|posted on 2-Jan-2002 11:20:24 AM|
Deliver me, out of my sadness
Deliver me, from all of the madness
Deliver me, courage to guide me
Deliver me, strength from inside me
All of my life I was in hiding
Wishing there was someone just like you
Now that you're here, now that I've found you
I know that you're the one to pull me through
Deliver me, loving and caring
Deliver me, giving and sharing
Deliver me, the cross that I'm bearing
Title: Deliver Me
Summary: AU, takes place during World War II. Max and Liz meet and share one night of intimacy and then are separated for two months leaving Max to return from the war wounded and he and Liz encounter each other, and Liz has a secret. Max helps Liz with her secret by pretending to be married, and things get a little too close for comfort.
Background: Max is a surgeon in the war, Liz works as a nurse in San Francisco. All the other Characters from the show are in it as well…yes even the whore, T*** but, she gets what she deserves in the end. This story was inspired by the movie, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS but does not completely follow in the story line, and it deviates.
Rating: For now NC-17…From the get go.
Disclaimer: They're not mine (unfortunately). The characters of Roswell belong to Melinda Metz, the WB, Jason Katims; I'm just borrowing them! Oh but if they are willing to give me Jason Behr I would take him gladly, but who wouldn't?
"Oh God, what am I going to do?"
Those were the only words Liz Parker could seem to verbalize as she walked the wet streets of San Francisco. As she continued her stroll down the sidewalk, she could see the fog rolling in from the Pacific Bay. It was always a sight to see for Liz. She loved San Francisco and enjoyed the beautiful nights that came with it. It was always so romantic to her: the scenery, the ocean, but somehow all of that didn't seem so beautiful tonight. The crisp wind tore at her ankles bringing her back to reality. She knew she was not dressed for such a cold November night, but what could she do? She had felt so trapped and felt the urgent the need to flee the confines of her father's home that she never realized she was not dressed for such walk. Her "father." That was a joke lately. More like a warden, a person who made every decision for her. Who kept tabs on her and who took note of who she dated, where she lived. Managed her entire existence. But not anymore. For once in her life, Liz Parker was going to do something her father would never approve of. Given she didn't know what just yet, but it would be something he would not be happy with.
Liz didn't really know where she was going; she found herself walking, just walking. She wanted to go home to her apartment, which she shared with Maria De Luca. But no chance of that happening tonight since Maria, her best friend and a fellow nurse, informed her earlier this morning that she would be "entertaining" a gentleman caller.
That's how Maria referred to the nights she spent with the men she dated.
"Probably some guy who complimented her into bed."
Liz grimaced at the thought. It was so callous of her to think that way about her friend. Maria was great really; she just had bad taste in men and deserved better.
All the men Maria ever dated where "callers" but not gentleman. Liz only wished she had the same problems as Maria. They were so small compared to the weight on her shoulders that were put there by her father and his reminders of family loyalty.
Liz replayed the events of the night in her head as she headed farther down the long slick street. In the near distance she could hear music but was oblivious to it as thoughts streamed through her head.
Earlier that evening she paid a visit to her father to see how everything was going. Her father had always made a point to know about what was going on in her life since her mother had died. He was a very protective man, and he made it a point to know every detail of her comings and goings.
Jeff Parker was a one of the richest men in California, not to mention the US. He owned one of the largest Wineries in the Napa Valley. He had come from a dirt-poor family and worked for every penny he had ever earned. He had bought a few acres of land in the rich Wine Country of California and started a small business, which soon grew into a thriving company.
When it came to family, Jeff took pride in his only daughter and wanted what was best, but sometimes he let what he wanted for Liz cloud his judgement with what was best for her.
Liz entered her father's home and hung up her coat before proceeding into the foyer where she found him sitting in his chair reading the evening newspaper. No matter what time of day it was Liz could always count on her father to have a serious look on his face. His "poker face" as Liz referred to it.
"Always the businessman," Liz thought.
Jeff Parker poked his head from behind the paper and looked at his daughter in surprise.
"Liz, you're early? Is something wrong?"
"No, I just decided to come a little early since Maria is having some friends over. I thought I might stay here so I could allow her some alone time. I have my stuff with me so I'll just have Winifred take my things up to my room."
"Very well. When you're done, meet me in my study. I think we need to discuss a few things."
Liz knew exactly what that meant. Her father only ever wanted to talk to her about two things, her obligations to the family and her life. And in both instances she was always forced into doing something he wanted her to do. It wasn't that her father was as controlling as she made him out to be, it was just that Liz felt overpowered when it came to him.
Liz walked down the stairs of her father's home and remembered the many times almost tripping and falling when she was younger as she would run to greet her father. Now here she was a young woman, and somehow she didn't feel any older.
She knocked on the door and turned the knob, slowly entering her father's study. The room was always warm and gave her the feeling of inferiority, probably because this is where her father handled his business, and where she had so many time come to receive her punishment as a child. She noticed her father's serious expression as he stood and ushered her in.
"Liz, sit down. I thought we should talk about a few things, since I rarely get to see you anymore, now with that ridiculous job of yours…"
"Nursing, dad. I'm a nurse."
"Oh, whatever you want to call it, it's ridiculous in any aspect. I mean look at you, you are 23 years old. You should be married, having children, socializing with others who share your economic background, not tending to wounded people and changing bedpans."
"Dad, can we please talk about something else? We have been through this too many times for you to want to talk about this again and make it sound important."
Jeff Parker tucked his hand in his suit pocket and looked at his daughter directly studying her.
"I wanted to talk to you about Kyle Valenti."
Liz's body began to tense up. Lately her love life seemed to matter more and more to her father, especially when it came to Kyle Valenti.
Kyle Valenti was the son of wealthy Oil tycoon, Jim Valenti. He came from a rich family, which made Jim and Jeff very good friends. Kyle and Liz had grown up together and were close in age. He was a few years older than Liz and had always teased her growing up that she had to marry him. This was only one of the many reasons Liz had despised him as a child. Some of the other things were attributed to the fact that as a little boy, Kyle was always somewhat cruel. He was very spoiled and got everything he wished, including Liz Parker.
Kyle went away to school when they were around the age of nine and Liz didn't meet up with him again till she had graduated high school and gone through her nursing program and Kyle had finished college. He was somewhat different, kinder, gentler, or so Liz thought. Liz and Kyle had begun dating soon after reacquainting themselves, and that was when Kyle began to show his true colors.
It had been three years, and Liz had seen what Kyle was really like. Behind the sweet smiles and red roses he always showered her with, he had a mean streak. He was definitely controlling. He was always interested in where she was going; whom she was with, and had even once gone as far as harassing a doctor she worked with because he was talking to Liz after work one day.
All that became too much for Liz. She realized that she had to leave the relationship, and so two days earlier she told Kyle that she didn't want to see him anymore. He immediately thought it was because of another man, but Liz tried to explain to him that she needed to be on her own for a while. She felt the need to prove herself and to her father that she didn't need anyone to define who she was. But he didn't believe her. Liz was not about to tell her father of Kyle's behavior. She knew he saw Kyle as the son he never had, and she didn't want to come between them. If she had told her father of Kyle's recent behavior she knew her father would not be as upset with Kyle as he would be with her. Yet Liz still felt the need to keep the things Kyle had done to her to herself. Those things included their last heated discussion when Kyle had been so angered with her decision that he had pushed her against the wall in anger because of her decision to end their relationship.
Liz cringed at the thought of his actions and her weakness. She hated feeling so weak and vowed that she would not allow it to happen again.
Liz's father took note of her expression when he brought up the name.
"So Lizzie, dear, why did you end such a promising relationship with Kyle? You two are perfect for one another. I demand to know why you did such as stupid thing as to pushing him away?"
"DAD! I can't believe you just said that. I resent the fact that you referred to my actions as stupid. My reasons for breaking off the relationship with Kyle are none your business. I know you love me and you think that I can't handle my life or myself, but I can. I am a modern woman, and I don't need Kyle Valenti or any other man defining who I am or controlling my every move."
Jeff Parker's face was once again expressionless. Liz recognized his demeanor as that of the one he often used when doing business.
"Liz, I don't think you realize what Jim and I have invested in yours and Kyle's relationship. Whatever this phase is that you are going through, get over it soon. A woman's place is not in a hospital, especially a woman of your caliber. It's in the home tending to the needs of her husband. Now, Kyle and I had a long talk and he and I believe…"
Liz's frustration grew and her anger was boiling over when she realized that Kyle had gone to her father, of all people, for help on repairing a dead end relationship.
"Kyle spoke with you? You both sat here in this house and talked about me, and what's best for me? I can't believe you. I am not your little girl anymore Dad; I am a grown woman who can make her own decisions. I don't need you or Kyle Valenti making them for me."
"Young lady, do not use that tone with me! Now you will listen to everything I have to say, and you will do as I say if you want to remain in my house and if you want me to continue to support you."
Liz couldn't help but let a loud laugh escape her lips.
"Support me? Living under your roof? Father, I believe you are mistaken, you give me money out of guilt because I don't see you often. I come occasionally and stay here over night, on nights like these, but in no way do I live here or do you support me. I am leaving because I doubt that at this moment I can stand to be in the same house as my father who sees me as some incompetent female."
With that Liz turned on her heel and walked out of the study and out the door, grabbing her coat as she left.
Now here she was an hour later and walking against the cold wind that was nipping at her ankles. She had no where to go and it just started to rain.
Once the few drops of rain began to fall, Liz realized she had to find somewhere to go to until the rain let up. She walked a little further and then finally acknowledged the music coming from a building further down the street. She recognized the building. It was one of the more well known Jazz clubs in town and where Maria often frequented in her search for her soul mate. Liz decided that any place was better than the rain, especially since it began to rain harder and she was getting soaked. She opened the door and was greeted by loud dance music and figures passing quickly. The atmosphere was so happy that she couldn't help but smile. She entered the large room decorated with Christmas decorations and lights all around. It usually was not set up in such a fashion but, *'Tis the season…* Liz thought as she entered. She removed her wet coat and walked over to a small empty table and sat down.
"Dad would definitely not approve of this place."
The music was blaring with the sounds of sweet Jazz and the scent of perfume, cigarettes, and alcohol was in the air. Men in uniform were dancing with woman they had only known for five minutes and were already allowing their hands to roam freely over each other's bodies.
Max Evans approached the bar, and ordered another glass of Scotch on the rocks. He was dressed in uniform and was looking his best, even after what he had just encountered. He looked around at his friends, Michael Guerin and Alex Whitman. They seemed to be having a good time, as always. He watched as Michael made his way to a dark corner of the room with a tall blond, nipping at her ear.
* Michael's next conquest. * Thought Maxwell.
Sgt. Michael, Guerin had been his best friend since childhood and had always been the opposite of who Max Evans was. He was carefree, and was free from responsibility. Max, on the other hand was the bearer of responsibility and had done everything and anything he was told. Max, had envied Michael for that, but resented him for leaving him with the duty to clean up after every mess he made. Michael always seemed to be able to live his life on the edge to go to the extreme and that's why military life suited him so well. No matter how angry Michael had made Max with his actions, Max would give anything to be like Michael, then maybe he could do what he did, and sleep with any woman that he met, making the anger he had inside disappear.
He closed his eyes trying hard not to see the images from this morning. He opened them swiftly and spotted his other good friend, Lt. Alex Whitman. He was on stage with the band, having the time of his life. Music was Alex's life and was his salvation in time of war. Alex was the good guy in the threesome's friendship. He was smart, funny and knew how to play a sax like making love to a woman. Alex eyed Max and gave him a wink as he held a note. Max chuckled, at Alex's tactic and went back to his drink.
* Alex, always the show off *
All Max could do now was wallow in self-pity with each drink he was served, making it that much easier. He was hurt, maybe not as hurt as he could have been, but just the same his pride was hurt.
Max closed his eyes once more and tried hard not to focus on what he would have to face when he got home. A cold empty house and the resentment he felt even now. Earlier that day, Max had arrived home for his short leave from the war, during the holiday, to find his girlfriend…okay not girlfriend, more like companion of two years, in the arms of another man, and in his bed.
He and Tess were not in love, they acknowledged that fact early on in their relationship, and it was all for the sake of convenience, for both of them. They lived together, and he was even considering marrying her, not because he loved her or thought he couldn't find anyone better, but because doing so may have made his life less complicated. Max never believed in soul mates or true love or anything of the sort. Sex, money and a white picket fence was all he thought a man needed. Heck he could do without the picket fence, but the first two were a given.
When he entered his home, he found Tess, and her "friend" in the worst position a man could find his "possible" fiancé in.
Max's emotions ran high when he saw the scene before him, and before he knew it, he was all over the guy. He was angry, not because the guy who he was beating to a bloody pulp slept with Tess, but because here he was off in some war, while Tess Harding was sleeping with other men in his bed.
After throwing diligently throwing the guy out of the house, Max turned his fury on Tess. She wore a silk robe that matched the crème colored nightgown underneath. He remembered he had bought it for her on her birthday, and now here she was wearing it for someone else.
"Max, what are you doing here? I mean, you weren't due back for another week."
Tess smiled sweetly as if nothing had just occurred.
"Yeah, well I guess, I'm early. Good for me, bad for you."
Tess chuckled nervously under Max's scrutiny and judgement seeping from his eyes.
"Look Max, whatever you have to say I don't want to hear it. I mean I have needs and you have been gone for a whole year, what did you expect me to do, become a nun? I highly doubt that. You weren't here for me so I had to find someone who would be."
Max's jaw tightened and he looked at her with pure hatred.
"Don't try to feed me that line of crap, Tess we both know I could care less if you slept with the entire population of men in San Francisco. What pisses me off is that you had the gall to do it here, in my home and still have the nerve to take my money, and pretend I was the only one. All I asked for was a bit of respect and loyalty and commitment. All that talk of marriage was just bull to you wasn't it? God knows we don't love each other, and the only reason we’ve stayed together as long as we have was out of convenience, but if you felt you needed more, than you should have left. You have humiliated me and I can't accept that. I want you to get out. This is my house and everything in it belongs to me. GET OUT! NOW!"
Tess looked horrified. She would have been happy if he insulted her in the worst way, but he didn't he instead let her know his disappointment in her. Max Evans had been the only man alive who had ever had faith in her, and believed that perhaps she could be a better person. Sure she met him at a club one night and sure she was a cigarette girl, but he changed all that, and now he was throwing her out, and without a penny.
"No Max, you can't do that! I am so sorry, It won't happen again. Please Max, I don't have anywhere to go, I don't have any money!"
Max looked down at her now pleading face. He felt a pang of guilt than looked over at the small closet, which held a brand new fur coat.
"Well, Tess darling, it seems you have been making it a point to receive gifts from your "friends" why not go to them? I have no use for you anymore, and frankly I can’t stand to look at you. I'm going to make a short visit to my parent's. I better come home to find you gone, and not one reminder that you ever lived here.”
And with that Max walked out and shut the door behind him.
"Damn You Max Evans!"
Now here he was at the Blue Spot, jazz club nursing a drink and depressed as hell. It was Alex and Michael who convinced him the way to getting over what Tess had done was to find someone else, even if it was for one night.
Max could already feel the effects of the alcohol in his blood stream. After all he had been sitting here for at least an hour ordering drink after drink.
Suddenly his eyes darted to the door where he saw the most beautiful creature standing there, wet and cold. No one in all his life had seemed so captivating. He watched as she entered and removed her coat. Her hair was slightly damp but she wore it down which accentuated her beautiful olive skin. Just looking at her, was a sobering experience. He watched as she made her way to one of the tables and sat down. She wore a beautiful red dress that hugged her curves in all the right places. Her attire was not as flashy as those of the other girls were, and she appeared as though she was dressed for a dinner, rather than a night on the town.
Max could see her eyes but not as well as he wanted to, her head was down, and only came up when a couple danced near the table. Max wanted so much to just go over to her, but he didn't dare.
*What’s wrong with you Evans? Get a hold of yourself. She is just like any other woman, don't let your emotions get in the way, do what Michael does, sashay over there and feed her a few lines.*
For the first time all night, Max felt a deep pang of pure guilt come flooding over him.
*She deserves better than that! * Max's mind was coming out with thoughts he couldn't control.
Did she? He didn't even know the girl, she had just walked in and he was already making out like he knew her so well. For all he knew she could be another Tess…then his mind stopped.
*No. She is too beautiful, too poised, to pure to be anything like Tess, or be associated with people like that.*
Max’s eyes shot up as he watched the petite figure walk over to the bar to order a drink.
Max quickly moved to make like he hadn't seen her.
"Yes, can I have a martini please?"
Her voice was sweet and sultry and it drove Max mad. Never had he heard anything sweeter, than the voice of this angel.
Max gave her a one over and held a groan that waited to erupt from the pit of his stomach.
Liz felt uncomfortable. She had only come in a few minutes ago and already she was getting looks. Her only reason for coming to this place was to get out from the cold, to forget her problems for a while. Maria had always tried talking her into coming into one of these places, but Liz had refused, saying that it was inappropriate and only women who were desperate for company came to these places. Now here she was wallowing in her own self-pity, as desperate as the woman she had so arrogantly, criticized.
Liz tapped her fingers on the bar, and looked around again, at the couples dancing. The sax player was looking her way and had a goofy smile making her feel uneasy so she turned away. Her eyes turned to the bartender who was making her drink; she felt a few of the drops from her wet hair fall onto her face. Her hair was still wet and seemed to be dripping water. She reached for a set of napkins near a dark haired soldier, but as her hand went for it, so did his.
Liz’s pulled her hand back, quickly and lifted her eyes to meet his.
“I am so sorry, I didn’t know that….”
Her mouth could no longer produce words when she stared into his beautiful, hazel eyes. They were unbelievable and penetrating. With just once glance Liz felt herself fall into the deep abyss of sadness and pride that was displayed in his eyes.
Max was not much better, off. He had wanted to see her eyes earlier, but he never thought that looking into them would enrapture him. Her dark brown pools displayed as much sadness as he was feeling. They were so full of pride and stubbornness only making him want to get lost in them, in her, and all her emotions radiating from her.
Finally Max and Liz were brought out of their lost state by the bartender attempting to get Liz’s attention. He was waiting for payment and took notice that it would take more than a simple “ma’am” or “sir” to bring these two out of their love induced haze.
He gently tapped Liz’s shoulder calling her
“Oh sorry. Thank you, how much?”
“I’ve got it.”
Max’s hand went for his wallet and pulled out the money to pay for Liz’s drink. He handed it to the bartender and turned to Liz, who was already protesting.
“No, that’s alright, I can pay for it.”
“No it’s okay, besides I want to. You don’t owe me anything, consider it a sorry for trying to take the last napkin.”
Liz smiled. This stranger whom she had never met, and just shared an awe-inspiring moment with, was buying her a drink, and was very much genuinely polite. He wasn’t trying to pick her up or pass a line off on her like Kyle would have, but just did it to be nice.
Max had never felt so connected to a stranger. He felt it the moment she walked in, but when their hands met and he looked into her eyes, he knew that he felt something, something he had never, nor would ever, feel. He bought her the drink because he felt the need to express in some small way what he was feeling.
Okay so buying her a drink would not be considered a form of expressing just how touching this small beautiful woman, had made him feel, but it was a start of a conversation, and right now, Max felt the need to be near her.
“I’m Lieutenant Max Evans. I’m sorry about the napkin thing, I should have asked if you needed it.”
“Hi, Liz Parker, and don’t’ worry about it, I should have asked if it was yours. It’s just that my hair is dripping wet and I needed to wipe the water from my face. It really started pouring out there.”
Max watched as she wiped her face. She was right, her hair was wet, but the dark strands glittered in the light. Max focused his attention back on her face. She was such a natural beauty and she didn’t wear as much make up as the other girls. Her demeanor was sweet and she looked so innocent.
“So tell me Miss Parker, what brings a lovely lady like you to a place like this on a cold wet night?”
Max tried to ease the mood and get to know this woman before she somehow disappeared.
“Well, actually you could say I just stumbled in.”
Max smiled at her and she felt as though she was going to melt in that instant, but she was quickly brought back to reality when her legs began to tremble, reminding her just how tired she was from the long walk.
“I’m sorry Lt. Evans, but I just walked quite a ways here and I need to sit down…” Before Liz could think about her next sentence her mouth asked the question that would seal their fate for the night.
“…would you like to join me?”
Max couldn’t believe his ears. Here she was sitting in front of him and she was actually asking him to sit with her.
“I’d love to.”
Max and Liz walked over to her table, sat down and got to know each other, not really going into detail about their personal lives but generally discussing current events and their careers. They spent the night drinking and talking enjoying one another’s company and forgetting their worries.
Max watched as Alex packed up his instrument and followed some of his band mates. He stopped briefly to talk to Max, and tell him he was leaving, and tipped his hat to Liz. Alex passed behind Liz giving Max a thumb's up, approving of his choice in women. Max rolled his eyes and waved Alex a good bye before turning his attention back to Liz. The night went rather quickly and Max looked at his watch. It was midnight, and they had been talking for hours now.
“Well I guess it’s getting late, and I’ve had too many drinks to even hail a taxi if I tried, would you like me to walk you home?”
Liz was pleased to have Max walk her home and quickly nodded. As they stepped outside and Max assisted her in putting on her coat, they walked into the cold crisp air. It had seemed as though the rain had let up long enough so that they could at least get home, but it was still cold, and without thinking Max, placed his arm around Liz to warm her up.
Liz never even flinched as Max did this. Maybe she had too much to drink, or perhaps her emotions had completely gotten the better of her and had allowed her to throw caution to the wind. Whatever it was, she liked it. She liked Max Evans’ arms around her.
As they walked Liz quickly remembered she had no where to go. She stopped abruptly, surprising Max with her actions.
“Is everything alright, Liz”
“I’m sorry Max, it’s just that I remembered something.”
“What? Did you forget something at the club? We can go back and get it if you want?”
Liz felt a sense of peace come over her and she couldn’t help but smile up at him. Here she was worried about a problem he knew nothing about and he was all too eager to help her.
“No, that’s not it. Actually it’s kind of silly. You see I live a few blocks from here but my roommate is having company over, and so I have to find a hotel to stay in for the night. I’m sorry it’s just been quite a night and I forgot. You better go on home and I’ll just continue down to the nearest hotel.”
Max smiled, she was so beautiful, and now he had the chance to help her again. He wasn’t quite ready to say goodnight to this beautiful woman, and this was the perfect opportunity to be able to help her and have her near him.
“I hope I am not being too forward, I know we have only known each other for a few hours, and I would understand if you said no, but I would be honored Miss Parker, if you were to stay with me. I have an empty house and you can stay in a spare bedroom. I promise nothing more but to offer you a goodnight’s rest. If you want I can even stay at my parent’s house, if you are uncomfortable staying with me alone, or you can stay with my parent’s they don’t live too far and once they meet you I am sure they would like you as much as I do.” Max blushed as he said this but felt the need to continue to convince her, till she relented.
Max was so busy trying to convince her to go home with him that he hadn’t noticed she had walked closer to him. He finally stopped his babbling when she placed a finger too his lips.
“I would love to.... stay at your house, that is.”
Max should have been surprised by her answer, but wasn’t. Instead he placed his arm around her shoulder again walking down to his home.
Max walked up the steps to his picturesque home and brought the keys out of his uniform pocket, he placed his hat under his arm as he began to fumble through the keys. He really didn’t know if it was because of the alcohol, or because he was standing near an angel, who called herself Liz, but he felt flustered and unable to find the key and properly insert it into the keyhole.
Liz’s hand covered his as he attempted, for the second time to unlock the door.
“Here let me try.”
Max took a deep breath, breathing in her scent. It was divine, she smelled like vanilla and her hair like strawberries. He tried to stifle the moan that escaped his lips, but he couldn’t, instead he was happy that she hadn’t heard it, as she opened the door.
“Thank you, I was having a bit of trouble trying to get it opened.”
Max walked in and Liz followed. His house was small, but generously decorated with flower-patterned wallpaper and classic furniture of the time. It was a warm and comfy home that Liz liked.
After Max had helped her out of her coat she ran her fingers over the end table by the couch and took in the decorating and the living room as a whole.
“My mom did the decorating. But Tess…”
Then he stopped.
“Tess? Is that you girlfriend?”
Liz let the questions fall from her lips with a note of disappointment.
“No, she’s no one.”
Max’s tone was angry and that glint of pride that Liz had seen earlier was once again evident in his eyes.
*Whoever Tess, is I hope she was smart and left before she could do anymore damage to this wonderful man* Liz’s thoughts filtered through her head as she sat down.
Max hung up their coats and his hat and turned the lights on in the kitchen. It had only been a few hours since he had kicked Tess out and had felt such pain, and anger, yet here he was with Liz, and he couldn’t be happier. It was amazing the effect she had on him.
“Can I get you anything, Liz? Coffee, Tea?”
“No, I’m fine thank you. Max, you have a nice home, it’s so peaceful and full of warmth. I like it.”
Max smiled as he sat across from her in the dark velvety armchair.
“Thank you. I love it here, the neighborhood is quiet, and I must admit I love living near the ocean, and I’m a white picket fence kind of guy.
Liz chuckled at his last remark.
“So tell me Max, you told me all about the different places you’ve been to since you were drafted, but what do you do when you aren’t fighting in the this disastrous war?”
Max looked into her eyes and noticed the sadness that lingered when she mentioned the war.
“I’m a doctor, a surgeon to be exact, that’s why I was drafted. My expertise was needed. I guess I could see my choice of career as a blessing and a curse.”
Max’s last statement brought tears to her eyes. Here was this man who probably saw more death than she had and he still managed to see the good side of it. When Max saw the tears slip down Liz’s cheeks he hurried over to her.
“Liz, I’m sorry I didn’t mean it, I love being a doctor. Really I do, it’s just there is so much sadness and death. I thought you would understand since you’re a nurse.”
Liz lifted her head to look into his worrisome eyes.
“It’s okay Max, I’m okay. I am so sorry. It’s just that, you understand how I feel, about all this war business, and well it makes me angry and sad that people like my father can’t see the importance of our service to those who are off in other countries fighting for others who are being persecuted. I guess I let my emotions get the better of me. I must be a sight to see. I am so pathetic.”
Liz couldn’t help but feel the anger and resentment swell up within her. She was hurt. Hurt because her father couldn’t see how important her job was to her. How helping people brought her joy, And how special these people were.
Max lifted Liz’s chin so that he could look into her eyes.
“Liz Parker, you are beautiful, and I understand everything you’re feeling, because I feel the same way. You are no more pathetic than the soldiers overseas risking their lives for others.”
He placed a soft kiss on her lips, as a gesture of comfort but it soon became more for both of them.
When Max’s lips descended on hers, Liz only felt warmth spread over her and she never wanted anyone more than Max, in that instant. She kissed him back, with passion and soon found her tongue sneaking out pleading with Max to deepen the kiss.
Max had let all his inhibitions go and complied. He had only known Liz, a few short hours but he already knew that whatever she asked of him, he would do, and/or give. And more than anything he wanted to taste her, and feel her.
The kiss was incredible. Their tongues were dueling and devouring one another, and the feelings of desperation and need to be closer was increasing.
Finally Liz pulled away.
“Oh God, Max I am so sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“No. Liz, I’m sorry, I brought you here to sleep, nothing more, I promise. I am so sorry.”
When she realized he was apologizing to her for doing something she wanted, something she had hoped he would do since she had met him, her lips again descended on his mouth.
Max was surprised by her actions but did not relent; he brought his hands to her face and ran his fingers through her hair. Liz’s hands took the bold move of going around Max’s neck and pulling her to him as she fell against the pillows of the couch. They were passionately kissing now and without even thinking Liz’s hands went to the buttons of Max’s uniform.
Max pulled away, and looked into Liz’s eyes.
“Max, will you make love to me?”
Max could not believe what she was asking, of course he wanted her, but she barely knew him, and she was actually asking him to make love to her, not sex, but love?
Max never gave her an answer but instead picked her up wrapping her arms around his neck, holding her to his chest, and carried her into his bedroom.
|posted on 2-Jan-2002 11:21:59 AM|
Liz could feel Max’s breathing becoming erratic, as he nuzzled her neck. He pushed the door open revealing the large master bedroom with the king size maple framed bed. The moon was bright and full and it’s light was shining through the bay window. Liz felt so at home, that it almost frightened her. It was a rare feeling.
Max brought her to the foot of the bed and placed her down so that she was sitting on the soft velvety bedspread. She kicked off her heels and Max stood watching her every move. His eyes took in every inch of her in the moonlight, and he was in awe, that here she was on his bed, a bed he hadn’t slept in, in almost a year. And now he was about to share it with the woman of his dreams. Liz shifted in position and was kneeling before him. She removed her red sheathe evening dress and pulled Max to her and undoing the rest of the buttons to the uniform jacket, her fingers moving quickly as she felt the heat of his body resonate from him. Max could do nothing but submit himself to her every desire. His hands roamed her body that was still covered by her satiny slip.
As Liz pushed his jacket off of his shoulders revealing his white undershirt, his hands roamed up from her calves to her thighs and even further till he reached her stalkings, and the garters, which held them up. He felt himself immediately harden at the thought of removing them.
He stilled his movement in hopes of gaining some sort of self-control, before making passionate love to his angel. Liz watched as Max stopped abruptly and noticed his jaw was tight and clenched. She brought her hand up to caress his jaw line and moved in closer and tilting her head up to meet his, she pulled him into a kiss. He immediately responded by kissing her back. His tongue, tasting every crevice of her mouth, but then the kiss was broken, allowing the cold air to come between them, Max finished the task of undressing himself. He never could have remembered feeling this way. Not with Tess, or any other woman he had ever met. So forward, and captured by the moment. It was exhilarating and scary all at the same time.
When he was free from the confines of conventional clothing, and stood before Liz in only his boxers, he proceeded in ravishing the angelic creature before him. His head moved down to meet her and his lips hovered over hers, relishing the thought of her kisses, and her body beneath his.
Liz melted when Max brought his lips to hers again and she felt his arms go around her, pushing her back on to the bed. She relaxed immediately in his embrace and let the passion wash away all of her previous inhibitions. Max’s mouth broke away from hers as his moist mouth enraptured every inch of her neck, his kisses leaving a stream of fire upon her skin. Liz lost control when she felt Max’s hand go back to her legs and his fingers glided up her thighs to the hem of her slip and he lifted it revealing the garters he felt earlier. He pulled the slip off and away from her body with some assistance from Liz, and then proceeded to remove the nylon material still clinging to her legs, slowly undoing the garter. Liz whispered his name as he rolled the nylon down her left leg and repeated the process on her right one.
She felt his manhood pressing against her, and was amazed that she had such power over him. She moaned when she felt Max’s mouth making it’s way back up her body placing kisses on her stomach, and up to her heaving breasts. He looked up at her, asking for permission with his ever-penetrating eyes, before continuing the task of pleasing her.
Liz answered him with actions instead of words bringing his mouth down onto her supple breast. He spent a good while ravishing her body before he made his way back up to her lips. She was so warm and aroused, he realized he had no control left.
Max fervently kissed Liz placing all of his raw emotions and passion into one kiss before he stood up and removed the last barrier of clothing. When finished with the task he hovered over her once more and closed the distance once again and guided himself into her awaiting heat. Liz gasped at the joining of their two bodies, and whispered into Max’s ear,
“Home, You’re home, Max.”
Max smiled so grateful in hearing the words coming from her mouth and kissed her again. As he felt the tightness of her feminine walls surround him he began to move within her stopping when he felt it.
This was her first time.
Max panicked. The realization of how fast things had moved from buying one simple drink to making love, hit him, and hard. He had gotten such a strong sense that he knew her so well, that it dawned on him in that instant he didn’t really know her at all. His head shot up and his eyes met hers. She was blushing and turned her head to avoid his gaze.
“I understand if you don’t want to make love to me, Max. I’m not as experienced as most women, I guess.”
Max’s heart ached at her statement.
Not want to make love to her? That was all he wanted to do, not because he had been hurt or because she was beautiful, or because she was his angel, but because he needed her. He had never felt so complete till now.
Max’s hand went to her face and he gingerly brought her face to meet his gaze.
“More than anything Liz, I want to make love to you, but I don’t want to hurt you. You are sharing something so special with me and I don’t want to ruin that for you.”
Liz smiled. She had never felt such warmth, security or love.
“Then make love to me Max.”
With the murmur of those last words Max placed a sweet soft kiss on her lips sealing their fate together. Max still hesitated in moving and so Liz arched up to meet Max as they broke the barrier of Liz’s innocence and embarked on pure ecstasy. Max allowed Liz to adjust to him, before slowly beginning a rhythm. It was slow and gentle at first and soon became fast paced and each thrust filled with ardor. The rhythm of their love making increased and mimicked the rhythm of their hearts beating as one, and after moments of meeting each other’s movements, the sensations and eroticism of the moment exploded and washed over Max and Liz in waves, of satisfaction and pleasure.
Liz cried out and Max held her to him, caressing her cheek and placing kisses on every inch of her face as she floated back down from the sensations still running through her body. Soon after her cry was heard, Max’s own cry of passion matched hers in rawness. Her name trickling from his lips as his love for her did the same within her.
Max had never experienced anything like their lovemaking. It sprouted feelings of pure joy and comfort and for him…love.
He fell into a peaceful sleep as his hand moved through her raven dark hair and her steady breathing lulled him into a dream of peace and a possible life with Liz.
Liz, let her eyes flutter close at the feel of Max’s warm body pressed to hers and the feel of his bare skin touching hers, allowing her body to savor the feelings of pleasure it just endured. She had just done something so uncharacteristic and instead of feeling guilt because everything she was brought up with had gone flying out the window when she met Max, she reveled in the feel of his embrace and the sensations of their afterglow. She realized in that moment that it was more for her. She didn’t just feel a small connection to Max; she loved him. Her heart told her that, her body hummed with the feeling and her soul felt as if it were intertwined with his.
Sleep overcame her and she felt into the deepest of sleep.
Dawn broke and the sunlight cascaded through the window, the pacific breeze making the curtains flow. Liz felt the cold breeze on her bare shoulders, waking her from her dream. She smiled at the feel of Max’s arms around her and the firm smooth skin of his chest. She was lying across his chest, her hand unconsciously running over his stomach. She felt safe and warm and wanted to be there forever. He was still asleep and his hair was disheveled from their night of passion. He was beautiful, whether in a state of consciences or unconsciousness. His face no longer held an expression of pain like it had when she met him, and after what she had experienced with him last night, Liz learned Max was a gentle soul right down to his caresses. She wanted to watch him, she wanted to just lye there with him and wake up with him. But then reality hit her. Liz’s eyes took in the room. It was light out and the room was bright with sunlight.
*Heaven* That’s what the moment reminded her of.
Liz ‘s hands trailed up to Max’s face and caressed his warm skin. She savored the moment of lying in bed with him, their nude bodies touching and the feelings of security and comfort enveloping them. Liz couldn’t help but look at the room around her. It was beautifully decorated like the rest of the house and everything matched, which screamed a mother’s touch. The wallpaper was not flowered in the bedroom, but painted antique white, bringing out the color of the plush carpet and the wonderful maple furniture.
A smile touched Liz’s lips.
Her eyes wandered to the dresser. Liz could feel the cold breeze on her shoulders once again and decided she wanted to wear one of Max’s shirts. She was going to make him breakfast as a thank you for all they had shared last night. She wrapped the sheet around her body making sure that Max was covered, wrapped in the warm bedspread. She headed over to the solid maple dresser and pulled open the top drawer. Inside she was surprised to find woman’s underwear. Not just underwear, but lingerie.
Liz stared down at the material. She felt the taste of bile rise up in her throat. She ran to the bathroom, trying to keep from being sick, as all her emotions seemed to swirl around in the pit of her stomach. She entered the bathroom only to find bottles of perfumes and lotions. Things only women would have enough consideration to buy.
Liz was in total shock. Max had mentioned something about a Tess, but they way he spoke made her think that he hated her that she was in the past, not someone he lived with. Liz made her way out of the bathroom quietly, picking up her clothing from the floor and silently getting dressed. She tried to keep the tears from streaming down her cheeks but she couldn’t help it. As she slipped on her last heel, she grabbed her purse and coat, and closed the door behind her.
Max, had no real sense of what time it was. He didn’t care. He could still smell the scent of her shampoo in the air, and it was intoxicating. He knew she had gotten up sometime ago and he heard her in the bathroom, but he didn’t quite remember how long ago that was. He arose from his groggy state running his fingers through his hair and his smile reaching from ear to ear. He had never felt this way before, happy to wake up and with the need to hold her again.
Max walked into his bathroom and found his robe, which he quickly put on. He went through his morning routine of shaving and brushing before going to find his angel. He thought perhaps she had walked outside, to enjoy the breeze and the ocean view his backyard held. As soon as he finished he walked down the hallway calling her name, but to his dismay she did not respond. He called to her again but this time a sense of panic had set in and he was wandering through the house calling for her. Finally he entered the kitchen and on the table was a piece of paper with writing. His name was on it, and Max knew instantly what it was. He didn’t have to read it to know.
Later that small note, would keep him alive through the painful days and lonely nights, but for now it was the source of all sadness and emptiness his heart was feeling and would feel until he found her again.
Max sat in the nearby chair cradling his face in his hands, and did something he had never done in his entire life….
Liz tried to run faster; faster than her legs could take her but it was no use. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t run from the pain, from the memories that were now embedded in her mind, and in her heart.
Only moments before was in the arms of a man she had come to love and had spent the most memorable night with him, only to have it all shattered by lies. But who was the liar? Was it Max?
* It was my fault! *
Her thoughts screamed out to her the truth she was trying to deny. It was her fault, she actually believed that she could run from her problems. All those discussions with her father about not needing a husband and her countless efforts to convince him she didn’t need a man, only to jump in bed with the first guy she met, at the first sign of pain, anger or need. She relied on Max to take her pain away, and he did. Because as much as Liz didn’t want to admit it, Max healed her. In one night he gave her peace and helped her to not just see life, but to live it. She tried to deny all of the emotions that ran through her head, of the night before only to be faced with them again.
Liz found it ironic to be in the same situation, which lead to meeting Max. Here she was walking the streets of San Francisco lost in thought, once again. But this time there was no Max to run to, only run from. When she finally reached her apartment, she unlocked the door and entered the small two-bedroom apartment she called home.
The apartment was surprisingly quiet, and clean. Usually after one of Maria’s dates, Liz would find clothes strewn all over the floor and the apartment a complete mess. Dishes in the sink and burned out candles throughout the apartment were signs that someone got lucky.
Liz entered slowly trying to make it to her room, quietly without waking anyone, in case Maria’s friend was still asleep. She had once encountered one of Maria’s “friends” and had the displeasure of seeing too much of him. Liz had never been more embarrassed in her life and since then she had been extra careful when coming in and out of her room.
As she turned the knob to her bedroom she felt a tap on her shoulder.
Liz jumped in nervousness and spun around to find a very wide-awake Maria.
“Maria? It’s nearly seven in the morning, what are you doing up? And more importantly why is the apartment so clean? Don’t tell me your friend was a butler of some sort?”
“Very funny Lizzie. No butler, just a jerk, so fifteen minutes into our date, I kindly escorted his cute, yet rude behind out.”
Liz was astonished, * Maria actually ended a date and kicked a guy out? Wow, that was a first. Last night seemed to be a first for everyone. *
Liz giggled at the thought. She knew she should have been more upset, but no matter how betrayed she felt she somehow did not regret what happened between her and Max.
“So where were you? I called your dad’s house last night and he told me you left. He’s had people looking for you all night. He called me at five in the morning asking if had heard from you. I wasn’t too worried about you, I figured you probably got so angry with him you went to the hospital and worked off the hostility. But as I look at you right now, I am wondering if maybe I should be worried. You look like that cat that swallowed the canary. So dear Lizzie, do tell, where were you?”
Liz smiled, and tried to avoid Maria’s gaze. Maria was her best friend, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to tell her just yet or at all for that matter, what she had been up to.
“You were right, I went to the hospital. I decided to get some work in. Listen Maria, I am really tired, and I am just going to take a shower and then go to bed, catch up on those lost hours of sleep. Do you mind?”
Maria looked into Liz’s eyes. For as long as she had known Liz, she knew one thing for sure about her, she was the worst liar this side of the Golden Gate Bridge. She would let it go, for now, but later she would get the truth out of her.
“Sure, you go and take that nice warm shower, I’ll just go make breakfast.”
As Liz closed the door to her bedroom she leaned her back against it and slid to the floor. For the first time in the last 48 hours, Liz let all of the pent up emotions flow out of her in a river of tears and pain.
Two months later…
Max awoke from his dream, feeling groggy and sore. He knew that he had arrived in the city, yet all he really remembered about the trip were the dreams. Every night he dreamed of her. The way her hair fell over her shoulder and flowed down her back like a beautiful dark waterfall. The way her lips tasted and how sweet her hair smelled, like summer strawberries.
These were the memories that kept him sane when he would hear the bombing begin, and feel the ground shake from the explosions, or when he heard the cries of soldiers, in pain. At the thought his hands went to his pockets. It was then that he realized he wasn’t in uniform, and he wasn’t home. His head darted up and he tried to sit up. The room was white and smelled of disinfectant. Oddly familiar, perhaps because it had been such a long time since he had been in such a clean place. When he looked to his surroundings he could see the sun filtering through the glass window. It was in some odd way comforting to be away from all the death and sadness that came with being in the war.
Suddenly a nurse entered the room; her hair pulled back and the white uniform stiffly clinging to her body.
“Ah Lt. Evans, or should I call you Doctor?”
She was sweet and her dark hair only served to remind him of Liz.
“Lieutenant is fine. I’m sorry but I really don’t remember where I am.”
“Oh well that might be do to the fact that you have been asleep for a few days. What is the last thing you remember? Perhaps I can fill you in.”
Max was somewhat hesitant, but knew he had to find out why he was here.
“Well…um…lets see I was somewhere outside of Berlin when our camp was raided and in a weak attempt to stop a German soldier from taking the last of our medical supplies, I was shot. I know that I was found sometime later and after that things got fuzzy. I know for a fact that I was somehow rescued and after finally being treated I was sent to London?”
These thoughts were questionable and Max was unsure of what was real and what had been a dream. He watched as the nurse nodded her agreement
“… and from London I was then sent to New York. I believe I then met up with a friend of mine and we took a train across country, but I don’t remember anything after that.”
The nurse laughed.
“Yes well I am not surprised, things probably got fuzzy after that, as it should have. You see you arrived in San Francisco and it seems your wound began to bleed out. You lost a substantial amount of blood, doctor it was a surprise that we were able to get you here in time and provide you with enough blood. I say, you owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Guerin. Unfortunately our blood supply was low and he was kind enough to donate. You are doing much better now. We just need you to recuperate. Oh and no more traveling for you.”
The nurse smiled and looked him over checking his wound and bandages. As she walked to the door Max called out to her.
“Nurse, I’m sorry but you never mentioned where here is, exactly.”
“Oh well I thought you would know…I mean you do live here don’t you? You’re home Lt. Evans. You’re in San Francisco Memorial Hospital. Now if you need anything please don’t hesitate to let me know.”
And with that the nurse exited the room, leaving Max with his thoughts.
* Home, it feels so long since I could even think about coming home, let alone being here. Is this real? And Michael…he actually saved my life? I mean one thing is to help me across enemy lines but to give me blood. Well I guess it’s true what they say, war changes people. *
Liz rushed in through the doors of San Francisco Memorial frantically removing her sweater and fixing her hair. As she arrived at the nurse’s station she found Maria talking to Betty arranging the small cups with water and medication.
“Finally! What happened to you? I mean I know you haven’t been feeling well lately but Liz, you are almost two hours late.”
Liz tried to stay in control of her emotions. She grabbed the tray from Maria, abruptly prompting Maria to question her behavior.
“Okay hold your horses their young lady. What is wrong with you? I mean you walk in here late and not so much as offer an apology, or give me a thanks for covering for you, and now you are acting as if you’re the one who should be angry.”
Liz looked up at Maria. She tried to hold it in, she tried to stay in control, but with everything that had happened to her in the last few hours, she couldn’t help but break down. Liz began to cry, her whole body shaking with emotion and tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Oh God, Liz I am so sorry. Oh sweetie, I am not mad, really I’m not, I’ve just been worried about you.”
Liz took deep breaths trying to compose herself and failing miserably.
“Oh God Maria, no it’s not your fault, it’s all my fault. Oh God Maria what am I going to do?”
Maria grabbed the tray from Liz before she could drop it and handed it to Betty, who was watching the scene unravel before her. Betty loved any kind of gossip and right now she was getting a front row seat to a very interesting story. She grabbed the tray and placed back on the table waiting and listening to see what would happen next.
Maria turned to Betty once again, giving her the “evil eye”, prompting Betty to move and tend to the patients on the floor.
Maria pulled Liz to one of the chairs and sat her down.
“Okay sweet cheeks, tell me what happened.”
Liz wiped the tears from her eyes and looked up at her best friend. She finally came to the end, everyone would find out soon anyway.
“Oh God Maria, I don’t know where to start, it all happened so fast. I guess I should start at the beginning. That night two months ago…do you remember when I argued with my dad and didn’t come home?”
“Yeah, you came and worked here at the hospital, right? I mean that’s what you told me.”
“I know, and I also know that you didn’t believe me, and yet you never questioned me. Thank you.”
Maria was beginning to worry. Whatever Liz was trying to tell her, she knew it had to be important.
“You’re welcome, you know I love you, but please will you just tell me, already? I’m going to die of suspense if you don’t hurry up and tell me what this is about.”
Liz had calmed down enough to speak clearly and stop crying, although a tear or two would run down her cheek, occasionally.
“Okay, well that night my father and I had an argument about Kyle and my life. The same old argument we always have. But this time I was really upset. He called my actions stupid, Maria. I was so angry and I wanted to get back at him, so I found myself walking, just walking and thinking. Before I knew it, I was in the pouring rain, not to far from home. I was alone, wet and had no place to go. So I went into the first place that was dry and clean, that being the Blue Spot Jazz Club. I remembered you had talked about going there a few times and I thought I would just wait the rain out. But while I was there, I met someone. He was wonderful Maria, and I know I didn’t know him for long but just those hours we spent talking…they were…”
“Wait! You met someone, and you didn’t tell me about it?”
“Maria! Please let me finish, and you’ll understand everything.”
Maria nodded her head and watch Liz intently as she finished her story.
“Well we talked into the night and Maria, he had these eyes…they revealed his soul, and what I saw was something that touched me. He was in pain, and I guess I understood that pain. Well it got real late and he offered to walk me home, but I soon remembered I didn’t have anywhere to go. I thought you had your friend over, and I was still so angry at my father, so I was going to stay at a hotel, but Max offered me his home….”
“Okay I am sorry to interrupt you Liz, but this all seems very unlike you. What I mean is, you meet a total stranger, and you allow him to walk you home, all the while claiming to see into his soul, not to mention he offers you his home to sleep in. I know you were distraught, but this is ridiculous.”
Liz tried to keep her smile hidden from Maria.
“Maria, I know what you’re thinking but you have to understand, I was drinking and he was drinking and we were both in a very bad place to be thinking rationally. I mean I am very old fashioned you know this, and so is he. “
Maria sighed in relief.
“Good, then nothing happened, he offered you a nice place to stay in and then you came home.”
“Well, not really. I know you aren’t going to understand this…then again maybe you will. But Max and I…we…well we…”
“Oh my God, Liz are you telling me that that scoundrel took advantage of you?”
“God no, Maria! I wanted to. We made love Maria, and I know what you’re going to say, we only knew each other a couple of hours, but I have never felt so close to someone like I did Max. I felt connected to him, and to tell you the truth, as much as I hate admitting this I was the aggressor. I wasn’t looking to be lady like and yet he was such a gentleman.”
Maria was shell-shocked. Finally after taking a deep breath she spoke.
“Oh well…okay you left me with out words, do you know how strange this is Lizzie? I mean YOU, Miss responsible, up and had a one-night stand. What would Mrs. Masters, your charm school teacher think?”
Maria started into a fit of laughter, then suddenly stopped.
“Maria, that’s enough.”
Liz suddenly had the most serious expression and was fidgeting with the buttons of her uniform, as if she was embarrassed.
“I’m sorry again Liz, tell me what happened next.”
“Well the morning after I was so happy. For me this wasn’t a one-night thing. I fell in love with him, as ludicrous as it may sound. Max was so loving and caring and he made me feel more than I have felt in my entire life.”
“Men will do that for you honey, but it isn’t something you can build a happily ever after on.”
“I know Maria, so when I woke up I wanted to make him breakfast, I wanted to get to know him to love him and share with him how I felt, and hopefully would come to find out he felt the same way. But as I took in the room something bothered me. I went to his top drawer hoping to find a shirt of his that I could wear, but instead I found a drawer full of negligees and women’s belongings.”
“The jerk! I knew it, I knew there had to be something wrong with him.”
“No Maria, Max never lied to me. He mentioned a Tess, that night. We didn’t’ discuss it, but I knew, somehow I knew. I was so upset, I didn’t even think before I pulled my close on and left, but not before leaving him a note.”
A single tear threatened to spill from her eyes, and Liz’s arms went around herself in an attempt to keep the emotions inside.
“Oh Liz, I’m so sorry, I know you must have been hurt. I wish you had told me. I could have helped.”
“No Maria, it’s over, and as hurt as I was, I never regretted that night with Max. Because even to this day, he has my heart, and I will never forget how he made me feel. That one night helped me to see things. I took a few days after that to look at my life, and I realized a few things.”
“So this is why you’ve actually been getting along with your dad recently? I mean you two haven’t argued since that night. But now I have two questions…first, if you fell for this guy, why on Earth are you seeing Kyle Valenti again? And secondly, what does this have to do with why you’re crying?”
Liz could feel the lump in her throat threaten to bring forth her tears once more.
“Oh Maria, for almost a month, I’ve suspected I was…pre…pregnant.”
Liz could see Maria’s eyes grow wider and her mouth form words, so Liz stopped her before she could speak.
“Maria, let me finish. So about a month ago, when I began to suspect that I was pregnant, or could be, I decided I would pay Max a visit. I didn’t know if I wanted to tell him just yet, but I just wanted to see…I guess I wanted to see if he was happy…with Tess. But when I arrived at his house, he wasn’t home. I ran into a woman watering his plants. She asked me if I was looking for Max, and I told her I was a friend. She informed me that she was Max’s mother, Diane Evans and that Max had gone back to the War. I think I felt her heart break as much as mine was when she said that. I suppose it’s about a mother’s fear for her child and maybe that’s why I felt the need to talk with her. She invited me in and we spoke for several hours, about everything, and nothing. I must admit I did learn a lot from the conversation. I understand now about the lingerie in the drawer. They belonged to Max’s ex-fiancé, Tess. The night we met he had thrown her out, because he found her with someone else. God Maria, I saw that in his eyes. I saw the pain and all I wanted to do was help him heal. Don’t you see he helped me to heal, and realize who I am? And I only pray I was able to help heal him in the process, too.”
“Okay so you suspected you were pregnant, and you had a long talk with Max’s mother. What does that have to do with today? I am so sorry Liz that all this happened, but I am so confused now, more than ever.”
“Well today I saw my doctor, and I’m positive I’m pregnant. That’s why I was so upset, I guess keeping all of this in has really been a chore. And Kyle…well after I suspected I maybe pregnant and that Max was back serving in the war, I realized he may never come back, and even if he did, there was a possibility he wouldn’t feel the way I felt. So soon after I started seeing Kyle again. I don’t want my father to know about what happened, and it’s going to be hard with the progression of the pregnancy, so I decided to start seeing Kyle again, and well he’s already talking marriage so…”
Maria stood up bringing attention to herself, and her outburst.
“Maria, sit down. Please.”
Maria took her seat once more and looked at Liz with her look of determination.
“Liz, I know you are desperate, but honey, marrying Kyle? That is the worst possible thing you can do? Besides if you are as far along as you know you are, do you really think he is going to believe you’re pregnant with his baby? This is a disastrous idea.”
“Maria, I know. There is one thing Kyle wants, and it’s not my virtue. I told him I was with someone before him, but that it didn’t work out. He agreed to put the past behind us and move forward. He doesn’t know I’m pregnant but when I do tell him, I know he won’t fail to accept this child. He would rather lie and say the child is his, than to allow people to know that the only women he has sought out, rejected him and is now carrying some other man’s baby. I guess the real question is whether I want to marry him. We’re supposed to have dinner tomorrow night and announce our engagement to my father. I guess there is no turning back now.”
Liz stood to her feet and walked back over to the nurse’s station, leaving a Maria speechless.
|posted on 2-Jan-2002 11:23:00 AM|
Michael Guerin entered the clean white walled hospital room and winked at the brunette nurse who had just finished with Max.
“Always the flirt.”
Michael strode over to Max’s bedside and plopped himself down into a chair handing Max a package.
“Your mom wanted me to give this to you.”
“My mom? She was here an hour ago why does she need you to give me something? What is it?”
Michael’s head moved to look at Max again. His head had been watching the nurses passing back and forth, from the door to Max’s room.
“Oh yeah I think it’s a quilt. She said the blankets here weren’t warm enough and that you needed something warmer. She also sent cookies, but I got hungry on the way over. Sorry.”
Max stifled a laugh and placed the package off to the side.
“My mother can be such the worrier. I wonder about her sometimes. She was acting strange today, as if she wanted to tell me something, but was hesitant. I guess that’s just the way she is. So, what have you been up to since we got back?”
“Nothing much, same old same old. I moved the last of my things into your house, thanks for letting me stay with you.”
“I guess it was the least I could do considering you saved my life.”
“Yeah well, no big deal, besides, you’ve saved my hide more times than I could count. And if your mother keeps cooking and baking like she has been, I may never leave. She keeps sending me plates of the greatest home cooking I’ve ever had.”
“Yeah, you know my mom. She can drive my dad nuts, but she knows her way around a kitchen.”
“Oh before I forget, Isabel wanted me to tell you that she hopes you get well and that she loves you.”
“Is, actually cut time out of her busy schedule to tell you that? That’s a first.”
“Yeah well everyone was pretty worried about you. She’s still in Hollywood shooting her latest movie. From the way she talks you would think she was the star and not just one of the dancing girls.”
Max laughed at Michael’s comment. Isabel always made whatever she did sound glamorous, so it was to no surprise to anyone when she up and moved to California in search of stardom. She was actually leaving her mark, since she had already been in six movies. Of course the parts she often got were some of the smaller roles, but she had made it none the less.
“Yeah well I just hope to see her soon. I think since she and Alex met this past Christmas, he sees her more often than I do. He definitely received letters from her and I was lucky to have her send you with a ‘get well’ message.
“Yeah well Isabel, seems to have her priorities set, and you should just be happy she was concerned”
“Yeah I guess you’re right. So Sgt. Guerin, who is the lucky dame tonight?”
Michael raised his eyebrow trying to give the innocent look.
“Well actually, that cute little nurse that was standing outside your room was cute and I asked her to have a drink with me after her shift was over…what’s her name…darn, I forgot it already.”
“Yeah, that’s it! She was cute.”
“Yeah she also talks a lot. I bet you’ll get an earful.”
“Hmmm…well anyway wish me luck?”
“As if you need luck to get lucky.”
Max watched as Michael left his room giving Betty one last wink before he made his way down the hospital hallway. Max smiled as the nurse entered his room with a dreamy look.
“Afternoon Lt. Evans. That friend of yours is a real charmer.”
Max just smiled at the poor girl. She was Michael’s next conquest, and she didn’t even know it yet.
“Yeah, that he is. Did you need to check my dressing again?”
The girl blushed and smiled a bright toothy smile, as if she was a teenage schoolgirl going on her first date.
“Oh no I am so sorry, I just came in to inform you that since I have the evening off, you are going to have a new nurse. She is very sweet and she will be attending you all night.”
“Oh well thank you, for letting me know. I will make sure and behave myself.”
Max gave her another half smile as he watched her leave again, for a minute he could have sworn he saw her skip out the door.
When he had made sure the nurse was gone, he slowly sat up and pushed back the blankets covering his body, swinging his legs over the right side of his bed and slowly making his way over to the small wardrobe which held his uniform. He paced himself as he took each step, making sure not to use too much effort to walk, in order to keep from bleeding again. When he finally made it to the wardrobe, he tried opening the door, only to find it was stuck. As he pulled on the small knob he jerked back and in the process aggravated his wound. His hands went to his left side praying the wound wouldn’t bleed again. The pain was so excruciating he closed his eyes and didn’t move for a few minutes, inhaling and exhaling slowly. When he finally opened his eyes, he was happy to see he was all right, no blood. He finally pulled his uniform jacket out of the small wardrobe and put his hands in the pockets, looking desperately for the small, yet tattered and torn paper. When he finally found it, he gave a sigh of relief.
After making it back into bed he unfolded the small note and looked at the dark letters that he had long since memorized.
I know you may not understand my departure, I am so confused right now and I am afraid, I don’t understand it very well either. I have for so long searched for someone like you. What we shared last night was the most amazing and unprecedented thing I have ever done in my life, and I will never regret it. I only hope and pray you can forgive me for not saying goodbye, and that you will be happy, with whomever you may find yourself with. Thank you for your kindness and gentleness, and I wish you the best. No matter where I go I will remember you and carry the memory of this night with me. Be happy Max.
Max pulled the letter away from his eyes and held it close to his chest. When he had first read the letter, he could smell the perfume. Liz’s perfume. It was what helped him through so many longing moments during the past two months. He had thought about her all too often. He had written so many letters addressed to her, but had no address to send them to. Yet, he kept writing, just to help him in keeping the hope. The hope that perhaps one day he would find her again, and maybe…just maybe, give her the letters. He wanted to ask her why she had left, but more importantly, he wanted to just be near her. He really didn’t care for an explanation, all right he did, but nothing was more important then seeing her again.
After he had rid his house of Tess’ belongings he spent the rest of his leave with his friends and family, enjoying the holiday, till he was shipped back to Europe. Since then he hadn’t heard anything about Liz, not that he would. He hardly knew her. A few days after their night together he had went back to the Jazz club to see if she was perhaps a regular, but she never showed. He knew she wouldn’t, but he had hoped beyond hope that she would.
Now here he was once again reading the note she left him. It served as a lifeline for him, and he wanted so much to relive the night they shared. To be able to look into her eyes and hold her.
He was brought out of his reverie some time later by nurse Betty entering his room.
“Hello Lt. Evans! I am just going to have one more look at your bandages and then your nurse for this evening will be arriving. I let her know that you were one of our better soldiers and that you would behave for her.”
Max liked Betty, she was sweet, and sometimes she reminded him of Liz. He often wondered what Liz’s bedside manner was like. She was so gentle and caring, and from the way she spoke of being a nurse he knew she enjoyed what she did.
The nurse looked at his dressing once more and then looked into his eyes before leaving. Her face displayed confusion and Max wondered why.
“Is there something wrong?”
The nurse’s expression again was quizzical and she approached him again.
“Lt. Evans, now I know for a fact that Dr. Gerling has given you specific instructions to stay in bed and not move. Your dressing is fine, but it looks as though you have not been following doctors orders.”
Max smiled innocently.
“Nurse, as a doctor I know how important it is to stay in bed and follow doctor’s orders. I promise you that I have not moved a muscle. Now don’t you worry, I’ll be good. “
The nurse couldn’t help but laugh as she nodded and exited Max’s room.
It was getting late and Max decided to take a nap before meeting his nurse for the night.
He drifted into a peaceful sleep, hoping to once again dream of Liz.
Liz walked out of the bathroom using her handkerchief to wipe away the signs of “morning” sickness. She had splashed cold water on her face in hopes that it would refresh her in some way. Already she could feel another wave of nausea hit her. She was tempted to run back in to the ladies room but sucked it up. She had work to do. She promised Betty she would cover for her, and since she had been so sick lately she felt she owed it to her.
Liz approached the nurse’s station and pulled out the clipboard, which held the information on the first patient, she would be tending to tonight.
She read through the files and looked at the clock on the wall. It read 6:00.
* Looks like it’s going to be a long night.*
Liz went from room to room making sure each of the patients, who were mostly soldiers, were comfortable and weren’t in need of anything. She had two more patients she needed to see, and was happy that soon she could get to sit down. She was feeling poorly and her nerves were a wreck thinking about her dinner with Kyle and father tomorrow. All she just wanted to do was sit down and think things through.
As she walked into the room of her last patient she read the name on the medical report, Evans, M.
The name struck a chord with her. That was Max’s last name. All her memories of that one night came flooding back to her. She had tried to forget it. To keep from thinking about how much she longed to see him again. But she couldn’t. He was gone. She didn’t even know if he was even alive. A doctor in the midst of war could easily be harmed or killed by one of the many raids.
Her heart sank. She wanted to sit down to just for a minute lose herself in the memory of Max’s arms the way he felt within her and how her name tumbled from his lips in ecstasy but that would all have to wait, for now she had a job to do.
She proceeded to enter the room, trying to be as quiet as possible. She saw the large figure asleep. He wore a white tank top and she could see his tanned skin. He had a muscular build, and from the doctor’s report, she knew he was also a soldier. She felt a sadness wash over her. For some reason this still figure whose face she hadn’t seen, already had a hold on her. Betty had mentioned him as being a sweetheart and that he was one of the better-looking patients. But to Betty all the soldiers were handsome.
Still, Liz couldn’t help but wish she could see Max again. He was the only soldier she wanted to see. No one could ever compare. He was the only one she would ever love.
She approached the sleeping figure, his back turned to her and she was happy that his bandaged side was accessible. She wanted to make sure he was all right and that his dressing was fine. When she walked closer to him and removed the large quilt that covered him and proceeded to tend to his wound. When she uncovered his body, she slowly ran her fingers over his side and pulled the waistband of his boxers down, gaining more access to his wounded area.
Max was having a magnificent dream.
Liz was in it again.
The dream had begun on a deserted island, where Liz was lying on the beach, sun bathing. Her skin tanned to perfection and glistening with sweat. She was lying on her stomach face down…topless. Her hair was swept to the side and her eyes were closed, leaving a peaceful expression on her face.
Max approached her slowly and as he did he realized his attire was as casual as hers. He wore swimming trunks and he could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on his skin. He was not as tanned as Liz was, but his skin took on an olive tone in the sun. He noticed this when he kneeled over Liz and ran his strong hands over her back. His fingers trailing her spine, moving up and down. He could hear the slight sigh escape her lips. He bent over her and placed soft kisses where his hands had just been, trailing up to her neck. Hi slips were still upon her skin when she turned over to look at him. He took in all of her beauty and watched as she raised her head to meet his lips with her own. His hands swiftly moved cupping her small beautiful face, deepening the kiss. He moaned when he felt her hands trail down his chest, then lower, suddenly going around to his back. He let out a slight groan He could feel her naked upper body pressed against his, which drew him even deeper into the abyss of her seduction.
Liz’s hand was moving across his back, caressing his exposed skin unconsciously. She felt guilty for uncovering him and allowing the cold air to meet his warm body. Now her hands were trying to warm him up as she finished her examination of his bandages.
Max couldn’t help but feel aroused. Liz’s hands were all over him, his back, his side, and he could smell the scent of her shampoo. It was as intoxicating as that night. He knew it was a dream, but he didn’t want it to end. Never had he had such a vivid dream. Suddenly he felt her apply pressure to his side, near his stomach. He felt a bit of pain, but he didn’t understand why. He called to her. His mouth forming her name.
The silence of the room was broken, as Liz tried to place a clean bandage over the soldier’s wound. He called out, something…her name.
Liz recognized the voice. She had only heard her name said that way once in her life.
Liz ‘s hand stopped her soothing motions on his back, and she attempted to pull away.
Max, realized that the pain he was experiencing was real. He awakened in time to feel the small warm hand rubbing his back, abruptly stop. Then he heard it…his name. The way she said it. He had never enjoyed hearing his name until she had let it spill from her lips. Every word that fell from her lips was like a note of beautifully orchestrated music.
His reflexes went to work when she pulled her hand from his side. He turned as quickly as he could in his condition in time to grab her wrist, and look into her eyes.
Liz looked into his enchanting, hazel eyes. She tried to speak but couldn’t find the words. She was dumbfounded. In that instant her body reacted for her. Her eyes rolled back and her body fell limp, as she fell to the floor.
Everything went dark, leaving her with one last look at a pale faced Max.
That was what Liz felt. She was embraced in strong arms and she felt secure once more. It was all a dream. Everything that had happened, it had to have been a dream.
Liz’s eyes fluttered open. She still felt lightheaded and she could barely make out the anguished face before her. The dark hair, and long lashes. Those piercing eyes. She recognized him once everything had come into focus. She wished it had all been a dream, but it wasn’t. She knew she where she was, and she also knew that she had found Max or rather he had found her.
Max pulled her closer to him, unwilling to let her go, as she attempted to sit up. When he saw her fall to the ground, he knew she had fainted. He felt helpless as he watched her. He wanted to help her, to catch her, but his wound prevented him from doing anything to quickly. He swiftly and as careful as he could, got out of bed and sat beside her, pulling her into his arms. He swept the few strands of dark hair away from her angelic face, revealing all of her exquisite features. He whispered into her ear, pleading with her to wake up.
She didn’t respond so he waited. He wanted to call out to one of the other nurses, but he was feeling selfish. He wanted to just hold her before someone came in and lifted her out of his arms. He called t her again, and caressed her cheek with the back of his hands reveling in the feel of it’s softness. She let out a soft moan, and he watched as her eyes fluttered open.
“Oh my head.”
Her voice was soft, almost a whisper. And her hand went to the back of her head.
“Shh! Liz, are you okay?”
Liz tried to sit up but she felt a bout of nausea come over her. She new all of these bouts of sickness were do to her pregnancy, but the reason it hit her more often was due to the stress. She rarely ate and when she did, she had no chance of actually digesting it before she was sitting over the toilet ridding herself of her previous meal.
She stared into Max’s eyes and lost herself before she heard him call her.
“Liz? Can you hear me? Are you okay?”
“What? Oh yes, I’m fine. I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“That’s all right, I must have given you quite a shock. I know I was surprised to see you.”
Liz attempted to sit up only to feel weakness wash over her body.
* What is wrong with me? *
It was as if her body was not cooperating with her. She wanted to get up. She wanted to run. But her body felt limp. Yet with all the emotions sifting through her head, she wanted to sit there with him, forever. To grab hold of him and tell him how she felt, and explain how she had jumped to conclusions. Sense took over and she gathered up her strength. She pushed herself up and held onto the bed not to far from where she lay. She felt him release her, allowing her to stand. She stood and looked down at him. He wasn’t moving His head was looking at the floor. She watched him and still he didn’t move.
“Uh Max? Don’t you think you should, get up off the cold floor?”
Max raised his head and couldn’t help but smile up at her.
“I would love to Liz, but it took great effort to get down here in the first place that I really don’t think I could manage to stand up on my own.”
Liz was confused at first, and then she realized what he meant. He was still an injured patient.
“Oh Max, I am so sorry! Please let me help you up.”
Liz grabbed his arm and together they made it to the bed and helped him get situated.
Liz couldn’t help but blush at the awkwardness of the situation. Here they were again, after months of being apart and with nothing to say. Liz took deep breaths, and finally met his gaze.
His eyes spoke so much and seemed to be the window to his soul, to who he was. When she first met him she wondered if everyone had seen what she saw in his eyes. The sadness, the heartbreak, the loss, or if perhaps it was something special they shared. They were able to gaze into each other’s eyes and know what to say or do to make each other feel better, even if they had only been together once.
Liz sat at his bedside and just stared at him, taking in every contour of his face. He had been through so much, and here he was smiling at her. His eyes were warm and inviting and she felt herself being pulled into the chasm that was his life. She wanted to fulfill his every need, and follow through with all the dreams she had wanted to make come true with him, but when his gaze faltered she once again felt doubt hit her.
*Maybe he doesn’t feel the same way.*
Max couldn’t explain the feelings radiating from her of acceptance and a sense of hope. He wondered if he was reading too much into what her eyes displayed. He couldn’t go through the disappointment of losing her again. He let his eyes drift downward, and looked to the note on his nightstand. She didn’t feel the same way otherwise she would have stayed.
Liz broke the silence of their thoughts.
“Max, I’m sorry for everything that happened. I didn’t mean to run out on you like I did. I was wrong.”
“Liz it’s alright, I am sure you had your reasons, as unsure of them as I may be.”
Liz tried to hide the guilt she felt she wanted to tell him everything. About finding Tess’ things, about her feelings for him and most importantly about the baby. His baby. But she couldn’t do any of those things, now.
“Well I suppose it’s best the way things turned out. I mean except for your getting shot. How are you, are you in any pain?”
Liz began to stand again, and was hit with another wave of her all too familiar nausea. She teetered and then regained her balance. Max took note of her condition. She was pale and a bit thinner. She looked as if she was going through a tough time, and here she was about to lose her lunch.
“I’m fine, but you don’t look well. Liz are you all right? You look sick.”
“I’m fine Max, nothing but a slight case of the flu. It’s hit me pretty hard. I am just going to make my rounds again. You will let me know if you need anything?”
Max couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss as she walked to the door.
She turned around and looked into his eyes. He saw something in her eyes that he hadn’t seen earlier. It was sadness.
“We aren’t through talking. We need to talk about this.”
Her body tensed up and she shook her head in the negative.
“No, Max. That’s it. There really is nothing more to discuss. I am your nurse and you are my patient. Everything else is in the past.”
Max tried to persuade her, but she made an excuse saying she had a patient she had to give medication to.
For him this was not over, not in the least. He would get her alone, and they would talk.
So much had happened in such a short time that sleep overcame him once more, but even in his dreams he met with Liz and her beautiful presence.
A few hours later it was time for medication and Max watched and waited for Liz to come back. He had wanted to call to her and make up some sort of discomfort so she would have to look in on him, but he didn’t. He wanted to start things off right, to be able to be honest from the beginning and to be able to talk things through like two mature adults.
Now was his chance. She entered his room with a tray and small cup containing three small pills. She moved the small porcelain pitcher from the nightstand and poured him a glass of water. Max watched her do this in silent. She was so professional and he realized that he never wanted to kiss her more than that moment. The way her hair was pulled back revealing her angelic face and expressive eyes and her perfume surrounding him like a field of orchids. He watched as she dropped the three pills into her delicate hand and handed them to him.
“Just swallow them, here’s your water.”
Liz watched him take the medication and then took the glass from him, placing it next to the pitcher of water.
“Are you alright? No pain?”
Max’s eyes looked into her own, and pierced her with his words.
“No, I’m not alright. I don’t have you.”
Liz didn’t know what to say. She was flabbergasted at his comment. There were so many things running through her mind, but the image that kept coming to her was the image of Max’s arms around her. The way he caressed her cheek and held her to him. She relented, and allowed her emotions to come pouring out of her, erasing the façade of sensibility and confidence.
“Oh Max, really? I am so very sorry. I never would have left if it hadn’t been for my stupidity. I saw Tess’ things and I thought you had used me. I thought I was a one-night stand and I couldn’t help but think you were like every other guy. I wanted to stay mad at you but I couldn’t. What happened between us, was special and I guess I must be a blubbering fool right now.”
Max watched as Liz tried to explain her actions, she looked so flustered and cute and he couldn’t resist pulling her to him so he took hold of her wrist, pulling her into an embrace and sitting her on his bed holding her to his chest. He ran his fingers over her dark thick hair.
“Liz, you have nothing to be sorry about, it wasn’t your fault. I should have explained to you about Tess. She’s no one really I mean she was, but not anymore. I don’t know what I am trying to say I guess…”
Liz looked up at his shinning eyes, and placed a finger to his lips.
“Shh Max. It’s okay. Your mom explained everything.”
“My mom? You met my mother?”
Liz blushed, feeling like perhaps she had overstepped her bounds.
“Yes, well I wanted to apologize for my actions so I went to your home and your mother was there watering your plants. She was the one who informed me you had been shipped back to Europe. I think she took a liking to me. We spent the rest of the afternoon talking about you and Tess, but mostly about you. I never told her how we met, just that we were mere acquaintances mean I really don’t think it would have been proper to tell her how we had really met.”
Max couldn’t help but nod his head in understanding. He was extremely happy that she had met his mother, he only wished he could have introduced them, and under better circumstances. He watched her face light up with ever detail of her conversation with his mother, and he loved that they had become friends.
“…And well she was so wonderful she even sent me home with cookies.”
Liz finished her last sentence and noticed Max wasn’t paying attention to her words as he was gazing at her lips in awe. She felt pulled towards him and her lips came closer and closer to his until they hovered millimeters away from his, she realized what she was doing and was somewhat embarrassed and so she sat up adjusting her uniform.
“Well Okay since we have talked things through, I better go and do my job, I am on duty after all.”
Max felt the loss of her body immediately, and pulled at her arm bringing her back onto him.
“Liz I know you explained things, but for some reason I feel like there’s more. Is there something you aren’t telling me?”
Liz bit her lip and prepared herself to reveal her secret.
“Well Max, you’re right there’s something I have to tell you, and I hope you understand. You see after you left I…”
Liz’s words were interrupted by a small figure entering the room.
“Max! Oh my God, you poor baby.”
Tess’ gold locks bounced as she scurried over to Max’s bedside practically pushing Liz away from Max.
Max’s eye widened at the site. Tess had just walked into his room. Out of no where she once again imposed herself into his life. He was so in shock when she ran to his side and kissed him. He never kissed her back but Liz didn’t know that. Her lips pressed against him. HE forced her off of him, left with the red color of her lipstick on his lips
When Tess released him from the dreaded kiss, he looked around to find Liz gone. He looked at Tess who was grinning proudly. She had accomplished her task to scare off Liz and make her claim on Max.
Max could not contain the fury, which rose within him and let the words spill from his mouth, full of contempt and hatred.
“TESS! What the hell are you doing here?”
Liz was surprised to see Tess. She had never met her personally but when she saw the way she walked up to Max and kissed him, she knew instantly who she was. Tess was dressed in a large fur coat and a fashionable hat, it reminded Liz of a dead rodent. Liz made note of the sight before her. She was definitely an opportunist, and Liz couldn’t help but wonder what Max had seen in her till she had seen the kiss. It was obvious what attracted men to Tess. Her physical beauty (if you like that sort of trampy look) and the parade she made of her “assets”.
Liz had walked out of the room silently trying to calm herself down from the shock she was experiencing. Max had just admitted he was no longer with Tess, or had been when he had been with her, but with Tess’ visit that really complicated things.
*I was about to tell him about the baby. How could I have been so stupid? Thank goodness Tess had such great timing before I made the biggest mistake of my life.*
Liz took her seat at the small desk, trying to keep from trembling. She closed her eyes and let the tears fall. She cried silently her sobs making her whole body tremble. She was oblivious to the world around her and jumped when she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“Maxie, darling what is the matter with you? Why are you being so rude? I heard you were in the hospital and decided to come see how you were. And just in time too, I thought I would help you with that nurse of yours. Looks like she wanted to be your personal Florence Nightingale. Don’t you worry I am sure after that kiss, she won’t be bothering you any time soon.”
Max’s jaw tightened in anger and frustration. He never hated anyone more in that instant than he did Tess. She had just purposely scared off Liz, and was gleaming with pride because of it.
“What right do you have to come here and try to run anyone off. For your information Liz and I know each other very well and the last thing I wanted was for you to come here and play your little games. Tess, I told you I never wanted to see you again and you of all people should know I am true to my word. Now get out before I pull you out by those damn bottled blond curls of yours.”
Tess’ smile had disappeared and her face displayed fear. She became frightened by the tone in Max’s voice.
“But Max, I came here because I was concerned. I’m sorry I ruined things for you to play doctor with your nurse but I wanted to see you. I thought I was helping.”
Tess ran her hands over him, traveling lower further beneath the blankets till she reached his inner thigh.
“Don’t you miss me Max? I’ve missed you.”
Max cringed as her hands came into contact with his skin. He quickly grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away.
“Why would I miss a leach like you? I have better things to do with my time than miss you, Tess. Now if you don’t leave right now I am going to make sure that you are escorted out of this hospital onto the street like the trash you are.”
Tess pulled her wrist away from Max’s grasp and backed away slowly.
“Fine Max, but you will regret the way you treated me. If there is something you know it’s that I always get my way in the end.”
Max could hear the clicking of her heels as she made her way down the hospital hallway.
He laid back praying Liz would know better than to believe what she saw.
“Liz, darling are you all right.”
That seemed to be a frequently asked question tonight for Liz.
She turned her body around to find Kyle Valenti standing behind her. He was dressed in a charcoal colored suit and in a very odd way it made him look sinister. The pin stripped pants, suited him but the color was all-wrong. Liz could hardly believe that every time she saw Kyle she would focus on the stupidest things.
“Kyle, yes I’m fine. What a surprise! What are you doing here?”
Kyle pulled the chair that was opposite the small desk beside her chair.
“Well I thought I would come and check on my girl and see how she was doing.”
Liz smiled trying to hide the disgust she felt. She hated when he referred to her as ‘his girl’
“Well I’m fine Kyle. I really wish you hadn’t come, there is nothing to worry about.”
Kyle laughed; as if whatever she was saying was rubbish.
“I don’t think so. I saw you crying. I also saw you in that soldier’s room he looked as though he was trying to get a little too close to my future wife. It’s a good thing I pointed his girlfriend in the right direction.”
Liz’s head darted up in anger.
“Well I saw her roaming the halls and she said she was looking for her “friend” I told her she could easily find him by looking at the name by the door. She was awfully sweet and she was telling me about how she was hoping to rekindle the fire they once had now that he was in the hospital. I think it’s a good idea considering the fella seemed to have his eye on my girl.”
Liz gritted her teeth together keeping in mind that she needed Kyle.
“Look Kyle you have no right to call me your girl and I am not married to you yet. I have a job to do and right now I have to go look in on that patient, so if you’ll excuse me.”
She stood up and walked past him. He grabbed her arm pulling at her hard.
He smiled a fake sweet smile.
“Look Liz you are trying my patience. I better not here of you talking to other men or making any kind of advances toward the ‘poor wounded soldiers’ I don’t tolerate that kind of behavior.”
Max waited for Liz but she never came. He became worried and decided he had to talk to her; to explain everything. Lately it seemed as though their relationship seemed to be based on lots of explanations. He pushed himself off the bed, and pulled the robe, resting on the small chair, on and walked slowly to his door. As he drew near he could hear shouting, but it was a man’s voice.
“Kyle stop it, you’re hurting me!”
Liz tried to pull away only to have Kyle raise his hand and bring it in contact with her face. She felt the stinging on her left cheek and anger rose within her. She tried to pull away again but Kyle only held her tighter.
Max watched, as the man was pulling at Liz and when he saw him raise his hand to hit her. He ran to Liz as quickly as possible. He was in pain but he didn’t care. Liz was still trying to pull away and didn’t noticed Max until his fist came into contact with Kyle’s face.
Kyle fell to the cold floor. He tried to stand, his face displaying anger and hatred. As he stood he stopped when he heard the tall figure speak.
“Don’t! You stay there or I swear to God, I’ll kill you. How dare you touch her.”
Max was now standing up straight and from the look of him, you never would have thought he was injured. He had Liz behind him and her hands were wrapped around herself as she watched the scene play out before her eyes.
Kyle stood up and laughed at Max as he gave him a one over.
“Do you know who you’re talking to? If you ever lay a hand…”
Max didn’t let him finish before he gave Kyle another right hook to his jaw.
Kyle rubbed his jaw slowly and looked over at Liz from behind Max.
“So is this it, Liz? You’re going to stay here with this…nothing? Come home with me now Liz or I promise you everything will be over, the engagement, your father’s inheritance…everything.”
Liz tried to speak. Her mind was screaming at her to do the right thing and she wanted to but everything that had happened left her in a state of confusion.
Liz went through her situation in her head; she had a baby to think about. A father who would kill her if he found out she was pregnant, a man she loved but could not be with and a man who would be with her but hurt her in ways she never would have allowed if not for her predicament.
Her heart spoke for her, not knowing exactly how to tread the path she had just chosen.
“No Kyle. Leave me alone. I’m not going anywhere with you ever again. I don’t ever want to see you again.”
Kyle lifted his head and adjusted his suit, trying to gather what was left of his dignity.
“You just sealed your fate Liz Parker. But know that you will regret this day. You and this…scum”
Max watched until Kyle was gone and pulled Liz into an embrace.
They stood in the halls embracing each other for a few minutes, until Max’s voice broke through the silence.
“So that was your fiancé, huh?”
Liz nodded and held onto Max, her small sobs shaking her petite body. Max didn’t know it but she was trying to keep from falling to the ground in emotional exhaustion.
“Oh God, Max can this day get any worse? I am so sorry you had to deal with this.”
Max brought his hand to her cheek, which was bright red from Kyle’s earlier action.
“Looks like I just met your ex fiancé, and he didn’t seem too happy about the ‘ex’ part.”
Liz laughed and sniffled.
“Yeah especially after that threat”
“Seems to be an epidemic Nurse Parker, I got one of those myself not but a few minutes ago.”
Liz looked into his eyes; she had a serious expression.
Max pulled her even closer into his embrace and smiled.
“Yeah, seemed she wasn’t too happy with me throwing her out of my life for a second time. I would have loved to do it physically but at the present time I was unable, well that and I am a gentleman.”
He gestured to his side when he mentioned his wound, prompting Liz to pull away. She looked at him. He was standing up when he really should have been in bed. When she reluctantly pulled away enough to get a look at his wounded area she noticed the small crimson patch of blood.
“Oh my God, Max you’re bleeding. We have to get you to bed, now!” She helped him back into his bed and quickly helped him out of his clothing. She looked at him intently and took in a deep breath.
“Max I know this may be a little embarrassing but you have to remove all of your clothing, even your boxers.”
Max couldn’t help but blush, and attempted to do the job himself.
Liz watched him and giggled.
Max looked at her a little annoyed that amidst so much pain, embarrassment and everything that had just happened she was laughing at him.
“Under any other conditions I would say no but I am going to have to say yes, that is if you would be so kind.”
Liz graciously smiled and helped him one leg at a time, once the task was done and Liz had practically over heated, she had him lye down and covered him with a sheet, leaving the wound uncovered. She removed all the bandages and inspected the area. She looked up at Max, her face unreadable.
“Max, you are one lucky man. You’re okay but you can’t do any more moving around. I know that most of your moving around was done because of me, and as grateful as I am, you have to take care of yourself. Please.”
Liz’s pleading eyes was all he needed to agree.
“I know, and I promise you that I will not move a muscle, if you promise to tell me what you were going to tell me earlier before we were interrupted.”
Liz was stunned. She had almost forgotten she was going to tell Max about the baby.
“Well actually you know what? I have to go and make my last round for the night. Max thank you and maybe we can continue this discussion after you have had some rest.”
She turned around swiftly but was caught off guard by Max’s arms around her waist. He once again pulled her to him, but this time his hand went to her chin and brought it down so he could gaze into her eyes.
Before she could answer his lips ascend on hers and she was lost. She fell deeper into oblivion only feeling his tongue within every crevice of her mouth tasting her and savoring the movement of their joined mouths. His hands wandered over her body and her body responded with a soft sigh erupting from her mouth. She was lost in his touch, and with the kiss he conveyed with all of his longing to be with her just like this. He shared with her his whole being, not just his lips. He enjoyed the moment and took pleasure in her soft sweet mouth. She pulled away only when she heard Max moan. She found she was practically lying on top of him crushing him
“I better go.”
And with that Liz Parker walked out the door confused and scared knowing that the kiss was a promise. She and Max had unfinished business.
The proceeding day Liz Parker entered the main hall of San Francisco Memorial Hospital. Betty had called her and asked her to take her morning shift, since she had somehow caught Liz’s flu bug. Liz knew exactly what bug she has caught and it certainly hadn’t been any flu, but a big handsome soldier by the name of Michael Guerin.
Liz buttoned her pink knit sweater and took deep breaths. Today was supposed to have been the day she announced her engagement to her father. Everything that had happened last night haunted her even in her dreams. She wanted to just pretend nothing had occurred, that she was safe, even if it was just a fantasy. But then she remembered the kiss. The way Max’s lips had taken hold of hers and practically devoured her.
The sensations he left her feeling were still coursing through her body. She smiled a satisfied grin and took the last steps in the direction of Max’s room and noticed the door was closed. She knocked before entering and found Max in a sitting position, Diane Evans beside him.
Max quickly reacted to her presence calling her name.
Liz became even more nervous, than she had been when she entered the hospital. She could feel the butterflies fluttering in her stomach. She wanted to pass out, and throw up all at the same time. But her eyes were focused on Max and the way he was looking at her.
The gaze between her son and the young nurse didn’t go unnoticed by Diane Evans. She watched as Max had sat up even straighter when Liz entered, and the way he said her name was not the way someone reacted to just anyone. She recognized Liz as the young woman who she had met sometime ago. She had met her outside of Max’s house and immediately taken a liking to her. She saw her as everything her son could, would and needed in a woman. She was so sweet and honest. She liked that about her.
Diane Evan stood up and walked over to Liz and pulled her into an embrace.
“Liz, my dear how are you?”
Liz immediately responded to Diane’s hug and relaxed. As uncomfortable as she had felt when Diane hugged her, it reminded her how much she would have liked to have a mother, especially one like Diane.
“ Hello Mrs. Evans. I’m fine thank you.”
“Oh my dear you don’t look well, last time I saw you were not as thin as you are now and the rose in your cheeks was much more noticeable. You really should have visited me more often. I enjoyed our day so much I would have loved having the company while Max was away. We may have been able to fatten you up in the process”
Liz blushed trying to hide the embarrassment she was feeling.
She had never meant to become such good friends with Max’s mother, but she felt a special bond with the genteel woman and she actually enjoyed their conversations.
Max looked on at the way his mother took to Liz. He enjoyed how protective of her she had become. She had never been so sweet and accepting of any of the woman he had ever brought home, and certainly not Tess. From the minute his mother had sat down he could not help but talk about Liz and how she had turned out to be his nurse. Diane being the inquisitive mother she was, asked how they had met and Max explained to her they had just stumbled upon one another and swapped their stories of misery and sorrow and had since not seen one another. She accepted the story for now, knowing she wouldn’t get much more out of him.
“Liz, please sit down, I want to hear all about my son and his behavior in this dreary hospital. I raised him to behave and I hope he has been”
Liz smiled at the middle-aged woman. She was so gentle and kind and she wished that she would be as loving and caring to her own child when the time came.
Liz looked to Max who was still looking at her, his hazel eyes piercing her heart with love and acceptance. She wanted to look away but she couldn’t. She continued to gaze into his soulful eye while talking to Diane Evans.
“I am happy to report Mrs. Evans, that Max has been quite the gentleman. You should be very proud.”
Diane Evans’ hand combed through Max’s hair in a motherly fashion.
“That’s a good boy.”
Max couldn’t hide the embarrassment his mother was causing, and as much as he loved his mother he really didn’t want to be treated like a child in front of Liz.
Liz giggled when she realized Max’s face had turned a deep shade of pink and he was trying to escape the clutches of being mothered. She tried to save him by diverting Diane’s attention.
“Mrs. Evans, I noticed Max had a new quilt I was admiring it last night as he slept, I would love and appreciate it if you were to teach me how to make a similar one.”
“Of course Liz, I would love to. It’s not as difficult as you may think. Quilts make excellent gifts, ask Max I made him his first when he was still a baby.”
“I’m sure they do. Perhaps we should make a day of it.”
Diane Evans’s face brightened and an idea popped into her head.
“Well in a few days Max should be coming home and I just got an idea. If you aren’t busy perhaps you can join us for dinner, and after we put Max to bed. I can start teaching you then.”
Liz was surprised at the request Max’s mother was making. She became uneasy at how close she was becoming with his family. She didn’t know if it were such a good idea to get too close.
Max could see Liz tense up and attempted to persuade his mother.
“Mom, Liz has seen enough of me in this hospital, what makes you think she wants to see more of me at home with you and dad?”
“Oh Max be quiet, I am sure Liz would love it, and it would give your father a chance to get to know her. That is alright isn’t it, Liz?”
Liz tried to say no, but in reality she did want to go. She wanted to see what kind of family Max grew up in, so then maybe she could tell her little boy or girl that she had wonderful grandparents and came from a wonderful family, even if he/or she couldn’t meet them.
“I would love that Mrs. Evans. I think it’s an excellent idea.”
“Very well, then it’s settled. Oh my look at the time, I better run along. Philip will be home for lunch soon and I don’t want to be late. It was very nice seeing you again Liz. I will see you soon.”
Diane Evans put her coat on and went over to Max placing a kiss on his cheek and whispering in his ear. She then crossed to Liz and hugged her kissing her on the cheek. It was such a small intimate gesture of love that Liz felt so complete and loved. Her father rarely ever showed emotion and when he did, it was only to apologize for making her feel bad, or after an argument.
Max wondered what was going through Liz’s mind after his mother had left. She looked so happy but during his mother’s invite to dinner she had tensed up and become somewhat uncomfortable. He wondered what that was about.
Liz walked over to him and began going through her nursing duties, checking his pulse and making sure he wasn’t in any pain. She only stopped when Max asked her the question she was dreading he would ask since last night. The kiss had been so natural and ‘right’ she knew he would not question her about that, but instead he would ask her about the one thing she felt she could not reveal to him just yet. For some reason, his mother’s visit had broken through her wall of strength and determination and she knew she wouldn’t be able to lie to him again.
“Liz, I know you’re hiding something from me and I want to know what it is. I know the way we have gone about things has been very untraditional, but I want you to be able to be honest with me. No matter what I consider you my friend. Don’t try to deny anything, I see the pain in your eyes.
Liz tried to pull away from him, his hands caressing her cheek soothingly. But she couldn’t force herself to listen to reason and soon she found herself wrapped in his arms. She had always been so independent and strong, but not with Max. The way she felt about him and the way he made her feel were something new and scary for her. She wanted to embrace her love for him and she had, but only when she thought she wouldn’t ever see him again. Now here she was and he was holding her while she had an emotional breakdown. She felt weak and desperate so she did the only thing she could do with out going crazy, she blurted out her secret.
Max’s body stilled when he heard her confession. He slowly pulled away, trying to grasp the reality of what she had just told him. He didn’t want her to read his body language, and how confused he was at this point. But when he heard Liz stop crying and looked up from where his eyes were staring at his fingers in his lap, he saw the fear flash into her eyes. He didn’t expect her to speak, and in all honesty Liz didn’t expect to either. She realized she had scared Max and after judging his response she came to a quick irrational decision.
“Don’t worry Max, it’s not yours.”
Max tried to read her eyes once more. He knew she had read his reaction wrong. She had just admitted something personal and life altering to him, and he did think the baby was his. That was why he had been so shocked. He wanted her to know that she didn’t have to lie, if that was what she was doing.
* What’s wrong with you Maxwell, why are you so confused. *
“Liz, no I’m sorry, it’s just that you surprised me. I mean…pregnant…wow!”
Liz let one last tear fall, before she vowed she would never cry in front of Max again. She stood up and moved closer to the door, and was now fidgeting in nervousness. Her hair was tasseled from their earlier embrace.
“Like I said Max, nothing for you to worry about. It’s not yours, it’s…..Kyle’s.”
Max looked stunned. The night they had been together he knew she had never been with anyone else. He was her first, and as much as he wanted to believe he would be her only, he knew it was ignorant to think that way. She was a warm blooded beautiful woman who anyone was lucky enough to meet and share a night with. He also knew she wouldn’t have been with him that one night if it hadn’t been for their emotional circumstances. HE couldn’t help but sound a little saddened. It was a possibility that it was Kyle, that would explain why she had stayed with him.
“Kyle, right of course. Does he know?”
Liz felt the courage well up in her. She had just made her own bed, now she had to lye in it.
“No, I was going to tell him after we were married.”
Liz laughed softly.
“I guess that won’t be happening any time soon. Look, Max now you know my secret. I better get to my duties before I get fired. I need this job more then ever now. My father won’t want to support me after he finds out his daughter got knocked up. I can see the headlines now, “Wealthy Winery Mogul’s Daughter to Have Whiner Out of Wedlock.”
Max couldn’t believe her words. He knew she was hurt but the way she was carrying on. Then when he heard her last comment it dawned on him who she was.
“Wait, you’re THAT Liz Parker, daughter of Jeff Parker? He must be the richest man in California and his wine is famous around the country. Liz, I never knew.”
“Yeah well now you know, and soon the whole world will to. I have to tell my father tonight and believe me, Kyle was right…no more inheritance, and even more importantly, no more father.”
Max looked at Liz, he never realized how complicated her life was until now, and yet he admired her for it. She had gone through so much and here she was, pregnant and alone and strong as ever.
“Liz is there anything I can do, I feel responsible somehow. I am sure if you tell your father what Kyle did to you, he will understand. I really do hold myself responsible for everything that has happened now.”
*More than you know, Max*
“No Max, my father can’t know. He sees Kyle as a son and he thinks women are to blame for everything. I really don’t want him to know anything. I am not going to tell him Kyle is the father either, if he knows he will find some way to convince Kyle to take me back and marry me and I will not allow that to happen. One day at a time that’s how I’ll take things.”
Liz tried not to think about things, she had to be rational now. First she had to tell her father she was not marrying Kyle, if Kyle hadn’t done so already. And then she had to make sure to get through seeing Max everyday and bear lying to him on a daily basis.
“For now I am going to deal with my father and this Kyle mess, in a few days after things have settled I’ll tell him about the baby, I just hope and pray he doesn’t kill me.”
Max laughed, if Liz’s father loved her as much as he did, he knew everything would be all right. Then he noticed Liz wasn’t laughing.
“ Liz your father loves you, I doubt he would ever kill you.”
“You obviously have never met my father. He is stuck in old-world traditions. I bet you didn’t know that he still has the grapes stomped for wine. He refuses to use anything that will ruin his old fashioned traditional wine. It’s also a creed he lives by. When he finds out I am pregnant he’ll kill me, or ship me off to some convent.”
Max heard the despondency in her voice. No matter what happened he loved her, and wouldn’t let anything happen to her if he could help it.
“Liz, I think you should get married.”
Liz looked at him like he was mad. She couldn’t help but let the giggles that found their way from her stomach to her mouth erupt and fill the room.
“Max are you nuts? If I could find anyone I could marry, don’t you think I would have done it a month ago? And where on Earth will I find someone who I would even consider marrying me. Really, who will want to marry me when I’m carrying someone else’s child?
Max spoke proudly and abruptly stopped her fit of giggles with his response.
Liz’s face matched the sickly white color of her uniform, when Max answered her. Had he just proposed to her, or offered her marriage in some moronic way?
“Max what are you talking about? Are you saying you want to marry me?”
“Well if you want me to.”
Max looked boyish, and flustered. He had just offered to marry her, and all because she was in a time of need.
“Max I don’t think…I mean we hardly know one another and…after you heal you’ll be going back to the war…”
Liz was listing all the reasons why to say no, but in her heart she was doing cartwheels, because this was all she wanted. She wanted to say yes and run off with him, and have his baby.
Max stopped her when he explained his plan.
“Liz, that is exactly why we should PRETEND to be married. We can go to your father and claim to be married and once I’m better and I go off to the war, I can disappear from your lives. You can tell him I was killed or that I was missing in action. That would settle your problems. It would only be until I am completely healed, you wouldn’t have to deal with me too long, and your father would never think ill of you because your husband had a duty.”
“But, Max what would you get out of this? I mean you would be helping me, but what could you get out of this but misery?”
Max smiled and his eyes displayed all honesty.
“I would in turn receive the best medical care from my own personal nurse.”
Liz smiled. She felt like thanking God for sending her this wonderful man. Although she didn’t feel like she could tell him the truth about his status of father, she did feel she could go along with whatever his plan was, if it meant helping her and her baby in the end. He had just offered to do something so wonderful, but his reaction flashed into her mind, and reminded her she could give him time, but she couldn’t risk her heart breaking in the process.
“Are you sure Max? I mean in the end you would not come off looking very gentleman like if my father ever found out you were alive...”
“Liz we both know it’s a real possibility I may not come back..”
Max was silenced by Liz’s lips on his. It was a soft feather-like kiss but still the brief contact made his body react to hers, then she spoke.
“Don’t say that, Max. Please I don’t want you to talk like that. Not now, I mean….you’re my husband right?”
Liz’s question was a poor attempt to liven the dismal conversation.
Max couldn’t help but smile at her. Her face was bright and she was glowing. She almost didn’t look like the same person. He was happy he could do this for her, and in some weird way he was doing this for himself as well.
“Right, Mrs. Evans.”
And with that Max placed his hand on Liz’s and looked into her eyes silently praying to God that one day he would have enough courage to tell her that he wanted the real thing. He wanted to marry her.
|posted on 2-Jan-2002 11:24:05 AM|
Maria looked at her best friends in astonishment.
“Max and I are going to pretend we’re married for a little while.”
Maria’s natural blond curls bounced as she shook her head.
“Oh no, Liz this is a terrible idea. I know I told you not to marry Kyle, but pretending to be married to the father of your baby who doesn’t know he is the father of your baby, is just a real bad idea.”
Liz tried to hide the grin she had on her face. Maria always had a way of making things funny. She grabbed Maria, as she put away the last of the medical supplies.
“Maria, listen I know you don’t think I can do this. I can. I can handle anything except telling my father the truth. Besides, Max is okay with it.”
“Yeah because he doesn’t know that’s his kid, but when he figures it out World War II is going to seem like a big party. Liz, I know you are very desperate and I love you for trying to be logical about this, but we both know this is going to blow up in your face.”
Liz gave Maria another look her eyebrows raised as if asking ‘Oh really?’.
“Listen Maria, I promise you everything will be okay. Max and I will pretend to be married for appearance’s sake and then we go our separate ways.”
Maria held up a bottle of iodine as if inspecting its contents.
“Oh really? Well if I know your father, and I do, then no way are you two going to be able to go your separate ways. You and I both know that your father is going to want to see where you live, how you live and how at home you two are together…”
Liz immediately understood what Maria was saying. She now had to find a way to make her father believe that she and Max really we’re a happily married couple, when the time came.
Liz got a gleam in her eye as if an idea hit her. Maria recognized it instantly knowing what Liz was going to say.
“…nope Max can not move in with us. I’m sorry Liz, but our landlady found out Max was living with us she would have a cow, and believe me that woman is big enough to do so, literally. Ooh but doesn’t he have a house? You guys could shack up for a while at his place. Oh god what am I saying, I was supposed to be the voice of reason…nix that idea, it was bad, and I am not for it.”
Liz had stopped listening to Maria’s negativity, and only focused on her new idea.
“I…I don’t know Maria, I mean he is already doing this for me, and to have to inconvieniance him with my moving into his home? That’s pushing it don’t you think?”
Maria couldn’t help it and was soon sucked into Liz’s web of deciet. She had to admit it was kind of fun and since she was a no nonsense kind of girl and took any opportunity to point things out to Liz when necessary, she couldn’t help but pass this time up and do so now.
“Liz, sweetie Max is hurt, what better than to have his nurse with him in his home? The arrangement would be perfect, there is only one problem.”
Liz couldn’t help but hug Maria, for her brilliance. She pulled away from Maria who was still holding the bottle of Hydrogen peroxide.
“What’s that? I mean it’s perfect.”
Maria sniffled and tried not to cry.
“I’m going to be out a roommate and best friend.”
Liz couldn’t help but hug Maria again, trying to comfort her as they sat on the floor of the supply closet.
“It’s alright Maria. I am sure you will find someone until this whole mess if figured out. And I will always be your best friend. Always. Besides, we don’t even know what Max thinks about this whole arrangement. Nothing is set in stone.”
Liz pulled her handkerchief out of her pocket and handed it to Maria who dried her tears.
“Bad idea Maxwell. Awful, disastrous.”
Max looked up at a tall stoic Michael. He knew Michael wouldn’t agree with his idea.
“Michael, I don’t see what your problem is. It’s not like I am actually going to be married to her. Besides, it’s only temporary. Liz needs me, and in a way I need her to. I have to do this Michael.”
Michael shook his head in disappointment.
“Look Max, I know you have always been one to help out a poor wounded animal, but this dame, she ain’t worth giving up the greatest months of your life. Especially when she ain’t even carrying your kid. You really should just tell her to forget about it.”
Max couldn’t help but get angry, Michael was so cruel and harsh and now that Liz was going to be apart of his life he needed him to accept the fact that Liz was important to him.
“Michael, I know this is hard for you to accept, but I love her. I can’t tell he that right now, she has too much on her plate but if and when the time comes I am going to make sure Liz never leaves me again. Now if you will please refrain from calling her a dame, I will appreciate it. Oh and there is one other thing, I was thinking of asking Liz to move in with me, you know to make this whole arrangement look real.”
Michael jumped in protest.
“Look Max I know you are all gaga over this chick but in no way are she and I going to be living in the same house, NO WAY!”
Max smiled and nodded his head.
“Right, so you better find yourself a new apartment soon, my mom will love having you stay with them and you can use my old room. Since Liz will be living with me I won’t need to stay with them.”
Michael looked as though he was going to explode. His mind ran through ever insult he had ever heard and his mouth was open, ready to direct each of them to Max Evans when Liz entered with a gorgeous blond nurse. Instead his jaw dropped in amazement.
“Max, I wanted to talk to you about an idea Maria had…Oh I’m sorry I didn’t realize you had company I’ll just.”
Max couldn’t help but smile when she walked in. It was as if she turned on a light in his heart with her presence.
“No Liz wait, I want you to meet my best friend Sgt. Michael Guerin.”
Liz walked over to the intimidating young man. He shook her hand but didn’t acknowledge her because he was too busy flirting with Maria, winking and smiling at her. Maria was no better; she was twirling her hair around her finger and smiling back up at him. Liz pulled her over so she could properly introduce her to Max.
“Max, I want you to meet my best friend and roommate, Maria DeLuca. That’s kind of what I wanted to tell you.”
Max shook her had but had a similar experience with Maria as Liz had just had with Michael.
The two were enthralled with one another Maria laughing as Michael spoke. The scene made Liz laugh and she looked over at Max who was trying to hide a smile. Liz turned back to Max and started telling him about their problem and ingenious idea.
“Well Max, Maria and I were talking about living arrangements, and...”
“Wait Liz I think I know what you’re going to say and before you do…I want you to come and live with me.”
Liz’s face brightened and she flashed him a shy smile and finally moved closer hugging him, surprising Max. The hug was something that surprised even Maria and Michael.
“Thank you Max, for everything. You make everything easier on me.”
Max held her to him and looked over at Michael who was rolling his eyes.
Maria quickly pulled Liz off of Max.
“Okay Lizzie, hormones are kicking in. Okay what we have to talk about now is that now that you and Max are shacking up in his house that leaves me with out a roommate…”
“And me without a place to live.”
Michael mumbled softly, but not soft enough. Nothing slipped by Maria.
“Wait you don’t have a place to live? How about a small two bedroom apartment?”
Liz looked at Maria like she was nuts, she had only just met Michael and she was already asking him to move in.
“Maria, you two just met. I mean..”
“Liz we have a few days to get to know one another and if he ever touches me, he will have my four older brothers to deal with, you know the ones who work down on the dock, the ones who worked with those mob people?”
Michael adjusted his collar.
Maria winked in his direction and flashed him a knowing smile.
“Sure, they love me to death and told me if I ever need anyone taken care of to let them know. But from what I’ve seen you are a gentleman Mr. Guerin.”
Michael smiled, “That I am. Ask Max, he’ll tell you.
“Well we’ll have to work on that. We can talk details over dinner tonight.”
Liz laughed and pulled on Maria’s arm.
“Maria! But what about our landlady?”
“Liz, sweet cheeks all I have to tell the woman is that I got married over the weekend and problem solved.
“Okay Maria, but I don’t know. You and Michael just met, although your introduction has lasted longer than most of your relationships. I guess if you guys don’t get along in the next few days, you can find someone new.”
“Right, and besides I like him already.”
Liz sighed unsure of Maria’s intentions. But when along with everything knowing she couldn’t help the situation.
“Max, what if I come by tonight after I talk to my father and we discuss your release and moving plans?”
Max nodded and flashed Liz a bright toothy smile of excitement.
“That would be great. I can’t wait.”
Michael nodded as he watched the two nurses walk out.
“Neither can I.”
Liz entered the foyer to her father’s home. He was in his study. It was 5:00 and she knew that he was either on the phone with the workers in Napa or talking to his accountant. He was always very up to date on all of his holdings.
Liz never understood why she felt so vulnerable in this house. It seemed as though her front door was a time portal that took her back in time. Once she entered the doorway she was a little girl again. Her father telling her how to act or what was right and wrong. She hated feeling like that and her father took advantage of it. He was always good to her, there was no question her father loved her, but sometimes she wondered if he loved HER or what he wanted her to be.
She knocked softly on the door to his study and then opened the door slowly. The aroma from his pipe filled the room and she took in a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves.
Jeff Parker looked up when he saw his young daughter enter. He had been waiting to talk to her. After Kyle had his ‘encounter’ with Max’s fist he had ran straight to Jeff Parker’s home, and was true to his word. He manipulated the night’s events and although he was angry with Max, he still had no idea who he was and proceeded to tell Jeff about his daughter’s selfishness and unladylike behavior. Kyle was angry and twisted every last word so that it would look like he had been hurt, and wounded by Liz’s behavior.
Jeff was now very unhappy with the situation, but reassured Kyle that if he was willing Liz would take him back and that he would make sure of it. Liz of course was prepared for this. She knew Kyle and what he was really about. He was a coward with money who got his kicks my manipulating and overpowering people. She had just been another one of his victims and if it hadn’t been for Max she would have married him.
“Liz, sit down.” Jeff Parker’s voice was low and serious. He stood up and pulled out his pocket watch. It was a family heirloom and was a tool he used when making a business deal. He was not unlike any lawyer, Liz had seen in action .Her father’s tactics were almost like he were a different man, a character in a play, but in his play he always came out on top.
Liz decided it was her turn. She was going to tell him what she wanted, and nothing else. He would have to accept her decision.
“Father, I know what you’re going to say. I know that Kyle has presumably already told you his version of the truth, but I pray and hope that you are not sucked into his web of deceit.”
“How dare you!”
Liz looked up at her father in astonishment.
“How dare I?”
“Don’t speak. Do you realize the mess you made?”
Liz could not believe what she was hearing. She was looking up at her father as he paced back and forth in both anger and hatred.
“I told you not to speak. I had to assume responsibility for your actions and had the duty in calming Kyle Valenti down after your little spat. You treated him like a low life, and he did not deserve that. Not to mention you practically had him bullied by the menaces to society your little hospital calls patients. Elizabeth Parker I almost lost a very important partnership with the Valenti’s because of you, not to mention a long friendship with Jim. You had no right to do what you did without consulting me first.”
Liz was stunned into silence. When her father would actually stop and look at her she would shoot him incredulous looks. She wanted to cry and scream and just throw something, hopefully knocking some sense into her father. But she took deep breaths and remained calm.
She slowly stood up bracing herself against the arms of the chairs.
“Father, I love you and I know you only want what’s best, but Kyle is not what’s best for me. I didn’t love him and he treated me with…well he wasn’t what I wanted. I know you are angry and I know you feel betrayed but I am not at fault. Nor am I going to let you lay the blame on me. I was hoping to come here and explain things to you, that perhaps you wouldn’t be so narrow minded as to not listen to my side of the story, but I was wrong. I am leaving now because I fear that if I sit here and listen to you go on about how wrong and dishonorable I am then I would only make things worse with saying things to you I may mean now, but will be sorry for later. When you finally come to your senses, call me. I just hope I am there to take your call.”
And with that Liz walked out of her father’s home and into Max’s world. Today was the start of something new. A life with Max Evans.
Two Weeks later…
Max stood up and looked in the mirror. He had his gray formal suit on and was examining himself in the mirror. He wanted to look his best. Today was the day he and Liz were going to announce their “marriage” to his parents. Initially Max was not going to say anything to his parents but his mother had taken such a liking to Liz he thought that perhaps it was best. After all, once he could convince Liz to marry him it would be real.
Liz came up behind him and he turned to her. She was wearing a beautiful yellow summer dress and her hair was down and fell around her shoulders. She looked like an angel, his angel. They had decided to take things slow, or rather, believably slow. They knew their parent’s would be suspicious, especially Liz’s father. So they didn’t move Liz in right away. She had only been living with Max for a few days now but one day hadn’t gone by since their agreement that she wasn’t by his side. She would work her hours at the hospital and then go to his home and look after him. He was healing quite well, but he still couldn’t walk on his own for long periods. Liz seemed to be an extension of him. They weren’t two people but one, always taking care of one another and watching how the other was feeling.
Liz straightened Max’s tie and smiled up at him as he brushed a few strands of hair from her face, tucking them behind her ear.
“Have I told you how beautiful you look?”
Liz bowed her head in embarrassment.
“Yes, several times. Thank you.”
Max couldn’t help but laugh. She was never good at taking compliments. He had learned that the right off. She always blushed and shielded her face. He wanted to just take her in his arm and kiss her, telling her how beautiful and wonderful she was. Now more than ever, he realized he had to have control over his emotions. He had to let things blossom between them so that Liz wouldn’t reject him when he proposed to her.
Liz looked at his suit and realized she had smudged some of her lipstick on his collar. She looked up at Max and apologized.
“I’m sorry I guess I got lipstick on your shirt, let me go get a towel and dampen it before the stain sets.”
Max watched as she moved with such ease and her dress swayed, hugging her petite figure. She was pregnant and yet she was still so small. She hadn’t gained much weight but he knew she would soon be showing. And when she did he couldn’t’ wait. She would probably shine.
* She already glows.*
When she returned, she had a washcloth in hand and was rubbing his collar trying to get the stain out. Max could feel her breath on his neck, and the smell of her hair.
* Vanilla *
She smelled so sweet and when he looked down at her face, he lips were red and glossy. He couldn’t help his reflexes as his hand moved to her chin, and his head lowered.
Liz looked into his eyes and drew closer to him, her lips wanting to touch his, to taste him. It had been so long and she wanted this…
Liz was brought out of her reverie by Maria’s shriek of excitement.
Liz was a tad bit annoyed and Max still had his eyes closed, his jaw tight with frustration.
“Maria? What are you doing here?”
Maria looked at her best friend and at Max who looked a bit annoyed. She realized she must have interrupted a personal moment.
“Oh, sorry Liz, but Michael and I were invited to this little dinner of yours. Mrs. Evans asked Michael to join you guys for dinner, and of course Michael asked me to come along. I mean he did want to have a place to come home to after dinner so here I am. His invitation also proved my theory that he is smart after all.
Liz smiled and walked over to Maria, moving her out of the bedroom. When she made note that Max was out of earshot she tugged on Maria’s arm.
“I meant what are you doing in my house?”
“Oh now it’s YOUR house, here I thought it was Max’s.”
Liz hadn’t even realized what she said when she said it, but if felt natural. She blushed in embarrassment.
“Maria whatever the case may be this is not your house so how did you get in?”
“Oh calm down sweet cheeks, Michael has a key remember? Besides he told me to come looking for you two. He wanted me to make sure you and Max weren’t doing things only married couples do.”
Liz knew Maria was raising her voice so Max could hear what she was saying. Maria was her best friend and she loved her dearly but sometimes she could be so obvious and acted as though she knew what was best. Last week she had tried to convince Liz to tell Max the truth, but Liz couldn’t. She wanted to be sure Max loved her or that he could love her first.
“Okay, okay. I’ll behave. But Liz you do realize that I walked in on a very ‘interesting’ moment, right?”
Liz took a deep breath. Sometimes Maria was too observant.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. And I don’t’ care to know exactly what you think you saw, we’re going to be late.”
“Oh yeah don’t want to be late for dinner with the in-laws.”
“So Maxwell what is this all so important news you have to tell us?”
Phillip Evans was always a direct, straight to the point, kind of man. Liz liked that about him. It reminded her of her father. But Phillip was softer, gentler…caring. Liz saw in him what she wanted to see in her father.
* Not tonight Liz. You can’t think about that tonight. Tonight is about you and Max and about making things look real. *
Liz was so lost in thought she hadn’t even noticed Diane trying to get her attention. She did however feel when Max caressed the small of her back.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear the question?”
“That’s all right dear, I was just wondering if Max had been behaving. I mean he seems to be preoccupied with you lately and well I just want to make sure he’s being a gentleman.”
Liz looked over at Max who was watching her as he discussed baseball statistics with his father.
“Of course Diane, Max is always the gentleman.”
“Good, Why don’t you and Maria help me make some coffee and bring out the peach pie I made. Then we can sit down and Max can tell us his big news.”
Some time later, Diane, Maria, and Liz came out from the kitchen holding a tray with a silver coffeepot, and six coffee mugs. In her hands Liz carried a beautiful homemade peach pie. Max watched her as she laughed at whatever it was Diane has said. She looked genuinely happy which made Max feverishly happy. Michael of course had his attention on Maria who was sitting the tray on the table. When she noticed him staring at her she gave him a quick wink, and smiled.
When everyone was served a slice of pie, Max stood up and cleared his throat. He looked at Liz who was seated beside him and took her hand. He needed her strength and she knew it. She wanted to give him her support in every way possible.
“Mom, dad, Liz and I have some news. Now I know we haven’t known each other long, but…a few weeks ago she and I made the decision to marry, and did so. “
Diane Evans’ eyes widened and her hands went to her mouth. Phillip Evans, looked at his son in astonishment, trying to grasp what his son had just said.
“Max, what are you talking about? How could you do this? Do you realize the severity of your actions?”
Max knew his father may not understand, especially since he wasn’t announcing his engagement but telling his parents that he was ALREADY married.
“Father, Liz and I didn’t want to say anything too quickly. We met under strange circumstances and fell in love. I love Liz and we didn’t know when I would be shipped back to Europe so we got married. I am in love with Liz, and she is in love with me and we made a decision, we are ready to face it. She has been living with me for quite some time and…well…she’s having my child.”
With his last words Liz’s eyes darted from where they were staring at her fidgeting hands to Max’s eyes.
They had agreed to tell his parents about their ‘supposed’ marriage but not about the baby.
The next words heard came from Diane Evans as she stood up and walked over to, taking her in her arms within seconds.
“Welcome to the family dear.”
Liz was in shock. First Max had revealed her secret, and now his mother was hugging her, welcoming her into the family, all the while Phillip Evans was tight lipped and leaning back in his chair staring at Max.
They stayed that way until Diane broke the silence. Maria and Michael were just watching the whole scene play out.
“Phillip? Aren’t you going to congragulate your son, and new daughter-in-law?”
Phillip Evans looked at Liz who appeared to be somewhat frightened. He couldn’t understand why she would wear such an expression, so he pushed his chair back and stood up, walking over to her. Then he did something that surprised everyone, even Max. He embraced her. He hugged her and welcomed her into their family.
Max hugged his mother and then his father, thanking them for understanding.
Once the initial shock was over, Max, Liz, Maria, and Michael said their good byes to the Evan’s and walked over to Max’s car.
“Well that was certainly was an experience. I mean they took it very well.”
Michael’s statement was followed by a right jab from Maria.
“Michael, it could have gone better!”
Max looked at Liz who was avoiding the discussion all together. She looked extremely tired and he knew she was deep in thought. The car ride home was quiet after they dropped off Michael and Maria. Max kept looking over at Liz, who had her head turned away from him. He suspected she may have been angry with him so he left her to her thoughts.
When they finally arrived home, Max couldn’t help but notice how withdrawn she has been. Things had gone well, and he didn’t understand why she was so sad. When they finally pulled into his driveway Max got out and went around to her side of the car to open the door for her. He was a bit surprised to find her sleeping. He had thought she was being quiet or thinking, when all she was really doing was sleeping.
He loved looking at her sleeping form. She was so beautiful, even in the most natural of states. He opened the door and pulled her to him, holding her in his arms. He was still in pain and as much as it hurt to carry her, he wouldn’t have it any other way. He made his way into the house but had a hard time with the key and opening the front door, finally managing to unlock and open the door. He entered the house and made his way into his bedroom where he placed her fragile body on his bed. He had thought about taking her to her room, but he decided that if she awoke, it would be better that he be next to her, ready to explain how she got where she was.
Liz stirred in her sleep but Max was able to undo the bed linens. After that was accomplished he kneeled beside the bed, and removed her shoes, and stalkings. The intimate task proved to be arousing for him, and he couldn’t resist the urge to run his hands up her shapely, smooth legs. His hands ran up the length of her legs till they stopped when he encountered the hem of her dress. He took a deep breath and stood over her, undoing the dress she wore. When it was off she was left wearing a satiny camisole. He wanted to move away from her. It’s not that he didn’t trust himself, it was just that he had to admire her in all her glory. He stepped closer to where she was sleeping and placed a hand upon her stomach and kneeled once again. Max placed his head where his palm lay and as softly as he could he whispered something inaudible, and kissed her stomach. Her skin’s warmth emanating from beneath her slip warmed his soft lips.
Then Max heard a slight whisper.
“He loves you too Max.”
Max sat up and looked in the direction from which the small whisper came from.
Liz’s eyes were still shut and her small palm was rubbing her abdomen back and forth. She sounded wide-awake, but when Max caught a glimpse of her, he noticed she was still asleep. He tucked her in and kissed her forehead, before lying next to her. Pulling a quilt that sat on the armchair beside the bay windows over himself, then he watched her as her chest rose and fell.
What she has said played in his mind.
* She said ‘he’? *
He knew she said the baby wasn’t his, but he couldn’t help but feel that it there was a slight possibility. Yet even if the baby wasn’t his, he still wanted it. He wanted to raise him, not because he was Liz’s baby or because he felt obligated, but because he loved him/her. He wanted to share this with Liz.
He draped his arm over her and pulled her to him, hugging her body with his. He fell into the most peaceful sleep, a smile adorning his face.
“No! Father STOP IT, please!”
Liz watched as her father repeatedly beat Max. Everything was happening so quickly and she was trying to get to him, failing each time. She screamed at her father to let him go but he wouldn’t. His thugs were assaulting him and all Liz could do was cry. She felt herself being pulled away, strong arms holding her back, then she awoke only to find that the strong arms belonged to Max. He was sitting up with her, his arms around her.
“Shh…it’s okay Liz.”
Max rocked Liz in his arms, as he stroked her soft hair. He wanted to assure her that she was safe, that no one could hurt her. She awoke in a cold sweat and her hair was damp. He was afraid he had been the cause of her dream but soon realized Liz was fighting her own demons, and they weren’t only in her dreams. Her father was a living, breathing person who she was genuinely afraid of.
“Max? What am I doing in your room?”
Liz was cold, scared and confused. She was still shaking from the events in her dream. Max could feel her tense body shivering, and so he pulled her back into his arms and explained why she found herself in his bed. She felt safe and secure with him in that moment and she liked that feeling. Finally she spoke after a few minutes of silence, and listening to Max whisper reassuring words in her ear.
“Max? Can you do me a favor?”
Max knew it was coming. She wanted to go to her own bed. He knew she would want to eventually but he was hoping she would stay in his arms forever. He rested his chin on her head and closed his eyes.
“Yes of course anything…what do you want me to do?”
He waited a few minutes, and he felt her shift in his arms. He wondered why she was taking so long to respond and finally he lifted his head and she turned to face him. She was beautiful as always. Max loved looking at her, and it was quite exciting, because sometimes he caught her looking at him in the same way. Admiring him.
“Would you hold me?”
“Liz, I am holding you.”
“No. I mean…will you get under the covers with me, and hold me? I know it’s a strange request and you don’t have to if you don’t want to…”
Max didn’t let her finish before he unmade his side of the bed and got in beside her, holding her to him.
Max inhaled the sweet scent of her hair, and his hands were surrounding her waist rubbing her small tummy. He loved it, holding her, smelling her, feeling her. He tried to hide his growing need for her but alas it was no use. He prayed she wouldn’t get scared and as quickly as he requested, his prayer was answered when she turned in his arms facing him, a look of admiration in her eyes.
“Thank you, Max.”
Liz didn’t really think anything when she leaned in and kissed him on the lips. Lately everything was becoming so natural with them. When she felt his lips meet hers, things became heated. Their lips met and soon the passion of the moment took over. She found herself deepening the kiss, and allowing his tongue to invade her mouth. He tasted so wonderful and she couldn’t get enough. She pressed herself against him and his hands were gentle as they roamed over her body.
She had wanted this for so long, his hands on her skin, and their bodies touching so intimately. As soon as their kiss deepened and flooded the other’s senses it ended. Max pulled away and gazed into her eyes. She was so warm, but she was also pregnant. She had been through enough today. He didn’t want to take advantage of her fragile state, but before he knew it, Liz was on top of him, kissing him. She was so overwrought with passion and consumed with need he was finding it difficult to keep from touching and kissing her.
When Liz finally realized what she was doing, she pulled away, apologizing profusely.
“I’m sorry Max, I didn’t mean to…I guess I was just…I don’t know what to say.”
She tried to get out of the bed, breaking free of his embrace, but Max grabbed her arm and kneeled on the bed as he cupped her face in his hands. They were inches apart and he made her look him in the eyes.
“No Liz. There is nothing to be sorry for. I know. I felt what you felt. You have just had a rough night. You need a goodnight’s rest, and you asked me for a favor, and I intend to do anything to help you feel better. I lo...I want you to be happy.”
Liz nodded and got back into bed. The situation should have been awkward, it should have been embarrassing, but Max made it all the better with his words. She knew then that soon it would no longer be a charade and she would have to tell him the truth.
Three days later…
“Liz have you seen my tie? I can’t find it, all my ties are usually in my closet but they aren’t there.”
Liz entered the room her silky hair cascading down her shoulders and her pink terry cloth robe hugging her small shape. She was in pink from head to toe, pink slippers, pink robe and a pink ribbon as a headband, which made Max smile when he saw her.
“So I gather, you misplaced your tie?”
Max watched as she pulled a coffee-colored tie out from behind her back.
“Looking for this?”
“Yes, thank you. Wait this isn’t my tie”
“I know, I just didn’t like any of your other ties. Max, for a doctor you sure are a lousy dresser. Those ties were disgusting. I threw them all out and bought you some new ones while I was shopping yesterday.”
She shopped for him? Liz had been so sweet and kind after their night together in the same bed. She had gone out of her way to do things for him, when he thought she would be a bit upset with him about telling his parents about the pregnancy. They hadn’t talked since that night not about the dream, his parents or the fact that he let out her secret.
But here she was shopping for him. After she gave him the tie she went into the closet and pulled out a shopping bag and started showing him the different packages. There were white crisps shirts, and she had even gone as far as buying him a new suit. They were beautiful and well tailored, and he wondered how she had known his measurements.
“Why did you do this?”
Liz wanted to tell him the truth. The truth being that she loved him and that she was told by Michael that Tess had bought most of his clothes, especially his ties. Her jealousy took over and she decided she was going to by him new clothes, and rid them of the tasteless clothing, but instead she just smiled at him and kissed his recently shaven face.
“Because I wanted to, and because…you needed REAL clothes. Your other suits still smelled of cheap perfume.”
Max chuckled. He knew she was referring to Tess, and her awful fashion sense.
“Alright, well I better go, I have to help my father out with one of his cases. Seems he has a malpractice case and he wants me to look at a few doctor reports for him. I’ll be home later for dinner. Will you?”
Liz watched as he smiled. Lately he had been making sure she was eating and feeling well. Her morning sickness seemed to be getting a bit better but she had changed her schedule so that she wasn’t working as many hours and made it home in time to spend some quiet time with Max.
“I’ll be home. I’ll make your favorite. Just don’t be late.”
“Never. Also I wanted to make sure you remember we have a doctor’s appointment with Dr. Jennings. He promised me he would see you today.”
Liz was a bit confused.
“What do you mean? Max, I am not scheduled to be looked at for another week.”
“I know but you have had to deal with a lot of stress lately and well I just want to make sure you’re all right.”
“Me? I think you should be the one getting looked at.”
“I don’t need anything, I have my own personal nurse, remember?”
Liz giggled at his last remark and made her way to the kitchen. She started making him his usual morning coffee and toast when all of a sudden the phone rang.
“Hello, who is this?”
“Excuse me? Who’s speaking, this is Liz…”
Liz didn’t know what to answer. What if it was Max’s mother, or father? If they were going to pretend to be married she had to use his name. She had to think fast so she said the first thing that popped into her head.
“This is Liz Evans, who may I ask is calling?”
“Liz? As in nurse Liz Parker? You’re that two-bit floozy nurse that was in Max’s room aren’t you? What are you doing answering his phone and what is this about EVANS?”
Liz should have guessed the minute her ears started to hurt from all the whining, that it was Tess. She had just made one of the biggest mistakes. Tess Harding now knew something was up.
“Yes well I’m Liz Evans, Max’s wife. I would appreciate it if you would stop calling my husband, it’s very improper. He is no longer single or interested in your services…I mean company so please pretend you lost our phone number, or I will ask the operator to block any of your incoming calls. Thank you and have a wonderful morning Tess. By the way, it’s been a pleasure.”
And with that Liz hung up the phone.
Max walked in and poured himself a cup of coffee as he watched Liz hang up the phone.
“Who was that?”
“Oh I’m not sure, but it had to do with rodents and how to get rid of them.”
Liz laughed and walked over to Max, handing him the morning paper. Her answer was a bit strange but he brushed it off. They sat in silence, as Max read the paper and Liz thumbed through the Sears Roebuck catalog.
Suddenly Liz spoke, her voice soft and controlled.
“Max, we need to talk about something.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“I wanted to talk about having dinner with my father, and finally announcing our supposed ‘marriage’.”
Max knew it was long in coming, but he didn’t want to push her on this. He had wanted to tell her father immediately, but she asked him to wait. She wanted to prepare so that when they did tell him, her father would believe it. She had many a time attempted to describer her father to him but stopped short of what she really had to say about him. Max was finally happy that they could get it done and so he didn’t question her.
“Alright, when? Just let me know when and where and we’ll go. I want this to be as easy as possible for you, Liz.”
“Thank you Max. I’ll call him tonight and set a date.”
Max finally stood up and reached for his coat, taking one last sip of his coffee. Liz helped him into his coat, and he kissed her good bye. As he made his way down the porch steps they simultaneously yelled out to one another.
“I love you, bye!”
Liz closed the door and Max walked to his car. Suddenly the realization of what the either said impacted them.
Maria was up and pacing across the living room floor.
“Oh Lizzie, I can’t believe it. Now do you see why you have to tell him? He’s the father of your child for goodness sake’s.”
Liz watched as Maria paced back and forth, practically burning a hole in the beige living room carpet.
“You love him, he loves you, it’s so simple.”
“NO, Maria, it’s not simple. I mean, yes I said I love you and he said it too, but what if it was just reflexes?”
Maria looked at her best friend.
“Liz, sweetie I know you think you’re right but you have no more excuses, it’s time to tell Max.”
“Maria, what if I do, and he gets scared? Or what if I tell him and he becomes angry with me for lying to him? I can’t. Not like this, not now. I just need time. First we tell my father, I can only take one crisis at a time.”
Maria plopped herself down next to Liz, and hugged her.
“Okay, just don’t stress over this. We have enough with this war for you to start a new one with your dad.”
The girls chuckled together enjoying the light moment of the day.
Suddenly Maria inhaled and shot Liz a look.
Liz giggled again knowing full well that Maria and Max shared a common weakness...dinner.
“Yes, and no you can’t stay for dinner. Max and I have some important things to discuss…particularly, what we are going to tell my father at dinner a week from today.”
Maria tried to hide her disappoint but then realized what Liz had said.
“a week? Did you say a week?”
“Yes, what’s wrong?”
“Oh poor Lizzie, I heard from Shannon who is dating one of Kyle’s good friends that, Kyle is dating again. Supposedly he is in town, and well I think this dinner is a bad idea. I mean what if your dad tries to manipulate the situation?”
Liz took deep breaths and straightened herself out as she rose from the love seat.
“Maria, I can handle this. I have Max remember? I mean no matter what, the main purpose of this dinner is to make my father believe we are REALLY married. Once that happens, we’ll give it a few months and then when he leaves for Europe I’ll tell my father that he left me. I’ll still have the financial security from my father and Kyle will hopefully be married by then.”
“Okay Lizzie, keep dreaming. Besides, what if Max doesn’t let you go? Have you ever thought of that, or what in heaven’s name you are going to tell the man when your kid pops out with dark hair and hazel eyes?”
“MARIA! Stop it.”
“Alright, sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you, I just think it’s time you told Max.”
“I know and I will, just not now. Soon, I promise.”
Max opened the front door walked in and hung up his black coat. He entered and inhaled the delicious scent of the roasted chicken and a smiled flashed across his face. He walked further into the dinning room to find the table set for an intimate dinner for two. He called out for Liz and received no answer. He entered his bedroom and found a change of clothing set upon his bed. They were women’s clothing…a long satin nightgown with a matching robe. It was quite elegant and beautiful. He couldn’t resist as his hand reached out and stroked the soft silky fabric. He heard a noise behind him and he looked towards the bathroom door. He could see the soft delicate light shining through into the bedroom. He walked to the door and peered in, just in time to see Liz stepping out of the bathtub. She was completely bare and her skin was glowing. Her hair was wound up in a loose bun with strands of wet hair clinging to her soft supple skin.
Max took in a deep breath as his eyes made a path from her beautiful face to her neck to her supple breasts and her protruding tummy. His eyes were fixated there. He knew it was wrong to watch her, but he couldn’t stop himself. He watched as she carefully dried every inch of her body and then reached for her lotion, rubbing and caressing her skin with the soft cream. When she finally finished she placed the towel around her body and Max took it as his cue to stop watching.
He walked to his closet and quickly began to undress. He knew she would be taking down her hair so he thought he would have a few minutes to put on something a bit more comfortable. He took off his shirt and rummaged through his closet, pulling out a brand new shirt Liz had recently bought for him. As he did this Liz walked out looking as relaxed and exquisite as ever.
Liz looked up at Max and tried to keep from falling over with surprise.
“Max, what….um I mean…uh”
“Liz I’m sorry I was just changing. I saw that you were bathing. I mean I HEARD you and decided I would change for dinner”
Liz turned two different shades of pink before finally settling on beet red.
“Max, I’m sorry I just decided to take a bath and well I thought it would be okay to use your bathroom. I apologize. I am just going to go and change and then get dinner ready.”
Max wanted to laugh, when he realized that the entire time Liz was talking she was looking at his bare skin.
“Liz, It’s alright. You can change in here I’ll just put on this shirt and find the evening newspaper.”
“Thank you, Max. I’ll be right out.”
Twenty minutes later the two were seated across one another and eating their dinner solemnly. It was awkward for them but neither wanted to mention what had happened this morning. Finally Max couldn’t stand how quiet Liz had been and initiated a conversation.
“So Liz when are we having dinner with your father?”
Liz was surprised when she heard his voice, and tried to focus on what he was saying, and not on the thoughts that were flying in her head.
“Oh, well I spoke to my father and he decided a week from today would be best. Tomorrow he is taking a short trip to Napa.”
“Oh does he go there often?”
“Father, likes to keep an eye on things before the harvest. It’s his pride and joy and every year we go and enjoy the ‘fruits of his labor’ as he puts it. It’s an annual festival where we introduce the first wine of the season. It’s a family event, I never miss it.”
“It is. Max you would love it…”
Liz went into detail of the Annual Harvest and what each year brought. She was so deep into giving a detailed description she hardly noticed herself moving closer to Max. They discussed childhood memories and tragedies, like the death of Liz’s mother. It was often the case that Liz would shut down at the mention of her mother’s passing but with Max she had been so open that she even cried when they began to discuss it, something she never did. She felt so free to express herself she couldn’t help but want to say what she has been dying to tell him all night.
Suddenly Liz spoke abruptly. She looked into Max’s eyes as he watched her and waited for her to speak again.
“Max, I want to tell you something.”
“You can tell me anything Liz.”
“I hope you understand what I am about to say and that you don’t hate me. I don’t mean to make your life anymore difficult than it already is but I have to get this off my chest.”
“Go ahead Liz, I’m here for you.”
Max walked over to her side and brought her into his arms as he hugged her petite body close to his own. Then Liz took in a deep breath and he watched her lips separate as she spoke.
“Kyle, thank you for meeting me here. I know you are taking time out of your busy schedule to meet me so I appreciate it. Son, I want to know if you have any idea as to why my daughter may want to have dinner with me. She hasn’t spoken with me in over two weeks and out of the blue she has decided to contact me and have dinner. Now I know you and Liz are no longer involved but knowing the man you are, and how caring and protective you are of my daughter I thought you may know something.”
Jeff Parker made his way behind his desk and picked up the old wooden pipe and lit it. He soon began to puff away. Kyle Valenti watched him and after Jeff lit his pipe, he offered the small flame that burned brightly to Kyle and lit his cigarette.
Kyle exhaled a small breath of smoke and looked up at Jeff, and smiled.
“Mr. Parker, I am going to be honest and let you in on a little secret. I have had people keeping an eye on Liz for me. After are parting of ways I thought it would be best, that I keep an eye on her since the people she seemed to be communing with were a tad bit seedy.”
Jeff Parker could not help but smile at the young man. He knew that Kyle wanted to marry Liz but after the scandal she had caused he worried perhaps he would not accept her, but now he knew he would, and all he had to do was convince her to marry Kyle.
“Well, son I understand, but to whom are you referring to. I haven’t really been up to date with my daughter since she stormed out of my house in such a disrespectful manner. I thought it best to leave her for a while. What I do know is that next week we are to have dinner. She says she has an announcement to make, so I am hoping she has come to her senses.”
“I hope so, although I can’t help but think this dinner may have something to do with her new living arrangements.”
Jeff Parker’s once calm and collected expression turned into that of anger.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Well, sir I thought perhaps you knew this much. Your doting daughter has been residing at the home of her new fellow. Seems they are quite cozy. I haven’t gotten all the details, but I will soon.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“A few months.”
“And what do we know about this MAN?”
“Well I know his name, but I am delving into his background as we speak. I may have found someone who can help me with this little project. I’m on my way to meet after I leave here.”
“Fine, I won’t ask any questions, but I want the dirt on this fellow, and the sooner the better. There is no way in HELL that I am going to allow my daughter to continue living with some lowlife and disregard her position.”
With that Kyle watched as Jeff Parker stormed out of his office. Kyle smiled to himself, please with his recent actions. Everything was going according to plan, now all he had to do was get the goods on Max Evans and Tess was going to help him with that.
“Max, I love you!”
The silence was broken and the words were spoken.
Max sat in silence as he tried to come to terms with what was just said.
* She loves me? OH GOD SHE LOVES ME *
“Max? I’m sorry maybe I shouldn’t have said it.”
“No, please don’t say that. Liz I love you too.”
Liz tried to hold back the tears as she looked into his eyes. He was being as honest with her as she was with him. He really did love her. His words spoke volumes. He quickly embraced her, and started stroking her hair in an attempt to reassure her, then he pulled away slightly, and kissed her forehead.
The small gesture was welcomed. Everything had seemed to spiral out of control with the mere utterance of the words. Their fears, their hopes, everything was riding on this moment. They both wanted it to be a joyous moment, not one that proved to be disappointing. And now here they were in each other’s arms and declaring their love for one another. It was a beautiful moment, and Liz couldn’t help
Liz reveled in his touch, and the way his lips softly kissed her warm skin. She moved closer to him, sitting in his lap as he planted kisses along her face, and finally making contact with her lips.
“I love you Liz. I wanted to tell you, to share with you how I felt, but I thought I would scare you.”
“No Max, you don’t scare me. You could never do that. I’m sorry it’s taken so long. I guess I was just as afraid as you were. But with everything that’s happened you have never left my side.”
“And I never will. Liz I know that this pregnancy may have caused a lot of insecurities, but I don’t care whose baby this is. I will love it like Kyle never could. I love you and everything about you. That includes this baby.”
Liz couldn’t help but feel the overwhelming need to tell him. Her heart was screaming out to her to do it. To tell him the truth, and live happily ever after.
His index finger touched her tender lips and silenced her.
“Shh, Liz. No ‘buts’. I love you, no explanations needed.”
Liz felt her need to tell him the truth fading with every stroke of his tongue with hers as he kissed her passionately. Max had never one to allow himself be led by his emotions, but with Liz that was all he could do to keep from going insane. He knew she was his life and to live with out her was to stop breathing, to keep from living. He wouldn’t let that happen. Liz didn’t know what scared her more, the fact that she loved him so much, or the fact that the feeling was mutual.
With every kiss and every embrace, the thought of telling him was not as important. She knew she should have told him but she couldn’t. Too much too soon. Having him love her was enough and being able to express how much she loved him was all she could ask for.
|posted on 2-Jan-2002 11:25:14 AM|
“Okay Lizzie so you have to take deep breaths. I know you’re nervous sweet cheeks but you have to stay positive, and firm. Remember, your father likes to intimidate you.”
“Maria, I know. He is MY father, after all.”
“No I’m sorry, I shouldn’t snap at you like that. You’re only trying to help me.”
Liz was trying on the fourth dress Maria had handed her trying to choose the most appropriate dress to wear to dinner that night.
Liz’s sudden outburst grabbed Maria’s attention as she turned to find her best friend looking into a mirror half-naked and running her hand over her stomach.
“What’s wrong Liz?”
“Maria, I’m fat. My father is going to take one look at me and KNOW that I’m lying. It’s going to be all over in that instant. We both know I’m not a very good liar. Who am I trying to kid? I can’t do this.”
“Liz, take deep breaths. Now I know you think you are a terrible liar, and you are. And God knows I wonder why it is that Max hasn’t figured out the truth yet, but if there is one thing I DO KNOW…it’s that your father won’t know one thing. You look fine, don’t worry.”
Liz couldn’t help the tears that ran down her cheeks, she hated the way she felt lately. One minute she was laughing and the next she was screaming at Max for leaving his clothes on the floor.
“Thank you Maria, so how is Max doing? Did you lay out his clothes like I asked? I hope he doesn’t take any of Michael’s advice on how to handle my father because if he does he’ll ruin things and I can’t deal with that.”
Maria grabbed Liz by the shoulders and gave her a slight shake.
“LIZ! Get a hold of yourself, you’re babbling.”
“I’m sorry, can you do something for me?”
“Anything, you name it.”
“Will you go make sure Max is almost ready and then if he is, send him in?”
“But Liz you’re not even…”
“Maria, just do it, please?”
Maria raised her eyebrow at the request but gave in to Liz, knowing that it was the only thing that would make Liz happy.
“Fine, but I think you better put some clothes on.”
Liz smiled at her best friend as she pulled out a bright red dress from her closet. She admired the soft satiny material and then walked over to her dresser where she pulled out a silk rose pin. She styled her hair using one of the latest hairstyles she saw in magazine and placed the red silk rose pin in her hair. She then proceeded to pull on her slip, which was lying across her bed. As she stepped into the red satiny dress she admired herself in the mirror. Her skin was radiant and her hair gave her an aura of confidence. As she placed her leg on the bed and pulled her stolking up to meet her garter, she felt a warm hand traveling up her leg.
“I love a woman who wears garters.”
She turned to meet Max face to face and gazed into his golden, sunrise colored eyes, and lost herself in his touch. He had her in his arms and yet she could feel his hands everywhere. He kissed her exposed neck and made his way up to her jaw, pressing his lips against her warm skin.
“Oh God, I….uh…Oh yes… I think we should discuss…um…things.”
“What kinds of things?”
His husky voice was reverberating against her neck, driving her insane. He had kissed her everywhere but avoided her lips on purpose furthering her madness. He was trying to drive her insane with passion.
“Max, we really should discuss what we’re going to tell my father.”
Max pulled away slightly as he watched her. She was serious. They had talked all week, about telling her father, and what he would most likely say or do. He knew she was nervous but he wanted to help her forget, even if he did it with kisses. All he ver wanted to do was make Liz happy.
“Alright. We’ll have dinner and then after we discuss…who I am, I’ll tell him WE have some news. I’ll ease him into it but in the end I’ll tell him of our marriage and how I would be honored in knowing that he approves. So far so good?”
“Good. So don’t worry alright?”
“I’ll try not to. It’s just my father is so sneaky and conniving. He’s nothing like your father Max, he always gets what he wants.”
Max placed his arms around her and held her to him as he looked deep into her eyes, practically burning a hole through her body down into her soul.
“Liz, your father wants YOU. He wants you to stay his little girl forever, but that can’t happen. You’re a grown woman and I like to think you belong to me. You’re my family now. I won’t let him take you away.”
“Thank you Max, I love you.”
“I love you.”
“Okay lovebirds, it’s time to break up this wonderfully romantic moment. I’m sorry to be the one to remind you but you have to finish getting dressed Lizzie, and don’t forget you have to go and have dinner with your father, and watch him explode when you give him the good news of this FAKE marriage. Does any of this ring a bell?”
Maria always seemed to know how to ruin a good moment.
“Thank you Maria, I don’t really thing we could forget.”
Max smiled at the short lively blond. As bad as her timing was, he liked Maria. She was good for Michael, and kept him on his toes, not to mention his clothes were actually matching as of late. But he liked her more because of her spunkiness, and ability to make Liz feel better.
Max made his way out to the living room where he found Michael playing with the radio knobs, looking for one of his favorite radio programs.
“What no Phantom Avenger on?”
Michael scoffed at Max’s comment and switched the radio off.
The living room was quiet and beautifully lit by the small table lamps. Max’s home had taken on a whole new feeling since Liz’s arrival. It was no longer cold, nor empty. Every room where she spent time in, she spilled forth a bit of herself. In the living room, it was her silver candlesticks on the fireplace mantle. There was even a picture of her and Max in a matching silver frame.
They had taken a walk on the wharf one warm day and a photographer asked if they would like their picture taken. He had been photographing the beautiful San Franciscan landscape and wanted to include the happy couple. Max and Liz had agreed, and a few days later when the picture was forgotten they had received a delivery from the photographer, thanking them and sending them a copy of the photograph. The picturesque ocean was their backdrop, but their love was what made the picture glow.
Max was brought out of his thoughts by an annoyed Michael.
“I’m sorry, what were you saying?”
“Nothing. Never mind. You take one look at that picture and it’s like you go somewhere else. I know you’re in love Maxwell, but please don’t be such a twit about it.”
“Oh thank you so much for those encouraging words, Michael. I am about to face one of the richest men in America and tell him that I married his daughter and then I am actually going to make him believe that I knocked her up, all in one night. I’m lucky that I am still standing here in front of you right now and not dead.”
“Okay, you’re right, you’re not a twit, you’re a babbling fool.”
“Okay, okay, please don’t do that. I’ll behave.”
“Mr. Parker, I just wanted to call and confirm your invitation. I’m bringing my special guest. I’m sure Liz and her new found gentleman friend will love her.”
“I hope so Kyle, because I want this over with. Whatever it is my daughter sees in this MAN, I want to make sure she sees the truth first. I’ll see you here at six. Good bye.”
“Good bye, sir”
Jeff Parker took another look at the photograph, which sat on top of his desk. The young woman was stunningly beautiful and her hands encircled her large stomach. That image still haunted his dreams. He only wished he could have protected her. But now all he had was his daughter.
“Don’t worry Nancy, I won’t let anything happen to Liz. I’m taking care of things to ensure Liz’s happiness.”
A single tear ran down his cheek and he wiped it away, taking another puff of his cigar.
Jeff Parker never cried.
“Are you nervous?”
Max looked over at a fidgeting Liz. She was seated in the passenger side of the Oldsmobile, staring out the window as she nervously tightened her grip on the white handkerchief.
Max couldn’t help but chuckle at Liz’s anxious mood.
“Nothing. Liz, please don’t worry. It’s not good for the baby.”
“I know Max, but you’re about to meet my father, and we are about to tell him that we’re married. Do you realize the severity of the situation? He’s going to go ballistic and after he kills you he’ll kill me. Oh dear God, maybe we should stop off at church and say a little prayer?”
Max couldn’t help but give a hearty laugh at this.
“Liz, it will be fine. I promise. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Liz couldn’t help but smile. Max seemed so confident, but she was still so afraid of what would happen, and how such a simple thing like dinner would impact their lives.
“You’re right. Everything will be fine.”
Max took her hand in his and gave it a tight squeeze.
Max and Liz arrived at the Parker home, promptly at five. Max walked up the cobblestone steps to the Parker home and rang the doorbell. He had never been one to envy others but he had to admit to himself, if only in thought, that the Parker home was something to be envious of. It wasn’t a grand mansion, but it was rather large and elaborate. Driving in he took note of the large fountains and well-manicured lawn. Jeff Parker was undoubtedly a man of wealth.
Soon after the doorbell was heard within the home, an older gentleman, who appeared to be in his mid fifties/early sixties, opened the door and welcomed the young couple.
He addressed Liz first.
“Little bit! My dear you’ve been away far too long. It’s good to have you home. We’ve missed your visits, come in. Come in. This must be your guest. It’s a pleasure sir, I’m Randolph the Parker’s butler ”
“Thank you, I’m Max Evans.”
Max entered the large home and was a bit surprised when he was eased out of his coat, by the elderly butler. He smiled at him as he hung the coats and showed them into the dining room.
“Your father is expecting some company so he requested that I let you know dinner will be served at 5:30.”
“Thank you Randy.”
Max and Liz sat side by side, trying to get as close as humanly possible.
“I wonder who my father’s guest are. He rarely has business dinners at home. He thinks it personalizes things, and that one should never mix business with pleasure. I suppose it may be one of his close friends.”
“Where is your father?”
“He’s most likely on the phone with his accountant. He has such a large stake in business that it seems to be his life. No room for anything real and meaningful, like family or REAL friends.”
Liz tried not to sound irritated. She knew it didn’t make any sense considering her father attempted to include himself in her personal and private life as much as possible, but it was just the simple fact that in the instances she wanted him with her or there for her. He was always too busy.
Suddenly a tall gentleman dressed in a brown toffee colored suit entered the dinning room. He looked stern and disciplined. Max thought his facial features looked like that of a hard emotionless figure.
“Liz, I’m glad you could make it….and on time, very good Liz.”
Liz began tapping her foot in anger and soon felt Max’s comforting hand upon her knee, gently rubbing back and forth. She looked at him, and he smiled a warm loving smile.
“Why don’t we go into the living room while we wait on my other guests?”
Jeff Parker took another puff on his pipe and waited as Max and Liz entered the hallway, finally settling into the large elaborate living room. It was beautiful, complete with fireplace and delicate 18th century furniture. Not much for comfort but beautiful none the less.
“Liz are you not going to introduce me to your friend?”
Liz sat down as she answered her father, leaving Max to shake hands with the tall brooding man.
“Father this is Dr. Max Evans. Max, my father Jeff Parker.”
“Its very nice to meet you Mr. Parker. I’ve read a lot about you over the past few years and I enjoy your wine very much.”
“So you’re a drinker are you?”
“Well sir, I am not much for drinking but I know fine wine when I taste it, and so I drink it socially.”
“Good answer. It’s nice to meet you Dr. Evans. It’s awfully strange that my daughter has never mentioned you before.”
Liz interjected, taking Max’s hand in her own.
“Well father, Max and I happen to like privacy. We haven’t been parading our relationship about the city. That is why I have chosen to introduce him to you tonight. I thought perhaps it was time he met my father.”
“Oh well it’s nice to finally meet you then, Max. My daughter seems to have done well…but then again the night is not over, so I suppose we’ll wait and see.”
Max smiled when Jeff gave a hearty laugh.
Liz looked away trying to hide the embarrassment she felt.
The room fell quiet, but the silence was soon broken by the sound of the doorbell.
Liz could hear Randolph ushering in the guests, but the words that soon followed were what grabbed her attention and made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
“Thank you, please make sure you’re careful with that coat. It was a gift.”
Randolph entered the living room and presented the two guests.
“Mr. Kyle Valenti and Miss Tess Harding, sir.”
Liz almost felt like vomiting at the site before her. There was Tess wearing a slinky scarlet dress and matching pumps. Her hair in tight blond curls ordaining her face. Next to her was a smug Kyle, he looked more like her pimp than someone who came from money, and of course that would make Tess his prostitute.
Liz smiled at the image.
Max took hold of her hand and stood them up.
He was even more nervous than she was.
*What kind of threat does Tess actually pose?*
Kyle couldn’t help but walk across the floor to where Liz stood beside Max, and hugged her. He smelled of cheap cologne and smoke. Liz felt sick when the scent floated to her nose. She grabbed on to Max to keep her balance and Max quickly took hold of her and sat her down.
“Liz are you alright?”
Everyone had taken notice of Liz’s current state. She was pale and looked ill.
“I’m fine. I just felt faint. I haven’t been feeling well.”
“Still have that flu bug?”
Kyle couldn’t help but be obvious in his sarcasm.
“Actually I think Liz may have had an encounter with something that displeased her. Cheap perfume doesn’t sit well with her. You know how that is right Kyle?”
Max knew it was ill mannered to make such a comment, considering the source of cheap perfume was standing right next to Kyle throwing Liz dirty looks.
Kyle just smiled and led Tess over to the sofa where they sat.
“So I gather no introductions are needed?”
Jeff Parker observed the whole scene playing out before him. Max obviously knew Tess. He cracked a smile. He couldn’t wait till dinner. Things were about to get even more interesting.
They each made small talk, talking about the weather or stocks. No one ever mentioned what was running through their minds.
At six o’clock sharp, everyone sat in the dinning room. Jeff Parker sat the head of the table, with Kyle, Tess to his right and Max and Liz to his left. They sat silent until Jeff Parker spoke.
“Well I suppose while we wait for dinner to be served I will break the silence, and ask what everyone else has been dying to know...Liz?”
Liz looked up from the folded napkin in her lap, trying not to throw up on the spot.
“Well father actually I was hoping we could discuss this later. I didn’t really expect that you would have guests. This is more of a family discussion.”
“Kyle is practically family, Liz. Whatever you have to share can be shared with him as well.”
“No ‘buts’, Liz. If Max can sit at this table and take part in our discussions like one of the members of this family I don’t see why Kyle and Tess can’t!”
Max attempted to stand. He was displeased with the tone Mr. Parker had taken with Liz. He never really understood why Liz was so intimidated by him, but now he had his first look at how ruthless Jeff Parker could be, even with his own daughter.
“Very well. MAX and I have something we would like to share with you, and I suppose now we will be sharing it with Kyle and his guest. But I would like to leave that for after dinner if you don’t mind?”
“Not at all. Let us enjoy our dinner and then we can discuss whatever it is you came here to say tonight.”
“We! ‘WE’ came here to say. As in Max and I!”
“Very well, on to more important things…Kyle how is your father?”
Mr. Parker’s blatant disrespect towards Liz and Max only fueled Liz’s anger.
Kyle watched smugly smiling to himself from time to time, enjoying the spectacle Jeff Parker was making. To him, this was exactly how he had planned things out. But the fun was just beginning.
“Well My father is fine. He is making big money with this war. He only wishes we could keep it going. The money from the oil business is great, but the money made from making ammunition is even better.”
Liz couldn’t help but feel her stomach turn...with anger. As they sat in their nice comfortable Chippendale styled chairs, there were men dying, fighting for freedom and the human rights of others.
“How lovely Kyle, you’re family is making profits off the deaths of hundreds of men.”
“I’m sorry Liz, but this discussion wouldn’t interest you. Women don’t understand the concept of war or business. Both are something women have no real place in.”
Liz couldn’t hear anything but the blood rushing to her head. When all of a sudden the ball of blond curls began to speak.
“Kyle’s right. Men make money; women spend it. We’re best at that. Liz you should know this, you’re a woman.”
Max couldn’t help but interject.
“You’re right Liz is a woman, a respectful upstanding young woman who knows better than to believe women are inferior to men. She’s a real woman, more than I can say for you.”
Liz’s hand gently rubbed up and down Max’s thigh as he looked over at her, and smiled warmly.
“I’m surprised at that remark Max. Are you implying something? If I didn’t know better I would say you had never been with a real woman. But you and I both know the truth!”
Jeff Parker rose from the table and gave a questioning look at Max. Max felt caught in a web, no matter what he did he was stuck. Finally he stood and looked Jeff straight in the eyes.
“Mr. Parker I’m sure you already know this but in case you would like to hear it again…Tess was once my fiancé. She and I lived together for two years before I was drafted into the war. I came home a few months ago to find her in bed with a gentleman ‘friend’ and well soon after I threw her out of my house.”
“So you come into MY house and decide to air out your dirty laundry, disrespecting my daughter in that manner. Liz, now do you see the kind of man he is?”
“Father I know exactly what kind of man Max is. I knew about Tess the same day I met him, he never kept anything from me. And how dare you and Kyle devise some sort of scheme to make Max look bad. Don’t deny it father, I see right through the both of you.”
Kyle stood behind Jeff and then walked over tugging on Liz’s arm
“Liz, you’re overreacting. Trotting off after some insignificant War reject. He is not even in your social class. I would have thought that after having dated me you would have had better taste in MEN. I guess you still don’t know what a real man is.”
“Well Kyle you wouldn’t know much about that. I mean, real men actually GO TO WAR, unlike you who had have daddy pay your way out of it.”
Soon everyone was out of their chairs. Max was still standing next to Liz who was holding on to his shoulders as Kyle began spatting obscenities in his face. Jeff Parker was staring on puffing away on his cigar and watching the spectacle he so masterfully planned.
Suddenly a bell was heard echoing through the dinning room.
“Dinner is served!”
Their attention was soon focused on the elderly butler. He winked at Liz who gave him an appreciative smile.
“You are still having dinner, correct sir?”
Randolph always knew how to handle Jeff Parker. He would of course allow Jeff to think he had the upper hand as his employer but Randolph was too old and too smart to be intimidated by Jeff.
“Of course. We just got into a heated discussion. Please begin serving. As soon as we are done make a pot of coffee it will be served in the living room, where Max and Liz may make their announcement. From what I have already gathered it should be very interesting news.”
Randolph turned on his heel and proceeded to leave. The evening was just beginning.
“Brandy for all Randolph!”
“Not for me father, thank you.”
The room felt silence and all eyes fell on Liz. After the awkward dinner where no one spoke of anything but the weather and the market, the two couples and Jeff Parker made their way into the living room for brandy and coffee.
Kyle was the first to remark.
“Liz, we always have Brandy after dinner. Have you suddenly decided it’s too good for you? It seems your taste in many things has taken a downward spiral.”
“You’re such the comedian Kyle, but no. I have my reasons not to want to drink. I’ll stick to coffee.”
They all sat as the Brandy was served.
Tess was the next to comment and bring forth her opinion.
“Perhaps Liz has her personal reasons, I mean maybe she will be the one driving home. I know for a fact that at times Maxwell here can’t handle his liquor.”
Max eyed the blond bimbo and wanted to show her just what he couldn’t handle, but his anger was brought under control by the gentle touch of Liz’s hand.
“Max, I think it’s time we ended this evening by saying what we came here to say.”
“I agree. I think it best that you make your big announcement.”
Max stood up and took hold of Liz’s hand looking around at the three individuals before him. He couldn’t wait to make his announcements and wipe the smug looks on Kyle and Tess’s faces.
“Well Mr. Parker I suppose the way we went about what we are about to tell you may disappoint you and upset you but I will remind you that Liz and I are adults and can make our own decisions. So without further ado…I would like to present to you, Mrs. Maxwell Evans.”
And with that Liz stood up and Max embraced her, holding her small fragile body to him. Jeff Parker’s face quickly became unreadable. It was as if he has no expression at all. Kyle and Tess were too busy picking up their jaws to speak.
Liz and Max knew a greater matter was yet to be discussed but first thing was first.
Jeff Parker stood up and walked across the living room rug over to where Max stood.
“What in God’s name are you trying to pull here Doctor? Do you really think I’m going to believe that after a few short weeks of knowing my daughter that you actually went about marrying her? Do you really think I’m a fool? And Elizabeth Parker, you should know better than to think I would believe that you married this fool. Now I expect you to tell me you’re pregnant and going to live happily ever after.”
Liz’s complexion turned a pale white and she felt her legs give out on her but before she could even think of passing out she heard Max finish what they had been dreading all week.
“As a matter of fact that is precisely the case. Liz and I are going to have a baby.”
The three voices responded in unison and their eyes darted to the source of the information.
“How is that possible?”
Kyle was the first to speak up in disbelief. He was quickly given a harsh look by Max.
*This guy has some nerve. He gets Liz pregnant and then can’t believe it. Bastard*
“Believe it Kyle. This is our child and it will have all the love in the world. I’m sorry if you can’t understand the concept of love.”
“You’re lying. This baby is not yours Max. How far along is St. Liz?”
“Tess, it’s true and although it’s none of your business she’s three months along.”
“There you see? There is no way it’s yours St. Liz here would never have allowed you into her bed so close to the time when you and I had just broken up and she and Kyle had ended their relationship. There is no way in Hell that this baby is your Max so please stop trying to think you can put one over on us.”
“Liz? Is this true? Is everything he says true? Did you really go off and marry him because you’re pregnant?”
Jeff Parker’s tone was almost sad and distant. Liz wanted to cry because the entire time Max had been arguing with Kyle and Tess she watched her father’s expression change from that of nothingness to that of confusion and finally sadness. Now she had to break his heart. She had to let him in on the one thing she had known for a long time. She wasn’t his LITTLE girl anymore.
“Yes father, it’s true. But I didn’t marry Max because of the baby. I Love him, and he loves me. I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“NO everyone out. NOW! I don’t want everyone out of my home now.”
“But Mr. Parker Liz and I wanted…”
“No. You come into my home, you inform me that you have not only impregnated my daughter but married her and then you want to explain? No. Leave. Immediately.”
Liz took Max’s hand in hers and shook her head signaling him that it was best that they do as he wishes. They soon left and were on the front porch along side Kyle and Tess.
“Well Liz I never thought you had it in you. Two men, and you had them both you in your bed. Wow!”
The next thing Tess knew she was eye to eye with Liz’s hand and felt only the slap which followed.
“Sorry to disappoint you Tess but that’s you not me.”
Tess tried to reach for her but met Max’s chest.
“Don’t even think about it Tess. Stay away from my wife or I’ll make sure you get more than just a slap.”
And with that Max and Liz made it to their car and drove off leaving a smiling Kyle and a fuming Tess.
It had been two months since the dinner. Liz and Max had decided not to discuss the events of that night. The way things had happened wasn’t exactly what they had expected but Liz knew that it would turn out the same way. Her Father angry and Max holding her as she cried into the night. Since that night things had calmed down and life was good. Liz had stopped working completely and Max had taken to working at the hospital a few hours a week until he was fully recovered. Spring was in the air and the flowers and grass weren’t the only things blooming and growing. Liz had finally begun to show. She was only five months along but she couldn’t help but feel excited about having her baby. Things had become almost semi-normal and life for her and Max was great.
Maria had made it a point to keep Liz updated on the recent hospital gossip and let her know which of the nurses were after Max. On the weekends the two couples spent their weekends together. Recently Maria and Michael had announced their engagement and the four decided to celebrate by inviting their friends and family over to Max and Liz’s home for a nice afternoon barbecue.
The swirls of pink and purple illuminated the heavens as the glowing orange sun sank into what looked to be the depths of the earth. Liz watched as it sank lower and lower from human eyes and was suddenly jolted out of her reverie by Max’s lips pressing against her neck.
“What are you thinking about?”
Liz turned in his arms, her small protruding stomach pressing against him.
“Nothing but how happy I feel. I may be fat but I’m happy. I’ve never been so happy in my whole life.”
“Good. You deserve this Liz Parker… um I mean Evans. I hope I can keep you as happy as you are right now. You and our little one.”
Max placed his large masculine hand on her stomach and rubbed it back and forth feeling the warmth of her body in his palm.
“You will. Now here take this to your mother and father. I’m sure everyone is famished.”
Liz shoved the small tray into Max’s hands.
“Liz, I should warn you Michael is manning the barbecue pit. Are you sure you trust him with ruining this much food?”
“HEY!!! That’s my future husband you’re talking about.”
Maria quickly entered the kitchen poking Max in the arm as she pushed him out of the kitchen.
“Well then you know what I’m talking about.”
“Hey I never said he could cook, or that I could for that matter but only I can insult him. Now shoo, Liz and I have some girl talk to catch up on.”
“Please no more gossip. Isn’t it enough that you keep an eye on me at the hospital and warn all the women away from me?”
Maria took one hotdog from the small tray and took a bite then began wagging it in Max’s face.
Liz couldn’t help but laugh at the image before her.
“Now listen up Max, I saw that Katherine Roberts flirting with you. I felt it my duty as Liz’s best friend to let her know that you are taken.”
“Maria, she’s 80 years old.”
“I don’t care! Now go help Michael, I think your parents need help putting out the fire.”
Liz and Maria watched as Max made his way out the door into the yard. The two couldn’t help but laugh when Max practically dropped the tray handing it to Diane Evans as he and Michael tamed the flame rising from the barbecue pit.
“So Liz, I need a nice reminder as to why you haven’t let Max in on your secret that you’re having his baby?”
“Maria, can you say that any louder I doubt Max could hear you.”
“Sorry but it’s not my fault you haven’t told him. Now spill. I think we need to talk about everything that’s been going on. First you not telling him that the baby you’re carrying is his, and all about your dinner at daddy Warbuck’s.”
“I told you all there is to tell. Dad got angry I slapped Tess and we went home. And as far as not telling Max, well I think that’s going to change soon. I have been thinking about this for a long time and I don’t have good reason to keep this secret anymore. My father has basically disowned me and Max loves me and this baby more than life itself. I don’t even think he’ll be all that upset that I lied to him. I think next weekend I’m going to make him a nice candle lit dinner and tell him the news.”
“That’s a good idea. So tell me have you heard from Kyle or Tess lately?”
“No. And I’m counting my blessings, believe me.”
“Good, not let’s go enjoy dinner or what’s left of it. I think the Evans are going to wish they had brought dinner themselves.”
“Mr. Valenti? This is James Sanders, the private investigator you hired? I thought I’d call you and let you know that I have the information you wanted.”
“First of all, I told you never to call me here and secondly Thank you. I’ll meet you tomorrow on Fisherman’s wharf, 3:00 sharp. I’ll pay you your fee then.”
“Yes sir. Till then.”
Kyle placed the receiver on the hook and turned around eyeing the petite blond who sat before him. He sometimes wondered why she wore such red seductive lipstick.
* Doesn’t she know she looks like a two-bit whore? *
“So was that who I think it was?”
Kyle smiled at her as he offered her a brandy.
“But of course. Tomorrow we’ll have the proof we need and then we can follow through with the rest of our plan. For now I have to make a few more phone calls. One phone call in particular to Mr. Jeff Parker. I’m sure he’s going to want to hear all about what we have to say.”
The Following Monday Liz and Max awoke in each other’s arms with a sigh of content. Life really seemed to be going well for both of them and neither one wanted anything to change, but Liz knew that tonight she had to finally tell Max the truth. Things had progressed too far with out her being completely and utterly honest and it couldn’t go on any further. She felt the pressure and could still hear Maria’s voice urging her on to do the right thing.
Liz turned in Max’s arms and looked into his eyes.
Liz knew she had to assure herself that she had enough courage to tell him, but right now she couldn’t muster enough anything to get out of bed.
“I was hoping you and I could have a nice candle lit dinner at home tonight. I need to talk to you about something important.”
Max looked at the raven-haired beauty before him. Liz looked angelic and innocent. He loved her so much sometimes it was painful. He wanted so much to ravish her and be intimate in every way possible, not just physically but emotionally. He felt as though Liz was still holding something back from him, but thought that it was due to the fact that they hadn’t been together very long and that perhaps it would go away eventually. He made one more attempt to reassure himself of that and then leaned down and kissed Liz’s forehead.
“Of course, Liz. That sounds wonderful. I’ll bring home a nice bottle of wine, for dinner.”
“Alright. Thank you.”
Max held her tight to him and kissed her tender lips. Their kiss started off so soft and sweet and soon became passionate and sensual. Liz could feel herself floating away and yet felt so grounded all at the same time. Her hands went to Max’s chest and then further down...
The two lovers were soon brought out from their passionate moment by the doorbell.
“I better answer the door. I need to get the morning paper anyway.”
“Alright Max, although I wonder who it could be so early in the morning.”
Max untangled himself from Liz’s warm, embracing arms and pulled on his robe over his cotton, plaid pajamas. He slipped his slippers on and made his way to the door.
When he opened the door a young man around the age of 20 with sand colored hair and freckles was just about to ring the doorbell again.
“Oh, I’m sorry sir. Good Morning! I hope I didn’t wake you. I’m Marty from San Francisco Telegram Service. I have a telegram to be delivered to a Mr. and Mrs. Max Evans? Are you Max Evans?”
“Yes that’s me. Where do I sign for it?”
“Oh right here sir. I’ll have you know this was delivered early in the morning by request. I apologize if I woke you.”
Max ran his hand through his dark mussed hair and smiled at the young man who seemed to be going on and on and enjoyed the sound of his own voice”
“It’s really alright and thank you for the information. Um…do you have any idea who this is from?”
“Oh yes sir, let me see…Ooh It must be important and urgent. My delivery notice says it’s from Jeff Parker. “
Once the name escaped the young man’s lips Max gave him his tip and practically closed the door on him.
“Thank you. Bye”
“So Kyle, how was your meeting?”
“It went as expected. Soon everything will be out in the open and the truth will reveal itself to both Max and Liz and Jeff Parker, and their perfect little lives will be anything but.”
“Yeah? Well, good. The sooner the better. I’m getting tired of waiting.”
“Look Tess, you should be so happy to wait. All you’ve done the last couple of months is mooch off me and what I have to offer you.”
Kyle served himself a cup of coffee and looked at the dim blond who was fixing her curlers.
“Well that’s funny, last night you were singing a different tune. Something about me and how wonderful I am.”
“Yes well under those circumstances any man would think you’re wonderful.”
Tess reached for the croissant on the silver serving platter and threw it in Kyle’s direction just barely missing him.
Kyle laughed waving his finger from side to side.
“Now, now Tess, if I didn’t know better I would say that nice little croissant was meant for me.”
“Just goes to show Kyle, you don’t know any better.”
Kyle marched up to where Tess was sitting and snatched her arm pulling her to her feet.
“OW! Stop it Kyle you’re hurting me.”
“Now who doesn’t know any better, Tess my dear. You’re nothing more than a whore and the only reason I’m keeping you around is so that after Max and Liz call it quits you can twist the knife. So if I were you I would be very careful my dear.”
And with that Kyle pushed Tess back into her seat. Tess pulled her pearl colored, silk robe closed soothing the pain of her arm with the palm of her hand, eyeing Kyle as he walked out of the room.
“Oh what a good little boy you are Kyle Valenti, but don’t you dare think you can get away with ruining other people’s lives and not have yours ruined in the process. You’re going to get what you deserve. I’ll make sure of it. Tess Harding always comes out on top, over everyone else.”
Liz poured Max another cup of coffee as he turned the telegram over in his hands. He couldn’t help but stare at the envelope. It had been weeks since the dinner at Jeff Parker’s home and it had been apparent that things hadn’t gone so well. Liz and Max thought they’d never hear from him again. It was clear he was angry and unhappy with the events of the night.
Now here they were a month later and sitting before them was a telegram from Jeff Parker himself.
“Well Max don’t you think we should open it?”
Max felt Liz’s hand on his shoulder. Her dark brown eyes looking down on him. She was just as anxious and nervous as he was but they both needed to know what the telegram said.
“You’re right. We should just read it and get it over with.”
Liz went into the living room and reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a letter opener.
“Here you go.”
Max took the letter opener out of her small hand and proceeded in opening the telegram.
As he read it Liz looked on. She really had no idea what her father had up his sleeve but she knew it was nothing good.
Max ran a hand through his hair and looked up from the telegram before him. Liz tried to read his expression but it seemed impossible.
“Max? What is it? What does it say?”
Max cracked a smile and handed the piece of paper to her.
“It’s an invitation. He wants us to visit him in Napa, something about a Harvest festival? He said you would know exactly what it’s about. It’s only for a week and he’s sending a car later on this afternoon if we agree. It sounds like he wants to make amends.”
Liz gave Max a questioning look.
“What’s the matter? Isn’t this a good thing?”
“Max, it’s not that it’s not a good thing, it’s just that you don’t know my father. He is so conniving sometimes and I can’t understand why he would do this. Why he would want to make amends.”
Max pushed his chair back and stood up. He came up behind Liz and encircled his arms around Liz’s shoulders.
“Sweetie, don’t you worry. I think your dad misses you. Besides we don’t have any secrets from each other. Everything will be just fine. I’m going to get dressed and I suggest you do the same. We can get ready and pack before this afternoon.”
* Secrets? Oh Max, if you only knew. *
“You’re right Max. I should just relax, but I would feel better about this whole situation if we invited Maria and Michael to come to.”
“Oh well Liz I don’t think that would be such a great idea. I mean this invitation is for us only.”
Liz’s bottom lip became pouty and she looked up at Max running her hands over his chest.
“Max, I need to have someone there to keep me company.”
“Oh and what am I?”
“Well it’s just that the vineyard gets to be a very boring place with all the work that needs to be done and well I promised Maria that next time we had a Festival she could come. She wants to help with the grape stomping. “
Max took hold of her hands and brought them to his lips kissing them.
“Of course. I’ll call Michael and have them pack. It’s only for the week right?”
“Right. Maria can get out of work and Michael’s been working down at Arnie’s Garage I’m sure it will be no trouble.”
“Fine. Oh wait, what about dinner?”
Liz quickly remembered her plans for later that evening.
* Thing are beginning to get even more complicated. *
“Oh well don’t worry, that can wait.”
Max looked down at Liz who seemed to be avoiding his gaze. He took her chin with the tips of his fingers and raised it so to meet her eyes.
“Are you sure?”
Liz couldn’t help but feel loved. Here he was worrying about her again, with no good reason. She stood on her toes and kissed his lips softly.
“I’m sure. Now let’s go get dressed and pack.”
“Look Liz, I’m just telling you what I think. I know you don’t want to hear it but since you asked me on this trip then I think I should have the privilege of hounding you, till you tell Max the truth.”
Maria picked up her make up case and placed it on top of the other suitcases. Her hair wrapped in a red bandana holding her curlers in place.
“Fine, Maria. But I want you to know I’m going to tell Max as soon as I can. I was planning on tonight but then this trip came up and Max is set on going. He thinks my father wants to make amends but I know better. He’s going to try and pull something.”
“Exactly why you should tell Max the truth.”
“Truth about what?”
Max entered the front door with Michael following close behind him. The two were loading up the car Jeff Parker had sent over. Max had walked into a delicate conversation and took note of the serious expressions held by Maria and Liz.
Liz’s mouth fell to the floor as the color drained from her face.
Maria’s lips fluttered a mile a minute as she scrambled to think of a cover.
“Um…well…you see…we…um..er.. .”
“The truth about Maria and I.”
Michael quickly interjected.
“We didn’t really think Maria and I joining you two on this trip was such a good idea but we didn’t want to tell you because we thought you guys might think we were being rude.”
“RIGHT! And although being rude is part of Michael’s daily habits, it’s not part of mine and well I just wanted to make sure it was REALLY okay for us to join you guys.”
Maria glanced over at Liz who looked like she was about to toss her cookies.
Max looked at Liz and walked over to her as he spoke.
“Of course Maria, Liz wants you and Michael there and I think it’s a great idea. At least we won’t be alone for a whole week. Liz, are you alright, you look pale.”
Liz plastered a fake smile upon her face and hated blatantly lying to Max but knew that it was for the best.
“I’m fine. And well now that everything is settled I think we should get going. We have quite the trip ahead of us.”
Max couldn’t help but wonder what was really going on. Maria and Liz looked too serious for such a stupid discussion and Liz’s reaction was far too sickly than to be expected. Max couldn’t help but feel that this trip may turn out to be more interesting than he would like.
”Thank you Daniel. I’ll be expecting them later this evening then.”
Jeff Parker hung up the vintage phone. He looked out the window to the beautiful manicured gardens. To the far right he could see the beautiful vineyard with the grapes ready to be picked. And to the left the beautiful rose garden. The tall stoic man sighed in relief as he picked up the silver picture frame.
“I’m so sorry Nancy. I wasn’t able to protect her like I promised I would. I never wanted this for her. I promise I’ll do better from now on. I won’t let this Evans fellow have her. I should never have allowed her such freedom. I’m going to try and keep that promise now. I’m going to make sure Max Evans doesn’t get away with taking away our daughter and having her fall under the same circumstances you did. She’ll have the best care, the best doctors. Nothing will happen to her…NOTHING! Max Evans will rule the day he touched my daughter. I’m sure fate will take care of him nicely. I promise.”
Jeff Parker placed the small silver frame back on his desk and stared out into the openness of the Napa Valley. It was beautiful and picturesque. His hopes and dreams lye there with the rolling hills and setting sun, and he knew that soon Liz’s hopes and dreams would lye there as well. Her home, her life and Max Evans far, far away.
The grandfather clock tolled 8:30 and Tess hurriedly threw her mink stole upon her shoulders.
“Kyle, I don’t understand why YOU have to drive. Why can’t we have the chauffeur drive us? I mean I hate sitting in a car for so long and knowing you, you’ll speed the whole way with the windows down, blowing my hair in five different directions. It’s pointless.”
“Tess what do I care if your hair is wind-blown? No one is going to care what you look like. Besides, you’ll do as I say and I don’t care how much you complain, although I advise you to keep your trap shut while I’m driving. I may feel the need to drive us off a cliff if you talk too much.”
Tess sneered at Kyle as she pulled a scarf around her fluffy blond curls. It looked as though she had already been wind-blown.
“Ha ha, you’re so funny Kyle. Remind me again why I put up with your antics.”
“Because if you don’t you’ll be like any other whore on the street. Besides I’m sure by the time we arrive everyone will be in bed. So shut up and enjoy the ride my dear. If all turns out in our favor you won’t have to worry about riding home with me. You can Ride Max instead.”
Kyle began to laugh as he started the ignition. Tess cracked him a strained smile as they rode off.
7:30 p.m. Parker home
Max helped Liz out of the car once they arrived at the Parker home. It looked more like a castle to Max who had never seen any home so enormous or decorative. It emerged like a gothic blast from the past out of acres of rolling vineyard and pastoral calm. It was lovely yet enormously beautifully crafted. There was no question in Max’s mind that this serious ultra-premium winery was also an architectural showpiece. The 16,000 square foot French-Normandy structure replete with custom-colored brick edifice, slate tile, turrets, balconies, seven fireplaces and numerous fountains was Jeff Parker’s pride and joy.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
Max tore his eyes from the beautiful sight before him to witness the even more angelic beauty. She was gorgeous. She was dressed in a beautifully tailored pink summer dress that fitted her every curve and loosened around her stomach making her seem even more stunning because of her current condition. She glowed and her hair shined. Max realized the home paled in comparison to his lovely Liz. He smiled down at her. She looked amazing. He hadn’t even notice how much so until that very moment. From the pink ribbon in her hair to the way her hair fell down around her shoulders so naturally. She wore little make up and yet she looked as exquisite as ever.
“Not as beautiful as you.”
Liz blushed. Max always said the loveliest things.
“You’re not so bad yourself Max Evans!”
It was true. Max looked extremely handsome in his white shirt and gray slacks. He never looked underdressed or over dressed. Liz admired him. He was always gorgeous in her eyes.
Max picked her up in one swift move and held her to him as he kissed her.
Maria looked from behind the trunk at the two.
“Those two love each other so much you gotta admire how dumb they can be.”
Michael leaned over and kissed her forehead.
“What was that for?”
“For showing me how dumb I can be and how smart I am for marrying you!”
Maria blushed. Suddenly she hit Michael in the shoulder.
“OW!! What was that for?”
“For being so damn loveable! Thank you!”
Max and Liz finally looked over at their two friends and smiled.
Liz turned to the group and inhaled.
“So are you guys ready to go in?”
“Heck yeah. If this place is half as great as it looks outside I can’t wait to see the inside.”
The group just laughed at Maria’s remarks and entered the home.
Max uttered the one-syllable word under his breath, in amazement.
The walkway was decorated with Italian mosaic tiles and the walls were lined with portraits and paintings. Of course the home looked expensive, it was exactly that, but it was so beautiful that it felt almost wrong to be walking in.
“Wow, Lizzie. When you used to say this place always felt like it was somewhat of a magical castle, I thought it was because you were young and impressionable, but now that I see this place, you were right. It is a castle.”
The group laughed as they entered the large living area. It was grand and ornate like Jeff Parker’s other home but this had a warm feeling. It had a fireplace with a large marble mantle. The furniture was far more comfortable then the Victorian styled furniture Jeff had in his San Francisco home. It had feathered seats and pillows with cushioned leather back chairs. The room was inviting and the group sat down as Jeff Parker entered in a wool sweater and pipe. No one had ever seen this side of Jeff. He looked relaxed and serene and even Liz smiled at the sight.
“Liz, Max. I didn’t know you were bringing guests. I thought I made it clear in the invitation that it was to be the two of you only.”
Max stepped forward as if to take responsibility but Liz stepped in front of him.
“Father although Max and I are very grateful that you sent for us, we wanted to enjoy the Harvest Festival with friends and FAMILY. I asked Maria and Michael, her fiance, along so that Max and I wouldn’t he alone while you were off working.”
“Very well. It’s nice to have you here Maria. Michael.”
Jeff extended his hand and Michael and Maria accepted graciously.
Soon there after Jeff escorted each couple to a room. He showed Liz and Max to the master bedroom and Liz gave him a questioning look.
“Father, why are you giving us your bedroom?”
Jeff swallowed and looked at the young couple.
“Well Liz, when your mother and I married we spent out first night together in this room. Now that you’re married I know your mother would want the same thing for you. Besides this room was made for two people…two MARRIED individuals, not for a lonely old man.”
For the first time that day Liz realized her father was being sincere. She looked at his blue eyes and took a step forward hugging him. The embrace surprised Jeff but he didn’t dare refuse it.
“You’re welcome Liz. You four better get changed for a late dinner. There are robes in the bathroom if you need to shower.”
“Thank you Mr. Parker.”
Max offered his hand to the gentleman and was unfortunately denied a handshake as Jeff ignored his extended hand and walked out.
Liz saw the disappointment in Max’s eyes. And took his hand with hers placing it on her chest, in the vicinity of her heart.
“No, Thank you Max.”
“No ‘thank you’ needed. I love you Liz, I’d do anything for you,”
Liz’s face became serious and her expression scared Max.
“Liz? What’s the matter?”
“Max. I don’t know how to ask you this. It’s probably wrong of me to do so but after what my father said I wouldn’t feel right about it.”
“What? Liz what is it?”
Her expression became grim and she finally lifted her eyes to meet his.
“Max, I don’t think we should share a bed. I know it’s silly but the day we share my parent’s bed I want it to be because we really are married. I hope you don’t mind and that you aren’t angry with my request.”
Max smiled down at Liz taking her face in his hands. He ran his thumbs across her cheeks and looked deep into the dark pools most considered eye, but Max had come to know as windows into her soul.
“Liz I could never be angry with you. I completely understand your request and I’ll honor it. Now we better get settled and dressed for dinner.”
“Sounds good, oh and Max?”
Liz really wish they had had one more day before visiting her father so she could tell him the truth but she knew that it didn’t matter when she told him the truth, either way the truth would have a profound effect on their lives.
“Never mind. We can talk tonight after dinner.”
Max looked at Liz who seemed a bit more relaxed.
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I’m just going to freshen up and get dressed.”
Liz entered the bathroom, closed the door, and looked into the mirror.
“I have a bad feeling about all of this.”
She whispered the words to herself, but she knew deep down that she was right.
“Listen Kyle, I think you should have at least stopped on the way over so I could powder my nose and touched up my make up. Now I look a fright!”
“Listen Tess, I don’t care what you look like. We’re here for a reason and I’m not stopping so you can ‘touch up’ your make up.”
The two entered the Parker home, diligently. Tess smacking her gum, and looking at every expensive item adorning the home, as if calculating the worth of it all in her head.
“Wow, I knew Jeff Parker was rich but not THIS rich.”
Kyle laughed, and looked towards her as she stuck her neck out to view one of the rooms they passed, and then tried fixing her hair with her hands, finally pushing her chest out trying to look as decent as possible.
“Down girl, Jeff knows what trash you are he won’t ever let you into his bed, let alone ever give you one red cent.”
Tess blew a large bubble with her gum, popping it between her lips and taking it into her mouth again.
“For your information I wasn’t thinking of anything like that. I just think it would be interesting to live in a place like this. Poor Max, he’s going to lose it all, no wonder he’s with that cow. Her daddy has more money than he can count.”
Kyle stopped. Turned around and grabbed Tess’ arm as she peeked into the Library.
“Ow, damn it Kyle will you not do that. I have told you before not to touch me like that.”
“Take it back.”
“Ow! What? Take what back?”
“Liz Parker may not have been too bright by choosing Max over me, but once the truth comes out she’s going to be my wife, and I will not have YOU or anyone else calling her a cow.”
“Fine, geez, you’re so sensitive.”
Kyle let go of her arm. And they reached their destination. Jeff Parker’s study.
When they entered, they were greeted with neither a ‘hello’ nor a ‘welcome’ but a stern looking Jeff.
“Finally. They arrived over an hour ago and I wanted to make sure we had time to go over what was going to happen at dinner tonight”
“They’re here already?”
“Of course, now close the door.”
Kyle walked towards the study door and peeked his head out to make sure no one was coming, then he slowly closed the door and turned his attention back to where Jeff Parker was seated.
Kyle spoke as he laid the small envelope on Jeff’s desk. Here is the order.
“Any time now and Max Evans will be out of our hair, not to mention right where we want him.”
Liz stepped out into the rose garden inhaling the fresh Napa Valley air. She could smell the roses, the vineyard, and the bitter - sweet scent of wine. It was heaven. The beauty, the warmth…It was home. Suddenly she felt surround her. Big strong arms enveloped her and she rested back into his chest. He kissed the top of her head and she smiled.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Liz jumped forward, turning around to fine her father staring down at her.
“Father? I wasn’t expecting you. I thought…”
“You thought I was Max.”
Liz looked back over the valley.
“Big surprise. I’m not Max. Not at all.”
You two are similar in so many ways, and yet so different.”
Jeff lit his pipe as he took a step forward beside his raven-haired daughter.
Never were there two such different people, than Jeff Parker, and his daughter Liz. Both seemed so independent, but had completely different views of the world. Liz saw every day as fresh new start. The world was a place to be explored. People were equal in all respects. But in Jeff’s eyes the world was cruel, harsh, only existing because of hard working individuals, the rest were people who didn’t deserve to breathe the same air.
“I would have to disagree with you on that one Liz.”
“Well that makes two of you, father. I only wish you could grow to accept Max. He loves me, more than you know. He loves this baby, so much so that he would do anything for it.”
“Yes, well this baby, never would have come to pass if he had been respectable and left you alone.”
“Why do you have to blame HIM for everything? What happened between Max and I was mutual. He loves me, he has done so much for me. He IS respectable. You only see the bad in people, but what confuses me is that THERE is no ‘bad’ in Max. He’s sweet, and gentle, and he loves me. Why can’t you see that?”
Jeff looked down at Liz. She still seemed like a young child. A child with fire in her eyes. With a strong will, just like her mother.”
“ Because all I see is someone who took my daughter away from me, and impregnated her. He took away your place in society, your respect, and completely dishonored you and our family. That’s not what kind of life your mother would want for you, not the kind of life I want for you.”
“Well father, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is the life I want for me!”
By this time they were shouting, and Max who had somehow gotten lost in the large house, found his way to the terrace, as he approached the doors leading out into the rose garden, the shouting grew louder and louder.
Jeff Parker looked towards the sound of the voice and felt the anger bubble up inside of him. He knew that at any moment he would lose his temper completely, and the outcome wouldn’t be pretty.
“Excuse me, I have more important matters to attend to.”
Jeff walked passed Max as he made his way inside the massive home. As he walked in and closed the doors he watched as Max took a distraught Liz in his arms.
“Liz, are you alright? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. If you want we can leave?”
Liz looked up to find Max’s concerned eyes looking down on her.
“No, Max. I want to stay. I have to work things out with my father. But I need to do something more important before that. Max?”
Liz knew now in her heart that the matter couldn’t wait any longer. She had to tell him.
“Max you and I have to talk. It’s important and I need to tell you now before things get any worse.”
Max could feel the urgency in her voice. It frightened him to think what could be so important and urgent that Liz felt she had to plead with him to sit down and talk to him.
“Of course Liz, whatever you want. But dinner is in an hour. Don’t you think we should wait until tonight?”
“Of course, although I would rather do it now.”
“Oh my God, Liz I HATE you for never bringing me here before now!”
As always Maria appeared exuberant as ever.
* Perfect timing Maria! UGH! *
Of all the people in the world Maria had to have had the worst timing.
Max and Liz turned to find Maria with Michael in toe coming through the French doors.
“I’m glad you like it Maria. Did you find your rooms alright?”
“Oh you mean the room the size of our apartment? Oh yeah, we found it just fine!”
“I’m glad you liked it.”
“Like it? I LOVE IT! So Lizzie, what’s on the agenda? A little swimming before dinner?”
Max interjected when he saw the excitement in Maria’s eye.
“Actually Maria, Liz and I have to talk.”
Maria’s face went pale.
“Talk? About what? What could there be fore you two to talk about? You guys have lived together for months now. Michael and I have run out of things to talk about, I’m figuring you have too since you guys are so quiet. Unless…”
Maria’s eyebrow arched and looked in Liz’s direction, as if implying something.
Max was puzzled.
“Nothing, Maria is just too excited for her own good that she’s blathering on.”
Liz pulled Max to her and kissed him swiftly.
“Maria, why don’t you and Michael head on over to the pool, there are some swim suits in the pool house, Max and I are going to go have some tea and talk about a few things. I’ll talk to you later tonight.”
Maria turned on her heels.
“Sure will! Come on Michael, we’re going to see if you’re as good a swimmer as you are a kisser.”
Max watched as they headed out to the pool area, then he turned to Liz.
“You and I have to talk? What about, I’m curious.”
“Max, there is something I have to tell you. It’s very important and I have waited too long already.”
Liz’s voice began to shake and she knew that with every word spoken, she was closer to breaking down.
Max walked over to her and took her into his arms, holding her head against his chest. His hands moved down the dark strands and down her back. He softly kissed the top of her head and felt as she pulled away.
“I think we should talk about this inside”
Liz led him by the hand.
They entered the house that had a beautiful orange hue from the setting sun outside. It was like the room glowed. It was one of the many things Liz loved about it. She moved to the table and poured herself and Max a cup of tea. She prepared it just the way Max liked it and then handed it to him as she took her seat in the antique armchair.
Liz took a sip of her tea and looked over at Max who was staring.
“So what’s wrong? What’s so important it couldn’t wait till tonight?”
Her lips tightened and her breathing became erratic.
“Max, I have a secret, something I’ve been keeping from you. I haven’t told you the whole truth.”
Liz soon realized she was sweating, not just her palms, but her forehead and she could feel the sweat trickling down the length of her back. Max had also taken notice; her complexion had become pale, almost green. Her breathing was labored and she looked sick. Her disposition changed in such a short time, it worried him.
“Liz are you alright?”
“Yes, I think so. I think I need water.”
Liz stood up and when she did, she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen. She fell to the ground in pain and tried to grab on to the armchair for support.
“I’m okay, I’m fine. I think I need to lye down.”
“Liz are you sure?”
Max was hovering over here, and had by this time, picked her up in his arms.
“It’s all been too much. I think it’s been a long day with the drive and having to deal with my dad.”
“Maybe we should get you to the hospital?”
“NO! I’m fine. It may just be stress or perhaps a cramp from sitting in the car so long. Besides tomorrow is the Festival. I don’t want to leave yet. I’ll be fine.”
Max looked her over and although she did seem better. Her complexion was still too pale for his taste.
“Alright, but I think you should stay in bed for the rest of the day, and relax. “
“But, Max? We still need to talk?”
“Liz whatever this ‘secret’ you have to share with me can wait until tomorrow. I think it’s best if you just rest for now. We’ll have plenty of time to talk tomorrow. I promise.”
“Alright. Tomorrow Max. You’ll learn the truth tomorrow.”
And with that Max carried her to bed.