodded. Michael left the room, and Max turned back to his father.

“What’s wrong?” he wanted to know.

“You have gone too far!” his father said sharply.

“What are you talking about?”

“Pam Troy! That’s what I’m talking about, he lashed out. “What were you thinking?”

“How- “ Max began.

“I just received a call from Nicolas Troy. Their company are not going to go through with their investment in our cable network project in Japan because they cannot do business with someone whose son is having an affair with his wife!” he finished angrily.

“I never thought- “

“That is your problem in a nutshell, Max. You have never stopped to consider the possible consequences of your actions!”

“But- “

His father raised his hand.

“You have gone too far this time, Max,” he repeated. There was a warning note in Philip’s voice. “This is a serious matter. It is no longer just a game, with you proving yourself a stud with every woman you meet. This woman is married! A married woman and a mother to two children. She has a family! Have you ever stop to think what will happen or what those children are feeling now? Do…… do you want that in your conscience?”

“Have you ever consider the repercussions if this leaked to the media”, his father continued. “Do you have any idea what it would do to your future in the business world- and the future of the corporation?” he asked.

“This has nothing to do with-“

“This has everything to do with it!” Philip roared. “Evans has always been regarded as a solid company. A good risk financially. Someday you will be controlling it- and you will be at the mercy of the same bankers who now see you as irresponsible! If they regard you as a bad risk when you need their assistance, when you seek loans from them, then what will become of you? What will become of the corporation?”

Max fell silent. He had never thought about it.

“This is the last straw, Max,” Philip told him. “I have had it with you and this unacceptable life-style of yours! Things are going to have to change, and change quickly, or I will make you very sorry you have not heeded my warnings. You have my word on that!”

“Dad, you must believe me,” Max said finally. “I never seek her out or pursued her.”

“All that is irrelevant now, Max,” his father said sharply. “I suggest you give serious thought to what I have said.”

Though Max would have liked to believe that the worst was over, that his father had said all he intended to say on the subject, he knew that in all likelihood it was just the beginning.

His father was not normally given to discussing private matters, particularly those of such a scandalous nature, in public places. Unfortunately, the incident in Max’s office proved to be the exception to the rule; his father’s rage had been such that he had not been able to control his anger.

Now that they were alone, Max was filled with uncomfortable certainty that the worst was yet to come.

“I can no longer tolerate such blatant irresponsible conduct on your part, Max.” Philip Evans stood across the room, his back turned to his son as if he could not stand to look at him.

“In the past I have overlooked a great deal, or, to be more precise, tried to overlook it. When I could not overlook it I paid handsomely to keep it out of the headlines. At first I told myself that it was to be expected. You are young and such sexual experimentation was normal. I told your mother it was nothing to be alarmed about, that it would pass in time before you would take a wife and settle down.” Philip turned to look at his son. “But this latest development in inexcusable, Maxwell. It makes me doubt your suitability as my successor. It makes me doubt your ability to assume that responsibility.”

Max, seated at his desk, looked at his father warily.

“What are you saying?” he asked cautiously.

“Haven’t I made myself clear? I have doubts about you as a suitable successor to the board of directors. I find myself questioning your ability one day to take my place,” Philip answered honestly.

Max rose to his feet. He stared at his father, thunderstruck.

“This is unfair, dad,” he protested. “You hold me responsible for the actions of a woman who is clearly- “

Philip raised his hand once again to silence him. His face was dark with anger. When he spoke again, his voice was low, but it was filled with a deadly seriousness.

“I think you should be aware that I am giving serious consideration to changing my will.”

Max looked up, stunned by his father’s words.

“Changing your will?” You can’t be serious! Over this?”

“I am serious, Max,” Philip said gravely. “If I cannot be certain that you are able to control your private life, I cannot have confidence in you as my successor. I will not allow the corporation to be ruined, but I am sure you are well aware of my feelings on that subject.”

“But who- “ Max began, visibly upset.

“Who will inherit the controlling stock in the corporation?” Philip shook his head. “I have no idea- yet. I have not had the opportunity to consider my options. I am afraid that you, my son, have placed me at a grave disadvantage. This is one problem I never expected to face. There was never a doubt in my mind, until now, that is, that you would succeed me.”

Max’s face was ashen.

“I cannot believe you would really do this,” he said slowly, gripping the edge of the desk until his knuckles went white.

“Believe it, because I most certainly would,” Philip said quietly. “It is not something I want to do. But if you leave me no other choice, I would do it. If you do not exhibit a more responsible attitude in the future, I will have no choice but to place the controlling stock of the corporation in the hands of someone who can run it as it must be run if it is to endure.” He turned back to the window again.

“Consider this your final warning, Maxwell. You are an Evans. The last of the line, my sole heir- for the moment. Start living up to your responsibilities before it is too late.” He turned abruptly and left the room.

Max remained in the study long after his father had gone, thinking about the ultimatum that Philip had delivered. Knowing his father as he did, Max did not doubt for a moment that he would do exactly what he had threatened to do.

Philip Evans did not make idle threats. No one knew that better than Max. Even if his father did not want to refuse Max control of the corporation, he would still do just that if he felt it were absolutely necessary.

He stood in the windows, staring into the darkness without really seeing anything. He could not help but wonder if things would ever be the same between himself and his father.

It was ironic, Max thought now, that so many women had passed through his life, each of them vowing to “get even” with him, and Pam, who had probably never given thought to revenge when they had an affair, had managed to strike a blow from which he might never recovered.

It had threatened the one thing in the world that mattered most to Max: his birthright.

The Evans Corporation was his one consuming passion, his demanding mistress, arousing powerful emotions from some wellspring deep within his soul as no mortal woman had ever been able to do. For Max, the possibility of losing that was more frightening than the prospect of death itself.

Somehow he had to find a way to prevent it from ever happening.





[ edited 4 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 4:37:12 PM ]
posted on 3-Dec-2001 10:26:42 PM
Part 5 *shy*



For the next eight months Max threw himself totally into his work, into the growth and expansion of the Evans Corporation.

He became personally involved in every aspect of that expansion. He went to great lengths to learn everything he could about the business he was interested in acquiring.

He traveled extensively, spending weeks in an automobile plant in Germany, observing and questioning both executives and men who worked in the assembly plant…visiting an advertising agency in London to learn how ad campaigns were developed and executive decision made….checking out the corporate offices of a major airline in Paris to find out all he could about the business and to learn about flaws in airport security. In Montreal, it was a computer manufacturer. In Singapore, a television network.

“I find myself getting an education I never had at Harvard,” he confided to Michael Guerin.

Whenever he needed advise, he called in the experts. If he was asked a question for which he did not have an answer, he was not afraid to pick up the phone and locate someone who did.

It was not unusual for Max to drop in unannounced on the platoon of corporate lawyers who handled the legal end of the corporation’s business affairs. Nor was it a surprise to the president of a major Manhattan bank when he received a call from Max in the early hours of the morning to discuss a possible merger or ask a question about finances or taxes.

If it was technical information he sought, he would acknowledge expert in that field. He was thorough, asking questions about even the minutest details and remembering their answers.

Michael once accused him of trying to become an expert at everything.

“It isn’t necessary, Max,” he insisted. “You can always hire the experts when you need them!”

Max only laughed.

“Such a trusting soul you are, my friend,” he said. “Do you think for a moment that I’d turn important matters over to others, ignorant of what might be going on. Only a fool would do such a thing when so much is at stake! I’ll hire the experts, yes, but I’ll also gain enough fundamental knowledge of my own to know what they’re doing.”

Michael studied him for a moment.

“What is it you really want, Max?” he asked.

“Everything. I want to own the world,” he answered simply.

Michael laughed at the enormity of Max’s statement.

“If anyone can do that- “ he begun.

Max smiled. “Be patient, my friend. I’ll show you how.”

It wasn’t long that the heir apparent to the Evans Corporation, already a familiar face to the gossip pages, had emerged with a new image.

One reporter made reference to the Evans Corporation as “Max’s empire,” and the handle stuck. Before long, everyone from the financial reporters to the gossip columnists to the man on the street was making reference to “Max’s empire”.

Philip Evans, in spite of the circumstances surrounding his relationship with his son, found himself taking greater pride in his son’s headline-making ventures than he ever had in his own achievements. It was a relief to him to have positive publicity surrounding his son for a change.

In the next three months, Max was busier than he had ever been. He put in long hours, often from six in the morning until two or three the next morning. He read contracts and other legal documents. He reviewed reports concerning potential business deals. He always discussed them with his father at length, and even Philip himself was amazed at the depth of Max’s knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of international business.

During those three months, Max and his father also made a concerted effort to renew the closeness they once had. His father told him that he had no intention of telling Max how to live his life or who he sleep with as long as he act responsibly.


******


Max took a break from his hectic schedule to go to the exclusive Riverview Resort to prepare for the annual polo match that the Evans team would be entering in a few weeks.

The bright morning sunlight streaming through the bedroom windows cut a brilliant path across the painful erection that had brought Max out of slumber, as had been the case every morning for months.

He missed sex.

Not that it was unavailable.

He got up to drown his lust in the cold stream of the shower when a knock came.

“I’ve heard you’ve been a very, very good boy Max.” Tess Harding said in the doorway.

"That I have.” Max regarded her from the depths of his dark eyes. “And from your tone, you are no admirer of temperance.”

“Temperance is a form of moderation,” Tess responded. “I’m no admirer of moderation. In my experience its just another word for dull.” His gaze took in Tess’ overt sexuality.

“Is that your room?”

“Oh, it is.” His eyes wandered boldly over Tess’ provocative figure.

“Could I go in there a minute?”

“And why would you want to do that?” His voice was teasing interested.

“Because there’s something I can’t do out here in the hall.”


*tongue*



"Is their, now?” Max held the door open for Tess, closed it behind them and followed her in.

Tess looked at him. She shivered deliciously at the overwhelming prospect. “So you’ve been a very good boy,” she said. “Does that mean you’ve given up all the vices?”

“Not all.”

“Would you like some of this, then?” Tess poured herself a glass of wine. “It will make it better,” Tess told him softly, tacitly acknowledging what was becoming clear to both of them- that they were going to make love.

“Oh, it will be fine for me without.”

“Do you mind if I indulge?”

“Each his own master; each his own mistress.”

Tess drank her wine then licked her bottom lips. “Why don’t you kiss me?” she suggested.

“Why not indeed?”

He took her in his arms, his grip a vise. It squeezed the breath from her body as he kissed her. His tongue filled her mouth, hot and demanding. His already hardened penis crawled up against her belly.

Tess clung to him.

She was dizzy. As she’d anticipated, she felt overwhelmed, and at the same time she was excited.

His hands moved under her sweater. A fingertip traced the cleavage between her breast. His thumbs stroked her naked, stiffening nipples. He pushed the sweater up. His lips left hers and moved to her breast.

Tess’ knees buckled slightly as he sucked at one and then the other. They were still standing in front of the bed. Max reached under her skirt from behind, and his hand moved over her plump, writhing bottom. He found the elastic of her bikini panties and tugged them down.

“Oh, God! Tess moaned, very turned on now.

Abruptly Max stepped back and pulled down his boxers.

He took out his engorged penis and placed it in Tess’ hand.

Widening her stance as he raised her woolen skirt, she told Max hoarsely, “I like to hold your prick. I love it. I love you. Do you love me?”

“Not a bit of it.”

“You don’t love me?”

“I do not. Nor do you love me, my girl. You’re just horny for a bit of the old push-pull that’s all.”

“That’s right.” His refusal to play the game excited Tess even more. “I don’t love you. But I want to fuck you.” She rose up on the tips of her toes and tried to insert his organ. “I want your prick in my pussy!” she panted.

In response Max put both hands under her squirming bottom and raised her.

Tess, locking her legs above his hips, pushed down until he was buried inside her to the sac of his scrotum. Her arms around his neck, she began bouncing, easily at first and then harder.

Max felt her buries her face in his shoulder, and then he felt her teeth digging into his shoulder. When she began to squeal and bounce hard against her groin, half-laughing and half crying, Max backed her against the wall and held her there while she held him inside her full length and prolonged her hot, intense orgasm.

When it was over, he pushed her back on the bed without withdrawing.

Sensitive in the aftermath of her climax, he could tell that his movements inside her now were pleasuring her in ways that temporarily sacrificed her rationality. He bent her double and stroked her deep, riding her clitoris, until he felt Tess on the brink of a second orgasm.

“Wow!” Tess enthused a long time later when they had subsided. “Is that the effect of being a good boy has on you?”

“No,” Max told her. “That’s the effect of going without sex for too long.”


*big*



******


“How would you like to become my mistress?” Max said as he began to explore Tess naked body again.

“How about we get married instead.”

“That’s out of the question Tess.”

“Suppose you tell me exactly what I would gain in this arrangement.”

“You would have the use of a luxury apartment in Manhattan, a generous allowance, and gifts now and then.”

“What kind of gifts?” She asked.

“Furs, jewels.”

“And I would be living with you?”

He shook his head. “No. We would maintain separate residences. I’d come to you.”

“And what about other men?” she asked.

“Out of the question. There will be only me, but I’ll be all you will be able to handle,” he assured her.

She smiled. “It sounds good, almost too good to refuse,” she admitted.

“Then I suggest you accept.”

Max pulled back the sheets, then rolled her over on her back and got on top of her, thinking that she had been exactly what he needed. Though Tess had not yet given him her answer, he did not have the slightest doubt what it would be.


******


New York City


In his office at the La Belle Tower, Max was seated at his desk, reviewing reports he’d received that morning from his people in the Philippines on the corporation’s oil drilling operations there.

The figures were good- no, they were excellent. The offshore tracts were now producing 875,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Translated into dollars and cents- he leaned forward and punched some button on the large calculator on his desk- the figures were impressive, even by his standards.

He smiled to himself. His father would be pleased.

“Mr. Evans?”

His secretary’s words cut through his thoughts. His head jerked up abruptly. She stood in the doorway, a pen and yellow legal pad in one hand.

“Yes?” he asked.

“Your reservations at the Beverly Wilshire for the polo match next week have been confirmed, and your horses arrived in LA this morning,” she told him. “Is there anything else?”

He shook his head. “No Stacey, thank you.”

She left the office, closing the door behind her. Max leaned back in his chair, tapping the eraser end of his pencil on the desk in a steady rhythm without realizing it.

Los Angeles. Maybe he should give Liz Parker a call. After all, they hadn’t settled anything on that interview of hers when she was in NY.

He smiled to himself. It was odd, the way she stuck in his mind. Even now, with a woman as skilled as Tess to take care of his needs in bed, he hadn’t been able to get Liz off his mind.

Why?

On an impulse, he buzzed Stacey and told her to contact Liz at DZLA in LA.

Ten minutes later, she buzzed him on the intercom.

“Miss Parker on line two, sir.”

“Thank you, Stacey.” He picked up the phone, punching the lighted button on the console. “Liz- how are you?” he greeted her cheerfully.

“Busy,” she responded. He could hear a rustling sound of papers on the other end. “Is this call social or professional?”

“Social.”

“In that case, you’ll have to make it brief,” she told him. “I’m really busy.”

“Actually, it’s both,” he admitted, determined to hold her attention. “I thought if you still want that interview, we might be able to arrange a meeting. I’ll be playing a polo match at the LA Equestrian Center next weekend-“

“Sorry, I don’t cover sports,” she said briskly.

“Do you want the damned interview or not?” he asked, annoyed. “I don’t get to the Coast very often these days.”

There was a long pause on the other end.

“Give me the specifics,” she said finally. “I’ll see you there.”


******


Los Angeles


The seconds ticked away on the huge scoreboard of the LA Equestrian Center.

The spectators were on their feet, cheering blistering charge toward the goal.

Max Evans, riding a large chestnut gelding, led that charge, a lean, tanned figure in blue and white, the colors of the Evans team. Swinging his mallet forcefully, he struck the ball viciously as a player from the opposing team failed in an attempt to block him. The ball skimmed to the ground, landing several yards ahead. Another long, cracking hit sent it to the goal.

The spectators gave a round of thundering applause as the numbers on the scoreboard changed.

Liz leaned against the railing, entranced by what was taking place in the arena even though she knew virtually nothing about the game.

One did not have to be an expert, she decided, to be caught up in the electric excitement of what was happening. Nor did one have to be an authority to sense the power, the absolute control with which Max Evans dominated the play, the instinct and intelligence that enabled him to act with split-second grace at the cutting edge of danger.

Elegance in action, she thought intrigued.

“He could ride in on a jackass and turn out eight or nine goals,” her cameraman commented, almost as if he’d read her minds. “The expert strategist, team player, and athlete- not to mention the fact that he happen to own some of the best ponies in the game today.”

“Who?” Liz asked, her eyes still on the field.

“Max Evans,” Pierce answered, making an adjustment on his equipment. “He has a ten-goal handicap and is considered one of the best players of modern polo. It’s damned unusual when you consider that this game has to take a back seat to business.”

“Why unusual?” Liz asked, turning to look at him for the first time.

“Well, the world’s top-ranked players- Pieres, Herrera, Hipwood- they’re all guys who devote themselves totally to the game. They eat, sleep and breathe polo. Evans is at best a part-time athlete,” Pierce explained. “But he’s such a perfectly conditioned athlete that he’d been able to maintain his ten-goal status in spite of his inability to play regularly.”

Liz smiled. “Where did you learn so much about the game?” she asked.

“I played intercollegiate at Yale,” he told her. “Used to be pretty good, too- if I do say so myself.”

A burst of wild applause signaled that the match was over.

Liz instructed Pierce to move in for a close up shot as Max Evans accepted the trophy.

“Come on,” she told him as she turned on her heels and headed for the exit to get the comments of some of the players.

Max Evans, the last to leave the field, turned his pony to one of the grooms as he reached the exit. Spotting Liz, he smiled appreciatively as he pulled off his helmet.

“Liz Parker,” he said in that low, seductive voice as he walked toward her with the ease and sexual negligence of a born predator. “It’s good to see you again.”

“Congratulations on your victory,” she said, taking a step forward, brushing his last comment aside as if it had no particular meaning. “From where I sat, it certainly didn’t look like an easy one.”

His smile was disarming.

“None of them are ever easy,” he assured her. “But it was the kind of game that I enjoy most- a genuine challenge. There’s nothing quite as exciting as truly aggressive play between topflight competitors.”

Mentally, Liz recalled some of the comments of the other players about his style and game: mercurial… calculating… lightning-fast… a single-minded perfectionist. But she had the feeling that his comments about enjoying a challenge, about finding aggressive play exciting, actually had nothing to do with polo.

The way he was looking at her, not bothering to conceal his attraction to her, made her think of their last meeting in NY.

“I’d like to get a few comments from you- on camera,” she said, her clear, crystalline voice not betraying the uneasiness she felt under his powerful gaze.

Max looked at the cameraman as though he was an inconvenience that had to be tolerated. Then he looked at Liz again and nodded.

She asked his views on the outcome of the match and his opinion of some of the other players, and he spoke easily, ignoring the camera that was on him all the while.

When the camera stopped rolling, Pierce gathered up his cables and wires. “I’ll catch you back at the van.” He told Liz.

She nodded. “I’ll be along in just a minute.”

She started to walk away, but Max caught her arm.

“I think we have some unfinished business, don’t we?” he asked, smiling at the look of surprise on her face.

“The interview,” she concluded, withdrawing her hand.

“Among other things.”

“There is nothing else as far as I’m concerned,” she said pointedly.

“Have dinner with me tonight.”

She looked at him. “You never give up, do you?”

“Never,” he replied promptly. “Give me the bottom line, Liz. What’s it going to be?”

She shook her head. “I can't.”

He grinned.

“So, the director is jealous,” he concluded. “Does he always object to your prospective interviewees?” There was a twinge of amusement in his voice.

“No, of course not- when it’s strictly business,” she said. “But you and I both know you won’t let it go at that.”

He leaned nonchalantly against the wall, his arms folded across his chest, studying her for a moment.

“I’m many things to many people,” he said, still smiling. “And not all of them are complimentary. But I’m honest about what I want. I make no secret of it."”

Liz glanced around, hoping no one who knew her or Kyle had overheard their conversation.

“You don’t take no for an answer,” she said, her voice barely audible.

His black eyes glittered wickedly.

“If you won’t have dinner with me, then perhaps we could have a drink together later and discuss the interview. I’m staying at the Beverly Wilshire.”

“I told you before that I couldn’t. Not tonight.”

“Do you want the interview, Liz?” he pressed.

“I want the interview,” she insisted. “But that’s all I want. If you are willing to accept that and still talk business with me, I’ll meet you tomorrow at the Fresco.

He shook his head.

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” he said. I’m leaving for NY in the morning. You know it’s very unfortunate that we can’t come to some sort of agreement. Though you want only an interview, you see, I want you.”

She stared at him for a moment, surprised that even he could be so blunt.

“I’m sorry,” she said evenly. Without another word, she turned and walked away without looking back.

As he watched her leave, Max was once again confounded by the effect the woman had on him. He’d had some of the most beautiful women in the world, women who were not only willing, but also eager to share his bed.

He had Tess waiting for him in NY- Tess, with her superbly skilled hands and mouth and her intoxicating body; Tess, whose erotic expertise satisfied even his most unorthodox desires.

Yet all he could think about was Liz Parker, slim, petite Liz with her doe eyes and sassy spirit, who seemed totally uninterested in him. Liz, who fascinated him more than anyone he’d ever known.

What was it about her that made her special, made him want her more each time he saw her?

Was it her firm refusal to surrender herself to him, or was it something more, something about the woman herself that attracted him as he’d never been attracted to anyone before?

He was tempted to postpone his return to NY, to stay in California and have lunch with her. It would be a start, he thought. It would be worth giving her that damned interview if it meant she would finally be his, even for one night.

But Max knew it was out of the question.

His father was flying in from Roswell that night, and there was the board of directors meeting tomorrow afternoon. The last thing he needed now was to antagonize the old pirate, to miss a board meeting because he was trying to seduce a woman who’d consistently refused him.

No, Liz would have to wait.

For now.

Next time, he thought as he disappeared into the crowd.

Definitely next time.



Part 6 *shy*



“You have managed a takeover of Donovan and Associates?” Even the sometimes-poor quality of the telephone connections had no drastic effect on the resonance of Philip Evans voice. “Excellent! I have no idea how you managed this, Max, but I am pleased. Extremely pleased.”

“I knew you would be, dad, which is why I wanted to be the one to tell you about it.” Max was aware that ten years ago his father’s own attempts to take over the same company failed.

“I am glad you called, Max,” Philip said. There was an ominous pause on the other end of the line. “There is something else I think we should discuss.”

“Business?”

“Personal.”

Max knew what was coming. His father had learned of his arrangement with Tess. “Dad, I know what you are going-“

“Let me finish, Max,” Philip cut in. “I know I have promised not to interfere in your personal affairs. I do not intend to tell you how to live your personal life or with whom to sleep. But I wonder if this is a wise move, this present relationship of yours.”

“You are talking about Tess Harding,” Max said.

“You know, off course, what kind of a woman she is.”

“I know all there is to know about Tess Harding,” he assured him.

“And you don’t foresee problems with her?”

“Dad, you disapproved of my brief affair with Pam Troy because she is married,” Max reminded him. “Tess is not married. She is no different from a high-priced call girl. She knows that when I no longer have a need for…… this arrangement, it will come to an end.

“You must be careful, Max,” Philip warned. “I think she would like to trade what every woman carries between her legs for the power that is your birthright.”

Max laughed. “Tess knows better than to try to use sex for bargaining, I’ve made it quite clear that I make the rules. She knows what she will gain from our arrangement and what’s out of the question.”

“And you think she can be trusted to live up to this arrangement?” Philip asked.

Max laughed aloud at the thought. “I would trust Tess no further than I can see her, dad,” he responded without hesitation. “But she’s a pragmatist. She knows I want only one thing from her. I make no promises I don’t intend to keep. Tess been through this before with other men.”

Philip paused. “Tell me, Max, do you think you will ever find the right woman and settle down?”

Max hesitated for a moment. “I found her over two years ago,” he said slowly.

“You- “ Philip stopped short. “She’s married? Is that what you are saying?”

“No,” Max answered quietly. “She’s involved with someone. A serious relationship.”

“Are you sure?”

Max took a deep breath. “Dad, I’d rather not discuss it,” he said in a low, controlled voice. “I only called to tell you about the Donovan deal-“

“Ah, very well,” Philip sighed. “I cannot help my concern for you, my son. I only want you to be happy.”

“I know dad,” Max said wearily. “I have to go now- I have another call.” He didn’t, but he wanted to end their conversation as quickly as possible.

“I’ll talk to you later in the week.”

“Definitely.”

Max replaced the receiver slowly.

His statement had surprised him even more than it had surprised his father.

Until now, he hadn’t given much thought to the nature of his attraction to Liz. He desired her sexually, of course, just as he’d desired other woman. But no, that wasn’t exactly the case.

It had been different, right from the beginning. As much as he wanted Liz, he didn’t feel the need to dominate her sexually unlike what he felt for Tess, Vicky, Courtney- or, to a degree, with Pam.

None of the feelings that made him eventually lose interest in his other women, just as he was growing tired of Tess. There was a need, yes, but it was something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

He drummed his fingers on the edge of the desk in frustration.

Why couldn’t he get her off his mind?

What was it that set her apart from the others?

And why, when he was having sex with Tess, was it Liz he was thinking of?

What did he really feel for her?


******


Los Angeles


Liz climbed out of the DZLA mobile production van and dashed across the parking lot to the station entrance. She was exhausted.

“Liz!”

She turned. Chris Wallace stood outside his office, waving at her. “I need to see you- pronto!”

Liz crossed the busy floor to Wallace office. “What’s up, Chris?” she asked as she entered.

“Close the door.” He seated himself behind the desk.

She did as he instructed, then took a seat across from him. He took a network memo from the drawer.

“It seems the network brass were quite impressed with the job you did in NY last year,” he said, leaning back in his chair.

“Not well enough to offer me Jessica Manelli’s job when she didn’t renew her contract.” Liz pointed out. It had been her biggest professional disappointment to date.

“But were impressed enough to make another offer,” Wallace said. “You are familiar with World Focus, aren’t you?”

“Of course,” It was the networks top-rated morning news and features show.

“The co-host not renewing,” Wallace said. “The producer, Harvey Petersen, wants you to replace her. Interested?"

“What a question!” Liz laughed. “I’m not only interested, I’ll give you my resignation now if you like.”

“You’d have to be in NY in time to start the first week of July,” he told her. “Any problem with that?”

She shook her head. “I’d like to leave LA by June fifteenth,” she said thoughtfully. “I’ll need time to find an apartment and get settled. Is there any chance you could replace me here by then?”

“No,” he said. “No problem on this end.”

She smiled. “Then it’s settled.”

“I’ll call NY and let them know you’re accepting,” Wallace said then.

She raised her hand to stop him. “I’d like to call them myself, if you have no objection.”

He shook his head. “Fine with me.” He grinned. “You know, I figured you’d take it, but somehow I didn’t think it was going to be so easy.”

Liz got up and opened the door. “Neither did I,” she admitted. “But I suppose there was never really any doubt in my mind that I’d accept if an offer were made.”


******


*tongue*



New York City


Tess drained the rest of her drink in one quick gulp.

She turned and smiled.

She teasingly licked her lips and started dancing to the music. At the same time she ran her hands up and down her body, stopping to cup her tits from underneath. She then squeezed them together, making the ample mounds pop out even more from her low cut dress.

Tess continued to dance, moving her hands slowly lower and lower until she was unabashedly rubbing her cunt through the thin material of her dress and moaning throatily.

She hiked up her dress and slowly pulled her panties down her legs and over her high-heeled shoes. She tossed them toward the couch and they landed in his lap, tenting up over the bulge in his slacks.

Tess looked him square in the eyes and licked her lips.

She placed her hands on her boobs and ran her fingers around the hard nipples.

She teasingly slipped her bra off and exposed her impressive breasts.

He was breathing quite hard by now and had unzipped and pulled down his pants.

He was busy masturbating to the sight of Tess in heat!

Masturbating to Tess who was gyrating her body in front of him.

By now her dress and bra had been pulled down to expose her bouncing boobs. Tess danced up to the couch and she smothered his face between her big tits and shook them back and forth.

At this point he wouldn't have believed that Tess could still surprise him but she did.

She got down on her hands and knees and crawled over to the couch between his legs and started licking and sucking his balls. He watched, barely managing to hold on, while Tess licked her way up his impressive dick.

She grabbed hold of his cock in both hands and covered the head with her mouth.

He could see her cheeks cave in as she put a demand suck on his tool and inched her way down, sliding her hands lower as she covered his near to bursting hard-on with her mouth.

After taking a bit more than half of his cock in her throat, Tess eased her lips up and off the shaft.

She gazed up into his face, smiled and licked her lips.

She then lifted up her heaving tits and wrapped them around his throbbing penis. She proceeded to slide them up and down as his cock lubricated her chest with pre-cum.

As she fucked his cock with her tits she stared up into his eyes and said, "Ooh baby, yeah. Tit fuck me good. I love the feel of hard cock between my big tits."

Tess licked up and down his dick once more for good measure. She lifted her tits to her mouth and licked them off as well.

She looked up at him again and said, "See if you can hold off a bit longer stud. I want you to save it so that you can cream me later."

She took his near to bursting boner between her boobs, first moving one tit up and then the other, alternating up and down.

While continuing to massage his cock between her big boobs she gazed lustfully into his eyes and said, "You taste so good tonight honey! And I just love the feel of your big dick fucking me between my tits."

She rubbed both her nipples over the head of his dick, covering them in pre-cum, which she then licked off her own nipples.

Tess took one more swipe at his pulsing meat log with her tongue while he was gingerly holding on ready to burst.

Tess then grabbed his huge cock with both hands and crammed the swollen head into her mouth while jerking up and down on the thick shaft. She took as much of that tree trunk as she was capable of down her throat.

She slid her lips up and down his cock at a manic pace.

Occasionally Tess removed her mouth from his joint and allowed herself to look up into his face while licking her lips. She let a strand of saliva and pre-cum stretch slowly between his cock and her mouth while she gradually moved her lips away.

Tess again lifted her tits and smothered his dick between them, shaking them back and forth. She shook her chest like a stripper bent over to give a customer a show.

The only difference was that there was a throbbing 12" cock between her gyrating tits.

She slid her breasts up and down his boner, occasionally bending her head down to lick his dick as it emerged from the top of her boobs.

She then looked up at him and said, "Yum yum, delicious. I love the taste of your cream baby. I love the feel of your big fucker between my tits. You've got a fucking incredible cock baby."

Tess then proceeded to lick her tits and his dick off and then stood up.

He kneeled over her and placed his cock between her breasts while Tess cupped his ass. He then pressed her tits against the sides of his huge boner and continued to plow his massive tool between her tits.


Click. Click. Click.


He quickly lifted her up into his lap, and she screamed.

He held her on his lap, and his large hand slid around her waist. He slipped his hand between her legs, and roughly rubbed her crotch.

He began to rub her exposed pussy. His finger slipped up and down the wet pussy slit.

Tess moaned as he began to slip his finger inside of her wet pussy. "Oh, yessss….." she moaned.

He quickly lifted her up onto the table. She lay on the table naked now. He pulled her white creamy thighs apart, and lowered his face between her legs. His tongue rapidly flicked up and down her swollen clit.

"Oh God!" she moaned.

He took his long thick swollen cock and pre-cum oozed from the massive cock head.

Tess glanced down at his stiff erection.

"Oh, yes, you are such a naughty boy!" she yelled.

She reached for his throbbing cock and gripped it softly with her delicate hand. She slowly slid her hand up and down his thick shaft.

He moaned as she took his massive cock head between her pretty lips. Her tongue slithered across the huge head, lapping at the sticky pre-cum that had oozed from its purplish tip.

He grabbed Tess by the back of her blonde hair, and pushed her mouth further onto his cock.

She gagged as he slid into her hot throat.

She relaxed and graciously accepted the long thick cock. She moved her mouth up and down his long thick cock rapidly. Her hand held his balls, gently cupping them.

He moaned loudly as he felt his cock head slide into her hot throat again.

"Yes, suck it baby" he groaned.

He began pumping his cock deeply into her mouth, holding her roughly by the hair.

"Yes, I'm cumming………" he yelled.

His cum erupted into her mouth, and she hungrily swallowed the thick sweet liquid.

His cock pulsated wildly as he continued to spurt inside of her mouth. She held the base of his large cock with her hand, and furiously jacked him off as the last of his hot cum erupted into her mouth.

"Yes, that was nice," he moaned.

He pulled his cock from her mouth, and quickly rolled her onto her belly.

He grabbed her thighs and pulled her into a doggy style position. He began to rub the swollen head of his erect cock against her leaking pussy.

"Oh yes fuck me you bad boy!" she moaned.

He thrust forward violently, and his cock slid deep into Tess cunt.

"Oh Dear ohHHHH…!" she yelled.

Her pussy clinched his cock tightly as she came.

"Yes, oh yes" she yelled.

She thrust back against him, taking his large cock even deeper into her hot pussy.

He reached around and cupped her large breasts with his hands. He firmly pinched her erect nipples as he drove his cock deeply into her.

She could feel every throb and pulsation coming from the huge dick as it pounded her pussy.

"Oh, I'm cumming again!!" she grunted.

As her pussy tightly squeezed his large cock, he grunted. His cum shot into her like a cannon. She grunted as she felt the hot thick liquid fill her sweet pussy.

"Oh yes, fill me with your cum" She moaned.

He continued thrusting wildly inside her wet mound. His cum spurting wildly from the massive cock head.

"Ohhhh yes!" he grunted.


Click. Click. Click.


“What do we have here?" he asked, roughly grabbing her breasts then slid his hand beneath her skirt.

Tess had such a soft furry pussy, and his finger slid against the wet slit. She spread her legs widely and he thrust his finger deep inside of her. He could hear her grunt, as his finger moved around inside of her tight pussy.

He quickly removed his pants, and his large cock flopped out.

Tess eyes opened widely as she saw the throbbing monster.

He pushed her to her knees, and pressed his large cock head against her soft mouth.

Tess knew what he wanted, and she lightly slid her tongue across his pulsating cock head.

He moaned softly as his cock slid into her mouth.

“Umm…ummmm…ummph….”

She hungrily devoured his large cock, expertly sucking him.

He looked at her pretty pussy, and positioned himself where they could 69.

He hungrily lapped at her beautiful pussy, spreading her blond colored pussy lips widely with his large fingers.

She softly moaned as his tongue slid against her pretty clit. She moved her mouth up and down his rigid shaft quickly, as he moved his tongue up and down her wet pussy slit.

Tess came quickly, and he eagerly drank the hot juices from her sweet pussy. As she came, his cock slid into her throat, and he moaned, and his cum erupted.

Tess swallowed his hot thick cum as it sprayed against her throat.

He thrust his hips driving his cock deeply into her throat.

She swallowed every drop of the creamy white cum, not missing one precious ounce. She sucked him until the last of his hot cum oozed from his thick cock.

His tongue playfully teased her swollen clit, and she climaxed again. His cock remained rock hard, and he quickly positioned Tess on her hands and knees, and mounted her doggy style. His large cock slid deeply into her tight wet pussy.

She grunted loudly as he fucked her.

He could feel her hot pussy closing tightly around his cock as she climaxed.

She grunted and spoke something that he didn't understand, but he knew it probably was "I'm cumming" or something like that.

He reached around her, and slid his hands against her firm breasts. His fingers pinched her erect nipples, and she softly moaned.

He thrust his cock harder and faster into her, making her grunt loudly.

She moaned as she felt his cock pulsate inside of her.

He moaned and his cum erupted from his cock, filling her tight pussy.

"Oh God baby, I think I love you" he moaned. He continued thrusting into her, filling her tight pussy with his cum. "Hmm yes" he moaned.

Tess thrust against him, driving his cock deeply inside of her.

He continued pumping until the last of his cum flowed into her exquisite pussy. As he slowly removed his cock from her pussy, he rolled her onto her back. He pressed his mouth against hers, forcing his tongue inside of her mouth.

She quickly reciprocated, and they passionately kissed.


Click. Click. Click.


He stepped back and Tess said, "OK honey, fill me up with that mammoth log of yours. Ram it in to me."

He stepped up to bat.

He leaned over and Tess reached down to guide his prick into her cunt with both hands.

After a little bit of initial resistance the thick head of his cock slid into her cunt. As he slowly pushed his shaft into her, Tess moved her hands to her clit and started masturbating herself. By the time he was half way in she was squealing in ecstasy.

"Oh God yes, I'm cumming. Fill me up, give it to me."

He thrust the rest of the way in and Tess came again. He withdrew half way and pushed back in, slowly at first, then faster and faster.

She put her hands around his body and started to pull herself up against him to meet every thrust. She wrapped her legs around him, squeezed hard and came again.

"Oh, oh, oh. Its in me, it feels so big. Keep fucking me."

If Tess had gone ballistic sucking dick she now took off like a rocket.

She fucked his dick like a woman possessed. This went on and on until he managed to pull himself out.

Tess desperately tried to hold on to him as he started to straighten up. She was lifted off the couch with her arms and legs still wrapped around him. She thrust her cunt against his pole for all she was worth.

He stood up and Tess slid down his body.

She slid her tits down his chest and over his cock until she was on her knees in front of him. His massive boner pointed right at her face.

Tess grabbed his shaft with both hands and brought her face right up against it. She started rubbing it all around her face finally taking it in her mouth and engulfing half of it in one sword swallowing lunge.

She backed off a few inches and then forced her mouth back down the length of his dick swallowing a good nine inches or so. Tess slowly slid her lips back up to the cock head and off, sticking out her tongue to lick all around the crown.


Click. Click. Click.


*big*



******


Max stared thoughtfully at the photographs spread out on the desk in front of him.

Photographs of Tess with other men.

These photos confirmed his suspicions that Tess had not been living up to her end of their arrangement. She had not been a faithful mistress. He looked up at the man seated across from him.

“You know the identities of these men?” he asked.

The P.I. nodded. “I thought you might ask. I have a complete report for you right here,” he said, producing a manila folder from his attaché case. “You’ll see that I’ve included not only their names, but their occupations and background info as well. I’ve also noted the place, dates each of them was with her and for how long each time.”

Max took the report and scanned it quickly. “I’m impressed,” he said. He took an envelope from the drawer and passed it across the desk.

“You want me to stay with it, Mr. Evans?” he asked.

Max shook his head. “That will not be necessary.” He stood up and extended his hand.

After the P.I. had gone, Max turned his attention back to the report.

This time he read it carefully, considering the contents. He was not at all surprised to find that the men Tess were seeing were all connected in one way or another to the entertainment industry.

So, he thought with mild amusement, she’d been sleeping around to get herself a project and further her show business career.

How like Tess to try to capitalize on her natural assets to attain her goals. But, then, why shouldn’t she? Had they not served her well in the past?

Oddly enough, Max was not angered, as he had expected to be, to learn that his mistress had been spending time with other men whenever he was out of town.

Lately, he’d found himself becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their relationship. At first, Tess had been able to satisfy his needs, and satisfy them quite well.

Now, however, those needs had changed.

He had changed.

A strictly physical relationship with a woman was no longer enough.

He’d begun to feel the need to care, to feel something more than sexual desire when he took a woman in his arms.

He realized now it would not bother him if Tess were gone.


******


“You had a detective follow me?” Tess looked at the photographs scattered across the bed, then turned back to Max, her eyes narrowed in anger. “Why?”

“That should be obvious, Tess.” He said coldly. “We had an arrangement, and you have not lived up to the terms of that arrangement.”

“Haven’t I been taking care of your desires? Haven’t I been available to you whenever you wanted me?” she demanded hotly, her features distorted with rage.

“I made myself quite clear when we made the arrangement,” he reminded her. “I made it quite clear that I would not tolerate any indiscretions on your part. Didn’t you take me seriously?”

“Do you intend to stand there and tell me you have not indulged in a bit of extracurricular activity while you are away on all those business trips? Don’t you think I haven’t heard of the way you’ve carried on over that reporter at the polo match in California-“

He grabbed the front of her purple silk blouse and pulled her close.

“I don’t care what you choose to believe. I don’t think you really care what I do when I’m away, and it wouldn’t make any difference if you did. It is I who am paying you, I who make the rules in this mockery of a relationship!”

“Let go of me!” she hissed, her face a mask of fury.

“With pleasure!”

He released her abruptly and she stumbled backward, stunned.

“You should be pleased to know that the investigator will no longer be following you. I no longer care whom you see or what you do with your time. I came here today only to tell you that I am dissolving our so-called arrangement as of now.”

Max collected the photos and papers and put them back in the envelope.

“You are not serious.”

“I have never been more serious in my life,” he assured her. “I want you out of this apartment – and out of NY, if possible- immediately. You may take your clothing and other personal belongings. Nothing else. Just make sure you are out of here by tonight.”

“Tonight?” She starred at him wide-eyed. “Impossible!”

“You’d damned well better make it possible Tess, because if you are here when I return, I’ll evict you myself,” he warned.

“It’s not enough time! I- “ She waved her arms in frustration.

“You should have thought of that when you took on your other lovers,” he snapped. “Just make sure you’re out by seven this evening, or I will remove you bodily.” He turned and headed for the door.

Tess ran after him. “You bastard!” she screeched. “You cannot do this to me!”

He stopped in his tracks and turned around to face her again.

“You are wrong about that, Tess. I not only can, I will.”

“But on such short notice- where will I go?”

“That’s your problem.”

He left the apartment, slamming the door with such force that one of the paintings fell from the wall.

“You are going to be very, very sorry you’ve done this to me, Max!”

Tess screamed after him as she picked up a crystal wine goblet and hurled it at the door. It smashed against the frame, falling to the carpet in a shower of tiny fragments as she shouted profanities at him.


******


Max walked down Fifth Avenue, oblivious of the crowds of shoppers in their bulky winter coats, armed with packages and large shopping bags, oblivious of the blasting winter wind that whipped through his hair and made his cheeks burn and flush with color.


He’d left Tess in such a fury that he had not bothered to buckle the wide belt of his overcoat, and now it flapped about him furiously in the wind.

Max didn’t notice.

Now that he’d ended his relationship with Tess, what he felt came as a complete surprise.

He felt as though he’d been set free.


******


Los Angeles


“You’ve already accepted?” Kyle stared at Liz, dumbfounded. “How could you just give them an answer, just like that, without even discussing it with me?”

She met his gaze defiantly. “There was nothing to discuss!” she shot back at him. “If you were going to do a picture and it meant you’d have to be away on location several months to do it, would you discuss it with me first, or would you give the studio your answer before leaving the production meeting?”

“That’s different,” he countered. “You know that.”

“I don’t know anything of the kind!” she snapped. “That’s the problem, Kyle- I feel like I don’t even know you anymore!”

“That door swings both ways, you know!” he exploded. “Didn’t I tell you last year that if you went to NY for the network that everything would change for us? Didn’t I tell you it was just a matter of time before they offered you something permanent? You haven’t been the same since you got back! I’ve bent backward to patch things up between us-“

“Sure you have!” Liz raged. “You’ve done it all, haven’t you? And I’m the villain for not seeing the light and letting you control my life! I’m not your mother, Kyle! I can’t just put my life on hold to make you happy!”

“You’ve all but shut me out of your life,” he responded. “Do you think I can’t tell?”

Liz faced him squarely. “Did it ever occur to you that my lack of enthusiasm might be due to your attitude?” she asked defensively.

“No,” he said coldly. “Did it ever occur to you?”

“I used to think we had something special,” she said, biting off each word as if they left a dreadful taste in her mouth. “We had so much in common- we were so much alike. You knew what it was like to struggle. I really thought it had a chance of working!” Tears welled up in her eyes. “I wanted it to work!”

“Not enough, apparently!” Kyle grabbed his coat and stalked across the room to the front door.

Liz starred after him. “Is that your solution to everything, Kyle?” she demanded. “To run away from the problem?”

He did not respond.

“Where are you going?”

He whirled around to face her. “Do you really give a damn?”

“Yes, of course I do.”

“Out- and don’t bother to wait for me, I’m not coming back. Not that you’d care enough to!” He stormed out the door, slamming it so hard the entire wall shook.

Liz hugged herself tightly, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Where did it all go wrong? She asked herself.

When she accepted, the one thing she had not taken into consideration was how Kyle felt about it. His feelings had not even entered her mind when she told Chris Wallace she wanted Word Focus.

There once was a time when she might not have made a decision so important without at least discussing it with him first. But since she had returned from NY last year, nothing had been the same between them.

She had tried, perhaps not as hard as she should have, she realized, but she’d tried to rekindle the flame between them.

Kyle had tried, too, but he’d never quite managed to convince her that he didn’t recent her career, that he wouldn’t have been happier if she’d given it up to be with him whenever his moviemaking took him.

In that moment, as if struck by lightning, Liz realized that things could never be the same for them again.

Her fading passion, she told herself now, had begun during the past year, fueled by resentment on both sides.

She was angry with him for trying to dominate her, for trying to hold her back professionally, and he resented her for not putting his needs above her own. He was so accustomed to this self-sacrificing mother who’d always put him first that he couldn’t understand why she didn’t do the same.

Her stint in NY had been the turning point, the moment of truth for both of them.

Kyle was right though, she hadn’t been able to admit it at first. She had changed.

She hadn’t been the same since NY.

Her life with Kyle had always been glamorous and exciting- she’d enjoyed the parties and premieres- but in NY it had been different.

In Manhattan she had been in the spotlight, and she’d thoroughly enjoyed it. The recognition had been hers, not Kyle’s, and it had confirmed what she’d always felt deep inside: she was not a woman who could live in any man’s shadow, no matter how much she loved him.

I do love you, Kyle, she thought.

No matter what had happened between them, no matter what had gone wrong, she would never forget how wonderful it had been in the beginning.

Until he tried to take away her dreams.


******


As she carried the last of her suitcases down the stairs and put them next to the bags already waiting at the door, Liz paused and looked around- my last goodbye, she thought.

In spite of the problems, in spite of the bitterness that had torn her and Kyle apart, leaving LA- and Kyle- was painful.

She promised herself now that it would never happen again.

No other man was ever going to hurt her as Kyle had, because no one would get the chance. She wouldn’t let anyone that close.

She had her work, and that would have to be enough.

She felt as though she were closing the door on one chapter of her life and opening the door on another, and she wasn’t sure what it was going to hold for her.

Now, as she looked around the room one last time, she wondered how breaking up with someone she felt she could no longer share her life with could hurt so much.

It’s true, she thought. One lifetime has ended……and another is about to begin.


******


New York City


In late September, Max leased the offices in the World Trade Center (WTC) that would become the Evans Corporation’s new world headquarters. His father had finally relented and allowed the transfer of the corporations head quarters.

People magazine did a cover story that included photograph of him supervising the remodeling of those new suites, walking on the streets of Manhattan, and launching one of Evans Maritime’s Supertankers in Great Britain. The cover line, emblazoned across the bottom of a flattering photograph of Max, read: “Max’s Empire: A Contemporary Conqueror Aims High.”

Max hated the article and had resented the intrusion upon his privacy, but his father was pleased with its positive tone. It was going to be good for Max’s public image, he maintained.

Though the collective attitude of the media and the international business community had changed toward him considerably, his father felt he still had a long way to go before he would completely overcome his playboy image.

“Use the media to your advantage, Max,” Philip advised. “You need them now. Cooperate with them. Change the way the world sees you.”

Max had finally realized that his father had been right all along. The playboy image had created problems for him, both professionally and personally.

It was time for a change.


******


On a cold afternoon in mid-December, Liz stood at the window of her office on the ninth floor of the IBS Broadcast Center, staring down at the traffic on West Fifty-second Street below. Across the street, a man in a red Santa suit stood on a busy corner, handling out candy canes to the children clustered around him.

Liz smiled to herself. She loved Christmas in NY; the holiday feeling here was so different from that on the West Coast. So much more traditional, with snow……

She turned back to her desk.

On the wall behind her was tangible evidence of her success as the co-anchor of World Focus: framed newspaper clippings in which she was mentioned or quoted, magazine covers on which she’d been featured.

She looked at each of them now as if seeing them for the first time: The NY Times……Newsweek……TV Guide……Ms……Working Woman.

She’d become one of the most visible, perhaps the most visible reporter on the IBS network. On the best days, this knowledge gave her a sense of pride; on her worst it gave her comfort.

One look at that wall told her she’d finally achieved her goal. She had arrived.

She was deep in thought when her secretary tapped lightly on the open door. She looked up.

“What is it, Cindy?”

“We’re already getting responses to your invitations to the businessmen for the new interview series,” the young woman said as she entered. “The president of Exon has accepted. Lee Iacocoa is willing, but there may be a scheduling problem. Brown of AT&T is unavailable at this time. Max Evans is willing to consider but will have to speak to you before he gives us a green light.”

Liz nodded. “Now, why am I not surprised?” she asked herself aloud.

“Probably because he’s never been available to the media,” Cindy answered.

“What? Oh, yes,” Liz said suddenly realizing her secretary had thought she was talking to her.

“Shall I call them?” Cindy wanted to know.

Liz shook her head. “I’ll call him myself. Thanks anyway,” she said, still reviewing the list her secretary had given her.

As Cindy returned to her desk, Liz recalled her last encounter with Max Evans.

She’d never gotten the interview he promised her. God only knows what I’d have to do to get it now, she thought with a twinge of amusement.

Was he really unavailable, or was he simply a man who held a grudge? she wondered.

So much had changed since that last meeting. She was now co-hosting a nationally successful television news show.

Only one thing had remained the same: Liz’s determination to get whatever story she was after.

She flipped through the Rolodex on her desk and found his number, then reached for the phone.

As she dialed, she thought about the three times she’d encountered Max in the past, the way he’d come on to her in LA, knowing she was with Kyle.

What would it be like this time, now that she was free?

A woman’s voice answered after the second ring. “Good afternoon, Evans Corporation,” she said with a faint British accent.

“Max Evans, please,” Liz settled into her chair.

She was put on hold for several moments. Then another woman came on. “Mr. Evans’ office.”

“I’d like to speak with him, please,” Liz said in a businesslike tone. “This is Elizabeth Parker of IBS.”

There was a pause. “One moment, please. I’ll see if he’s available.”

She was put on hold again. She leaned back in her chair, absently tapping her pencil on the corner of the desk.


******


At the WTC, Max was reviewing the latest reports he’d received from his scouts all over the world.

He was discussing those possibilities to Michael Guerin, who normally checked out each one personally before Max took any action.

“How does your schedule look for next week?” he wanted to know.

Michael shrugged. “Nothing critical. A couple of meetings, a conference in Seattle on that lumber mill deal-“

Max’s secretary buzzed him on the intercom. “Mr. Evans, Elizabeth Parker from IBS is on line one,” she told him. “Shall I tell her you are unavailable?”

Max smiled. “No. Asked her to hold for just a moment.” He turned to Michael. “We’ll finish this discussion later.”

Michael nodded, flashing him a knowing grin. “Later,” he agreed, and he got to his feet and left the office.

A moment later, the light on Max’s telephone console came on. He picked it up and leaned back in his chair.

“Hello, Liz,” he said pleasantly. “I’ve been expecting your call……”



Part 7 *happy*



“This just came for you, Liz,” Maria DeLuca, a fellow reporter, announced as she entered the dressing room on the third floor of the broadcast center, carrying a large vase containing a dozen red roses. “Shall I leave them here or take them with me to your office?”

“Office,” Liz said without looking. She was giving her secretary some notes for calls that needed to be made and letters to be sent out that day.

“Don’t you want to see who they’re from?” Maria asked.

“What-“ Liz turned, stopping short when she saw the roses.

She did not have to look at the card. She knew who had sent them.

She pulled the small card from its enveloped and read the message: Looking forward to tonight. M.

She smiled tightly as she reread the card. He never stopped trying, did he, she mused.

When he invited her to dinner on the telephone yesterday, she’d accepted, making it clear that it was to be strictly business, to discuss the interview she wanted, but even as he’d agreed, she had known he’d never let it go at that.

“Somebody likes you,” Maria commented with a grin.

“Unfortunately,” Liz said grimly.

“Why unfortunately?”

“It’s along story,” Liz said evasively.

She looked up at the clock on the wall. She wished the hairdresser would finish. Twenty minutes to airtime.

She glanced over at her own secretary, who silently proofread letters Liz had dictated to prospective guests for the show. This afternoon she had half a dozen calls to make and twice as many to return. There were interviews to think about- what approach to take, what questions to ask. She still wrote a great deal of her own material, as she had while at DZLA.

And while you’re at it, she thought, you’d better come up with something good enough to impress Max Evans tonight.

Five minutes later she was in the elevator riding up to the ninth floor with her secretary. Her secretary followed her back to the set as airtime neared.

“Who do you want for the ‘Faces in the News’ segment- Brad Pitt or that fellow who’s leading that band of mercenaries in North Africa?” Cindy asked.

“Brad Pitt, if we can get him. I’d be interested talking to the mercenary, but Brad will draw a bigger audience,” Liz answered.

Cindy nodded. “Before his marriage, he was almost as popular with the ladies as Max Evans,” she said cheerfully.

The words stung.

Why did it bother her that there had been so many women in his life? Liz asked herself.

Why should it matter to her, one way or the other?

She put it out of her mind as she turned her attention to the morning telecast.


******


Liz sat at the dressing table in her bedroom, applying a lip-gloss with her fingertip.

Pausing to study her reflection in the mirror for a moment, she smiled to herself. You’re going to a lot of trouble for a man you are not interested in, my dear, she thought.

Just what is it about him that makes you go against your own nature?

She got up and went over to the closet. After considering the possibilities, she chose a simple navy blue silk dress that was elegant but not provocative.

She had to be careful not to look provocative when she was with Max, not that he needed any encouragement. She slipped the dress on and fumbled with the zipper. She put on her shoes- black high-heeled pumps- then went back to her dressing table.

Taking her jewelry case from the drawer, she selected a diamond and matching earrings. As she was putting on the earrings, she paused.

Something was not quite right.

The hair.

To match the simple elegance of the dress, she pulled her hair up into a twist at the back of her head and secured it with several large hairpins.

That’s better, she thought as she checked herself in the mirror one last time.

The sound of the doorbell cut through her thoughts. She looked at her watch. Seven-thirty, on the button.

He’s certainly punctual, she thought as she got to her feet and went to let him in. She’d wanted to meet him at the restaurant, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “My father always told me a gentleman calls for the lady at her door,” he’d told her.

As she opened the door, she was once again struck by how devilishly attractive he was.

He wore a dark blue suit, white silk shirt, and a light gray and black striped tie. A lock of his dark hair fell carelessly across his forehead, and his smile extended all the way to those incredible black eyes.

“Are you always so punctual?” Liz asked casually as she stepped aside to let him enter the apartment.

“Most of the time.” He turned to face her. “I’ve made reservations for eight.”

Liz nodded. “I’ll only be a moment.” She went into the bedroom to get her handbag.


******


“Did you like the roses?” Max wanted to know.

They were seated at a table near the large square pool in the Pool Room of the Four Seasons. The large, three-story dining room was filled to capacity, while in the marble corridor people waiting for tables stopped to admire the immense Picasso stage curtain. From the high windows in the dining room, Liz could see the lights of a glass-walled skyscraper across the street. She sipped a glass of white wine slowly.

“They’re beautiful,” she said carefully. “But we had an agreement, remember? This is to be strictly business-“

“Of course,” he agreed. “I was simply being- courteous. A beautiful woman deserves beautiful roses.”

She studied him for a moment. No excuses, no veiled suggestions. She managed a slight smile. In spite of the antagonism he aroused in her, she was beginning to feel the full force of his remarkable charm.

“I’ve been following your career,” he told her.

She looked at him, unable to hide her surprise. “Oh?” was all she could manage to say.

“I’m impressed,” he said, smiling. “I like your style.”

“Thank you.”

Right from the beginning, Liz had known Max’s interest in her was more personal than professional. You’re wasting your time, she thought defiantly.

He was handsome, charming, and the most fascinating man she’d ever met, but Liz was only too familiar with his long-standing reputation as a womanizer. She was not about to allow herself to fall under her spell.

This is a man who wants only one thing from a woman, she reminded herself. A man like Max Evans could destroy you.

In spite of her reservations, however, she found herself relaxing in his company, enjoying the evening tremendously. They discussed the interview she wanted to do.

He asked questions about her work and seemed genuinely interested in her answers. He entertained her with amusing anecdotes about his travels, about some of the bizarre customs and culinary practices he’d encountered.

He acted as though, for him, there was no one in that room but her. As flattered as she was by his attentiveness, it also made Liz slightly uncomfortable. She wanted to present herself as a total professional, but he wasn’t making it easy.

She looked across the table at him. He was watching her, smiling at her, as he had that night at the party. He had barely touched the crisp duck with peaches on his plate, not bothering to even try to conceal his fascination with her.

I’m a curiosity to him, Liz decided. A woman who doesn’t fall all over him.

As they were leaving the restaurant he suggested they have a nightcap.

“The evening is still young,” he pointed out. “I know a place where we can talk privately and relax with the best wine in all of Manhattan.”

“And where might that be?” she asked.

His eyes met hers. “The La Belle Tower.”


******


The apartment was in darkness when they entered.

“My household staff has retired for the evening,” Max explained as he took Liz’s coat, almost as if he’d read her mind.

As he removed his own coat, she walked into the darkened living room ahead of him. It was exactly as she’d imagined it would be: elegant, starkly modern, and overtly masculine. From the black leather couch and chairs to the dove-gray carpeting to the glass and chrome tables to the wall of mirrors that reflected the magnificent view of midtown Manhattan at night, it was exactly what she would have expected of a man like Max Evans. Sleek, elegant, and powerful.

From the windows, Manhattan looked like a magnificent jewel box, its glittering lights sparkling as far as the eye could see. The same view was reflected in the gigantic mirrors on the opposing wall, making it seem as if diamonds surrounded them. She felt Max’s presence in the room as he moved up behind her.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” he asked.

“It’s breathtaking,” she admitted.

“And you take my breath away.”

In one quick movement, his arms folded tightly around her, pinning her arms to her sides.

She opened her mouth to protest, but the parting of her lips seemed to have another purpose. When his lips touched hers, her heart lurched, then fluttered back to place.

He coaxed her mouth open as he pressed against her. He tasted of wine and moist heat and shivering excitement. He felt like the drenching wash of an ocean wave that pulled her out and under, threatening until it let go at last and allowed her to catch her breath before it did its work again. He felt like the burn of an August wind, scorching inside and out, erasing all thoughts.

She felt his lips on her neck as he began moving his kisses downward toward her shoulder.

“No……” she whispered in weak protest, trying to break free of the spell he cast on her.

“Don’t fight it,” he said in a low, husky voice. “Let it happen, Liz. The chemistry between us- it’s been there from the moment we met. I think you felt it too.”

“No,” she repeated, trying to be firm.

The effect he had on her was unnerving. She tried to pull away, but he was too strong and seemed intent upon holding her.

Finally, in a burst of determination, she summoned up all of her strength to break his embrace. She moved away from him quickly, before he could recapture her.

“I should have known,” she fumed.

“You did know.”

She shook her head.

“Yes you did,” he insisted. “I’ve made no secret of the desire I feel for you. I’ve been drawn to you from the first time I saw you.” He took a step toward her.

She turned on him in anger. “Of all the- “ she began.

His mouth came down on hers as he caught her up in his arms again.

She struggled for only a moment. She began to relax against him, responding to his kisses without wanting to.

He reached up and removed the large pins from her hair, allowing it to fall down around her shoulders. He tangled his fingers in it as he continued to kiss her longingly. Finally, he drew back and smiled at her.

“You see? I was right,” he said softly.

She shook her head, not trusting her voice.

“Stay with me tonight, Liz,” he whispered. “The two of us, making love……it would be magic.”

“No.” She backed away from him again. “I came here to talk to you about the interview, nothing more,” she said trying to convince him and herself.

“You’re only lying to yourself,” he told her. “You say it has to be strictly business between us, but your body is saying something else. I want to make love to you, and I believe you want it to happen as much as I do. Don’t you think I couldn’t feel it when I held you in my arms? You didn’t fight me.”

She shook her head. “You’ve got it all wrong,” she insisted stubbornly.

He smiled patiently. “I don’t think so.”

“I have to go.” She was trembling with anger and confusion.

“Are you no longer interested in getting your interview?” he asked.

She stared at him.

“Tell me something,” she began carefully. “Do you expect me to go to bed with you to get an interview?”

He frowned.

“You insult my integrity,” he said quietly. “One has nothing to do with the other- beyond the fact that I used your proposed interview to get you here. You and I, Liz, will become lovers sooner or later- regardless of the outcome of this interview of yours. It was meant to be.”

“I have to go,” she said again, picking up her bag.

Max followed her, insisting upon helping her into her coat. “If you are so determined to go, then I will take you home.”

“No. I’m going home alone.”

“My driver will take you.”

“I can get a cab.”

“I won’t hear of it.”

His eyes met hers in the darkness. Impulsively, he leaned forward and kissed her again, gently pressing her back against the door.

Liz steeled herself against the sexual tension she’d begun to feel when he held her in his arms, willing herself not to respond to him.

When he finally released her, he looked into her eyes again and whispered, “Think about how wonderful it could be for both of us……”

She pulled away.

“I have no desire to become a part of your romantic casualties,” she said contemptuously.

He touched her hair.

“You? Never,” he breathed. “I can’t explain it. I felt it that first time in LA. Are you telling me you didn’t?”

“That’s exactly what I’m telling you,” she answered sharply.

She pulled away from him, opened the door, and walked out.

Long after she had disappeared into the elevator, Max was still staring after her, smiling.

We shall see, he thought. We shall see.



Part 8 *shy*



At first, when Liz heard the light knock on her door, she thought the knock was probably at the apartment next door, if she’d indeed heard it at all.

But it came again, more distinct this time. She rolled over and looked at the clock, saw it was 2:30. Alarmed, she got out of bed and grabbed her robe, holding it tightly around her like some kind of measly protection.

But the knock didn’t seem threatening. It seemed almost tentative, as if it would stop momentarily if there were no answer. Quietly, she tiptoed to the door.

“Who- who is it?” she asked.

“Max.”

His voice made her gasp, and she backed away from the door as if a fire from the other side made it too hot to touch.

Max! What was he doing here?

“Liz?”

Catching her breath and forcing herself to act normally- if that could be done when absolutely nothing had been normal today- she fumbled to open the locks. When she cracked the door, she peered up at Max, all rumpled and tired and leaning forlornly against her casing.

“Max?” she asked.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he whispered.

He slipped inside, without waiting to be invited, and closed the door behind him. He looked her up, assessing her terry robe and tangled hair and her doe eyes bared of makeup. He’d never seen her look better.

“So you drove twenty miles for company?” she asked sarcastically.

He shrugged and pulled his hands out of his jacket, palms up.

“Hey, good company’s hard to find.”

“Seriously, Mr. Evans, what are you doing here?”

She looked him in the eye and tried to be firm and inject annoyance in her voice. How dare him, to wake her up at this hour after the way their dinner ended.

She realized too late that it was a mistake to look at him as he had taken a step closer to her. The way he was gazing at her made her heart stop. His beautiful mouth was parted, and he touched his middle finger to her cheek. The lightest of touches- but Liz trembled.

A sound escape him, a sound of need, a hoarse groan.

Liz found herself in his arms.

For one instant, with his arms around her, he looked into her eyes with blazing intensity. Then he pulled her against him, against his hard, warm body, his mouth seeking hers. In that first instant, Liz put her hands against his chest and turned her face away.

“Let me kiss you, Liz. Just a kiss, just one kiss……” he groaned.


*tongue*



She could barely think. She knew this was wrong.

His mouth wandered over the curve of her cheek, touched her ear. She gasped from the flood of hot sensations.

Just a kiss, a little voice said. Surely you can give him one kiss!

He coaxed her lips open and made sweet exploration of her mouth.

It was too much!

The simple sensations of the roughness of his cheek, the softness of his mouth, the sweet taste of his questing tongue, were all too dizzying. Liz felt faint, but the slow, deep kiss went on, and she found that she hadn’t the will to stop it.

A tiny sound of need and desire escaped from her mouth into his, and he echoed it, his low groan vibrating a call that seemed to distill every sensual memory she’d ever had of him into this one heady moment.

Her bones turned water, but somehow she managed to keep standing; the force of her desire kept her there, her need to keep his mouth against her own. Of there own accord, her hands slid up his back.

His breathing quickened against her face, hot and sexy and maddening, as his tongue performed an ancient dance ritual against her own. His hands slid down the silk of her robe to the slope of her back. The gentle pressure brought her seductively against him, hard and alive, trembling anxious to fulfill the deep burning need they both suffered.

His hair was black silk and satin thread, and she stood on her toes to touch it. The kiss deepened more when he slipped one side of her robe from her shoulder and she didn’t object. The other was pushed aside, and the robe fell to the floor.

Liz’s flesh burned against the thin silk between them. His hard lower body moved against hers in a primitive rhythm, inciting a riot in the depths of her stomach.

His mouth broke free of hers and fell to her neck, wet and sensual.

One strap fell from her shoulder, and she wrapped her arms around his head as he followed its trail. Chests heaved, lungs strained, as he moved the other strap and let the top of her gown drop to bare her breasts.

His stubbed chin trailed down her chest, and he took one pink, straining mound in his mouth. Liz gasped, then exhaled in a long, quivering sigh. His rough, masculine hand kneaded the other, making her legs weak and her heart shudder. She dropped her mouth to his hair, burying her face in the clean forest scent.

Suddenly, he brought his face back to hers and took her mouth again in a searing claim. A thin mist of perspiration erupted across her skin, and she felt the need to feel his bare chest against her breast, heat against heat, male against female.

Her fingers shivered as she opened his buttons one by one and slid his shirt off his arms. He was muscular perfection. She ran her hands over her chest in silent exploration.

He moved her against him, nipples brushing nipples, and moaned gently into the kiss.

She felt him backing to the bedroom, to the bed, pulling her with him, and when he lay back, she fell above him. Her soft, silky hair made a veil around their faces as her breast crushed into his chest.

His breath came in shudders, and his hand lowered to gather the folds of her long nightgown, allowing him more freedom.

Before she knew what had happened, he had rolled her over and was above her, the hard lines of his clothed maleness rocking against her as his mouth played games in which her only source of breath was his, her only source of strength was his.

His tongue touched hers once again.

Liz shuddered. Her hands, clenched into fists against his chest, relaxed, unfurled. Her breast tingled and hardened against his chest.

Max’s grip tightened. His mouth moved softly but it was deceiving, because his tongue thrust into her, again and again, picking up a rhythm that sent waves of pleasure flooding to her. Max slid his hands down to cup her buttocks.

She gasped at the feel of his large hands spread and clutching such an intimate part of her. His touch was like nothing she had ever thought possible- making her burn. She touched her tongue to his tentatively, shyly, and was shocked at his shuddering response, the tensing of his entire body, and the tightening of his hold on her.

Their tongues sparred, entwined. Max’s hand slid up her hip, her waist, kneading with frantic urgency. Then higher, making no pretense, covering her breast, then squeezing them gently.

Liz’s head went back against the pillow, her eyes closing, red-hot desire, agonizing pleasure, the only thing she was cognizant of.

His thumbs traced little circles beneath her nipples, now tight and hurting, straining against his hands. She whimpered with need as his hands touched the tout peaks gently.

Liz suddenly gasped.

Max was suddenly, fluidly and dexterously, removing her nightgown.

Liz knew she had to protest. But when she opened her mouth, his was there, covering hers, his tongue entering her and flooding her with more wonderful, unbelievable hot sensations.

Max lowered his head to her breast, inhaling sharply. His tongue flicked out, teasing her.

Liz shuddered. And when he took a nipple in his mouth and began to suck, she cried out.

She felt his hand sliding over the soft curve of her belly, lower, without pause, with devastating intent, his fingers touching intimately between her thighs, then lower, cupping the swollen, wet flesh there through her undergarments.

His grip tightened. His head was still bent over her bared breast; he was still sucking one nipple when his fingers had slid into the wet folds of her flesh, oblivious to the cotton in their way. Rubbing, insinuating.

Liz’s head came up, her eyes flying wide open.


*big*



The ringing of the alarm burst the bubble of fantasy forming in her dream clouded mind and shot through the point where she realized the difference between reality and dream.

The hands of the clock were nudging six-fifteen.

She flopped back against the pillows and groaned. She had finally managed to fall asleep, true, but the last thing she remembered was watching the hands hit two o’clock. Never in a million years will she allow Maxwell Evans kiss her again, she vowed to herself.


******


In his office at the WTC, Max watched with interest as Liz interviewed a controversial businessman on World Focus.

He loved her direct, hard-hitting interviewing style. She went for the jugular every time.

Max felt she was really too good for the relaxed informal-type interviews that were the shows trademark. She belonged with the network’s evening news team.

He smiled to himself as he studied her face on the television screen. She photographed like an angel. It was hard to believe, even for him, that anyone so beautiful could also be so tough. But then, no one knew better than Max just how tough Liz could be.

Though two weeks had passed since the night she walked out on him at his apartment, not a day passed that he did not think about it. Her rejection of him had only fueled his desire for her. He wanted her more than he’d ever wanted any woman, more so since she’d made it clear that she wanted no part of him.

The credits were rolling across the television screen now, signaling the end of the program. Max picked up the remote-control devise lying on the desk and switched off the set. Automatically, a heavy mahogany panel descended over the large screen, concealing it from view.

He paused for a moment, staring at the telephone on his desk. He wanted to call her, to tell her what he thought of the interview and ask her to join him for dinner, but he already knew what her answer would be.

Better to wait until she came to him- and he knew she would eventually.

She would have to.

They still had unfinished business to take care of.

The interview.

Max smiled to himself, wondering what she would say if she knew this interview was as important to him as it was to her, part of his plan to change his public image.

First things first, he thought.

He had to change his image in her eyes first.



Part 9 *angel*



So I have not been sleeping well, Liz thought as she rose from her seat on the set.

It hasn’t anything to do with Max.

I’ve just been restless lately.

And I was at the west gate of the City Hall at eight o’clock this morning waiting to catch comments from the mayor.

I’m a bit tired.

It has nothing to do with the dinner at the Four Seasons with Max…… or what happened later.

Liz unclipped her Mike, then flipped through the script for her next assignment.

She had been working too hard. That’s what she told herself.

The last few days had been particularly hectic- that was all.

Maxwell Evans had been the last thing on her mind.

She frowned down at her next assignment and told herself she had not given a thought to her last meeting with Max.

It hadn’t crossed her mind since it happened.

Not once.

Only a thousand times.

Swearing silently, she saw Harvey Peters, executive producer of World Focus, signaled her to come to his office.

Liz entered the office wondering why Peters wanted to see her.

She nodded to him and took a seat, after being motioned to do so.

“What’s the emergency, Harv?”

He minced no words, getting right to the point.

“I hear you have inside tract on getting an exclusive interview with Maxwell Evans.” He leaned back in his chair. “Rumor has it that the two of you are on quite friendly terms- dinner at the Four Seasons, flowers……”

Liz looked surprised. “You knew about that?”

He grinned. “News travels fast around here. After all, it is our business to stay on top of things, even when it concerns someone within our own ranks. Especially then.”

“I’m afraid the rumors have been greatly exaggerated,” Liz told him. “Sorry to disappoint everyone.”

“You are not seeing him?”

“Hardly,” she answered. “I met him on three occasions over the past few years- briefly- the we had dinner at the Four Seasons to discuss the possibility of doing an interview. That’s all.”

“That’s more than anyone else has gotten from him.”

“But it’s hardly a commitment to an on-the-air interview.”

“But there is a chance?”

“There’s always a chance. But Maxwell Evans is one man I would not stake too much on,” she said, amused. “He’s too unpredictable.”

“This is one time you may have to play that long shot,” Peters said.

She gave him a quizzical look. “What do you mean?”

“Getting this interview could mean a great deal to your career,” he told her. “The network has a new prime-time interview show on the drawing board for the fall season. They’re calling it the Manhattan Observer. It’s going to be a weekly one-hour program, focusing on politics, business, serious issues. The interviews will be more serious and more investigative than what you’ve been doing. They want to feature world leaders and other influential persons either living in Manhattan or visiting.”

“Maxwell Evans is not a politician- “

“No, but no one can deny he’s one of the most powerful men in the world,” he pointed out. “The Evans Corporation is so big it can tip the nation’s economy just by starting a business operation there- or declining to, as the case may be.”

“Exactly what are you trying to tell me, in your round-about way?” Liz asked carefully.

“You are the number one contender for the show’s hostess, and you’ll have it in the bag if you can get this interview with Evans,” Peters said. “His dislike of the media is common knowledge. When he wants to be, he can be harder to reach than the Pentagon. Land him and you will eliminate all your competition for the new show.”

“Okay, Harv, your message is received,’ Liz said as she got to her feet. “I can’t guarantee anything, of course, but he did agree to consider it. I’ll talk to him again.”

Liz could feel the rage building inside her as she returned to her own office. It was unfair that her professional future should hinge on the whims of a man who wanted only one thing from her.

If he ever found out, he would make her life hell.


******


As Liz crossed the busy concourse, heading for the WTC, she felt apprehensive about this meeting. She could only hope it didn’t show, that her ambivalence would not be too obvious to him. It seemed to her that Max had the sensitivity of the most advanced radar system; he could almost sense the moods and attitudes of others.

Liz had no idea what to expect from him at this point. He’d been surprisingly easy to reach, and when she spoke to him, he was cordial but businesslike, and agreed to meet with her at his office.

“May I help you?” the receptionist asked.

“Liz Parker, IBS,” Liz said. “I have a ten o’clock appointment with Mr. Evans.”

The receptionist hesitated only for a moment, then reached for one of the telephones and pressed a button.

“Ms. Parker is here to see Mr. Evans,” she announced. There was a brief pause. “All right. Yes I will.” She replaced the receiver and looked up at Liz. “Through those doors, follow the corridor down to the end and turn left. He’s expecting you.”

“Thank you.”

Liz found Max’s suite with no problem. She was met by his executive secretary, Stacey Hewit.

“Mr. Evans had to step out for just a moment, but he told me to show you into his office and tell you he would be with you shortly.”

Liz nodded. She looked at the engraved silver nameplate on the wall next to the intricately carved double doors: “Maxwell Evans-Senior Vice President.” There were a few things she could have added herself, but none of them suitable for public display.

The secretary opened the doors and led her into the office. It was quite large, and even more impressive than she had expected it to be.

After a while, Liz began to wonder what was keeping him. She glanced at her watch. Ten-thirty.

His secretary said he would be right back. She’d been waiting for over half an hour. She shifted around in her chair and looked expectantly at the door.

She was beginning to wonder if he had really been called away from his office or if he was keeping her waiting deliberately. She had a luncheon appointment at noon- another prospective interview- but she knew if she left without seeing him, she might not get another chance. She needed Max- more than she ever could allow him to know. She would stay and wait, no matter how long this took.

At eleven-fifteen, the double doors opened and Max entered the room, smiling.

“Good morning,” he said in that familiar deep voice as he seated himself behind the desk. “It’s good to see you again, but, quite frankly, I am surprised.” He looked at her for a moment, impressive in her dove-gray suit, and smiled appreciatively.

“Why?” Liz asked coolly. “We do have some unfinished business to take care of.” She saw the look on his face and knew what he was thinking. “You promised me an interview.” Her eyes met his defiantly.

“Ah, yes- the interview,” he said pleasantly. “I thought you had changed your mind about that.”

“Where would you get an idea like that?” she asked, surprised.

“It has been two weeks since I have heard from you. Since you walked out on me,” he reminded her. “You were quite angry, as I recall.”

“Not without good reason,” Liz said carefully. “But I did not come here to discuss our personal differences with you. I came to find out if you intend to go through with the interview, and if so, to arrange a meeting to work out the details.”

He studied her for a moment.

“Whatever else I may be, Liz, I am a man of my word,” he told her. “You’ll get your interview- with certain conditions, of course.”

She looked at him suspiciously.

“What conditions?”

“I must have full approval of all questions you plan to ask, all topics you wish to discuss,” he explained. “The interview cannot be done live. It must be videotaped and I must have the opportunity to view and approve it before it is aired.” He leaned forward, his arms on the desk, his hands clasped together.

“You expect a great deal.”

“Those are my terms,” he said simply. “Take them or leave them.”

He is going to be impossible, Liz thought. “And if I agree?”

“Then we’ll meet again,” he answered. “At that time, I’ll expect you to provide me with a list of the subjects you would like to discus. I’ll either approve or disapprove.”

“As it happens, I’ve already prepared such a list,” she said. “I drew it up when the possibility of doing an interview first arose.”

“Oh? And do you have it with you now?”

She shook her head. “I thought it best to wait until I was sure you would agree to it,” she replied.

Max nodded. “Perhaps we could discuss it over dinner tonight,” he suggested.

“No,” Liz said quickly. “The only way this is going to work is by keeping our relationship strictly professional- no romantic dinners, no nightcaps, just business. Preferably conducted right here in this office. I think it will save us both a great deal of trouble.”

He tapped the eraser end of a pencil on the desk, never taking his eyes from her.

“I’m afraid we have a problem,” he said at last. “You see, my schedule makes it impossible for me to see you during regular business hours. If you wish to do this interview, it will have to be done at my convenience.”

“I see,” she said tightly. “More conditions.”

She looked up at him, her eyes blazing with anger. She hated herself for letting him get to her.

He smiled.

“If you are concerned about seeing me socially or being alone with me because of what happened between us at my apartment, let me put your mind at ease,” he said patiently. “I have never taken any woman against her will and do not intend to start now.”

Liz looked at him but said nothing. He was teasing her, and it took every ounce of strength she could summon to control her rage.

“You say you want our relationship to be strictly professional-, which I presume means that once the interview is taped and aired, we will not be seeing each other, again,” he said. “Am I correct?”

There was a pause.

“Yes,” she said

He nodded. “So be it, then, if that is what you really want.”

He looked at her questioningly. When she did not respond, he went on. “You will have my full cooperation regarding the interview, as long as my conditions are met.”

“I don’t see any problem with that.” She was sure Peters would not object to giving him final approval.

He continued to stare at her, then opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, but decided against it. They sat in uncomfortable silence for what seemed like an eternity. It was Liz who finally broke that silence.

“If there’s nothing else we need to settle, I’ll be leaving,” she said. “I have another appointment and I’m already late.”

He nodded.

She rose to her feet slowly. “If you are free Wednesday evening, we could meet then.”

He nodded again. “I will call you,” he promised.

“Fine.”

It was not until she was in the elevator that Liz stopped to think about what had taken place in Max’s office.

It was a strange meeting.

She had expected him to be difficult. She had even expected him to be angry.

She had not expected what had actually happened.

He had made it quite clear what he expected- what he demanded- in exchange for the interview, but he had agreed to do it. She’d expected him to agree meeting with her and then tell her to her face that it was off. But he had not only consented, he had promised her his full cooperation.

Why? She wondered.

She could not help but be suspicious of him.

What was his game?




[ edited 1 time(s), last at 25-Feb-2002 11:01:27 PM ]
posted on 3-Dec-2001 10:29:24 PM
Part 10 *angel*



In the weeks that followed, Max and Liz met several times to talk about the interview.

In the beginning, those meetings, though conducted in the most elegant restaurants in Manhattan, could have been likened to an armed truce. They were strained and difficult. They could not seem to agree on anything.

Gradually however, they began to relax with each other, and the discussions became more pleasant. Max was charming and attentive, but he never asked her to go back to his apartment with him after the dinner, never made so much as a suggestive remark. He’s been the perfect gentleman, Liz thought, dismissing all of her suspicions. All I had to do was make him realize that my interest in him really is professional. She found herself beginning to genuinely like him.

Just as the blasting cold winds of winter finally gave way to the promise of the renewal of spring, so the antagonism between Max and Liz gave way to a growing mutual admiration and affection.

The sexual tension that had always existed between them was still there, but it was no longer their sole connection. They had come to terms with it, learned to deal with it.

For Liz, this meant being able to admit, if only to herself, that she was strongly attracted to Max, even though she had resolved never to do anything about it.

For Max, it meant keeping his physical passions in check, sublimating his desire as he felt his way through a somewhat confusing relationship.

In early April, IBS came with the official announcement that its fall lineup would include a weekly interview show, Manhattan Observer, hosted by Liz Parker.

It confirmed that three segments of the new show would be aired on a monthly basis during the months of June, July and August, then would go to a weekly format in September, at which time Liz would officially leave World Focus. Replacing her would be Maria DeLuca, a newscaster who was currently a regular contributor to the show.

It also confirmed rumors that the first segment of Manhattan Observer was to be an in-depth profile of Maxwell Evans, which it announce was “already in the works.”

“It’s started already,” Liz told Max over dinner at the Rainbow Room. “The gossip columnists all think we are having a red-hot affair.”

Max looked at her. Even in the subdued light, his black eyes seemed to glow.

“Does that bother you?” he asked, resting his fork on the edge of his plate.

“It did at first,” she admitted. “I didn’t like the idea of anyone thinking I had slept with you to get the interview.”

“And now?” He finished a glass of wine.

“I’ve developed a kind of immunity to it,” she said with a wary smile. “I think I’ve finally gotten used to it.”

He smiled. “I would never have thought of you as a woman who would be terribly concerned about what anyone thought of her,” he said, mildly amused.

“As a rule, I’m not,” she responded. “But when I was first getting started in this business, getting my career off the ground-“ She stopped short. “Let’s just say things happened that made me just a little defensive about it.”

“Tell me about it,” he urged.

She shook her head. “It’s a long story.”

“I have time.”

“It’s not important,” she insisted.

“Obviously it is, or it would not continue to bother you.”

He reached across the table and took her hand.

“You still don’t trust me, do you, Liz?” he asked in a gentle voice.

“Trust has nothing to do with it,” she said. “It’s history, and it wouldn’t interest anyone except possibly another newscaster who found herself in a similar situation.”

“You’re wrong.” His eyes met hers. “It would interest me.”

She hesitated for a moment. Realizing his interest was genuine, she began to talk. She found herself telling him things she had never told anyone, and even as she was saying the words, she was not sure why she was doing so.

She talked about the frustrations and the obstacles she’d had to overcome in the course of her career, the skepticism she’d encountered from her male counterparts, and the jealousy and rivalry from the women. She saw only a patient understanding in Max’s eyes as she spoke.

“We have a great deal more in common than you might think,” he told her. “I, too, have had many obstacles to overcome, many prejudices to deal with.”

She gave him a puzzled look. “You?”

“It was never easy, being the son of Philip Evans,” he said simply.

“I would have thought it made your life easier.”

“In some ways, perhaps. I did grow up with every possible advantage. But until I officially became chairman, everything I possessed had been given to me,” he said, his voice low. “My personal fortune is an inherited one.” He shook his head. “To many, I realize this would be regarded as an ideal situation, even an enviable one, but I’ve found that with the privilege comes the pressure.”

“What kind of pressure?” Liz asked.

“Mainly that of constantly being compared to my father, of answering the criticism that I was content to rest upon my father’s laurels. That, among other things, created the animosity between the media and myself that is today a blood feud.” He paused. “That is one of the reasons I agree to this interview.”

Liz looked at him, not sure she understood.

“I had been considering possible ways to improve my relations with the media and in the process change my public image when your offer came to appear on your program,” he explained. “I was familiar with the program, of course. I had seen several of your interviews, liked what I saw, and-“

“Wait a minute!” Liz interrupted, not bothering to conceal her surprise. “You set me up, didn’t you!”

“Are you angry?” he asked, a twinkle in his eyes.

Liz laughed. She could have cheerfully strangled him.

“I’d be furious- if it weren’t so funny,” she answered. “We really are two of a kind, aren’t we? Here I was, using you to further my career and worrying about the possibility that you might change your mind about doing the interview, and all the time, you were using me and my show to change your image! I’ve always considered myself a pretty good judge of character, of being able to figure out what’s going on in my subject’s head, but you had me completely fooled. You’ve really outdistanced me, Max.”

“I doubt that,” he said easily.

“Even now, I have no idea what’s going through your mind, what you’re really after.” She paused. “What is it you really want?”

Max only smiled.


******


Liz sailed through the crowded lobby of the IBS Center, waving to the security guard on duty at the front desk as she pushed her way through the heavy double doors facing West Fifty-second Street.

As she stepped out into the brisk night air, she paused for a moment to turn up the collar of her blue wool melton coat for more warmth. She walked toward the limousine parked at the curb, assuming it was the network car waiting to take her home.

Abruptly, the back door opened, and Max emerged.

“Good evening,” he greeted her with a devastating smile.

Liz stopped in her tracts.

“Max- what are you doing here?” she asked as he took her arm and ushered her into the car so quickly that she did not have time to protest.

“I’ve come to abduct you,” he said in an unusually cheerful voice, sliding in beside her. “I’m going to whisk you off to a secluded, terribly romantic hideaway where no one will ever find us.”

“Be serious!” Liz scolded, laughing.

“I am serious,” he insisted, closing the door as he signaled the driver to proceed.

“Where are we going?” she wanted to know.

“I had a meeting over on West Fifty-seventh this afternoon,” he told her. “I thought I would take you home.”

“But I have a car-“ she began.

He shook his head. “It’s all been taken care of,” he assured her.

“But-“

“You protest too much,” he said with mild amusement as the car inched along in the start-and-stop traffic on Broadway.

As they approached Times Square, Liz glanced absently at the flashing neon signs and suggestive advertisements that seemed to be everywhere, at the litter and trash that whirled about in the brisk wind. She shut out the noisy turmoil coming at them from all sides.

“I hate to tell you this,” she said slowly, turning to look at Max, “but we’re headed in the wrong direction.”

“Oh? Are we?” he asked, feigning innocence. “Well, as long as we’re already going this way, I know of a marvelous little place, very quiet, very intimate, where we can have dinner.”

“And discuss the interview?” she asked, smiling.

“Of course,” he agreed with a quick nod.

In the past few weeks, they’d dined together almost every night. She had accompanied him to the opening of an art exhibit at a prestigious Madison Avenue gallery when he insisted he had something important to discuss with her.

The “something important” had been a suggestion that she take her camera crew out to Kennedy Airport and get some footage of his private plane, a recently acquired Boeing 747. The interior, he told her, had been remodeled and turned over to a top decorator who had transformed it into a flying palace.

He was keeping his promise to maintain that professional distance between them, as she’d demanded at the onset of their association. Or he was trying to. He still wanted her. He wanted her more than ever.

Liz wondered how much of his fascination came from her continuation to deny him sexually when most women would have been eager to become his lover.

She looked at him now, seated beside her in the darkened car, she found herself as intrigued by him as she had been the first time she saw him that afternoon at The Fresco. As wary of him as she had been that night at the Rainbow Room. And as drawn to him as she had been when she met him at the polo match.

Max Evans, she concluded, was a complex man- an enigma, a puzzle defying solution. He could have been likened to a magnificent diamond, cool and polished on the surface, brilliant and fiery underneath. Liz found herself wondering if she would ever really know him, if they would ever get that far.

“Well, what’s it to be?” he asked, breaking the silence. “Shall we have dinner?”

She managed a slight smile.

“But I’m not dressed for dinner,” she protested weakly. “I’d have to change-“

“You don’t need to change,” he assured her. “You look lovely.”

She smiled. “Thank you, but I really am not dressed for dinner,” she pointed out. “So if you don’t mind-“

Max smiled, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. “All right.”

He signaled his driver, giving him Liz’s address.

“I won’t be long,” Liz promised as they neared her apartment.

Max nodded.

“Take your time. I’m in no hurry.”

For dinner that is, he thought.



Part 11 A *happy*



“Do you always walk like this?” Liz asked breathlessly as she hurried to keep up with Max’s long, quick stride.

When he’d phoned her that Saturday morning, asking if she’d like to take a walk with him, she’d had no idea that he planned to spend the entire day exploring Manhattan on foot.

“No,” he admitted. “Not as often as I would like.” He reached out and took her hand. “Because I’m often required to spend long hours locked away in my office, I welcome the opportunity to spend a day- or even an afternoon- outdoors.”

No wonder he’s in such a good shape, Liz thought wryly. Only a professional athlete could possibly keep up with him.

“I go to my place in Long Island as often as possible,” he told her as they paused to admire a glass sculpture in the window of a gallery in Madison Avenue. “My polo ponies are there, and I need as much practice time as I can manage.” Then he turned to look at her. “I will take you their one day soon.”

Liz only smiled. If anyone else had said that to her, she might have dismissed it as an idle remark, but coming from Max, she had the feeling that it was a promise he had every intention of keeping.

They walked north on Madison Avenue to Fifty-ninth, then headed west toward Central Park.

As they walked through the park, Max glanced up at the formidable-looking gray clouds that filled the sky. Thunderstorms had been predicted for the late afternoon hours, but he’d had no intention of allowing the possibility of bad weather to interfere with his plans to spend the day with Liz.

“We should stop for lunch soon,” he said, looking at his watch. “Where would you like to go?”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” she answered, thoroughly enjoying herself. “Whatever you’re in the mood for.”

He turned and smiled, tempted for a moment to tell her what he was in the mood for.

He nodded slightly with a twinkle in his dark eyes. He reached out as if to take her hand, then withdrew abruptly. Not yet, he reprimanded himself.

“The Plaza is close,” he said. “Shall we go there?”

“Sounds wonderful.”

They walked around the Pond, past the Dairy, and along the striped red brick Chess and Checkers Pavilion that had served as a special recreation center for the children of Manhattan before the playgrounds were constructed.

“I think we’d better start back,” Liz said in a worried tone, looking up at the overcast sky. Extending her left hand, she felt a few droplets of water falling from the air. “It’s starting to rain.”

“It’s nothing,” Max insisted confidently.

She gave him a wry smile. “You’re sure about that, are you?” she asked unconvinced.

“Absolutely.”

At that moment, the sprinkles turned into a light shower. Liz began to laugh.

“You were saying?”

Max grinned, his black eyes glittering wickedly.

“I was saying that it definitely looks like rain and we should adjourn to the Plaza immediately,” he said with mock dignity.

He grabbed her hand and they started running along the Pond. By the time they reached the southeast corner of the park, the shower had turned into a downpour.

Still holding hands, they made a mad dash across the Central Park South toward the Plaza. They did not stop running until they reached the top of the wide concrete steps leading up to the main entrance facing Fifth Avenue.

They stood looking at each other, both of them soaked to the skin, and started to laugh uncontrollably.

“Do we dare go inside?” Max asked.

“The question is, will they allow us to go inside?” Liz giggled.

“Of course they will!”

He tossed his head imperiously, stepping closer to her as he moved out of the path of two bellboys armed with luggage retrieved from a white Rolls-Royce parked near the entrance.

“You’re sure about that?” Liz teased.

“Absolutely.”

“Now where have I heard that before?” She stepped forward and lost her balance.

Max caught her, grasping her elbows to steady her.

Their eyes met, and their gaze held for a long moment.

Then, suddenly, impulsively, Max reached out with one hand and tilted her face upward to meet his own. His lips met hers, gently at first, then with an unmistakable urgency as he wrapped his arms around her.

Liz returned his kisses eagerly, both of them oblivious of the curious look of the Plaza doormen and passerby.

Soon, Max thought. Very soon.



Part 11 B *happy*



Liz felt totally drained by the time she got home from work.

Get used to it Parker, she told herself as she entered her darkened apartment. For the next three months you are going to be doing a juggling act with two shows instead of one.

She took a shower, changed and prepare her dinner. She is looking forward to a rare relaxing evening and early bedtime.

She had just finished dinner when the doorbell rang. She peeked through the hole and removed the safety chain to open the door.

“Good evening, Liz,” Max said, smiling.

“Max, what are you doing here? Come in. Can I get you something? Wine, coffee or-“

“I’d love a cup, if it’s not too much of a bother.” He said, following Liz to the kitchen as she prepared the coffee.

“So what brings you here?”

“I have to go to Rome on business,” he said.

“Oh?” Liz paused. “When?”

“I’ll be leaving in the morning. I expect to be gone at least a week, possibly longer,” he said quietly. “I had to see you before I left.”

She nodded. She was going to miss him. Five months ago she would have been happy to see him fly off to Rome and stay there. Now she found herself not wanting him to leave at all.

“I came to ask you to go with me.”

She turned to look at him. “Sure,” she said lightly.

“I’m serious. Have you ever been to Rome?”

She smiled. “No, but-“

“You would enjoy it. Rome is famous for stealing hearts,” he told her.

She nodded. He should be right at home there, she thought. She turned her back on him as she reached for the cups.

“There’s no way I can just pick up and fly off to Rome. It’s just not possible.”

“All things are possible-“ he started.

“If I were to ask Harv Peters to give me a week off right now, I couldn’t even repeat some of the words he’d use!” She smiled. “The Broadcast Center is in chaos now. I’m trying to cope with doing two shows simultaneously and help Maria prepare herself for taking over World Focus in September. Harv is becoming more ratings-conscious every day." Just saying all the things that lie ahead of her in the next three months make her weary.

Max came up behind her, silent as a cat.

She suddenly felt his hand touching her arm from behind, and heat began where he touched her, radiating out like invisible spokes through her body. She glanced at his tanned hand against her creamy skin.

Gently Max ran his hand up the cuff of her three-quarter sleeve sweater and lightly trailed his fingertips along her flesh. Back and forth, back and forth, sending shivers running up her arm.

She looked at her sleeve as it pulsated up and down rhythmically in time with Max’s caress. It rustled softly, silkily over his knuckles.

His hand moved higher, past her elbow now, and found the soft, sensitive flesh on the back of her upper arm.

She moaned. There was the faint sound of fabric rubbing over flesh as Max stroked the back of her arm, alternating between lightly rubbing his nails over the area and gently stroking her arm with his strong fingers.

Sensuous throbbing hammered through her, making her pulse pound deafeningly in her ears. Her mouth became watery, her vision blurred. She moaned again.

“Like that?” Max asked.

“Ummmm,” Liz managed, still under his spell.

“It’s my secret relaxation massage,” he said thickly, “especially designed to chase away the tension of the day.”

“It’s wonderful,” murmured Liz.

“I’m good at backs, too,” Max offered.

When he slid an arm around her waist, Liz was almost reluctant to let his hand give up its captured territory. She liked his hand being there on her arm, hidden under her sleeve. It hinted of an intimacy she’d dreamed about with Max, flesh to flesh with him, his hands exploring secret parts of her body, tenderly awakening her to heights of pleasure she’d never dreamed existed.

“This will make you feel better,” he promised sensing her tough day at work.

His strong fingers dug into her tight muscles, bringing a mixture of pleasure and pain. The soreness from the day’s work gradually changed to a warm glow under his rhythmic strokes, and her groans became a satisfied purr.

“Don’t stop. That feels so good.” Liz sighed, totally forgetting what they were initially talking about.

Her innocent remark made Max smiled, thinking that he’d like to hear her say those words under different circumstances.

Max’s hand stilled for an instant, then glided lower. His fingers slipped inside the waistband of her jeans and smoothed the tiny hairs along her spine. They reacted instantly to his touch. He shifted his hands.

Liz was too full of the heady feeling of his closeness, his breath warm on her neck, his masculine scent growing more intense and enveloping her in its aroma, to worry where Max’s massage might lead.

She felt his hand move to her hairline and creep up into her hair, massaging the nerve endings and sending waves of sensuality crashing over her; she could literally feel her ability to think clearly slipping away, dissipating like smoke in the wind.

All the things she knew she should tell him were locked inside her somewhere, and she couldn’t find them, couldn’t shape the words. She could only look at him and wonder on some distant level of herself what was happening to her.

It felt so good.

She leaned her head back into his hand, silently asking for more, for more stroking, more closeness, more of everything Max had to give.

Max slowly turned her around. He thrust both hands back into her silky hair and pulled her to him. Her smell engulf him as his nose softly nuzzled her ears, her cheeks, her eyelids, her nose, her lips. His purpose for coming over forgotten.

The coffee interrupted Liz blurry state.

“Max……”

“Hmmmm……”

“The coffee…”

“Hmmmm……”

“Uhh...could you...umm... please get the...ahh.... sugar and cream,” she said breathlessly “at the cabinet...umm... on your back.”

He reluctantly let go of her and turn toward the cabinet.

“I can’t believe this,” Max smiled teasingly as he looked inside the cabinet. “Oreo’s, chocolate-chip and Mallomars? And fudge-nut? Have a bit of a sweet tooth?”

“I keep them for guests,” she said defensively.

“Are you friends with an army of ten-year-olds?” Max countered with a wicked twinkle in his eye.

“All right, I confess- I’m a hopeless chocoholic.”

Liz neatly evaded his arm and stood on tiptoe to get the sugar and cream by herself. She had difficulty catching her breath when she felt Max move up behind her. When she eased back on her heels she bumped into him, her bottom pressed snugly against him. Max put his arms around her waist and settled her there more firmly.

“You should taste my homemade chocolate-chip cookies,” Max said huskily.

Liz cleared her throat. “So you bake cookies, huh? I’m impressed.”

“I’m glad.” Max’s broad hand stroked her stomach lazily and his breath stirred the hair by her ear. “I’m told I’m very good at it, too.” He slid his hand underneath her loose cotton sweater and rested it against her skin.

“I’m sure you are,” Liz said faintly.

“The secret is concentration,” Max went on, his voice low. His lips brushed softly against her neck. “And, of course, the right ingredients.” His tongue trailed up toward her ear. “Sweetness and spice. And then-“

“And then?” Liz asked breathlessly as she felt his teeth lightly scrape the outside of her ear.

“A very hot oven.”

Max turned her around to face him and his mouth descended on hers. He gave a small groan deep in his throat as she met his lips with sizzling heat that surprised her as much as him.

Liz was teetering near the edge of her control, and she couldn’t stand being teased by his whispering touch any longer. All she wanted was the full force of him.

Max cupped her face in his hands as he deepened the kiss until all sound, all thought of anything but him simply disappeared. Then his hands slid underneath her sweater again, his fingers encircling her waist for a brief instant, tracing its curve, before sweeping up to caress her breasts through her silk camisole.

Liz swayed as heat spread up to her face and made her dizzy. She gripped Max’s shoulders and his mouth descended to where his hands had been.

He kissed her there, then slid her sweater over her head in one easy movement and brought her back against him. She was now wearing only her camisole, but the soft cotton of his shirt was too much of a barrier between them. She tried to unbutton it as he kissed her again. With unsteady fingers she undid the buttons and the shirt slipped through the floor. She ran her hands lovingly over his broad chest, then slowly moved down toward the waistband of his jeans.

She paused and looked up at him. She’d been so immersed in the feel of his bare skin that she hadn’t thought of his response, or of how far she was leading them. Now she was fully aware of how much he wanted her, and his eyes were darkly serious as he met her uncertain look.

“Don’t stop,” Max said huskily. “Don’t ever stop.” He brought her hand back to his chest and held it against the swift beating of his heart.

His words and the feel of his heartbeat sent tremor through her, and when Max captured her lips again in a hungry kiss she didn’t resist.

She could feel the strength of his response through his jeans, and she could not pull back.

He drew her entire length against him, and the textures of skin and denim and the softness of his hair against her were her only reality.

It was a new self she had discovered, a ravenous, voracious self, and she ran her hands down his back in a fierce caress to bring him even closer to her.

Now she weave unsteadily with the force of his embrace, and Max slowly lowered himself on the floor, bringing her along with him until she was stretched out on top of him, nestled in his arms. Their mouths stayed together in a deep kiss that seemed to go on forever. When they finally drew apart, they looked into each other’s eyes, shaken.

She was surprised by him, by this desire between them. Surprised by her own response, Max thought. Well, he was surprised about himself too. He’d certainly enjoyed several relationships in the past, but most of his attention- single-minded, he knew-had been fixed on building the corporation.

But now with Liz, he was aware that the center of himself had shifted somehow, his focus changed. He felt oddly intent, hungry in a way he’d never felt before. And the feeling was intensifying. She felt it too; that was what he’d discovered. She felt this overpowering desire. Her response to him was instant, passionate. In his arms she took fire.

Fire…

“Max?” She was a little uneasy, wariness creeping into her heartbreaking eyes.

Something nagged at Max, some vague thing on the tip of his mind, but he ignored it. He raised his head and kissed her again. He heard that kitten-like moan she had made before and it went through him like an electrical current, that little sound in the back of her throat, that little soft purr of pleasure.

Max turned them around and pinned her beneath him. Kissing her was more exciting than sex with other women, and the promise of what was to come had him on the ragged edge of control. He wasn’t a patient man by nature but with Liz he had learned to be patient.

Liz felt a hot shiver of pure need ripple through her body at the touch of his lips. Her mouth opened to him instantly, and she felt as well as heard the strange muted sound in the back of his throat.

He kissed her with utter absorption, as if there were nothing in the world except the two of them and this urgent desire rising inexorably between them. His mouth was hard, yet it seduced rather than demanded, beguiled rather than forced.

She was half conscious of her arms sliding back up around his neck, of her fingers twining in the thick silk of his dark hair. Never in her life had she felt anything like the need inside her; it was shattering in its intensity, and she could no more fight it than she could stop breathing. When his lips finally left hers she murmured a husky protest, not even aware of doing so.

“Liz,” he said tautly as his mouth moved slowly down over the warm flesh of her throat.

Hearing her name from him surprised her somehow, and she understood dimly that it was because her identity was overwhelmed by this passion between them. He made her surrender to feelings she couldn’t control. The need he roused in her swamped her willpower, shattered reason until she was defenseless with want. The realization was a shock, and if it wasn’t strong enough to fully penetrate the hot veils of passion, at least it allowed her a shaken protest.

“Max……it’s too fast……please……”

He lifted his head slowly, gazing down at her with hot eyes. Her face was a little flushed, beautifully rosy. And her mouth……lips parted, moist, slightly swollen from his kisses. His face was hard, the features mask-like in intensity.

“Come to Rome with me, Liz,” he said softly, roughly. “Tell your producer that it’s to be a part of your profile for the new program. Bring a cameraman along, tape in Rome,” he suggested in a raspy voice.

She looked at him and she could feel her entire body weaken. She fought desperately for control.

“You think of everything, don’t you?” she whispered.

“Right now, I’m only thinking of ways we can spend time together,” he replied. “We’ve grown so close in the past few months, Liz-“

“Right. And I think that we both really need right now is a little time apart,” she said.

He looked surprised. “Why?”

“Things have changed so much between us,” she said quietly. “I think we both need time to think, to decide where we want to go from here.”

“I think we both know where we are going.”

“We know where we are headed, but is it what we really want?” she asked.

“It’s what I want,” he said simply.

“I’m not sure. Not yet.”

He stared at her intently. “What are you feeling right now?” he asked.

“Confused,” she admitted. “I care, yes……more than I want to, but……”

“Why more than you want to?”

She hesitated a moment before replying.

“There was a lot wrong between us,” she reminded him. “True, it’s all in the past now, but-“ She took a deep breath. “I suppose what I’m trying to say is I’m afraid to let myself get too involved.”

“What are you afraid of?”

“Of not being able to make it work,” she said honestly. “I’ve worked so hard to build my career, to get where I am today. It demands a great deal of my time-“

“I’m not asking you to give that up,” he said softly. “But it cannot be your entire life. No one knows that better than me.”

“For both of us- our professional lives are so demanding, so time-consuming-“ she began.

He placed his hands on her shoulders.

“You worry needlessly,” he told her. “Your ambition is one of the things that first attracted me to you, one of the things I admire most. You’re strong, and I’ve known so few strong women in my life. “Don’t you see? We are so much alike, we have so much in common. We even both like chocolate chip cookies.”

Her laugh was weak. “You frighten me sometimes,” she confessed. “You move too fast. It’s like being in the eye of a storm. I need time……”

He paused for a moment, then nodded. He held her up from the floor and stood, putting his shirt back on.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe we both need time to think,” he said finally.

She walked with him to the door and opened it.

He turned to face her again.

“Think about what I said,” he told her. “Think about where we go from here.”

Impulsively, he leaned forward and kissed her gently.

Liz pulled away from him abruptly, afraid to let it go too far.

“I think you’d better go,” she said.

He put his hands on her arms. “Are you sure that’s what you want?”

She nodded, not trusting her voice.

“Very well.”

He released her, leaving the apartment without looking back until he was in the elevator. After the doors closed and he was gone, it was only then that Liz went back to her apartment.

How long can I keep denying it? She wondered.



Part 12 *shy*



Rome


Max had been interested in acquiring the Vanetti plants in Rome, Milan, and Florence for several years.

Vanetti was doing so much better than the Evans-owned auto manufacturers in Germany and England, and Max regarded it as an excellent acquisition for the corporation. He had made two previous offers, but Vanetti had turned them both down cold. His plants were not for sale at any price, he insisted. He had no desire to become part of the Evans empire.

Max had not been discouraged by his refusals. To him, the fact that Vanetti was not interested in a merger was merely a minor inconvenience.

Victor Vanetti, like all men, had a price. And eventually Max would find out what it was.

“Ah Signore Evans, you are one stubborn man. Ostinato,” Vanetti said with a laugh as they talked over lunch at a restaurant near Vanetti’s offices. “I admire you. You go after what you want, no matter what. It is easy to see why you are as successful as you are.” He took a long swallow of wine. “But this time it will do you no good. As I have already told you, Vanetti is not for sale, not at any price. Not now, not ever.”

“You would not be selling out Victor,” Max told him. “You would still be president of Vanetti Motors. You would also have a place on the Evans’s board of directors.”

“I would indeed be selling out,” Vanetti growled. “I would no longer be in charge. My position would be little more than a figurehead. No, signore, it is out of the question.”

Max opened his mouth to say something else, but he stopped short. A woman approached their table. She was tall, with stunning figure and long, lush blond hair that she wore loosely around her patrician face. Max stood up, but Vanetti remained in his chair, grinning from ear to ear when he saw her.

“Kathleen,” he said, greeting her warmly, “how did you find me?”

“Your secretary told me you would be having lunch here,” she answered, bending to kiss his cheek. She turned and smiled at Max. “ Buon giorno,” she said in a soft voice.

“ Buon giorno, signorina,” Max responded, smiling appreciatively at the sight of a beautiful woman.

“Signore Evans, this is my daughter Kathleen, I’d like you to meet Signore Max Evans.”

“I am very happy to finally meet you, Signore Evans,” she said in heavily accented English. “I have heard so much about you.”

“The pleasure is mine signorina,” he assured her.

“Please-call me Kathy, no? Kathleen is so formal and ‘signorina’ makes me sound very old.”

“Kathy,” he said with a nod. “Your father has told me a great deal about you.”

She turned to Vanetti.

“What have you been telling him about me, father?” she asked teasingly.

“I have said nothing that is not true,” Vanetti replied, not bothering to conceal his pride. “I told him that you are a beautiful and talented young woman- and that you are going to be a famous painter one day.”

She turned back to Max. “You must not believe everything my father tells you,” she said lightly. He is quite- how do you say?- biased.”

Max held a chair for her. As he observed the two of them together, he decided that everything he had heard was true. If Vanetti did indeed have a weakness, it was his daughter. The old scoundrel was putty in her hands.

“How much longer will you be staying in Rome?” Kathy asked.

“I’m leaving tomorrow,” Max replied. “I have several important matters requiring my immediate attention in New York. It would please me if both of you would join me for dinner tonight at the Pergola.”

Vanetti shook his head.

“My apologies, but I have already made other plans. A meeting, a very important meeting,” he said.

“I am free, and I would love to join you,” Kathy said quickly.

“I don’t know…….” Vanetti was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of his ‘innocent’, ‘inexperienced’ daughter spending an evening with a man of the world like Max.

Max sensed his fatherly concern and found it amusing.

“Oh please, father,” Kathy whined prettily. “There is nothing wrong with Signore Evans and I having dinner together, especially in a place as public as the Pergola.”

“You need not be concerned, Victor,” Max assured him.

Vanetti was unable to deny his daughter anything, finally relented.

“Ah, very well.” He turned to Max. “You will see that she gets home safely? I will be able to trust you with her?”

“Absolutely.”

Max felt a hand underneath the table caressing……..squeezing his inner thigh……the hand moved higher……finally cupping his manhood.

“I will see to it that she gets home early in bed, Victor.” Max glanced at Kathleen.

She was smiling.


******


*tongue*



Kathy reached beside her for the familiar penis: It was there, long and hard, and waiting for her.

She gently clutched its firmness in her hand and began to stroke- smoothly, steadily.

Slowly, her moistness began to grow. Ohhh…Max, it’s going to be sooo good, she thought.

She softly began to smile.

She closed her eyes and felt a touch upon her breast, gently caressing first its fullness, then encircling its stiffening nipple.

Kathy moaned.

She parted her legs.

The tip of the penis explored between them, searching for her sensitivity.

She arched her hips and welcomed it.

And then, it entered her, lingering a moment in her waiting wetness, her growing heat.

She began to move.

She felt the firm shaft begin to thrust in and out, in and out, skimming the walls within her, awakening the filaments of bliss.

Suddenly it pulled back, then out, then touched the tip of her clitoris with a firm velvet tongue, moving around it, upon it, into it.

From somewhere deep within her, the fever began to rise.

And then the hardness plunged back into her, in and out, in and out.

Fingertips pinched her nipple, pressing it tightly, tautly.

Her wetness began to ooze, her muscles began to constrict. And suddenly there was no time, no space, no sense of earth.

Her hips heaved upward, toward the ecstasy. And then she cried out softly.

Kathy fell back against the feather mattress.

Her heart pounded gently, her breath came in short puffs, as the throbbing between her legs continued to beat its satisfaction.

She sighed and reached between her legs, then removed the flesh-colored plastic penis.

She reminded herself to put it in her bottom bureau drawer, where the servants would not find it.

She rose from her bed with a determined smile.

I’m going to make sure that Max Evans end up in my bed tonight, Kitty, er…Kathy told herself.

She headed toward the shower, and prepared for her date tonight with Max.


*big*



******



Part 13 *happy*



"He's a stubborn son of a bitch, but he'll come around eventually."

Max carried the telephone across the room, cradling the receiver on his right shoulder as he talked. Settling down on the couch, he switched the receiver to his left ear and loosened his tie. "They always do."

"You're certainly confident," she noted.

"I know Vanetti- and I know that his financial situation is much worse than he's letting on," he said simply. "He needs money. You see Liz, Victor Vanetti came up the hard way. He started with nothing and build an empire, but he is deftly afraid of poverty. He could not deal with financial failure."

"I just wish it were over," Liz admitted. "I miss you."

"No more than I miss you," he said. He couldn't begin to tell her how much he actually did miss her. Since they'd been apart, he realized just how important she was to him. "Meet me at the airport when I get back?"

"Just tell me when."

"I'll call you."

"And I'll be there with bells on," she said and laughed.

God, how he love the sound of her laughter! "I wish I didn't have to go, but unfortunately I do," he said. "I have an appointment."

"With Vanetti?" she asked.

Max hesitated for a fraction of a second. "With someone close to him," he replied.

"I won't hold you up then. Good night, Max."

"Good night, Liz." As the receiver clicked in his ear, a realization came to him in a flash.

He pressed the phone to his lips and closed his eyes.


******


Max stood at the window, surveying the already congested traffic on the Via Veneto below.

Rome, he decided, was the only city in the world with traffic tie-ups to rival those of Manhattan. He was going to have an early start if he expected to make it to the airport by his schedule departure time.

In the distance, he could see threatening dark clouds approaching the city. Severe thunderstorms were predicted.

As he stifled a yawn, he buttoned his shirt and reached for his gold cuff links. He had not slept well last night. He had lain awake most of the night thinking.

His evening with Kathleen Vanetti had made him painfully(!) aware of how much he missed Liz, how much he needed her.

He was in love with her ... he was sure of that now. She had been right about both of them needing time to think, to clarify their feelings for each other. The time apart had opened his eyes, made him realized just how much he did care, how strong his feelings for her had become.

He wanted her, yes- he wanted to marry her!

When he returned to the States he was going to asked her to marry him, and if she turned him down, he would ask her again and again until she finally realized that they were meant for each other.

He knew she still had doubts, but that was all going to change. He smiled to himself. He had never been a patient man, yet he was patient with her. He had never thought of himself as romantic, yet he had been romancing her, in the subtlest of ways, from the very beginning. And still it had taken him months to realize that he loved her.

Max took an Italian leather box from his overcoat pocket and opened it slowly. The necklace was nestled in soft, midnight-blue velvet. He took it between his thumb and index finger and examined it from various angles in the brilliant sunlight streaming from the window.

A year ago, if anyone told him that he would pay that kind of money as a gift to a woman, he would have laughed in his face.

But now it was different.

Meeting Liz Parker had changed everything for him. She was everything he had ever wanted in a woman. He finally realized what it was like to be in love, really in love. He wanted to show her that love, to make her love him, more than he had ever wanted anything else in his life.

He knew now that he would do anything, absolutely anything, to prove how much he loved her. He was exhilarated. The money meant little to him, but to have finally fallen in love, to have finally attained what he always believed impossible, well, he couldn't put a price on that.

He looked at the phone. He had thought about calling her to tell her that he would be coming home, and it would be to her.

He reached for the phone but changed his mind.

He wanted to surprise her. Every thing he had to say had to be said in person. She had to know that he was serious, that he meant every word of it.

He thought about how he was going to tell Liz he loved her. He wanted tonight to be something special. Everything had to be perfect. He intended to sweep Liz off her feet.

Tonight, he decided, was going to be a night they would both remember.


******


New York City


As Liz emerged from a network limo in front of her apartment building, the doorman rushed forward to take the heavy attaché case she was carrying. She waved him off.

"It's all right," she told him. "I can managed."

He held the door for her. "If you're sure, Miss Parker-"

"I am." She smiled politely. "Thank you anyway, Charlie."

She crossed the lobby to the elevators and rode up to the twelfth floor alone.

Tonight she would have liked nothing better than to have a light dinner, take a hot bath, and go to bed early. But she had a case full of notes, clippings and photographs to study. Research for her segment with Max. She smiled. Hardly a satisfactory substitute for the real thing, she thought. How she would have liked to spend an evening with him now!

He had been in Rome for almost a week, and she found herself missing him more every day, more than she would believe she could. He phoned her every night, usually quite late, and they talked for hours at a time. Liz would lie awake afterward, trying to sort out her emotions.

She knew she was falling in love with him. What she didn't know was if it were possible for them to have a future together.

Letting herself into the apartment, she left her attaché case by the door, dropped her shoulder bag on a nearby chair, and took off her coat. She sat down on the couch and kicked off her shoes while she listened to her messages on the answering machine.

Nothing from Max. She hadn't heard from him all day- no e-mail, no calls, nothing. Maybe he wasn't coming home that night after all. He'd probably call later.

The sound of a doorbell cut through her thoughts. She went to the door and opened it, but left the safety chain on.

"Yes?"

"Cablegram for Miss Elizabeth Parker," said a uniformed messenger. He held up an envelope.

"One moment."

She closed the door, removed the chain, then opened it again. Scribbling her signature on the clipboard he gave her, she took the envelope, gave him a tip, then closed the door again. Tearing it open she tear it hastily:

ARRIVING AT JFK 10:45 PM STOP ONE HOUR LAYOVER EN ROUTE TO MONTREAL STOP MY CAR WILL BE IN FRONT OF YOUR BUILDING 9:30 STOP NEED TO SEE YOU STOP VERY IMPORTANT STOP MAX


******


It was an unusually cold evening for May.

Liz sat in the darkened limousine, watching anxiously as the Evans jet came to a stop on the runway. As the door opened and Max appeared at the top of the ramp, Liz got out of the car and walked toward the plane as he came down the ramp.

When he reached the bottom, they both broke into a run, almost at the same moment, falling into each other's arms. They kissed, tenderly at first, then with increased urgency until they were both dangerously close to losing control. In his embrace, Liz felt as though a dam had burst deep within her soul, allowing all the emotions she'd kept locked away for so long to come bursting forth.

For Max, too, it was an intense moment, discovering feelings he'd never known before: a need for her, a longing to be close to her that went beyond mere physical desire.

It was Liz who finally broke the silence.

"I've missed you," she whispered, tracing the planes of his face lightly with her fingertips, much the same way a blind person would feel her way in the darkness.

"And I you." He kissed her again. "As much as I knew I would."

They walked arm in arm to the car. He held the door for her, then slid in beside her.

"Your cable sounded urgent," Liz said. "Why do you have to go to Montreal tonight?"

He frowned.

"There was a fire in the corporation's offices there. The authorities suspect arson," he said gravely. "I should have gone directly to Montreal from Rome, but I had to see you- if only for an hour."

"I'm glad you did," she said softly.

"This has been a long and very difficult day," he told her. "I left the hotel quite early, but bad weather shut down Leonardo da Vinci Airport. While I was waiting to leave, I called my office and that's when Michael told me about the fire in Montreal." He shook his head. "I had so many wonderful plans for tonight, for the two of us..."

"It's all right," she said. "There'll be time for that when you get back."

He looked at her for a moment. "Come with me," he said finally. "We have a great deal to talk about..."

"I wish I could, but I can't," she said. "My schedule has never been crazier than it is right now. To just pick up and leave in the middle of the night..."

He nodded. "I understand, but it doesn't make it any easier to live with." He held her close. "I can only think of how much I want you with me."

She put her hands around him and held him tightly.

"I'll be here when you get back. I'll be waiting for you," she promised.

"I intend to hold you on that promise," he told her.

He reached into her coat pocket and brought out the leather case.

"I bought this for you in Rome," he said softly. "I saw it in a little shop on the Via Nazionale and looking at it in the case, it just seemed to be saying all the things I've wanted to say to you. It was as if it had been created for you."

She looked at him for a moment, then took the box and opened it, gasping at the magnificent necklace inside. Though Liz was accustomed to owning fine jewelry and was no longer impressed by the sight of diamonds and sapphires, this was unlike anything she had ever seen before.

"It's an antique," Max told her. "Over two hundred years old." He took it from its case and put it around her neck.

"I've never seen anything so beautiful," she whispered.

"I have," he said huskily as his lips sought hers in the darkness. The black leather box fell to the floor as they came together again.

Liz silently hoped the next few days would pass quickly.


******


A sheet of paper with three lines written on it was lying in the desk, as it had been all morning.

A cup of coffee sat on one corner of the desk, cold and untouched.

A stack of mail had been left unopened.

Liz stood in the window, staring ahead without really seeing anything. In her hand was a copy of People's magazine from the week before, opened to a photograph of Max taken at a restaurant in Rome. With him was a beautiful young woman identified as Kathleen Vanetti, daughter of Italian auto magnate, Victor Vanetti. They were smiling and laughing, looking very intimate.

Damn you, Max, Liz thought bitterly.

Did you enjoy making a fool of me? Did you enjoy your little game, making me fall for you? Is this your way of getting even with me for rejecting you when we first met? You must be having a good laugh over this one!

"God, how could I have been so stupid?" she asked aloud, throwing the magazine to the floor.

She sank into her chair and took the familiar black leather box from the drawer. She opened it slowly and stared at the necklace for a long time, recalling the night he gave it to her. It had been the happiest night of her life. She had finally been able to admit to her real feelings. She had been ready to give herself to him completely. She would have gone to bed with him that night had he not had to rush off to Montreal. He would have finally gotten what he had really wanted from her.

Liz was determined not to cry, no matter how painful it became for her. He was not worth it, she reminded herself. But he is not totally to blame, she conceded. It's as much my fault as it is his. I'm guilty of being stupid in the first degree. I let myself be taken in by him. I should have known better. I knew what kind of a man he was. I'd heard all the horror stories.

When she thought how foolish she had been, allowing herself to weaken, to surrender to his charm, his cheap words, it sickened her!

He really isn't one to forgive and forget, she thought miserably. I refused him the first time he tried to get me into bed, so he got back at me by making me fall for him. Well, he's certainly gotten even.

Why did I ever listen to him?

Her secretary came to the door then.

"Liz, Max Evans is on line one-"

"Tell him I'm not in."

"He says it's urgent."

"Tell him I'm not in!" Liz snapped irritably.

Cindy stared at her for a moment.

"What about the interview? Have you forgotten your deadline-"

"I haven't forgotten anything! I'll call him when I'm ready to talk to him- about the interview," she said crossly. "Until then, I'm not in when he calls."



******



Part 14 *happy*



At the WTC, Max held one of his rare press conferences to officially announce that plans were under way for the corporation to enter the field of nuclear research. He talked about the new atomic research facility located in Southern California's Mojave Desert region, just east of the Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Base.

"Well you've done it again," Michael chided him as they walked back to Max’s office after the conference.

Max walked on in stony silence.

Michael studied him for a moment. Max had been in a strange mood for the past week, ever since his return from Montreal. Michael knew he was concerned about the arson theory regarding the fire, but he had the feeling there was more bothering Max than the fire. Much more.

Watching him was like waiting for a time bomb to go off. He never knew when Max was going to erupt. He decided to leave him alone with his problem. Max had made it clear he was not willing to talk about it, and Michael knew it would do no good to push it. He excused himself and went off to his office.

As Max reached his own suite, his secretary met him at the door.

"A package came for you, Mr. Evans." she told him. "By special messenger. I put it on your desk."

"Thank you, Stacey," he said absently.

He went into the office and close the door.

He unwrapped the small package he found on his desk and discovered the Italian leather box inside. He carefully opened it and stared at the necklace inside.

She had sent it back. No note, nothing. Just sent it back.

He had been so close to finally declaring his love for her and making her his wife, to realizing a dream he always thought impossible, and that damned picture in People had ruined everything. He might never get her back now.

Lashing out in rage, he knocked a stack of reports off the desk, scattering them across the floor. He stood for a moment, trembling in anger, then made his decision.

He leaned across the console table and pressed the button on the intercom.

"Stacey, I'll be leaving in a few minutes. I won't be back this afternoon."

"Where can I reach you?" she asked.

"You can't."


******


Liz hurried through the crowded lobby of the Broadcasting Building and pushed her way through the doors facing Fifty-second Street. Outside, the blasting cold winds were so strong that it was hard for her to keep from loosing her balance. The weather had been crazy all month, raining one day, cold and windy the next; it certainly didn't seem like May.

She knew the network limo would not be waiting for her tonight. She was not going directly home. She'd decided to get a cab and go shopping. She had spent too many evenings holed up in her apartment. She was eager to put the past few weeks behind her, once and for all.

She didn't notice the limousine parked at the curb until the door opened and Max stepped out, blocking her path.

"Good evening, Liz."

She looked up at him, anger in her eyes.

"It was a good evening," she said coldly, "until now."

"I think we should talk. It is very important- to both of us."

"I have nothing to say to you."

"But I have something to say to you," he insisted.

"I don't want to hear it."

"It's about the interview," he said as she started to walk away.

She stopped in her tracks and turned,

"What about it?" she asked briskly.

"Don't you think it's time we taped it?" he asked, leaning against the car. "I believe you're now very close to your deadline, isn't it?"

"Your concern is very touching," she said. "But I assure you I haven't forgotten my deadline. I'll be in touch with your office when I'm ready to tape."

"It will have to be soon," he said. "I'm going to be out of town at the end of the month."

"Business?"

He shook his head. "Pleasure for once."

"What's her name?" Liz asked in an icy tone.

Max frowned.

"There is no woman," he said quietly. "I've entered a polo match in Southampton on the Saturday before Memorial Day. I plan to be away for a week or longer."

"I'll plan on taping the interview after you return then," Liz said.

"I thought you might be interested in taping at least part of the match for your program," he said.

She thought about it for a moment. "Maybe. I'll let you know."

He nodded.

"Is there anything else?" she asked.

"Yes," he said finally. "I love you."

She ignored his last statement. "I have to go," she said. "I'll call your office if I decide to film the match."

Max watched her disappear into the crowd. He did not try to stop her. He knew it would do no good. But he had not given up.

Not by a long shot.

He had used the interview to bring them together to begin with, and he would use it again to get her back.


******


Liz leaned against the front of her rental car, watching the polo match through high-powered binoculars as an IBS cameraman filmed the action from a mobile production unit parked nearby. Through Liz had known that including clips of the match in the show could definitely lend an air of glamour to the program and show Max’s fierce competitive spirit in a different light, she had come very close to calling off this taping.

She did not want to be here. She had not seen him since the evening he had waited for her outside the Broadcast Center. She knew he was going to be seeing a great deal of him, like it or not, until the taping was completed, but after that, she fully intended to forget she had ever known him.

Though Liz was far from an expert on the game- this was the first match she'd attended since the one she'd covered in LA Equestrian Center- shed had picked up enough knowledge from past conversations with Max to know what was going on.

He looks like a gladiator riding into battle, she thought as she fixed her binoculars on him. He rode a magnificent bay gelding that appeared to be larger than the other players' mounts.

She remembered his telling her once that he preferred very fast horses that were somewhat larger than the standard polo pony. He always played the number one spot- the main offensive position- and selected his mounts for their speed and their ability to take the full force of an opposing back crashing into him.

Soon a burst of cheering from the stands signaled the end of the match as the eight riders all headed back.

Liz lowered her binoculars and looked on with interest as Max was presented with a large silver cup. She signaled the cameraman to stop filming.

As he looked up, Max saw her. He dismounted in one swift, fluid movement and headed in her direction. Extricating himself from the crowd, he picked his way across the pivot-marred polo grounds, leading his pony behind him. As he approached the mobile production unit, he moved his helmet. Underneath, his thick dark hair was tousled and damp with perspiration.

"I'm glad to see you," he said, smiling. "I must admit, though, that I'm surprised."

"Why?" She met his eyes defiantly. "I do have a show to do remember?"

"I see," he paused. "In that case, I hope it hasn't been a wasted trip."

"Not at all." Her smile was cool. "We have more than enough footages."

"Then you'll be leaving soon?" he asked.

"As soon as we can packed it all in."

He hesitated for a moment.

"I have to speak privately with you, Liz," he said, lowering his voice.

"About the interview?"

"About us."

"There is no us. Not anymore. I'm beginning to think there never was."

"You don't believe that anymore than I do," he said.

"I've said all I have to say on the subject," she started to turn away.

He grabbed her arm.

"Well, I haven't," he snapped without raising his voice. "You are going to hear what I have to say, one way or another. Now, do we talk privately or do I say it right here and now?"

She hesitated for a moment. She knew him well enough to know that he was not bluffing. She had no desire to discuss their private affairs in front of the cameraman or anyone else.

"All right," she said finally. "Where and when?"

"Right now," he said. "Come with me."

Liz turned to the cameraman.

"Wrap it up," she told him. "If I'm not back by the time you're finished, go ahead and leave."

He nodded.

Liz walked by Max’s side in an icy silence as they crossed the grounds in the direction of the stables.

"I afraid I've been a bit too rough on Spartacus here this afternoon," he said, patting the animals neck affectionately. "I think I have to put him out to pasture for a day or two."

As they entered the stables, he handed the reins over to a young groom.

"Take good care of my friend here," he instructed.

"Yes, sir. Mr. Evans."

They walked in silence down the long, wide aisle lined with box stalls. At the sound of their footsteps, some of the horses began to whinny and move about in their boxes. Max walked on with the fast but graceful stride with which he normally moved, and headed for the section in which his own horses were kept. He checked each of them, making certain they had been tended properly and giving each horse a few sugar cubes. Liz was surprised by the gentleness with which he treated the animals.

"Hadrian will be out of commission for a while," Max said. "He injured this morning. I'm told it isn't serious, but I refuse to ride him again until he's in perfect condition. Ceasar here is in a foul temper today- be careful, he may try to nip you. Atilla will have to be retired soon. He's getting on in years-"

"You didn't brought me out here to talk about your polo ponies," Liz snapped irritably. "Will you please say whatever it is you want to say and get it over with? It's a long drive back to Manhattan and I'd really like to go."

He smiled. "I suppose I should be encourage by your anger," he said easily. "After all anger is better than indifference, isn't it? At least you feel something for me, even if it isn't what I would like."

"Do you enjoy taunting me?" she asked.

His face was suddenly serious.

"No," he answered honestly. "I'm not enjoying any of this. It doesn't please me at all that you won't see me or speak to me- or allow me the opportunity to explain about that damned picture!"

"You don't owe me any explanations," he said coldly.

He looked at her. "All of the things that happen to us in the past months, all the things that we said to each other...... that means nothing to you now?"

"It meant a great deal to me. Obviously it meant nothing to you."

He stepped forward and put his hands on her arms.

"I went to Rome to meet with Vanetti. I met his daughter when we were having lunch one day," he said quietly. "I invited both of them to dinner. Victor couldn't make it, but his daughter accepted the invitation. There was no way I could get out of it then without offending her."

"You didn't look too miserable in that picture."

"Kathleen Vanetti had a schoolgirl crush on me-"

"Some schoolgirl!" Liz’s laugh was hollow.

"Let me finish. Of course we had wine with dinner, but she had too much. When that picture was taken, she was pretty well out of it. I was trying to convince me to let me take her home."

"Whose home?" Liz asked sarcastically.

"I didn't sleep with her, Liz."

"It doesn't matter if you did or not."

“Doesn't it?"

She did not respond.

"Look at me, Liz," he insisted. "Look at me and tell me it really doesn't matter, that you don't care. Tell me what we had together before this happened means nothing to you."

She looked up.

"All right!" she snapped. It does matter to me! I did care what did or did not happen in Rome! Is that what you want to hear?"

"Yes!" he admitted. "I want to know it matters!”

His eyes met hers and, their gaze held. He leaned forward and kissed her tenderly.

Liz drew back and looked at him."I was so sure I knew you."

"You know me better than anyone else ever could." He kissed her again.

"I feel like a moth that's flown too close to the flame," she said.

His smile was sad. "The question is, which one of us is the moth, and which is the flame?"

"I don't want to get burned again."

"Give it a chance, Liz- give us a chance," he urged. It will work. We belong together."

"I used to think we did."

"I have a house near here," he said. "I was planning to stay on for the rest of the week. Come with me. Give me a chance to prove to you that my love for you is real."

"I can't- I have obligations...to the show, to the network-"

Max thought about it for a moment.

"Call your producer when we get there," he said. "Tell him I’ve given you permission to film the interview itself in Southampton, since I will be there for the week. Tell him you'll be there all week, working out last-minute details with me. He can send a camera crew up on Thursday or Friday. That will give us a few days alone."

"I don't know......"

His gaze was direct. "I love you, Liz. I don't want to loose you."

"I don't have any other clothes, or-"

"There are shops in the village."

She hesitated for a moment. "You have an answer for everything, don't you."

"Everything," he said, taking her hands in his, except for the one thing that matters most to me."


******


Max’s house in Southampton was an elegant, fifteen-room Georgian mansion set on ten acres of carefully tended grounds overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The house itself was a gracious expense with eleven-foot ceilings, French doors, and tall casements that opened onto a broad terrace and a magnificent view of the grounds. It had a fully equipped spa with sauna, steam room, and whirlpool, and indoor pool, wine cellar, curved solarium, and music room. There were stables for his polo ponies and separate servants' quarters to the rear of the main house.

Liz was surprised to find that the interior was nothing like the stark, modern decor of his apartment at the La Belle Tower. The marble fireplaces in the living room, library, and master suite, the leaded windows, the ornate moldings, and planked flooring were reminiscent of another era, as were the comfortable, overstuffed couches and chairs, the antiques that seemed to be everywhere, the Impressionist paintings adorning the walls. A grandfather clock that was over a hundred years old stood in the library and kept perfect time, as well as a hand-carved table which Max told Liz had been made by gypsies.

"I like to think of this place as my private retreat," Max said, watching as Liz walked around the library, admiring the antiques and paintings. "I come here when I need to escape the demands and pressures of Manhattan- or when I simply feel the need to be alone."

Liz looked up at him and smiled.

"It's funny, I've never thought of you as a man who would want to be away from his work for very long," she said.

"As a rule, no, I would not," he told her. "But I've found that even the most dedicated of us needs to get away, to take time for ourselves occasionally. There was a time when I tried to make the corporation my life. I tried to convince myself that it was all I wanted, all I needed."

"But it didn't work," Liz concluded.

"It never works, Liz," he responded with a tired smile. "The corporation is very important to me. It is my birthright. But I know now that it can never be my whole life, just as your career cannot be yours." He poured a glass of wine and offered it to her. "I realize now that all this will be nothing, if I don't have someone to share things with," he said quietly.

Liz’s eyes met his, and she felt an involuntary shiver coursing down her spine. Was it from the wine, she wondered, or was it the way she was looking at her? She knew she was blushing, but she was unable to prevent it.

"I suppose everyone needs someone," she murmured, then she fell silent, deliberately avoiding his eyes.

He noticed her empty glass.

"More wine?" he asked.

She shook her head. "I think I've had enough," she said. "I'm beginning to feel a little light headed now. Besides, it's getting late..."

Max nodded. "I'm sorry, Liz. I've been enjoying myself so much I’ve lost track of time," he said. "You must be exhausted."

"Just a bit," she confessed.

He smiled. "Come...... I'll show you to your room."



Part 15 *shy*



Liz found Max in the paddock, mounting a magnificent black gelding. He looked so different now from the impeccably attired businessman. He wore black pants tucked inside black riding boots and gray cotton shirt. His dark hair was blowing in the wind, and he looked more at ease than Liz had ever seen him.

"Good Morning," she greeted him as she climbed up on the fence.

He turned and smiled.

"Good afternoon, Liz," he responded. "Did you sleep well?"

"Too well, I think," she said as she perched on the top rail. "But I hear you've had a busy morning."

"I'm accustomed to getting up early, no matter what time I retire at night before," he said, reining in the prancing, spirited horse. "I was hoping you would go for a ride with me."

"I'd love to."

"Have you ever ridden before?" he asked.

Liz laughed. "Where I came from, you learn how to ride around the same time you learn to walk. It's been a while, but I'm told it's something you never forget."

"If you are sure," he said. "My horses are all quite spirited. For me, a horse- like a woman- without spirit has no appeal."

She smiled knowingly. "Trying to tell me something?"

"What do you think?"

I think you are as subtle as a sledgehammer," she said laughing.


******


Liz was surprised at how easily it all came back to her once she was in the saddle. She had almost forgotten how much she'd enjoy riding. She and Max rode all over the grounds that morning, winding up with an exhilarating gallop on the beach.

Afterward, they dismounted and led the horses along the surf, enjoying the privacy and the splendid view. Liz was glad she had come, glad she had given him the chance to explain. She believe his story because she was convinced now that he really did love her.

"This is the real reason I decided to buy this property," he told her as they walked along the white sand beach, several hundred yards from the house. "The house itself is exactly what I had in mind when I began looking for a property around the area. I'm quite satisfied with it. But when I saw this beach- I had to have it. The first time I came through those doors-" he pointed towards the house- " the first time I saw this beach, it was like being home."

"I know how you feel," Liz told him. "When I lived in Southern California, I always loved walking on the beach at dawn, swimming in the ocean, smelling the salt water in the air-"

"When you were with Kyle Vallenti," Max broke in, staring out in the ocean. "Were you planning to marry him?"

She looked at him, surprised. "No, I wasn't."

Max picked up a piece of driftwood and threw it several yards down the beach in front of them. "You must have loved him."

Liz hesitated for a moment.

"Yes, I did," she said softly. "Once. But then everything started to go wrong between us, and..." Her voice trailed off.

"You had no desire to get involved with anyone else," he concluded.

"For a long time I thought I didn't really need anyone," she admitted. "But now......I see I was wrong."

Max stopped walking and turned to face her.

"I'm very pleased to hear that," he said his eyes meeting hers. "I want to be your future, Liz- and I want you to be mine. It would not be easy for me to have to compete with someone from your past."

"There is no one from my past, Max."

He took her in his arms, and when their lips met, there was rightness between them that couldn't be denied.

Liz wrapped her arms around his neck and clung to him, finally allowing herself to respond to the passion that had always existed between them.


******


"I had no idea it would get so cold." Liz stretched out on a pile of oversized pillows in front of the fireplace, basking in the warm glow of the fire, the only light in the room.

"The nights are sometimes quite cold, even at this time of the year." Max brought a bottle of Dom Perignon and two glasses, and joined her on the floor.

She smiled when she saw the bottle.

"Are we celebrating your victory at the match?" she asked casually.

"No," he said quietly. "We are celebrating us......being here together."

He eased the cork out of the bottle, his eyes still on her. Suddenly it popped, and they were both caught in a shower of champagne.

Startled, Liz looked down at her silk shirt, soaked and clinging to her breast in a way that made it seem almost transparent.

"I think you just wasted an entire bottle of champagne," she said, her cheeks flushed.

"On the contrary," he said, smiling at her. "I think it looks quite becoming on you."

They stared at each other, and it was as if they were making love with their eyes.


*tongue*



Liz became aware of the rise and fall of her breasts as she drew in rapid breaths, of the friction of the lacy cups of her bra against her skin. Her linen slacks caressed her belly and gripped her thighs. Every sensation was heightened where his eyes touched her. She was trembling inside and wondered if he could tell.

Max moved closer, and slowly, deliberately, he unbuttoned her blouse and slipped it off her shoulders. He kissed her tenderly as they lay back on the pillows. Slowly, sensuously, he licked the rivulets of champagne that trickled down the cleft between her breasts, raising his head only momentarily to kiss her again. His lips caressed the firm, warm swells of flesh, moving fleetingly across her nipples as he began to tease them with his tongue beneath her bra. He raised his head from time to time to kiss her lips again and again.

"I love you," he whispered. "Let me show you how much I love you......"

She couldn't answered with words. His mouth covered hers, parting her lips with insistent demand, and the trust of his tongue made the strength flow out of her body in a rush. Liz felt herself lean into him, her body instinctively seeking his, and her arms slip up around his neck. The sudden explosion of heat inside her burned intensely, jerking a moan from her throat and making her shudder.

The arms around her held her tightly, but Liz moved to be closer, fitting herself more intimately into his hardness. Her aching breasts flattened against the solid expanse of Max’s chest in an effort to be even closer as the burning hunger inside her flared.

Max continue kissing her in that slow, shattering, absorbed way, as if lovemaking were only that, as if it were a completion instead of a preliminary activity. There was a dim astonishment in her that something she had always thought relatively simple and casual could, with Max, be so overwhelming.

But it was only a prelude, a beginning, and the building desire in them both demand more.

Max’s lips left hers at last to move slowly down her throat.

Liz felt his warm, hard fingers slipping beneath her back to unhook her bra, and then that was gone as well.

Max had been struggling to hang on to his control, but when the scrap of lace covering her breasts was gone he very nearly lost it. She was beautiful, just as he'd known she would be, and the sight of her creamy breasts, and her pink nipples tight and hard, sent a jolt of pure hunger through him. He lowered his head and drew one hard bud into his mouth while his hand moved to surround the other breast, his thumb rasping gently over the nipple beneath it.

Liz gasped wordlessly, her body arching in a helpless response. The shock of pleasure was instant, spreading outward from deep inside her in ripples of sensation that stole her breath and clouded her mind. All her conscious awareness was focused on what he was doing to her. The erotic suction of his mouth was a caress that her body responded to with a wildness she couldn't begin to control.

She was burning and couldn't be still, her head moving restlessly, her legs shifting, pressing together in an instinctive attempt to ease the trobbing ache that kept getting worse, stronger, until she thought she'd go mad with the awful tension.

She was so wrapped up in the sensations, so totally involved in her awakened body, she automatically lifted her hips when he unfastened her slacks and pulled them and her panties off.

"Liz." Her name was a husky murmur, and his hot black eyes were fixed, intent as he looked at her.

Caught in the desperate hunger he aroused in her, Liz reached for the buttons of his shirt, frantic to tear away the last barriers between them.

He helped her, his movements as jerky as her own.

Clothing was thrown to the floor carelessly, blindly. When he was as naked as she, Liz felt a primitive stab of excitement, a jolt at the realization that he was beautiful.

His power when clothed had an understated thing, more a matter of broad shoulders and lithe grace than of muscular strength. But the muscles were there, hard and well-defined, rippling under his tanned skin with every movement he made. His broad chest with well toned muscles tapered off to his flat stomach. He was big and strong, his lean face taut and his eyes blazing with a hungry fire.

Max moved one hand to her quivering stomach and rubbed gently while his mouth caressed her breasts. He felt her fingers dig into his shoulders, heard the shaken moan of pleasure escape her, and another thread of his control snapped. She was so responsive......and he couldn't get enough of her, couldn't stop touching her, learning her. His hand slid lower over her belly, settling over the soft curls and probing very gently.

Liz thought she might have stopped breathing because there was no room in her lungs. She was filled with ragged tension screaming in every nerve ending. She felt his touch, and her own fingers gripped his shoulders frantically as her body responded wildly. Instinct demanded that she open herself to him, and with a shudder her body obeyed as her legs parted.

She felt a burst of raw, hot pleasure as he stroked her gently, and a moan jerked from her throat. The fire inside her was burning out of control, as she couldn't hold herself still, couldn't think, couldn't do anything except give in to the blind, primitive drive toward release.

It seemed to last an eternity, tension spiraling until she could hardly bear it, until it seemed her body couldn't possibly contain the force of it, and then her senses shattered.

A cry tore from her lips as pleasure washed over her in throbbing waves. She was hardly aware of the gasping sounds that escaped her as she lay trembling in the stunned aftermath of that explosion.

Her eyes opened slowly, almost blind at first but then focusing on his taut face.

And the ebbing tension began building again. Now she was conscious of an empty ache inside her, a hunger for him that hadn't been satisfied. The searing heat of his kiss sent wildfire rushing through her.

Max widened her legs and moved between them, still kissing her deeply. His hands were stroking her body, hard but gentle. Very slowly he eased into her, lifting his head to look down at her. He heard the sharp intake of breath, saw her doe eyes widen and then seemed to loose focus, to go soft and dreamy and absorbed. It was the most wildly arousing thing he'd ever seen in his life, sending a jolt of pure raw craving through him.

Max groaned harshly, half closing his own eyes as she lifted her hips tentatively to take more of him. His entire body was aching, rigid as he fought the urge to bury himself in her. This slow possession was tearing him apart, but it was unbelievably sweet agony. Her body accepted his with silken heat, sheathing him completely as he pushed slowly inside her.

"Max," she murmured throatily, "I do love you," she told him. "It 's taken me so long to realize it...but I do...so much..."

The moment she said it, Max lost control and climaxed fiercely. His body jerking spasmodically, thrusting his hips deeper, faster as hers rose from the floor to meet him until rawly sensual tremors like nothing he'd ever felt before rippled along his spine. His fingers digging into her back, his face buried against her neck, helpless yet powerful because she'd finally said the words.

Liz felt him trembled violently in her arms as he reached his orgasm, and just at that moment, she climaxed with him again in a final burst of excitement. The room seemed to spin as he fell limp on top of her, his breathing labored as he kissed her again.


They lay very still for a long time afterward, Max’s face buried in her neck as he whispered words of endearments. Finally, he raised himself up on his elbows and gazed down at her face, glowing in the dim light of the dying fire.

"I've never made love before," he whispered, fondling a lock of her hair. "I've never really made love until tonight. I never imagined that there could be such a difference between sex and making love."

His wonder at this newly realized feelings was reflected in his face, the glow of his intense black eyes. He'd never believe it was possible to feel this way. It was as though his life has not been complete until she became part of it. She'd taught him to laugh. He hadn't realized until then that laughter was within him. She'd made it possible for him to think of something other than business, to enjoy the simplest things just by being with her.

"Neither did I," Liz said softly, savoring the feel of him, the male smell of him.

Never would she have believed she would find such joy with a notorious scoundrel like Max Evans, but she'd seen a side of him no one else knew existed. In his arms she'd been swept away.

“All these wasted months," she whispered. "It was inevitable, wasn't it."

He laughed. "I tried to tell you, but I've found you to be extremely stubborn woman at times." He kissed her forehead, the tip of her nose, her lips. "It doesn't matter now. It was worth waiting for, wasn't it?"

"Definitely." She looked up at him, her eyes shining.

He held her close, nuzzling her neck. "I wish I could hold you forever and never let you go......"


******


Max woke up first. He didn't move. His entire body was awakening with the same uncontrollable fire it had burned with all night.

Liz was in bed with him, lying on her side, facing away from him, her back wedge into his front. Her soft buttocks cradled his throbbing groin, his swollen organ nestled deliciously and agonizingly in the warm valley she provided.

He had his arms around her.

Her breathing was steady and slow; his was harsh and loud.

Cautiously, he raised himself up on one elbow and looked down at her.

So impossibly gorgeous.

His hand stole to her slim curved hip, slid higher then lower. He pulled her more firmly against his thickened manhood, leaned down, and nuzzled her jaw.

She sighed.

"Liz?" he whispered, a hoarse, gravelly sound.

There was no response.

He rubbed his hips languidly against her, his eyes closed, his face contorted, pained. He bent over again, his mouth inches from her ear.

"Liz?"

She pushed her backside against him.

He groaned and slid his hand up to cup her breast. The nipple hardened instantly beneath his fingers.

She shifted, still asleep, pushing herself more fully into his palm.

With his tongue, Max touched one pointed nipple.

Liz whimpered. her lashes fluttering.

Max pushed his thigh between hers, moving it back and forth.

Liz sighed, her lids drifting open.

His hand had its own volition.

He found himself sliding his palm along the smooth, firm yet soft contours of her thigh, her hip, to the soft slight swell of her belly. Max raised himself up a bit more to watch her face as his hand traced small, intimate circles on her stomach, roaming lower and lower.

He watched the haze of sleep leave her eyes.

Their gaze met, his bold, brilliant, hers soft, glazed.

His fingers touched the outermost edges of a soft vee.

Liz gasped.

Max threaded his fingers through the untamable curls.

She shifted onto her back with a deep breath, her eyes closing, thighs opening.

Max could barely breathe. His third finger slipped down between thick, slick folds of flesh.

She moaned softly.

He felt her swelling beneath his hands.

She arched slightly.

He shifted onto his knees between her parted legs, kissing her navel, nuzzling her breast. "Liz," he urged. "Wake up, Lizzie. Wake up."

"Max," she breathed, her lashes dark fans against her skin.

He bent lower and touched her pink glistening flesh with his tongue.

Liz moaned and twisted languidly.

Max’s arms went around her hips, locking them into place. With his tongue he began a delicate exploration. His heart threatened to pound its way right out of his chest. He was so full. She lifted for him, toward him, with another whimper, a pleading sound that almost made him insane with desire. He lifted himself abruptly.

"Liz, wake up."

Her eyes flickered opened.

He bent to nuzzle with his mouth and stoke with his tongue.

She gasped.

He raised up. "Liz, look at me."

Her glazed, unfocused eyes met his.

He felt a hot bursting of triumph at seeing her like this, languid with desire for him.

"Tell me what you want, sweetheart," he said thickly. And, with strategic timing, he flicked his tongue against her again.

She writhed, falling back against the pillows.

Max licked and explored, pressing his own heavy weight hard into the mattress. He finally lifted his powerful body up and brought her face inches from his.

"Liz!" he called, breathing hard.

She looked at him.

He kissed her deeply, dominatingly, rubbing the steel-hardness of his groin against her wet heat.

She moved sinuously with him, seeking.

He caught her chin.

Her eyes locked with his.

"Max," she gasped.

He didn't give her a chance, but was back between her legs, intent on devastating her.

Liz touched his bare shoulders as his tongue sought, found and conquered. She fell back, her grip tightening, her hips arching on a long whimper.

"Please." she cried.

She arched violently moments later, crying out, and he felt the hard contractions against his face. He didn't mean to loose control. She was still in the throes when he felt his own explosion as he lay grinding against the mattress, his face buried in her, his arms locked around her hips.

It took a long time for them both to subside.


*big*



******


"Good morning," he muttered. Max pulled himself up and embrace her from behind. He pressed his body tightly against hers as he nibbled lightly at her neck. "Did I wake you?"

"I don't know," Liz said in a half-teasing voice. "Were you trying to?"

"Only for the past half hour," he admitted.

She rolled over on her back, tugging the sheet to her chest, and looked up at him.

He pulled up on one elbow and smiled down at her.

"Last night," Liz said softly, "was like an incredible, beautiful dream. I was almost afraid to wake up."

She barely remembered him carrying her upstairs last night. They had made love over and over, then, when they were both spent and unable to go on, he had brought her up in his bedroom and they'd fallen asleep in an embrace. It had been the most incredible night of her life.

Max smiled. "I assure you, it was quite real." He kissed her tenderly. "I'm trying to think of at least one good excuse for not taking you back to Manhattan, but all I can think of are all the reasons why we must go back." He touched her hair. "I've never been a superstitious man, but I find myself afraid to take you home, afraid of breaking the spell."

She kissed him.

"Nothing could break the spell you cast over me last night," she told him. "You couldn't loose me now if you want to. I love you."

"But there's a part of me that worries I'll loose you after fighting so hard to win your love."

"Nothing could change how I feel about you now, Max."

He pulled back the sheets, uncovering her, and his hand moved slowly over her breasts, stroking them as his tongue made tiny circles over the sensitive area just behind her ear.

"Maybe we could stay here just one more week?" he whispered as he began stroking her nipples with his index finger. He kissed her hungrily. "Just one more week......"

"I want to," she said, her excitement growing. "But I can't I have a show to do......"

He lowered his head to her breast, sucking gently at her nipples, tantalizing her. He raised himself up again and kissed her lips.

"Surely they can find someone to replace you for one week."

"I'm irreplaceable," she said with a grin.

"I know that, but the network can surely find someone to do your show," he muttered as he reached between her legs.

"No......maybe......" She began to moan with pleasure.

"Of course they can," he said insistently.

His mouth came down on hers. They kissed again and again.

"I could tell them I'm not feeling well," she murmured. "Or I could say I'm working out some of the details of the show......"

He grinned.

"Getting to know your subject?" he asked as he started kissing her neck.

"Of course," she said, dizzy with desire. "But I don't think we'll tell them just how well acquainted we've become."

"I would hope not." He kissed her full on the mouth again, then pulled back. "It isn't, after all, the kind of thing one discusses on nationwide television."

"Definitely not," she agreed, reaching for him.



END OF BOOK I



I hope you all enjoyed reading this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I've decided to divide this story into three books. I know there are probably lots of unanswered questions in your mind: Will Liz be accepted by Max’s parents? How about Liz’s parents- not much has been said about them in this Book I, Will Max’s former lovers return? Will Tess return? What happened to Kyle? How about Michael and Maria? hmmmmmm. Will Max and Liz get married? have children and live happily ever after? If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Well, hopefully those questions will be answered in Book II and III.

Thank you so much for all the feedback that you've sent me. Your feedback really made writing this story so much fun. I hope to continue hearing from you!



Teaser from Book II



Waltzbk2

Waltz for Two

Book Two

By

hots4max

COMING SOON





*tongue*



He eluded her grasp as he moved lower, kissing her breast, her stomach, her thighs, slowly working his way to her pubis.

Liz began to quiver with excitement as he parted her outer lips and began licking her clitoris. She reached a violent orgasm immediately, having been aroused from the moment he had awakened her with his kisses.

Then, pulling away abruptly, Max entered her, thrusting himself into her, taking her swiftly, silently, until his whole body convulsed with release.


*big*



When it was over he held her tightly as he kissed her neck. "Do you have any idea what you do to me?" he rasped.

"Yes," she said softly, "because you do the same thing to me." She held him close, not wanting to ever let him go.

"We could stay here all week and never leave this room," he breathed.

"It sounds heavenly," she whispered, stroking his hair.

"I can never be without you again, Liz."

The urgency in his voice surprised her.

"You won't be," she promised. "I'll never leave you."

"Not good enough." He pulled himself up on his elbows and looked into her eyes. "I want to make a commitment to you. I want a commitment from you."

She looked up at him.

"I want to marry you, Liz," he told her. "I want to make you my wife."



Teaser from Book III



Waltzbk3

Waltz for Two

Book Three

By

hots4max

COMING SOON




Okay, enough, teaser already! *big*


Watch out for Waltz Book II! *happy*

I'll start Book II when I finish the plot and when my PC got fixed! *happy*

Until then, happy reading everyone!!! *happy*




[ edited 6 time(s), last at 1-Sep-2002 4:37:42 PM ]