posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:19:14 PM
IN YOUR EYES

AUTHOR: Tazno
RATING: NC-17 in parts
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing but 3 cats & a lot of dust.
SUMMARY: Max, Isabel, & Michael returned to Antar shortly after high school graduation to lead their planet against evil forces. THERE NEVER WAS A TESS!! Max & Liz never broke up. This is set 18 years after the aliens left earth.
NOTES: ‘//’ indicates a flashback, a connection, etc. Dreams are in italics. Alex Whitman is not the same Alex (I suck at picking names, sorry). In Your Eyes is from the song by Peter Gabriel.


Chapter 1

“IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AT THE JERSEY SHORE, TEMPERATURES WILL BE IN THE…..”

Her fingers searched blindly for the ‘alarm off’ button as she came awake. A beautiful day, huh? How is that possible? Don’t they know- doesn’t everyone know- what today is? She had dreaded going to bed the night before because it meant she would awaken to today. Not that there weren’t other days in the year that brought back bad memories- her parents death in the car accident when she was 18 was always difficult- but today? The one day all year she allowed herself to feel it. Today held a special kind of torture for her. Why couldn’t they just remove this date from the calendar? Would anyone really even miss one day?

Her mind started racing, as it always did on this date. Back to that day. 18 years ago. A boy & a girl. Overwhelming love. Gripping fear. Total, utter loss. The feeling of death but worse because they were still alive. The day he left her. For good.

FLASHBACK

// “I want to go with you, to help you,” Liz said quietly as she buried her face in his neck.

“No,” Max answered emphatically. “I don’t know what’s there- what will happen. I will not risk anything happening to you. No way.”

“Max, please.”

“NO.”

Oh, God. Will it ever not hurt like this? Like it just happened?

// “I can’t… I can’t do this Liz. It’s too hard.”

“You have to Max. It’s your destiny. Their lives depend on you. On all of you.

“But my life depends on you,” he answered, his voice barely audible.

“Mine too,” she said as she tightened her embrace. //

Dragging herself out of bed and into the shower, she tried to come alive. Or at least awake.

“MOM! MOM!! TELEPHONE.”
“All right,” Liz answered. “I’m coming….hello?”

“Morning chica, glad to hear you’re up.”

“Morning Maria; no chance I could sleep thru this damn day, right?”

“That’s why I’m calling my friend, you don’t need to. Alex and I are going to take you out to dinner tonight.”

The last thing she felt like doing was socializing with anyone, even Maria and her husband Alex, whom she considered to be family.

“No Maria, thanks anyway, that’s really sweet but I am really not into it.”

“Of course you’re not, which is why you’re going. You need to think about something else besides…”

“That’s not going to happen, Maria. No matter where I am or what I’m doing I’m going to think about it.”

“I know, Liz, I think about it too, but it’s been 18 years, we have to look to the future, right?”

The future? Easy for Maria to say. She was Teflon- well, almost. Michael’s leaving had been devastating to her also; she was just able to move on with her life after awhile. Something Liz never fully mastered.

“Liz? LIZ! Are you still with me?”

“Oh- sorry Maria- what were you saying?”

“I was saying that if you reflect on some of the good things that have happened in the last 18 years, like your son…”

“I know, of course, he’s been what’s kept me alive.”

“Liz, don’t say that. You are loved by so many.”

“I know, I know. Just a pity-party day for me. I’ll snap out of it. Don’t worry.”

“You’ll snap out of it at dinner tonight. We’ll pick you up at 7. No excuses. I have to run- can’t be late for work twice in one week, even though I’m the owner, doesn’t look good. I love you.”

“I love you too. Thanks Maria. For everything. And I mean EVERYTHING.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. See you at 7.”
-----------------

“Morning Mom.”

She leaned over to kiss the top of her son’s head as he sat at the kitchen table. “Good morning sweetie”.

“Want some cereal?”

“No thanks baby- especially if you’re fixing it”.

“Mom, I think you’d be use to this by now.”

“Honey, if I live to be 100, and watch you eat that every day, I will still not get used to it.”

“You don’t know what you’re missing.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

Sitting in traffic on her way to work, her mind started to wander again.

// FLASHBACK

//(kiss) “I will love you forever,” Max said as he gazed into her eyes.

(kiss) “Me too.”

(kiss) “I will never forget you Liz.”

(kiss) “Me too.”

(kiss) “I promise you, as soon as I can, I will come back for you.”

(kiss) “You’d better,” she replied as her eyes began to fill with tears.

(kiss) “Count on it my love,” he said as he caught her falling tears with his lips.

BEEP!!!!!! Her eyes flew open and she quickly started moving forward again. At least in the car.

“Liz! Hey, did you get stuck in that back up on the Parkway?” Alex Whitman had also gotten caught in it, and they were both rushing in from the parking lot trying to get to their classes on time. Both were professors at Riverton University, Liz in science and Alex in advanced mathematics.
“Yeah, great way to start a morning, right?” Liz replied.

“Yeah, well… so, uh, how are you doing?” Alex looked at her with concern; after all these years he also understood that this was a tough day for Liz.

“Alex, really, I’ll be OK. Just need to feel sorry for myself for one day a year and this is it. Really, don’t worry”.

“OK- oh- you are coming to dinner with us tonight, right? I have to warn you- Maria isn’t going to take no for an answer.”

“Does she ever? No, I’m coming- but just to spare you her wrath!”

“Thanks Liz, you always have been my favorite of all of her friends.”

Liz laughed. She loved Alex; when she had met him at the University she knew he’d be perfect for Maria, and she didn’t rest until she had brought them together. They’d been married for almost 10 years now. The girls had told Alex everything- they had to. Maria would never have been able to keep that secret from him. At first he thought they were drinking, then he got freaked out (can you blame him?), then he accepted it. He had to after what he’d seen.

“We’re picking you up at 7- don’t be late, or Queenie will go hyper-spastic on me!” Alex said.

“OK- I’ve gotta run- see you later,” Liz said as she hurried off to class.

The day passed relatively smoothly, other than her dropping a beaker and forgetting what she was lecturing on mid-sentence once. Not bad, considering some years past when she was unable to even get out of bed on this day.

When she got home there was a note on the table. “Mom, I’m at Bob’s working on our history project- will eat there- be home around 9.” She went through the mail, then into her room to change. She thumbed through her closet looking for something to wear. “Hmm, no, no, maybe….” Then her hand brushed over a short red sweater.

// “You wore my favorite sweater,” Max said as his hands reached out for her.

“It’s my favorite too. You gave it to me.”

“I knew it would look good on you. But I knew it would look incredible off of you,” he breathed as his hands moved up under the sweater over her silky skin. //
Well, not wearing red tonight. Nope.

They picked her up at 7 sharp and made their way to the new Mexican restaurant Maria had heard about from one of the parents of the kids enrolled at her daycare center.

Margaritas were ordered and Alex and Maria both did their best to keep the mood light. They were all laughing at one of Maria’s stories about something one of the kids had done that day. Alex watched the two of them giggling and smiled, marveling as he always did at their friendship. They were as close as sisters. Not surprising considering what they’d been through together. Their boyfriends left them at 18 to go to save some other planet, never to be heard from again. Liz’s parents died in a car crash two months later. The two of them picked up & moved all the way across the country to start over; Maria caring for Liz’s son while Liz went to college.

“Hey!” he exclaimed as a tortilla chip hit him in the forehead.

“Oh, I’m sorry Alex, I was aiming for Maria!” laughed Liz.

“Well, you’re never going to pitch for the Mets, Liz, that’s for sure.”

“I’m a Yankees fan Alex. I wouldn’t pitch for the Muts if you gave me a million dollars.”

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem!”

Alex loved Liz. Outside of the fact that she had introduced him to Maria, he admired her strength and will to live. She was kind, generous and a wonderful friend to he and Maria. When Maria had found out she couldn’t have children, Liz didn’t leave her side for three days. Several months later Liz and her son took the two of them to an empty storefront and handed Maria a slip of paper.

// “What’s this?” Maria questioned as she looked at the paper.

“It’s the deed to your new daycare center,” replied Liz with a huge smile on her face.

“WHAT?” Maria and Alex said in unison.

“I bought it for you. I had the money left from Grandma Claudia’s inheritance, and I thought this is what she would’ve wanted me to do with it.”

Maria immediately protested. “No, Liz, we can’t possibly accept this.”

“Yes, you can. She left me her house and enough to put us both (she gestured at her son) through college. I’ve held onto the remainder because I knew that eventually, she’d lead me to do the right thing with it. And this is the right thing.”
“Liz, no.” Maria said.

“Maria, you are my closest friend- no- you are my family. You helped me to raise my son. You have been with me through the darkest times of my life. You are wonderful with children. You will be great at this. I want to do this. Please. It’s a thank you. From both of us,” she finished, pointing again at her son.

“Oh my god, Liz, you managed to make her speechless. Thank you,” Alex said.

“Liz, are you sure, you could use that money.” Maria was still apprehensive about accepting such a large gift.

“For this. This is what it was meant for. Besides, with the rent from the apartment, I am rolling in the dough!” Not exactly, but that apartment rent had come in handy more than once. Claudia’s house had an apartment upstairs which Liz was able to rent out for extra income. Just one more thing she had to be grateful to her grandmother for. With that and the money she had from the sale of the Crashdown to Jim and Amy Valenti, she never really had to worry about money.

Maria stood staring at the deed, then looked at Liz and her son, then at the deed again as her eyes filled with tears. “I love you both so much” was all she could croak out, before a group hug took over. //

“OK girls, I think you’ve both had enough margaritas for one night. Come on, I’ll pour you both into the car.” Alex linked arms with both of them, and the three of them walked outside singing La Cucaracha.

They dropped Liz off at the same time her son was getting home. “Hey handsome!” called Maria from the car.

“Hey Aunt Maria, did you guys have a good time?”

“Yeah, well your Mom & I did, I don’t know about Alex, he got hit with one too many chips I think.”

“And you think my friends are rowdy?” he laughed.

“That’s your Mothers thing, babe; you know I’m the cool Aunt- goodnight, sweetie.”

“Goodbye Aunt Maria, Uncle Alex. See you later.”

Liz walked inside the house behind her son. “So honey, did you finish the history project?”

“No Mom, but we’re almost there. We just have the oral presentation to work on now. I’m trying to get Kenny or Bob to do it, but they’re giving me a hard time, they think we should all do a part.”

“Sweetheart, you’ll do fine. I hated getting up in front of the class too, and now I do it for a living. You just have to remember that no one there is out to get you. Most of them are thinking about how nervous they are about giving their own presentation.”

“I know…”

Liz knew her son hated to be the center of attention. Oral reports had sent him running for the bathroom to be sick more than once. Just like…

“I’m gonna hit the sack. Goodnight, Mom, I love you.”

“Goodnight baby, I love you too.”

OK, she thought as she climbed into bed, she had made it through the day in one piece. Only 364 more days until she had to do it again. As she closed her eyes, she hoped that at least her dreams would leave her in peace.

His hands moved slowly under her sweater. He wasn’t going to rush anything this time. It was going to be their last time for who knew how long. Maybe forever.

“You are so soft…” He watched her face as he moved his hands higher, hearing her breath catch as his thumb ran across her nipple causing it to harden instantly. He smiled as she pulled his face towards her for a kiss.

“And your lips are so sweet…”

His hands were still moving, now on her back running up and down her spine making her shake in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him in for another kiss. His hands came up and tangled in her hair, and he whispered “I love you so much” before lowering his lips onto hers. Their connection opened immediately with the contact and they were swept up in the tidal wave of emotions running through each of them. Fear, desperation, but most of all, love. So much love. The kiss seemed to go on forever, both fearing that if they stopped it would be time for him to leave. He moved his lips down her throat and upon reaching her shoulder his tongue slid out and moved over her skin.

“You taste so good…”

Her breath quickened and she ran her hands into his hair. He had only kissed her twice and she was already melting into a puddle in his arms.

She stepped slightly back from him and started to lower the zipper on the front of the sweater. Her eyes watched as his followed the zipper down until it was fully opened. He looked at her with such intensity that if it had been anyone else, she would have been uncomfortable. But never with him. Her only one. His look was so full of desire and acceptance and love that it only made her want him more.

His hands moved to slide the sweater off of her arms and it fell softly to the floor. He started to reach out to touch her when she pushed his hands away and began to pull his T-shirt up. As his arms went up over his head and his sight was blocked by the shirt covering his face, she flicked out her tongue over his nipple. His shocked gasp made her laugh softly. “Now you know how it feels,” she whispered. He pulled the shirt over his head and pulled her to him as he began to kiss her with burning need. Her fingers ran over the muscles of his back and down to the top of the waistband on his jeans where she let them rest. As he pulled his mouth off of her he bent her backward over his arm and ran his tongue down her throat to her breast. As his mouth covered her she began to moan his name. The sweetest sound in the world to his ears. The love of his entire life, moaning his name in ecstasy. Nothing would ever sound better.

During this assault his free hand moved down her side and he began to lightly run it up and down the back of her leg, just to the hem of her skirt, where he would reverse direction. She was fast becoming limp in his arms so he picked her up and carried her to the bed, gazing into her eyes and getting lost in the love pouring out to him. He attempted to climb onto the bed when she held up her hand. “Pants” was all she had to say. They were gone in a second.

He climbed onto the bed and kneeled over her, reaching out a hand to smooth her hair. She grabbed his hand and pulled him down so he landed on her hard.

“Liz! Be careful, I’ll hurt you.”

“Max, I need to feel you, everywhere, please….”

Hearing the desire in her voice he dove in to take her mouth again. He began to run his fingers over her neck, across her shoulders and down her arms until he reached her fingers. Taking her hands in his, he moved her arms to rest above her head and trailed his fingers back down her arms, back to her neck, over her chest to her breasts. He began to alternate touching and kissing her on every inch of skin he could find, all the while murmuring his love for her. Her moans filled his ears and swelled his heart, propelling him lower. While he watched her face he began to lightly run his fingers under her skirt up her inner thighs, causing her to arch toward his hand and open her legs wide. He undid her skirt and pulled it off with her panties, drinking in the sight of her. He kissed his way over her abdomen to her dark curls, and he paused just long enough to whisper “I love you Liz” again before he let himself taste her.

“Mmmaaaxxx….” Her hands came down to grope for his head to pull him further into her, but he grabbed them and held them down on the bed on either side of her hips. She began moving her body and moaned louder and louder until he grasped her hips to still her, wrapped his lips around her clit and licked her hard. Her screams bounced off the walls as she came, and he moved up over her to hold her as she rode out the waves crashing over her. As her eyes opened, she ran her hand down his body until she found him hard and ready. She began to slowly stroke him, watching his eyes slowly close to half-mast.

“Max, I need you inside of me. Now.”

He didn’t need to be asked twice. Their joining caused them both to groan with relief and she immediately reached to pull him tightly against her, seeking out his lips. Kissing Max was always overwhelming to her, but to kiss him while they were making love was to catapult her beyond any feeling or emotion she had ever experienced. With each movement he brought her closer to her climax until he sensed she was at her breaking point. He took her face in his hands and waited until she was looking up at him.

“Liz. My Liz.” At the sound of his voice she dug her nails into his back cried out. As she began to still she opened her eyes to find him gazing at her still.

Moving her hands to cup his face, she breathed out “Max. My Max.”

The effect was the same. With a loud moan he began to shudder with his release.

They lay joined together for a long time after, touching, kissing, not needing words.

She awoke slowly, not wanting it to end. Her most precious memory. The night they had made their son.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-Feb-2002 9:47:07 PM ]
posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:20:10 PM
CHAPTER 2

“Morning Max, ready for some pancakes?”

“I love it when your classes start later in the day, I get to eat!” her son enthused.

“Me too. I get to feed you. And clean up after you. And wash your clothes,” Liz replied playfully as she set a plate filled with pancakes in front of him.

“Mom, I’d be happy to help with the laundry but you didn’t seem to like the way I did it the last time.”

“Well, if the clothes had come out of the washer the same color they had gone in, I might consider your offer, but for now, I think I’ll man the household appliances,” she said jokingly.

“You have no sense of adventure Mom.”

// Oh Max, if you only knew.

Knew what Mom?

MAX!! How many times do I have to tell you not to connect in with me unless you “announce” yourself?

“Sorry.” //

Their connection had started as soon as he had been born. The first time she held him she could feel his emotions and she knew he could feel hers. As he grew it deepened, until now they were almost like two parts of one mind. People always marveled at how close this mother and son were, and especially at how devoted Max was to her. Liz was clearly the most important person in the world to him and he would do anything for her. That devotion had revealed his developing powers to them more than once. When he was about nine years old, she had come down with a nasty flu and was wretchedly ill. Max was despondent, not being able to bear anything unpleasant happening to his Mommy. On the third day, while he was applying a cold compress to her fevered head, his eyes found hers as his hands lay on her forehead. Suddenly they both felt the heat under his hands and they were drawn into it. When it ended they both stared at each other in amazement.

“Max, I think you healed me.”

“WHAT?”

“I feel fine now. It makes sense. Your father had the same gift. It’s how we came together in the first place.”

She had always been honest with him about his father and his gifts, why he had to leave, that he- they- didn’t know she was pregnant when he left. That there was always the possibility he would return. That he was intelligent, gentle, kind, and the most wonderful man she had ever known. And that Max looked exactly like him.

Earlier in his life Max loved to hear about his Dad. It gave him comfort to know that he might return one day, and he would get to meet someone else like himself. Someone who was different. Special, his mother would correct him. But as he went through his teenage years he began to grow resentful towards the man who had, in his mind, deserted her. His mother. The most wonderful human being on the planet. The person who gave him life and protected it with everything she had. She had devoted her life to him- she was at every practice and game he ever had, usually with Maria and Alex in tow. Every school event- she was involved. She spent a great deal of time researching and planning a summer vacation for them every year, and they traveled extensively together. She never dated; only a few times, when Maria had set her up and forced her to go. It was always the same result, though- one date, then she never saw them again. By her choice.

Because she was waiting for him. And he hated him for that.

How could he leave her behind? Why didn’t he ever return for her- or at least make some kind of contact with her? Didn’t he know that she was spending her whole life waiting for something that was probably not going to happen? Didn’t he care at all?

“So I, uh, know that yesterday was your yearly day of pain. Are you OK?” Max asked.

“Yes, honey, I’m fine. Don’t worry.”

“OK. I have to run or I’ll be late- see you later Mom. I love you.” He couldn’t say much more to her about it because his loathing of his father would be apparent, and it upset her too much. He didn’t want to hurt her.

“I love you too. Have a great day.”

“Thanks, you too.”

A quick kiss goodbye & she was off to get ready for work.


=================

“Dr. Parker! Dr. Whitman! Oh, I’m glad I spotted you both.”

Liz and Alex were having coffee in the student union discussing plans for Maria’s upcoming birthday. They turned to see a short, disheveled man hurrying in their direction.

“Dr. Harriman, hi, did you need us?” Liz answered.

“Actually, I have to tell you something. I’m helping Dean Van Pelt get the word out- the University is calling a special staff meeting tomorrow afternoon regarding the latest school shooting. Apparently they want to go over the schools response plan with us again. It’s mandatory attendance.”

“Oh, OK, no problem, we’ll be there,” they both said.

“Great. Now I just have to find one more person- the new astronomy professor, Dr. Thomas Lennon. And I’m late for my next class…”

“Dr. Harriman, the astronomy rooms are in my building, I’d be happy to inform him,” Liz offered.

“Oh, Dr. Parker, that would be great. Thanks so much- I’ll see you both tomorrow afternoon.”

“New astronomy professor? I guess it must be Dr. Bentleman’s replacement,” Alex mused. Dr. Bentleman had died of a sudden heart attack a few weeks ago, and he knew the University had been actively seeking a replacement, which was not an easy task mid-semester.

“Better watch out Liz, if Maria hears there is someone new she’s going to try to set you up with him.”

“Can’t you do something about her Alex?” Liz said with a laugh.

“HOW long have you known her? Come on, Liz, you know better!”

“Yeah, but I had to give it a shot, right? OK, I’m going to see if I can find this guy before my next class. We’ll finish this later.”

“See ya,” Alex said as he gave her a wave goodbye.

Liz walked down the hall to Dr. Bentleman’s old room. Seeing a man unpacking some things on the lecture table she assumed it must be the new professor.

“Hi, I’m looking for Dr. Thomas Lennon?”

He turned to greet her. “Hi, I’m Tom Lennon. Can I help you?”

Yeah, she thought. Restart my heart. She stared at him, thinking this had to be the best looking guy that the school had ever hired. Blond hair pulled back in a small ponytail. Full, rosy lips. A killer body that couldn’t be hidden by his clothes. And his eyes. Big, brown soulful eyes that you could get lost in. She hadn’t seen eyes like that in a very long time.

“Can I help you?”

He smiled at her, raising an eyebrow questioningly.

“Oh… sorry…” She was stammering now. She had been so surprised at her own reaction to him that she temporarily forgot why she was there in the first place.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Parker. Liz Parker. I’m a biology and physics professor here. At the University. Down the hall.”

“Oh, hi.”

“Hi.”

OK, you idiot, she thought to herself. Speak! You do it all the time!

“Um, so, the reason I’m here, uh, why I came looking for you, is to tell you that there is a mandatory meeting for all staff tomorrow afternoon. About school violence. Here. At school.”

Great, she thought. I have a Ph.D. and I sound like I can’t construct a sentence.

“Oh, thank you. I’ll be there. Oh- where, exactly?” Dr. Lennon asked.

“At the Wolman Amphitheater. Do you know where that is?”

“No, I don’t. I just arrived here two days ago. I’m still trying to find my way from the parking lot to this building.”

“Well, if you’d like, you could come with me. Alex- Dr. Whitman- he’s a math professor- also my friend- you could come with us.” Liz could feel her face flushing as she tripped over her words.

“OK, great. Thank you very much.”

“No problem. We’ll come by here tomorrow around 4.” No problem at all, she thought.

“OK, tomorrow, 4 o’clock. Got it. Thanks again,” he said with a bright smile.

She left his room in a daze. What is this, she thought? I haven’t noticed a guy in 18 years. Why did this one make me go all stupid? She suddenly couldn’t wait for tomorrow afternoon.

He grabbed a chair and sat down quickly, drawing in gulps of air to try to slow his heart rate. He had been totally unprepared for that. He had tried desperately to keep it together while she had been standing in front of him, had she noticed? Thank God he had changed his appearance before he started at the University. All of his plans would’ve gone right out the window.

The next afternoon Liz and Alex came by to get him. “Hi, Tom, this is Dr. Alex Whitman. Alex, this is Dr. Thomas Lennon.”

“Hi Tom, welcome to Riverton. How are you finding things so far?”

Tom shook his hand. “OK so far, but I’ve only been here a few days; I haven’t even seen all of my classes yet. But everyone seems really nice.” He smiled unconsciously at Liz as he added the last part. Alex caught it immediately.

“Yeah, we’re a decent bunch. We do a lot of social things together, with our wives and families. Are you married Tom?”

Liz groaned to herself. Oh God, she thought; he must have told Maria there was a new person on the radar screen. He must have received his instructions and she knew what was coming.

“No, never married, no kids.”

“Where are you from?” Alex continued.

“Originally out west, but I’ve spent a lot of time traveling. That’s why I was available to take a job mid-semester. I just returned and had waited too long to apply for any teaching positions for the beginning of the year, so I guess you could say I was lucky when I received the call to come here.”

“Out west, you say? Anywhere near New Mexico? Liz here is from Roswell,” Alex said, grinning at her like the Cheshire cat.

“OK, guys, we’re here, we’d better go in,” she said. Thank God, Liz thought; she hated the inevitable questions she got whenever anyone heard she was from Roswell.

After the seminar was over the three of them walked towards the parking lot together.

“Well, I’d better get a move on. Maria will be waiting anxiously.” Alex smirked at Liz as he said this, knowing full well that she understood what Maria was waiting to hear about.

“Maria?” Tom queried.

“Oh, yeah, my wife Maria. Liz introduced us. So she has only herself to blame.”

“Ha ha ha Alex. Just remember, what comes around goes around. You’ll get yours.”

“Instant kharma’s gonna get me, huh? I’ll take my chances. Hey- I have an idea, Maria and I are going to check out the new Italian place on Dellson Street on Saturday night. Why don’t you both come?” Maria would be proud of me, Alex thought. Maybe after all of these years watching her trying to match-make for Liz, maybe some of it had worn off on him. He couldn’t help it though, he had watched them both steal glances at each other the entire seminar.

Liz couldn’t believe her ears. Did Maria somehow take possession of Alex for a minute? Was he actually trying to set her up with Mr. Gorgeous, uh, Tom?

“That sounds great, Alex, I look forward to meeting your wife,” replied Tom.

“Great Tom; so Liz, are you in?”

She glared at him as she said yes.

“Great, well I know I’m going to make someone very happy tonight, and if she’s happy, I’m happy, you know what I mean?” He stuck his tongue out at Liz and waved goodbye to them as he made his way to his car.

“This is my car,” she said to Tom as they came to the end of the row.

“Oh- mines right over there- OK, well, I’ll guess I’ll see you Saturday night. If I don’t see you around here first.”

“OK, see you then.”

She was going to kill Alex.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:21:26 PM
CHAPTER 3

The rest of the week passed uneventfully with Liz spending most of her free time trying to help Max with his oral report. They were reviewing it late Saturday afternoon when the phone rang; Max jumped up to grab it.

“Hello? Oh, hi Aunt Maria, do you want Mom? Oh… oh, really? No, she didn’t tell me. Uh huh. Yeah, you’re right, that’s exactly what she’ll do… OK, no problem, I’ll do it. Enjoy your dinner. Bye”

“Who was that Max?”

“Aunt Maria. She told me that you are going to dinner with them and some new professor and she wanted me not to let you back out of it. She figured you’d try to use me as an excuse.”

“I don’t believe her. What does she think, that I’m going to use you as a shield?” Liz said, feigning indignance.

“Well Mom, considering that you’ve asked me like, three times if I want to work on this with you tonight when I told you a bunch of us were going to the basketball game, I kind of have to believe she knows what you’re capable of.”

“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

“Mom, you never go out. Especially on a date. I think you’d use just about any way you could think of to back out of a date.”

He knows me entirely too well, she thought. “First of all, this is NOT a date. He is new at school, an astronomy professor by the way; and Alex, not Maria set this up to introduce him to Maria.”

“And why would Uncle Alex care if he met Aunt Maria?” He couldn’t help but grin at her; he knew Maria was right, she’d even use him to avoid going out.

“I think the dryer is done…” She escaped before he could say anymore. Damn. She thought she was going to get away with saying she had to help him with his project. She should’ve known Maria would go and enlist his help; Maria was aware of his feelings towards his father and that he wished his Mom would go out more. Now she was stuck.

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“Have a good time. I hope you like him.” He kissed her cheek before he ran out the door.

“Be careful! And be home by midnight… I love you!”

“Me too Mom, see you later.”

Well, I guess I’d better find something to wear, she thought.

They were all to meet at the restaurant. She pulled into the parking lot but didn’t see Alex’s car. She made her way in and spotted Tom at the bar.

“Hi, are we early? I thought Maria said 7,” she said. God this guy is gorgeous she thought. OK we know you think that Liz, she thought to herself; now attempt to have a conversation with him so he doesn’t think you’re a total moron.

“Hi. No, it’s 7, maybe they’re just running late?” said Tom.

“Maria is always on time. She’s like a general. She has to be- she owns a daycare center. She’s the most organized person I know. Never late.”

“Well, maybe it’s Alex’s fault.”

Liz started laughing. “Oh, believe me, Alex is ready 15 minutes BEFORE they’re supposed to leave. He knows better.”

They passed the next 20 minutes in pleasant conversation, discussing mostly things to do with work. They were laughing at something Liz was relating about a biology lab gone wrong when Maria and Alex arrived.

“Finally! I was starting to freak out. You are never late,” Liz said as she hugged them both hello.

“Oh yeah, Liz, you looked like you were freaking out when we came in. Hi, I’m Maria.” She turned to extend her hand to Tom and exclaimed “oh my God.”

“Hi… um, I’m sorry, do I have something on my face?” Tom asked, slightly embarrassed.

“No, no, no, I’m sorry, it’s just… you have beautiful eyes.”

Tom cast them towards the floor as he muttered “thank you.”

“Tom don’t mind my wife; she’s still reeling from being late. It’s not a normal occurrence in her life. Kind of made her loopy.”

“I think our table is ready,” Liz said. Finally, I’m starved she thought.
Alex immediately grabbed the wine list after they were seated. “So, Tom, do you have any preferences? The girls are on a Pinot Grigio kick of late, I prefer Merlot, so we’ll let you decide.”

“Oh, thanks, but I don’t drink.”

“Oh, OK, well I guess we’ll take a bottle of Beringer for the ladies, and I’ll have a glass of Merlot, please.” He handed the wine list back to the waiter.

Maria wasted no time in interrogating Tom. She didn’t get very far, though. His answers were kind of vague, and he always managed to turn her questions for him into questions about the rest of them. He figured her out fast, Liz chuckled to herself. Smart, good looking, nice personality…wait, what was she doing; this is just a nice guy trying to meet some new people. He doesn’t need some woman from work drooling on him and making him uncomfortable. Besides, someone who looks that good probably doesn’t have any trouble meeting women. He probably doesn’t even notice me, she thought.

She thought wrong.

“OK, I am going to the restroom. Alex, would you order for me please?”

“Sure honey.”

“I’ll go with you Maria, we can hold each other up,” Liz giggled.

After the girls had left the table Tom looked at Alex. “So is Liz seeing anyone? You know, a boyfriend?”

Alex shook his head. “No, Liz doesn’t date. Well, except when Maria forces her to. But that’s another story. No, no boyfriends. Just Max.”

His eyes widened. “Max?”

“Yes, Liz has a 17 year old son named Max. Great kid. He’s the closest thing I’ll ever have to a son. He is Liz’s whole world.”

His head was spinning. She had a 17-year-old son. Named Max. Oh my God.

Alex spotted the girls making their way back to the table. “I was just telling Tom about Max, Liz. Oh hey- he’s interested in astronomy too. He still wants to major in it at college, right Liz?”

“Yes, he does. Maybe now that we have a new astronomy department at school he’ll think a little more seriously about going to Riverton.”

“Oh, he wants to go somewhere else?” He couldn’t help but ask, he had to get as much information on this new Max as possible.

“Yeah, he’s thinking about it. I don’t want him to, of course, but I don’t know how much influence I’m going to have on his decision.”

Maria shook her head. “Come on Liz, you know that your opinion is his main concern. I’m betting that not only doesn’t he leave New Jersey to go to school, but that he doesn’t leave home. He’s going to go to a school in Jersey that he can commute too. He won’t leave you Liz.”

“Well, considering that a major in astronomy is offered at a limited number of schools, I hope you’re right, because I want him to stay home. Big surprise, I know.”

“That’s OK chica, I understand, he’s been the only male we could count on in our entire lives.”

“Hey!!” Alex piped up.

“Oh honey, and you too, of course. You too,” Maria said.

“Make her pay for that Alex. She deserves it.” Liz wanted to get her back for being late- a ploy to get Liz to talk to Tom for awhile, it turned out. Maria had spilled the beans while they were in the ladies room.

“I know better than to go there, Lizzie. I don’t want to spend the next few nights sleeping on the couch.”

“So let’s change the subject. So Thomas, do you have a girlfriend? Boyfriend?
Significant other?” Liz rolled her eyes at Maria’s questions and poured herself another glass of wine. Maria was relentless, so she was going to need it.

“No, no girlfriend. I haven’t really had the time.”

“Haven’t had the time? What, has every good-looking human declared a moratorium on dating? Or did you just go to the Liz Parker school of bad dating luck?” Maria was chuckling at herself as Liz put her head in her hands.

“Maria…”

“Come on Liz, I’m sure Tom would love to hear some about some of your better dates.”

“Maria!”

“So you’ve had some duds, huh?” Tom said, looking over at Liz. He couldn’t believe that was possible. A woman as beautiful as Liz Parker should have men falling all over her.

Maria gladly spoke up again. “Duds? That’s the understatement of the day!”

Oh, this is going down the tubes quickly, thought Liz. “Excuse me, but considering the fact that you set me up with the last three of them, I think you should tread lightly.”

“Hee hee, well let’s see what you think Thomas. The first one…”

“Wait a minute. If you are going to embarrass me about this, I’m going to tell the story. At least it will resemble the truth.”

“Oh, go ahead Lizzie! This should be good,” Maria stage whispered to Alex.

“OK. Three dates ago. Thirty-nine year old man who still lived with his mother. He had never moved out. No thanks.”

“Picky picky…”

“Shut up, it’s my turn to talk. Two dates ago. Interesting guy. Well read, seemed to have a lot of financial acumen. I thought he was a bit pale when I met him at first. Turns out he hadn’t seen the sun in a few years. Why was that again, Maria? Oh yeah- he was a convicted felon- insider stock trading.”

Tom started laughing and shaking his head. “Oh wait, it gets better,” said Alex.

“The last one,” Liz said, sighing as she continued. “Seemed like a nice guy, sharp dresser, very well mannered, incredibly well manicured hands.”

“What was his problem?” Tom asked.

“He was, how can I say this, GAY.”

At this Tom, Alex and Maria doubled over in hysterics.

“Oh, I’m so glad my misery is amusing to you all,” she said as she started to laugh too.

“Hey, you should really thank me for the one who was a criminal, it’s what inspired you to start kick-boxing,” Maria said.

Tom looked incredulous. “You? A kick-boxer? Are you serious?”

“Not only is she a kick-boxer, Tom; she’s a damn good one. Don’t piss her off or she’ll put a hurtin’ on you!” Alex loved to tell people that little Liz Parker was a killer at heart.

“Well Liz, you can’t just expect to meet Mr. Right when you only go out on a date once every 5 years. You have to get out and circulate!” Maria said.

“Been there, done that, met him, look where it’s gotten me.”

“So, you met you Mr. Right already?” Tom couldn’t help but ask.

Maria jumped in. “That was a long time ago, who’s to say there’s not someone else out there just waiting for a nice scientist-type girl? You are depriving mankind of- of- of you, girl!”

“Could we PLEASE drop this now? Alex? Can’t you give her a Vicodin or something?” Liz was pleading her case with Alex.

“Well I could, but that would probably put her in a coma.”

“And your point is?” smirked Liz.

“OK, I can take a hint. Ooh, finally our food! I was getting weak,” said Maria.

After dinner over coffee, Alex inquired to Liz if she had been able to find a tenant for her condo yet.

“No, not yet. Everyone that’s applied so far has been unacceptable. They’re either smokers, or they have pets, or they don’t want to live above their landlord- this has been the longest I’ve ever gone without having a tenant.”

“You are renting out a condo?” Tom asked quickly.

“Yes, actually it’s a furnished apartment attached to my house. Why, do you know someone who might be interested?”

“Yeah, actually, me. This teaching position came at me so fast I wasn’t able to find a place before I started working. I’ve been staying at a motel but I need a real place to live.”

Maria piped up “Oh perfect! How’s that for luck? And you could even car pool together to work!”

Liz wasn’t sure about this. They worked together. Did she really want that close living proximity to someone she worked with? Not to mention that she’d be the landlord? She turned to say something to him and found his eyes staring into hers.

“Uh, yeah, sure, why not.” Excuse me, who just said that? Was that me?
“Oh, maybe you want to see it first before you accept?”

“No, that’s OK, I’m sure it’s fine. I really just want to get out of the motel. Too much noise late at night, if you get my drift.”

“OK, well, if you’d like to come by tomorrow you can see it & start moving your stuff in,” Liz said.

“Oh, perfect. This is so great, thank you so much Liz. I was planning on spending tomorrow driving around town looking for a place. This is great. Thanks.” Tom was thrilled with this sudden development.

“Sure, hey, we’ll both be making out- I mean, you need a place, I need a tenant.”

“Oh, I couldn’t have engineered this better myself,” Maria whispered to Alex.

They made arrangements for him to come over around 11 AM the next day and they all parted company.

Max was waiting for her when she got home. “Hey Mom, did you have a good time?”

“Yeah, I did. How about you? Who won the game?”

“We did, 72-65. Then we went to get pizza. So did you like him?”

He was going right for the kill, she thought. “He- his name is Tom- is very nice. And he’s coming over tomorrow to check out the apartment so you’ll get to meet him if you’re here around 11.”

“Yeah, I should be here. Aunt Maria must’ve loved hearing that he may move in here.”

“Yeah, it didn’t go by her, let’s just leave it at that. Night baby, I love you.”

“Night Mom, I love you too.”

Max shut off the living room lights and made his way to his own bedroom. He had a strange feeling in his stomach- must have put too much hot pepper on my pizza, he thought.

No, not quite.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:22:16 PM
CHAPTER 4

Tom pulled into Liz’s driveway a little past 11 AM. Nice neighborhood, he thought. Located on the Barnegat Bay, it was in a great location; her place was only a few houses away from the water. He got out of the car and looked around the grounds. Looks like she’s a gardener, he thought. Rose and hydrangea bushes not yet in bloom, and a multitude of tulips and daffodils dotted the landscape; bird houses and feeders were hung in the trees. Not a house, he thought, a home.

She came out of the front door smiling. “Hi, glad you were able to find it.”

“Oh, your directions were exact. No problems.”

“Good. OK, well let’s go up and you can take a look at the place.” She opened the door again and called inside. “Max, when you’re done, come upstairs please.”

An “OK” drifted outside. They made their way up the back stairs to a large deck and went inside the sliding glass doors.

“Oh, wow, this is nice. And really clean,” Tom said as he admired the room.

“Well, I’m kind of a clean freak. I don’t expect you to keep it perfect, but I do appreciate it being kept up. No bugs or critters, you know?”

“Don’t worry, I’m actually a bit of a clean freak also. Oh, I can see the water from up here,” he said as he caught the view from a window.

“Actually in the winter, you can see a lot more when all of the leaves are down. It’s really pretty. So, what do you think?”

He turned & smiled widely at her. “It’s perfect. I’ll take it.”

“Great! You can move your stuff in whenever you’d like,” Liz said, more enthusiastically than she had meant to.

“Well, I don’t have much except a few suitcases of clothing. I’d like to spend tonight here, if you don’t mind. The motel was rocking last night, and I’d really love to get a normal nights sleep.”

“Oh, sure, no problem. Let me get you the key & then we’ll discuss money… oh, honey, I’m glad you came up; this is Dr. Tom Lennon. He’s going to move in this afternoon.”

“Hi, Dr. Lennon, I’m Max,” he said as he extended his hand.

“Hi Max, and please, it’s Tom.”

“OK Tom, it’s nice to meet you. Glad that Mom found a tenant; it’s been empty a few months. She’s a little picky,” her son teased.

“Why does everyone think I’m picky? Because I know what I want & don’t compromise my beliefs?” Liz placed her hands on her hips, waiting for his answer.

“Only kidding! So, Mom tells me you’re an Astronomy Professor?”

“Yes, and she told me you were considering majoring in astronomy in college,” Tom answered. So, this was Max, he thought to himself. He couldn’t stop the smile that had unconsciously spread across his face.

“Yeah, I am. If I can get into a good school,” Max answered.

“You’ll have no problems getting into a good school, sweetheart. They’ll be lucky to have you. Max is an advanced honor student,” Liz added in Tom’s direction.

“What kind of math classes are you taking? They usually look at math grades quite hard, because studying the stars involves unending calculations. Have you had calculus yet?” Tom asked.

“Yeah, I’m actually taking advanced calc & trigonometry now.”

“He’s a math whiz. Just not a public speaking whiz,” she teased him.

“Oh, I hate public speaking too,” Tom said.

“But you’re a professor!” Max said incredulously.

“Yeah, but half the time I can just tell them to go out and look at the sky, so it’s not too bad.” They all laughed at Tom’s statement.

“Well it was very nice to meet you Tom, but I have to get going,” Max said. Looking at Liz he said, “I’m going to Bob’s, Mom; they want to run through the report from beginning to end one last time. I guess they want to know if I’m going to be able to make it all the way to the end.”

“You’ll do fine. Be home by six for dinner. I love you.”

“I love you too. Tom, I’ll see you around,” Max said as he extended his hand.

“Nice to meet you Max; I’ll see you soon.”

Liz spent the afternoon puttering in the garden while Tom returned with his suitcases.

“Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you didn’t have much,” Liz said as she surveyed his things.

“Yeah, like I said, I traveled a lot and it was just easier to pare my belongings down than to drag them from place to place.”

“I love to travel too. Every summer Max and I go for a few weeks to discover someplace new. Where have you gone?”

“Oh, near and far. So you like to garden, huh?” he asked, changing the subject.

“I love it. It occupies my mind and the result is so beautiful. And it’s good exercise too.”

“Well, your yard is beautiful. It’s very peaceful here.”

“That’s exactly what I was going for. Oh- listen- if you’d like to join Max and I for dinner your welcome to; I’m making Jamaican Jerk Chicken. My son loves spicy food.”

“That sounds great. I was just going to grab a burger out somewhere. I love spicy food also; the spicier the better, usually.” The smile had returned to Tom’s face in full force.

“Great. Come on down around six.” My God, it should be illegal for someone to have a smile like that, Liz thought.

Max came home & immediately noticed she had set the table for three. “Mom? Are we having company?”

“Sort of. I invited Tom down. He couldn’t resist when I told him I was making jerk chicken.”

“Oooh, my favorite. I hope he likes hot.”

“I warned him and he said he does. We’ll see if he can stand up to your asbestos tongue, though. Would you heat these up for me, sweetie?” she said as she handed him a basket of rolls.

“Sure Mom.” He waved his hand over the basket & steam began to rise up as the doorbell sounded.

“Oh, that must be Tom at the door- go let him in, please honey?” Liz said over her shoulder.

“Hi Tom.”

“Hi Max. Oh man, it smells great in here,” Tom said as he followed Max into the kitchen.

“Mom is a great cook. Her parents owned a diner in New Mexico. She makes the best jerk chicken you’ll ever have. I hope you like spicy.”

“The more the better. Hi Liz, it smells delicious.”

“Thanks. Sit down guys, it’s ready.”

As she served them, Tom asked “so, your parents own a diner? I guess that’s how you learned to cook?”

“Actually, that’s how I learned to waitress. I really didn’t learn to cook until I had Max, necessity being the mother of invention, so to speak.”

“So do your folks still run their diner?”

“Mom’s parents died in a car wreak when she was 18. Mom sold the place to Aunt Maria’s mom and her husband.”

“Oh, gee, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude,” Tom said apologetically.

“No, it’s OK,” she said. “It happened almost 18 years ago. My biggest regret is that Max never got to know his grandparents. They would’ve loved him.”

“Wow, then you were young when you lost your parents,” Tom mused aloud. She’s been through so much, he thought; how had she managed to stay sane?

“Yes, I was. That was a year in my life I really would rather forget. Except the part where I had Max, of course,” she said as she smiled towards her son.

“So how do you like the chicken Tom? Too spicy?” Max inquired.

“No, actually if it wouldn’t offend the cook I’d like some of that Tabasco sauce of yours.”

“Oh please, go right ahead. Max puts that stuff on everything; I’m used to it,” Liz said.

“Thanks. It really is delicious- and sure beats a burger!”

“I’m glad you like it. Oh Tom- may I ask a favor of you? Max is having trouble with the settings on his telescope- I knocked it over while cleaning- would you mind looking at it after dinner?”

“Sure, no problem.”

As Liz cleaned up, he went with Max to check out the instrument. She came in to find them discussing something on Max’s computer.

“So, did I do irreparable harm?”

“No, Tom said it’s just a broken lens and an adjustment screw and he thinks he has the parts at school; he said he’d bring them home tomorrow if he can find them,” Max said.

“Oh good, I’m glad. What are you guys looking at?”

They spent the next hour or so discussing the universe and the stars before Tom stood up to leave.

“Thank you for a wonderful meal. I really enjoyed it.”

“Thanks for coming. And for looking at the telescope; I thought I might have to buy him a new one,” Liz replied as she walked him to the door.

“No, it shouldn’t be a big deal to fix. Oh- uh, about what Maria had said about car pooling, are you interested?” Please say yes, Tom hoped to himself.

“Sure, let’s go over our schedules and we can figure out if it’s convenient for us both.”

They found that four out of five days they could drive in together. Liz was happy to share the ride and gas costs with someone. She was especially happy it was he. What’s the deal with me? she thought as she readied herself for bed. I need to relax.

Max sat at his computer doing some homework. He liked this guy, he thought to himself. Maybe Mom would too. I’m going to have to talk to Aunt Maria about this.

He wouldn’t have to.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:24:14 PM
CHAPTER 5

Tom fit right in with their little group. He pitched in to help with yard work or when Liz needed something done around the house that Max couldn’t handle. He and Max hit it off well, and they played basketball several nights a week, usually while Liz was working out on the punching bags and weights she had set up in the garage. Truth be told, Tom probably wouldn’t play that much ball if it wasn’t for the fact that hoop was attached to the front of the garage and Liz worked out with the overhead doors open. He had missed more than a few shots due to this distraction.

Alex and Maria really liked him and felt that he was a great addition to Liz’s household. Maria was in overdrive attempting to engineer a relationship between Tom and Liz. Liz was in overdrive trying to get Maria to stop.

One evening while the guys were playing basketball and Liz was pummeling the bag the phone rang. “Hello? This is Liz Parker. Hi. How much? OK, I’ll let you know. Thanks.” She muttered “unbelievable” as she hung up.

“What Mom? Who was that?” Max asked, trying to catch his breath.

“The painters that came yesterday to give me an estimate on painting the house. Their price is outrageous. They see a single woman & immediately think we’re completely clueless.”

Tom looked at the house and then back at her. “You just want to paint the outside of the house & the garage? We could do it, that should be no big deal. Have a painting party & invite Maria & Alex. I bet we could knock it out in one good days work.”

“Do you really think so? That would save me a lot of money. And I know Maria and Alex would help. What do you think Max?” Liz asked her son.

“Yeah, we could do it. Uncle Alex, Tom and I could do the second story & the trim while you and Aunt Maria could roll the bottom.”

“Tom, are you sure you wouldn’t mind? I don’t want to impose on you,” said Liz.

“Liz, I don’t mind at all. Why don’t you go to the paint store this week- if you bring them the dimensions, they should be able to tell you how much paint you’ll need. This Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be sunny & warm, so if everyone is available, it might be a good time to do it.”

“Oh, this is great. Let me call Alex and Maria right now.”

On Saturday at 8 AM they were all in the driveway opening paint cans and discussing where to begin.

“Well I think since we’ll be up on the ladders maybe we should start the girls on this side and we do the opposite, then we’ll switch. Otherwise they might knock into a ladder or we might spill paint down on them. What do you guys think?” Alex said.

“Good idea Alex; if that’s OK with you Liz we’ll start on the other wall,” replied Tom.

“Sure, go for it. First one done buys lunch.”

“In that case I’ll be painting slowly,” joked Max.

They moved along quickly once everything was set up and lunchtime rolled around before anyone realized it.

“Well, I guess I’m buying,” said Liz as she finished her last section. “What does everyone want- pizza or subs?”

“Subs” was the unanimous decision, so Liz washed up and headed off to pick up the food. When she returned she found Maria chasing Alex around the yard armed with a very wet paintbrush.

“Liz! Stop her please! She’s on a rampage!” Alex called out as he raced past her.

“Sorry Alex, I have no desire to get any more paint on my clothes or in my hair. Here Max, here’s your sub. Where’s Tom?”

Max began to laugh. “He was Aunt Maria’s first victim. He went upstairs to wash the paint off his face.”

“All right, I’m going to go up & let him know lunch has arrived.”

She climbed the stairs and crossed the deck to the sliding glass doors. She stopped dead in her tracks as the view inside became clearer.

Tom had his back to the doors and was looking through some laundry. He pulled a T-shirt out of the pile and then removed the one he was wearing. Liz gasped at the sight before her. A perfectly sculpted physique. Muscles everywhere, seemingly multiplying as he moved. Her eyes traveled down to his waist, then lower as she admired his tight faded Levis. Well, that’s not exactly what she was admiring.

Suddenly he turned and caught her staring at him. She turned scarlet red as she saw him move towards the door, grinning at her. Oh man, he looks even better from the front she thought as he slid the door open.

“Hey Liz, did you want something?” he asked, amused at her embarrassed expression.

Oh yeah. “Um, yeah, no, I mean, I just wanted to let you know that lunch is here.”

“OK, I’ll be right down,” he said, still smirking.

She turned & ran down the stairs. OK Liz, could you BE any more obvious?
---------------
Liz was exhausted. They had managed to finish both the house and garage by dinner. After a long hot bath she crawled into bed and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.


She was alone at the Crashdown, cleaning up at the end of the day. A tap on the door made her look up, but she had known he was coming even before he got there. She ran to the door, threw it open and jumped into his arms. Kisses covered her face as he carried her back inside and sat her on a table.

“Hi”, he said smiling down into her eyes.

“Hi back”, she replied. “OK, that’s plenty of talk.”

He grabbed her under her arms and pulled her to him for a fierce kiss, their mouths immediately opening to invite in the others tongue. She was holding onto his arms trying fight the urge to rip off his clothes and jump him right there.

Wait a minute. Why am I fighting the urge…

She went wild, tearing his shirt open and then clawing at his chest. “Max, I love your body.”

“Yeah, yours isn’t bad either,” he mumbled into her neck.

Her hands kept moving south until she found the zipper on his jeans. She had it undone and his pants pushed down to his knees before he knew what happened.

“Is there something you want, Miss Parker?” he teased.

“No, but there is someONE I want, NOW.”

She jumped off of the table pushed him back to sit in a chair. Standing in front of him she ripped opened her uniform. He nearly came then and there when he saw that she was naked under it. “Oh my God Liz, have you been like that all day?”

“Well, I knew you were coming- or should I say, will be coming…”

He reached out and pulled her hips toward him until she straddled his lap. He tried to kiss her but she pulled away with a smile, and instead moved her lips to his neck and began to lick and suck as she pressed her body into his, trying to dissolve herself into him. She let her hands run down his arms and then between them over his chest- she didn’t think that she’d ever get tired of touching him. Bronzed, smooth, ripped, and hers. It made her moist every time she thought about it.

His hands had been caressing her back as she tasted him. He slowly moved them lower and began running them over her bottom with a feather-light touch, and she started grinding on him as she became more excited. Without warning he slid a finger inside of her, causing her to bite down on his shoulder and moan loudly.

“Liz…”

She moved her hips faster and faster as he stroked her. Finally he reached around to her front with his other hand and thumbed her clit. She came in a flash, clutching onto to him so she wouldn’t slide down onto the floor.

As she began to calm down she moved her mouth to his and slowly sucked on his lips. Nothing will ever taste this good, she thought. She ran her mouth down his throat, across his shoulder and down his chest. She slid off of his lap onto her knees and reached out for him. He groaned as she took possession of him in her hands. Running her finger from base to tip, she looked him in the eye, licked her lips, and bent her head.

“Liz…” It was a breathy moan released as his eyes drifted shut. His hands moved into her hair as she ran her tongue around the tip and then moved her mouth down his shaft slowly, lightly flicking the tip of her tongue against him, giving him endless pleasure as she gave him a wonderful erotic massage. When she moved down and took his sac in her mouth he pulled her away roughly.

“Liz…” Grabbing her again under her arms he lifted her and moved them back to the booth, laying her down on the seat. He entered her swiftly and began moving into her fast and hard, both of them frantically searching for release.

She placed her hands on his cheeks and brought his eyes to meet her gaze.
“Max. My Max.”

He exploded into her crying out her name, her body experiencing again the euphoric ecstasy only he could bring her.

They lay together, trying to find their breath. He lifted his face to kiss her…

She sat bolt upright in bed. What the hell? She ran into the bathroom and splashed her face with cold water. She looked up into the mirror. What was that?

She had been looking into Tom’s face.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:29:27 PM
CHAPTER 6

For the rest of the week, Liz told Tom she was unable to drive into work with him for various reasons, all of them false. She avoided him in the hallway at school and also successfully ducked him at home. She was too embarrassed and confused to deal with her feelings, so as she’d done for the past 18 years of her life, she denied them.

Max knew something was up; his mother had been distracted all week and he couldn’t connect with her to find out why. She’s shutting me out, he thought; maybe Aunt Maria knows something. He grabbed his jacket and made the quick trip over to Maria and Alex’s.

“Hey handsome, what brings you over to your old Aunt’s house?” Maria said as she kissed him hello.

“You will never be old Aunt Maria, I don’t care what the number on your birth certificate says.”

“OK, now I know you want something- spill it.”

“Well two things actually. First I need your help talking Mom into letting me go away for a weekend, and second, do you know what’s been bothering her all week?”

“No I don’t, but she hasn’t called me in three days so I knew something had to be up. Why, what’s going on?”

“She’s shut me out of our connection and she’s keeping to herself. I was trying to talk to her last night about something, and when I was done I could tell she hadn’t heard a word I had said.”

“Hmm, I don’t know what’s going on but I will check into it. Now what about you going away for a weekend? Are you dreaming?” Maria laughed.

“I know, I know, she’s going to be totally against it, that’s why I need your- and Uncle Alex’s- help. I thought you two could be there when I ask her to help peel her off the ceiling.”

“You realize that I would only do this for you, sweetie. I need to borrow a dress from your Mom anyway, so how about we come over Saturday and we’ll do it then?”

“OK, I’m going surfing Saturday but it will be early. I’ll be home by noon at the latest. Is that OK?”

“Yeah, I want to sleep in anyway. Noon is fine.”

“Thanks so much Aunt Maria, I appreciate this. See you Saturday.” Max kissed her & left feeling a bit better.

When Max arrived home, Tom was bringing in the mail. “Oh, hey, here’s your mail.”

“Thanks Tom- oh man, it’s a good thing you picked this up and not Mom.”

“Why?”

“Because inside this envelope is a booklet and application for the University of Mexico at Las Cruces,” Max answered as he held up the thick package.

“Are you applying there?”

“Yeah, but I don’t want Mom to know. She’ll freak.”

“Why?”

“It’s too far and it’s in New Mexico. A double whammy. But they have a great astronomy program there, and I’d at least like to check it out.”

“You’re right, they do, but have you thought about how you will tell her about it?” Tom asked.

“Well, they have an open house for prospective applicants in a few weeks; I was thinking about asking her if we could go together- but I kind of already know what her answer will be,” Max answered somewhat dejectedly.

“Why doesn’t she like New Mexico, she was raised there, right?”

“A lot of bad memories I guess. Anyway, thanks for getting the mail. Oh- do you still want to try out surfing? A few of us are going on Saturday morning, if you want to come.”

“Definitely. One of the few things I’ve never done. I’m dying to try,” said Tom.

“Great. I have an old wet suit that should fit you, and my friend has an extra board. You’ll love it.”

“I’m looking forward to it.”
=====
Alex and Maria pulled into the driveway on Saturday at the same time Max and Tom were getting out of Max’s truck.

“Hey boys, have a good time? Did Tom manage to get up on the board?” Maria queried.

Max slapped Tom on the back. “Yes he did, in fact he took to it like a fish to water, pardon the pun.”

“Puns-are-us, my boy. I give you a lot of credit, Tom; I can barely stand on my own two feet, forget about a surfboard,” said Alex.

“Well, I have a really good sense of balance. I think that helps a lot. But if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get in a nice hot shower now. I smell like the ocean.”

“I love that smell,” Liz said smiling brightly at them as she came out of the door. Tom gave her a shy smile before making his exit.

Alex helped Max unload his gear while Maria and Liz went inside to look through dresses for Maria

“So Liz, is everything all right? I didn’t hear from you much this week,” Maria said.

“Oh, I know, I’ve been so busy at school,” she mumbled into the closet. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, no problem. No not that one, it will make my hips look too big. Are you sure that’s all? Max is worried about you.”

“He told you that?” Liz said as she put the offending garment back.

“Yeah, he did. He said you won’t let him connect with you and that you’ve been distracted. You know he picks up on the slightest thing when it comes to you. This wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain gorgeous available tenant, would it?”

“What? Maria will you please give it a rest?” Liz answered impatiently.

“Liz, I see the way you two look at each other when you think no one else is looking. What is the problem here? You’re both available, you obviously like each other, he is GORGEOUS, what is your excuse this time?”

Liz sighed and stopped sorting through her closet. “Maria, I can’t lie to you. Yes, I like him; there, I said it. But I’m not going to do anything about it. I feel like… I just am not going to do anything about it, OK?”

“You feel like you’re betraying Max. Do you think that I didn’t feel the same way about Michael when I met Alex? I understand, but Liz, it’s been 18 years. You are not betraying anyone. You are living your life. You’re entitled.”

“I know, but I can’t help it. I look at his eyes and I think of Max. Maybe that’s why I like him, who knows.” She bit her lip and looked at Maria. “I dreamt of him.”

“Who? Max or Tom?”

“Tom. Well, it was Max until the very end. Max turned into Tom.”

“What was he doing?”

Liz flushed at the thought.

“Never mind, I can figure it out from the look on your face. So, you had a sex dream about Max who turned into Tom at the end. You now feel like you betrayed Max because of it. Does that about cover it?”

“Pretty much,” Liz sighed.

Just then they heard Alex and Max laughing as they came into the house.

Maria picked up a black dress and said, “we’ll finish this later” and walked out to the living room.

“Uh, Mom? Do you think I could talk to you about something?”

“Sure baby, what’s up?”

Max looked nervously at Alex and Maria before beginning. “Well, uh, see, Bob’s Dad has this client who gave him tickets for the Final Four.”

“What’s the Final Four?” interrupted Maria.

“It’s the biggest college basketball weekend of the year. The playoffs for the NCAA Championships. It’s a huge deal. This year it’s in North Carolina and Bob’s Dad has four tickets, and they’ve invited Kenny and I to go with…”

“No.” Liz didn’t let him finish his sentence.

“Mom, please, we’ll be with Bob’s dad the entire time. You’ve met him; he’s not exactly the let’s party & get wild type. We’ll be watching basketball the whole time.”

“No.”

“Liz, why not? It doesn’t sound so bad to me.” Max looked gratefully towards Alex.

“No.”

“Liz, come on, at least let’s discuss it. You’ve got to let him loose at some point,” Maria prodded.

“Maria I don’t have to do anything. No.”

“Mom, please, will you at least talk to Bob’s dad? He’ll give you all the details. Please Mom, I really, really want to do this.”

He knew just how to get to her. She could never refuse him anything, and it wouldn’t hurt to talk to the man because she knew she would say no anyway.

“I’ll talk to him. But it’s not going to matter, Max; I don’t want you going anywhere without me.”

“Mom, what are you going to do when I go away to college?”

She paled at the words. So he DID want to leave her and go away to school.

“Oh oh Max, I think you sent her into overload. Why don’t you call Bob now to see when his dad can meet with us.” Maria went over and put her arm around Liz’s shoulder and said “Breathe, Liz. This is not a big deal.”

“Yes it is and you know it. I can’t protect him from- from- from who- who knows what could happen to him and if I’m not there…” She was starting to panic; the thought of Max leaving her was something she was not ready to deal with now.

Alex moved toward the two girls and put his arms around them both. “Liz, I completely understand your fears. But the reality is that at some point in his life Max is going to leave. It might be for a weekend, it might be for a month, it might be for good. It is going to happen. Maybe this trip would be a good way to test out the waters. We’ll go with you to talk to this guy. At least think about it before you say no again, OK?”

Why did Alex always have to make sense? It made it that much harder to be irrational.
============
Liz bolted from the car into the house. The meeting with Bob’s father hadn’t gone well, at least in Liz’s eyes. Max, on the other hand, was elated.

“Mom!” He called after her as he climbed out of the truck. Tom appeared carrying a bag of trash to the dumpster.

“Can I surmise from the look on your faces that you asked your mom about the Final Four?” Max had filled Tom in on his plans while they had been surfing.

“Yeah. We just met with my friend’s dad; he laid out the whole deal to her. I can’t believe she’s going to let me do this.”

“Look’s like SHE can’t believe she’s going to let you do it, either,” Tom said as he looked at the door she had just run through.

“Yeah, I’d better go in and make sure she’s not sticking her head in the gas oven or anything.” They both chuckled as Max went in to find his mother. He found her sitting on her bed, nervously biting her nails. “Mom, thank you so much for this. I swear I will be careful. Everything will be fine. Really.”

“It’s not you I worry about Max.”

// It’s the unknown I worry about, she thought. I don’t know if or when something- someone- will find us- find you-

Mom, what are you talking about? // He had picked up their connection and heard all of her concerns.

“Max, there is so much that you don’t know; that I didn’t want to have to tell you. Believe me Max when I tell you that just because the past 17 years have been peaceful that doesn’t mean things won’t change. You are the son of a king. A king who left to fight a war. What if things didn’t- haven’t- gone well there? What if your father’s enemies find out that there is a living heir to the throne back here on earth? You’re life would be in jeopardy in an instant. You have never been exposed to any of this; I have. It’s not pleasant Max. At least if I’m with you…”

“Mom, no one is going to find out about me at a basketball game. I’ll be doing what normal human males my age do. Please Mom, don’t worry, please.”

“I can’t not worry Max, I’m your mother. It comes with the territory. But I promise you that I will try to deal with this in a rational manner. But you have to promise me that you will call me twice a day and that you will be careful. That you won’t draw any undue attention to yourself. That if anything suspicious happens, you’ll call me immediately. If you see something or someone…”

“Mom, nothing is going to happen. No one knows. It will be OK.”

He was wrong. Someone did know.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:30:15 PM
CHAPTER 7

For the next two weeks she put thoughts of Max’s trip to the back of her mind. If I dwell on it I’ll be ready for an asylum by the time he leaves, she reasoned to herself. She was able to maintain her composure until Monday of the week he was to leave.

Each day on their drive into work that week Tom noticed her increasing anxiety. On Friday morning, the day Max was leaving, he could see she was coming undone. Upon arriving at school he immediately set out to find Alex.

“Alex, I’m glad I caught you. Have you seen Liz? She is really upset today. I saw her walk into a door & say ‘excuse me’ to it.”

“Yeah, we knew this was going to be very rough on her. Maria and I are coming over tonight to say goodbye to Max and try to keep Liz from hiding in the back of the car. Look, I’m going to be late, would you keep an eye on her today? And tonight come downstairs; after he leaves we’ll play poker or do something to occupy her.”

“Sure, no problem.” No problem at all, he thought; watching Liz Parker was his favorite pastime.

At six o’clock Bob’s father arrived with the other boys to collect Max. Liz was holding on to him like she was drowning and he was a life preserver.

“OK, you’ll call as soon as you get there, right?”

“Yes Mom, I promise.”

“And you’ll be careful? No stupid stunts, no wandering off?”

“Yes Mom, I promise.”

“And you’ll call me every morning? And every night?

“Yes Mom, I promise.”

“And…”

“Liz! You’ve gone through this three times already. He will be fine. Let him go now before you have a stroke!” Maria’s words made logical sense, but right now, being logical was the furthest thing from her mind.

Tom felt terrible for Liz; she was so obviously beside herself he didn’t think she’d live through the weekend. “Liz, really, they seem like a nice bunch of kids, and Bob’s dad seems very responsible, I’m sure everything will be fine.” He would have said or done anything to assuage her fear at that moment.

“All right, all right. Have a good time. Be careful. I love you. Be careful.”

“I will Mom, I promise. I love you too. Thank you for this.” Max turned towards the three others. “Please take care of her this weekend.” He kissed her and gave her a bear hug before climbing into the back seat.

They all waived goodbye and Liz lasted about three seconds before breaking down in tears.

“Maria! He’s leaving!” was all she could choke out between her sobs. Maria wrapped her arms around Liz and held her, simply saying “it’s all right Liz, it’s all right” over and over. Alex and Tom looked at each other, both feeling a bit uncomfortable at being present during her breakdown. Alex motioned to Tom to go inside with him and leave the girls to talk.

“Liz, he’s going to be fine. No one there will find out about him being- Czechoslovakian. They are just going to go to the games and hang out. He will be home before you know it,” Maria said soothingly.

No words could comfort her now, though; she just had to cry it out. After a few more minutes she collected herself a little. “Thanks Maria, as usual. Let’s go inside; I could use a drink.”

Alex was already blending a batch of MudSlides when they came in. “What’s this?” Liz asked, pointing at the table.

“Oh, Alex and I thought maybe a game of poker would take your mind off… ah, so he had me dig out the poker chips and cards.” Tom looked at her red puffy eyes and tear stained cheeks and wished he could make her feel better. “We also ordered some pizza, if that’s OK with you.”

“Yeah, that’s fine. Whatever.”

They passed the evening with Maria winning nearly every hand. “Woo hoo! I’m making a killing here!”

“Honey, the chips are only worth a penny each, so I wouldn’t be making any retirement plans yet,” Alex teased.

“You’re just jealous. Wow, is that clock right? It’s almost 11:30? No wonder I’m so tired. Liz, do you mind if we hit the road now?”

“No, go ahead, they won’t even get there until sometime in the early morning. He’ll call then.”

“If he knows what’s good for him. Oh- I have an idea- why don’t the four of us go to dinner tomorrow night? One of the parents at school said he could get me a reservation at The Grenville. I’m dying to go there; it’s supposed to be so elegant. Come on Liz, we’ll get dressed up and get drunk in a nice place for a change.”

“Maria, I don’t know…”

“Sounds like a good idea to me, “ Tom interjected. “Did you have plans?”

“Only to sit and stare at my phone.”

“Well, he has your cell phone number; you made sure of that, like 57 times before he left, so there’s no reason not to go. It’ll be great. I’ve heard they make the best rack of lamb around. I’ll call in the morning for the reservation, is 7 OK with everyone?” Maria was not going to allow her to refuse.

“OK, we’ll pick you both up around 6:30.” Alex pulled Liz in for a hug and whispered “everything’s going to be OK Liz, don’t worry. Call us in the middle of the night if you’re upset, OK?”

“Thanks Alex; I’m sure I’ll be OK. Thank you all for baby-sitting me tonight.”
She hugged Maria and Alex goodbye, then began to clean up.

“Here, let me help you with that.” Tom didn’t want to leave her yet.

“Oh, it’s OK; I’ll just put them in the dishwasher. I think I’ll just watch Letterman and go to bed.”

“He’s supposed to have Derek Jeter on tonight, I think.”

“Would you like to stay and watch with me?” Did I just ask him to- oh, lighten up Liz; she thought to herself. It was only a dream, over two weeks ago at that. You have enough to worry about without going completely neurotic about watching TV with someone now.

They sat close together on the couch. “He’s good tonight”, Tom remarked as he turned to smile at her. She was fighting to keep her eyes open, and she started a little at the sound of his voice. “Yeah” she mumbled before succumbing to fatigue again. Her head slowly fell to the left until it gently came down to rest on his shoulder.

At the contact fire shot through his body. He turned his head to breathe in her scent, and he slowly began to rub his cheek over the top of her head so he could feel her hair. Oh oh, he thought, I’d better get out of here now, before I do something I shouldn’t. He lifted her head and eased himself off of the couch. He propped some pillows up in the corner and gently shifted her body until she was resting on them. Picking up her legs, he moved them onto the couch and removed her shoes, then he grabbed the thin cotton blanket from the back of the couch and covered her. Staring down at her, he couldn’t help but smile; she looked so beautiful and innocent while she slept. I can’t hold out much longer, he thought; the dam is going to break soon.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:31:09 PM
CHAPTER 8

Early the next morning Tom heard a clanking sound and a loud “damn it!” coming from the back yard. He rose and peered out the window to see Liz attempting to pick up a large round metal apparatus that had obviously fallen. He pushed open the window and called down to her, “Liz- hold up- I’ll be down in a minute and I’ll help you.”

As he made his way down the stairs he could hear her swearing softly. He found her attempting to drag what appeared to be a large metal holder for a garden hose across the yard.

“Liz! You’ll hurt yourself, wait.” He picked it up and asked, “where did you want this?”

“I want to mount it over the spickets on the side of the garage. I don’t suppose you would hold it up for me while I mark and drill the screw holes?”

“Sure, no problem.”

He watched her deftly mark, measure and drill the mounting holes. “It looks like you’ve done this before.”

“Well, you learn to do a lot of things when you don’t have a man around to rely on,” she replied.

“So I’m guessing you couldn’t sleep and that’s why you’re out here so early?”

“I’m sorry if I woke you. I just thought working in the yard would occupy my mind. Max called at 4 AM to say they had arrived and I couldn’t fall back to sleep.”

“Well, now that I’m up, is there anything I can help you with?” he asked with a smile.

They worked until early afternoon together; Tom doing some minor repairs on the gutters and then helping Liz dig a new garden bed. Around 2 PM Liz looked at her watch. “Well, I’ve about had it. I think I’m going to take a nap before dinner. Thank you so much for your help. And your company. I probably would have been climbing the walls by now if I didn’t have someone to talk to. Thanks.”

“Anytime Liz,” he said as he melted under her bright smile.

“OK, well, I’m going to take that nap. I’ll see you around 6:30.”
=====
Max called her as she was getting out of the shower.

“Hi Mom, it’s me. Still alive and well.”

“Hi honey, are you having fun?”

“We’re having a great time Mom. We didn’t realize it until we got here, but all of the tickets we have are courtside seats. We are right in the action.”

“Good, I’m glad you’re having fun. Is everything else OK?”

“Yes Mom, no little green men spotted yet.”

“Max…”

“Kidding! Just kidding. Everything is fine. We are going to get something to eat & then have a game at 8 tonight. Then we’ll come right back here. I’ll call you then.”

“OK, I’m going out to dinner with Maria and Alex, so if you don’t get me at home try the cell.”

“Just Maria and Alex?”

“And Tom. So you’ll try the cell?”

“I’ll try the cell. Have fun Mom.”

“You too. I love you. Be careful.”

“I love you too Mom. I’ll talk to you later.”

At 6:30 Tom came and knocked at her door. “Liz? Mind if I come in?”

“Sure, they should be here any second,” she called out.

Stepping into the living room he froze as his eyes fell upon her. “Liz, you look very- ah- very nice. Really nice.” He wanted to say incredibly beautiful but checked himself.

“Thank you,” she said blushing. She hadn’t felt someone stare at her like he was doing right now in a very long time.

RING!!!!!

“Hello? Maria, where are you- oh my God are you serious- no, no, of course, please tell Alex I’ll say a prayer for him. And be careful driving up there. Call me as soon as you know something. I love you.”

She hung up the phone and looked at Tom. “That was Maria. They just got a call that Alex’s dad had a heart attack and is in the hospital. They are going there now.”

“Oh no, I hope he’ll be all right,” Tom said, concern etching his face.

“Yeah, me too; Mr. Whitman is a really nice man. So, ah, they won’t be able to make dinner.”

“Oh, yeah, of course. Well, we’re all dressed, we could still go- that is, if you still want too.”

“OK,” she answered immediately. Wow, this might be the first normal date I’ve been on in a million years, she thought. Wait- I don’t know if he thinks this is a date- well, you know what Lizzie? she said to herself. Who cares. Just go and attempt to have a good time.

They arrived at the restaurant and because the size of their party had changed, they had to wait for a smaller table to become available. They were finally seated at a small table near the fireplace.

Liz looked around admiring the décor. “Wow, Maria was right, this place is beautiful. I remember when this was an old run down building. The current owners bought it for a song and refurbished it to the original Victorian design; I think they even won some design awards for the work.”

“Well they did a great job. I liked the gas lights out front.”

They ordered the rack of lamb (“I’ll hear it from Maria if I don’t”) and Tom insisted she order a bottle of wine (“you would if Maria were here”). They continued to chat about the building and then branched out into many different topics, falling in and out of conversation easily, both enjoying each other’s company. OK, Liz thought to herself, this is really mean but I’m glad Maria and Alex aren’t here. I never would get to talk to him like this if Maria were here playing twenty questions with him all night.

They both ordered espresso after dinner and the conversation turned to Max.

“So, courtside seats huh? Bob’s dad must have good connections,” Tom said.

“I think he works for a big advertising firm in New York so he probably does. I’m glad he’s having fun, but I can’t help worrying about him.” She looked at him and smiled shyly. “You must think I’m the most over-protective neurotic mother in the world.”

“Not at all; it couldn’t have been easy for you, raising him by yourself. You did a great job, Liz. He’s a great kid.” He looked her dead in the eye as he uttered the last statement.

“No, it wasn’t easy, but I had Maria. Max and I wouldn’t be where we are today if not for her. You could say Maria was Max’s father figure, I guess. And then Alex came into the picture when Max was about seven and he’s been just great to Max. I’m very blessed to have such wonderful friends.”

“Yes, you are. But I’m willing to bet that Max’s demeanor is mostly due to you. He has a lot of your mannerisms.” Like that cute thing you do when you chew on your lip, he thought.

“Well, it’s always been just us. He’s been my world for the past 17 years.”

Liz found herself telling him about their life, something she normally wouldn’t do. She was extremely guarded about what she told anyone about Max, suspicious of anyone who asked more than two questions of her, but for some reason it was so easy to talk to Tom. She told him how proud she was of Max being a top athlete yet able to maintain an “A” average at school. How he had volunteered on his own to work with the Special Olympics. How he had always been the sweetest, most wonderful child who did thoughtful things for her all of the time. And how she feared him leaving her, though she didn’t tell him the real reason why.

“You’re very lucky Liz. Too bad his father isn’t around, I’m sure he’d be proud of Max.”

Liz froze. “Yeah, um, well, it can’t be helped, I mean, um, he’s not, uh…”

“Liz, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.” Why did I say that? he thought. She looks like a deer caught in the headlights right now.

“No, it’s OK, I think, uh, I had too much wine, maybe. Do you mind if we go?” She was already standing and collecting her purse.

“Sure, absolutely.” Damn it, we were having such a nice time, I could kick myself, Tom admonished himself. He hurried to catch up with her as she was already almost to the door.

The ride home was quiet. Liz kept telling herself to stop over-reacting and calm down. It was a perfectly innocent- and kind- comment that he had made. As the car came to a stop in the driveway she looked at him and smiled. “Would you like to come in for some coffee? I think I have some decaf.”

“Oh, yeah, that sounds great.” Oh thank God, he thought; she isn’t completely pissed.

As soon as they were inside the phone rang. “Hey Mom, we’re just leaving the game.”

“Who won?” Not that she even knew who was playing, but she always showed an interest in anything Max liked.

“Duke. They slaughtered Florida. It was great. We’re going to stop and pick up a pizza to take back to the room with us.”

“OK sweetheart, I’m glad you’re having fun. Call me in the morning. Be careful. I love you.”

“Me too Mom. Talk to you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight baby,” she said as she hung up the phone.

“So who won? Duke or Florida? And where do you keep your coffee filters?” Tom called out to her as he looked at the cabinets.

“Duke, and in the cabinet above your head. He said they killed them. He’s having a great time. If I wasn’t so worried about him I’d be glad he is having so much fun.”

They adjourned to have their coffee in the living room. As much as he didn’t want to upset her again, Tom felt the need to apologize for his comment before at dinner.

“Liz? About before, at the restaurant, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you or intrude on your privacy, I…”

“No, no, please don’t worry about it,” she interrupted. “I over reacted, as usual. I’m sorry that I freaked out like that. It’s just that when it comes to Max I’m hyper about everything- in case you haven’t noticed,” she added with a grin.

Tom chuckled softly, relieved that she wasn’t angry. “I can understand; like I said, I realize it couldn’t have been easy for you being a single parent.”

“Well, I actually don’t know any other way- I mean, his dad was gone before I even knew I was pregnant. And at the risk of sounding boastful, I think I’ve done a pretty good job; I mean, Max doesn’t seem to be affected by it too much, that is…” she trailed off.

“What?”

“Well, Max has issues with his dad, I guess you could say.” Why was he so easy to talk to?

“But he never met his dad?” Tom said, slightly confused.

“He hasn’t- that’s one of the problems. He is very angry that his father hasn’t been a part of our lives, even though I’ve tried to explain a million times that’s not possible. I guess that’s a normal response for a child, but Max is so sweet and sensitive that I don’t expect anger from him. And I know that my actions have not helped the situation any, either.”

“What do you mean? He obviously adores you.”

Liz smiled. “And I adore him. I mean that I haven’t, uh, moved on, so to speak, in his-or Maria’s- eyes.”

Remembering what Alex had told him about Liz not dating he said, “you mean because you never married?”

“Well, I think what really annoys the two of them is that I don’t even date much.” Her voice softened. “They think I’ve wasted my life waiting for him to return.” Her words trailed off as she began to study the couch cushions intently, suddenly taking note of the small amount of space between his leg and hers.

Tom was staring down at her intently. “Is that what you think?”

The silence that hung in the room was deafening. A hot flash swept through Liz’s body leaving her feverish as she continued to stare down at the couch pillows. What do I think? That answer could fill volumes.

She slowly moved her eyes up to meet his. Her body was trembling and her voice was barely audible as she answered. “Not until now.”

Emotions did away with all rational thinking in Tom’s mind. She had remained faithful for 18 years to a hope, an idea; and now, when she finally decided to open herself up again, it was to him. To HIM. The same fever that possessed Liz at the moment took hold of him.

Never removing his eyes from hers he moved his hand up and ever so lightly brushed it across her cheek, moving it back to gently play in her hair. Resting it there he brought his thumb back to play over her cheek. Unconsciously they slowly leaned toward each other until their lips brushed together. Pulling back slightly he looked down at her to see her eyes half closed and staring at his mouth; as he moved into her again they drifted close as she lifted her face.

Their kiss was soft and slow and long. Sighing into his mouth, Liz ran her hand lightly over the top of his thigh, across his chest and brought it to cup his cheek, providing the spark to ignite them both into deepening the kiss. He brought both his hands to her face and drank from her lips like a man dying of thirst, not able to quench his thirst and need.

It’s been so long, she thought, so very, very long; and this felt so good, so very, very good. She slid into his arms and eagerly returned his ardor, being swept up in sensations that had lay dormant for so many years.

Suddenly she jumped back and off of the couch and stared at him, adrenaline pulsing through her veins, her eyes huge with fear.

She had a flash.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:33:11 PM
CHAPTER 9

Tom looked up at her in shock and confusion. Liz looked wild- her mouth open and her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath, her eyes filled with horror, as she slowly started to back away from him.

“Liz, I’m sorry, I didn’t…”

“Who are you?” she said as her eyes began to roam the room frantically as if looking for an exit.

Tom stood up, seized with fear. “Liz what…”

“WHO ARE YOU?” This time she screamed it at him.

Obviously she saw or felt something from me, he thought; this was NOT the way he had wanted this to go down. His hand had been forced because he couldn’t control himself around her. Just like always. “Liz please calm down…”

“Calm down? CALM DOWN?!!! I saw a flash. You know what I’m talking about don’t you. A flash. STAY AWAY FROM ME!!” He had begun to move toward her, and she backed up into the wall and took a fight stance. If he hadn’t been scared shitless about her reaction it would’ve been funny- no matter how good a kick-boxer she might be, he was twice her size and 100 times her strength. After years of fighting he knew many ways to subdue an enemy. But she was anything but his enemy.

“Oh my God, Max…” Her voice was tiny and laced with fear as she thought about her son. She knew she never should have let him go away. She had played right into their hands. Tom knew exactly where he was.

The terror radiating off of her now nearly brought him to his knees. “No Liz, please, Max is OK, please listen to me, PLEASE.”

She stood as stiff as a statue, rooted in place, arms still raised, realizing she had no choice. I need to find out all I can before I kill him, she was thinking. So I can get to Max.

“What did you see?”

“Stars. Water. A futuristic-looking city.”

“That would be my home.” He swallowed hard, groping for the right words. This is harder than the first time, he thought.

“And where exactly would that be?”

“Antar.”

Antar. The place that had given her the love of her life and the place that had taken him away. The place that could rightly lay claim to her son and take him away too. The word sliced through her like salt poured into an open wound.

“Antar.” She repeated it, trying to focus her mind. She had so many questions, but they would have to wait until she ascertained who he was, what he wanted, and most of all, how much danger Max was in.

“So who exactly are you and what do you want?” She forced herself to appear calm.

His stomach was in his throat; he opened his mouth to reply but nothing came out. He swallowed and tried again.

“It’s me, Liz.”

“Me who.”

“Me. Max.”

Her eyes narrowed to slits as she stared at him and every hair on her body stood on end. “I know three different ways to break your neck so I would advise you not to lie to me again. Who are you.” Her words hissed through her teeth.

“Max, Liz; I’m Max.”

She pulled herself fully upright to look as menacing as possible. “Bullshit. Max can’t shape-shift to look like someone else. This is the last time I’m asking- who are you and who sent you here.”

“I didn’t shape-shift Liz. It’s kind of a mind warp- a mind illusion really. My appearance hasn’t changed. I’ve made you think that I look different than I do. See?”

The handsome blond face before her vanished and Max’s face appeared. The face that she still saw in her dreams only matured by years of trial and separation. His hair was still long but it was the beautiful brown she remembered. Smooth skin, rosy lips, and big ears. The eyes didn’t change though. She avoided looking directly into them. Keep your head clear Liz, you have to be two steps ahead of him.

“You just proved that you’re a shape-shifter. Max didn’t have the power to mind warp.”

Not being able to help himself, he chuckled at her. “Well I guess you could say that living on a planet with aliens for the past 18 years has taught me a few things.” He sobered instantly and dropped his voice, pleading with her to believe him. “Liz, it’s me, I swear. I told you I would come back for you. It just took a lot longer than I ever imagined it would.”

She shook her head vehemently. “You’ve constructed an entire identity to deceive me- if you were Max you wouldn’t have to hide yourself from me. He would know that. He does know that.” Revulsion was beginning to wash over her. She had been loyal to Max for so long, and now she betrayed him with- well, she still didn’t know whom.

“Liz, I had no idea what had happened to you. I didn’t know if you had married or where you were or even if you were alive. I didn’t know how you’d react to me when you saw me. I probably would’ve told you a lot sooner, but then I found out about Max, and I didn’t know what he’d think. From what you’ve told me tonight, I made the right choice.”

“Don’t you dare speak my son’s name,” she hissed.

“It’s my name too. Liz, if you let me connect with you, you’ll see that, you know, I’m still me.”

Her head jerked and her eyes locked on his. She had heard those same words, so many years ago. They had changed her life.

He took a step toward her. “Liz, please.” He was begging her, knowing he had to show her beyond any shadow of a doubt that it really was him.

Being torn between fear and knowing this would show her what she needed to know, she nodded her head almost imperceptibly.

He gently placed his hands on either side of her face and gazed into her eyes. He could feel her body shaking as he said, “relax and let your mind go blank.”

The rush of images came immediately.

His adoration of her from afar. Her healing. Their first kiss. Making love together. Various scenes from their relationship. Their tortuous goodbye. Max in battle; as a leader; as a King. The infamous cupcake dress.

But more than the images she felt all of his emotions over the past 18 years. His fear of not being accepted in his “homeland”. His bravery in battle and his compassion for those who served under him. His pride in being regarded a great ruler. But through it all there was one recurring sentiment.

Loneliness.

Its overpowering presence permeated every fiber of his being. Being surrounded by family, comrades, adoring subjects did nothing to lift him from the desolation he existed in.

When they were young, his loneliness came from his conscious decision to separate himself from others for protection. He dealt with it in silence, throwing up a wall if anyone came too close. Loneliness was a by-product of being who he was. It was painful but survivable.

But that was before Liz had loved him. Before he knew that it was possible for every cell in his body to be satiated with love and to know that love was returned just as strong. Whoever had written, “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all” was wrong. Dead wrong. Knowing that there was something, someone, who could make the gnawing despair that lived in his veins go away was worse. Far worse.

He had lived in a glass cage for 18 years, waiting for the time he could return to the woman who held his heart in her hands.

And she knew. He had waited for her, just like she had been waiting for him. There was no one else. Ever. There never could be.

It was Max. Her Max.

He removed his hands from her face and asked “did it work?”

Just as it had been all of those years ago, she continued staring deep into his eyes, into his soul, and nodded.

Then she did the only thing she could do.

She cocked her arm back and punched him full force in the face.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:34:22 PM
CHAPTER 10

Holy shit that hurt.

Who would think that such a small woman could pack a punch like that. Caught off guard, she had hit him on the jaw forcing him back a few steps. He brought his hand up to rub the area and looked at her.

“I thought it wor…”

“You bastard.”

Liz was shaking from the rush of anger that had flooded her system. It took her by surprise as much as it did him.

All the years she had dreamed of their reunion, it was always the same- falling into his arms, kissing him senseless and hearing words of love pour from his lips. She never in a million years would have suspected she’d feel such rage towards him.

But there it was. Pulsing through her veins like a locomotive run amuck, it began to take on a life of its own. After all, it had had 18 years to gestate. She began pacing and wringing her hands trying to form a coherent thought.

“Liz what…”

“You fucking bastard.”

Max was in shock. He had never heard her swear like this, but that was the least of his concerns. He had no idea where she was coming from at the moment, no way to gauge what her next action would be. In all the years he had dreamed of their reunion, it had always been the same- pulling her into his arms, kissing her senseless and letting her know that he was never going to let her go again.

There was no way he could be prepared for the freight train that was about to run him over.

Then back up.

Then run him over again.

She stopped her frantic pacing and turned, positioned the cross hairs on him and fired.

“Let me get this straight. All this time. You were able to come back. You were able to come back for the past 18 years. 18 years. What’s the matter, Max, didn’t they give the King a copy of the trans-planetary bus schedule? Couldn’t fit it into your busy schedule? Didn’t occur to you to ask the saucer mechanic to tune it up so you could take it for a spin?” Sarcasm was oozing out of her pores as she spoke.

“Liz, I couldn’t, we…”

“You couldn’t send someone else? A messenger? Tie a note to an alien homing pigeon? Attempt any kind of contact? Nothing? Did you even try? Or was it just easier to do nothing and let me spend the past 18 years in limbo?”

“It’s not that simple Liz…”

“No? Well looks like you had no problem finding your way here now. And after waiting 18 years, instead of wanting to be with me you chose to lie to me. You chose to disguise yourself and try and seduce me to see if I’d go for it. Was that a fun little game for you? Find out that I’ve been alone all this time and then see if you could bait me into ‘cheating’ on the real you?”

“Liz please, you don’t understand…”

“Let me tell you what I DO understand. I understand that for the last 18 years of my life I’ve walked around in a fog. Wondering when the phone rang, or when someone was at the door, if it was you. Wondering if you were even still alive. I understand that I raised my son alone. That he never knew his father; that he has suffered because of my choices. I understand that every year on the anniversary of when you left I die a little bit more. Now I understand that not only didn’t I rate high enough for any attempt at contact, when you finally did do something, you chose to deceive me. I understand perfectly. I’m second. If that.”

“You have never been second …”

“Oh really. Well from my perspective it sure looks that way.”

“Are you going to allow me to say anything at all?” He’d had it. He could understand her hurt and anger over the length of their separation, about the ruse he’d used for the past few months, about a lot of things; but to be accused of putting her after anything or anyone in his life was too much. He’d endured too much.

His tone made her hold her tongue for a moment, just long enough for him to begin.

“Second? Every action I’ve taken in the past 18 years began and ended with one thought- how will this help me get back to Liz faster. Every battle, every negotiation- finishing this will bring me closer to being with Liz again. Waking up every morning & going to sleep every night with the same thought- you. Your face. Your smile. I’ve suffered too Liz; you’re not the only one who spent the last 18 years alone. But I always thought I could handle it because I had you. In here.” He pointed to his heart. “You have never been second in my life. NEVER.”

His words left her paralyzed with confusion. The adrenaline was still pulsing through her but her feet remained glued in place, her head spinning around the room, her mind unsure of where to go next.

He took advantage of her hesitation and moved slowly until he was standing inches from her. When they were young it had been him keeping her at arms length until she had finally convinced him that love was worth all of the risks they’d have to face. Now it was his turn.

“Liz.” He breathed out her name as he looked down upon her, willing her to move her eyes up to his. “Liz please look at me.”

She was torn. The anger had receded somewhat, allowing what he said to sink in, but so many thoughts and feelings were flying around her head they left her dizzy.

“Liz.”

Slowly she raised her face and looked up at him. Looking in his eyes she wondered how she didn’t recognize him before this. Yes, they were changed, world-weary, as if they’d been witness to things no eyes should have to see, but they were the same deep amber pools she’d lost herself in when she was 16. When she looked into those eyes she could see herself.

“Liz I’m sorry that I lied to you. I didn’t plan for it to end up like this. When Kyle told me you had moved here…”

“Kyle? You’ve seen Kyle? He knows you’re here?”

“Well, I went back to Roswell looking for you; you know, it being the logical place to start. I heard that the sheriff’s name was still Valenti so I went to his office expecting to find Jim, but found Kyle instead.”

“Yeah, Kyle’s been the sheriff for about 10 years now.”

“You knew?”

“Well yeah, I mean, I sold the Crashdown to Maria’s mom and Jim- they’re married now- so we hear Roswell news through her.”

“Oh. Of course. Well, Kyle told me you had moved here and that you were a professor at Riverton. He didn’t tell me much about anything else because he had to run out on a call. I asked him not to say anything to anyone about seeing me. I came out here without really knowing what I was going to do, how I would approach you. I went to Riverton and found out they needed an astronomy professor.”

“Yeah, how did you manage that, I mean, you don’t actually have a degree,” Liz asked.

Max grinned. “Well I guess you could say that this is one of those cases when work in the field is more valuable than book knowledge. And diplomas aren’t that hard to uh, come up with, if you’re me. I thought I’d just watch you for awhile-“

“You mean spy on me,” she said with a raised eyebrow.

He ignored the comment and continued. “I never expected you to walk into my room that day. Then Alex invited me to dinner and I knew that I should keep my distance, but I had to be near you even if you didn’t know it was me. I know that’s selfish but I couldn’t help it.”

No longer angry, Liz was listening with rapt attention. She had so many questions. “What about Michael and Isabel. Are they here too?”

“No. Isabel adjusted really well on Antar; she ended up getting married and has 3 kids.” He smiled widely as he thought of his sister’s family. “A girl and two boys. The girl is exactly like Isabel. I told her that’s proof that God has a sense of humor. I wish Iz could meet Max. She’d love him; he’s actually a lot like one of my nephews.”

“And Michael?”

For the first time Max looked away from her. His face clouded over with pain and she thought she saw the glimmer of tears well up in his eye.

“Michael- Michael died. Protecting me.” He wiped away the tear that rolled down his cheek.

She was stunned. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.”

“He pushed me out of the way and was hit in my place. He was so brave, Liz; he was the best warrior we had. He was the best friend I’ll ever have.”


“I’m so sorry.” She was choking up herself now, realizing how much he had dealt with and suffered through alone. “Did he have a family?”

“No. He would never admit it but I really believe he wanted to come back here for Maria. I think he was waiting, just like me.”

They stood in silence for a moment, together mourning the loss of a friend, of memories of what was and what could have been. Regaining his composure he turned back toward her.

“Liz, I’m sorry that I hurt you, that I lied to you; I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t just show up after all this time without knowing what was going on in your life first. I thought you may have found someone else, maybe gotten married, and I didn’t want to ruin your life.” His voice dropped down to a whisper. “Again.”

Her confusion vanished. If there was one thing she was sure of, it was this. Looking deep into his eyes she said, “you never ruined my life. You gave me the only true happiness I’ve ever known.”

Reaching out to take her hands in his, his voice cracked with emotion. “I’ve missed you so much. My life has been empty without you. The only time I felt anything near happiness was when I was dreaming of you or our reunion.” He had to smirk as he brought his hand back to his jaw. “I didn’t exactly picture you punching me though.”

She laughed softly and reached up to touch the bruise that had begun to form. “Um, yeah, sorry about that. I didn’t plan that either.”

Covering her hand with his he brought it to his mouth and softly pressed his lips on her fingertips. “Liz I love you so much. I’ve loved you from the first day I ever saw you and will until the day that I die. Please tell me its not too late. Please tell me you’ll give this- give us- another chance. Please Liz.” His eyes, his body, everything about him was pleading with her to let him in.

The adrenaline freight train was back in her bones but this time it carried her in the opposite direction of anger.

Trembling from head to toe she moved her hand down and placed it flat on his chest and pushed him away slightly to look him in the eye. “What if you have to leave again. What if you have to go back. I couldn’t live through that again. I won’t.”

“You won’t have to. I’m not going back Liz, I made that clear when I left. I will never leave you again. I can’t do it either. I won’t.”

Feeling herself spiraling helplessly into his mesmerizing gaze and feeling the love pouring off of him, she did the only thing she could do.

She threw herself into his arms and kissed him senseless.

The shock of her sudden about-face stunned him momentarily, then he threw his arms around her in a crushing embrace. They kissed hungrily, savagely, as if each was trying to inhale the other. Their hands grabbed at whatever clothing or skin they landed on, their movements almost violent.

After all it had been 18 years. 18 years without the feel of each other’s touch, the sound of each other’s voice, the kiss of each other’s lips.

They fell to their knees simultaneously. Any remaining rational thoughts flew out the window as years of frustrated need and desire exploded in a flash of moving hands, lips, and moans. Liz pushed him down onto his back and he pulled her down onto his chest roughly, not wanting an extra second to pass without the feel of her body next to his.

After all it had been 18 years. 18 years of feeling empty and alone and aching.

No thought was given to preliminaries as Max pulled her dress over her hips and she whipped the zipper on his pants down. She freed his straining member from his boxers as he tried in vain to remove her panties, finally in frustration tearing them from her body. She impaled herself on him and they moved together hard, fast, gracelessly, as they sought an end to their raging hunger.

After all it had been 18 years. 18 years of not being with each other. Or anyone else.

They both quickly came to their climax with loud cries of satisfaction and she collapsed on top of him, their chests heaving together desperately seeking oxygen.

After all it had been- oh, you get the picture.

As their breathing returned to normal and the quiet of the moment settled upon them they did the only thing they could do.

They began to cry.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:35:27 PM
CHAPTER 11

They lay on the floor facing each other sobbing.

Clutching onto each other like a drowning person holds onto a life preserver, their bodies shook with the intensity of their cries.

They cried out their years of fear, frustration, and hurt. They cried for the time they had lost together. They cried for their son. For relief that finally, after so many years of longing, of yearning for each other, they were finally back to the only place either of them had ever found peace.

After a long time they calmed, wiped the tears from each other’s cheeks and then began to stroke each other trying to soothe away their anxieties. Their eyes remained locked as they both reveled in the moment, inexpressible thoughts and feelings of love flowing between them freely.

They began kissing softly, slowly, savoring the taste of the other’s lips. Max brought his hand up into her hair and ran his thumb lovingly across her cheek and she sighed into his mouth.

“I always loved when you did that.”

He smiled at her as he continued his movements. “I always loved kissing you.”

“Just kissing?” she teased.

A small groan escaped from his throat before he captured her lips again, more forcefully this time; his tongue thrusting into her mouth conveying the other things he also loved doing to her. She responded immediately, pulling her leg up over his hip and pressing her body into his. He ran his hand down her back and over her bottom, pulling her closer still as they began to move against each other.

She pulled away suddenly, stood up and extended her hand. “Come with me.”

He leapt off the floor and allowed her to lead him down the hallway into her bedroom. Upon entering she picked up a lighter and a candle from her dresser. Taking it from her he said “allow me”, snapped his fingers, and every candle in the room ignited.

Liz began backing up toward the bed pulling him by the wrist, her smoldering eyes roaming up and down his body and elevating his temperature another 10 degrees.

She reached out and slowly began to unbutton his shirt saying, “I need to see you.” Freeing the final button she slid her hands across his chest and pushed the shirt down his arms until it fell to the floor. Her hands roamed his upper body and she smiled at his sharp intake of breath as her lips followed, creating a trail of fire across his torso. He’s more perfect than ever, she thought to herself; still strong and lean but now he had the body of a man instead of a boy. A very hard, hot man.

She kneeled as she slid her hands down and pulled his pants and boxers off. “I need to see all of you.”

His head fell back as her lips moved up his leg to his hip and then crossed his abs. As she stood her hand followed the path her mouth had taken until it rested on his hardness. Her tongue snaked out over his nipple and he gasped again as she began to slowly stroke him and her mouth continued to move. Reaching his ear she murmured to him “you are as gorgeous as ever” before returning at last to his lips. He grabbed her face with both hands and plundered her mouth as her hand tightened around him and quickened its pace. Feeling his control quickly draining away, he pulled her hand away and tried to catch his breath.

“My turn.”

He turned her around and lowered the zipper on the back of her dress. His fingers barely brushed her skin as he nudged the straps off of her shoulders and replaced them with his lips while still slowly moving the dress down her body, letting it pool at her feet. His hands encircled her waist and he rested one on the spot where he had healed her, where their journey had begun so many years ago. He ran his tongue over her shoulder blade and up her neck to her ear.

“I love you Liz. Always.”

It was whispered reverently and it made her knees weak. She leaned back into his chest for support, and her head tilted to the side as his lips continued their journey over her jaw line and back down her neck. His hands began a journey of their own as one ran over her hip in light circles on their way to her inner thigh and the other moved up to her breasts to play with her nipples. She moaned loudly at the first brush of his fingers through her dark curls and her body went limp. He quickly scooped her up, placed her on the bed and moved over her. Once again taking her face in his hands he stared at her a moment in awe. “I didn’t think it was possible, but you are even more beautiful than I remember.”

Liz had a fleeting thought that it was a good thing that he was holding her down because she’d probably float up to the ceiling right then if he wasn’t. Her hands reached up to cup his face. “Oh Max,” was all she could get out as her throat closed with emotion.

His eyes grew watery as he breathed out “Liz, my angel, my love.” He leaned down and caressed her lips with his for a long moment, sending her his feelings of adoration and desire through their connection. The kiss grew deeper and her hands began to graze over his body, slowly moving downward. He pulled away from her and taking her hands in his he kissed the back of each one before placing them back down on the bed on either side of her body.

“It’s still my turn.”

After another passionate kiss he began kissing and touching every inch of skin he came in contact with, all the while murmuring words of his love. His mouth found her breast and as he began to lick and suck at her nipples his hand moved down between her legs and began to trace around her lips. A low, drawn out moan escaped her as she abandoned herself totally to the pleasure vortex she was being pulled into. He groaned himself when he found her wet and ready as he slid a finger inside and began stroking her. As she pulled at him to bring him back up to take his mouth again, he began to move his thumb over her clit. Her head fell back from his kisses, her eyes closed and lips parted as soft moans quickly poured forth. He remained hovering over her, watching as she grinded herself on his hand and tossed her head from side to side, helpless in the throes of passion pulsing through her. Her hands twisted in the sheets and she cried out as her orgasm flashed over her. Max moved to wrap her in his arms and lovingly stroked her face, arms and legs as she calmed.

Opening her eyes she was overcome by the look of pure love emanating from his soul. Every muscle in her body turned to jelly and she began to again shake with desire. “Oh Max, I love you so much” she breathed as she pulled him down to take her lips again.

He moved his body fully on top of her and she wrapped her legs around his waist, their kiss breaking only long enough for him to say “I love you with all my heart Liz.” He slid inside of her slowly and they began to move together in perfect rhythm, as if it had been only days that they had been apart, not years. They moved slowly at first, wanting to savor the sensations of the feeling the other’s body so intimately connected with their own; their arms wrapped around each other playing up and down the expanse of skin that was them joined. They never stopped kissing; long, languid kisses broken only by the soft moaning of both. Liz ran her hands over the planes of his chiseled back down to his backside and grasped at him, pulling him further inside of her, and he began thrusting faster and harder not being able to contain the fire exploding throughout his body.

Feeling them so close to their release they gazed into each other’s eyes knowing what each needed. They smiled as they simultaneously said “Liz. My Liz,” and “Max. My Max.”

With one final movement they exploded together, their bodies convulsing in the joy of their love.

They lay joined together long afterward, Liz unwilling to release him after so many years of his absence. He reversed their positions so he wouldn’t crush her and held her to his chest, running one hand through her hair and the other in circles over her back.

“Liz, I don’t have words to, to tell you…” Overcome with emotion, he couldn’t finish his sentence.

She lifted up to look at him & placed a finger on his lips. “You don’t need any my love. I know.”

They kissed again for what seemed an eternity.

They both hoped it would be.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:36:30 PM
CHAPTER 12

Liz awoke with the same smile on her face she had fallen asleep with. The smile of satisfaction.

They had spent hours just laying together absorbing the enormity of what had transpired, glorying in the ability to once again touch & love each other. They talked for hours about their lives while apart & how they had missed each other. They finally fell asleep spooned together, his arm wrapped tightly around her & resting on her stomach, her fingers interlaced with his. She now lay awake in this same position, saying a silent prayer of thanks to God for bringing him back to her. I could stay here like this forever, she thought; or at least all day today. They had 18 years of catching up to do; of talking, laughing, loving.

Suddenly she realized that it had also been many years since he had seen the way she looked first thing in the morning. Hmm, maybe I should save the rats-nest hair, sleep-filled eyes & pasty-colored skin for another day & go take a shower, she thought. Gingerly scooting out from under his arm she slid out of bed & stared at him for a moment as he slept. She had a feeling this smile was going to be plastered on her face for quite awhile.
===========

Maria was exhausted. She & Alex had spent the night in the emergency room waiting area with his family, and after finally getting his dad settled in a room in the early morning she had left for home to pick them up a change of clothes. She picked up the phone to give Liz a quick call. When the answering machine picked up, she hung up the receiver & grabbed her purse. I’ll get some bagels & stop over there on my way back to the hospital, she thought.
===========

The shrill of the ringing telephone jerked Max out of his sleep.

He lay in bed for a moment replaying the events of the prior night in his mind. If it was possible to die of happiness then someone better call the morgue, he thought. If anyone sees me with this dopey smile on my face they’re gonna think I’m high.

It had been hard waiting all those years but the past few months had actually been worse- being so close to her yet having to conceal his identity; being close enough to smell her, to touch her, & having to restrain himself was the worst torture he had ever experienced.

Hearing the sound of the water running, he smiled wider & jumped out of bed. Quietly opening the door he stepped into the bathroom & moved toward the shower as he listened to her humming & singing; his breath catching in his throat as he peered through the glass door. Her head was tilted back as she shampooed her hair, the suds & spray running over her body. Lucky suds, he thought.

He silently slid the door open & stepped in behind her. Wrapping his arms around her waist he bent his head to her ear & breathed out, “need some help?”

“Aaahhh!!” She jumped as the soap shot out of her hand. “Max! You startled me. I’m not used to having company in the shower.”

He spun her around & ran one hand up between her shoulder blades & the other down to her bottom pulling her flush against his already hard body.

“Well we’ll just have to rectify that now, won’t we?”

As she stared into his eyes that were already black with desire, a sly smile crossed her face as she wrapped her arms around his neck & said, “did you have anything specific in mind?”

“Oh yeah” he muttered as he took her lips in a ferocious kiss.

Liz was on fire. Her passions had lain dormant for so long & now that they had been let loose they were raging out of control. She couldn’t get enough of his lips, his hands, the feel of his flesh in contact with hers as she rubbed her body on him. The feel of his erection pressing into her stomach only drove her frenzy higher.

“Touch me Max. Please,” she whispered in his ear.

Only too happy to oblige, he dislodged her arms from his neck & moved her back up against the shower wall. Stepping back he ran his eyes over her & she thought she would melt & run down the drain with the suds. He reached out with his pointer finger & starting at her forehead he ran it down her nose, around her lips, over her chin & down her neck. Pulling back & grinning wickedly he said, “you mean like that?”

“Maxxx…” she whined.

Reaching out again, his finger followed her shoulder line to the crux of her arm & then moved it down the outside of her torso, just skimming the side of her breast, down her waist & across to her belly button, where he swirled it around lightly before withdrawing again.

“Or like that?”

“Max please…” her voice becoming more insistent.

Kneeling down he placed both hands on her hips & ran them lightly down her legs to her ankles; then bringing them to the insides he slowly, tortuously began to move upward. As he reached her center he looked up to see her staring down at him, panting in anticipation. Nudging her legs apart he gently ran his finger over her, his body tightening as he felt how ready she was for him.

“Please Max, touch me,” she whimpered.

Looking up again he growled “I have a better idea,” & snaked out his tongue to taste her. Her hands found his hair & she began moaning as he took her into glorious oblivion. His name was an unending chant from her lips as she hurdled toward completion, her legs giving way completely as she tumbled over the edge.

She slid down the wall into his waiting arms. Sitting back onto the floor of the shower he pulled her limp body onto his lap until she was straddling him. Her head rolled from side to side as his mouth moved unceasingly over her skin, his breathing becoming more & more labored as she leaned back & brought his head to her breasts while slowly grinding her hips into him. Feeling himself close to his breaking point he moaned out “Liz I need you, now.”

Quickly positioning herself over him she said “you’ve got me Max, forever” as she sank down onto him & took them both into bliss.
=========

Maria pulled into the driveway & grabbed the bag of bagels & 2 cups of coffee. That’s funny, she thought; the shades are still drawn, that’s unusual for Liz at this hour. Maybe things had gone well with Tom last night & she hadn’t gone to sleep until late. Well she’ll have to get up now, she thought as she fished in her purse for the key to Liz’s front door.
==========

They washed each other slowly, getting reacquainted with each other’s bodies & relishing the power they each found in a look or a simple touch. Stepping out he wrapped a towel around them & kissed her gently before folding her into an embrace. “I love you Liz. I can’t say that enough.”

“I can’t hear it enough.”

They kissed again & his hands began to wander over her body. Suddenly she jumped & giggled slightly.

He grinned down at her & his grip tightened. “Don’t tell me your still…”

“Max, no, don’t…”

“Too late” he laughed out as he began tickling her mercilessly.
========

Maria heard noise in the direction of the bathroom so she made her way down the hall. Just as she was about to call out for Liz, she heard the laughter. Male & female laughter. Holy shit Liz must’ve slept with Tom! Finally!! This is gonna call for some major girl talk.

Liz’s voice invaded her thoughts. “Max, stop, please- MAX!!”

Max? What the??

Before she could register anything else the door flew open as Liz attempted an escape.

The three of them stood frozen in place staring at each other for a moment. Max quickly yanked the towel that was hanging haphazardly around them & covered himself, leaving Liz naked. Liz stood looking at Maria, opening her mouth to speak but no words would come out.

Maria did the only thing she could do. She fainted.

Liz looked down at her lying in the middle of splattered coffee & bagels rolling over the floor.

“Well I guess THAT was inevitable.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:37:59 PM
CHAPTER 13

Max carried Maria to the couch & placed her down. Looking worriedly at Liz he said “is she going to be OK?”

Liz chuckled. “Max, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about her drama queen tendencies. This is par for the course!”

“Yeah, I remember, but this is, you know, a little weird.”

“Oh & telling her that you guys were aliens when she was 16 wasn’t?! Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this. Why don’t you go upstairs & get dressed?” She watched him scurry off thinking ‘I wouldn’t mind looking at you in that towel all day, though’.

Liz went to put on her robe & when she returned Maria was coming around.

“Oooh, what happened? Did I pass out? Oh man, I know I’m tired but now I’m seeing things- I thought I saw you & Max in the bathroom.”

“You did.” Liz cut right to the chase.

Maria looked at her dumbfounded. “What? How? When?”

“Maria, Max is Tom. Or Tom is Max. Anyway Tom was- I mean Max was mind warping us so we wouldn’t recognize him. The whole time Tom has been here it’s really been Max.”

Maria’s eyes were ready to pop out of her head. “Oh my god, what-“

She was interrupted by Max’s return. Well, he looks like Max, she thought; a little older- man this was weird. She just stared at him as he looked from her to Liz & asked “is everything OK?”

Maria found her voice again. “What? How? When?”

Liz laughed again. “OK is a relative term when it comes to Maria.”

“Excuse me, considering the situation I think I have a right to be a bit freaked out right now.”

Max looked at her sheepishly & said “Hi Maria. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you or anything.”

Maria stared up at him again. “What? How? When?”

They sat on either side of her explaining how he’d returned to Roswell & met with Kyle & then made his way to find them. Then preparing himself for her fury, Max began to explain why he had concealed his identity from them.

“I understand,” she interrupted.

Max & Liz looked at each other & said at the same time “What?”

“I understand. Why you couldn’t tell her. I mean you can’t just walk back into someone’s life after all that time & say ‘Hi! I’m back!’ I would’ve done the same thing.”

Liz was incredulous. “Maria I can’t believe YOU are able to remain calm about this.”

“Well it makes sense, Liz; what if you had married or whatever. He had to scope out the scene first.”

Max was relieved. “Well you certainly took it better than Liz did,” he said grinning. “She hit me.”

“Yeah, well I can see that too. So why did you decide to tell her last night anyway?”

They both blushed as Liz explained about the kiss & the flash. Maria began laughing. “What’s so funny?”

“Well, I mean, it’s ironic, isn’t it? After almost 20 years of me trying to get you hooked up with someone you finally go for it & it turns out to be Max! I should’ve known.”

“Known what?”

“That you would never be attracted to anyone besides Max. That you wouldn’t have sex dreams about anyone else.”

“Maria!!”

“You had sex dreams about me?”

“Oh god, can we please talk about this later?”

Maria became serious again & looked at Max. “Did you come alone? Back to earth?”

Liz reached out & held her hand as he related the story of Michael’s life & death on Antar. When he was finished they all had tears in their eyes as Liz said “Maria, I’m sorry.”

Maria forced a smile as she wiped her tears away. “It’s OK; he lived out his destiny, & I’ve lived mine.” She looked at Max & took his hand. “I’m sorry Max. That you had to go through that.”

He smiled at her & pulled her into a hug. He had always loved Maria; she was weird & quirky & bouncy & loyal & compassionate- she was a true friend to him all those years ago & he was thankful she had stuck by Liz in the years since.

Pulling away she said, “OK, well now I could really use that coffee.” As Liz made a pot Maria filled them in on Alex’s dad.

When she was done she looked at them both. “So what happens now? What about Max?”

Liz knew she was referring to her son. “Well I haven’t really given it any thought yet.”

“What? Are you kidding? Liz you know how he feels about his father- how could you not have thought about telling him?”

“Maria I just found out last night & I’ve been, ah, busy.”

“What the hell was more important- oh.” She looked at the two of them with flushed, embarrassed faces and began to laugh. “Oh man, some things never change.”

“Maria!”

“Oh for god’s sake Liz, lighten up. You were practically a born-again virgin; you have the right to swing from a few trees.”

“Oh dear god, please shut her up. Please.”

Max laughed briefly, then turned serious as he addressed them both. “Do you think that Max will be really upset?”

Maria shot Liz a look & out of the side of her mouth said, “you didn’t tell him?”

“No, I did, & yes, I’m sorry Max but I think he’s going to be upset. Really upset.”

“Really mad & upset,” said Maria. “He’s a perfect combination of the two of you- your sensitivity & her temper. Mad & upset. Bet on it.”
Max had a sinking feeling in his stomach. He had been elated at discovering that he had a son & he so wanted to become a part of his life. To think that he might be rejected by him & how being in the middle of it all would hurt Liz made him sick.

Sensing his pain Liz walked over to him & laid a hand on his shoulder. “Max, we’ll deal with this. Don’t worry.” He took her hand & kissed it as he smiled at her in gratitude.

Maria groaned. “Oh god, you two are starting with the gooey-eyed stares already; I’ve got to get out of here before I go into sugar shock. Look, my advice to you both is not to delay in telling him. He knows the second anything is up with Liz. He’ll be angrier if you keep it from him any longer. Max, be patient with him; he’s going to be very confused & will probably say and/or do some things he normally wouldn’t do. He’s a wonderful person; he’ll come around, just be patient.”

Max stood up & pulled Maria into another hug. “Thank you for everything Maria; for being there for him, for being so good to he & Liz. If I couldn’t be here with them I’m sure glad that you were.”

“I’d do anything for them Max; & I know they would for me.” Maria smiled at Liz & then looked back at Max. Narrowing her eyes & lowering her voice she leaned into him & said, “don’t hurt her Max, she’s been through too much already. Or you’ll have to answer to me.”

Knowing her too well he took her very seriously. “I won’t Maria. I love her. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make her happy.”

“Good boy. OK, I have to get going, Alex is going to think I got lost. Wait until I tell him what took me so long!”

Max immediately became alarmed. “Uh, wait a minute, how are you going to explain how I ‘changed’ my appearance & all to him?”

Liz & Maria both started to laugh. “He knows, Max,” Liz said. “We had to tell him after he saw Max turn a pile of sand into a 6 foot castle complete with drawbridge & moats with a wave of his hand when he was little. He knows all about you & where you’ve been. Don’t worry, Alex is cool.”

“Yeah, look who he’s married to after all!” Maria kissed them both goodbye as they conveyed their best wishes for Alex’s dad’s recovery. She drove down the street & parked by the water, staring out at the bay. The tears came slowly as she grieved for the loss of her first love & the sadness that had always enveloped his life. She had been blessed with a wonderful husband, a great marriage, & family & friends that loved & accepted her. How she wished Michael could have known that same comfort. Offering a final prayer that he would in eternity, she composed herself & left for the hospital.

Liz was washing the coffee cups to avoid looking at Max. He moved behind her & reached around to shut off the water. Taking her soapy hand in his he said, “Liz we have to talk about Max.”

She turned around to face him. “I know; I just don’t know what I’m going to say to him. I’m not used to telling him things that I know will upset him.”

Max looked down at the floor. “I’ve done it again.”

“Done what?”

“I’ve screwed up your life. Now I’m screwing up his too. I should never have come back.”

“NO!” She grabbed his face to force him to look at her. “Listen to me. Until I met you I didn’t have a life- I had an existence. That’s all. From the moment you saved me I knew my life would not be complete unless you were a part of it. No, my life- our relationship- hasn’t been perfect, but if there’s one thing I know it’s that I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. The hardships, the years apart- everything, as long as it meant that I’d be standing here with you today.” She threw her arms around him as she continued. “You are good & true & he will see that. It’s just going to take some time.”

He crushed her to him, emotional at her profession of love but still torn by the turmoil he knew he was causing. “Liz I want a future with you. With both of you. I’ll do anything you both want. Just tell me what to do.”

She pulled back a little & looked him in the eye. “It will be OK Max. I promise. I love you & so will he. He’ll come around.”

He has to, she thought, as she buried her face in his neck.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:38:57 PM
CHAPTER 14

Monday morning came around far too fast for Liz. They had spent Sunday making love in almost every part of the house. Even when they had gone into the garage for some tools they ended up doing it on her weight bench after Max told her how turned on he got while watching her work out. She felt like a teenager again, unable & unwilling to control her desire for him.

Today would be very different though; her son would come home & find out that that his father had returned. Liz had taken the day off from work to greet him when he arrived; when she had done so she thought she’d be excited about hearing about his trip, not anxious about his reaction to what she knew would be unwelcome news to him.

The sound of the running shower tore her away from her thoughts. Closing her eyes for a moment & recalling the previous day’s water sports she began to smile. Paybacks are a bitch, she thought, as she rose & made her way to the bath.

=======
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” They were standing at the front door locked in an embrace. Max’s concern was written all over his face; he didn’t want to leave her alone to deal with telling their son.

“Max I really think it’s better if I do this by myself. He’ll be more comfortable with just me. We’ll talk to him together tonight after you get home.”

Home. She considered this his home. He broke out in an ear to ear grin. “OK, but promise you’ll call me if you need me.”

“I will. And Max?”

“Yeah?”

“I’ve always needed you.”

He gifted her with another dazzling smile and whispered “I know what you mean,”
before kissing her breathless.

Liz reluctantly pulled away from him. “All right, you’d better get going or I’m going to attack you again.”

“Is that a promise?”

“Go! Have a good day. I love you.”

“And I adore you. I’ll see you tonight. Good luck.”

Liz was a nervous bundle of energy all day. She vacuumed the house, cleaned the bathroom, did three loads of laundry & worked out, all the while going over in her head what she was going to say to her son.

Maria called her late in the morning. “Hey chica, what time will Junior be home?”

Liz smiled to herself. Junior. She liked the sound of that. “I’m not sure exactly; he called last night & said it should be sometime in the afternoon, I think.”

“You don’t remember? I thought you’d have pinned him down for an exact time.”

“Well, when he called I was a little distracted. I’m pretty sure he said the afternoon.”

Knowing full well there was only one thing that could distract Liz’s attention from her son she teased, “oh, & what was distracting you Liz?”

“You’re evil, you know that Maria?”

“No, I’m a friend who’s happy for you. Can I help it if I see a comedy gold mine in that too?”

“Evil, evil, evil,” Liz repeated, laughing. “How is Alex’s father?”

“Actually, physically, according to the doctors he is doing really well. Mentally, however is another story. He is freaking out about quitting smoking & changing his diet. You know how stubborn he is.”

“Yeah, it always amazed me how Alex is the polar opposite of him & yet they get along so well. How is Alex holding up?”

“He’s okay, just exhausted. We’ll be home tonight; I’m sure he’ll crash as soon as his head hits the pillow. So anyway, have you figured out what you’re going to say to Max?”

“No. I’ve been thinking about it all morning & I’m going crazy. I’m really worried about his reaction Maria; you know we’ve never had an argument & I don’t know how I’m going to handle it if he freaks out.”

“Liz just do what I said- be honest. Max loves you & will listen to you. And Alex & I will be right behind you. Listen I have to run, be strong, everything will be OK. OK?”

“Yeah, thanks Maria; I love you.”

“Love you too babe. I’ll call you when we get in tonight.”

It was a little after 3 PM when Max arrived home. Liz flew out of the house & practically pulled him out of the car before it stopped & began hugging & kissing him.

“Mom, you’re embarrassing me,” he said, but made no move to make her stop. Truth be told he had missed her just as much. They had never been apart even one day in his whole life & he had spent most of his non-basketball time over the weekend worrying about her. She had been so upset when he had left & when he had spoken to her yesterday she had seemed distracted. He had been getting a weird feeling through their connection all morning, but he just chalked it up to her anxiety over his trip.

“I don’t care. I missed you so much,” she said as she kissed him again. She turned to Bob’s father & thanked him for inviting Max & bringing him home safely, then linked her arm through Max’s & walked inside. Liz listened intently as he happily filled her in on all of the events of the weekend. She was glad that he had had such a good time, but she was thrilled that he was home safely.
He finished his tale & asked her “so, what’s going on here?”

She immediately tensed up. Here we go, she thought; just how do I begin to tell him…

“Tell me what Mom?” He had picked up their connection & could feel her turmoil. “What’s going on? Is it Alex’s dad?”

“No, sweetie, he’s going to be fine, as long as he listens to the doctors.”

“So, what do you need to tell me?”

“Um, well, something happened that we need to talk about, ah…” She was twisting her hands in her lap & looking everywhere but at him.

“Mom you’re starting to freak me out. What happened? Are you OK? Did something happen to you?” Max’s fear was increasing by the second; they were always direct & rarely nervous with each other. What could possibly be so bad that she was stumbling over her words & couldn’t look at him?

“No honey, I’m fine; it’s just that, ah, someone unexpected showed up this weekend.”

Max’s entire body tightened. Who could have been here to upset her like this? His eyes narrowed & his voice was low as he asked “who?”

Liz finally looked him in the eye & she heard Maria’s voice inside her head- ‘just be honest Liz.’ She took a deep breath & said simply “your father.”

Max was frozen stiff. He couldn’t have heard her right. I mean, what are the odds that the only time in his life he left her HE would show up? He shook his head and said again “who?”

“Your father, Max,” she said gently. “And actually, it turns out that he’s been here for a while.” She was going slow, trying to gauge his reactions.

“What do you mean?” His voice was tight as he tried to control the storm beginning to rage inside his head.

Liz swallowed hard, knowing firsthand how he was going to feel when he heard this. I should probably explain why he hid himself before I tell him that it had been Tom all along, she thought.

“Well, he went to Roswell first & saw Uncle Kyle who told him we lived out here, but that was all he told him. He didn’t know anything else- like if I had married someone else; he also didn’t know about you. He couldn’t just show up after so many years & say ‘Hi! I’m back’, he had to find out what was going on in my life (thank you Maria). So he kind of disguised himself so he could-“

“It was Tom,” he interrupted. “It was Tom wasn’t it.”

“How did you know?” She couldn’t believe he was able to figure it out so quickly; she had been blocking their connection so she knew he didn’t extract from her.

Max stood up, obviously agitated. “I’m not an idiot Mom. He showed up out of nowhere, took an awfully keen interest in us from the beginning…” His words trailed off as his thoughts began to crystallize. This explains why he had bonded with Tom so quickly; normally Max, much like his mother, held strangers at arms length. A puzzled look then crossed his face. “Wait a minute, you said that I looked just like him- I don’t look like Tom.”

“He did something called a mind-warp to make us think he looked different than he actually does.”

He stopped pacing & looked at her. “So what you’re telling me is that not only did he desert you, not only did he leave you hanging for what, like over 17 years, he finally decides to show up & he LIES about who he is, he MANIPULATES our MINDS? He found out he had a son & his first reaction wasn’t to say ‘hi, I’m your Dad, I’ve missed out on your entire life but I’d like to get to know you now’, no, his strategy was to lie & try to weasel his way into our lives?”

“Max, please try to understand. Please put yourself in his shoes for a moment.“

“No Mom, that’s not possible. Because I would never do that. I would never have abandoned you in the first place.”

“Max he did not abandon me. We have gone over this a hundred times, & that is not the issue here. I’m not going to lie to you; I was also angry when I first found out that he had deceived me, but after I thought about it I realized that he had no other choice. Your father is not the kind of person to force himself on anyone. He would never barge in & announce he was here & expect me to fall all over him. That’s not his style.”

“No, his style is to choose to go to a place he’d never been for people he’d never met to fight some war he had no stake in. His style is to run away from people who loved him to let them live in suspended animation & not have a life.“

“That’s not true Max. First of all, I told him to go to his people. He is their King. He has a stake in everything that happens to them & I accepted that a long time ago. And excuse me, but I did, I DO have a life. You are my life. And you have never once heard me complain about him or the way my life has turned out. It was my choice, Max; & I’d make the same choice again even knowing what I know today.”

“I cannot believe that you can sit here & defend him. Is he still mind fucking you or-“

“MAX! Since when do you speak to me that way.” Taking a deep breath & softening her voice she continued. “But you should know me well enough to realize that no one tells me what to think or feel. I have loved him since I was 16 years old & that has not changed. You have never met him, you don’t know what a caring, sensitive, honorable person he is.”

“Yeah & there’s a good reason for that Mom. He wasn’t here. You may be willing to make excuses for him but I’m not.” He turned & started for the door.

“Max where are you going? We’re not done here.”

“I am. I have to get out of here.”

“Max please!” Her please fell on deaf ears as he was already out the door & climbing into his truck.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:40:27 PM
CHAPTER 15A

Just keep moving.

Like a mantra, that thought kept running through his mind as he left the house and drove to the beach. He always went there when he was upset or just needed some space to do some thinking. Now he was trying to run away.

Just keep moving.

He was sprinting down the beach at full throttle, his mother’s words haunting his every stride.

“…disguised himself….sensitive, honorable person…not his style…loved him since I was 16…”

Just keep moving.

Other thoughts clashed for time in his mind. His father was here. The person he had once longed to know and then came to hate was here, disturbing the happy existence he & his mom had created. They didn’t live in a reality that included aliens & danger. Now he had brought that all to them in one selfish move.

Just keep moving.

Selfish. That’s exactly what his father was. He selfishly left his mother alone to chase after some royal alien kingdom. He selfishly stayed there until all of HIS business was taken care of. He selfishly returned & expected to be admitted into their family.

Finally slowing down he fell to his knees, panting for breath. How could his mother even begin to think that he would accept any of this? How could SHE have forgiven him so easily? After all, the bastard had hurt her the most. It was the reason why he hated his father so much- wasn’t it?

Looking out at the ocean he suddenly wished a large wave would come & suck him out to sea. Shaking his head to dispel such thoughts, he made his way to his car, knowing who he needed to see.
============

“So how do you think Max will take the news about his father’s return?” Alex was questioning Maria as he flopped down on the couch.

“Well, you know how he feels about his dad; I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.”

“Poor Liz. She must be flipping out about this. When is she going to tell him?”

“When he got home today. I told her to be honest & direct. He will know something is going on with his mother as soon as he looks at her, so she might as well just deal with it & get it over with.”

“You’re right. Listen, I’m exhausted, is there enough time before dinner for me to catch a nap?”

“Get some rest honey, I’ll wake you when dinner is ready.” Maria kissed Alex on the forehead as he settled in and made her way to the kitchen. The sound of a car door slamming in her driveway made her peek out the window.

Oh, this doesn’t look good she thought as she made her way to the door to let Max Jr. in.
============

Why did this have to be his “long” day at school? He had spent the entire day staring at the clock attempting to speed up the passage of each class, worrying about Liz telling their son about his return. When the final class was over he had run to the car and was now sitting in traffic contemplating using his powers to turn the autos in front of him into roadway so he could get home faster. He had been tense all day but around 3:30 he had felt like someone punched him in the gut. Through their strengthening connection he was picking up Liz’s emotions & he was going insane not knowing exactly what was happening.

Arriving home he immediately noticed that Max’s car was gone & he felt her broken heart like it was his own. He raced into the house calling her name as he moved from room to room searching for her. When he got to her bedroom he stopped dead in the doorway, his heart breaking at the scene before him.

She was curled into a ball on the bed, her back facing the door, trembling from the sobs wracking her body. From the pile of tissues on the floor next to the bed he could tell she had been there for a while.

He had fought important battles, had experienced destruction & the deaths of many including his closest friend, but nothing except leaving her all those years ago had ever made him feel this bad. She was distraught because of him. He wanted to die.
==========

“So she told you.”

Maria never beat around the bush about anything. It was very obvious to her that Max knew about his father’s return. The look on his face said it all.

“Yeah. She told me.” He followed her into the kitchen & gave her a half-smile when she handed him a glass of chocolate milk, just like she had done when he was a child & would come running in after he fell down or was upset about something. “I don’t think its gonna work this time, Aunt Maria.”

She kissed the top of his head & sat down. “I know this must have blown you away Max. None of us saw this one coming.”

“There’s the understatement of the day.” He looked up into her eyes & her heart clinched. He looked so lost & hurt & confused. “Aunt Maria how could he- how could he-“ he was struggling to find words to express the myriad of emotions flowing through him. “How could he come back & lie to her? And how could she accept it so easily? Like nothing ever happened? Like she hasn’t spent the past years agonizing about him? How?”

“Because she loves him. That might seem trite but that’s the reason, Max; your mom loves him beyond sadness & pain & separation.”

“But he LIED Aunt Maria; he messed with her mind to do it, & she’s acting like it’s no big deal.”

Maria chuckled softly. “I wouldn’t say that’s exactly true Max. Did she tell she punched him?”

“What?”

“Yeah, apparently her initial reaction was not a happy one & she hit him. Judging from the bruise I saw on his jaw she got him pretty good, too.”

“Good.”

“Max, don’t be that way.” She took his hand in hers as she continued. “Listen to me. You know that I would never lie to you, especially about anything concerning your mom. I know this man. He is honest, compassionate, faithful, & he worships the ground your mother walks on. He’s just like you. Your mother is the only woman he has ever loved, ever even kissed, & he would do anything in the world for her.”

“Except tell her the truth. He was here for months & didn’t have the balls to tell her. Some king.”

“Max, use your common sense. They have had no contact in years & you just expect him to knock on the door & announce himself? What if she had married- had a family-“

“She does have a family.”

“Exactly. He had to find out where her life was at before jumping in again. And quite frankly, from your reaction, I think he more than did the right thing.”

“How can you say that? Are you telling me YOU wouldn’t have been pissed?”

“Think about this Max. I realize that you haven’t had the experiences he has- thank God- in needing to conceal your gifts; but surely some part of you does understand his need for secrecy. Your mother has spent your entire life being careful of anything & everything for your sake. He had to do the same in return for her sake.”

Max stared into his empty milk glass. Like his mom, he hated when Maria made sense. She was just so damn hard to argue with.

Placing two fingers under his chin she turned his face toward hers.

“This is about a lot more than he & your mom, isn’t it.”

Damn. How did she know that?
======

Max gently crawled in behind Liz & wrapped his arms around her shaking body. “Oh baby, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry” was all he could say. She gripped his arms & cried harder; she could feel his agony at her condition & didn’t want to upset him further but she was unable to contain her sorrow.

Finally calming down enough to speak, she turned to face him. “You have nothing to be sorry about Max.”

“This is my fault Liz; I made you upset-“

She wouldn’t allow him to finish. “No. You made me the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m not going to let you beat yourself up over this Max. No.”

He kissed her forehead & caressed her face. “What happened? Where is he?”

“Well, he was very upset about you concealing yourself. We never really finished talking; he ran out & I don’t know where he went.” As she said that her eyes filled with tears again. There hadn’t been a single moment in her son’s life that she hadn’t known where he was or what he was doing. That she didn’t know now was killing her as much as the argument they had.

“Do you want me to go look for him?” He didn’t have the faintest idea where he’d search, but he’d go to the end of the earth if she wanted him to.

“No, he needs some time. I’d know if something had happened to him. Through our connection.”

“Like ours?” Max knew they were incredibly close but he hadn’t realized that Liz & her son also shared a connection.

“Yes, but even stronger. We can communicate telepathically. Not just feelings like you & I, but words.”

“Ah, Liz? Actually, um, I, uh, we can do that too. I’ve been blocking you from tying in with me but I’ve been tuned into you for a while. Like I said, fine-tuning my, uh, skills.”

She pulled back a little & looked at him sternly. “What?”

“Well, living upstairs from you for these past months was not easy for me; I wanted you so much & couldn’t even touch you, so I did the next best thing. I visited your thoughts. But only when you we’re dreaming, I swear. I didn’t want to violate your privacy but I figured dreams are not really real…” He trailed off, looking away from her, realizing he shouldn’t have done it & fearing her reaction.

Her eyes were boring holes through him. “How long has this been going on?”

“Ah, I guess since I first got here.”

She suddenly remembered the dream she had the night they had painted the house & flushed. She & Max were having sex in the Crashdown & Max morphed into Tom at the end.

“Um, yeah, I saw that one,” he admitted upon hearing her thoughts.

She turned crimson & he immediately felt bad. “Liz, don’t be embarrassed; I was thrilled. To know that you still wanted me that way, as much as I did you, gave me hope. I’m sorry, I just wanted to be near you in any way I could be. If we couldn’t share our conscience thoughts I wanted to at least share your unconscious ones. I’m sorry.”

“Please don’t do that again unless I know. Max & I have a rule- you must ‘announce’ yourself. OK?”

“OK.” He paused for a moment. “Listen, maybe I should leave the house for a while. To give you both space. I’m sure he’s not going to be happy to come home & see my car in the driveway.”

“You’re not going anywhere. Believe me I understand how hard this is on him but the bottom line in all of this is that he is going to have to deal with this & accept that you are here. He has to accept who he is & where he comes from. I love you both. And I’m not willing to let either one of you out of my life.”

As he gently kissed her she could hear his thoughts clearly. Every one of them sang of his love for her.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:41:56 PM
CHAPTER 15B

Max stared at Maria; being a man, he didn’t want to delve to deeply into the Pandora’s box of his ruminations on his father. So being a man, he simply replied “what?”

“You heard me. This is not so much about your mother & father as it is about YOU & your father. Am I right?”

Damn. How did she do that?

“Max, it’s only natural that you have feelings of anger toward him. He was absent from your life. You’re angry that you didn’t have a father. Neither did I. But just like me you’ve been given the blessing of having one come into your life eventually. There’s still time to have a father, Max; he’s here now & that’s what is important.”

“It’s more than that Aunt Maria.” Could he really tell her this? He had never shared or even admitted to himself the dark thoughts surfacing now.

Maria knew not to push him so she held his hand, silently encouraging him to open up more. Max knew he had to put a voice to his thoughts or he’d spontaneously combust, so he forged ahead.

“Aunt Maria, all of my life I have felt like an outsider. Even with you & Alex & Mom. I can’t talk to my closest friends about it. I haven’t done more than go out on a couple of dates with any girl because I know that I’ll just have to end it anyway because I can never tell her what I really am. I’m different. I’m foreign. I’m an ALIEN.”

Maria squeezed his hand. “All the more reason for you to try to get to know your dad. These feelings- Max, he felt the same way growing up. It tortured him, until he hooked up with your mom. She loved him into sanity. No one has a perfect life Max; that’s a fallacy created by Hollywood. You feel alienated, pardon the pun. Everyone does.”

“That’s just it, Aunt Maria,” he said as a tear rolled down his cheek. “For my whole life there was someone who understood- but he chose not to be here. I don’t think I can accept that.”

Maria got up & wrapped her arms around his shoulders from behind & held him as he cried. “Someone is here now who understands. Don’t walk away from your chance, Max.”
===========

Liz lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Maria had called hours ago & told her about Max’s visit. She had waited all evening for his return so they could talk more but he hadn’t come home. She was a mass of nerves, worrying about both Max’s & what would happen when they would see each other again. She had sent Max upstairs hours ago to avoid a large conflict upon her son’s return; now she was counting the dots in the ceiling tile above her bed.

Suddenly she sat bolt upright. He was home; she could feel him. She decided to wait for him to come in to say good night to her, as he always did when she was already in bed when he came home.

She heard the sound of his bedroom door close & she rose & made her way down the hall to his room. She froze in her tracks at what she heard next.

Click.

The sound of his door being locked. He never locked his door. Never. She retreated to her own room & lay down to cry again.
=========

Liz was still tired when she awoke, having tossed & turned all night. She wanted to speak to her son as soon as he was up so she rose & went toward his room. Finding it empty she assumed he was in the kitchen having breakfast. Finding that room empty also she looked out the window to find his car gone.

Her eyes narrowed & the hair stood up on her arms. He thought he could avoid her? He thought wrong.

After quickly dressing she made her way to his high school. Marching through the halls to his class she could feel her anger pulsing through her veins. Arriving at the door, she knocked loudly and waited for the teacher to appear.

At the sound of the knock the bottom dropped out of Max’s stomach. He knew immediately that she was there. And that she was pissed. This wasn’t going to be pretty. He didn’t wait for the teacher to tell him to come up front, he just rose & made his way to the door.

Standing in front of each other in the empty hallway they both began to speak at once. She held her hand up for him to stop.

“First things first. Don’t you ever disappear & not tell me where you are going again. Second. Don’t you ever come home & not talk to me before going to bed. Third. Don’t ever think you can avoid me or a problem between us- we talk things out in our house. I am not to be ignored until I go away. I’m not going away Max. Neither is this problem until we all discuss it.”

“Look Mom, I’m sorry if I worried you, but I’m not going to accept this lying down like you did. And I’m not going to discuss it with you until I’m ready to. Especially not here & now. I need some space & I don’t think I’m out of line asking for it either.”

He was being defiant. At least as defiant as she had ever seen him get. She knew that they would get nowhere if they continued on this path. “Fine. You’ll get your space. But remember this Max- we ARE ALL going to deal with this. All of us, understand? This is not going away. HE is not going away.”

Max looked at her for a long moment before turning to go back to his class.

// I love you Max. //

He looked back at her in time to see a tear roll down her face. Leaning over & kissing her cheek he choked out “me too Mom.” Then he disappeared behind the classroom door.

Tuesday and Wednesday passed with no discussion of the topic. How can you discuss something when one of the parties isn’t around to speak? Max had made himself scarce, not wanting to see either of his parents and especially not wanting to see them together. Liz gave him his requested space even though it was killing her, relying on Maria to reinforce that what she was doing was right.

By Wednesday night she was wound like a top. Her son wasn’t home, they still hadn’t talked, and she didn’t know how to resolve everything- she felt like she was going to explode. She needed to release some tension.

Max sensed her arrival before she knocked on the apartment door. Sliding it open he found her barefoot, clad only in a nightshirt & looking at him in a way that made his entire body stiffen.

“Make me forget for a while Max. Please.”

Wordlessly he reached out for her hand & led her into his bedroom. Standing behind her he pulled her sleepwear over her head & began to rub her shoulders in small circles. Leaning in to brush his lips from her ear down her neck he used their connection to send her an avalanche of feelings of love. His hands glided down her arms & he took her hands in his & wrapped both of their arms around her waist. They stood there for a while as she soaked in all that was her Max. Her friend. Her protector. The love of her life.

She turned to face him & looked into his eyes, seeking to lose herself in their depths. His hands gently brushed her hair back before he began placing soft kisses all over her face. When he finally kissed her lips her thoughts had all melted away until the only thing running through her mind was the way he was making her feel.

He couldn’t stop kissing her. Not that he didn’t want to do a lot of other things to her also, but at the moment he couldn’t seem to remove his mouth from hers. He was also stressed out; the past couple of days had been hell watching & worrying about her. He hadn’t seen their son at all; he came home late at night & left early in the morning. He was honoring Liz’s wish to give him space but it was killing him to see what it was doing to them both. She was right. They both needed to forget for a while.

While their mouths were fused together their hands found other places to explore. Liz ran hers up & down his arms, into his hair, down his chest, anywhere she could reach. Max’s hand had taken a more direct path, moving down her back to her bottom, then around to the outside of her hips & up, then back over her bottom in a slow massage. She broke away from him long enough to pull his T-shirt over his head & then she attached her lips to his chest, kissing, sucking, & licking her away around that glorious expanse of skin. Her hands did not remain idle as they popped open the snap to his jeans & lowered the zipper. Sliding both hands inside she drew a sharp breath as she realized there was no barrier between his pants & his skin. “Max…” she growled out as she began to move him backwards until they were at the bed. Liz quickly pulled the jeans down & pushed him down to sit on the edge of the bed; then kneeling down she pulled them off completely. Running her hands over him she parted his thighs & moved in between his legs. She returned her lips to his chest as she trailed her tongue over his stomach, gently urging him to lay back. Moving downward she smiled as she heard his sharp intake of breath when she took him fully into her mouth.

Max’s head was spinning. Her hands & her tongue where driving him insane, drawing her name from his lips in a continuous moan. His hands found her hair & he lost himself in the sensations she was causing as her mouth moved up & down his shaft. Only when he felt her hand cup him & her fingers started to play with his sac did he come out of his passion-induced fog and jerk away from her choking out, “Liz, no!”

Liz looked up at him in confusion. “I’m sorry, did I hurt you?”

Placing his hands under her arms Max lifted her up & leaned his forehead against hers while gasping for breath as he attempted to regain some semblance of control. “No, baby, I’m just so close, & I’m not ready to be finished yet.” After a minute he looked at her with such desire she thought she’d faint. “This is about you, anyway.”

Moving them both onto the bed he climbed over her & groaned as he looked down to see her naked beneath him, hair wild across the pillow, skin flushed, & her eyes heavy with lust & staring at his mouth. He leaned his weight on his arms so as not to touch her, & then bent his head & ran his tongue around her lips before capturing them in a long, sensual kiss.

Once again he couldn’t stop & they lay together kissing & touching. “Oh god Liz,” he panted out as they broke apart for air, “if this was all we ever did I’d still be happy.”

“Well I’m not as easy to please,” she said as she grabbed his face with both hands for another kiss.

“Tell me what pleases you Liz.” It was a command growled into her ear & it made her gasp at its forwardness.

He licked his way from her ear to her shoulder & nipped at it as one hand began to tease the outside of her body from breast to hip. He could feel her desire for him & also her embarrassment at the thought of answering his question.

“Please baby, tell me what you want.” Softer, coaxing her this time.

Liz gasped again & felt a scorching heat race through her body, both from embarrassment & from the thoughts of just what she did want him to do to her. “Max, I can’t…”

“Yes you can Liz; tell me where you want me to touch you.”

“Oh…” She swallowed hard, trying to find the courage. Deciding to help ease her anxiety he cupped her breast & rubbed his thumb over her already hard nipple. “Do you want me to touch you there?”

“Yes.” It was hardly more than a whisper.

After fondling her a moment longer he dragged his hand down her torso & ran a finger lightly through her curls.

“How ‘bout there?”

“Yes.” It was louder & more forceful this time, as she rolled her head back & opened her legs to him. He ran his finger around the outside of her lips & she began to gyrate her hips, trying to urge him on.

“Tell me Liz.”

She no longer cared about being embarrassed. All she could think about was how much she wanted him to touch her.

“Inside me. I want it inside of me.” As soon as the words were uttered she felt a finger slide in & begin to stroke her slowly. Then his voice was in her ear again.

“Is there anything you’d like me to do with my tongue?”

A loud moan was his answer as he bent to her breast, & placing his lips around a nipple he sucked as his tongue quickly flicked over it. She grabbed his head & held him to her while continuing to move on his hand.

He pulled his head up to take in the sight of her writhing under his attentions. There was something else she wanted but was to shy to ask. But he had no intention of making this easy.

“Liz, is there some other place you’d like to feel my tongue?”

“Oh god Max” was all she could say.

“Liz…”

“Yes, Max, please, please…”

“Tell me Liz- is it here?” he said as he lightly rubbed his thumb over her clit.

“Yes, please!” She was desperate now, twisting her body as she attempted to move more fully into his hand.

Not being able to wait any longer he moved his head between her legs & snaked out his tongue over her length; finding her nub he tongued it as he had her nipples.

Liz was in a frenzy. The feeling of his fingers & his tongue working together were indescribable & she couldn’t contain herself. Her head thrashed back & forth & her hips grinded into him as she flew over the precipice, screaming his name.

He moved up & held her as she trembled violently in the aftermath, then went limp & lay, eyes closed, safe in his arms. Her leg brushed against him & her eyes opened slowly to find his face tight with need.

“Max” she breathed as she reached out to stroke him. “I want you inside me, making love to me until we cum together.”

He grinned devilishly at her. “Now was that so hard?” Then he moved between her legs & swiftly entered her causing them both to groan out in relief. Their eyes locked as they loved each other to perfection & completion, each calling out the others name as her wish came true.

They held onto each other fiercely for a long time after, eyes still locked as their connection said everything words could never express.

When Liz reluctantly began to move to get up he reached out & pulled her body back into his. Now it was his turn to plead. “No Liz, please, stay.”

She ran her fingers through his hair & replied in a soft voice “I should go before Max comes home.”

After a moment they both rose. He picked her nightshirt up from the floor & pulled it over her head, then led her to the door. After kissing her passionately he cupped her face. “I want you to be able to stay Liz.”

“I know Max. Soon. Please.” Her eyes begged his patience as much as her voice.

She kissed him again, then disappeared down the stairs.

Liz heard her son come home a short time later. He stuck his head in her bedroom & said “I’m home Mom. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight Max.”

His heart broke at the sound of her sad voice. He knew his distance was hurting her, but he had decided what action he was going to take & knew she would be able to dissuade him in no time if he let her in now. He had to stay away, even though he’d rather die than hurt her.

“I love you Mom.” It was a plea more than a statement.

“Me too Max.” She listened to his steps retreat down the hall as she began to cry once again.
==============

It woke him up like a bomb going off in the apartment.

He could hear her through the floor, but more than that, he could hear it in his mind, feel it in his veins. Her blood-curdling scream.

Max jumped up & ran down the stairs to the front door of her house. Finding it locked he held out his hand & melted it, then raced in to find her crumpled on the floor of their sons room clutching a note & hysterical.

“Liz, my God, what happened, what’s the matter?” he said as he knelt down to take her into his arms.

She was unable to speak through her sobs so she handed him the note.

‘MOM- I’m going away for a few days. Please understand I need to do this. I will be careful. I’m sorry. I love you. Max.’

He rocked her in his arms trying to calm her as his mind raced. This is my fault- have to calm her down- should call Maria- have to find him- this needs to stop.
He smoothed his hands over her hair whispering “ssh, Liz, it’s OK, we’ll find him, it’s OK” over & over.

As her crying abated she looked up at him & his heart shattered at the complete devastation he saw in them. “Oh Max, why did he do this, where did he go?” Fresh tears poured down her cheeks as she clutched him.

He stood up with her in his arms & sat them on the bed, still stroking her hair as his eyes roamed the room. They halted when they came to his desk. He extracted himself from her grasp & went over to it, finding what he was looking for in a pile.

“Liz? I think I may have an idea where he went.”

He sat down next to her & handed her the admissions booklet from the University of New Mexico, Las Cruces. “He told me that he wanted to go to the open house with you. It’s this weekend.”

She looked blindly at the book for a moment, then closed her eyes & seemingly went into a trance. Max watched her nervously not knowing what was happening.

Her eyes opened & she looked at him clearly. “He didn’t go to Las Cruces.”

“He went to Roswell.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 1:43:35 PM
CHAPTER 16

“…tray tables locked and seats in their fully upright position…”

Like that’s really going to matter if we crash, Liz thought absently. Why do airlines say so many stupid things? Like ‘your seat can be used as a flotation device’. Who the hell is going to be able to concentrate on ripping the seat cushion off when the plane is under water? Hello??

She was trying to distract her thoughts but was failing miserably. Their flight to New Mexico was already an hour late & since she found her son’s note she had been jumping out of her skin. Max had tried to calm to her but she couldn’t focus, except when she had to explain to him how she knew their son had gone to Roswell.

“When something is really intense for one of us, the other one can ‘see’ whatever it is if we hold an object involved or are in the same place- it’s hard to explain. When I took that book from you I saw Max looking at it & at a map of New Mexico with the route from the airport to Roswell hi-lited. And I just knew that’s where he went.”

“So are there any other powers that you have that I don’t know about? And what about Max- what can he do- can he heal?”

She smiled briefly as she thought of the many times he’d healed her cuts, bruises, sore muscles. “Yes, he can heal. He can do everything you can, well, back when you were his age, plus the stuff we can do together.”

“Like what?”

“We’re just stronger if we’re together, like the power is amplified or something.”

“Oh.” Max was sitting next to her on the plane mulling over their conversation. He knew that he had changed Liz in some way when he had healed her, but apparently the birth of their son had intensified her abilities beyond what he was aware of already. He wanted to delve into this topic more deeply with her but knew that this was not the time to do so.

“Liz, have you tried to connect with him again?”

“Yeah, a little while ago, he’s still blocking me.” She’d been trying all morning to no avail. Maria had told her to expect that when Liz had called to explain what was happening & that she & Max were going out to Roswell on the next available flight. Maria had been incredulous at the news. “What do you think he went to Roswell for Liz? To do what?”

“I have no idea, Maria, but I’m so pissed & upset right now I really don’t care why. I just want to find him before I kill him, know what I mean?”

“Yeah I have to admit, I’m shocked at him. I didn’t think he’d ever do something like this. You guys be careful.”

“We will, & I’ll call you & keep you updated.”

Max reached for her hand as the plane finally began to taxi down the runway. “We’ll be there soon, Liz; I promise we’ll find him. Everything will be OK.”

When she turned to look at him he saw a hardness in her eyes he’d never seen before. Her response was dead serious & chilled him to the bone.

“It had better be, Max, or I’ll kill you.”
==================

Max had been driving around Roswell aimlessly for about an hour. He wasn’t even sure why he had gone there, it just seemed like the logical place to start. To start what, he didn’t know either; but he had felt drawn to the place where his parents had met & where their lives & his had been so altered. He was searching for answers to questions he hadn’t formulated yet, but knew when he did, he’d find them in Roswell.

He parked the rental car in the downtown area & began to walk around. He hadn’t been there since he was a little boy but it hadn’t changed much from what he remembered. He wandered in & out of the little shops not seeing anything, as his mind was busy trying to decide a course of action & also keeping his mother blocked out. He had felt her trying to connect with him all day but he wasn’t ready to deal with her just yet.

Being so preoccupied he never noticed the figure shadowing his movements through the town.
========================

“Liz wake up, we’re landing.”

She sat up & looked out the window as the plane touched down.

“So what’s our first move?” Max asked.

“We have to rent a car.”

“I figured that, I meant when we get there.”

“I don’t know Max, I guess we’ll just have to play it by ear.” She had no idea what her son was hoping to find in Roswell or where he’d go to look for it. “Let’s just take this one step at a time.”
=================

Nicholas ducked into a doorway and snickered to himself as Max stepped out of one of the alien-themed shops in the downtown. How stupid could the King be, he thought. He travels with no bodyguards and visits a store with alien trinkets? He always knew Zan was a weak king. He had signed a peace treaty with the other planets they had been at war with & returned all their prisoners instead of annihilating them as he should have. Antar would have had unlimited amounts of slave labor & resources at its disposal. It could have- would have- ruled the galaxy with an iron fist if he had been king.

Nicholas spat on the ground as he thought about that. He had been so close to over throwing the beloved King Zan. That stupid oaf Rath had paid the price instead, taking the deadly hit meant for the King. Instead of Nicholas forcibly taking the throne he was jailed & Rath became a beloved martyr.

But the King’s compassionate heart had been his downfall anyway, at least the way Nicholas saw it. Because Zan had ended executions on Antar upon his return Nicholas’s life had been spared. He had spent his years in jail plotting his escape, & upon learning of Zan’s departure back to earth he put his plan in motion. It had been almost too easy, really; playing ill until the guards had to seek Vilandra’s approval to get him medical attention. Of course she granted it, she was just as weak as her brother was, & once out of his cell he quickly overpowered his two guards & escaped. He was able to get the uninformed guardians of the granolith to believe his story that he had orders to follow the King to protect him. Protect him! Ha ha! The last thing he was going to do was protect him. No, the King is going to meet his long-deserved fate & then I will return to Antar & take my rightful place on the throne. After killing that idiot Vilandra & her family, of course; there can’t be any royal family members left to lay claim to the throne that was his.

Vilandra. Now there was a waste of a woman. With that gorgeous face & body that could stop traffic she would have made a beautiful Queen on his arm, but she had spurned his advances long ago & made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with him. Instead she married the son of one of the royal family’s most trusted cabinet members who was as good looking as she was & settled for being a princess. Like her brother she was beloved by the people of Antar. And like her brother Nicholas was going to be sure she met the same fate.

Watching the King cross the street toward some alien-themed diner he decided that this was as good a time as any to make his move.
======================

Max stood outside the Crashdown, off to the side peering in the window of the diner his mother’s family had once owned. He was careful not to be seen because he didn’t want Mr. & Mrs. Valenti to catch sight of him & alert Maria to his whereabouts, just in case his mom had called them. He just wanted to see the place where all of this, his life really, had begun. The place where his father had saved his mother when they were 16 years old. He was so engrossed in his thoughts he never noticed the small man come toward him. He had a fleeting thought of his mother as he felt the sharp pain at the base of his skull & the world went black.
======================

“There’s the car rental counter, Max.” Liz was practically running through the airport, wanting to get to Roswell as fast as possible. Max caught up to her & began to make the arrangements to get a car when he realized she had to do it.

“Liz, you’re going to have to rent the car. I don’t have a credit card.”

“Oh, OK, here,” she said as she handed the rental agent her Visa card. “Here’s my license too.”

“Uh, Liz? How would Max have been able to get a car? I mean, he had to have rented on to get to Roswell from here.”

“He has my card; I gave it to him for an emergency. He must have used it. And he probably just changed the birth date on his drivers license to make him 25,” she noted as she read the rental age requirements.

Just as Liz was about to sign for the car a sharp pain shot through her body & she went limp, folding to the floor in a heap. Max grabbed her shouting “Liz! What’s wrong!”

She came out of her fog & looked at him. “Something happened to him. I felt it.” She waived off the rental agent who was offering to call a doctor. “No, I’m fine, just haven’t eaten.” Turning to Max she muttered “let’s just get to the car.”

Once outside in the car she tried to connect with her son again. “Nothing. I’m not getting in.” Tears started to roll down her cheeks as she said, “let’s get to Roswell, Max. Hurry.”

They headed straight for the Crashdown. Max felt that Jim Valenti may be able to help them; maybe someone had seen their son. Jim still knew everyone in town, surely if someone had seen him Jim or Kyle would hear of it.

As they climbed out of the car they heard Amy Valenti calling their names. Aware that they were coming to Roswell because Maria had alerted her parents, she had spotted them & was jumping up & down waiving at them. “And you wonder where Maria gets it?” Max said to Liz. “Oh I know just where she gets it from,” she replied as she lifted her arm to waive back to Amy.

Just then she passed through the spot that her son had been standing in when Nicholas made his move. Liz froze in her tracks & went into a trance. She began shaking violently from head to toe before she fainted dead away on the sidewalk.

Max dropped to his knees next to her & cradled her head in his hands. “Liz, baby, what now, please Liz.” He was frantic as Amy ran up to him.

“Bring her inside Max; put her on the couch in the back room.”

Max scooped her up & strode through the Crashdown to the back room where a very surprised Jim Valenti was taking inventory. Amy was right behind explaining to her husband what had just happened.

“I’m going to get a cold cloth for her head,” said Amy as she hurriedly made her way to the bathroom.

Jim looked at Max & got right to the point. “What’s going on Max. Maria called & filled us in.”

“I don’t know, we saw Amy & then Liz fainted.” As he finished she stirred, her eyes opening & she looked at Jim strangely for a moment until she realized where she was.

“Liz, are you all right, what happened, are you hurt?” Max was peppering her with questions; afraid she may have injured herself when she fell. She looked up at him with haunted eyes.

In a small voice she said, “someone hit Max. Outside of the Crashdown. I saw it when I passed the spot where it must have happened. He was hit from behind & taken away…” Her words ceased as she began to cry & Max pulled her into his arms.

“We’ll find him Liz, I promise you,” he said as he tried to soothe her, his voice eerily steady. He had shifted into battle mode, a position he had become all too familiar with over the past years.

He’d find their son. Then he’d kill whoever had taken him.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 5:56:12 PM
CHAPTER 17A

Nicholas sat cross-legged contemplating the unconscious person tied up in front of him.

Something was different about the King. He looked younger than Nicholas remembered. And there was something else, though he couldn’t put his finger on it. Suddenly Max began to stir & Nicholas stood up, waiting for him to become aware of his surroundings.

The only thing Max was aware of at the moment was the throbbing pain at the base of his skull. And that he was laying on something cold & hard. He opened his eyes & jerked himself upright, wincing immediately at the constraints which held him bound.

He looked around the dimly lit cave & saw some strange old-looking torn things on the wall, then noticed that someone was standing to his left. He stared at the stranger for a minute before asking, “who are you?”

Nicholas didn’t reply; he continued staring at Max. Something was definitely up- the King didn’t recognize him? How could that be? And there was something about his eyes. They were different- larger, rounder, a deeper brown than he remembered. Perhaps the trip back to earth had returned the King to the same form as he was when he left the first time?

Max interrupted his thoughts. “I said, who are you? And why am I here?” Max had never seen anything like the things in the cave before.

Nicholas squatted down & looked at him a moment longer before he replied, “so you don’t remember me, your majesty? I thought I’d be hard to forget, considering our long & colorful history.”

“Our history.” It was a statement meant as a question.

“Our history on Antar. Surely you haven’t forgotten your beloved kingdom, your majesty? And all of your faithful subjects?” He spat out the last sentence.

Max remained silent as he registered the meaning of his words. This person thought he was his father. That meant this person was an alien. And considering that he had kidnapped him & tied him up, he was probably a bad one.

Oh oh.

“Unsure of yourself, your highness? You were never quite so timid on Antar. You always had something to say to me there, usually some bullshit on how you loved your people & would do your best for them, blah blah blah. I never really paid much attention to what you said. I always saw it as a colossal waste of time, considering that you wouldn’t be remaining on the throne for very long.”
Nicholas was strolling around the cave as he spoke; then turning suddenly he crossed the room & knelt down in front of Max. “Perhaps I need to see just what is inhibiting your memory.”

Before Max knew what was happening Nicholas grabbed his head & connected with him. He quickly released him & stared at Max menacingly.

“All right, suppose you tell me just who the fuck you are.”

Oh oh.
=================

Liz was wildly pacing around the back room at the Crashdown. Max or Jim would get her to sit down but she would last only a minute before she was up & moving again.

Max had explained everything from his return to earth up to the present to Jim, who was now contemplating the situation. He looked at Liz and asked, “you didn’t see who hit him or where he came from?”

“No. I felt a sharp pain in the back of his head & then blackness.” She turned & addressed Max. “It was the same pain that I felt at the car rental counter. That’s when it must have happened.”

Jim asked, “what time was that?”

Max looked at his watch. “About an hour and a half ago.”

“Well, they could be well on their way to anywhere by now,” Jim mused aloud. “Liz, can’t you connect with him? Maybe he can tell us something.”

“He hasn’t let me in all day. I can try again.” Liz sat down & closed her eyes & concentrated on her son. She gasped suddenly & said “Max!”
======================

“Answer me. Who are YOU,” Nicholas demanded.

Max didn’t know what to say, so he replied “I asked you first.”

Nicholas leaned in close to his face & ground out “you do not want to fuck around with me. Tell me who you are or I’ll just kill you now.”

Max knew he wouldn’t be able to lie about his identity, so he said “Max. Max Evans.”

Nicholas didn’t move away as he said, “I know Max Evans- his real name is Zan. You are not him.”

As Nicholas finished speaking Max could feel his mother trying to connect with him again. He knew he had no choice now- he needed all the help he could get, so he opened up to her immediately.

// Mom.

Oh my God Max, where are you, are you all right? I know something happened.

Mom, I’m OK now; I was in Roswell but I don’t know where I am now. In some kind of cave with some guy. He’s an alien & not a good one. He thinks I’m Dad.//

Liz froze instantly & looked at Max. “You were followed. An alien has him but he thinks it’s you.”

Max grabbed her hand. “Liz, let me connect in with you both. I need to know what’s going on.”

Liz closed her eyes again & summoned her son.

// Max, I’m here in Roswell with your father. He is connected with us right now. He can hear both of us. You have to tell him everything you see & hear, OK? //

Liz was praying that her son would not reject his father’s interference.

// OK Mom. //

Liz squeezed Max’s hand to signal him to communicate.

// Max, can you hear me?

Yes.

Do you know who is holding you- has he given a name?

No. He wants to know who I am. I gave him my name but he said he knows you & that I’m not you, & he’s looking a little impatient about it right about now.

MAX BE CAREFUL!!! // Liz screamed out in his mind.

Nicholas narrowed his eyes as he thought about what he’d seen when he connected in, or more importantly, what he hadn’t seen. He didn’t see anything to do with Antar or the war, just images of people & places that Nicholas didn’t recognize. Except for one- he clearly saw the brunette brown-eyed woman who was in almost every scene. This person obviously had a very strong connection to him. He couldn’t help but feel that he knew who she was somehow, & that she was a key in deciphering his identity.

“Perhaps I should go & find the pretty brown-haired woman who is obviously so important to you. Maybe she will fill me in on who you are.”

“NO!!!!!” Max screamed as he attempted to get up, only to be reminded of just how tight his restraints were. “You stay away from her.”

“Then start talking.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 5:57:18 PM
CHAPTER 17B

Max stared back at Nicholas unsure of what to do. He didn’t want to give this guy too much information but he also didn’t want him anywhere near his mother, especially now that she too was in Roswell. He had to stall, he needed time to think, but he knew that Nicholas wasn’t going to give him any so he decided to give him a few breadcrumbs to see if that would buy him some time. Maybe if this guy finds out that I’m not who he’s looking for he’ll let me go.

“I told you who I am. Max Evans is my name. The person you’re referring to was my father. I’ve never met him.”

Nicholas stood bolt upright. Zan had a son? How was it that he had never known that? He had never heard anyone mention that Zan had a family on earth. This changed everything.

// Max, are you still there? What’s going on? // Liz had felt his flash of anger & then him leave their connection. She had a death grip on his father’s hands as she frantically tried to connect again.

// Yeah Mom, everything’s OK. He really wanted to know who I was-

MAX. Listen to me. // His father was in full leader-mode; he knew if this alien had come for him & discovered that he had a son that it would make things even more dangerous for Max.

// Max. Do NOT tell him who you are. Do not tell him you are related to me, understand?

Uh, too late. I had to tell him. He threatened Mom if I didn’t. //

Liz’s grip on Max’s hand tightened further. She too understood the possible repercussions of an enemy of Zan’s finding out that he had a son, an heir. She had lived in fear of it all of her son’s life.

Max felt her hand squeezing his & knew that he had to calm her down; he also knew that the only way to do so was to keep their son from getting hurt. To do that he needed to know what he was up against.

// Max, I need to see who is holding you. You have to concentrate really hard. You have to be my eyes. //

Liz was immediately alarmed. “He doesn’t have those powers.”

Max cut her off. “Yes he does. He just doesn’t know it yet.”

// What do you need me to do?

Open yourself up to it Max.

To what exactly.

To the force. It’s all around you. It’s between the three of us.

Let me get this straight. Are you saying ‘let the force be with you?’

MAX! This is no time to be a smart-ass! // Liz barked in her son’s mind.

// Mom, I’m not trying to be funny. Believe me this is the most un-funny situation I’ve ever been in. //

His father took control again. // It’s an energy force. It surrounds us all. Because of our advanced intelligence we ‘connect’ with it- it’s what our powers are derived from. Your mother has the ability because I healed her & it enabled her to- I’ll get into that later. Close your eyes & look inside yourself. Feel the power within you. Feel it reaching out all around you. Feel it encompassing your mother & I. Feel its return to you. Its connection with you. //

He fell silent as he gave his son time to try what he had asked of him. He was giving him a crash course in a somewhat difficult thing to do, so he turned to Liz. “We have to help him Liz. Do the same thing I just told him to do- feel the energy between us. Feel Max with us inside that energy. Send it to him.”

Liz immediately started to concentrate on their connection & began to feel the current of electricity that ran through it. She threw every ounce of herself into following its path, when she suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of- completeness, was the only way she could describe it. She was completely connected to the souls of the two most important people in the universe to her. She could feel the energy flowing between them freely, and it made her feel totally alive. She couldn’t help but gasp “Max!”

// I feel it too. // He had felt his mothers awe & he too was enveloped in the completed puzzle that was the 3 of them linked together.

// Good Max, now this is what I want you to do. Open your eyes & without drawing attention to what you’re doing, look around you. See everything for the energy it’s made of. Feel it. Look at him. See him. Show him to me. //

He prayed his son would be able to project his surroundings & his captors face to him.

Max lifted his head as he opened his eyes. He took in the topography of the walls of the cave, the strange web-looking things on the wall & the light pulsing through them slowly, translating his visual observations into a flow of energy. His eyes finally came to rest on Nicholas, who was deep in thought across the cave from him He took him in slowly, completely, willing his appearance to his father.

Liz gasped as the images ran before her eyes. She knew where he was. She looked at Max who said “Nicholas. I should have known.”

“They’re in the pod chamber, aren’t they Max?” she asked.

“Yeah. The light in the pods- that’s the granolith. It’s hidden behind them. He must have thought he was going to bring me back to Antar.”

Liz froze. “Do you think he’ll take Max-“

“Liz, I’m the one he wants. He’s not going anywhere without me. This guy & I go way back.”

“Let’s go then. We have to get out there.” Liz was already up & moving towards the door.

Max halted her with a hand to her arm. “Liz I don’t want you going-“

She stopped him immediately. “That is my son out there. Hell could freeze over & I’d put on snow shoes to get him. I’m going.” The look on her face let him know she wasn’t asking his permission.

// Max we’re on our way // he signaled to his son.

// Please hurry. //

posted on 22-Jan-2002 5:59:20 PM
CHAPTER 18

Nicholas had been pacing around the cave, head in hand, deep in thought, for a long time. Max watched him carefully, glad his captor was engrossed in thought; the longer he was preoccupied the more time it bought for his mother & father to get there.

His father. He actually was thinking in terms of having a father for the first time, and contrary to his feelings over the past week, he was damn glad his father was around and on his way now. “If I hadn’t pulled this stupid stunt of coming out here by myself, none of this would be happening,” he bitterly thought. “My mom wouldn’t be heading into danger.” He knew there was no way he was going to escape Nicholas without his father’s assistance. He didn’t have the knowledge or control over his powers that his father had. “If I get out of this, I’m never leaving home again. Mom will get sick of me under her feet,” he thought. He knew he was bargaining with himself, but he had to think of something besides the mean-looking little alien stalking around the cave.

Nicholas’ mind was racing. Zan had a son, who claims he never met his father. Did this kid realize he was a prince? An heir to the throne of Antar? It didn’t seem so, but none of that was of great importance to Nicholas right now. What was important was that he now had to kill Zan and his son; but first he had to get Zan to come to him. “Well, I’ve got the perfect bait right here in front of me,” he thought as he eyed Max. “I’ll kill them both and take their bodies back to Antar with me to prove that the royal family is dead. Poor dear Vilandra is going to be so sad when she sees her brother and nephew dead. I’ll make sure she gets a good look at the corpses before I knock her off too.”

Settling on his plan of action he crossed the space between them and knelt in front of Max. “OK Junior, time to dial up Daddy and invite him to our party.”

“What?” Max asked, slightly confused.

“You are going to connect with Zan- your father- and tell him where you are. Being the gallant fool I know he is, he’ll come running to rescue you. And I will be waiting to give him the royal welcome he deserves.”

Max didn’t want to let Nicholas know that he was already on his way, so he said, “I can’t connect with him. I’ve never met him. I don’t even know where he is.”

“You don’t need to know where he is you idiot, you’re his son, you have a permanent connection- oh fuck, I’ll do it myself,” Nicholas spat out. He grabbed Max’s head between his hands and began to summon Zan.

Max and Liz were speeding down the highway towards the pod chamber in silence; both engrossed in their own separate agonizing thoughts. Max suddenly swerved the car off the road and brought it to an abrupt halt.

“Max what is it?” asked Liz.

“Nicholas is trying to connect with me.” Max closed his eyes and listened to the smug voice that was filtering into his mind.

// King Zan, are you out there? Tis I, your favorite unfaithful subject, out of jail and wanting to chat. //

Max’s hands balled into two tight fists as he grimaced at the sound of Nicholas’ voice.

// What do you want Nicholas.

Now now, what kind of a greeting is that? I came a long way to this pathetic planet to find you. But instead of you, I found something far more interesting, and valuable, as it turns out. Care to take a guess at what it is? //

Max knew he had to play his cards very close to his chest; he didn’t want Nicholas to know that he was already on his way to find his son. The element of surprise was something he needed on his side right now.

// Don’t be coy Nicholas. What are you talking about.

I’m talking about meeting the Crown Prince of Antar in front of an alien diner, of all places. Pity though, he claims to never have met you. What a shame that he’s not going to get the chance, seeing as how I’m going to kill him.

Nicholas so help me, if you touch a hair on his head I’m going to fry you from the inside out.

Oh spare me your highness. We both know you don’t have the balls.

What do you want Nicholas.

The same thing I’ve always wanted- your head on a platter, right next to your sisters. But now that I’ll have the three of you, maybe I’ll mount your heads on the wall in MY palace, to remind the simpering wimp’s back home who has the real power.

You’re dreaming as usual.

Am I Zan? The way I see it I’m already one head ahead of you- oh, I made a pun. Ha ha.

Leave him alone. I’m the want you want.

No shit. If you want to see him alive you’ll meet me at the granolith chamber alone. Soon.

I’ll be there. //

Nicholas withdrew his hands from Max’s head. “Well Junior, looks like you’re going to meet Daddy after all.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:01:14 PM
CHAPTER 19

Max hid the rental car behind an overgrowth of bramble bushes. He grabbed Liz’s hand and they began to silently climb the rock formation from the far side of the entrance to avoid detection. He stopped them when they came near it and crouched down behind a large boulder. Liz remained quiet as he surveyed the scene, but finally couldn’t contain her anxiety and said “so what’s the plan?”

“Um, well…” Max trailed off; truth was he didn’t know what the next move should be yet. Liz’s eyes grew large as she said “please tell me you have a plan, Max.”

“The plan is to get the three of us out of here alive. It’s the details that are a little fuzzy.”

Liz couldn’t contain her anger. “A little fuzzy?” she hissed. “You’re a freaking warrior King, isn’t this your forte?”

“Liz give me a minute here. Do you realize how hard it’s going to be to get in there? This is going to take a lot of thought.” That was only half the truth though; the other half was that he had to figure out how he was going to get her to remain outside. He did not want her in the middle of a showdown between he and Nicholas.

“Damn it,” Liz exclaimed.

“Liz give me a minute-“

“No, damn it, I have to pee. I’m going to go back behind that rock” she was pointing to a large one perched on the side of the formation behind them, “and when I get back I want to hear the plan.” She shot him a determined look before disappearing behind the rocks.

Max watched her leave, and seizing the opportunity to get inside without her he silently made his way to the hidden entrance. He paused momentarily knowing she would be furious with him for leaving her behind to worry about what was happening inside. He shook his head to banish the thoughts from his mind and reached out his hand and placed it on the rock. After a moment it began to glow and the hidden door slid open. Plastering his body to the outside wall he paused again. Once he was sure Nicholas wasn’t near the opening waiting to ambush him he silently slid inside and began to slowly make his way into the interior of the cave. Deep in concentration as he was, he failed to see a very pissed off looking Liz slip through the opening just before the door slid shut. She followed him inside, hanging back enough so as not to be seen. Spotting a small space in a large rock pile just before the entrance to the chamber room, she quickly hid herself, deciding it might be better to be an observer initially.

Max’s eyes darted around the chamber room in panic when he didn’t immediately see his son. Suddenly a voice as annoying as nails scraping along a chalkboard rang out.

“So good of you to come King Zan, and so quickly too. I wasn’t expecting you just yet.”

Jerking around to face him he replied “cut the crap Nicholas, where is my son.”

At the sound of his fathers voice Max called out from behind Nicholas “Dad!”

Elated at the sound of that simple word, he turned to see Max sitting on the floor with his hands bound behind his back. Relief flooded over him that not only was he alive, but he appeared to be unhurt. Father and son stared at each other a minute before Nicholas sarcastically said “oh, isn’t this a beautiful Kodak moment. Long lost Daddy meets boy king-not-to-be.”

Quickly connecting to his son he said // I’m going to need your help here Max. //

Max tensed up. // I’ll try, but I don’t have control over my powers like you do.

It’s OK. I’m going to distract him- keep him talking. I need you to concentrate on moving a rock and knocking him out with it. Can you do that?

I’ll try. //

Looking at Nicholas he growled out “let my son go now.”

Nicholas snorted. “Do you really think that I’d come all this way to kill you so I could take the throne and leave your heir alive? No, I’m going to kill you both and take your bodies back to Antar to show your beloved sister. Then I’m going to kill her and her wretched family. And her little dog, too.”

“I think you’ve gotten way ahead of yourself Nicholas. You’ll have to catch me first.”

As he finished his sentence, a rock rolled off a ledge above him and knocked him unconscious.

Nicholas’ thin lips disappeared as he smirked. “Oh yeah, that was REAL hard.”

Tucked in her hiding spot, Liz buried her head in her hands. Could this possibly get any worse? She peeked through a crack in the rock pile and watched as Nicholas dragged his limp body over toward her son. He bound his hands and left him lying next to a very stunned and scared looking Max Jr.

Think Liz, think! She knew that she and her son were no match against Nicholas’ superior powers. They needed the now unconscious Max awake or none of them would survive, and as quickly as possible. And there was only one way that was going to happen.

Liz connected in to her son. // Max, it’s me- stay calm. I’m inside the cave with you. I can see you now.

MOM! Where are you?

See the big pile of rocks on the left at the beginning of the corridor? I’m hiding in a pocket in the middle of them.

Mom I’m so sorry, this is all my fault. He asked me to throw a rock at Nicholas & I hit him instead.

It’s OK Max; we’re going to get out of this. Listen to me. You’re going to have to heal your father.

How Mom, I have to touch him, both our hands are tied, and Nicholas is right in front of us.

We’re going to have to create a diversion to get him out of the way for a minute. Do you remember when you were little how you used to freak out Maria by making noises come from rooms that were empty? That’s what you’re going to do. See the light coming through the hole in the wall across the room? Project some loud noises from there; as soon as he heads in there maneuver yourself over toward your father and touch him wherever you can. I’ll come out and help you, but you’re going to have to be fast. OK baby?

I can do that Mom. Just please be careful.

Do it now Max. Time is short. //

Max easily projected a loud banging noise from inside the granolith chamber; and as Liz predicted Nicholas immediately moved to check it out. As soon as his back was turned Max began to squirm toward his father and moved in close enough that he was able to reach out his fingers and touch his leg. At the same time Liz silently made her way out from behind the rock pile and over to her son. Upon reaching him she joined her hands to his to increase his power. The sleeping Max began to stir, and his eyes flew open at the sound of Liz quietly calling his name.

“Liz! How the hell did you get in here?”

“Later Max, we have to get out of here first,” she said as she tried unsuccessfully to undo the bonds that tied their hands. “Shit, I can’t get these things loose.”

“Nor will you be able to my dear.” Three heads shot up to see Nicholas coming back from the granolith chamber. “You didn’t think I’d use some inferior material from earth to hold a king, do you?” He sauntered toward them slowly as he took in Liz’s arrival. “The pretty brunette from Junior’s mind is here. How nice. Another person to kill.” His eyes narrowed as he studied her. “Well let’s see; since you’re too old to be his girlfriend, I’ll guess you’re his mother. Which means you slept with King Idiot here. So Zan, she’s the reason you never took any women on Antar? All this time I thought you were gay; turns out you had a whore here all along. She’s quite a looker; no wonder you wanted to come back to this hellhole. Maybe I’ll have to try her out myself.”

Both Max’s exploded in anger, yelling out obscenities at him as they struggled in vain to stand.

Nicholas’ hollow laughter filled the cavern. “God you’re both pathetic. And over an earth-woman.” He raised his hand and pointed at father and son. “And I am tired of you both. Time to say bye-bye.”

As he began to send a thunderous bolt of energy hurling toward them, Liz sprang at him from the side with a jumping scissor kick to his arm, sending the murderous ray bouncing harmlessly off the walls. Before he could regroup she spun around and kicked him with all her might square in the chest, sending him sprawling backwards onto the floor, his head slamming onto the rock-hard surface and knocking him out.

“Good shot Mom.”

“Ten thousand dollars in kick-box lessons finally pay off,” she said running back to them.

“Liz, help us up, we’ve got to get these bonds off before he comes to. We’ll have to use the granolith,” said Max.

“How?” Liz asked as she pulled each of them up on their feet and they made their way toward the light-filled chamber.

“We’ll connect and use its power to melt the bonds.”

As they entered the room Max Jr. gasped. “What is this thing anyway?” he said as he gazed at the huge pulsing light-filled tunnel.

“It’s a transport device that galvanizes the power of light to work. And we’re going to use that power now. Come here,” his father said to both of them. The three of them stood next to the machine as he continued to issue instructions. “Max, face your back to mine and intertwine your fingers with mine. Good. Liz, put one hand on top of our joined hands and touch the granolith with the other. We’re going to concentrate to channel the energy to break these ties. Ready?”

Liz and her son looked at each other and nodded. She reached her arm toward the light and she could feel the energy pulling her toward the glass. As her hand made contact a loud humming could be heard, and the three of them felt the intense surge of energy pass through them. Suddenly the clamps around their wrists began to glow and then dissipated into thin air.

As soon as their hands were free Liz threw her arms around her son, and looking over his shoulder said to his father “please get us out of here now.”

From the far side of the room a snarling voice was heard. “Not so fast bitch.”

Max shoved Liz and his son behind him as Nicholas stalked his way toward them.

They turned to find a fuming Nicholas in the opening. “What is that saying Zan? Oh yeah- the family that plays together dies together.” With a poisonous look on his face he seethed, “you’re going down first Zan.”

As the words left his lips the granolith began to hum again. They all jerked back away from it as bright colored lights swarmed around the room and the air crackled with electricity. Suddenly a form began to take shape inside.

Liz was the first to speak.

“Isabel.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:02:34 PM
CHAPTER 20

The brilliant light emanating from the granolith was nearly blinding but the person inside was clearly visible. Clad in an ornate robe that obviously denoted royal status, hair impeccably done and decorated with jeweled clasps, each finger displaying a different precious gemstone, it was Isabel in all her glory. As she spotted Nicholas her face tightened and her eyes blazed fire. Liz thought briefly that she looked to be the epitome of the title ‘Warrior Princess’.

Isabel continued to stare at Nicholas and didn’t notice Max, Liz and Max Jr. who were behind her back, so she was startled when Max’s voice echoed through the chamber. “Isabel stay put. Nicholas can’t touch you as long as you’re in the granolith. He’s threatening to kill all of us in order to take the throne.”

She seemed to be floating on air as she turned, and upon seeing her brother her face broke out in a relieved smile. “Thank God Max I was so worried…” Her words trailed off and her smile grew wide when she saw Liz behind him. “Oh Liz.” Her excited words abruptly ended when she saw the young man standing behind Liz. There was no mistaking who he could be; he was the spitting image of her brother with Liz’s sleek brown hair and huge chocolate eyes. “You have a son?”

“Vilandra.” Nicholas’ thin, acrid voice prevented any answer to her question. “So you didn’t know about the Prince either. Seems your brother the King kept a few things from all of us, hmm?” He took a few steps toward the granolith as he continued. “So, baby sister came to defend her brother the King of Nothing from little ‘ol me. I’m honored, your highness, that you view me as so important that you would travel all this way.”

“Don’t be honored Nicholas,” Isabel spat out. “I came to warn him about your escape.” She turned and said, “I’m sorry Max, I came as soon as I could.”

“Don’t be sorry Iz, it’s not your fault.”

“He’s right Vilandra, it’s not your fault. It’s his.” Nicholas glared at Max as he continued. “He should have had me executed, but his bleeding liberal heart wouldn’t allow capital punishment. It is among the many bad decisions you’ve made Zan. Always concerned with fairness, equality, peace- your conscience is your greatest weakness Zan. You were too weak to kill me because you’d have a guilty conscience. ‘Murder is never justified. Not even as a punishment for committing murder’. Do you remember uttering those words at my sentencing? Ironic now, really, as they served to seal your own fate. Because I won’t make the same mistake you did Zan. I don’t have a conscience.”

Max quickly connected to Liz, his son and Isabel. // Iz, if I get hit blind him with a light beam. Liz, Max, when she does that RUN for the cave entrance. Max can open the door Liz, just show him where to lay his hand. Iz will detain him here as long as possible. Get as far away from here as possible but don’t go back to Roswell or New Jersey; he will look for you there first. He will come back here though, to go back to Antar. Iz when you get back assemble the Council and have the troops stationed at the granolith to intercept him when he returns.” //

Then in a clear steely voice he said, “I won’t make that mistake again Nicholas.”

Nicholas sneered as Max began to raise his arm against him. “You don’t have the balls Zan.”

“The one who isn’t going to have balls is you, you twisted excuse for a mortal.”

Isabel’s voice boomed around the chamber. “Max, wait.”

“I have to Iz. I won’t allow him to remain a threat to everyone I love.”

“No Max; I meant I agree. I don’t want you to bear this alone.” Isabel raised her hand and laid it on the glass. It began to shimmer as she said, “take my hand Max. Let me help you.”

He looked up into his sister’s eyes and saw the love and trust he hoped was reflected in his own. As he reached for her hand Liz brought her own up and laid it over his. With tear filled eyes she said, “you’re not alone anymore Max. Never again.”

Her son stood in awe as the scene played out before him. His father was a good man, a fair ruler- Nicholas’ words had confirmed what his mother had told him. The appearance of his Aunt and her desire to shoulder her brother’s burden, as well as his mother’s display of her love and commitment to him moved him deeply. He reached out his hand and covered both Liz’s and his fathers. They looked at him with wide eyes as he said with a slight smirk on his face, “may the force be with you.”

His father moved their three joined hands into the shimmering liquid that had replaced the glass where Isabel’s hand lay. When he felt her grasp their hands he raised his free arm up and pointed directly at Nicholas’ face. In a stately voice he pronounced “as Sovereign Monarch of the planet Antar, I hereby condemn you to death for your treasonous crimes.” As the conjoined hands began to glow he added, “enjoy hell, Nicholas.”

The power that burst forth from Max’s outstretched hand was so immense it threw Nicholas across the chamber into the cave wall. It only took a short time before his body was completely incinerated and only a pile of ash remained as a testament to his presence.

The deafening silence was broken by Max Jr.’s shocked “oh my God.” Liz turned an upon seeing her sons pallid complexion and shaking body, she threw her arms around him and said, “it’s all right baby. It’s going to be all right now.”

The entire granolith began to shimmer as Isabel passed through it and materialized before them. Throwing her arms around her brother’s neck she sobbed “oh Max, I came as soon as I found out he’d escaped. I was so afraid he’d have found you and…and…”

Max rubbed her back as he said “it’s OK Iz, it’s over. He’s never going to hurt anyone again.”

As she calmed down she pulled away from him and turned. “Liz,” she said as she reached out. The two old friends embraced and sobbed together. “Liz it’s so good to see you. I’m so glad Max found you.” Stepping back she cocked her head toward her brother. Smiling she said, “he’s been a real grouch for the past 18 years, you know. I think it may have had something to do with you.” She then looked past Liz to the young man staring at her. “Hi. I’m your Aunt Isabel.”

“I’m Max,” he said, holding out his hand to shake hers.

“Oh come on, we just eradicated a notorious enemy of Antar together and all I get is a handshake?” she said as she pulled him into a hug. Running her eyes over him she said “my God, you are a perfect combination of the two of them.” Her eyes began to tear as she ran her hands over his hair. “I have a nephew.”

“He’s a good boy, Iz,” his father said. “Actually he reminds me of your son Marcus. Except he doesn’t have your temper,” he added with a laugh.

“A temper that has served me will dealing with you, brother dear. I hope you’re happy now that you’ve found your Queen again.”

“Ecstatic,” he said as he gazed lovingly at Liz.

“So you two are together again?”

“For as long as she’ll have me,” he replied, not moving his gaze.

“For forever, Max,” Liz whispered.

“So, where will you live?” interrupted Isabel.

“We live in New Jersey, Aunt Isabel,” said Max.

Isabel smiled at his calling her ‘Aunt’. “I meant on Earth or on Antar, honey.”

“Oh.”

It was silent for a moment before Max took Liz’s hand. “I don’t care where I am Liz, as long as I’m with you. It’s your call.”

Liz stared down at the ground before taking a deep breath. “Our lives are here, Max.” Taking her sons hand in hers, she saw him nod in silent agreement. “This is the only thing I’ll ever ask of you. I want to stay here.”

“Then so do I,” he said beaming at her.

“Well, I hate to bring this up Max,” said Isabel. “Nicholas was the worst of our enemies but he wasn’t the only one. Eventually one or more will come here to look for you.”

Max sighed deeply. He knew she was right; at some point an enemy of the throne was bound to come searching for him. If it were just him he had to worry about it would not be of any concern. But it was not just him now. “Then I have to make sure there is no way for them to get here.”

Isabel looked confused for a moment. “The only way you could do that would be to…oh Max, no. You’d never be able to come home.”

“I am home Iz. Anywhere they are is home to me,” Max said.

“Now I’m confused,” Liz said; “what are you guys talking about?”

Max looked at her and then at their son. “The only way to ensure that no one else comes here is to destroy the granolith.”

His son looked up at the massive machine and then back to Isabel and Max. “So you would never be able to go there again,” he said pointing at Max, “and you two would never see each other again?”

“That, and you would never be able to go to Antar, Max,” his father said to him. “You would never meet your cousins, or see where I come from”

“How do you feel about that Max?” Liz asked her son. “We are talking about a hugely important part of your heritage here.”

Max didn’t miss a beat. “The only thing I care about is that you’re OK Mom. Yeah, I’d like to know my family, but if destroying it means no one like him will ever come here and find us, then I’m fine with that. Besides, this isn’t my decision to make.”

Isabel laid her hand on her brother’s shoulder. “Is that what you really want Max?”

He placed both his hands on her shoulders and choked up at the emotion he saw raging in her large blue eyes. “Iz, I don’t have a choice. I wouldn’t survive if something happened to them because of me. This is the only way.”

“Oh Max,” she sobbed as she threw her arms around him. They held each other tightly as they both cried. Isabel pulled away first. “I love you so much Max. You have been the best brother I could ever have hoped for. And a great Uncle. And a fantastic King. I will miss you more than I can ever express in words.”
Her words caused tears to flow from all four of them.

As he took her face in his hands he croaked out, “I love you Isabel. There has not been a moment in my life that I haven’t known that you were the most amazing sister in the universe. You have been my strength for the past 18 years. Without you to keep me sane I would have never made it, Iz. Thank you. For everything.” He paused a moment and then smiled at her. “You are going to make a great Queen.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Queen Isabel, Empress of Antar. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”

“No Max, no, I couldn’t.”

“Yes you can. You will. Our people need- deserve- a strong ruler. There is no one I trust more than you Isabel. I know you will be fair and compassionate. You have the experience; you’ve been by my side the whole time. And you couldn’t have a better advisor by your side than your husband. Our people will be lucky to have you and Damon as their leaders. Come here. Kneel down.”

Isabel slowly sank to her knees, then raised her head to meet his gaze.

“Vilandra, Princess of Antar, I hereby bequeath upon you the title of Queen, Supreme Majesty, Ruler of all inhabitants of the planet Antar. May God grant you the wisdom, the heart, and the strength you will need to rule justly, compassionately, and courageously.” He laid his hands on her head and they began to glow. “There. I’ve transferred my seal to you. It’s how they’ll know you’re their Queen now.” He pulled her to her feet as tears continued to stream down all of their faces. “Please tell my niece and nephews I love them. And know that you will be forever in my heart and prayers, my dear sister Isabel.” They embraced for a long while, then Isabel turned to Liz.

“Liz, I hope you know how lucky you are. Please take care of him for me.”

“I do, and I will Isabel. Good luck to you. I will never forget you.” They cried some more as they hugged each other. Isabel then turned to her nephew.

“Well, I’m really sorry that we’re not going to get to know each other. And that my kids aren’t going to meet you. Good luck to you Max. I wish you a bright, happy future.”

As they embraced Max said “and good luck to you, Aunt Isabel. I’ll pray for you.”

“Thank you Max. I’ll pray for you too. That way we’ll remain in contact, in a way.”

Isabel turned back to her brother. “So now for a technical question. How are we going to do this? Destroy it, I mean.”

“Well, you’ll have to do it from your end. The seal I conveyed to you has the code embedded in it to activate the implosion process. Lay your hand on the scanner and say ‘activate destruction sequence.’ The scanner will take care of the rest. The granolith will, well, it will be like being sucked into a black hole. It will disappear.”

“Then I guess this is it then, isn’t it. God Max, I’m going to miss you so much.”

“Me too Iz. I love you.”

She kissed him on both cheeks and hugged him one last time. “I love you Max. Have a good life. All of you.”

She turned and moved through the shimmering walls of the machine. After she entered, the glass reappeared and the light once again became brilliant inside the chamber. She looked upon them all for a final time. “I love you all. May God bring us together again in the next life.” With a final wave her form began to fade until the tunnel was empty once again.

Liz placed her arm on Max’s shoulder. “Are you OK?”

He pulled her into his arms. “As long as I have you I’m OK.” He looked over at his son. “Hi. I guess we have a lot to talk about, huh.”

Max gave him a half-grin as he replied “Yeah. But do you mind if we get out of here first?”

“Good idea. Let’s go.” He led them out of the cave into the bright New Mexican sunshine.

“So what do we do now?” his son asked.

Standing between them, Liz took each of them by the hand.

“We go home.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:03:36 PM
CHAPTER 21

They returned to the Crashdown and filled Amy and Jim in on what had transpired. Liz suggested that instead of flying back to New Jersey, the three of them drive so that they could unwind from their experience by seeing a few sights. Her real reason, however, was to have the three of them spend a few days together alone so that father and son could begin to heal.

She called the University and Max’s high school to advise them that they would be absent for the next week. As she began to dial Maria’s number to explain when they would be returning home, she asked Max Sr. to contact the rental car company and arrange to trade in the small car they had rented for an SUV so they would be more comfortable. Jim led him in to his office to use the telephone, and when he exited he noticed their son sitting silently off to the side, looking pensive. He sat down next to him and said quietly “how are you handling all of this Max? You’ve been through a lot in the past couple of days.”

Max glanced at him and then turned away. “I’m OK Uncle Jim.”

Jim shook his head slightly and placed his arm around Max’s shoulder. “I know you better than that Max. You’re a sensitive person. You watched someone die today. Even though he deserved it, it’s not an easy thing to deal with. I know. I’ve been there.”

Max looked back at him. “I know he deserved it, but I keep seeing him being thrown against that wall, and the sound of his skin burning up. I can’t get it out of my head.”

Jim nodded. “I know, and not to be the voice of gloom but you will remember that for a while. What you have to focus on is that allowing him to live would undoubtedly have brought about dire consequences for you and your family. Your dad had no choice. I know him, and I know that he never would have made that decision unless there were no other options. He is an honorable man, Max.”

Max rubbed his hands over his face as he shook his head and laughed slightly. “I keep hearing that word about him. ‘Honorable’.”

“He is Max; he honored his commitment to his people all those years ago by going back to his planet even though it practically killed him to leave your mother. I was there. He didn’t want to go, but your mom kept telling him that he had to do right by his people.”

“I know Uncle Jim, and I am actually glad that he- we- killed Nicholas. I’ve never felt true hatred before today. It’s just a lot to take in. I’ll be OK.”

Liz came toward them laughing. “Maria sends her love to everyone. She was very happy everything worked out.”

Jim rose and excused himself and Liz sat down next to her son. “Max, I know we never talked about your father before all this happened-“

He cut her off. “Mom, this was all my fault. I never should have taken off on you, and I’m so sorry. I put us all in jeopardy, and now Dad can never see his sister again-“

It was Liz’s turn to interrupt him. “Max, Nicholas was already here and things most likely would have gone down the way they did eventually anyway. I hope you now understand why I’ve always been so overprotective of you. Don’t blame yourself for what happened to him. He chose his path and had to pay the price for it.” She paused a moment before she continued. “I do want a promise from you, though. Promise me that you will NEVER do anything remotely like that again. I do not want to ever feel that level of fear or panic again, understand?”

“I promise Mom. Don’t worry, I don’t want to ever feel that way again either.”

Liz reached over and took his hand. “Thank you. Now, about you and your father-“

“Mom, don’t worry. After everything we just went through, after what he did to rescue me, and hearing everyone tell me what a great guy he is, the least I can do is try to get to know him. I’m not saying that everything is just fine now, but I promise you I will give this a fair shot.”

Liz wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. “Thank you baby. That’s all I ask.” She pulled back slightly and leaned her forehead against his, tears filling her eyes. “I was really scared Max. I thought I might lose you. I don’t know what I would do if something ever happened to you.”

Max hugged her all the harder. “I’m so sorry Mom. Never again, I promise.”

His father found them there a few minutes later. “OK, all we have to do is be at the rental counter tomorrow at 9 AM and they’ll have another car ready for us.”

“Great,” Liz said standing up. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starving. How ‘bout we see if the Crashdown still has the best pie in New Mexico?” They readily agreed and followed her into the restaurant.
--------------------
The next morning they exchanged vehicles and hit the road. Liz sat in the passenger seat studying the map, suggesting sights they could stop and see or places they might possibly stay overnight. Her son was peering over the seat at the map on her lap. “Hey Mom, remember when we were in Colorado and went to Rocky Mountain National Park? We stayed on that lake, I forget the name, but remember they had cabins right on the lake with boats and stuff? Maybe we could stop there again.”

“Oh yeah, I loved it there. What do you think Max?” she asked his father.

Max was driving along the interstate with a huge smile plastered on his face. This was realization of every dream he’d ever had, even if it was the result of a harrowing experience. He and his family spending time together doing something normal. Things that normal families did together. He could not contain his glee if he had to.

“Well, the only parts of the country I’ve ever seen have been New Mexico and New Jersey, so I’m up for going anywhere. You guys pick the route, just tell me where to go.”

“Well,” Liz replied, still studying the map, “we can take 285 north almost all the way there, and then to go back to Jersey, we’ll just take Route 80 east all the way. There’s some neat stuff off that route, and if you guys want we could stop in Chicago…” She rambled on about the different locations they could visit, and both Max’s agreed to her plan. She grabbed her cell phone to try to set up a reservation for the lakeside cabin. After speaking with the real estate agent, she said “well, they have a two bedroom cabin on the lake, but its only available tomorrow night. We’ll have to find somewhere else to stop tonight.” She continued to peruse the map, then looking up again said “we could see how far we get today and just stop at a motel off the interstate. We shouldn’t have any trouble finding a room.”

Famous last words, she thought; it was now almost 9 PM and they were still on the road. They had made it almost all the way to the park lands, only to find that motels were scarce and those that they did find were booked solid. “This is why I always make a plan,” she muttered. Both Max’s chuckled at this, knowing that this was probably the last time she’d do anything without being well prepared.

“Wait- look- doesn’t that sign say vacancy?” Her son was pointing to a small motel sign ahead. Max pulled in and went into the office; after a few minutes he came back out to the car. “They have one room left. I think we should probably take it, or we might end up sleeping in the truck.” They both agreed with him and all were relieved upon entering the room. It was small but spotless with two double beds.

“I am SO tired,” said Liz as she flopped down on a bed.

“Well, I guess I’m bunking with you then,” said her son as he looked at his father.

Max Sr. shot Liz a look. She sat up and said “sweetie, why don’t you go out and get our bags? I need to brush my teeth before I go to bed.”

“Sure Mom; I wanted to get a soda from the machine down the hall anyway, do you guys want anything?”

They both replied no, and after his exit Liz said, “please be patient Max. He’s been through a lot in the past few days, and I think he’s adjusting to it all pretty well, but I don’t want to dump one more thing on him right now. Please don’t forget that in his entire life I’ve never been with anyone. I went on, what, like six dates, and every one of them ended in a handshake and I never saw them again. It’s always just been he and I. Please do this for me.” Her large eyes were pleading for his understanding.

He pulled her to her feet and into his arms. “Of course Liz. I don’t want to rock the boat; I mean, I thought things went really well today and I don’t want to push him too hard either. But when we get home-“

She cut him off. “We’ll deal with it then, I promise. Let’s just deal with getting home right now, OK?”

“OK,” he said as he gave her the gentlest of kisses.
--------------------
The next morning dawned brightly and Liz bounced up out of bed. “Rise and shine, sleepy heads. Let’s get to the cabin so we can spend the day on the lake.”

Both father and son groaned in response. She smiled as she looked down at them. The two most important people in her life, the two men who owned her heart, together at last. She was filled with a child-like exuberance as she climbed up on their bed and began jumping up and down in between them, chanting “get up! Get up! Get up!”

The two sleeping men opened their eyes and looked up at her. “Mom, how much coffee have you had?” asked her son.

“None. It’s a beautiful day and I don’t want to waste it watching you two sleep. I’m going to take a shower; why don’t one of you go down to the coffee shop and bring us back some breakfast?”

They watched her bound into the bathroom and then they looked at each other, smiling and shaking their heads. “Is your mother always so chipper in the morning?”

His son laughed. “No; I guess she’s just happy or something. I’ll go get that coffee, how do you take yours?”

After he left Max lay in bed listening to the sound of the running shower. He desperately wanted to go in and join her, but he knew that their son would return shortly.

Thankfully Max arrived back with the coffee quickly and they both sat at the small table in the room trying to come alive. “How did people wake up before caffeine?” Max asked his father.

He laughed as he replied, “you know when I originally went to Antar they didn’t have any kind of beverage with caffeine in it. You want to talk about withdrawal.”
He grew quiet again as he watched his son. “Max, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Yeah Dad.”

“Well, first I just wanted to thank you for agreeing to try to work out a relationship with me-“

He interrupted his father immediately. “No, Dad, first of all thank YOU for going to Roswell with Mom and, you know, everything that happened back there.” He clearly was still uncomfortable with what had happened so his father didn’t push him to elaborate. “And I’m sorry that my stupidity caused all those problems in the first place.”

“You didn’t cause the problems, Max. Nicholas was a problem for me for many, many years. I don’t want you to feel responsible for what happened in that cave. Although,” he added, “I am glad you realize that going out there in the first place wasn’t the smartest move. Who we are requires that we’re a little more careful than most people are.”

“Yeah, believe me, I’ve got that point loud and clear.”

“Good. There’s something else I’d like to talk to you about also. About your mom.” He paused as he watched Max’s reaction. His son looked him in the eye and waited for him to continue. “Well, I was thinking that you may have questions as to what my intentions are toward you and your mother. Especially your mother.” He saw his son nod in agreement and he continued. “First, the only thing that matters to me now, and will matter to me until the day that I die is your and your mother’s safety and happiness. I will do whatever I have to do to ensure both.”

“Thank you.”

He smiled at his son before he pushed forward. “Second, I want you to know how much I love your mother. I am 36 years old, and the only person I have ever been with or wanted to be with is your mom. I have loved her from the first moment I saw her and I will love her until the end of time. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, Max. I want to have a family with her.”

Max looked at him quizzically. “A family?”

Just then the bathroom door swung open and Liz came out smiling at them both. “Who’s next for the shower?” she asked, effectively ending father and son’s conversation.

They departed a short time later and arrived at their rented cabin quickly. The cabin sat nestled in a grove of trees on a slight hill above the lake, which was glittering in the bright sunshine. Max looked around and whistled. “Well you two were right, this place is beautiful.”

“Max and I vacationed here a few years ago. He loved it; he spent every day on the lake fishing or boating or swimming,” Liz replied.

Her son spotted a canoe and a kayak on the side of the cabin. “Cool, we can all go for a row around the lake. Are you guys up for it?”

“Try and stop me,” Liz said as they made their way down to the lake. Sticking her toe in the water she shivered. “It’s a little chilly.”

Max grinned, bent down, and placed his hand into the water. After concentrating for a moment he stood up and said to Liz and their son “try it again.”

They both tested the water and were surprised to find it a much more pleasing temperature. His son looked at him and said “OK, that was cool.”

Max laughed. “You both can do the same thing. Remember the energy field between us? It’s all in how you channel it. With practice you’ll both be able to do a lot of things.”

“Mom too?”

“Well, your powers are definitely a lot stronger than hers, and more varied. Basically Liz can channel energy into changing molecular structures or use it like I just did. And of course the whole connection thing you already know about. You will be able to do a lot more than that, with some practice.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:05:40 PM
CHAPTER 22

NC-17

They spent the morning exploring the lake, Max and Liz in the canoe and their son paddling the kayak next to them. Later Liz sunbathed as father and son did some fly-fishing, during which Max questioned his father about Antar and what his life had been like while there. Later in the afternoon they all went swimming. After dinner they took a hike around the lake, so it was three tired people that arrived back at the cabin later.

Max looked at his son and said, “you can have the room to yourself Max, I’ll take the couch tonight.”

“Are you sure? ‘Cause it’s a king-size bed.”

“No, go ahead. It’ll be quieter out here I think.”

Liz started laughing. “Oh, let me guess, snore-myster here kept you up last night?”

“Well…”

“It’s OK Dad; when we went to the Final Four they put a pillow over my face to muffle the sound.”

His father started laughing also. “She would murder me if she ever knew I told anyone this, but your Aunt Isabel used to snore so loud I could sometimes hear her through the wall when we were growing up. So maybe it’s some kind of genetic thing.”

They laughed together and then kissed each other goodnight. Max settled on the couch with the same smile on his face that he had begun the day with. Things had gone really well with his son; he had been interested in hearing about the long conflict that had held his planet bound, and also about developing his powers further. It was apparent that each of them genuinely enjoyed the others company; they had talked and laughed together all day long. He once again marveled at the relationship between Liz and their son. They were so easy together, more like old best friends than mother and son, laughing and teasing each other constantly. It warmed his heart to watch his son with her; contrary to the indifference so many kids displayed toward their parents, Max doted on Liz. He obviously loved his mother very much. “Like father like son,” he said aloud to no one.

Visions of Liz began to fill his mind. Her jumping on the bed this morning, her laughter as their son splashed her in the canoe, her excitement as their son helped him reel in his first-ever fish. Her soft smile, silky hair, and those gorgeous eyes that he drown in whenever he looked at her. His lovely Liz. Who was sleeping only a few feet away from his present position. Alone.

Max rose and made his way silently into her bedroom. Standing beside the bed he watched her sleep for a moment, then bent down and began covering her face with soft kisses. She opened her eyes and smiled at him; raising her hand she brushed it across his cheek before bringing her lips up to meet his in a sweet kiss. “Hey,” she breathed out.

“Hey yourself, gorgeous.” He ran his fingers from her jaw over her cheeks and into her hair. “You wanna go swimming?” he asked with a wicked grin.

She kissed him again. “So you came in here to try to tempt me, huh?”

“No, I really want to go swimming,” he answered, not quite able to keep a straight face. “I’m all hot and sweaty laying out there all by myself.”

“Hot, huh?” Her eyes darkened as she looked at him; then sighing in resignation she said “that creaky front door will wake up Max, and then he’ll ask questions.”

He smiled as he kissed the tip of her nose. “We’ll just have to make our own door then.” He pulled her out of bed, led her over to the window and raised his hand. Then, smiling widely, he dropped his arm and whispered to her “you do it.”

“What? I can’t do that Max.”

“Yes you can,” he said as he took her hand and faced it palm up at the window. “Feel the energy- like when we connected with Max to see Nicholas. Then picture the door and move your hand over the window slowly, “molding” the energy into a door.”

She closed her eyes and concentrated, then moved her hand slowly down the wall, elongating the window into a door. When she opened her eyes she almost screamed at what she had done. “Oh my God! I don’t believe it!” she said in an excited, hushed whisper. “I just imagined it and I did it!”

“You did great babe, but could you imagine a door knob so we could open it?”

She held her hand out again and after a minute sort of a knob appeared.

“Liz? It’s kind of, ah, lumpy,” he said, waving his own hand over it to finish the job.

“Mr. Perfectionist.”

They quietly exited and made their way hand in hand down to the lake. “Oh how beautiful,” Liz exclaimed as they looked out at the moonlit water.

“My thoughts exactly,” he whispered in her ear as he pulled her into his arms, kissing her. She pulled away after a moment and playfully said “how are we going to swim, we don’t have any bathing suits.”

He reached down and grabbed the hem of the T-shirt she had been sleeping in and pulled it over her head in one fluid motion. Placing each hand on her shoulders he ran them down her back, pressing her against his body. “You’re forgetting about your birthday suit.”

Her arms wound around his neck as his hands ran down and over her bottom pressing her closer still. “That’s why I love you Max. You’re always thinking.”

“Wanna guess what I’m thinking now?”

She shivered at the raw passion she heard in his voice. She stepped back out of his embrace and with a sly smile shimmied out of her panties, wanting to tease him a little further. She sashayed down to the lake and turned around to face him as she backed into the water. “Are you just going to stand there and stare or are you going to join me?”

He hurriedly stripped off his clothing and practically ran into the water as she giggled. “Are you in a hurry or something, Max?”

He swam over to her and she moved herself backward, trying to elude his grasp. “Is there something you wanted Max?” she said, still giggling at him.

He finally caught her arm and tugged her over to him, wrapping his arms around her waist. “Just the same thing I’ve always wanted. You.”

Her arms went around his neck as they floated along. “And now that you’ve got me, whatever will you do with me?”

“Hmm, I’m not sure. Maybe we could sing camp songs. Or build a sand castle. Or, wait, I have an idea.” He took her mouth in a fiery kiss, ravaging her with his tongue and leaving her breathless. He pulled away to find her eyes heavy with desire and said “or we could do that.”

“Yeah” was all she could say. As he always managed to do, he had turned the tables on her and was in control again, her teasing long since forgotten as she pressed her body against him and moved to kiss him again.

“So you like that idea? Because I kind of thought the sand castle thing would be fun.”

“Shut up and kiss me again Max.”

He gladly obeyed her command. This time he was gentle, giving her slow kisses that left her whimpering for more. She ran her hands into his hair to urge him on, but he only continued his sweet kisses until she locked her legs around his waist and moved against him. In an instant his mouth was devouring hers and he began to move them out of the water, his lips never leaving hers. As he bent to lay her down on the shore she clung to him to keep her body from touching the sand. “Max we’re wet, we’ll get sand stuck to us everywhere.” He quickly waved his hand over the patch of sand and turned it into a blanket. As he lay her down upon it she smiled at him. “I could’ve done that you know.” “Yeah,” he said as he positioned himself over her, placing one thigh between hers and running his fingertips over her cheek. “But it would’ve taken too long.”

He continued to caress her face as he stared into her eyes. “Liz, today was incredible. It was the first time in so long that I felt… I felt…”

“Complete.” She finished his thought because she felt the same way. “Now I want to make you feel completely loved.”

Never removing her eyes from his she brushed his wet hair back and then ran her fingers down his face and along his jawbone, lightly down his neck and over his collarbone. She continued down his chest to his abs, reveling in the feel of his hard muscles under her soft hands. She loved the feel of his body and the feeling of power she had whenever she touched him like this. Feeling him open himself up totally in every way to her, sensing his needs and how much he wanted her made her feel like she could fly if he asked her to. As she folded her fingers down and ran the backs of her nails around to his back she raised her head to take his nipple in her mouth. His groan of approval made her heart soar.

Max’s arms were shaking with the effort to hold himself still over her while her hands danced over his back and her tongue played on his chest. Each touch, each kiss, each lick caused him to moan softly which just made her intensify her actions in an effort to drive him insane. It was working.

When he couldn’t take anymore he brought her head up and lay on top of her more fully. Moaning “Liz, my Liz” before taking her mouth in a searing kiss, she felt his erection against her stomach and automatically responded by moving her hips. He ripped himself away from her and said in a breathless voice “don’t I get some time to explore too?”

Her voice was just as shallow. “I’m yours Max.” She basked in a new wave of love from him at her words, and felt his lips burn a trail down her neck as his hands teased her breasts. Soon his lips were there also and his hands moved down her body, skimming up and down the length of her torso and then finally to her inner thighs. She could not contain the loud moan of pleasure that escaped her lips when he simultaneously sucked hard on a nipple and found her clit with his finger.

Lifting his head and smiling he said, “you know that sound is amplified when it travels across the water.” She could only answer him with a push to his head to bring him down on her other breast. Finally he couldn’t hold off any longer and brought their mouths together again as he spread her legs wider and began to enter her. She ended the kiss and breathed out, “I want to see your eyes while you love me, Max.”

He gazed into her eyes and their connection blew wide open, their thoughts and feelings melding together until they were one. One being floating on a cloud of love, moving together in perfect rhythm, each feeling the intense pleasure their body gave to the other. “Max you feel so good inside me,” she rasped out as her heels dug into the sand and her hands pressed on his butt to deepen his penetration. “Oh god, Liz,” was all he could reply. She was so hot and wet, and as he moved in and out of her he could feel her desire for more, and the thought that it was him bringing her such ecstasy was as gratifying as the feeling of her moving under him, clenching down on him each time he entered her. As their rhythm increased their emotions deepened, heightening their senses and deepening their desire.

Overwhelmed by the perfect feeling of Max’s loving her, Liz’s eyes slid shut and her neck arched as her head rolled from side to side. “Maxmaxmaxmax…” She moaned his name in a never-ending chant, and with each utterance he plunged into her harder and faster. They both felt like they were drowning in a sea of pleasure.

Suddenly the strangled cry of her name announced his climax, and with a final pounding thrust he brought her home as well. Her entire body exploded in release as she continued to cry out his name. Their bodies were locked around each other, both unable and unwilling to release the other even after their breathing slowed to normal.

Max rose above her and attempted to pull out of her. “No!” she cried, pulling him down and locking her arms around his back. “Please, not yet Max,” she said softly. She looked at him with a slightly shy smile. “It just feels so good when you’re inside me.” He smiled down at her and with a long, deep, gentle kiss let her know he felt the same way.

They lay together silently, hands playing over each other’s bodies, trading sweet kisses, immersed in the feelings of love they sent each other. After a while he said, “I have to be crushing you Liz,” and rolled them over so she was sprawled over top of him. He pulled the blanket over them and they fell asleep still joined together, heart, body, mind, and soul.

Just as dawn was breaking Liz awakened. Shifting slightly in Max’s arms she felt him hard inside of her; looking up, she was surprised to find him still asleep. She smiled and thought to herself ‘let’s see how long it will take to wake him up’. Placing her hands on the blanket on either side of his chest she pushed herself up and moved her knees so she could have some leverage. Slowly rising up she watched his face for any sign of wakefulness, then she slowly slid down and he groaned slightly in his sleep. She rose up and slid down again, moving several times until his eyes began to open. His mind was still fuzzy with sleep as his hands came up to grip her hips and he moaned “Liz.” She immediately began moving faster, tightening her walls on him as she rose up and then sunk back down on him. She felt his hips thrust up and the feeling of him touching her so deeply inside drove her to a frantic pace quickly.

He was fully awake now and the feeling of being awakened in such a fashion coupled with the sight of her wantonly riding him brought him to the edge quickly, but he held off, not wanting to go over without her. He released one hand from its grip on her hip and moved his thumb between her exposed lips until he found her clit. Fingering her hard he ground out “I want to watch you cum, my Liz.” At his words she climaxed and fell on to his chest, and at that glorious sight, he came inside of her.

After they calmed Max chuckled. “Now that’s what I call a ‘good morning’.” He brought her mouth to his and kissed her as he rolled them over and pulled out of her. “We should go back to the cabin baby, it’s getting light out.” She reluctantly agreed with him and they dressed themselves and headed back. They used the door Liz had ‘made’ in her room and walked to her bed. She wrapped her arms around him and looking up at him kissed his chin. “Goodnight again, my love.”

He put his best pout on his face and said “can’t I stay here with you? It’s so lonely out there.”

She stood on her tiptoes and stole a quick kiss. “You’ll just have to tough it out, your majesty.” She pushed him toward the living room and climbed into the bed. He reluctantly backed toward the door, watching her watch him. “I love you,” he called out before disappearing through the doorway. Liz lay back on the pillows and sent him a final message before sleep claimed her again. // Right back at you, gorgeous. //
--------------------------------
Max awoke and stretched out. He had been glad his father had taken the couch, the large bed was very comfortable and he had been able to stretch out his long frame and get a great nights sleep.

He lay in bed a while thinking about the previous day. He had gotten along great with his father, which didn’t really surprise him as he had gotten along with him when he had been ‘Tom’. He had been very interested when his father had told him about Antar and the struggle for peace he had waged. Max now knew he could forgive his dad for leaving Liz because he now had a full understanding of the need of his presence during the conflict. And he was willing to try to build future memories with him now, something he didn’t think he’d be able to do not very long ago.

He smiled, rose out of bed and made his way out into the living room. He saw his father on the couch, and then turned and looked into his mother’s room to find her sitting up and stretching. “Morning sweetie,” she called to him.

“Morning Mom. Do you want- hey! Where’d that door come from?”

Liz jerked around and looked at the door she had ‘made’ last night and blushed at the thought of why she did it. “Uh, well, I, uh, I was trying to work on my powers, and, uh, I was fooling around with the window...” She turned back to her son to find his father standing behind him holding his hand over his mouth to stifle his laughter. Her cheeks grew redder as she said “and I made a door.” Then glaring at his father she added, “sweetie, why don’t you jump in the shower first and your father and I will make breakfast.”

“OK Mom,” he answered, heading for the bath.

After seeing his son disappear behind the bathroom door, Max climbed in the bed and on top of Liz. “Good morning again my Liz,” he said before taking her lips in a long sensual kiss. “You are so cute when you’re flustered, you know.”

“Yeah? Well I have news for you,” she said before she answered his kiss with a potent one of her own. “No one laughs at Liz Parker and gets away with it. Your punishment will be no more nookie until we get home. What do you think about that?”

“I think we’ll be driving straight through to Jersey, then,” he replied, before diving in for another taste of her.

‘Liz Parker’, he thought as he lost himself in the sweetness of her mouth; “I’m going to have to do something about that name…soon…”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:07:00 PM
CHAPTER 23A

“I know this is a corny thing to say, but there really is no place like home,” Max said to his parents as they pulled into their driveway in Jersey.

“Remember that the next time you feel like taking a road trip, will you?” said Liz. “You’re right sweetie, I don’t ever think I’ve been happier to see these four walls. Help your father bring in our bags please? I’m going to call Maria and let her know we’re home.”

Max and his father brought in their luggage as she was hanging up the phone. “Maria and Alex will be over in a few minutes.” She watched as her son took his suitcase into his bedroom. Max leaned over and in a low voice said, “where should I put my suitcase?” He didn’t want to push her about their sleeping arrangements, but at the same time he felt this was the best opportunity to deal with the subject with their son.

Liz sighed. “I promise I’ll talk to him after Maria leaves.”

“No, Liz; I think we should talk to him together. I don’t want him thinking that I’m just some disinterested third party; I want him to understand that you and me are a permanent thing and that the three of us are a family, and that we need to discuss this as a family. All three of us. OK?”

Her arms encircled his waist and she looked up at him with bright eyes. “A permanent thing, huh?”

Taking her face in his hands he leaned down and brushed his lips over hers. “As if there could be any doubt.” Just as he began to deepen the kiss Maria’s voice rang out from the porch. “Step off Max, I want to get a hug in before you two are at it again.”

They turned to greet Maria and Alex as they made their way into the house and Liz called out for their son to join them. As he entered the living room Maria ran over to him and threw her arms around him in a bear hug. “Oh God, I’m so glad you’re OK, you have no idea how many prayers I’ve said in the past week.” Then surprising them all, she stepped back and slapped his face. “That’s for pulling such a stupid stunt in the first place. Forget about Alex and I worrying ourselves sick, do you have any idea how much you scared your mother? How could you be so irresponsible, inconsiderate and, and, well stupid? You were raised better than that Max. You really disappointed me.” No one had interrupted her little tirade because Maria was Max’s second mother; she had been there from the time he was born and had helped to raise him- if anyone had a right to scold him besides his mother it was Maria.

“I’m sorry Aunt Maria, you’re right, I’m sorry.”

She hugged him once again. “It’s OK now, Max; but please promise me you’ll never do anything so reckless again. I don’t think Alex could make it through another week of me pacing around pulling out my hair.”

“Actually I didn’t notice anything out of your normal obsessive-compulsive behavior pattern, honey.” As usual Alex’s humor lightened the moment and they all laughed.

“Come on everyone, I’ll find something here for us to drink and we’ll fill each other in on the last week of our lives,” said Liz as she led them into the kitchen.

Later on as they left Maria invited them over for dinner, then said “Junior walk Alex and I out, will you?” When the three of them got outside she turned to him. “Well, if I gave you hell for doing something stupid I should praise you for doing something right. I was very happy to see how you handled yourself in there with your father. I take it you’ve decided to get to know him?”

“Yeah, it’s the least I can do after all the trouble I caused. You had a good point Aunt Maria; he’s here now and he at least deserves me giving him a chance. It’ll never make up for not being here for all these years, but I know he’ll be here in the future. That will have to be enough.”

Maria hugged him and said, “I’m very proud of you. You won’t regret it Max, I promise.” Stepping back she grabbed Alex’s hand. “OK, we’re going to go get some stuff for dinner. We’ll see you later handsome.”

Max walked back in the house to find his mother pacing back and forth across the living room and his father nervously watching her. Immediately alarmed he asked, “Mom what’s wrong?”

“Max please sit down. The three of us need to talk.” He perched on the edge of the couch and Liz sat down next to him. “Uh, Max, your father and I wanted to discuss the living arrangements in the house with you,” she began.

“Living arrangements?” he repeated, somewhat confused.

“Specifically your mothers and my arrangements,” said his father.

“In the same part of the house,” Liz stammered out.

“Oh,” Max said, for a moment still unclear as to their point. Then it hit him. “OH.” He looked at them to find his father staring at his mother and his mother staring at her feet. “So you two are going to, ah, you’re going to move upstairs?” he said looking at Liz.

“Actually I was thinking that you could take the apartment now. You’re certainly old enough, and we really don’t need the extra income anymore- that’s if it’s OK with both of you.”

“That sounds like a good idea to me,” his father stated. “How do you feel about it, Max?”

How do I feel? he thought to himself. I feel like my head is going to explode. In his blissful ignorance he hadn’t given any thought to the situation before, but he now realized that this was inevitable. After all, these two people had waited 18 years to be together, and they obviously loved each other. And as much as he loathed thinking about his mother having a physical relationship with someone, it was obvious that they already had one; after all, he wasn’t delivered by the stork. “Well it’s not really up to me, is it. I have no problem going upstairs; it’ll be kind of like having my own place. Only you’ll still be doing my laundry,” he joked weakly to his mom.

“Max I realize this is strange for you,” his father said. “But I want to tell you again how much I love your mom, and how much I want the three of us to become a family. We could’ve waited until you went away to college but then we’d just be sneaking around behind your back, and I don’t want that. I want our bonds to be based on honesty and trust. I know that my deception regarding my identity when I first came here belies my words, but I did what I felt I had to do to protect you and your mom. Maybe it wasn’t the right choice but I can’t change the past. I can however promise you both that I will always be truthful and open with you. No more games. I want you to be able to come to me and know that you can trust me. And I want to demonstrate that by being honest with you about this now.”

Well you can tell he was a diplomat, Max thought. How could he argue with anything his father had said? He was going to have to deal with the situation sooner or later, and it would be childish of him to object, after all these were two consenting adults. He wanted his mom to be happy, and after bearing witness to her 18 year dating drought he realized that the only person that was going to make her happy was the man sitting across the room. He nodded at his father. “Thanks Dad. But do you mind if we make the move tomorrow, ‘cause I’d really like to sleep in my own bed tonight.”

Liz reached over and laid her hand on his. “No problem honey. And we’ll move your furniture and everything up there; we’ll set it up any way you’d like.”

“OK. I’m going to go in and organize some stuff, if we’re done here.”

“Go ahead sweetie.” Max and Liz watched their son disappear down the hallway and then looked at each other. “Well that wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be,” she said to him.

Max joined her on the couch and taking her hand placed a kiss on the back before looking her in the eyes. “You did a wonderful job raising him Liz. He’s smart, respectful, and has good common sense. Thank you.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for Max; he’s been the joy of my life. And now I have twice the joy,” she said as she leaned in to kiss him.

A few hours later Liz knocked lightly on her son’s door to tell him they were ready to leave for Maria’s. She found him making stacks of different books and magazines. “Hey Mom, what would you think about me building a bookcase along the back wall upstairs? Then I could organize all of this stuff and also put my trophies on it.”

“That’s a great idea- you know, you could design it with a computer desk in the middle and then you’d have all of your reference materials right near you. I’m sure your dad would be happy to help you with it.” She sat down on his bed and patted the space next to her. “Come sit with me Max. I want to talk to you.” She took his hand as she continued and sandwiched it between her two hands. “I just wanted to see if you’re OK with all of this,” she said as she waved one hand around in the air. “Because I know there’s been a lot of major changes for you to deal with lately, and I know that me being with your father is strange for you, and I just…well, I’m worried about you.”

He looked up into her eyes and paused a moment. “Mom, I can’t lie to you. Yeah, it’s weird to see you with someone. It’s strange to think that I’m going to have to share you with someone now. I mean, it’s always been just you and me, you know? But I’ll deal with it. I’ll be OK.”

Her eyes filled with tears as she pulled him into a hug; then pulling back she grabbed his face by both cheeks. “You are my baby. The same blood flows through our veins. You will be my dying thought. Nothing will ever come between you and I, do you understand? Nothing!”

Max smiled at her fierce declaration. “Thanks Mom. I love you too.”

“And I love you, my sweet baby boy.”

“Ah, Mom? My cheeks are starting to hurt.”

“Oh, sorry honey,” she said as she tried to rub away the pain. He took her hands and kissed them both. “It’s OK Mom.”

“Max, thank you for handling all of this so, well, maturely. I want you to know how much I appreciate your attitude and you giving this all a chance.”

“You’re welcome. And thank you for being the best Mom in the whole world.”

“Oh God, now I’m going to cry again,” she said as the tears started to flow.

“OK, before you completely lose it let’s go to Aunt Maria’s,” he chuckled as he led them both out of his room.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:09:53 PM
CHAPTER 23B NC-17

Later that night while her son was busy packing up his room Liz made her way upstairs. She stood outside the sliding glass door for a moment watching Max move about the room collecting his things for the move downstairs. She couldn’t help the heated smile that spread over her face as she remembered the first time she had watched him through these doors; it was the day they had painted the house and he had been shirtless. She flushed as she recalled the feelings of lust that had rushed through her then. Or was it because she was having those same feelings right now?

// Then why are you still standing out there? //

His voice filtered into her mind jarring her out of her reverie. He turned around with a wolfish smile on his face and made his way over to open the door. “How long have you known I was out here?” she said as she walked inside.

“I always know when you’re close-by. I can feel you.”

“Feel me, huh?” she said in a low, thick voice as she ran her hands over his chest. As he started to reply her hands stole around his neck and she pulled him in for a bruising kiss. Lost in her lustful kisses Max didn’t notice that she was walking them backward until his legs came into contact with the couch; losing his balance he unceremoniously plopped down upon it. Liz quickly moved down onto his lap, her knees bending as she sat on his thighs and straddled him. He let her take control as she took his mouth again, hungrily demanding his response which he gladly gave. Running her hands under his T-shirt she quickly pulled it over his head and gave him a heated stare before she began to lick and suck her way around his neck. Her hands roamed his upper body caressing, squeezing, and massaging every inch they landed upon.

Max was in heaven. Liz was aggressively claiming him as her own and he loved every second of it. He would barely register the feel of one delicious caress when she would move on to tease another area of his body. Finally when he felt her pop open the button on his jeans he stopped her hands. Breathing hard he said, “I want to feel more of you.” As he slid the short cardigan she wore over her sundress off he let his fingers glide down her arms. His eyes found hers as he quickly undid the buttons down the front of her dress. “Have I ever told you that I love it when you wear a dress?” he said as it fell open and his hands pulled it from her body, then moved inside, removed her bra and moved on to her breasts.

Liz was on fire; from the moment she had laid eyes on him through the door she wanted him, and now as he fondled her and stared at her with those amazing eyes she felt like she was going to melt. Once again she reached for his zipper but this time he didn’t stop her. Her small hand drew him out and she said lasciviously in his ear “have I ever told you that I love it when you don’t wear underwear?” as she began to stroke him. She kissed him almost savagely; devouring him as her hand pumped him faster causing him to moan loudly into her mouth. At the sound of his pleasure she ripped her lips from his, jumped off of him and stripped off her panties. Quickly positioning herself over him again she paused a moment until their gazes locked once more. “I want you so much, Max,” she growled out before dropping herself down on his shaft, causing them both to groan out their pleasure. His hands grasped her hips to aid with her momentum and they slammed their bodies against each other with wild abandon. Finally, raising up on him until only his tip remained inside of her she froze in place and stared down into his eyes. “Max, my Max,” she rasped out before one final plunge that brought them both to climax.

Liz fell limply against his chest; her head resting on his shoulder as his shaking arms held her tightly. He didn’t know what he did to deserve that but he wasn’t about to question it, so he just held her and thanked his lucky stars.

// You’re welcome. // Her mirth-filled voice shot through his mind. // But I don’t think luck had anything to do with it. //

// Oh no? //

“No,” she whispered as she lightly kissed his neck. She raised her head and ran her hands into his hair as she leaned her forehead against his, smiling. “I think it was watching that adorable tush of yours in those tight faded Levi’s that I love.”

“Then I guess I’ll be wearing those jeans every day now.”

They shared sweet kisses before she lay her head back on his shoulder, snuggling against his body as close as she could. He threaded his fingers through her hair and let out a deep sigh.

“Is something the matter Max?”

“Yes. I can’t seem to figure out how we can stay attached like this permanently without freaking out the general public.”

They both chuckled, then he added “Liz? Please stay with me tonight. Please,”
he whispered at the end as she looked up at him again.

“OK.”

“That was easy enough,” he said as he pulled her off his lap, laid her down on the couch and moved over her.

“Yeah? How’s this for easy- you be a good boy and you just might get lucky again,” she said playfully.

“Oh Miss Parker, I don’t think luck has anything to do with it,” he said before diving in for a kiss.
===========
The next day Max stood thoughtfully listening to his son as he explained his idea for the bookcase. “…and Mom said that maybe we could build a computer desk in the middle of it, too.”

“That’s a good idea. We could put it under this window. And if you want we could convert the bottom shelf of the section of the bookcase next to the desk into a sliding drawer for covered storage.”

“I like that idea. Then I could get rid of this old filing cabinet,” he said leaning on it.

“OK, let’s take some measurements and then we’ll go to Home Depot and get the lumber. We may have to rent a table saw, too.” They busied themselves designing, sketching, and measuring their project. “OK Max, I think we have everything. Oh, write down on our list rollers for the drawer too.”

“OK Dad, got it. Do you want to go now?”

“In a minute. I’d like to talk to you about something first.”

His son groaned and laughed at the same time. “I’ve been hearing those words an awful lot lately.”

“I know Max, but I told you yesterday I wanted to be up front and honest with you, so I wanted to let you know about this.” He walked over to a box of his things waiting to be carried downstairs and pulled out a wooden box, then motioned for his son to sit with him at the dinette table. He opened the box and removed a large velvet bag and placed it on the table unopened. “Max, I haven’t shown what I’m about to show you to your mother yet, but I will soon. You know that on Antar we are royalty, and much like here on earth, royalty has certain perks.” He carefully removed the contents of the bag and spread them out on the table.

His son’s eyes were practically bulging out of his head. Beautiful precious stones covered the tabletop. “Are these what I think they are?”

“These are the Antarian King’s crown jewels. They are given to each King to do with as he pleases.”

“But don’t they have to be passed on to the next King?”

“No. There is a family that has served our family in the Royal Court for centuries. They serve in many capacities, one of which is as the Royal Jeweler. In each generation of their bloodline one member of their family is born with a special gift- they can change certain substances into precious stones, metals, stuff like that. They create a new set of jewels for each new monarch.” He smiled as he thought of Isabel. “I can just imagine the set your Aunt is designing for them to work on now. Anyway, this is my set.”

“Wow,” was all Max could say. A large array of jewels, including diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies glittered as the sunlight struck their surfaces.

“I look at this as our family’s future. In more ways than one.” He selected a large, perfectly cut diamond and showed it to his son. “Do you think your mom would like this one?”

“Who wouldn’t, look at it…oh, you mean…what do you mean?”

“I mean that I’m going to ask your mom to marry me Max. It’s what I’ve wanted since we were 16- for us to belong to each other completely. But I’d like to know how you feel about it first.”

“Are you asking my permission or something?”

“No, because nothing could stop me from asking her; but it’s important to me that you know about it and that you’re OK with it. And if you’re not then we need to talk.”

His son stared at the beautiful stone in his hand. Things were changing so fast- his life had gone from a quiet, peaceful existence with his mom to a reality that included alien wars, murder, and now a vast amount of wealth. This step would cement his parents together forever; but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that they were already inseparable and any disdain at their marriage would only cause all three of them pain. And truth be told, he’d much prefer that they marry and not just live together. “Dad, I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Mom last night. Yeah, this is all very new and very strange to me, but I can’t ignore the obvious fact that you two really do love each other. The only thing that’s important to me is that Mom is treated like she deserves to be. She waited a long time for you, Dad; please take good care of her. As long as you do that you and I will always be fine.”

Max’s heart constricted in his chest with pride. He knew his son’s life had been turned upside down and how difficult it must be for him to deal with everything that had been thrown at him in such a short period of time, yet his prevailing thought was his mother’s happiness. He was loving, selfless, and loyal- just like his mom. When he finally spoke his voice was tight with emotion. “Thank you Max. For being honest, for giving me a chance, but most of all for loving your mom so much. Be assured that the only person who loves her more than you is me. She’s my queen, Max, and I promise you I will spend every moment of the rest of my life making sure she knows that too.”

“OK then. So you’re going to, what, use your powers to make her a ring out of some alien metal or something?”

Max shook his head and laughed. “Actually I thought I’d just go to a jeweler and pick out a setting.”

“Oh.” His son was a little disappointed; he thought learning how to make an alien ring would be kind of cool.

Max studied his son a moment then asked “Max what’s your birth stone?”

“Emerald, for May.”

Max selected a large emerald and closed his eyes as he held it in his hand. When he opened his fist the large rock had been reduced to a pile of perfectly cut gems the same shape as the diamond. He took the diamond from his son and placed it on the table and then arranged the emeralds around it. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful, she’ll love it.”

“The two most precious jewels in my life together, as they should be.”

His son understood his true meaning and his voice was a little choked up when he said “thanks Dad.”

Max reached over and lay his hand over his and gave it a squeeze.

“No, thank you, my son.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:11:22 PM
CHAPTER 24

The next few weeks flew by as the end of the University’s semester loomed in front of Max and Liz. In between preparing final exams they worked on setting up the apartment with their son, so the only time they were able to spend together was when they would fall into bed, to exhausted to do anything but hold each other until sleep claimed them.

One day in between classes, Alex found Max sitting on a bench outside of the University’s bookstore staring off into space. “Max. MAX! Hey buddy, you looked like you were a million miles away. Is everything all right?”

“Hey Alex, yeah, I was just sitting here trying to…Alex if I tell you something can you keep it just between us? Can you keep a secret from Maria?”

“Well, I guess it would depend on what the secret was. She is like a bloodhound so you know eventually she’d find out. Are you sure everything’s OK?”

“Yeah, I just…I’m going to ask Liz to marry me, and I’m trying to figure out exactly how and where to do it.”

“Oh wow, that’s great, congratulations.”

“Thanks. So don’t tell Maria, OK? I really want to surprise Liz. I know that I want to do it as soon as the semester’s over but the details are killing me.”

Alex chuckled. “I remember going through the same thing when I decided to pop the question to Maria. I made all of these elaborate plans and she ended up finding the ring and all my hard work went out the window. You don’t have much time; finals are done at the end of next week. Have you come up with anything?”

“Well, I thought about taking her for a walk on the beach and asking her there, or out for a nice dinner, but I want this to be really special. I waited a long time to do this and I want it to be perfect. Part of the problem is that I’m not that familiar with this area so if you know of somewhere nice or have any ideas I’d really appreciate hearing them.”

Alex sat quietly thinking for a few minutes. “Wait a minute. I don’t know if this is possible, but the Tall Ships are coming into New York Harbor in two weeks-“

“The Tall Ships?”

“Yeah, they’re huge wooden sailing yachts, schooners, some over a hundred years old. They come in from all over the world and anchor in the harbor for Fleet Week. They’re gorgeous and everything on the ship is as close to authentic as possible. My cousin is the captain of one, and every year Maria, Liz, Max and I go up there to see him. One year we were lucky enough to go out for a sail because the owner was trying to impress some money guys he wanted to do some business with, so he threw a big party on the ship and we went along. It’s amazing and I know Liz loved it. My cousin owes me a few favors. I can’t promise anything but if you want, I’ll give him a call and see if he could take you two out on a private cruise.”

“Alex that sounds perfect. And money is no object; I’ll pay whatever they want. When do you think you could find out?”

“I’ll call him when I get home. Maria won’t be home from work yet so I’ll be able to talk to him freely. I’m sure it won’t take him long to find out if he can do it or not.”

Max stood up and shook Alex’s hand. “I’m glad I mentioned this to you. Thanks so much.”

“Don’t thank me until it’s a done deal. Anyway, I’d do anything for Liz. I’m really happy you guys found each other again.”

Max couldn’t stop the dopey smile that spread across his face. “Yeah, me too. I have to run to my next class; thanks again. I’ll talk to you later?”

“I’ll give you a call as soon as I talk to him.”

“Thanks again Alex. Talk to you later.”
=========
Max was a nervous wreck. Today was the day he was proposing to Liz and he wanted everything to go flawlessly. Alex had been able to set things up with his cousin, who had agreed to take them out for a couple hours at sunset. Maria had found out when his cousin called their house and left a message on their answering machine, and after giving Alex hell for not telling her she was happy to help Max with the plans. She took Liz shopping and made her buy a new dress, shoes, and some jewelry. She was the one who came up with a cover story why she and Alex weren’t going with them to see the ships as they usually did, and she made sure that their son had a good reason not to go also. At the moment she was helping Liz get dressed while Max was pacing around the living room, being observed by a very amused Alex and Max Jr.

“Max? You’re starting to wear a hole in the rug,” joked Alex.

“Yeah Dad, relax, you know she’s going to say yes.”

“I just want this to be perfect. You’re sure everything is set with your cousin Alex?”

“Relax Max. Bill and his crew will take good care of you, and the restaurant you’re going to after is fantastic. Liz knows how to get there so you’re not going to get lost. Everything is going to work out, don’t worry.”

“OK, I know you’re right, I’m just afraid I’ll forget something or fall in the water or do something stupid.”

“Max calm down,” said Alex. “You have the ring, right?”

Max pat his pocket as his son replied for him. “He’s checked that about 100 times since I saw him drop it in there.”

“You’ll be fine Max. Oh, here she comes now,” said Alex as he spotted Liz and Maria coming out of the bedroom.

Max’s breath caught in his throat as it did every time he laid eyes on her. She was dressed in a sleeveless tank dress made of thin woven rayon in an Indian batik print that flowed loosely around her body. On her feet were new sandals which tied around her ankles, and she wore the funky earrings and bracelet that Maria had picked out for her. She looked like a beautiful, funky angel to him and he loved it.

“OK, the princess is ready to go,” said Maria. “Here Liz, I brought that shawl that you like, I thought it would go nicely with the dress and you might get cold.”

“Thanks Maria. OK, are we ready? Max?”

Max was still staring at her, lost in his thoughts. “Oh- oh, yeah, OK, let’s go.”

Max, Maria, and Alex walked them out. “Have fun,” Maria called out as they waived goodbye. After they pulled out of the driveway Maria turned to Max. “You OK sweetie?”

“Yeah Aunt Maria. I’ll be OK.”

“Come here,” she said as she pulled him into a hug. “Just remember that she loves you very much Max. As do we.” She gave him a peck on the cheek and continued. “So what time will you be done surfing?”

“Just tell me when dinner is and I’ll be there.”

“How ‘bout 7? Then we’ll come back here and wait for them to get back. I can’t wait to see the ring; your father wouldn’t show it to me, he said he wanted Liz to see it before anyone else did.”

“OK, I’ll see you guys later then.”

Liz and Max had a few hours to kill before they had to be at the ship, so Liz gave Max what she called the ‘tourists tour’ of Manhattan- Radio City, Rockefellar Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Time Square, The Empire State Building, Wall Street, finally ending at Battery Park and on to the docks.

“Wow,” exclaimed Max as the Tall Ships came into view.

“Aren’t they beautiful? You should see them under sail, they are magnificent,” said Liz.

Max silently made a note to buy Alex a new car, a house, whatever he wanted. This was an absolutely perfect setting for asking Liz to marry him. They walked along the dock admiring the ships until they came to the one they were looking for. “Liz! Good to see you,” called out a man as he made his way down the catwalk to greet them.

“Bill, it’s nice to see you again too,” she replied as she gave him a kiss hello. She turned and lay her hand on Max’s shoulder. “Bill, this is Max. Max, this is Alex’s cousin Bill. He’s the Captain of the Shaherezade.”

“Pleasure to meet you Max.”

“Same here. The boat is beautiful.”

Liz laughed as she said, “At this size it’s called a ship. A boat is what’s in the lagoon around the corner from our house.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“No problem. I take it you haven’t been around boats much?” asked Bill.

“Actually this will be my first time on one.”

“Well you are starting with the cream of the crop, if I do say so myself. This vessel is the finest I’ve ever had the pleasure to command. Come aboard and I’ll give you a tour before we set sail.”

“Set sail?” Liz questioned.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought she knew,” apologized Bill.

“Bill was kind enough to agree to take us out for awhile. Alex set it up for me after he told me how much you enjoyed it last time.”

Liz was thrilled. “Oh fantastic! You’re going to love it Max! Thank you!” she added to Bill.

“My pleasure to show off the lady. Come on, let’s take that tour.”

When they set sail Max and Liz stayed on the stern near Bill as he explained to Max what the crew was doing and the workings of the ship. Max was keenly interested; he had spent almost 20 years traveling in spaceships, jet packs, and light tunnels so to experience travel by the sheer force of nature was exhilarating. The sound of the wind in the sails, the splash of the waves, and the motion of the ship as it glided through the water was soothing yet empowering. Liz came up behind Max and wrapped her arms around his waist. “So you like it, huh?”

“Actually I was just thinking that we should get one of these. Only a lot smaller, of course,” he laughed.

“Max, look.”

They were coming close to the Statute of Liberty. They were quiet as they sailed by it. Bill turned to them and said, “that’s always my favorite part of Fleet Week in New York. When we come into the harbor and see Lady Liberty, it’s a feeling like no other.”

“I can see why,” said Max. They sailed on for another hour or so until Bill called out to them. “We’re going to come about and head back. You may want to go and sit up there.” He was pointing to a section mid-ship between the first and second mainsail where there was more seating. “We’ll be sailing into the sunset and you’ll be able to see around the jib; you should get a great view from up there.”

Max and Liz made their way up and took a seat, Max pulling Liz into his side. She leaned her head against his shoulder and sighed. “Thank you for this Max.” Just then the ship came about and they were looking toward the city off in the distance, the sun setting in the harbor. “Oh, how beautiful,” whispered Liz as she snuggled closer to Max’s side. “This is so perfect.”

Max ran his hands up and down her back as he tried to calm himself and find the courage to say what he wanted. Liz sensed his uneasiness and looked up at him. “Max? Is everything OK?”

“Yeah baby, why?”

“Well, I can tell you’re tense about something, and you’ve been kind of preoccupied all week. What’s going on?”

This is it, he thought. “Well there is something I need to talk to you about. Something I need to ask you.”

Liz swallowed and tried to remain calm. All she could think of was the last time she heard those words- they were 18, and he told her he had to leave her.

He took her hands in his and stared at them as he tried to find his voice. “Liz, since the first moment I laid eyes on you I knew you were special. It wasn’t until I healed you at the Crashdown that day that I knew why though. When I made that connection with you it was the first time in my life that I ever felt whole. It was like I found a lost puzzle piece that I didn’t know was missing. It was the other half of my soul. It was you.” He paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “The first time you told me you loved me I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t understand why you do, but I thank God every day of my life for that precious gift.” He finally looked up into her eyes just in time to see a tear roll down her cheek. Reaching up, he brushed it away and continued to stroke her cheek with his thumb. “You are my dream come true, Liz. I want to spend the rest of my life trying to make your dreams come true, too.”

“They already have,” she said softly between her tears.

Smiling at her he reached into his pocket; as she saw him withdraw a small black velvet box Liz gasped. “Elizabeth Parker will you make another one of my dreams come true and say you’ll marry me?”

For a split second Liz sat in stunned silence, then she leaped into his arms and sobbed “yes! Yes Max I will marry you!”

They held each other in a crushing hug as Liz continued to cry out her happiness. When they finally broke apart Liz smiled as she looked up to see a tear rolling down his cheek. She reached up and wiped it away before softly kissing him. “I love you Max. Thank you.”

It was his turn to cry now. “No Liz, thank you. For saving me all those years ago, and for loving me today. You are my everything.” He regained some control and then impishly smiled. “So do you want to see the ring or what?”

“Well, I suppose,” she teased.

Liz’s mouth dropped open as he opened the box and removed the ring. It was the most exquisite thing she had ever seen. A large princess-cut diamond set in an antique platinum setting and along the vertical sides of the diamond lay two rows of beautiful emeralds. “Oh my God Max, it’s gorgeous.” His hand shook as he pulled it out of the box and took her hand. He slid it on to her finger and then kissed it. “It pales in comparison to you. I love you so much Liz.”

“And I love you Max.” She leaned in and just before their lips met she whispered “my Max.” Their gentle kisses were reminiscent of the very first one they had shared on her balcony 20 years before. Their feelings flowed between them freely, shutting out everything in the world except each other.

When they finally broke apart they heard clapping and whistling from the stern of the ship. Looking back they saw the crew cheering them on. Bill yelled out “I take it she said yes!” Max flashed a beaming smile and the thumbs-up sign. He turned back to see Liz staring at her ring. “I’m glad you like it. The stones are from Antar.”

“I love it. You know, emeralds are Max’s birth stone.”

“I know, he told me, that’s why I had it made that way.”

“Oh Max,” she said, tearing up again. He pulled her into his side and she once again leaned her head upon his shoulder. After thinking for a moment she said “you asked Max about his birth stone? So he knows about this?”

“Yes, and so does Alex and Maria. It was Alex’s idea to do it on the ship. Maria found out by accident. I thought she was going to behead Alex for not telling her.” They both laughed at the thought. “So I imagine they’ll all be at home waiting for us to arrive.”

“I don’t mind,” said Liz. “I can’t wait to tell the whole world that I’m yours.”

“Me too,” he said as he leaned his cheek against the top of her head. Closing his eyes he let out a sigh 20 years in the making.

They dined at a small Italian restaurant in Little Italy that Maria had suggested. When the owner found out they had just become engaged he brought out the chef and the wait staff and they sang “That’s Amore” to them. The meal was phenomenal, and once again Max made a mental note to properly thank Alex and Maria for all of their help.

When they finally arrived back home they pulled into the driveway to find all of the house lights on and Alex’s car out front. Max laughed as he turned off engine and said, “let the inquisition begin!”

Liz reached over and gently turned his face toward hers. “Not quite yet,” she whispered as she softly kissed him. When they broke apart he leaned his forehead against hers and said, “I love you, Liz Parker-soon-to-be Evans.”

“I love you too, Max Evans-soon-to-be mine.”

“Oh Miss Parker, I’ve been yours since the first time I laid eyes on you.”

She flashed a blinding smile at him and then looked up toward the house and started laughing. “OK, Maria has spotted us; we’d better go in before she comes out here to drag us inside.”

As soon as they stepped inside Maria jumped on them both, hugging the life out of them. Deciding to have a little fun with her Liz said, “what was that for?”

Maria stepped away looking confused. She pointed back and forth between them “you didn’t- you’re not- wait a minute,” she said as she grabbed Liz’s hand. “I knew it! Oh my God, it’s gorgeous! Way to go Max!” Once again she hugged them. “Congratulations. It’s about time.”

“Congratulations guys, I’m very happy for you,” added Alex as he kissed Liz.

“Thank you,” she replied as she looked toward her son nervously. He smiled at her and walked over to hug her also. “Congratulations Mom. I’m happy for you both.” Looking down at her finger he said “wow Dad, great job with the ring. It came out really nice.”

“Thank you baby.” She choked up when he moved on to embrace his father. “Congratulations Dad.” Max also choked up, realizing that this was the first hug they had ever shared. He gave him a hard squeeze and answered “thank you Max.”

“So, sit down, start talking, I want to hear all the details,” chirped Maria. Liz filled them in on all the particulars. When she finished Maria asked, “OK, so when is the wedding?”

“Maria, we haven’t even talked about it yet, I mean, we got engaged 6 hours ago,” replied Liz.

“As soon as possible.” They all turned to look at Max, who had been sitting quietly next to Liz stroking the back of her hand with his thumb. “If that’s OK with you, of course. It’s just that I’ve waited all of my life to marry you and I don’t want to wait one minute longer than necessary.”

Liz melted at his words for the umpteenth time that day. “I don’t want to wait either Max. But,” she said frowning slightly, “it won’t be easy to put something together that fast. I don’t know where we could find a place around here that won’t be booked up. And I really don’t want to get married by a judge or the mayor, if you don’t mind. I want it to be special.”

Max kissed her cheek and said, “I want it to be whatever you want it to be.”

Maria nodded her head. “You’re right Liz. I don’t know where you’ll find a decent place that’s not booked for at least six months. I don’t have any ideas, either.”

Their son cleared his throat and they all turned to look at him.

“I have an idea.”

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:12:51 PM
CHAPTER 25

“There it is! We’re here!” Liz was bouncing out of her seat as she pointed to the sign that read “Welcome to Yosemite National Park, Big Oak Flat Entrance.”

Liz had been ecstatic at her son’s suggestion that they marry in Yosemite. They had vacationed there twice and it was hands down their favorite place on earth. When she described the overwhelming natural beauty of the park to Max he eagerly agreed to hold their wedding there. They left a few days after their son’s graduation and brought Maria and Alex along with them. Max had insisted on paying for a vacation for them as a thank you for, as he termed it, ‘a lifetime of being there for Liz and our son’. Yosemite was four hours east of San Francisco, so they rented a separate SUV for them so that after the wedding Maria & Alex could take their son and spend some time in that beautiful city. Liz and Max were going to stay in Yosemite and then travel on to Lake Tahoe, another favorite place of Liz’s. Jim, Amy, and Kyle Valenti had also been invited but were not able to make it, so it was just the five of them making their way to the park.

“Please pull over Max, I want to take a picture of everybody next to the welcome sign.”

“And so it begins,” her son intoned from the back seat.

Max looked at his son in the rear view mirror. “What begins Max?”

“I might as well warn you now Dad; Mom likes to take pictures. Lots and lots and lots of them.”

Liz hopped out of the truck and waived at Alex to park behind them. “Here smart boy, if you don’t want your picture taken then take one of the four of us.” She handed the camera to her son and led the others over to the sign. “Make sure you get it all in Max. And make sure it’s in focus. Don’t get your thumb in the viewfinder…”

“Mom! I can take a picture. Everybody smile,” he called out. After snapping the shot Liz ran over to him. “OK go over there so I can get one with you in it.”

“I knew it,” he mumbled as he walked over to the other three who were laughing at him. “Wait- Mom- why don’t you ask those people if they would get one of all of us,” he said pointing at the couple who were exiting the car parked next to theirs.

Liz turned and the couple readily agreed. Running over to get in the shot she said “good idea Max.”

“Yeah well I just thought it would be faster than having each one of us take a shot so you’d have all the different combinations of people. We could be here for a week.”

“Very funny. Smile or I’ll make them take a whole roll.” They finished posing and moved back to their cars. “OK guys,” said Liz, “ we’re about an hour from Yosemite Valley, but we’ll stop at the scenic overlooks along the way so it will take longer. If you need to use the facilities now is the time to do it.” They finally got underway again and all enjoyed the beautiful ride. As they neared the Valley floor Liz directed Max to Inspiration Point. Climbing out of their cars Max, Alex, and Maria were dumbstruck at the view. Liz and her son smiled as they watched the others stand in awe of what lay out before them. A picture postcard view of Yosemite Valley’s landmarks- El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half-Dome, all framed by brilliant blue sky and lush green forest. Maria turned to Liz and Max Jr. “Now I know why you two always wanted to come back here.”

“Aunt Maria, this is just the beginning. It only gets better from here.”

They continued on their journey, stopping along the banks of the beautiful Merced River for more pictures. They all had a good laugh at Maria when she insisted on sticking her feet in only to have the bitterly cold water turn her toes blue. “Aunt Maria, it’s melted snow from the mountains. That water is barely above the freezing point.”

“Thanks for the science lesson Junior; now do your Aunt a favor and warm up my feet.” Max placed his hands on her feet for a moment until they returned to a normal color. “Thank you. Now help me climb back up the embankment; I don’t want to break my neck before I see your mother finally get married.”

“Then I suggest we head to the hotel before you decide to shoot some rapids,” teased Liz.

They pulled up to the front of the hotel and Max let out a low whistle. “Great choice guys,” he said to Liz and their son. They were staying at the luxurious, world-renown Ahwahnee Hotel, built in the 1920’s and designed of granite and materials made to replicate redwood. It was meant to blend in with the natural beauty that surrounded it, and contrary to most man-made structures it was able to do just that.

“I can’t wait to see inside; Max and I stayed at Yosemite Lodge both times we were here,” said Liz as they retrieved their luggage from the vehicle. The five of them made their way inside and Max and Alex went to the reception desk to check them in. Max arranged for Liz to take the bridal suite while he shared a room with their son; he wasn’t thrilled about not staying with Liz but as she had pointed out it was only for a few nights and this would give he and their son some alone time together. Liz went with them to see their two rooms and then they all went to find the bridal suite, which was on the top floor of the hotel.

“Wow, Liz, there’s plenty of room for all of us in here,” teased Alex. “Look at the size of that bed.”

“You have to see the tub,” Maria said as she emerged from the bathroom. “It’s an old fashion iron tub with the gold claw feet and old-time faucets; it’s gorgeous and it’s worth a fortune.”

Max and Liz went to look at it. “Hmm, looks big enough for two people,” said Max as he wagged his eyebrows at her.

“Oh what a shame I’m staying alone. I’ll been in here all by myself.” As she turned on her heel as if to leave he grabbed her arm and spun her back around to find her laughing. Just as he always managed to do he turned the tables on her by pulling her tightly against his body and leaning down to run his tongue up her neck to her ear before breathing into it. “And what will you do in here by yourself when you’re thinking of me?” Then he quickly released her and walked back to the others and left her standing there staring at the tub breathing heavily.

“Liz, come on, let’s go walk over and see the church,” called out Maria.

Liz exited the bath determined to get even with Max. Never making eye contact with him she said “good idea Maria, I’d like you all to see it. Let’s go.” They made their way out the door with Liz and Max the last to exit. Just as she was about to go through the doorway Liz stopped. “Oh, I forgot my sunglasses, let me go grab them.” She swung the door shut and before Max knew what was happening, she shoved him up against the adjacent wall and attacked him. As she plundered his mouth with her tongue she reached between his legs and massaged him through his jeans, feeling him quickly harden under her skillful hands. She ripped herself away and looked at him with a devilish grin. “The same thing you want to do right now Max,” she said, answering his earlier question. She grabbed her sunglasses out of her purse and opened the door. “OK I’m ready. But I think Max has to use the bathroom.”

Max remained against the wall staring at the door she had just breezed through trying to collect himself. Finally taking a deep breath he reached for the doorknob. “This is going to be a long couple of days,” he thought to himself.

They all walked across the meadow to see the church where Max & Liz were going to be married. Built in 1879 it was the only remaining structure from the Old Village, and it was the quintessential old-fashioned chapel that Liz had always dreamed of for her wedding. “Liz, it’s adorable,” said Maria as they walked inside the small quaint building.

Liz looked nervously up at Max who still hadn’t said anything since they walked in. “Max, is it OK? Because if you don’t like it we could get married by one of the falls…” He interrupted her with a kiss. “I love it. This is exactly how I always pictured us getting married.” She smiled as she wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned her head on his chest. “Me too.”

Early the next morning Max and Liz met with the minister to set the arrangements for the wedding. While they were planning the ceremony the minister asked them if they wanted him to perform the standard service or if they wanted to recite their own vows. “That might be nice,” Liz said as she looked at Max. “What do you think?”

Max looked at her nervously. “I don’t know Liz. I don’t know what I’d say; I’d probably sound like an idiot, and I want this to be perfect.”

“It’s OK Max, we’ll just let the minister perform the regular service,” she replied. She was trying not to sound disappointed but she understood Max’s fear of public speaking would probably render him tongue-tied.

They decided to hold the ceremony the following evening at twilight so that upon exiting the church they could all enjoy the spectacular view of the granite walls that surrounded the valley bathed in the red glow of the sunset. They would all dine at the Ahwahnee’s five-star restaurant afterward.

Liz and her son proved great tour guides for the others as they spent the rest of the day showing them Mirror Lake, Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. They purchased some sandwiches for dinner and walked to a picnic area on the shore of the Merced River. “This place is heaven on earth,” said Maria as they finished eating. “It’s just overwhelming. I can’t even tell you what I like the best because each place is more beautiful than the last.”

“You’re right babe,” said Alex. “We have you to thank Max, it was your idea for your Mom and Dad to get married here.”

“What can I say, I’d use any excuse to come back here again. And going back to San Francisco is an added bonus, I must say. You guys are going to love it.”

“Sweetie make sure you take them to that Dim Sum restaurant in China Town that we loved,” said Liz as she leaned back against Max’s chest. “Maria you’ll love it. And also take them to Half-Moon Bay so Maria can freeze her toes off in the Pacific Ocean too.” They all laughed as Maria stuck her tongue out at Liz.

“Well if you’re all done making fun of my cold feet, I think we’d better head back. It’s getting dark and we didn’t bring flashlights.”

They walked leisurely through the meadows stopping when they spotted some mule deer feeding. “You can get pretty close to them, remember Mom?” said her son as he silently approached them. Liz was snapping pictures like crazy. She turned and looked at Max excitedly watching their son. She knew he had never encountered nature in such a close-up and personal fashion before, and she smiled as she said yet another internal prayer of thanks that the three of them were experiencing it together. She tapped him on the shoulder and said, “why don’t you go over near him and I’ll get some shots of you both with the deer.” He smiled at her and made his way over near his son who was just a few feet from the animals. As she watched their son quietly tell Max something about the deer a tear escaped down her cheek. Maria smiled, put her arm around Liz’s shoulder and kissed her temple. “It’s just, Maria I never thought that I’d see them…” Liz was too emotional to finish her sentence. “I know chica, I know,” said Maria quietly as she brushed away her own tears of happiness.

“I don’t know about all of you but I’m whooped,” said Alex as they finally arrived back at the hotel. “Oh me too honey,” agreed Maria. “I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight.”

“Good because first thing in the morning we’re going to take the hike to Vernal Falls and it’s pretty intense, so you’re going to need your energy. Sleep well,” Liz said as she kissed them both goodnight.

“I’m going to walk your mother to her room, I’ll be down in a little bit,” Max said to his son as Liz kissed him goodnight.

They exited the elevator and made their way to her suite hand-in-hand. As the key clicked in the lock Liz gave him an innocent look and said, “thank you for escorting me home Mr. Evans,” gave him a peck on the cheek, and started to open the door.

Max placed his hand over hers on the door handle and said with a teasing smile, “that’s it? I came all this way and I don’t even get a real goodnight kiss?”

She turned and encircled his waist with her arms, and continued to look at him with wide innocent eyes. “Well, I don’t think it would be proper. We’re not married yet.”

Max framed her face with his hands as he lost himself in her eyes. “Yeah, it wouldn’t be proper,” he mumbled as he lowered his lips onto hers. They shared a long, sweet kiss, and when he pulled away he leaned his forehead against hers and whispered in awe “by this time tomorrow night we’ll be married!”

“I can’t believe it Max. This all seems like a dream. A beautiful, romantic dream.”

“Well if someone wakes me up I’m going to be really pissed,” he said before kissing her again.

After several more kisses they parted ways. When the door closed each one leaned against it, giddy with love and joy at the thought of their long dreamed of wedding.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:14:34 PM
CHAPTER 26

“Careful Aunt Maria!” Max reached out to steady her as they climbed the steep rock steps up to view Vernal Fall up close.

“I swear I think your mother doesn’t want me to see her get married,” panted out Maria. “Guys, could we take another rest?”

“We’re almost there Maria; trust me, the view is more than worth the effort,” said Liz as she sat down next to her friend.

“I thought the view from the bridge back there was great. And are you sure we have enough time to do this? You’re going to need a few hours to get ready you know.”

“Which is why we left early. We’ll have plenty of time as long as you don’t keep stopping every 15 minutes. Are you ready, we’re almost there, I swear.”

“Sadist,” Maria mumbled as she rose.

A short time later they stood looking out as the falls pounded down onto the rocks below. “Well?” Liz asked Maria.

“Worth every painful step Liz.”

“And you doubted me,” teased Liz.

“No, I doubted my legs being able to hold out. But it is breathtaking.”

“Mom, do you want to take them over to Emerald Pool?”

“Sure, we have plenty of time sweetie. Just a short way down that trail is a place where the river pools before making it to the falls. I thought we could rest there a while before we make the trek back.”

They all agreed and were once again rewarded with a beautiful vista to relax near. Liz and her son were busy pointing out different things to Alex and Maria when Liz noticed Max wasn’t with them. She turned around to find him perched on a rock about 25 yards away watching them. She clasped her hands behind her back as she skipped over to him. “So do you like the view?” she asked with a wide smile as she approached.

“Always.”

“But you’ve never been here before Max,” she said, slightly confused.

“I was referring to you,” he replied, his eyes boring into her.

“Oh.” She blushed slightly as she looked away for a moment. “Really Max, do you like it? Are you glad we came here? To Yosemite, I mean.”

He reached out and pulled her into his arms. “It’s beautiful Liz, I love it. It’s just hard for me to look at other things when I’m with you.”

“Oh Max,” she sighed as her arms went around his neck. “Flattery will get you everywhere.”

“I’ll have to remember that,” he breathed out against her lips before taking them in a hungry kiss.

“Hey! This is a family park you know!”

They broke apart to see Maria walking toward them laughing. “Jeez guys, you’re going to be married in a couple of hours, can’t you control yourselves until then?”

Not letting go of each other they replied simultaneously “no.”

“Well at least you’re honest, I’ll give you that. Seriously, don’t you think we should start back Liz? You want to take a nap and to look your best for Prince Charming here, don’t you?”

“She already does.” Max hadn’t moved his eyes or arms from Liz.

“OK, first of all, gag. Second of all, she’s been dreaming of this day for 20 years Max, I really think she’d like to be showered and not be in jeans and hiking boots.”

Liz continued to smile at him as she answered Maria. “As much as I hate for her to hear me say these words, she’s right Max. I want to look really special for you.”

“You’d look special to me if you were wearing a burlap bag.”

“Max…”

“OK, ok,” he said as he finally released her and hopped off of the rock.

Back at the hotel Maria had Alex bring all of her things up to Liz’s room so they could get ready together. “What are you guys going to do for the next couple of hours?” Maria queried.

“Well Junior said something about renting bikes for a trail ride. As long as I don’t hear the words ‘rock climbing’ I’m in. OK girls, I guess I’ll see you both at the church in a few hours,” he said as he kissed them both goodbye.

“OK chica, let’s get down to business.” The two old friends tried different make-up and hairstyles out on Liz as they talked about old times. As the time passed Liz grew nervous and quiet.

A few hours later Max Jr. knocked on their door to escort them to the church. “Wow Aunt Maria, you look great,” he said as she let him in.

“Thanks handsome, you don’t look so bad yourself. How’s your father holding up?”

“I thought he’d be bouncing off the wall but he’s really calm. It’s almost scary.”

“Well your mother is the opposite of calm right now.”

At that moment a panicked “MARIA!” was heard from the bathroom. “See what I mean?” she said over her shoulder as she went to help with Liz’s latest crisis.

“Liz, it’s fine, don’t worry,” said Maria as she ushered her out of the bathroom.

“Mom.”

Max was speechless; he had never seen his mother look more elegant. She was wearing a dark-champagne colored long sleeveless silk sheath, slit on each side up to her mid-thigh. Covering it was a sheer chiffon floor length overdress with small pearl buttons down the front and tiny hand-embroidered flowers embellishing it. Her hair was pinned up in loose curls and a few tendrils framed her face, and she wore a pearl necklace and earring set he knew belonged to her mother. She looked like a queen.

“What’s wrong, you’re not saying anything. You don’t like my dress? Do I have too much make-up on? Oh god Maria I knew my hair wasn’t right…”

He walked over and took her hands in his. “Mom you look gorgeous.” He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek gently. “I’ve never seen you look more beautiful. You’re going to knock Dad off his feet.”

“Thank you sweetie. God, I never thought I’d be this nervous.”

“Everything’s going to be fine Mom. Dad and Uncle Alex are already at the church. Our ride is waiting for us downstairs. You both look fantastic. There’s nothing to worry about.”

“When did you get so smart?” Liz said as she pulled him into a hug. She looked over to Maria and said “would you give us just a minute ‘Ri?”

“I’ll go call up the elevator,” Maria said as she exited.

Liz looked up into her son’s face. “Max, I want you to know how proud I am of you. Besides being your normal wonderful self, the way you’ve accepted your father, you’ve honored your words to give him a chance and I so appreciate that. Even suggesting that we get married here, a place that was so special to the two of us- you make me so happy Max. Thank you for everything. For just being you. I love you, my beautiful little boy.” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she reached up to kiss him.

“Mom I’m not a little boy anymore.”

“You will always be my little boy. I don’t care how old you are.”

Max’s face reddened a bit and a shy smile spread over his face as he enveloped her in a hug. “Thanks Mommy. And I love you too.”

Pulling back he wiped the tears from her face. “We’d better go before Aunt Maria comes marching back down the hall. Are you ready?”

“I guess as much as I ever will be.”

Much to the surprise of all three Max had arranged for a horse-drawn carriage to carry them to the church.

“Junior give us a hand up please? Boy, your father must have read my mind. A carriage for a queen,” Maria enthused. They settled themselves in and before they knew it they were at the church. Max climbed out and turned to assist the two women. Liz placed her hand on Maria’s shoulder to stop her from exiting. “Max give us a moment please?”

He stepped away and Liz turned and held Maria’s hand.

“Well this is it,” said Maria.

“Yes it is, and I wouldn’t have made it here today without you by my side for the last 20 years ‘Ri. Thank you for being there for Max and me. I don’t kid myself that my son is the amazing person he is today due in large part to you. You’ve been with me during the best and worst times of my life. You are my dearest friend in the whole world and I am so glad you and Alex are here with us. I love you Maria.”

“I love you too Liz.” They hugged each other and when they pulled apart Maria said “OK babe, let’s go get you married.”

Liz took a deep breath and said, “OK.”

In the small office behind the church sanctuary Max sat watching Alex pace the tiny floor. “Alex, you’re making me dizzy.”

“Sorry man. Why aren’t you nervous? You’re making me nervous that you aren’t nervous.”

Max laughed at his babbling. “I’ve been waiting to do this my whole life. I can’t wait.”

The minister opened the door. “Gentlemen I think we’re ready.”

Max and Alex took their places in front of the altar in the chapel, which was decorated with multitudes of white roses and candles, another surprise from Max to Liz. The minister cued the violinist, and as the strains of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons began to sound the door at the back of the church opened and Maria made her way up the short aisle. When she reached them Max spontaneously hugged her. “Thanks Maria. I love you.”

“I love you too Max. Make her happy,” Maria said in a shaky voice. Alex joined hands with her and moved them across from Max as all three turned to watch as the door opened once again.

All air was sucked out of Max’s lungs as his eyes fell on the vision floating up the aisle on their son’s arm. She looked ethereal. Her hair was framing her beautiful face that wore an angelic smile, the shear dress softly flowed around her, her perfect, tiny hands clutched onto the arm of her son. He took it all in, thanking God for the millionth time that day for the blessing of her agreeing to be his wife.

When they reached the altar Max turned to kiss his mother and then hugged her. “Be happy Mom,” he whispered before turning to his father and embracing him also. “Be good to her Dad,” he said as he stepped to his other side.

Max stared into Liz’s eyes as he reached for her hands and kissed them both. Their eyes never left each other’s as the minister began the ceremony.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the joining of this man and this woman in the bands of holy matrimony, a sacrament endowed by God bearing witness of His love for us by blessing the love between us.” He looked at Alex, Maria and Max Jr. “Max and Liz will be reciting traditional wedding vows, but as there are just the three of you present, I’d like to offer you the opportunity to say something to them if any of you would like.”

Alex cleared his throat. “Well, I guess I’ll start. Liz, you’re like a sister to me. You introduced me to the love of my life and for that I will be eternally grateful. You and your son have been family to us, and I love you both very much. Max, I've only known you for a short time but because of the encyclopedia of information Maria has provided me with,” they all began to laugh, “I feel as if I’ve known you much longer. I know how happy you make Liz, and that’s enough for me. I wish you both all the joy in the world.”

“Thank you Alex,” Max and Liz said.

Maria smiled at her husband before she began. “Liz, what can I say to you that you don’t already know. We’ve been friends since we were 5 years old but friends just doesn’t come close to describing our relationship- you are truly my sister. You’ve kept me from going off the deep end more times then I can count. You’ve given me the opportunity to experience the joy of motherhood without the pain of birth.” They all laughed once again. “I always knew that there was only one person who you could share your life with and I am overjoyed that you found each other again. Max, I’ve known you for 20 years and outside of my husband and your son I’ve never known a better man. I’ve never doubted your feelings for Liz. I know you two are meant to be together. I’m looking forward to the four of us growing old together. I love you both very much. Be happy.”

“Thanks Maria,” they said, smiling at her.

All eyes moved to their son. “Well I guess that leaves me. Mom, you know how I feel about you. All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy, and it’s obvious to anyone who sees you two together that you’ve found that in each other. Dad, I guess I don’t need to tell you how lucky you are to have her. She’s been the most wonderful mother and I know she’ll be a great wife. As I’ve come to know you I’ve realized that you love her very much and that’s all I can ask for. I love you both, and I’m glad that we’ve become a family.”

As he spoke his last sentence Liz broke down into sobs. Max also had tears in his eyes as the three of them hugged, trying to calm Liz. He couldn’t find his voice so he connected with them both.

// I love you too son. Thank you both for letting me love you, for letting me live again. //

This just made Liz cry harder, so it took a few minutes before the ceremony could continue. Max and Liz asked Alex, Maria, and their son to read the psalm and scripture passages they had selected, and then the minister began the vows.

“Max, please repeat after me. I, Maxwell Philip Evans, take you, Elizabeth Claudia Parker, to be my wife, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, and cherish all the days of my life, so help me God.” Max intoned the vows as he gazed into Liz’s eyes, his voice choked with emotion.

“Now Liz, please repeat after me. I, Elizabeth Claudia Parker…” Liz recited the vows just as Max had to her, her voice barely above a whisper as tears continued to roll down her cheeks.

“May I please have the rings?” asked the minister. Their son handed him two plain wedding bands; Liz’s was platinum, and Max’s was gold. It was the wedding ring her mother had given her father 40 years before. Liz’s had been inscribed ‘I am my beloved’s’ and Max’s read ‘and my beloved is mine’, from the bible verses in the Song of Solomon. The minister blessed them and then held them up for all to see. “A circle has no beginning and no end- it is infinite, symbolizing God’s love for us. May your love be as perfect and infinite as these unbroken circles.”

Handing Liz’s ring to Max he said, “Max, repeat after me as you place the ring on Liz’s finger. ‘With this ring I thee wed. I pledge to you my heart and soul for all eternity.” Max was barely able to speak as he followed the instructions. Liz was next, repeating the same vows. They gripped each other’s hands as the minister continued.

“Then by the power invested in me by the State of California and ordained by God, I hereby pronounce you man and wife. May you share in the bounty of God’s love and have a long, happy life together.”

“Thank you,” they both said.

“And now Mr. Evans, you may kiss your bride.”

It was two badly shaking hands that moved to frame her face. Smiling through her tears Liz reached up and covered them with her own before they shared a sweet kiss and a fierce embrace.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Maxwell and Elizabeth Evans,” said the minister as he smiled at them all.

“Oh, you guys,” was all Maria could say through her own tears as she stepped forward to hug them.

Alex and Max Jr. hugged them both, and after thanking the minister the five made their way outside to the carriage. It took them to the Sentinel Bridge to enjoy the spectacular display of the sunset bathing the mountain walls surrounding the valley in beautiful red light. Max Jr., Alex, and Maria climbed out of the carriage to walk over to stand on the bridge to view the light effects on Half-Dome, leaving Max and Liz alone in the carriage.

Liz tucked herself under his arm as she leaned into him and rested her arm across his chest. His arm encircled her shoulder and his hand played in her hair as the other tilted her face up to look at him. His fingers gently moved over her face and down her throat as they silently lost themselves in each other, the same thought ringing out in both of their minds.

// I love you I love you I love you I love you //

Liz caressed his face a moment before saying, “kiss me Mr. Evans.”

With a brilliant smile he replied, “with pleasure Mrs. Evans,” and dipped his head down to capture her lips.

After a moment she pulled away and giggled. “I’m Mrs. Evans now!”

“Yes, you are,” he said almost reverently. “I’m so happy Liz.”

“Me too,” she murmured as she pulled him down for another kiss.

“Don’t mind me, just want to grab my camera,” Maria’s voice filtered in. “As hard as it will be to pry yourselves apart you really should come and look at this view. Half-Dome is glowing red; it’s gorgeous.” She walked back to where Alex and their son were admiring the sight.

“She’s right Max, you really should see it, it’s so beautiful.”

“We’re going to be here for three more nights, right?”

“Yes…”

“Well, I don’t think the mountain is going to go anywhere,” he said with a smirk before taking her lips again.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:15:42 PM
CHAPTER 27A

“Oh my GOD this is the most incredible cake I have ever eaten! Great choice Liz.” Maria was complimenting her on the Italian cake with cannoli cream filling that Liz had selected for their small wedding cake.

“I didn’t think they could top dinner but this cake is unreal,” agreed Max Jr. They had all enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the Ahwahnee’s award winning restaurant and were now feasting on the delicious cake.

“While my wife is enjoying her cake orgy I might as well give you guys our gift,” said Alex as he handed Liz a card.

“You didn’t have to get us anything, just you both being here was enough for us,” said Max earnestly as Liz opened the envelope. A slip of paper fell out onto the floor and Max bent to retrieve it. “It’s a page from a calendar,” he stated as he handed it to Liz.

Liz looked at it questioningly, then at Maria. “One of the Saturday’s is circled?”

“Yes. That’s the day all five of us are going to the City to see The Producers on Broadway and to Tavern on the Green for dinner.”

“I’m dying to see The Producers! But how did you get tickets, it’s sold out for almost the next two years,” Liz asked.

Maria smiled. “I used your son’s connections. Bob’s dad does the promo work for a few of the shows and that is one of them. He also got us passes to go backstage after the show to meet the actors.”

“Wow, this is great, thank you both so much,” Max said as he kissed Maria on the cheek.

“Dad you’re going to love Tavern on the Green too; it’s in Central Park and it’s really cool. And the lobster risotto is just about the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” his son told him.

“Thank you both, you really shouldn’t have gone to so much expense,” admonished Liz.

“It is our pleasure; I’m glad you like it,” said Maria.

“Well, I guess I should give you guys my gift now,” said her son.

“Max I didn’t want you to spend your money on a gift, it wasn’t necessary,” protested Liz.

“Well actually I didn’t spend any money. It kind of involves you spending money. I’ve decided where I’m going to go to college.”

Liz had been holding Max’s hand and at her son’s words her grip tightened and she unconsciously dug her nails into his palm. He winced slightly and connected with her trying to calm her.

// Liz, it’s OK, we’ll deal with it together, whatever his decision is. // He ran his free hand up and down her arm in a soothing manner as he addressed his son. “What have you decided Max?”

“Well, my choices were limited by my wanting to major in astronomy. I had narrowed it down to University of New Mexico, UC Berkeley outside of San Francisco, a school in Colorado, and Riverton.”

Maria looked over at Liz whose face was a study in anxiety. She hoped what he was about to tell them wasn’t going to ruin Liz’s perfect wedding day.

“I gave it a lot of thought. I love San Francisco so Berkeley would be cool, and I love to ski so Colorado would be great too. I ruled out UNM quickly; my last visit to New Mexico was enough to last me for a while. The only real plus for Riverton was that it is close to home. So I figured that I should base my decision on what I like, on what’s important to me. And when I did that the choice was easy.”

Liz had gone pale as he listed schools so far from their East Coast home. Her worst fear- well, one of her worst- was coming true. He wanted to leave her and go far away from her protection. Once again Max’s voice floated into her head. // It’s OK baby, it’s OK. //

“The most important thing in my life has always been the same. It’s you Mom; it’s my family. I’ve always wanted a father and now I have one, and I don’t want to leave when we’re just starting to get to know each other. So I’ve decided to go to Riverton.”

He had a broad smile on his face as he finished but it quickly turned to concern when Liz burst out sobbing. “Mom, I’m sorry, I thought you’d be happy.”

She turned and drew him into a hug as she choked out the words “I am, I am.”

“I am too Max,” said his father. “Very, very happy.”

“I told you he’d go to Riverton Liz,” said Maria. “I knew you’d choose with your heart Junior. You made the right decision.”

Liz regained her composure and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you baby. And I know you won’t regret your choice; Riverton is a great school. And I happen to know that the new astronomy professor is exceptionally good,” she added with a wink toward Max.

Later on Max and Liz walked Alex, Maria and their son back to their rooms to say goodbye. They were leaving early in the morning to head to San Francisco and Maria wanted to go to the Napa Valley first.

“Oh, I am so glad that you both were here with us. I couldn’t have gotten married without you,” Liz said as she hugged Alex.

“Yes you could have, it just wouldn’t have been as much fun,” he said as he hugged her back. “Enjoy the rest of your vacation Max,” he added as he shook his hand. “And thanks again for ours. It’s been great.”

“My pleasure Alex; and Liz is right, without you two with us it wouldn’t have seemed right. Thanks for everything.”

Maria kissed Liz and gave her an extra long hug, then grabbed Max to hug him also. “Thank you both for inviting us. Everything was beautiful.”

“Enjoy San Francisco,” Liz said as they exited. “And we’ll see you when we get back.”

They walked their son across the hall and went into his room, Liz holding his hand tightly. He sensed she was a little tense and he had an idea why, so he spoke up first. “Mom I’ll be fine with Aunt Maria and Uncle Alex. No wandering off, no hocus pocus, I promise.”

“I know, I know, but this is the third time in as many months that you’ve gone somewhere without me. I’m still not use to it.”

“We’ll check in every day. And you know Aunt Maria; no one is going to mess with her, so I think we’ll be safe. It’ll be OK Mom.”

“I know baby,” she said as she hugged him. “I guess I’m just going to have to accept the fact that you’re grown up now, huh.” She kissed both his cheeks and then held both of his hands. “Well, have a good time in San Francisco. I’ll miss you.” She kissed him again, then stepped away so he could say goodbye to his father.

“Have a great time in San Francisco Max; have fun with Maria and Alex. And thanks for everything. I love you,” said his father as he gave him a kiss and a warm hug.

“Thanks Dad, I know we will. I can’t wait to see Aunt Maria loose at Ghiardelli Chocolate.”

Liz laughed. “Oh honey, take pictures for me, please.” She stepped up and kissed him again. “I love you Max. We’ll see you at home in a week.”

“I love you guys too. Enjoy your vacation.” He walked them to the door and let out a sigh as it closed behind them. If someone had told him six months ago that he would be sending his mother and real father off on their honeymoon and would be happy about it, he would have said they were on drugs. But here he was, smiling at the thought of how happy his mom looked today and how good it made him feel inside to see that. And to say he was surprised at how easily he had taken to his father was an understatement. He genuinely liked him, but the main reason it had been easy to accept him was the way he treated his mother- like a queen, just as she deserved. He began to pack up his things, still smiling about his family, finally a completed circle, just as he’d always wanted.
-----------
DING!

The elevator doors slid open and no one stepped out. The bell sounded again for the doors to close. A muffled sound from the back corner of the elevator could be heard: “Max, the door.”

Liz had attacked him as soon as they had boarded and currently they were entwined, greedily kissing the daylights out of each other. “Max, we’re here,” she said, finally pulling away.

He turned to see the open doors and then looked back at her. “Oh.”

“I think we should get off now.” She was giggling at his dazed expression.

“OK,” he said as he gave her a goofy smile and then picked her up.

“Max! What are you doing?” She was still laughing as he made his way down the hall to their suite.

“I’m carrying you over the threshold.”

“I think they mean the threshold to the room, not the elevator,” she teased.

“Are you complaining, Mrs. Evans?”

“Not at all, Mr. Evans,” she mumbled as she began to kiss his neck.

“Now Mrs. Evans, if you keep that up we’ll never make it inside the room, and we don’t want to get asked to leave the hotel for lewd behavior in the hallway, do we?” They had reached their destination and without releasing her he opened the door with his powers and stepped inside the dark room.

“The light switch is behind you Max.”

“Don’t need it,” he replied as he snapped his fingers. The fireplace roared to life and candlelight bathed the room in a soft glow. Everywhere she looked she saw the white roses that had been in the church.

“Max, how, when…”

“I had someone from the hotel bring the flowers and candles over after the ceremony.”

“You just thought of everything, didn’t you,” she said as she stroked his cheek. “So, do you have any more surprises in store for me, my wonderful husband?”

“You never know,” he said as he slowly moved toward the bed. He set her down on it and caressed her face a moment before walking across the room and rummaging through his suitcase.

“Um, Max? What are you doing way over there?”

He located a finely wrapped package and made his way back and sat down next to her on the bed. “I wanted to give you your wedding present.”

Grinning at him, she turned and opened the drawer to the nightstand next to the bed and withdrew a package for him. “Then I guess I should give you this now.”

“Open yours first, Liz.”

She smiled at him as she tore open the paper. She opened the box and pulled out a closed picture frame. She opened it up and gasped as Max peered over her shoulder. Inside the beautiful frame were two black and white photos facing each other. The one on the left was of Max and Liz taken when they were young back in Roswell. Max was sitting on the ground with his legs stretched out in front of him, his arms wrapped around Liz’s waist as she sat on his lap. They were gazing at each other and had never noticed Maria snapping the picture. The other was taken very recently on a day that they had all gone to the beach. It was Max and his son with Liz in between them, her arms around each of them as they laughed at something. They looked so happy and natural in the photo. They looked like a family.

Liz’s eyes began to water as she ran her hands over the pictures. “Oh Max, I love it. Thank you so much.”

“Do you like the frame? Max and I made it.”

“You made it?” She was incredulous at the thought. “It’s beautiful.”

Max chuckled. “Well, he was disappointed when I went to a jeweler to pick out a setting for your ring; he wanted me to make it and teach him how also. So when I thought about giving you the pictures, I asked him if he wanted to help me design and make a frame. He was very enthusiastic, I must say. He came up with the whole design.”

“I love it, and I love you. Thank you.” She kissed him lightly and then picked up his gift and handed it to him.

He removed the wrappings and box top to find a double picture frame. “I guess great minds think alike,” joked Liz. He opened the antique silver frame and his eyes widened at the photos. On the left were Isabel, Michael, and Max at the Crashdown in a rare unguarded moment. Michael and Isabel were sitting at the counter laughing and Max was standing in-between their stools smiling down at them. A bottle of Tabasco sauce was in the middle of the counter. On the right was a picture of Liz and their son at his recent graduation. She was sitting on his lap wearing his cap and tassel, and in his hand was a key chain she had given him as a joke graduation gift. It was a small rubber bottle of Tabasco.

“Max, I realize how hard it must be for you to be without them,” she said as she laid her head on his shoulder and ran her hand over the image of the three alien teenagers. “I mean, they were your family. So I wanted you to have a picture of them and of your new family, of all the people who love you. I know you had to give up a lot to be here with us, and I want you to know how thankful I am for that Max. I love you.”

He set the frame down on the floor and turned to take her hands, tears flowing freely down his face. “Liz, I know you wanted us to recite our own vows but I, I just couldn’t, I knew I’d be to emotional, and I didn’t want to screw it up. But I want to tell you now what I would have said.” Her eyes grew large and shiny as she nodded her head slightly, urging him to continue. “You think that I gave up a lot to be here with you, and with Max, but that’s not true Liz. Yes, I will miss Isabel and her family very much. I lost Michael a few years ago; no matter where I am I will always feel that pain. They will always have a very special place in my heart. But Liz, without you I’m just a wind-up robot, surviving life instead of living it. You are my heart Liz; you are what makes me alive. To think that you waited for me for all those years, FOR ME, I still can’t believe it. And that you had my son,” his voice broke completely at the mention of Max Jr. and it took a moment for him to calm down. “That you had my son, and raised him to be such an incredible person, I could never thank you enough for that precious gift. What I gave up to be here was 18 years of abject loneliness and heartache. What I gained was everything. I gained you.”

Her head was bent, staring down at their joined hands as she listened to his profession of love. He released her hands and cupped her face, gently tilting it up so he could look at her. His thumbs slowly swept over her cheeks as he continued. “Elizabeth Claudia Parker Evans, I love you with all my heart and soul. I promise to spend each day of the rest of our lives together trying to make you as happy as you’ve made me.” Her tears finally fell from her eyes as his voice dropped to a whisper, choked with emotion. “I could never put into words how much I love you, Liz. Please let me show you.”

With that he tugged her face closer and lowered his lips onto hers, barely brushing across them to get a subtle taste of her. He began kissing her oh so slowly and gently as he lifted her onto his lap, then ran both hands up her body to her hair where he played with the loose tendrils. She brought her arms up around his neck and ran one hand up into his hair to urge him to deepen the kiss, but he kept lazily sucking on her lips, holding off until he finally could open his vault of emotions and show her everything contained within.

The tidal wave of love, desire, and admiration unleashed was so tremendous she felt as though she’d been physically hit and she pulled slightly away as she gasped. Max wanted, needed, her to see all, so he immediately rejoined them, this time taking her mouth more forcefully as they both shared in the visions dancing all around them.

Max spotting her as she played when he climbed off the school bus the first day of third grade. His childhood fascination with her turning into a crush as he matured. Him going out of his way in high school to glimpse her in the hallways; studying her when she was absorbed in one of their lab projects; fantasies of him asking her on a date and her accepting. The dance he did around his room after returning home from their first kiss; the awe and love he felt the first time they made love. His total devastation at being separated from her and the years of loneliness that haunted him afterward. The surge of electricity he felt when he saw her again for the first time at the University and his happiness at finding out they had a son. The overwhelming joy she gave him when she said she would marry him and the sense of total peace and completion when she said ‘I do’ at their wedding ceremony. Throughout all of the scenes she felt his deep love and gratitude for her acceptance and love.

As the visions faded she ended their kisses and leaned her forehead against his, trying to catch her breath and absorb all she had just experienced. After a moment she lifted her head and looked at him with so much love he couldn’t breathe.

“Max, I want you to see, too,” she whispered as she leaned in and began to kiss him again.

Their connection reversed and he saw her heart open to him. At first the same basic image played out several times over. It was Maria telling Liz that Max was staring at her, all at different times over the years. With each one he felt her disbelief that someone so perfect and gorgeous could even be registering that she, plain ol’ Liz Parker, science geek, was alive. He felt her confusion after he had healed her, not understanding what had happened to her but comprehending that on some level she had been changed. He felt her mix of disbelief and happiness after he had connected with her the first time and revealed his true feelings for her, and the tingles that ran up and down her spine when he told her she was his dream girl. He was awed at her complete love and trust the first time they made love, and a pain shot through him at the desolate feelings of loss she experienced when he left her. The joy she had at the birth of her son was tinged by her sorrow that he and her parents were not there to greet him as he entered the world. When she realized he had returned she was so immensely happy, and he felt her amazement that he would still want her. Her giddiness at his proposal thrilled him, a feeling surpassed only by the realization that she experienced the same sense of total peace and completion that he had when he said ‘I do’ at their wedding. Throughout all the visions a torrent of love streamed forth from her, and he held her tightly not to be swept away.

Their kisses ended and they gazed at each other in silence, both overwhelmed by the emotions that had just coursed through them. Gentle caresses soon began; fingers lightly skimmed over cheeks, throats, and lips as unspoken thoughts of love continued between them.

posted on 22-Jan-2002 6:23:07 PM
CHAPTER 27B

The hand Max had wrapped around Liz’s waist that held her on his lap began to run up and down her side as the other began to work to open the tiny buttons on the chiffon overdress. She stilled his hand and softly said “allow me.” She slowly ran a hand down the front of her dress and one by one the buttons popped open. She returned her hand to his face. “I’ve been practicing.”

“So you have,” he said as he turned his face so his lips were touching her palm. He placed a gentle kiss on it, then moved to lovingly kiss each finger. Her hand lingered over his lips and she traced them slowly, her eyes following the path of her fingers. She leaned in and he awaited the feeling of her lips on his, only to be pleasantly surprised to feel her tongue instead, slowly retracing the path her fingers had taken. He parted his mouth and she slipped her tongue inside as she began to gently kiss his lips, taking her time to fully enjoy the taste of him.

Max did not remain idle as she slowly made love to his mouth. He raised his hands and removed the pins in her hair, glorying in the feel of it tumbling down around them as they were still connected at the mouth. One hand moved up to slide through her silk tresses as the other found the slit in her dress. He ran his fingertips from the top of the slit on her thigh to below her knee and then slowly back up, over and over. Liz began to squirm slightly at the feeling of his caresses, and as he increased his tempo she deepened her kisses. When she involuntarily raised her knee his hand slid up the underside of her thigh and then out again. She broke away from his lips and reached for his hand; after placing a kiss on the back of it she removed herself from his lap and reached for his hands to pull him into a standing position. She led him directly across the room, stopping behind a chair positioned in front of the crackling fire.

“I think we have too many clothes on,” she whispered as she smiled up at him. He allowed her to take control as he felt her hands on his abs and then gliding up over his chest and outward to his shoulders. She pushed his suit jacket slightly off and then walked around to stand behind him and removed it completely. After neatly laying it over the back of the chair she ran her hands over his back before moving around to his front. “Did I tell you how good you look in this sweater?” she said, her eyes following the path of her hands as they slid over the soft material that covered his body.

He chuckled slightly. “I should hope so, you bought it for me.” It was a fine gauge knit black silk Armani and it fit his beautiful body like a glove.

“Well, what can I say, I have great taste in clothes…and in men,” she breathed out before her arms wound around his neck and she pressed her body into his as she kissed him again.

He ran his hands up over her arms and dislodged them causing them to separate. “I believe you said WE had too many clothes on,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. He carefully removed the shear dress and following her lead placed it neatly over the chair, then he reached out and firmly pulled her flush against his body. “God Liz, you look so gorgeous,” he growled before diving in and taking her lips in a hungry kiss. He lifted his mouth from hers and moved down her jaw line to her ear. “So impossibly gorgeous,” he said as his tongue began to travel down her neck to the junction of her shoulder, and not being able to help himself, he bit into it and then laved the mark with his tongue.

Liz’s breathing quickened at his actions and she pulled him away from his attentions. “Still too many clothes.” This time it came out choked as she tried to keep from sinking under his spell too quickly. She tugged the sweater out of his pants and pushed it up his body, then with his assistance pulled it over his head. It dropped onto the floor in a heap and he laughed again. “You’re getting messy now.”

“Chair’s too far away,” she answered as her hands returned to his body to caress his chest. Her lips followed to taste the silken skin, taut over the iron of his muscles. After thoroughly covering his front she moved around to his back and repeated her kissing, nipping and licking of every inch of skin until she heard his breath beginning to shorten. As she moved back around to his front he grabbed her and pulled her up for another demanding kiss. She reached between them and loosened his belt; then before he knew what had happened she had undone his zipper and his pants fell down to his ankles, startling him slightly and causing him to break the kiss. She kneeled down and nudged him to step out of the pants, then moved them to the side before she removed his footwear. As she slowly stood she trailed her hands up his legs, over the silk of his boxers, and up his torso. “Much better,” she said as her hands once again reached around his neck.

He arrested their movement and returned her arms to her sides. “I do believe that you are still over dressed, Mrs. Evans.” He followed her motions, kneeling down and running his hands lightly up her legs under the silk material of the sheath. He rose slowly, his hands dragging up her body pulling the dress up until he gingerly brought it over her head. He carefully straightened out the material and laid it over the chair with the rest of the clothing. He turned back to her to find her beaming at him.

“Thank you Max.”

“I know better than to leave your wedding dress in a pile on the floor,” he teased. He raked his eyes down her body as he registered what she was now wearing. A creamy beige lace teddy cut high on her hips left little to his imagination, and her legs were encased in thigh-high stockings the same color. She stood in her high heels, hair tussled from his handiwork, eyes dark with desire, and he felt every muscle in his body tighten.

“Liz…” It was all he could croak out as he once again took her in his arms and sought out her mouth. Their kisses were voracious as Liz began to rub her body insistently against him. He ripped himself away from her lips, picked her up, and quickly carried her over to the bed. The covers were moved with a waive of his hand and she kicked off her shoes as he gently placed her down and followed her onto the sheets, then began kissing her like a drowning man dying of thirst. Liz’s mind was swimming at the intensity of his kisses yet she couldn’t get enough of him.

// I’ll never be able to get enough of you, Liz. //

His heated voice in her mind answered her desire and she moaned softly into his mouth. Her hands began wandering over his back in a downward motion, and when she dipped them under the waistband of his boxers he froze.

“No, Liz,” he panted out as he moved her hands to the sides of her body. He sensed her confusion and leaned over to quickly kiss her, then pulled back and gave her a look that made her feel like she was going to spontaneously combust. “I want tonight to be all about you.”

Her soft gasp was muffled as his lips came down on hers again, gently this time as he tried to slow them down, wanting to take his time in savoring every part of her.

He began by sweeping his lips down her throat, pausing to dip his tongue in the hollow at the base before placing kisses across her chest. One hand skimmed down the outside of her torso, then traveled back up over her stomach to cup a breast as his mouth found it at the same time. He placed soft kisses over the top before snaking out his tongue to find her lace-covered nipple; as he brought it to a hard peak she pushed a hand into his hair and sighed. Moving to the side he left his hand to fondle her and dragged his mouth over to her other breast and began to wet the material with his ministrations.

“Max…” The soft sigh of his name escaped her lips as he moved his attentions down the center of her torso. She tensed as she readied herself for his touch, but he purposefully avoided her sensitive area and moved his mouth across her hips to the edge of the teddy where he slipped his tongue under the lacy edge. The feel of the rough lace and her satin skin combined undid him another notch. He couldn’t help himself as he branded her hip and possessively thought // you’re mine…you’ll always be mine…no one else can touch you this way…no one else can hear your moans…my Queen…//

Liz realized the irony of her feelings at the moment. She considered herself fiercely independent and self-sufficient; she had had to be; yet her answer to his thoughts turned her on in a way she would never have imagined possible. // Yes Max…I’m yours…whatever you want…forever yours…//

He groaned loudly at her response and began kissing his way down to the top of her stocking. Sitting back on his knees, he hooked his thumbs under the band at the top and slowly began to remove it as he extended his free fingers out and allowed them to lightly drag down her leg. He pulled the nylon off her leg and tossed it on the floor, then picked up her other foot and started kissing his way up that leg to the top of the stocking. He removed it in the same fashion and then moved over her again. Her hands sprang up and speared into his hair as she received his delicious kisses, and they remained there as his lips began to once again travel down her silken throat to find the edge of the teddy.

“Liz,” he groaned out as his hands began to slowly pull the straps down her arms and her breast became exposed. He left the garment bunched at her waist as his hands gently surrounded and massaged one breast; then not being able to wait any longer he dropped his mouth over the soft pink nipple and sucked hard. Her eyes clamped shut and her back arched as he began to tongue her quickly. When she felt his hand move down between her legs and apply pressure she couldn’t contain her moans.

“Max…”

He held his hand motionless as she instinctively moved her hips slowly up and down while she continued to softly moan out his name. He licked his way over to her other breast and then danced around the nipple before taking it in his teeth and tugging gently.

“Max…” This time it was said in frustration as he removed his hand from her heat. He brought his head up and kissed her long and deep, and when he pulled away she was dizzy from once again receiving his feelings of love and desire. He lifted up and taking the teddy in his hands he pulled it completely off of her body. Starting at her toes his eyes glided up her body slowly until they came to her lips, which were slightly parted as she panted for air. He bent down and began to trace them with his tongue as he moved himself over her. She reached up and tried to pull him down on top of her but he resisted, and as he took her lips in a sensuous kiss he heard once again the sound of his name uttered in frustration in his mind.

“All in due time, my love,” he breathed out as his mouth began another slow torturous decent down her body. As his lips neared her center she tensed in anticipation, and when she finally felt his intimate kisses she gripped the sheets to keep from vaulting off of the bed. He took his time, tasting her thoroughly, delighting in the motion of her hips and the sounds of pleasure she made. When he finally began lapping at her clit she went wild, twisting her body and uncontrollably moaning his name. The room could have burst into flames at that moment but he wouldn’t have noticed- he knew nothing else but her pleasure as he plowed his tongue into her, driving her to her release. Suddenly she bent her knees, drew her legs up and twisted the sheets as her body arched off the bed and she cried out his name over and over as she came with a vengeance.

She continued to purr out in pleasure as the convulsions shook her for several minutes. She hadn’t even realized that Max had moved up over her again until the weight of his body pressed her into the mattress. She felt his soft lips gently caress her earlobe, neck, move up her jaw, until he finally found her mouth and began planting soft kisses around it. The force of her orgasm left her unable to move any part of her body other than her mouth, so they lay together trading gentle kisses until she regained the ability to lift her shaking arms and embrace him. As she shifted her body slightly she felt his erection sheathed in the silk of his boxers, and she slid her hands down and under the waistband.

“What are these still doing on?” she asked in a deep, husky voice as she tried to push them off of his body. He quickly finished removing them and returned to her mouth, kissing her deeply. Once again feeling his hardness against her body she reached between them and surrounded him with her hand. They moaned into each other’s mouth as she began stroking him in synchronization with the movements of their tongues, each one experiencing the intense desire of the other through their connection.

They parted for air and in a desperate voice she moaned, “Max, please, I need you.”

Being devoid of any further control, he immediately moved his hands to the back of each knee and pulled her legs up and apart as he swiftly and forcefully entered her, both of them crying out in relief. He managed to hold himself still for a moment until her heavily lidded eyes found his and he ground out “I’ll always need you, Liz.”

“Uuuhhh, Max,” was her reply as he began to move inside of her. Wanting to prolong the euphoria for as long as possible he would slowly pull out, then plunge into her fully and pause a few seconds as he registered her responses. She was quickly out of control again, thrusting her hips and leaving her mark on whatever piece of his skin she could reach.

“Mmmaaaxxx…oh please…more…I want more…”

With a loud moan he abandoned all thoughts of taking her slowly and gently and began thrusting into her deep, fast, and hard. Her hands gripped his backside as she tried to push him into her farther while she moaned out her approval.

“Yes Max…yes…oh god, yes, yes…”

Her loud encouragement and the feeling of her warm moistness gloving him as he pumped into her was driving him into a frenzy. He snaked one arm across her back to grip her shoulder and wrapped the other around her waist as he ground into her body, wanting to fill her in every way possible. He felt her spiraling out of control so he moved his mouth next to her ear and gave her a breathless command.

“Cum for me my Liz. I want to watch you cum because of what I’m doing to you.”

With another slam into her body she exploded, screaming his name as she clamped down on him, her body releasing its hot liquid as he rapidly drove into her completely unrestrained. The feeling of her walls forcefully engulfing him when they contracted as he pistoned in and out, making her continue to cum, was mind blowing. Suddenly through the sexual fog in his mind her heard her voice, shaking with passion.

// Join me, my Max. //

With a loud cry of her name his orgasm ripped through him. Their bodies still moved together, unable to release themselves from the ecstatic rhythm that had given them so much joy and pleasure. When their motions finally ceased he collapsed on top of her, both of them gasping for air.

As he floated back into reality he jerked his head up to look at her when he registered the degree to which he’d lost control. Her head had rolled to one side and one hand was shoved into her hair. Her eyes were closed and soft whimpers escaped her parted lips as fading tremors continued to pulse through her body. Guilt pierced him as he took her face in his hands, caressing it until he saw her eyelids begin to flutter open.

In a tender voice he asked, “Liz are you OK? I’m so sorry, I wanted to be slow, I didn’t want…”

With Herculean strength she lifted an arm and brought a finger to his lips to stop him. In a low voice, sated with pleasure she answered him. “I wanted, Max. And it was amazing.”

A half-smile graced his lips but his eyes still showed concern. “Are you sure? God, I didn’t hurt you, did I?” He began moving one hand down her body to check for himself, but she intercepted it and brought it up to her lips. She placed a kiss on it before nestling it over her heart. “Never doubt how well you love me Max.” Then her eyes suddenly grew large and their vulnerable look was translated to her voice. “I love you.”

Gathering her into his arms he began to plant warm, wet kisses over any section of skin not covered by his body. His rich, loving voice rang out in her heart immediately.

// You own my heart, Liz. I will love you forever- and then some. //

“Me too, Max,” she sighed as she curled into his warm body and they both drifted off to sleep, filled with dreams of their future together as man and wife.
=====

Liz stepped out of the bathroom and quietly made her way back to the bed. Standing by the side she gazed at the sleeping form of her husband, his features just visible in the early light of dawn.

A giddy smile spread over her face and she put her head in her hands as she shook it back and forth. ‘No, you’re not dreaming Liz,’ she thought. ‘You really did marry the love of your life yesterday!’

Thoughts of their perfect wedding day filled her mind. How beautiful he had made everything, the happiness they’d shared with those they loved most, the joy she had felt when he said ‘I do’.

Thoughts of their incredible wedding night soon followed and she felt herself flush as she recalled his magical lovemaking. He fulfilled her every desire and did it all so selflessly, with so much tenderness, passion, and thoroughness, it was making her body hum at the memory.

Max’s eyes flew open when he awoke and realized that Liz wasn’t next to him in bed. He relaxed when he saw her standing there watching him intently. “Good morning, my beautiful wife. What are you doing way over there all by yourself?” he said in deep, sleepy voice as he reached out for her to rejoin him under the covers.

“I was just thinking about fire,” she said as she continued to look at him.

“Fire? Are you cold? I’ll start another one, baby,” he said as he sat halfway up and extended his arm, intending to re-ignite the fireplace.

She grabbed his arm and pushed him back down on the bed and climbed on top of him. “That’s not the fire I was referring to,” she said seductively before capturing his lips in a hot good morning kiss.

His arms surrounded her and he began tracing patterns down her back as she moved her lips down his strong jaw line toward his ear. When she felt his hands moving in toward her center, she reached down and pulled them off her body and moved them over his head.

“If last night was about me, then this morning is about you.”

It was his turn to gasp as she set about kissing him senseless. She rubbed her body on his, knowing how the feel of their nipples brushing against the other’s turned him on, and smiled into his mouth as she heard his answering moan.

“I want every inch of you to know how much I love you, my perfect husband,” she breathed out as her mouth began to sample the taste of his golden skin and her mind sent him her thoughts on how to pleasure him.

“Oh Liz…” Max’s head was swimming at the lustful scenarios she was throwing at him and his body was rapidly responding to her sensual movements. He registered her tongue on his neck, his chest, and licking at his nipples. He felt her velvet lips slowly move down his tight stomach as the sensation of her hair trailing over his chest sent him flying.

He was in heaven, pure and simple. He knew that no matter how long they were together, the awe he felt at her wanting, needing him would not abate. That she desired his touches, his kisses, in the most intimate way as much as he did would never cease to amaze him, or as the case was at the moment, make his blood boil and his body hard.

“Ha-uh” was the sound that escaped him as he exhaled and inhaled quickly at the feel of her sleek hair being slowly dragged over his genitals as she settled herself between his legs. She tossed back her head and looked up at him. Pleased at his reaction, she licked her lips and gave him a sultry smile as she began to flutter the tips of her fingers up and down his arousal.

“I want to make you feel as good as you made me feel, Max.”

He groaned as he watched her head descend and his body tensed as he readied for her assault. Another groan slipped out and his eyes rolled shut as her lips touched his tip. She snaked out her tongue and ran it around the rim before taking him into her mouth. Both hands encircled the base and she began stroking him as she worked her mouth up and down his hard shaft, delighting in his moans. The faster she moved the more he squirmed, and when she sensed his release nearing she reached down to his sensitive sac. He immediately reared up and pulled at her bent head, crying out “Liz, no, please…I don’t want…with you Liz…please…”

Liz stopped her movements and raised her head to look at him. His face was contorted in ecstasy as his chest rapidly rose and fell with the effort to breathe.
It was rare for him to allow her to bring him to completion in this manner. Liz sensed it had something to do with the fact that for so many years he had to maintain tight control over every aspect of his and so many other people’s lives,
that to be made so out of control, so very vulnerable, made him uncomfortable.

She gently crawled up his body and took his face in her hands, caressing it as she placed sweet kisses across his face. “Max,” she whispered, “look at me baby.”

He struggled to open his eyes and after seeing her clamped them shut again. “Oh god, Liz…”

She placed a soft kiss on his lips before moving back down to his throbbing member. Taking it gingerly in her hands she began placing soft kisses at the base and moved up while she spoke to him.

“My husband..(kiss)..my love..(kiss)..I trust you..(kiss)..I adore you..(kiss)..”

When she once again reached the top she paused before she opened her throat and took him in in a smooth, fluid motion. Her warm voice immediately filled his mind.

// Please Max, let go baby. Cum for me. Just for me Max. I love you so much. //

Finally giving himself up to her his hips thrust upward, and with a loud cry he exploded. He softly called her name over and over as he released while she lovingly ran her hands over his hips to soothe him.

When he finished she withdrew and moved to lay on her side facing him, nestling her head next to his and stretching her arm across his chest. She caressed his upper body and gently kissed his face as he panted for air. When he had calmed enough he turned on his side and gazed at her with so much love and devotion she thought she would cry. She leaned in and they shared a long tender kiss. It ended silently and he curled into her body, tucking his head under her chin as she cradled him in her arms, lulling him to sleep with sweet words of her love.

Hours later Liz awoke and stretched out like a cat. As her arm came up over her head her fist connected with something hard.

“Ow.”

She opened her eyes to find Max grinning at her while rubbing at his chin. “That’s the second time you’ve hit me there, you know,” he teased, reminding her of the night she had punched him when he revealed his identity to her. “I’m starting to get paranoid.”

“Ooohhh, my poor baby, let me kiss it and make it better,” she purred as her lips made contact with the spot. “Feel better?”

“A little,” he whined. “Maybe you should do that some more.”

“You mean this?” She grabbed his face and gave him a scorching kiss, then pulled away and looked at him with a silly grin. “Feel better now?”

“Yeah,” he replied, his voice thickening with desire. “But now I hurt somewhere else, too.” He rejoined their lips and she felt his hardness as she moved to get closer to him.

She began giggling as his lips and tongue painted her throat. “What?” he asked, not ceasing his actions.

“You’re going to wear me out on this honeymoon, aren’t you Mr. Evans.”

His arms surrounded her as he moved completely on top of her, melding their bodies together from lips to toes. Finally disengaging his mouth, his eyes burned into hers as a devilish grin played over his face. “Oh, I’m gonna try Mrs. Evans.”

Then he set about thoroughly demonstrating how he intended to do just that.

Later on they lay in each other’s arms running their hands lightly over their still joined bodies, trading soft words of love and fond kisses. Suddenly Max’s eyes grew wide and he said “oh no.”

Liz raised herself up from his chest and said, “what baby, what’s wrong?”

“I forgot something last night.”

She giggled girlishly before kissing him. “Believe me, Max, you didn’t forget anything last night.”

He gave her a wide grin and then flipped them over and kissed her soundly before pulling out of her. He jumped out of bed and pattered over to his suitcase and began to route around, sending his clothing all over the floor. Liz sat up, holding the sheet to cover her body and asked, “Max? What are you doing now?”

After a moment he pulled out a CD, held it up and said “ta da!” and made his way back over to the bed. He removed it from the case and set it down on the nightstand, then turned and picked her up, still wrapped in the sheet.

“Max, what are you doing?” she said again, laughing now as he began to spin her around in his arms.

He set her down on the floor and kept one arm wrapped around her waist and raised the other toward the CD. It began to spin and soon the beautiful melody of “In Your Eyes” filled the room.

He brought his free arm up to caress her face and began to sway their bodies to the melody. “I didn’t get to dance with my bride,” he whispered.

“Oh, Max,” she said in a quivering voice. She smiled as she realized what song he had chosen. “This is my favorite song.”

“I know, Max told me.”

“You just thought of everything, didn’t you?”

“I just wanted things to be perfect for my angel,” he answered as he gazed at her adoringly.

“Oh, Max,” she breathed out again as she lay her head on his chest and they danced together, the bed sheet swirling around them like the cloud of love that would envelope them for the rest of their lives.

THE END

IN YOUR EYES
words & music by Peter Gabriel

love I get so lost sometimes
days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
when I want to run away
I drive off in my car
but whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

all my instincts, they return
and the grand facade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

in your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
the heat I see in your eyes

love, I don’t like to see so much pain
so much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

and all my instincts, they return
and the grand façade, so soon will burn
without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

in your eyes
the light the heat
in your eyes
I am complete
in your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
in your eyes
the resolution of all the fruitless searches
in your eyes
I see the light and the heat
in your eyes
oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
the heat I see in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes
in your eyes in your eyes