posted on 12-May-2002 8:34:07 PM
*big* I know I update this fic every other year*tongue*...sorry, guyz for that. Real life is really kicking my a$$ these days, with exams and all, but my muse too is giving me writer's block size of Grand Canyon.*sad* I'm always trying to find time to put something new on the paper. I have half of the chapter written, but until I have the whole one, I won't post it, so that might be 2 or 3 days more.*shy* Like that's new, right?*wink* Until then, I'll pull Michael on you...I'm reposting first 30 chapters to calm the masses until real thing is ready. *big* I hope you'll behr with me...*tongue*

On with the show...*happy*




Title : The Only One
Author: beehr4shiri (aka antarian female)
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING! L (But JB sure looks appealing…)
Category: AU, M/L (and all other CC couples)
Rating: PG (R/NC-17 parts will be labeled accordingly.)
Summary: Max and his friends are in the band, and Liz is still looking for her other half.
Spoilers: None
Author note: Guyz, feedback would be appreciated, but please, be gentle, I am easy to break, so take in the consideration that this is my 1st fanfic EVER!!! And one more thing:most of the songs I am using are owned by Lifehouse, cause their album is just SO delicious, so no suing,please!
I can just imagine Roswell men being in the band like Lifehouse, can't you?



Part 1


******************

Thoughts of young Max Evans were in the constant uprise for the last few days. Being frontman of the one of world golden bands was as exciting as anyone would expect, but few days ago something inside Max changed.

Although since he was in highschool, Max knew that he was seeing world a little differently than most of his friends. While all they ever wanted was to have heavy amounts of fun, with as much female companionship as possible, all he could dream about was a girl, who he thought was his soulmate, the one girl for him, and that was even more prominent lately.

The problem was, he could never see her face clearly, no matter how much he tried. But he knew that somewhere out there, in the world, she was living under the same sky, breathing in the same air as he did, and that was what kept him going, kept him living, until the day he would finally meet her.
Actually, he always thought that by the time he was 23, he would already met her, but it seems that gods had a different time schedule for him.

As he was roaming through the fan mail, as he did from the beginning of the band, something on one of the envelopes caught his eye. He carefully picked the blue envelope and turned it around in his hand. On the back of the letter was imprinted words SOULMATES 4EVER.

‘Oh my God…’ Max quitely said to himself, as his eyes got even wider. Suddenly, the rhytm of his heart got wilder, and it was as all his blood rushed to his brain.

‘I can’t believe this.’ Max dropped his head back on the couch, and gently opened the letter. Once he took out the pages carefully folded in the envelope, what struck him was beautiful handwriting, that was like a balm to his soul. He couldn't get rid of the feeling that he saw this same writing before, but for the life of him, he just couldn't place it anywhere in his past.

As he unfolded the pages, he started reading the letter out loud, happy that he was blissfully alone in the house at the moment.

Dear Max,

I don't know what got me to write this letter to you… Maybe it's the case of temporary insanity on my part. LOL…Maybe you're just the embodiment of everything I ever dreamed in the man, but since we never met, I might be deluding myself. I just feel like we known each other in some other life time. I don't know, maybe this letter sounds completely insane and maybe I'm on my way to the looney-bin, but the way I feel listening to you singing…I'm not sure what exactly happens to me. It's like I'm being transported in the land of YOU.
You make me feel like nothing around me exists, like it's only your voice and me that matter…the rest of the world be damned. OMG, I sound like a total lunatic, don't I? LOL…

Well maybe you're not completely wrong here. I guess, when I talk like that to my beloved sister Tess and our best friend Maria this way, they just roll their eyes affectionately and giggle silently, hugging me and telling me in their total honesty that, altough I'm complete dreamer, they love me nonetheless endlessly. They know that you just can't give up on your dreams, if you're commited to it, you know?
Hm, the thing is that after we got out of college, wher three of us shared a dorm room, we got this flat together, and now one year later, we are still sharing it.
And let me tell you : IT HAS BEEN A BLAST!!! LOL… But enough about them.

What I really meant to say is, that when I was just a little girl, my grandma Claudia said something to me that kinda stuck to me through my entire childhood, and followed me into adulthood. She was dreamer all her life, and my relationship with her even today is something that completely shaped me as a person I am now. She told me a story about soulmates…You know that myth about some god or something, that got mad at humans, and since they were man and woman in one body, he split them in half. He than scrambled them across the planet, sentencing humans to roam all their lives, looking for their other half.

Sometimes I just feel like that, I guess… I'm just living my life and all, but deep inside, I just KNOW something fundamental is missing, something that would make me complete.


“Dear God, it's like she can read my heart.” Max raggedly breathed in and turned the letter the letter to the second page, and continued reading :

And then the day of of my college graduation came, a year ago to be exact, and of course, my grandma Claudia sat with my parents, smiling, gently watching three of us on the stage, getting my diploma for molecular biology. She was so proud of me, that just seeing her so happy, made me smile wider, and thanking heavens for this wonderful woman, so I waved her way with a grin, and she just waved back and put her both thumbs up and blowed me a kiss. And let me share something with you. It's sad to say this, but although I love my parents dearly, and wouldn't exchange them for anything, having her there completely made my graduation a hit. Of course, Tess and Maria were there with me, as happy as I was for finally graduating, and they both knew just how much grandma being there on this day in our life actually meant to me.

They understood that although I loved learning, in which I excelled (for my parents, I was a perfect scholar, which meant perfect daughter, lol, my view on life was completely different theirs, and they accepted that and supported me, which my parents just couldn't understand that I was 22, and still single. I think they didn't wanna see that my goal in life wasn't to just be with a guy. I wanted that one special guy,dark and mysterious hunk out of this world, the one that would be the other half of my soul.

My grandma totally saw how I felt, and after receiving my diploma, on the reception afterwards, she pulled me aside,and she told me : “Honey bear, never stop believing for one minute that you won't meet your other half. Believe me, the moment I saw your grandpa, I just knew he was the one, the only one I could ever love, and we spent beautiful 50 years together. And although he's gone now, I don't regret a second of that life, cause I always knew it was in the stars. And you'll see…at the most unexpected moment, owner of your soul will stumble your way, and you'll know he is the only one for you.” Then she smiled gently and hugged me with all her might. And I knew that after listening to you sing, I just had to write this letter to you, regardless will you ever read it or not. Weird, I know…lol…

But writing to you, although knowing that we probably won't ever meet, is kinda freeing for me. So I wish you wonderful life and many more succeses in your career. And if you're anything like me, I wish lots of luck in finding your soulmate, if you haven't found her already. Cause isn't that what everyone looks for in his life?

Love,

Liz



Max just dropped a letter in his lap and swiped his hand over his eyes, wiping the tears away, that he didn't even noticed until now.

‘Sweet Lord, why can’t I meet someone like her? Does God hate me so much?’ he swore to himself, breathing broken breaths in, trying to get himself under control, so when his friends or his sister come home, they wouldn't see his state. Sometimes he wished that after college graduation he decided to move in alone somewhere other L.A., but nonetheless he loved sharing this big apartment with his friends and his sister.

‘Yeah, cause, Max, admit it! If they weren’t there to pull you out of some of the funks you were in, you would just listen endlessly to Counting Crows, wishing the outside world never existed’ he berated himself and grinned. And if there was ever better friends he could share his life with, then he sure had luck this time around, cause Kyle, Michael and Alex were the extension of him.

They known each other since kindergarten, and they were inseparable all through grade school, highschool and college, going through life together, without a hitch, just living day by day, and from the day one, they just knew what they wanted to do in their life – MUSIC.

Of course, their parents adviced them that finishing college was something mandatory, so as good son as Max was, he decided that they will practice with their band whenever they could, but college can't suffer. And when one day, on their 3rd year, he confronted the other three about his plans and their falling behind in their studies, they argued for exactly 2 minutes, and after that, they just agreed he was right and year later, five of them stood on their college graduation in N.Y.C., proud and happy for each other and their parents.

Max with his diploma in biology, Kyle in philosophy, since he embraced ways of Budha back in highschool, Michael in art, Alex in computers and Isabel in psychology. So Max stood in the middle of the stage with his one arm around his sister Isabel, while she was laughing madly at him, and with his other arm around his best friend Michael, who was being himself, as he was putting horns behind Max's head the moment the picture of them was taken. Of course, Kyle was beside them, jumping up and down like some deranged cheerleader, until he finally, when he saw that their picture was to be taken, jumped in Alex's arms with as much force he could muster, that the moment he did that, Alex lost his balance, knocked Isabel and Max over, which made Michael fall like the last domino, almost smashed like a bug, but with the smile on his face at the same time. So their college graduation picture even today was something funniest anyone ever saw.

Even with their arms and legs all tangled together, not knowing where everyone began or ended, their picture was tre source of constant laughter, whenever they saw it. And although to outside world, they were totally weird mashing of people, they just clicked together perfectly, and when you looked at that picture, you could see happiness.

“Sweet Jesus, I can still remember panicked look on Alex's face, when he realized he's losing balance!!!” Max laughed out loud, feeling his heart being filled with love for his sister and his friends.

“Thank God for small blessings…At least I know that they will always be by my side.”
And at that moment, his eyes fell on the letter that still sat in his lap. He fingered it and after he once more glanced through the pages, he gently put letter back in the envelope, holding it for a split second, deciding that if he could just meet this woman, his life would be complete, he could just feel it. So he put the letter in the drawer beside his bed, and dropped heavily on his bed, tired from everything going on in his life at the moment.

‘OK, 5 hours of sleep is what I need and hopefully, by the time I'm up, guys will be home, so we can be on our way to tonights practice. I just hope that all those practice hours on this new song will pay off for Kyle, cause concert on saturday has to be pure perfection.’ Max chuckled drowsily to himself and soon, he was under.
His dream, as usual, consisted of his Dreamgirl, who's face he still couldn't see clearly, but one thing he did notice. His Dreamgirl finally had a name…LIZ.

So Max is about to find out in the coming months that fate sometimes DOES work in mysterious ways.


Part 2


************

Liz was running around the house like a chicken without a head for the last 15 minutes. A during those 15 minutes, her closet was emptier by the minute, but the amount of offending articles of clothing was more and more obvious on the every free space in the living room.
Tess and Maria just came back from their respective jobs, and they were just being completely silent and every now and then they would lock glances with a small smile on their lips, while another piece of clothing came flying their way. Soon after that, Liz flew right by them, and in the feeling of total despair, she threw herself face-down on the bed beside them.

“Guys, can somebody kill me, please? Like, right now?” said Liz, full of frustration to her family. She tiredly covered her heads with pillow and asked them to just let her die in peace.

“Honey, you're not going to your wedding. It's just a concert. I don't understand why are you so obsessing yourself with this concert…” Maria said bewildered and helpless to her best friends. She knew Liz REALLY liked this band a lot, since there wasn't a day that the same ‘Phoenix Rising’ hasn't been played over and over again.
But if this was how it affected her life, maybe she should divert some of Liz's attention somewhere else.

‘OK, I wonder how those cypress oils would affect Liz….Hm, well, maybe I could set her on some blind date with some of my coworkers? Yeah, food for thought….and after fallen through date I would be the one to hear her cry broken-hearted on my shoulder.
God, bad, BAD idea, Maria!!!…Scratch that. Better forget ALTOGETHER about this idea!’
Maria argued with herself, hopping her beloved friend would find her love soon.

At the same time, Tess gently massaged her back, trying to relax her sister's despair and her recent panic attack, so she hould try and help her.

“Lizzie, try to breathe deeply, honey…Can you do that for me?” Tes coached her sister gently. Liz finally relaxed and brought her forehead on Tess's knee. Tess covered her head with a hand, while slowly massaging Liz's scalp.

“Tess, I'm YOUR older sister, not the other way around.” Liz chuckled at the way Tess was trying to make her feel better.

“Of course, dear OLDER sister by 10 minutes.” Tess just grinned at Liz, and that was the moment when the chaos in the Parker-Deluca residence issued.
While beautiful song called ‘Only One’ by ‘Phoenix Rising’ resonated through a 3-bedroom house, pieces of clothing started flying all over the living room, but this time it wasn't only Liz that sent them flying. Her sister and her friend did their best to follow her previous lead, and soon living room was flooded with all sorts of clothing articles, while laughter was heard all through their building, as three very happy people sat in the middle of the living room, covered in clothing, laughing their asses off, enjoying the moment they were in.

So after insistent Liz questioning, girls finally found out why Liz was so in panic.
“So, you say you actually asked Grandma Claudia to this concert?” Tess and Maria asked unisono. And, naturally, after a second the two looked at each other and started laughing madly and pointing at each other.

“Yeah, you know how I always listen to their CD here and when we go visit Grandma?” At that Maria and Tess just chuckled at Liz and rolled their eyes.

“You just have the hots for the certain frontman…” Tess said grinning like a Grinch at her sister.

“I do NOT!!!” said Liz unconvincingly indignantly, but still casting her eyes downward, while her cheeks turned light pink, and a dreamy smile rested on her lips. At that very moment girls glanced at Liz with disbelief.

“Lizzie, are you…are you actually blushing?” Maria smiled widely at her best friend, and pulled her in a hug, which almost immediately was completed with Tess at the other side.

“Oh, honey, you're in love with this guy, aren't you?” Maria asked Liz silently, while gently rubbing her back. Liz just locked at both of them and after 2 seconds just nodded.

“Guys, what am I going to do? I mean, I know I'll probably never even meet him, but it's just, when I hear his voice, I'm all his to take, you know? It's stronger than me, stronger than anything in this world.”

Tess leaned her forehead on Liz's back and contemplated her sister's words, knowing exactly what she means. Although she never said anything out loud to either Liz or Maria, because she didn't want to be ridiculed, she believed in soulmates too. And while she was living her life, and from time to time going on the dates, she never did find that one special guy. So she waited, hopping that one day he will come her way and sweep her of her feet.
But in love affairs, only one who didn't want to wait for that one man was Maria. She wanted to live her life fully, so she dated her highschool best friend from time to time, Brody Davis.

Their relationship wasn't something you would go tell to your parents about before hearing wedding bells, but they enjoyed their time together nonetheless. So they went dancing, he took her to dinners, they went to the movies, but although Maria never wanted to admit to herself, at the end of the day she still knew he just wasn't someone who could make her complete. So Maria diverted her entire attention toward Liz's current situation and decided to support her best friend 100 %.

“We love you very much, you know that, right?” Tess asked Liz. Liz vigorously nodded at her sister, which almost immediately brought a grin to her lips. Between Maria and Tess glance was exchanged, with a smile, and decision was brought. If the end occured, they will do their best to ensure tha Liz got the man she needed, to make her life complete.

But what they didn't know was that not a lot needs to be done, when two people fall in love, even if they never saw or had spoken to each other. And the word fate will assume a completely new meaning in the life of Maria and Tess.



Author's note : People, please take in the consideration that I have never been to L.A., so anything said here is purely my imagination, OK? OK.

Part 3

***************

TIME OF CRIME : Saturday, 10:00 AM

SCENE OF CRIME : Cassa de Evans-Valenti-Whitman-Guerin;
bedroom of Isabel Evans, Max Evans' twin sister

USUAL SUSPECTS : Max Evans, Michael Guerin, Alex Whitman, Kyle Valenti

CRIME (as Isabel so elokvently shared with the class) : “Guys, I love you dearly, but you couldn't dress if your life depended on it!”

Of course, that same sentence brought out a chorus of weird sounding exclamations of “Yes, we do!”, which was understandably followed with Isabel breaking in a laughing fit, which almost sent her to the point where she was rolling on the floor. She was laughing so hard that air was becoming an issue. So after guys were so ‘sensitively’ convinced of that fact of life, which was, lets face it, pretty hard for the four young men to admit to themselves, long process called “LETS GET AS MUCH CLOTHING AS WE CAN OUT OF THE CLOSET, SO THAT WE CAN LATER SPEND ALL ETERNITY PUTTING IT BACK IN”, and that was actually Isabel's speciality, cause she bought tons of clothes just day before for them for this concert, which was greeted with a loud groan on the guyz side, but pasted evil grin on Isabel's face. So the preparation for the night's concert of “Phoenix Rising” was on the way.

Five hours later, appartment was completely covered with clothing, but also proud smile was shinning os Isabel's face, while she watched her brother and their friends parading in the chosen clothes in front of her bedroom mirror.

“Oh, my God!” she smiled.

“I am SO good!” she exclaimed overjoyed, dancing around her room, spinning delightfully.

“Is she sane? Should we call someone?” Michael stage-whispered to Max, smiling and rolling his eyes.

“I'm not sure…” grinned Max back, shrugging.

“Why don't you ask her yourself?”

“Oh, yeah, that would be really smart….And after I would manage to live through the WRAITH OF ISAFER, I could just go live on Arctic, in a secluded monk-like fashion.” laughed Michael, watching Isabel still celebrating her accomplishment. At that Max just grinned at Michael, and commented :

“OK, she‘s not THAT bad…I mean, sure, Lucifer is in charge of Hell and torture and…OH, I saw where you're coming from!” laughed Max.

“You are completely crazy, you do know that, right? But, still, I have to admit that you do know how to dress.” said Michael, still following her with his eyes, while she put the last touches on Alex's jacket. Naturally, entire attire was blue, since Max's favorite color was dark blue, but everyone's had different T-shirts under it, coupled with black jeans. All in all, there were four extremely handsome guys in the room.

“Uh, baby, I feel SO sexy in this!!!” Alex couldn't resist cracking a joke. That was accompanied with Kyle jumping in Alex's arms, like he was his long lost bride, creating a momentum, that sent Alex right at Michael, who, logically, knocked Max over, who was sitting on the edge of Isabel's bed, watching his friends with a smile.

So, completely unexcpected once again, four friends found themselves once again in a heap on the floor, laughing to tears, while Isabel rolled her eyes, grinning.

“Damn, this is SO deja vu!!!” smiled Max at his friends, who were having serious problems to stop laughing.

“Remember our college graduation picture?” Max asked Kyle.

“My dear friend, you can't just forget fun like that. I think that Dean thought we were on drugs or something that day!!!” exclaimed Kyle, laughing from the bottom of the pile of bodies.

“The way we're going, we won't be able to walk down the street without landing in a pile on the sidewalk.” said Max with, frowning.

“Now I ask you, people, how do we manage to get ourselves in this kind of situations?”

“Well, Michael, this is pure example of physics. You see, when Kyle jumped at me, inertia was created and…” that sent Michael over the edge. After a second, he was once again laughing madly at Alex, who in return just grinned back.

“Oh, shut up, Whitman!!!”, said Isabel, smiling from her position by the window.

“Although you're my lover, I can still bring you to your knees!” At that Alex grinned Isabel's way.

“Don't I know it, lover…”

Max made a face playfully at the two of them, saying :

“Guyz, a brother here!!” exclaimed Max, pointing at himself.

“Can we have a little consideration to the fact that I REALLY don't wanna her about my sister's sex life?”

“Who was talking about sex here?” grinned Isabel at her brother, enjoying seeing him squirm. ‘Oh, the joys of having a brother!!’ chuckled Isabel to herself. Max just rolled his eyes at them in affection and started to herd the group in the hallway.

“OK, people, it's time to go! It's 6 PM now. Lets not be late this time.”

So finally, five friends packed their belongings for the concert, and were on their way to concert hall in downtown Los Angeles.



Part 4


***************

Hall was filling rapidly, when the crowd was let in, so all Liz, Tess, Maria and grandma Claudia could do once they entered was to ensure that they were at the front, by the stage.

“Oh, god, oh, god, oh, god…I can't believe we're actually at their concert!!!” At that exclamation, Maria turned towards Liz and laughed.

“Chica, you're so over the edge right now! You act like we climbed Mt. Everest here. It's just a concert, honey… ”

“No, no, no…Maria, you are SO wrong. Tonight is the night. I just feel something great will happen here. Something life changing…” Grandma Claudia pulled Liz and Maria in a hug, with a smile.

“Tessie, what do you think? You're liking the atmosphere?” Tess nodded, while widely grinning at grandma.

“Honey bear, I'm so glad you invited me to come tonight. I mean, I know that you are listening to them 24/7, so at least we can enjoy time together to each others delight. And you are right. Something's in the air tonight…” And she just left it at that.

After 5 minutes, lights in the hall started to go off, indicating to the audience that show was about to start. Soon, beginning beats of their latest hit song ‘Only one’ could be heard in the silence of the hall, like the calm before the storm.

Just a frontman's haunting voice could be heard with starting lines, still completely in the dark.

‘She's got a pretty smile
it covers up the poison that she hides,
she walks around ths circles in my head,
waiting for a chance to break me,
chance to take me down’


Stage was being gradually illuminated and finally band could be seen. Max took the mike in his left hand, while he rested his right one on microphone's stand. And while crowd started silent uproar, he looked back at his group on the stage, grinned and nodded.

At the same time, Liz was standing transfixed at the bottom of the stage, staring blindly at Max, still unable to believe she was actually here.

‘Dear Lord, can a man get any sexier???’ And as anyone could hear her thoughts , she blushed to the roots of her hair, glancing at her side, watching curiously how grandma, Maria and Tess were. She was glad that the three of them obviously enjoyed concert so far. So she went back to watching Max Evans at the stage, singing like a man posessed.

‘I guess you're the only one that nobody changes
I guess you're the only one left standing
when everything else goes down’


And as the chorus came, Max completely changed. Energeticly, he started talking to the crowd through the song. Of course, they LOVED every word he spoke…

‘you're still the only one,
you're still the only one’


Band played with a heart, following Max's every gesture with the dynamics of the song, which naturally brought about another delighted uproar from the crowd. Max waved them and laughed, continuing :

‘I was so shallow and love so appealing
now I'm up to my ankles and I'm drowning
and on the way I see sarcastic faces,
familiar places, everything looks quite the same here
it's all confusingly amusing, bitter and tainted
the picture you painted to me’


Max pointed at the audience, starting to nod his head with the beat, following rhytm of the song with his hand in the air.

‘I guess you're the only one that nobody changes
I guess you're the only one left standing
when everything else goes down
you're still the only one’


At that, band played instrumental for about 15 seconds, and Max just followed the beat, tapping the rhytm and nodding at the crowd, finally shouting :

“Ok, guys, now I need your help. Everybody join and follow my lead,OK?”

‘Just cause it's all in your head,
doesn't mean it has to be in mine
don't believe what you said,
still can't get it out of my mind

I've tried to find myself in approval,
I've already been there already done that,
it got me nowhere, it brought me nothing
but a good place to hide in, no one to confide in now’


And just when Max was about to sing last lines of the song, band started playing little slower and hushed, so Max significantly looked at the audience, and brought the song to its end, singing a capella.

‘I guess you're the only one that nobody changes,
I guess you're the only one who will never change faces,
I guess you're the only one.’


The millisecond song ended, loud applause could be heard all through the hall, followed with whistling and screaming.

“So it's safe to say that you liked this song?” laughed Max in the mike, speaking to the crowd. His words were accompanied with another outburst of approval, that reverberated through the hall.

“OK, this next song is little something for all the people, who already have that one special person in their lives, who is their EVERYTHING!” Another applause was heard from the crowd, while band started playing first notes of ‘Everything’.
As song started, lights in the hall gradually dimmed, creating an atmosphere, and soon lighters were in everyone's hands.

‘Find me here, speak to me
I want to feel you, I need to hear you
You are the light that's leading me
to the place where I find peace again’


For a just a split second, strange shadow went over Max's face, like his sadness was open to the world, but noone except Liz, who was watching Max through out every song, didn't really notice. And the moment she saw it, it was gone again. So the song went on…

‘You are the strength that keeps me walking
You are the hope that keeps me trusting,
You are the light to my soul, you are my purpose,
My everything…

And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
any better than this’


There wasn't a dry eye in the hall. It was general sob-fest. Girls were mostly in their boyfriends' arms, crying like babies, which once again brought back sadness to Max's features.

‘God, these people have no idea how happy they really are to have each other. If only I had the luck to find my other half. Oh, how I wish I had the luck to just stumble upon Liz. She knew me inside out…’ Max sighed deeply and tried to concentrate on the song.

‘You calm the storms and you give me rest,
You hold me in your hands, You won't let me fold
You still my heart when you take my breath away
Would you take me in, take me deeper now

And how can I stand here with you
and not be moved by you
Would you tell me how could it be
any better than this?

Cause you're all I want, you're all I need
You're everything.. everything
And how can I stand here with you
and not be moved by you?’


And finally the song got to the finishing line, which Max almost whispered in the mike, while keeping his head down.

‘ Would you tell me how could it be
any better than this…’


He looked up and his eyes settled on a small, beautiful brinette, immediately in front of the stage. She was looking right back at him, transfixed, and a shy smile suddenly appeared at her lips. Max couldn's not send a smile back her way, and it was as if he knew that this woman was someone special. He could feel deep inside…it was as his instincts were completely tuned into her energy. But the moment soon ended between the two. For the rest of the concert, Liz was on a cloud nine, not really seeing the concert,but living through every second of it all the sam, as if she was one soul with Max.

One and half hour, 20 songs and 10 repeats later, concert was brought to the end, to the loud disapproval of the audience, who although had a blast, and managed to get a reprise of the half of the songs from the band's first album, still tried to get them to play till the early morning hours.

“Guys, you were excellent audience tonight. We want to thank you for sharing this wonderful day with us, cause today is special day for us. I'm glad to announce that our friend and bass-player Alex Whitman finally got the courage before this concert and asked my sister, his longtime girlfriend, to marry him, and she accepted!”

At that, Max grinned at Alex, pulling him in a hug. Soon after entire hall was cheering and applausing, while Michael and Kyle congratulated Alex, since it was all news to them, but they were happy for the couple like it was happening to them, since after they were almost a family anway.

Backstage, Isabel was crying her eyes out while laughing at the way her brother announced the news. She was so happy that Alex was Max's friend too, so Max accepted him in the fold while they were kids. That somehow made her life little lighter, since she was very close to her brother. His opinion of people surrounding them meant a lot to her, so knowing he approved her relationship with Alex made her insanely happy. Finally she could say almost all her dreams came through.

‘And now all I have to do is find someone for Max…’ Isabel thought to herself, thinking of the ways she could make her brother happy.

“Once again, thank you and we wish you good night!!!” finished Max his speech on the stage and guyz hurriedly left the stage, followed with loud clapping and whistling.

The second they were offstage, Isabel happily hugged her brother and Alex, alternating between the two and jumping in the arms. At that particular moment noone on this Earth was happier than the 3 of them.

“Thank you SO much.”

“Izzy, your happiness is all that's really important to me. Just be happy…”

That brought about another wave of tears to Isabel's eyes and a tight hug, once again confirming that no love can replace honest love of siblings. So soon Kyle and Michael joined the hugging and congratulations were going all around.

Fifteen minutes later, they were on the way to their locker room, to finally unwave, but Max wenthis own way in the search of something cold to drink. As the hall was slowly emptying, he thought it was safe to enter the hallway across to enter the cantine. That was the moment Liz, Tess, Maria and grandma Claudia excitedly exited the hall and entered the hallway.

“Oh, grandma, I think this was the best day of my life!!! And I'm so happy you were here with us to share. ” Liz was feeling really giddy, clapping her hands like a child, eyes shining and all flushed from excitement.
“Oh, honey bear, it was completely my pleasure. I'm glad to see you this happy. You three just made me 20 years younger tonight.” grandma Claudia smiled gently at her girls.

If anyone could be filming Max's reaction to the nickname, they would just sigh knowingly, rolled their respective eyes and said : “Yep, strange are the ways of love…”
The second he heard it, determined step of this 23 year old singer came to a sudden stop, right behind Maria's back.

‘Heavens, is this real?’ Max glanced their way and looked little better at the girl that older woman called Honey Bear. It finally came to him that it was the same girl that smiled at him during the concert.

“So, girls, I'll be on my merry way. Can you be left on your own?”

“Yeah, grandma, no problem. It's not like we're children anymore. Just go and don't worry about us.” said Tess smiling and hugging her grannie goodbye.

“OK, goodnight, my beauties…” grandma Claudia waved at the three of them and exited the building.

That was the exact moment Max Evans reached the decision that will forever change all of their lives and set the course of their future happiness.







Part 5

*****************

When he will later think about this, he will readily admit that he stopped breathing. And not just figuratively, but literally his heart stopped pumping blood through his body the moment he heard words ‘honey bear’.
Being glued to the stop, sort of decreased his manevauring teritory, but of course, even if he wanted to more in his mind, his heart seemed to be glued to his sneakers. So after long consulting with himself…well, OK, it felt long, actually longer than eternity, Max decided to talk to the girls in front of him.

‘Oh, God, give me strength…’ Max breathed, taking his belief in God above very seriously. OK, so he wasn't REALLY all that big on the idea of organized religion, but if God wanted to help someone in that particular moment in time, he might as well be a guinea pig.

‘If you help me now, I will be a believer! Please, just let me make this work.’

So he made his move or at least he tried, approaching them as slow as possible, until pixie blond girl started to point in his direction to the smaller blonde. They both grinned at the same time and started talking animatedly to brinette, who he assumed was Liz, or hopped she was.
When he was just behind Liz, since there was shuffling around in the group of friends, after being convinced she should turn around, Liz finally took a chance and came face to face with the man of her dreams.

And as if fates wanted to make this weirdest meeting of soulmates ever, Max literally stumbled on Liz, when she turned, almost sending them both to th floor. But luckily, Max reacted fast and grabbed her by the elbows, trying to keep her straight. Their gazed locked.

One word that could perfectly describe both of their reactions to each other was DAZED. And although both were staring at each other shamelessly, none could look away. Obviously the underlying feelings streamed in both directions. Maria and Tess just watched the pair's staring contest, and when they finally couldn't hold laughter in anymore, they started laughing like crazy banshees at Max and Liz. That temporarily stopped the daze, and Max and Liz first looked Maria and Tess, grinning their way. Then they shyly reconnected glances again, smiling at each other in embarassment.

‘Oh, boy, here we go…stare-into-my-eyes thing. I guess some people have all the luck’ sighed Maria inwardly.

“OMG, OMG… You are frontman of ‘Phoenix Rising’, right?” Maria reacted naturally to the situation, breaking the ice for Liz.

“Uh, yeah…” grinned Max at them.
“So you liked tonights concert?” hopefully Max glanced at Liz. Liz just stood stunned still, looking at Max, not believing her eyes.

Tess jumped to her rescue, putting one arm around Liz's shoulder, squeezing her arm just a little to put Liz back to Earth. Liz glanced at Tess, and nodded with a small smile.

“Oh, heaven, yes!!!” Liz said little too excitedly and after realizing what she did, she shyly glanced at the floor, and back at Max's eyes.

‘Dear Lord, she's too cute.’ thought Max,thanking God above for making this possible. Could this be his new beginning? Could she be the one?

“LOL…Well, I am glad that you enjoyed tonight. So if you want, I have a proposition for the three of you.” Max crossed his fingers behind his back, praying for a miracle.

“And what proposition would that be, Mr. Evans?” saucily Tess winked at Liz, while asking Max. Maria just chuckled at Tess's game.

“Well, if you want, my friends and I decided to have a little get-together, and since our bass player and my sister engaged tonight, we wanted to celebrate it. So you are invited if you're willing. So what will it be?”

All it took for the three girls was to look at each other, and decision was made.

“Sure, Max. Just point us in the right direction, oh fearless leader!!! And by the way, I'm Maria, this is Liz, my best friend” Tess grinned mischeaviously at Maria “OK, one of my two best friends” Maria stuck a tongue out at Tess, causing Liz to laugh heartedly “and my other best friend Tess, who is also Liz's sister.”

Introductions were made in the hallway of the concert hall, and for the small party of four at that moment new life full of promises began, while they were on the way to meet others.


Part 6

********************

Room was filled with the sounds of Metallica, making Isabel feel like someone constantly banged on her head with a hammer. But she just chose to ignore it, knowing this was ritual for Michael after every concert. So she just went on what she was doing, and that was massaging Alex's back. So as Alex layed on the bench, purring as a kitten and almost falling asleep, Isabel talked to Kyle.

“Concert was perfect tonight. I have to tell you that you played almost like a professional.” grinned Isabel and rolled her eyes at Kyle. Kyle smiled.

“Well, Is, this coming from you…Was that a compliment? What is next? Will frogs fall from the sky or maybe hell finally froze over?”

“Hell froze over!” Alex piped from the bench.

“I think that it's highely unlikely that frogs would fall from the sky. After all, it's just october, and that kind of thing happens only in summer, I believe.” Alex grinned at Kyle, who added :

“Yeah, as unlikely as Max walking in, in the next 15 seconds, with two girls, each on every arm!!!” Isabel laughed heartily at that picture, assuming that could never happen anyway, like that was completely impossible.
So when 10 seconds later Max walked in with 3 girls, two of them each on every arm, and talking animatedly with a small brinette and smilling goofily, while two blondes just laughed with them, everyone in the room, except Michael, gawked with mouths open at the sight, not really registering the situation. Michael just smirked at Max and smiled, thinking to himself, when he saw Liz.

‘Finally… well, maybe he won't brood as much anymore!’

And then from the corner of his eyes, he aknowledged pixie blonde on his side. And went on doing what he does best…he chose to completely ignore her.

Meanwhile, Alex, Kyle, and Isabel looked at each other in disbelief, Kyle finally saying what was on his brain :

“Guys, I suddenly think that the possibility of those falling frogs ain't that insignificant…”

So after minutes of shock, Kyle decided to walk over to the group and introduced himself, locking gazes with Tess during introductions. He just couldn't believe the color of the eyes this girl had. So blue… Tess smiled widely at Kyle, while Max introduced girls to his friends.

“OK, people, I have someone for you to meet!” and everyone walked over, when Max called them, all the more curious to know about them. So Max first introduced Liy, smilling to himself, while taking her hand.

“This is Liz, everyone. She, her sister and their best friend Maria came to tonights concert with their grandma, so when we met in the hallway, I asked them to join us on this party.” Liz waved shyly at them with a tiny smile on her lips, still being so concious of the warmth of Max's hand. She glanced at Max and stopped stunned at the wide smile he wore,while introducing her to his friends. So she finally let herself feel a little giddy at that fact, enjoying the moment.

As Isabel, Alex and Kyle started chatting with Liz and Max, Maria wandered over to where Michael was sitting, reading some magazine, still listening to his Metallica CD, acting as if he ignored the rest of the room. She went on introducing herself to him. Stucking her hand in front of his face, she said :

“Hey… I'm Maria. Max said your name was Michael, right?” Still there was no answer. So she decided to wake him out of his stupor. She started to pull offensive magazine out of his hands, trying to get his attention.

‘Ugh, men… Some people just don't learn, do they?’ sighed Maria agitedly.

“Hey, space boy,what? Don't you have any manners? I think that at least what you could do is to aknowledge that I exist. Cause, you know, when I don't get enough attention, I start to babble as you can witness, and that kinda starts to embarass me, so it would be really great if you could just say Hi,or I might just faint here from the lack of air…!!!!” Maria prattled all in one breath to Michael, who just watched her through it all and finally grinned, saying :

“What's the point of talking? It seems to me that you do enough talking for the both od us!” So Maria just huffed playfully at his words.

“OMG! It speaks…” he rolled his eyes.

“So your duty in the family is to neg, right?” asked Michael, pointing at Liy and Tess, which earned him a light shove in the ribs.

“And I suppose you're the comic relief, aren't you??? Cause I really don't see what else purpose you could have…” grinned Maria at Michael's stunned face. Suddenly, it seemed to Michael that he finally met someone who could out-bicker him.
‘Damn, she is GOOD!!!’ he chuckled, but still couldn't resist final jab.

“And you could see that how? Since it seems to me that you can't further from your nose.” When he spilled that line, Maria just lost it and started laughing, and to his own surprise, he grinned at her too, finally letting her of the hook.

“I have to say I really appreciate honesty, and I think you are as honest as people get.” Maria smiled.

“Ditto.” And another match in heaven was made.

On the other side of the room, 6 people sat at the desk, drinking and talking excitedly as if they've known each other their whole lives, about everything and anything. But through it all, Max still held Liz's hand tightly, and while both of them seemed to do their best to ignore that particular fact, his friends were more than aware of it. And all they had to do was look into their eyes when the pair glanced at each other every now and then. At that moment, they knew his life changed today. Alex and Isabel smiled at each other, aknowledging that.

“He is happy. Look at him…” whispered Alex to Izzy, glancing at Max and Liz talking and shooting shy glances at each other. He knew how Isabel worried sometimes about Max being little secluded, but he understood how she felt, considering the fact that Max was one of his best friends ever.

“Oh, Izzy, they look so cute together! I like Liz. She seems so genuine, don't you think? I think she will do him good.” Isabel looked back at Liz and amended that fact.

“Yeah, she seems really nice. But that Maria chick looks a little eccentric… you know…like Michael?” at that Isabel turned her head to see Michael and Maria in deep conversation. Alex followed her eyes across the room and couldn't help to comment.

“At least there's no bodies…yet!!!” They laughed at that.

“And look at Kyle! It seems he also found himself a partner in crime.” Commented Isabel glancing at the other couple at the table, who were at the moment shoving each other playfully, while grinning, and to an outsider, it seemed that something funny was being mentioned.

“Well, I guess that all that planning we did for them is now kinda unnecessary, don't you think?” asked Alex.

“Yeah, it seems that way. Well, that's more time just for us!” grinned Isabel and kissed Alex, who pulled her in a hug with a smile.
Meanwhile, across the table, someone's dreams were slowly coming true.

“So what is like being a huge music star?” asked Liz, playing selfconciously with a lock of her hair, trying not to land permanently on the cloud nine, while all she could think about was the way Max was looking at her. He looked so dreamy, propping his head on one of his hands, as if he had no worry in the world.

“Ha? What did you say???” that suddenly woke him out of his daze. He was sp focused on her eyes, that he completely missed her lips moving, while forming a question. So he smiled in embarassment, realizing what happened. He lowered his eyes to her lips then, which was, of course, the biggest mistake he could do. It was like giving a chocolate to a diabetic… You know it's forbidden, but you just can't resist the tempation.

He was looking at her lips, just for a few measly seconds, and all he could think about was how would they taste. So as tempting as that thought was, he knew it was still way to soon for that and he slowly reconnected eyes with Liz, settling for the safer course of action.

“I asked how it feels to be a big music star, cause ‘Phoenix Rising’ is one of the hottest bands in the country now.” Liz repeated her question with a smile, feeling all warm inside.

“Oh, I don't think we are that popular. And anyway, that's not why we are doing this. We just enjoy playing, you know? But I have to admit one thing to you. Those 2 hours I spend on the stage singing… best feeling I ever had. Just knowing that at that particular space and time, everyone around you feels the same, sings the same song… It feels perfect. Complete…”

‘Just like I feel with you now, Liz!’ thought Max to himself. Suddenly, Liz started to fidget.

“I have to admit something to you too, and it's kind of embarassing.” Liy glanced at Max and then lowered her eyes to the table top. Max just curiously watched her, having a feeling what she could talk about.

“Not so long ago, I wrote to you. It was a complete insanity, I think, but I did it all the same, and I just can't stop thinking about it. I wondered did you ever get that letter?” Liz waited with bated breath.

“As a matter of fact, I did. And it was the most touching letter I ever read.” He held Liz's hand little tighter at that confession, smilling that they finally let that in the open.

“Your letter was partially a reason why I asked you here. Reading your letter…actually, the way you wrote it, your beliefs…It was something I could identify with. For instance, your belief in soulmates. And then in the hallway I heard that nickname…honey bear. I knew what I have to do.”

Liz looked in his eyes, returning bravely his gaze, and holding her breath.

“I have always believed in soulmates…”

‘And I hope you are mine.’ sighed Liz inside.

“I just never met him. Have you met yours?”

“Yeah, I did.” Admitted Max, locking his eyes with hers, smiling knowingly and sighed a content sigh. It felt as if he finally came home. He was where he belonged.

Liz blushed, understanding exactly what Max meant,and then she felt it.
She finally found the one who owned her soul.


Part 7

******************

Isabel was starting to get dizzy of Max's prowling around the living room. Actually it seemed that since they last saw Liz, Maria & Tess two days ago, all Max did was hyperactively prawling around the house.
Just yesterday Alex threatened that he'll glue Max's ass to the couch, if he doesnt stop it. Max just erraticly sat down, while frowning at alx. But that lasted for about 5 minutes, of which he actively fidgeted half the time. After that, he resumed his merry-go-round the room, so guyz finally just gave up on pestering him.

But to Isabel, it seemed more than obvious what was Max's problem.
For the last 2 days, off and on, she saw him staring at the phone, always in deep thought. And for periods of time, his eyes got this dreamy look.
There were only two things in this world that could get Max Evans in this state.
One was singing, which was until recently most important thing in his life, or Liz. Liz….well, for a girl of such small posture, she sure had a big hold on Max's heart. So as long as she made her brother as happy as a clam, Isabel will be her best friend.

‘Damn, I never thought I could be this posessive, but still…he is my baby brother and I know that altough he sticks to himself, he feels things very deeply. So she better makes him euforicly happy!’ Isabel closed her eyes with that thought and decided to show her beloved brother a way to the light.

“GOD!!! Why don't you just call her?” asked Isabel exasparated, grinning at her clueless brother. Max tried playing stupid.

“Call who? I don't know what you are talking about!”

‘OK, denial land, here we come…’ sighed Izzy.

“Maxwell, who do you think you are talking to here? I know you better than you know yourself and you better start admitting that to yourself. Cause I won't be around here forever, you know? Married life…ring any bells?” Isabel grinned widely, her heart swelling with protection for her twin brother.

“I know that you're thinking about calling Liz! I mean, you've been mooning over her for the last 2 days constantly. And I've been cheering you on through all that time, but I have to admit that you dissapoint me… I never thought of you as a chicken.” Smirked Isabel at Max's look of surprise. Soon that look of surprise turned into depressed one.

“OMG, Is, I am going NUTS!!! I REALLY want to call her and ask her out, but what if she says NO? What if she doesn't wanna see me anymore? I know that 2 days ago we were close and she is SO perfect, but what if she came to her senses and doesn't wanna date someone in the spotlight??? What if…”

“Max, shush up!!! I never saw you as a panic before either!” laughed Isabel at her depressed brother. She hugged him, trying to put some courage into him… Max finally calmed down and gently smiled at Isabel.

“I just…Is, I think I really love her. She is the one..the only one for me.
I can feel it…” he hopefully glanced at his sister, watching for her reaction. He SO wanted for Izzy to accept Liz in the family, if anything was to happen between two of them. Isabel grinned at him.

“Oh, my dear brother, tell me something I dont know!!! And I am very happy for you two. There is noone in this world who wants you to be happy more than me, you do know that, right?” Max nodded silently, glancing once again hopefully at the phone.

“Max, just call her,OK? I really like her, so dont fret about that one. And everybody here accepted them without a hitch. I mean, even Michael and Maria didn't kill each other, and that is really an accomplishment, so in my book, world is peachy. So you call!” finished Isabel, pointing at the phone.

“I wish you luck on your first date with Liz.” She than stood up, walking to the table, taking a phone and passing it on to Max.

“Call!” at that she smiled and left the room.

Max sighed deeply and he just decided to do the deed, so what happens, happens. Worst she could do was turn him down, right? And funny thing happened…just at that thought, Max felt such pain and sense of loss, that it almost left him breathless. And he prayed that she would accept his invitation, since he knew that living without Liz's love, now knowing that she really exists, was unacceptable. So he dialed.

Their phone was ringing for about ten seconds and it was Maria that answered.

“Parker-Deluca residence. How can I help you?” And Max stood silent for a split second, thinking what he should say. Finally he spoke.

“Uhm…hey, Maria. It's Max.” Suddenly he heard shuffling around on her end and thuds were heard in the background. It sounded like someone ran through the house.

“Oh…hey, Max! So what's up? You wouldn't be calling about a certain brinette, now would you?” smiled Maria happily on the phone.

Max grinned dreamily at the phone.

“God, Maria… You are worse than my sister!”

“I aim to please. So you wanna talk to Lizzie or what?” asked Maria.

“Yeah, could you put her on? And can you tell Tess that Kyle said Hi. He said that he will call her tommorrow. Later, Maria…” smiled Max. Finally he heard phone handed over and most beautiful sound entered his ears.

“Hi Max! Is everything OK?…I was worried when you didn't call…” Liz admitted silently. Max laughed.

“Well, I almost didn't. Can you believe I actually paniced before calling you…And I never panic!” Liz finally relaxed and smiled.

“You, silly man…”

“Liz, I actually wanted to ask you something. Would you…would you go out with me?” Max waited silently, while he almost stopped breathing and kept his fingers crossed.

“Oh, yes! YES, YES, YES!!! I would love to go out with you.” On Liz's end cheering and shouting was heard, who he assumed came from Maria.
He couldn't help but breath out finally and laugh, feeling just a bit dazed. Then he responded.

“Thank God! For a millisecond there, it was touch and go for me…So I will pick you up at 6, OK? We can go to movies and you can take a pick what we will watch, and after that I am taking you to dinner. Does that sound like a plan to you?”

“Yeah, thats just fine by me, Max. So I will see you in 6 hours. Bye Max!” Liz breathed out and with a dazed smile put the reciever down. She felt euforic, already thinking about the wonderful time she will get to spend with Max tonight. And so the preparations began.

Soon the frenzy in Parker-Deluca home escalated when Tess came home and heard of the news. All three put everything they had to make this date for Liz and Max as magical as possible.

Blouses were tried on, pants were already flying across the room, while Liz tried to stay positive, after finding nothing she wanted to wear to the date.
So Maria took matters into her own hands. She started asking Liz about what kind of date are they going to.

“Lizzie, honey, where is Max taking you? Are you going formal or more like a movies and pizza thing?”

“He said first we'll go to the movies and than he is taking me to dinner.”

“OK…so go try this on than!” Maria handed couple of articles over to Liz. Liz took them thankfully and went in the bathroom to try it on.
Five minutes later, out of the bathroom came completely different woman.

“Damn, chica, you look heavenly! Maxie boy will have a heart attack when he sees you!!!” Maria started jumping around in excitement, clapping and whistling.

And Liz did look splendid. She wore almost ankles long black skirt, with a slit on the back, and a beautiful light pink turtleneck. On her feet, she completed her date look with some black boots.

“Oh, you can rock the house now, chica! You look HOT!!!” winked Maria at Liz. Liz blushed.

“Now you only have to put make-up on and it will be time to go, cause I kinda doubt Prince Charming will be late. Of course, if Michael was picking ME up, he would probably come on the wrond day, but that is totally different story.” Maria grinned, hugging Liz.

“Now go! Tall, dark & handsome will be banging on the door in 45 minutes.” Maria shooed Liz back in the bathroom. So, half hour later, their doorbell rang.
Maria flew over to the door, opening them, still out of breath from running. And there he stood, wearing black slack, dark blue sweater and medium long black leather jacket. In words of common folk, one could say that at their doorstep stood one hell of a handsome guy! Maria grinned welcomingly and received a rather nervous glances from Max. So she took mercy on the poor guy, try to relax him a bit.

“Max, you look great! Don't worry, Liz will be ready in a minute. Do you want to come in?” Max nodded, still silent. Soon after, Liz entere the room. Max just stared enchanted at her, stunned speachless. She was dropdead gorgeous!!! And his heart swelled with love for her alone.

“You look beautiful! Most beautiful girl in the world…” Max added silently. That piece of honesty earned him the most heartfelt smile from Liz, who couldn't help but blush once again. Max took her hand, gently kissed her on her cheek, and Maria helped them out of the door, wishing them great night.

Minutes later, happy couple was on their merry way to their date, both agreeing to go watch ‘Wedding Planner’. And right then, both knew that this night was just one of many nights in the future that will be spent together.


Part 8

******************

It was a cold monday evening on the streets of Los Angeles. City boulevards were busting with presence, and everyone was hurrying somewhere.
Meanwhile, in the intimate atmosphere of restaurant, two soulmates sat in one of the booths in the corner, staring in each others eyes. After couple of minutes, Max finally broke their gaze,and bashfully glanced at the table, wearing a small, embarassed smile on his lips.

Of course, Liz was in no better condition. She was blushing with the speed of light, letting a light giggle out of her mouth, almost chocking on it.
It was obvious that, although they were extremely attracted to each other, somehow they both still pulled back. There was just still too much they didn't know about each other, for them to be able to open completely. So Liz decided that since Max wasn't the one to just share hin inner haven, unless asked, she would do the asking. So she pulled herself together and jumped in with both feet.

“Max, can I ask you something personal?” Max glanced at her with questioning eyes.

“Sure. What do you wanna know, Liz?”

“What was your childhood like? I mean, it seems that you are really close with your sister.” Liz gently smiled at Max. At that moment such look of mischief appeared in his eyes, and soon after a grin on his face.

‘It is certainly some memory he remembers…’ chuckled Liz to herself, watching Max.

“Oh, God…things Is and I did… I think we almost pushed our parents over the edge more than once!” laughed Max in reminiscence of past times with his sister. Liz was so glad to see him this happy.

“Yeah, Isabel and I are close. We always have been. I always thought that if noone else in the world accepts you, your family is the one that will always open their doors for you in the time of need. I am thankful that Izzy and I share such a great relationship. And thank God, I had everything…my sister , friends and my parents.”

‘And now I have you in my life finally’ thought Max, and asked Liz about her sibling.

“You probably have similar relationship with Tess, right?”

“Actually, I have such connection with both Tess and Maria. They both are like other half of me, you know? It's almost as we are triplets…” grinned Liz, looking at Max, eyes shinning with love. Finally both seemed relaxed.

Max nodded, completely immersed in her eyes. Hands touched and tightened over the table. It seemed as if temperature in the room suddenly skyrocketed to sizzling highs, and all because of look they shared.
Max traced Liz's palm with his thumb, sending delightful feeling of excitement through her body. She could feel warmth of his breath in the air…on her neck…it was as if she could feel his lips all over her body,and they didn't even move.

Suddenly, all the distance between the two was too much. Liz almost unintegibly moved over, closer to Max. She lifted her hand and reverently traced her fingers over his lips. Max chose at the same time to lick his dry lips, breathing in from silent excitement. Liz felt herself tremble the second his tongue touched her fingers. Bowing their heads,they closed the distance between and, while hands were vowen together, their lips fused with reverent passion. Max traced her face, trying to touch every part of her face he could see. Their lips were as one being. Tongues had a life of their own, dancing in their mouths, mashed together, while sighs between soon to be lovers were exchanged.

In the distance, almost magical music could be heard. Gentle notes of Live's “Dance with you” resounded in the air.

sittin' on the beach'
the island king of love
deep in fijian seas
deep in some blissful dream
where the goddess finally sleeps
in the lap of her lover
subdued in all her rage
and I am aglow with the taste of demons driven out
and happily replaced by the presence of real love


Max and Liz reluctantly broke their kiss, still winded and looked on the dance floor, where few couples already enjoyed themselves, moving lazily to the slow music.
Max stood up and extended his hand to Liz.
“Would you dance? I wanna dance with you… ” huskily, he asked Liz, as she dizzily locked eyes with him and nodded. So they stepped on the floor, and in the matter of seconds, Liz settled herself in Max's arms, as if she was born with that sole purpose in life…To fit perfectly in this man's embrace.
And they were in heaven, both breathing in the other life force, wearing the most blessed smiles on their faces. Liz put her head on his shoulder, and Max leaned his chin on top of her head. For the two of them in that moment all was great in the world.
So they moved slowly across the dance floor to the sounds of music, forgetting everything around them, while song still reveberated in the room. All that mattered in this space and time was that they were in each others arms, and they intended there to stay forever.

the stillness in your eyes
convinces me that I
I don't know a thing
and I been around the world and I've tasted all the wines
a half a billion times came sickened to your shores
you show me what this life is for
I wanna dance with you
I wanna see a world where people live and die with grace
the karmic ocean dried up and leave no trace
I wanna dance with you
I see a sky full of the stars that change our minds
and lead us back to a world we would not face


One hour later, they came out of their world, still in daze and still standing in the middle of the dance floor, slowly moving, but registering finally that restaurant was almost empty. Looking around, Max decided rather embarassingly that it was time to go. Patrons and workers still present were just grinning at them, seeing the bashful looks couple was sharing. So one of the waitresses came up to them.

“Oh, you are SO perfect together! I have never seen as beautiful couple as you two. And don't be embarassed about your love. It's the most wonderfulthing that in today's world still that kind of love exists. Cherish it…” and after saying that, woman bidded them goodnight and left the restaurant.

Max glanced with all the adoring in his exes at Liz, who similarly looked at him. Bowing his head, once again he kissed her sweet lips, prolonging the moment as much as possible, sighing with content at last. After paying for their dinner, they left the restaurant, still holding hands, tighter than before, going to his car.

In 10 minutes of their car-drive, both of them listened to some song on the radio, just enjoying sharing the same space. Soon they were in front of Liz's building. Max got out of the car and went over to her side to open the door for her. She smiled gently at him, thanking him.
Max took her hand and almost as walking on air, they reached entrance in the building. For couple of seconds, they just gazed at each other. Finally Max spoke.
“Liz, this was the best night of my life. Somehow, the moment I found out you were real, I knew it will be perfect. You are perfect…” sighed Max, holding his breath, watching Liz lovingly.
“Max, I feel the same. I enjoyed every second of this date…” they just bashfully grinned at each other and before Max turned to leave, he once more bowed down and kissed her gently. Her arms held him closer, and when kiss ended, Max touched his forehead to Liz's with dreamy smile on his face.
“Perfect…”
And in the next moment, he turned and started toward his car, but decided to speak bravely before leaving.
“I will call you tommorrow morning, OK? I don't think I can stand more than that without hearing your voice…” And with that, he was gone.
Minutes later, Liz still stood with the stupidest grin on her face, looking in the direction where Max's car was.And than she finally turned and entered her building, still thinking about Max and wonderful evening they spent together. Her life couldn't get more perfect.

Part 9

******************

Morning after THE DATE, home of Max & the gang

Everyone but Max was gathered at the table, munching on anything they could reach and sounding off what was to be done throughout the day. So seeing that Max hasn't come to breakfast yet, Isabel sent Michael to get him. Of course, Michael wouldn't just do it, without making a scene, since that just wasn't his style.

“Ah, why don't you get him yourself? He is YOUR brother!” Michael grinned at Isabel. She ignored him and just stared at him.

‘Damn, if looks could kill, I would be a pile of handsome dust at this moment’ chuckled Michael at Izzy's look, so as he cherished his life, he stood up and went in search of one Max Evans.

When he reached his room, muffled music could be heard through his doors. Michael knocked on the door and decided to just plunge in, praying Max was sleeping if anything. Opening the door to Max's room, he peeked inside, rather surprised at what he saw. There, by the window, lay Max on his bed, looking at the ceiling with the goofiest smile anyone could come up with. Michael couldn't help but grin at his best friend's state of mind.

‘OK, this definitely requires some friends time…’ thought Michael, getting to Max's bed.

“Hey, Maxwell, what you're grinning about? You scored yesterday? Cause I know you've been out with Liz yesterday evening…” Michael couldn't help himself. He just had to provoke Max a little, although knowing very well that wasn't what Max was like at all. At least it jarred Max out of his daze.

“Michael, shut up! It's not about that with Liz at all. She is the one…” Max once again smiled goofily at the memory of their date. Michael just watched him for 5 seconds stunned, not really registering what he heard, but he finally reacted.

“Are you sure? I mean, maybe you are just horny, you know? Cause you haven't been getting any action like ever, and I mean that literally, Maxwell, if you know what I mean…” exclaimed Michael little to loud, pointing out Max's virgin status, but still not loud enough to be heard outside the room. Max glanced at him annoyed.

“Yeah, I am sure. 100 % sure!”

“You gotta be kidding me! God, some guyz have all the luck… And to think that you two met by accident!” grinned Michael at Max. Max just nodded, still grinning dreamily, remembering chain of events that led to them meeting.

“So I assume you had good time on your date?”
“The best ever! Michael, I never felt that way about a girl before. She is just perfect in every way, you know? Just perfect…” Max closed his eyes, remembering the way her lips tasted, how she felt in his arms, how heavenly they fit together, and once again smiled, thanking his lucky stars. Michael smiled. He couldn't be happier for his buddy.

“Maxwell, I believe you are in LOVE, my friend! After all this time… Well, it's about time! I thought you would either explode or be joinning the monks with all the celibacy you had going on!!!” and he just patted Max's arm, while leaning on the side of Max's bed, still grinning at his best friend. Max grinned back.

“So, is Lizzie girl in the same state of mind like yours truly? Since I know that usually love stories work better that way.”

“Oh, yeah…” smiled Max goofily, thinking of his love.

“How do you know? What really happened on this date of yours?” asked Michael, now filled with curiosity.

“Well, first we went to the movies, and than I took her to this little restaurant down town. At first, it was little awkard, so we tried talking about things, you know? But by the time all the food was gone, we were talking a storm, so I asked her to dance with me. It was unexplainable! We were dancing for an hour, although it seems we were concious of first 5 minutes, I think…” Max grinned at the look of disbelief on Michael's face.

“What do you mean? You fainted?”

“Nope. It seems we were in our little world the rest of that time. By the time we came to our senses, restaurant was empty and almost closing.” Max laughed to himself, watching Michael from the corner of his eyes. Michael was just sitting there with this look of revelation on his clueless face.

“Damn, she really IS the one! Well, my friends, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart… I guess you were right when you said to me all those years ago that great things come to those that wait! So did you tell Is?”

“Is knows. God, Michael, I still can't believe how much luck I had! But I am thanking heavens for it.” Max got little serious at that statement, thinking how empty his life would be if he never got to meet Liz. He realized he didn't really know how much he missed being in love with someone, until he fell in love with Liz. And that was a something he wanted to feel for the rest of his life.

“OK, enough about that! Isabel sent me here to get you to breakfast. Are you coming?”

“Sure. So how is situation with you and Maria?” grinned Max at Michael, who looked a tad frustrated, while they were on their way to kitchen.

“Damn, that girl sure can talk. She is a motormouth allright, but she sends this vibes, you know?” Michael looked all serious at Max, like he had all secrets of the universe in his posession.

“Vibes? What do you mean?” asked Max, not knowing where exactly this was going.

“She is a VIBRATOR, Max!!!” Michael exclaimed, like he won on lottery or something. Max grinned at his best friend.

“OOOOOOOkkkk… I'm happy for you two also. It seems to me you are as taken with her as she is with you. Just don't kill each other, OK? It's a bitch cleaning blood out of white carpet!” smiled Max.

“What do you mean? How do you know she is taken with me? Cause that sure didn't look that was to me last time I talked to her.”

“Well, Liz just mentioned how Maria talks about you all the time, so I gather there is still hope for you!” Max just patted Michael on his back, when they entered the kitchen, grinning at his face of disbelief. Other on the table were talking like posessed, finally seeing Max and Michael got to the table.

Kyle decided he should address Max's lateness, if not for anything else than to jab him a little, knowing about his date with Liz.

“Maxie boy, we thought you got eaten by your bed or something. Does this lateness has anything to do with a certain girl?” grinned Kyle at Max, and Alex joined in. Max bashfully threw his eyes to the table, smiling once again goofily.

“Guyz, is there ANYTHING I can do without all of you knowing about it?”

“NOPE!!!” It was unanimous answer that ringed in the kitchen. That got everyone laughing.

And Max once again counted his blessings for getting everything he ever wanted right here in this lifetime…his love and his family of friends. What more can a guy want?


Part 10

*****************

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, one certain brinette still dozed of, wearing dreamy smile on her lips, murmuring in her sleep. Maria and Tess stood at her door, watching Liz dreaming, and by the sounds she was producing, it seemed that they were intruding. They were so satisfied Liz's life worked out the way she wanted. And they also knew that got a lucky break along with her.

“So did she tell you anything about the date?” whispered Tess to Maria, still watching her sister.

“No, she came in late and I already went to sleep. Did she tell you anything?” asked Maria back. Tess just shook her head negatively, giving in her two cents.

“But look at her! I think it's safe to say that she is in heaven… ” smiled Tess. Maria also smiled and nodded affirmingly. At that moment, their phone ringed. Both of them ran to it, trying to take the receiver off the hook. Finally Tess snatched it away and grinned triumphantly.

“Hello? Parker-Deluca residence. Who am I talking to?” spoke Tess all too seriously in the receiver. Maria just grinned at her, rolling her eyes. Tess grinned back and stuck her tongue out at Maria.

“Hey, Tess? It's Max…Is Liz up yet?” said Max all too excited into the phone, trying to steady his running heart in waiting to finally hear Liz's voice.

In the meantime, Tess grinned at Maria, pointing at the phone and mouthing Max's name. Maria at that ran to Liz's room, to wake the sleeping beauty. So she began to shake her, trying to jolt Liz out of her sleep. Liz tried to swat her away like an annoying insect, wanting to dream forever.

“Maria, go away!!! Just 5 more minutes, pleeeeaaaase?” But Maria decided it was time to be unrelentless, so she played her final card, when all the shaking wasn't helping.

“Lizzie, your tall, dark & handsome is on the phone right now! Tess is just talking to him.Shall we tell him you are out?”

OK, well, it is safe to say that those words jolted Liz out of her dreamworld. She wildly looked around and stuck her hand out for the phone.

“Damn, girl, you have it BAD!!!” Maria laughed at her best friend, dragging her out of the bed, still in her PJs. Two of them padded hurrily in the living room, just coming in to see Tess sitting on the edge of the couch, laughing like crazy. So they looked at each other questioningly.

“You two did WHAT? OMG, you are SO perfect for each other it's not even funny! That is EXACTLY what my sis would do. I am So glad you two met. Just make her insanely happy, you hear? OK, she's here. It was great talking to you, Max. Oh, and can you tell Kyle that we are still on for tonight, OK? Yeah, see ya…” Tess finally nodded absently, smilling and passing the receiver to Liz, who more than happily took it, hanging on to it like to a lifeline.

“Max? Hi…” breathed Liz in a whisper through the line, pasting a blissful smile on her lips. Max was so exhilarated to finally hear her voice, he just sighed contentedly.

“Hey, sweetheart… I couldn't wait anymore. I miss you so much!”

“I miss you too. You know, I dremt about you…” whispered Liz only for Max's ears, while walking hurriedly to her room, to resume their phone date in peace. Maria and tess padded after her like soldiers on mission, trying to find out more about anything Max related, but Liz just closed her door, leaving them on the other side. That was the moment they gave up for the time being, deciding sooner or later theys WILL find out everything, even it meant cornering Liz. So they glanced at each other and plans for mission ‘Find all about THE DATE’ was put in motion.

On the other side of the door, Liz was lying on her bed, talking to the love of her life.

“So…what was I doing in your dream?” breather Max playfully in the phone, dreaming about Liz with eyes wide open. Liz laughed shyly, remembering her dreams. Oh, how she loved hearing him talk, laugh… She couldn't believe how her life turned around just in the matter of days. And she cherished every second of it.

“Well, all I can say is A LOT…” mischeviously said Liz, blushing furiously.

“OH…” whispered Max, wishing she was by his side, so he could just kiss her senseless. He smiled dreamily at that particular image. There was 15 seconds of silence on the line, during which only labored breathing could be heard. Then both of them laughed embarasingly. Max cleared his throat, finally speaking.

“Uhm, so when can I see you?”

“How about tommorrow night? Three of us can come to your place, since Kyle and Tess seem to have plans to go out, and Maria even mentioned something about visiting some art gallery with Michael this afternoon, if you can actually believe that. So we all can plan movie night and order in. So what do you think, Max?”

“Fine by me! So I will see you tommorrow around 6 PM?” spoke Max wistfully.

“Yeah, tommorrow night. I will miss you terribly…” whispered Liz in the phone.

“I miss you already…” breathed Max emotionally. And after goodbyes, Liz disconnected.

Both of them, everyone on their side of town, had just one thought in their mind – how to live through remaining time before they will see each other again. And then they smiled, knowing that whatever happens in their lives, it will be worth it, cause at the end they will be together.

[ edited 2 time(s), last at 30-Oct-2002 2:08:00 PM ]
posted on 12-May-2002 8:59:43 PM
Part 11

******************

It was late afternoon that same day. Tess was on her way to her ‘non-date’ with Kyle, as she put it. Liz just nodded knowingly at her sister and grinned Maria's way. Grin was equally returned. It seemed to Liz that Tess, although she obviously found someone she liked in Kyle, still lived in denial land. Liz couldn't help but smile at the thought. And seeing Maria and Michael…if you ever wanted to put C4 and gunpowder together, your equivalent could easily be those two. Sure, they could be all warm and fuzzy for some 30 seconds, but DAMN, were they stubborn!!!

Just then Maria rolled out of the appartment, shouting on her way out that she is going to meet Michael and the next moment she was gone. Realising she was alone at last, Liz thought of her love. Max…And her face took most blissful look.

‘I wonder what is Max doing at this moment. Is he daydreaming about me the way I do about him? Does he count the minutes until our lips meet again in a breathtaking kiss? Does he fantasize about putting his hands all over my…..OK, Liz, stop this! You are an adult. Max is an adult. You both are adults, not hot & bothered teenagers!!! OK, two out of three… Max has life beside you, right? Why would guy like that spend all his time do nothing but fantasize about you? UGH!!! Max, I wish you were here…’ sighed Liz heavily. She couldn't forget that feeling of standing in his embrace. She felt heavenly! Her home were his arms, and there wasn't any place she would rather be.

No sooner did that thought crossed her mind, she heard some banging on the fire escape. Liz glanced at the watch on the wall, seeing that an hour went by, while she was dreaming. She went to check what was going on on the stairway. Outside, rain was raging like never before and on the radio soft sounds of Sarah McLachlan's ‘I love you’ reverberated through the kitchen.

Liz ran to the window, just in time to reach to the windowsill, when she locked eyes with Max, who stood solemnly on the other side of the glass, while rain mercilessly pounded all over him. For few seconds they just looked at each other, searching other one's soul, connecting deep within. Liz put her hand on the glass, aligning both their hands and ragged breathing.

It was like scene from one of those cheesy chick flicks, you know? Soulbreaking gazes of eternal lovers, meeting over the glass, promising everlasting love kind of moments. And Liz was thanking powers above that her life turned this way.

Finally Liz pulled her window open, reaching for Max's hand, to pull him in the sanctuary of her home. Still she could not believe he actually came. Liz just wanted to jump from happiness!!!

“Max, what are you doing here? It's raining like crazy out there! What were you thinking? You'll catch cold!”
Liz slowly touched his face with her other hand. Through it all, Max still starred silently at her with most soulful gaze, not saying a word.

We meet at the lights, I stare for a while, the world around us disappears…

“Max….?”

Her heart started to speed up a little, warming her insides just watching at her. Her breathing accelerated, and after few seconds, she just stood trembling, almost begging Max to take her in his arms.

In the next moment, the most earth-shattering kiss tumbled on her lips. Their mouths met with desperation of ten lifetimes, breaths mingling, searching each other, trying to drink the other in. Hands reached and gropped, searched and found whatever they were looking for.
Max kissed her neck, sighing happily. There were too many places to reach, and it left them so frustrated that they only had two hands each. And just as both thought that same thing and gazes relocked, moment ended. Foreheads leaned towards each other, they just smiled goofily, happy to share the same air again.

“OMG, Liz, I thought I would go crazy! Is literally pushed me out of the house, when I for the 100th time walked over to the phone, wanting to call you!” admitted Max bashfully, now just a tad embarrased about coming. He looked at her eyes hopefully.

“Liz, I don't think I could live anymore if you weren't in my life. It's like…you are the air that I breathe, like the sun I see out the window every morning I wake up. Do you understand…?” Max raggedly breathed in, watching Liz's reaction to his exclamation. Oh,how he loved her…

At the same time, Liz couldn't help but feel her eyes fill with unshed tears. He was the most wonderful man alive! She smiled at Max, all teary-eyed.

“Oh, God, what did I ever do to deserve you?” Max smiled lovingly at Liz, so happy to see her smile.

“No, Liz, question is what did I do to deserve YOU! …I love you…”

The moment he breathed those word out, Liz started crying earnestly, and still with the most beautiful smile on her face, she couldn't stop crying. Max stood confused for a split second, not knowing what he had done this time, so he pulled her in his arms, still in tears. He couldn't help but breathe her scent in. Liz's arms went around his waist, pulling him closer to her.

“Oh,honey, I didn't say that to make you cry! I wanted to make you happy…” said Max, touching her chin, looking into his angel's eyes.

Liz smiled adoringly at Max, shaking her head, glancing at him. She reached with her hand to touch his soft lips.

“Max, this is me HAPPY. There is nothing you could say that could make me any happier than I am now! I love you too, so much…” And once again their lips met in the heartfelt kiss, this time with less desperation, but no less love in it.

Liz took Max's hand and led him to the couch in the living room. In the background, from the radio another song could be heard, this time U2's ‘Never let me go’. They sat comfortably on the couch in each others arms. Liz layed her head over his heart, listening to him breathe, and Max lovingly comb with his fingers through long tresses of her hair. No one on this Earth was more blissfully happy than two of them. Then silence was broken for a second when Liz spoke.

“Stay with me?”

“Always…” answered Max to her plea.

‘I will never leave you.’ Added Max to himself, once more pulling her tighter into embrace. And peace was resumed for the rest of the night.

Maybe I was blind, or I might have closed my eyes,
Maybe I was dumb, but what I forgot to say is
Never let me go…



Part 12

**********************

Evening was falling fast on the city. Two hours went by while Tess sat opposite Kyle in a little dinner by the beach. Kyle, being himself, did his best to make Tess laugh, and it seemed that luck was on his side. Tess was enjoying herself immensely. Noone ever before worked so hard to make her happy. And Kyle's college stories about his friends….Well, it was safe to say that their college years weren't uneventful. Oh, yeah, she sure did like Kyle…a lot, but still it was too early to admit that kind of thing to her sister. So she listened everything Kyle was telling her and let it carry her in his world.

“You gotta be kidding me!!!” grinned Tess.

“You all finished on the floor on your graduation day??? God, and here I thought Lizzie, Maria were clumsy…” she couldn't help herself anymore.

Kyle smiled and reached for his wallet.

“Hey, if you don't believe me, you can check it yourself. Here…this is what I am talking about!” and he pushed medium sized photo across the table , carefully looking around, unable to resist his ‘gangster’ impersonation. Tess watched him all too seriously, finally grinning and rolling her eyes at him.

“You are demented! OK, lets look at that…”

The moment Tess's eyes fell on the picture, loud laughter coming from her mouth rolled through the air space. Everyone in the dinner suddenly looked them, so Kyle started to look around the room, acting like he didn't even hear anything. Finally he tried to shush her up, he himself still laughing.

“See, I told you!!!” Tess looked up, eyes all teary from laughter, watching something behind Kyle.

After 30 seconds of astonishment, Kyle saw that he won't get any answers from Tess, so he turned. There, by the bar, stood Alex and Isabel, talking about something, every few seconds glancing their way. Then Isabel stood up, Alex trailing behind her and two of them were on the way toward their table. When Isabel and Alex reached them, Alex threw a smile at Tess and exchanged usual guy greeting with his friend, which substanced of one word : Hey, followed by a cheeky grin. This time both Is and Tess looked at the guys, and rolled their eyes at their minimalistic elokvence. Men…!!!

Tess offered Isabel a sit, and Alex made himself comfortable beside Kyle. Kyle started with questions.

“Guys, what are you two doing here? I thought you had some plans, like the rest of us, you know???” He pointed at himself and Tess, grinning evily, wiggling with his eyebrows. Tess smiled widely and pushed Kyle playfully.

“Jerk…” Kyle stuck his tongue out at Tess, still grinning like a fool.

Alex and Isabel silently watched the exchange and were more than satisfied with the way things evolved amoung their old and newfriends. Yep, love was in the air!
Isabel winked at Alex and addressed Tess.

“Well, as you know, Alex and I are planning our wedding at the moment. And I really hate to bother you two, but if you could, Alex and myself would immensely appreciate if all of you could help us out. I already talked with Maria and Michael before and they also promised to meet us here. Actually, it was Maria who suggested this place, since she knew that you and Kyle plan to come here. I hope you aren't mad at me. It is just that we are, well, desperate!” finished Is with pleading look. Alex lent her his support, squeezing her shoulder gently, knowing how perfect she always wants things to be, and Isabel just smiled lovingly at her fiance.

Kyle and Tess glanced at each other momentarily, knowing that they both had absolutely no objection to helping out young couple.

“Guys, that is no problem! After Michael and Maria come, we will get down to planning. Did you two finally set the date?” asked Kyle. Alex nodded.

“Yep. We figured end of february is as perfect as can be, because tour with the band begins sometime by the end of april, so we have enough time to get married and spend some down time somewhere in the middle of nowhere, enjoying ourselves. And since february is like 3 months from now, we hope we wont have to do everything in the last minute.”

For a second there, Tess gazed kinda confused at Isabel.

“Wait, and what is with Max? Won't you ask him and Liz to help too? Cause, let me tell you… the speed they are going now, their wedding won't be far behind yours!!!” grinned Tess at Izzy. Isabel nodded affirmatively, smiling.

“Oh my God, you do not know the half of it!!! Do you know where my dear brother is now? Can you guess?” Kyle laughed.

“You've gotta be kidding me! He went over to Liz's? Man, Is, your brother sure has it BAD!!!”Isabel nodded.

“Yeah. I threw him out of the house when he walked to the phone for like 100th time in 5 minutes. Can you believe that I could actually see his footsteps in the carpet when he crossed our living room for 55th time?”

Tess grinned at the news. Well, he and Liz sure were meant for each other. And then she glanced satisfyingly at Kyle, while he laughed at something Alex said.

‘But things do have a way of working out, don't they?’ thought Tess, happy with her place in the world.

Doors to the dinner suddenly opened, letting two persons in. Their bickering was loud enough to be heard all throughout the small dinner. 15 seconds later, those same two individuals came to their table, still in the heated discussion. Of course, group at the table recognized them immediately.

“God, Michael, did you really had to stumble on that statue? I mean, can't I even go to any public place without you breaking something?” Maria's arms were flying all over the place, while she tried to prove a point to her partner, Michael Guerin himself. Michael just rolled his eyes.

“OK, but you sure forget the fact that it was YOU who reached for the wall nearby to stop yourself from falling, which sent you straight at me, ALONG WITH THE WALL!!! ” that shut Maria up alright. She glanced at floor, embarassed.

“Well, how could I've known that wasn't real wall. It looked like a real one…” That was exact moment they reached the table where their friends already sat. Greetings were exchanged and couldn't resist, asking, after hearing their discussion.

“So, from which gallery are you two excommunicaded THIS time?” Maria was still looking down, while grinned at the group.

“OK, Isafer, why did you order us to come here?” asked Michael, using his nickname for Is. She just sent freezing look his way.

‘Oh, oh, me and my big mouth!!!’ Alex shook his head at Michael, just knowing foot-in-the-mouth complex wasn't his alone these days, it seemed.

Luckily, Isabel was in a playful mood, so few brotherly insults between almost siblings were exchanged.

“Since, we asked everyone to help us with the wedding, starting tommorrow we can begin specific planning. Tess, Maria, can you explain Liz what we decided today, and tell her that Alex and I would love is she could help out too. And while you are at it, you can tell everything to Max too, since I kinda doubt that the space between them will be more than inch…” Girls nodded, laughing, while guys whispered among themselves.

Finally, 20 minutes later, every couple said their goodbyes and went on their own merry way, most of them still laughing at Michael and Maria's adventure.

God, life was good…


Part 13


************************


While she was opening the door of their appartment, Maria all but played fanfaras. That was how “silent” she was being. Although it was 2 AM, and Tess was jumping from foot to foot, urging Maria to hurry, or she will kill her at the spot if she doesn't get to the toilet in time. Of course, just the thought of that sent Maria in hilarious giggles. But considering the situation she was in, Tess was more than serious,so she sent her deathly stare,with just a smidge of a smile playing on her lips :

“Maria, just you laugh and I will seriously hurt you with my alien death-ray eyes!!!”

Tess hurried to the bathroom like Lucifer himself was on her tail, and Maria proceeded to the den. Lights were dimmed, so Maria assumed Liz already went to sleep in her own bedroom, and Max was long gone home. So she stepped over to the stereo to turn it off. She then slowly turned and mostly beautiful sight met her eyes.

There, on the couch, still in each others embrace, blessed as ever lay Max and Liz. Shoes off, both lovers were holding in each tight, even though it was obvious that they were in deep sleep. Max put his legs up on the small coffee table in front of the couch, and his right cheek was leaning gently on Liz's head, while his hands were holding her close. Liz's cheek was on his shoulder, while her hand hand layed on his abdomen. They looked so satisfied, even in sleep, conjuring perfection to every onlooker.

Maria starred, completely entranced, sucked in their magic, so happy for both of them, that her breath just hitched and she couldn't not thinking with tenderness to her own space boy. Just then entered Tess in the living room, where she saw Maria standing, with a dazed expression on her face.

“Maria, where is Liz? She went to sleep already? Maria! What???”

Maria shushed her and pointed to the couch. Tess went over to Maria, since just the back of the couch could be seen from the door. She glanced at what Maria was staring. Finally she saw them.
Tess smiled gently, putting hand to her heart.

“So cute…” Maria nodded.

Tess took a blanket and covered them, turning lights completely off, and they went to sleep, leaving lovers in each others dreams.



Next morning, Parker – Deluca home


Sun was stubbornly staring him in the face. Max tried getting the right anti-sun position by turning his head to the left, but to no awail. So he tried turning his whole body to the same side, but all he could feel was that something was laying on his shoulder. For a second, he thought of the wonderful dream he had last night. He dreamed that he came to Liz through the rain and after admitting their love to each other, they fell asleep on the couch in each others arms. That thought brought a blissful smile to his face. After he finally opened his exes grudgingly, his eyes landed on object of his dreams. He grinned and kissed her head with atmost tenderness.

‘Who says dreams don't come true…’

Liz just scooted closer to Max, who pulled her joyfully deeper into his embrace. He glanced at the clock on table nearby. It was quarter to nine in the morning. Not 5 minutes later, banging from the kitchen was heard. Tess peeked in the living room to check if love birds were up yet. And she saw Max watching Liz sleep. Her heart just melted for the two of them. So perfect for each other.

After a minute, Max finally registered Tess at the door of the room and greeted her with a smile and hushed question.

“Good morning, Tess. Can you perhaps get me something to drink? I don't want to wake Liz…” Tess nodded, grinning and went to the kitchen.

When she came back, she was witness to Liz waking in Max's embrace. Liz stretchedas cat and still feeling Max's arms around her shoulders, she smiled blissfully. Soon her mouth were joined with his,blending into one being. For a second, Tess glanced awaw, feeling as she was intruding on this very private moment between lovers.

“Max, Liz, will you have breakfast with us? Maria is just making pancakes in the kitchen, and there is some juice too. Just follow the banging!”grinned Tess. Both nodded and padded to kitchen area, right after Tess.

Max took a sit and pulled Liz in his lap. She accepted it without any objections, once again kissing his sweet lips. Tes and Maria smiled at the couple. It was just so beautiful watching them interact with each other. So much love in each of their gestures, so much gentleness. And soon talks of Alex and Izzy's wedding was THE theme of the day in Parker residence, while breakfast went on. Loose plans were made for next 4 weeks for the whole group of friends. They will meet every day at Max's house til couple days before Christmas to arrange most of stuff for the wedding, and right after that Max and Liz decided that whole group could take a trip to Aspen for Christmas holidays.

Max called Izzy and told her about that plan, Izzy took another phone and asked Michael, who agreed with it. 10 minutes later, entire group was in excitement with the Aspen vacation. And for the moment, 4 friends enjoyed their morning together, exchanging jokes and stories of their past.




Part 14


****************************


Bustling around the house, Evans twins and their friends did last minute preparations for their Christmas vacation in Aspen. Liz, Maria and Tess were to come to their house in 10 minutes to join them on the trip, since they were going in the van all together.

Michael was listening his discman, containing, as usual Metallica CD, turned on the maximum, so he was kinda dead to the outside sounds like Isabel's panic attacks.
At the same time as Is and Alex put their last things in the car, Max was for the last 15 minutes on his cell, talking to Liz. Their hushed whispers talked passion, adorement and were for their ears only. But whoever looked at Max's dreamy face could see what exactly went through young man's head.

Kyle was reading some comic book, and silly grinwas plastered on his face all through it. But everyone had their doubts that the grin wasn's just about comics, but one small blond girl by the name Tess Parker.


Just to think of it, that the whole group of friends was to spend 2 magnificient weeks surrounded by snow… Every member of this crew was looking forward to it for their own reasons, but the main reason everyone could hardly wait for the vacation to begin was, that for the first time they get to celebrate Christmas and New Year together.

As it was to expected, in the last 3 weeks group became even tighter and closer than family. They spent majority of their time both at Evans and Parker residence, making plans for Izzy and Alex's wedding in february, but at the same time, each moment they spent in each others company was cherished.

“MICHAEL!!!” Nothing.

“MICHAEL!!!!” screamed Isabel again, poking Michael in the arm.

Finally he looked up at Isabel Evans' expecting face.

“What?” grumbled Michael, more than displeased that she discontinued his daily waking ritual.

“Did you finish all your packing for the trip? Cause in 5 minutes Maria, Liz and Tess will be here!” He nodded, rolling his eyes and Isabel's mother-hen behaviour. Is swithed her attention to Kyle, asking him the same question. He just grinned at Isabel.

Couple minutes later, car engine was heard in their parking, in front of the building, and suddenly Max just stood up, still with his cell glued to his ear, smilling a little bit, and got out of the building to meet Liz. Maria's car horn blasted for 30 seconds through the neighbourhood, while Isabel, Michael and Kyle ran down the stairs to their vehicle. They helped Maria and Tess move their stuff out of Maria's Jetta, while Max and Liz stood in each others embrace, kissing up a storm, exchanging whispers and loving words, like they haven't seen or heard each other for years.

But everyone just accepted their PDAs long time ago as a given, so they went on almost unnoticed by the group. Well, except when Kyle decided to open his mouth.

“Max! Buddy! Isn't oxygen an issue for you two? Ever?” Max & Liz simultaneously stuck their tongues at Kyle.

“OMG! They melted into one collective mind!!! I knew something like this will happen with their mouths glued together at all times!” added Michael and everyone started laughing. Max and Liz just blushed and kissed.

Finally, few minutes later, everything was set for the trip, so they took their places, leaving 2 last places, way in the back of the mini-van for Lizzie and Max.
Calculating that they needed at least 3 hours to Aspen area, Michael started the van and finally they left their building far behind and were on their merry way to the vacation of their dreams.




Part 15


******************************

Minivan was entering their destination spot. On the radio notes of Swirl 360's ‘Candy in the sun’ were heard,and Isabel and Tess sang along. Kyle and Alex were in the middle of telling some deranged joke,that as always sent everyone in the car almost rolling on the floor. Even Michael was laughing so hard, that for a second their car swirled a little on the snow, but he got it almost immediately under control. Of course, not much got through Max and Liz. They were still in each others embrace, talking silently and smilling goofily over something that other one said.

Just after Michael announced that they were at their destination, Max and Liz both looked up toward their friends and nodded. So Michael directed their car to the reception building, to get keys for their bungalow and to start this long awaited vacation.

Isabel and Alex went in, while the rest of the squad still waited in the car, aching to walk after 3 hours of sitting. Five minutes later, laughing Alex entered the van, with grinning Isabel in tow, jingling keys in front of the gang and they were on their way to the bungalow.

“We are here… FINALLY!!! God, my butt was starting to get numb!” shouted Kyle. Alex nodded, affirming he felt the same, while Maria and Tess rolled their eyes at guys, but couldn't resist to joke them about it.

“WIMPS!!!”

Kyle stuck his tongue out at Maria, and grinned at Tess. Tess grinned back widely and Maria saw it. She glanced between two of them and smirked at her friend.

“Traitor…”

But since Tess was still in her Kyle trance, staring at him, what in the last two weeks happened more and more often, as he starred back, both acting like that was something common, so neither aknowledged it, Tess didn't notice Maria's jab.
Maria huffed and shuffled at the front, to join Michael, Is and Alex.

Michael stopped car in front little cottage and everyone filtered out of the vehicle, getting the chance to stretch their legs. Normally, Isabel was the one hurrying everyone and directing them to their obligations, but noone really minded at the moment. That was just Isabel for you…Christmas Nazi on the outside, marchmallow heart on the inside. They loved her all the same.

“Guyz, can you be just a smidge slower???” huffed Is. Michael and Kyle rolled their respective eyes, but listening to her at the same time.

“God, people, it is Christmas Eve tonight! Still we got to put up the tree and decorate it, make cake, prepare Christmas dinner…” By the end of her prattling, almost everyone was already in the cottage. Only Alex stood still by her side, smilling lovingly at his fiance.
Damn, she was so cute bossing around!

For a moment, realizing everyone left, Is stood little lost on the snow. Soon after, Alex pulled her in a gentle hug, kissing her temple. She leaned her head on his shoulder.

“Alex, do you love me, even if I'm bossy?” She glanced almost in tears at Alex. His heart almost shriveled and died, seeing her so discouraged.

“Oh, God, YES!!!…Forever and ever, sweetheart!” Is nodded, her head still buried in his shoulder, while Alex held her closer.

“I love you too.” She connected their gazes.

“Forever and ever…” both smiled, finally entering sanctuary of the bungalow in each others arms.

Inside, Michael and Kyle making fire in the fireplace, while clutter in the kitchen was heard, where Maria and Tess were putting things in the cupboards for later dinner preparations. Meanwhile, Max and Liz somehow gravitated toward bedrooms. Although they were unseparable for the last month or so, they still didn't cross the final border – consumation of their bond, but still they knew that this was one vacation they all will remember for the rest of their lives.

Soon, all the others came after and filtered into remaining rooms, Alex and Is across Max and Liz's room, Michael and Maria beside Max and Liz's, and Tess and Kyle beside Alex and Isabel's room. Of course, Michael had to add his 2 cents into the mix, looking at his friends, grinning.

“Guys, I REALLY hope this house has great sound isolation!!!!!” Everyone nodded and laughed, while Maria jabbed him a little in the gut. He just pulled her in a hug.

Couples went on with their unpacking, and since it was only noon, they decided that they still had time to roam around the premises until they were to start preparing dinner, so Kyle, Tess, Michael and Maria went out to look around, while Alex, Max, Isabel and Liz stayed in to get the tree and decorate it, so they had less work later with it.

So Max and Alex decided to do all the heavy lifting, stretching their “big and manly” muscles, showing off in front of their siginificant other, trampling around the house like some fitness amateurs. After couple minutes of that show, Liz and Isabel were rolling on the couch, laughing like crazy at them. That just put big grin on their faces. It was so great to see them laugh…

One and a half hour and gallon of happy tears later, tree was decorated, although most of the streamers were all over the decoraters. Cause, it can be pretty hard to put decorations on the tree if you were chasing your partner all over living room…
But, at the end, they satisfyingly sat on the couch in front of the fireplace and marveled at the work done, everyone's embrace, enjoying moment of peace in the air. While was 5 minutes interrupted when 4 men squad burst in the house, all chortling and laughing out loud, hurrying to get in from the cold.

“Guys, it seems that we'll have little snowstorm tonight!” said Maria to her friends, worried a bit. Alex answered her.

“Well, hopefully it won't be too strong to snow us in. Anyway, lets just enjoy ourselves, since that isn't something we can influence and still, keep in mind that this is our first white Christmas together!” Everyone agreed and smiled. For few minutes, Maria and Tess oohed and aahed at the tree, but now when everyone was back, Is decided to took the rains of this entire situation in her hands, entering in her Xmas Nazi mode for a moment, and started giving out orders.

“OK, people, lets get this party moving! Maria, Tess, get the vegetables out for the french sallad! Lizzie, can you prepare the turkey, so we can put it in the oven? Alex, Michael, Max, Kyle, can four of you manage to pill off potatoes for dinner?”

Everyone glanced at each other, mumbling dissatisfied for a split second at Izzy's bossy tone, but noone wanted to voice it, knowing how Isabel could get while in this mode. Isabel saw that mutiny was to enter the scene, so she mellowed a little.

“Please, guys?” pleaded Is, with a humbled smile on her lips. At that, gang smiled back and went on with their accounted responsibilites.

And while this new made family prepared everything for their first Christmas together, everyone was even more excited about Christmas morning. As it always is the case, you can make adults out of children, but you can't get children out of adults, and these adults were excited more then kids about gifts.

One problem was, Isabel still had them under lock in her closet, and she was to put them under the tree just before midnight. And although entire gang was step from breaking in the closet to get them, some maturity obviously filtered through and they decided to wait till morning. After all, patience is a virtue, right?

And so, dinner preparations went on, with turkey almost in the oven, Maria and Tess handling and cooking the vegetables, and men doing what they did best : pilling potatoes and telling jokes. Isabel joined Liz to help her get everything done in the meat department.
All in all, everybody put their hands in, helping out and feeling of togetherness and love spread throughout the house, warming them and creating even more magic in the air, coupling and joining them all, showing once more that it wasn't where you celebrated your holidays. It was just a question of with whom. And they knew…

The moment Liz, Maria and Tess entered their lives, their lives began anew. As if on a cue, everyone glanced around at their friends and sighed collective sigh., smilling happily at this newly created family.

Sometimes things just work out the way you want…



Part 16


****************************


A evening was nearing, excitement between friends was heightened. Turkey was done already and was just waiting to be served. Although, Maria was not really sure how wise is to leave it alone, since four hungry males were still residing in the kitchen. Strangely enough, Isabel was very satisfied the way they did their job pilling potatoes, but now they just kinda sat there, in front of TV, like 4 beached whales, just waiting to be fed.
Only time Is suspected they are alive was when Liz announced that everything is almost done. Cry of approval was heard from them…well, sort of. Actually, it was more like growl, emanating from deep within, almost primal…Obviously, they were hungry, so girls sped things up.

When Isabel walked over to the couch, where they were sitting and voiced what she thought about them, they just starred at her funny. Finally Alex used his ‘charm’ and wisked her away, whispering sweet nothings in her ear, and winked secretively behind her back to the guyz, who grinned at him, giving him thumbs up.

Somehow, Liz, Maria and Tess finished their part of dinner preparation and couple minutes before 7 pm, Christmas dinnner was in motion. Max offered to make table ready, while Kyle did his best to do nothing, right along with Michael by his side. And that pissed Max off.

“Valenti, Guerin, some help would be appreciated! Girls have been busting their butts to make this Christmas perfect and least we can do is get the table ready, don't you think?”

Michael ignored him for about 20 seconds and then he surrendered, not really wanting to hear another tirade from St. Maxwell, while Kyle just shrugged, knowing Max was right. And so men of the house, excluding Alex, who did his best to entertain Is before dinner was served, put the best table cloth on the table, put out the silverwear and new plates that girls packed from back home.

Finally, when everything was set, Liz came and put beautiful golden candlestick in the center of the table, that her grandma Claudia gave her for one of her past Christmases. Friends gattered around the table, admiring their work, more than happy that some food will finally enter their bodies. Kyle, as always, shared what Buddha says about good food.

“As Buddha would say, nourishment of your body will nourish your soul as well. And nourished soul is what brings balance to your body. But…”

Suddenly he was cruelly cut off by Isabel.

“Kyle, if you once more mention what that fat, little, bold man would say, I will personally stuff you like a turkey, OK?”
Kyle sat a little stunned, just nodding mechanicly, but when Is grinned at him, he relaxed and smiled.

“OK, people, this Christmas dinner has officially started! Lets dig in, cause I AM STARVING!!!” said Alex, standing right beside Isabel, holding her hand. She nodded, aknowledging his plea.

In this small cottage, true sense of Christmas was truely alive. Decorated tree was happily blinking in the corner of the bungalow, fire in the fireplace was strong, spreading warmth all around, while radio kept playing traditional christmas songs all through the dinner.

Sometime after 9, when most of the food was gone, and some wine was consumated, holiday cheer was on its highest. Laughter rang through the house, stories of christmases past were shared among friends, everyone enjoying the thought that they were so lucky to stumble onto each other in this lifetime.

Decision was made that it was time to phone parents and wish them merry Christmas and soon so much happiness and noise was made that by the end of last call, that Max and Izzy made to their parents, entire gang was singing in the receiver, while Evans twins laughed like posessed along with their beloved parents, who were delighted that their kids had such great time with their friends.

And when everything gradually quited down, hour before midnight, on the radio came Tori Amos's ‘Have a merry little christmas’.

By this time couples were blessingly laying around the room, with dimmed light, happiness visible on their smilling faces, in the arms of their loved ones. Alex and Izzy shared space on the couch, while Michael & Maria and Kyle & Tess shared one armchair each, one across the other. Only Max and Liz sat on the blanket, right by the fireplace in each others embrace, staring in the sparkling fire, mesmerized.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight


Max pulled Liz even closer in his embrace, breathing addicting scent of her strawberry flavored hair deep into his own being. He couldnt help but hope that this christmas was just one of many christmases he will get to spend holding Liz. As if she heard his thoughts, she gazed lovingly into his eyes, cupping his cheek with her hand and smiled at him.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away


Leaning closer, she brought her lips to his, gently sharing the air between as passionate lovers sometimes do. But kiss she layed on his sweet lips was everything but passionated…

It was simply the most tender kiss he was ever given, though passion was there nonetheless. But main ingredience of this this kiss was pure and unadultered love…such love Max found about just when Liz entered his life and his heart sang. And he knew…her heart sang right along with his and that was all he needed to know.

He smiled with stars in his exes ar her, and she answered the same way. They glanced around at their friends, who were all already in deep sleep.

Here were are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more


And while Tori Amos heartily sang on the radio, bliss and happiness was shared in the circle of friends and if everything one day changes, there was one thing that they knew it will stay constant : as long as they stick together, there is nothing that they can't overcome.

Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now…






Part 17



****************************


Just few minutes before 1 am, Isabel opened her eyes slowly and smiled tenderly. Everyone in the room was sleeping peacefully. Only hushed notes from still turned on radio bounced through the air. When she was sure noone will wake if she moves, Isabel out of Alex's embrace and tapped carefully into her and Alex's bedroom. Once she was there, she unlocked her closet and put all gifts in the bag.

‘OK, everything is still here…’ chuckled Is to herself. She still couldn't forget te look on Max's face when she caught them earlier when they tried to get into her closet to get gifts. It was priceless!

Max had this ‘deer-caught-in-the-headlights’ expression on his face and his mouth just hung open wide,silence on his lips. Alex and Kyle…er…can you say court-jesters?
First thing Kyle said, when she caught them was :

“Oh, Buddha, why have you forsaken me now? And all I asked was for you to direct em to the toilet.” Alex just added “Yeah!”.

Well, pretty eloquent for highly educated man, right? NOT! But Isabel didn't have the heart to scold them. Their gift hunt was kind of sweet to her, if you thought about it. That was until Michael opened his big mouth, who obviously still didn't realize Isabel caught them.

“Valenti, Whitman, whatta hell is taking you so long with that damn closet??? Maxwell and myself are loosing patience here! Not to mention that Isabel will kill us if she catches us…” stage-whispered Michael, with his back still turned to the two.

Just then he slowly turned when sudden silence met his ears. Someone cleared his throat. That was the moment he locked eyes with the very person he did his best to avoid pissing off.
He opened his mouth to say something in his own defence, but registering Isabel's mood, he gave up, sighing. He knew their days, OK, minutes of criminal were cruelly finished.

Isabel couldn't resist to guilt them, so she just kinda gazed at the small group with dissapointed look, shaking her head, and left the room. Once outside she smiled to herself, knowing they will think twice next time before pulling something like this again.

Guyz, still standing by the closet, feeling bad, looked at each other. Knowing there was really nothing left to do that would make this one right, they went back to the living room, still guilt-trippin the whole way. On their way, they saw Isabel put gifts under the tree,while Maria and Liz slept fitfully through it all.

“See, Michael, what you did? Is will NEVER let me off the hook now! I knew she will find out!!!” whined Alex.

“OH, SHUT UP, ALEX!!! Yeah, like Isabel is such a problem for you! She is your fiance, for heaven's sake!” snorted Michael. Alex rolled his eyes on his logic.

“Max, can you get some sense in him? Hey, Michael, maybe someone this year will finally give you some brains for christmas!” Kyle started laughing, when he heard that. Max tried to stay serious, but soon out of his mouth snort could be heard, followed by an almost giggle. Alex reacted at that.

“OMG, Max, please, say you didn't giggle just now!” Max, being in Christmas-y mood, just grinned at his friends.But he couldnt wait to get back to his loves embrace.

Max longingly glanced at Liz, who started whimpering a little, patting around with her hand, trying to locate the warmth that Maxs arms gave her. So he padded over to the fireplace, and took Liz back in his embrace, kissing her head gently. She sighed happily and smiled blessed.

Few minutes later, silence once again fell over the bungalow, while gang drifted away, dreaming about Christmas mornings.




Part 18


***********************

People fill their lives, with empty nights,
And days that slip away
Some search till the end of time, but never find,
The open arms of fate
One moment comes along, someone who's a dream to you,
All at once your dreams come true

Once in a lifetime, you find the one you really love
For now and forever, one love that never ends
Once in a lifetime, when every star that lights the sky
Will shine with one reason, leading your heart to the one love you find
Just once in a lifetime



As fast as everyone fell asleep, morning came at their doorstep. Step by step, they started to wake up, grudgingly at first, but after realizing it was for opening the presents, they all rose rejuvenated. As if some secret button was pushed, in the blink of an entire gang of friends gathered like moth to the flame beside the tree.

Paper ripping was heard through the room, while everyone were anxious to see what their presents are. It was funny to watch how easily you could turn group of 20-something people into bunch of children… You just mention christmas presents, and soon you have kiddies on your hands.

About presents…well, they were actually quite surprising. Maria bought Michael antique gold watch, one of those with a chain…He was so happy when Maria gave him his present. But real surprise cam when Maria opened the box she got from Michael. The look on her face was SO for the records! This expression of undescribable joy crossed over her face, and while everyone else was rather disturbed about not understanding what was going over in her mind, 10 seconds later everything was clear, when Maria showed them what Michael got here. There, in the box, on the heartshaped stool sat a golden key. Of course, the key itself didnt explain everything. It was really what was written on the card attached to the key.

That was a simple card, but contained something Maria didnt expect from Michael anytime soon. It said : ‘YOU HAVE THE KEY TO MY HEART’. Who would colour Michael a romantic? For the first time ever, look of adorement was showing in Maria's eyes for Michael. Then came the tears, and soon Michael just kissed her gently and pulled her in a tight hug.

And for others…Kyle and Tess exchanged books, since theirs was still buddy-buddy relationship, but for the time being they were more than happy about it, while Alex bought Isabel exquisite blue Kashmir sweater. Is was so happy, she just started to kiss him like crazy woman, and everyone just laughed at their antics. And Alex came to its own, since Is got him newest state-of-the-art notebook, with all best apps. Boy, was he a happy camper!!! It seemed everyone got everything they yearned for.

But as gifts were admired, soon was obvious that although Liz bought Max silver mens bracelet, with ingraved ‘MAX + LIZ 4EVER’, which almost melted Maxs heart on the spot with overwhelming love for her, that there was no gift present from Max for Liz.

Liz turned and faced Max with questions in her eyes. He just smiled at her, and left the room. Uncertainly, she glanced at her friends, with fear in her eyes, not understanding what Max was doing. But everyone was actually befuddled as much as she was, so they waited to see the situation unwind.

Two minutes later, Max entered the living room again, with his hands in the pockets, wearing a grin on his face and love in his eyes for his dreamgirl. And as Liz still sat little lost in the armchair by the tree, Max came in front of her and kneeled at her feet, resting his hands on her knees. He was smiling most wonderful smile she ever seen. There was air of content and satisfaction, total peace surrounding him. Liz wasnt surprised when he finally spoke, taking her hands in his tenderly, but what he said she didnt really expect.

“Liz, I know it has only been 2 months since we have met, but my heart tells me I have known you forever, that I have loved you in lifetimes before. My soul was irreversibly joined with yours the very moment you entered my life and that will last for all eternity.

I know that I dont really deserve you and I realize that life with me wont be easy, but I can promise you one thing for sure…I love you with all my heart SO much it hurts to breath when you aren't with me. It is not only that you are my beloved. You have become my best friend, my sanity…my reason to rise each day. You light up my life, and so I have a question I need to ask you, right here, right now, in front of all our friends.”

Liz gazed with tears in her eyes by now into his. And all she got back was pure love. Max brought her hand to his lips, kissing her fingers lovingly, once again reconnecting gazes with his love. Everybody in the room somehow sensed what Max was about to say, but they still waited with bathed breaths, so happy for the couple.

“If I have only one life to live, and when life leaves my body, and my soul passes onto another level, I still know that last words on my lips will be your name.

Liz Parker, would you consider making me insanely happy and agree to marry me?”

By the time Max pushed those last words from his mouth, heart in his throat, Liz was completely in tears. Not trusting herself to speak at first, she brought hand to her lips, nodding wildly, not really being able to voice her happiness. But her heart led her and she followed it.

“Yes…yes…OMG, YES!!! Ill marry you!!! I love you…oh God, how I love you…”

Max grabbed her into his embrace, attacking gently her lips, pulling her closer into his body then ever before. There was so much bliss and love in that hug, that soon all their friends huddled around them, hugging them and wishing them all the joy in the world. When everyone quitied down a little after couple of minutes, Max finally reached in his pocket and pulled out small Tiffany box, opening it to Liz and presenting what was inside to his beloved.

Liz gasped, when he took it out and it could be seen that it was claddagh ring, made of white gold, with a small blue saphire in the middle. She let out a happy sigh, when he finally slid the ring into its rightful place on the ringfinger on her right hand. After he gently carressed her lips and kissed her senseless, leaving her wanting for more.

“It’s a claddagh ring. The hands represent friendship, the crown rep-resents
loyalty... and the heart love. You wear it with the heart pointing towards you. It
means you belong to somebody. In the old Ireland, thie ring was considered a wedding band and today I am giving you with the same promise.” He kissed the ring on her finger.

“Liz, whether I die tommorrow or 50 years from now, my destiny is the same. It's you… I will always love only you, today and forever, Liz.

YOU are the keeper of MY heart…”

Liz nodded shakily, once again left speechless, crying her eyes out from happiness, just pulling him closer, wanting so badly to be one with him.

“Max, you are the love of my life. Just kiss me, you silly man…just kiss me…”

Lips met in a single, loving kiss, gentle and passionate at the same time,and while promises of lifetimes together between lovers were exchanged, their closest friends celebrated new life path the couple was taking. Isabel came over to Max, grinning cheekily at him, glancing at the petite woman at his side, who so suddenly grabbed a hold of her brother's heart, and she couldn't be more happy at the turns their lives were taking. She hugged Max tightly, whispering in his ear.

“Max, do you really want your sister to die of a heart attack in this young age? When you decide to surprise someone, you sure go the whole nine yards, dontcha, my dear brother?”

Max laughed hoarsely into his sisters shoulder, pulling back a little to gaze into her eyes.

“Did I do OK, sis?” She nodded, smilling.

“More than OK! Liz is the best thing in your life, isn't she?”

Max affirmed it with a nod. Than glancing at Liz, he dreamily stated to his sister.

“I told you months ago, that she was the one…”

“Yeah, you did. And although I am very glad for you two now, I just wanna tell you one important thing. Even as Liz is your love, fiance and wife-to-be, she has still become one of my best friends and I look after my own. So the fact that you are my brother, that still does NOT protect you from my wraith, or prevents me from kicking your ass if you ever hurt her, OK?” smallest grin appeared on her lips, while her eyesbrows furrowed a little. Max heartily laughed at his sister, but then turned serious in a second.

“Izzy, if I EVER hurt her, I would kick my own ass myself, you know?”

“I know, Max. You are the best brother I have, you do know that, right?” Max grinned.

“Is, I am your ONLY brother!” he stated goodnaturedly exasparated. She just looked at him pointedly, still smilling.

“So your point being?” He just shook his head at his sister, and once again pulled her happily in a big brotherly hug. Soon, siblings rejoined the ongoing celebration, and the rest of the day was spent in the same way.

And the constant through it all was the blinding love Max and Liz shared between each other and with their friends.

Huddled in each others embrace, while everyone bustled around them, already making plannes for their wedding, although even they did not talk about it yet, Max and Liz stood in the center of it all, looking into each others eyes, breathing each others air, counting the days to start their life together.


Some people live their lives in compromise,
And hide their dreams away
Some never take the chance, within their hands,
To claim the prize they make
When faith is all you need, to hold the hand of destiny,
Find the love that's meant to be

If you believe in the power of love
And you believe that dreams come true
Magic will fill your heart, when that moment comes along
Just once in a lifetime
Once in a lifetime, when every star that lights the sky
Will shine with one reason, leading you home to the one love you find
Just once in a lifetime, Just once in a lifetime



Part 19


****************************


Days before New Year's Eve were spent in skying, which mostly ended in everyone landing in a heap on the snow, since being from always sunny and warm climate, noone actually ever set foot on the snow in their entire life. So they mostly goofed around, rolled in ths snow, started snowball fights and enjoyed in generally happy atmosphere.

Entire gang was still under christmas spell and the newity of Max and Liz's engagement. Young couple was walking all days through the bungalow on clouds. It didn't really matter were they alone in the room or some of their friends were present, the picture was always the same. Max held Liz in his embrace, gently kissing her face and whispering adoring words in her ear, putting shy and embarassed smiled to her face. On most of her smiles, he just lovingly smiled and pulled her close in his arms.

And now 2 days before the biggest night of the year, Max decided it was time to put another plan he had in the motion. He wanted this New Year's Eve a night to remember for both their lives. So he drafted Maria to help him set things up. Candles were bought, champagne was hidden away in the fridge, along with bowl of strawberries and big tub of creme.

He thought of Liz, lying among lit candles, wearing nothing but loving smile for him, waiting for him to join her and finally make her his. Just the thought of it brought heartbreaking smile, filled with love, to his face. He wanted so much to be one with her, to make all her dreams come true.

Max knew that once they came back in the real world, they will have to fight the world for their love, but anything was was worth fighting to have love of this woman by his side and in his heart. And the amazing thing was, Max knew Liz felt exactly the same and somehow fire of love burning in his heart became even stronger, threatening to make him combust in the cloud of desire and adorement for Liz.

Once or twice Liz caught Max and Maria in the wee hours of the night in deep conversations, whispering silently, sitting at the kitchen table, so she knew they planned something, but when she confronted either of them out of curiosity, they kept their mouth shut, but always this tiny smile was showing, while they looked at her. Liz just decided to leave it be, and went on with her plans for New Year's Eve. God, she so wanted him to finally make love to her, but she knew he didn't wanna press her into anything she wasn't ready for. He just loved her too much. Liz's heart melted just thinking about how good of a man Max was, and it seemed he always did or said something that kinda pushed that notch of how much she loved him one degree higher. But damn it, if they didn't make love anytime soon, she admitted to herself that her seducing him wasn't totally out of the question.

Liz pictured herself lying on their bed, surrounded with candles, waiting for the love of her life to join her in body as in soul. Yep, New Year night was the night she will give her everything to Max… Liz smiled to herself.

‘Oh, my…I never thought about myself as aggresive or posessive…’

Than she thought about his eyes, those soulful eyes that were always filled with love just for her and she knew he felt the same about her.

‘Well, there's nothing wrong with being posessive, if it's mutual, right?’ Liz chuckled at her predicament.

‘Max, my love, I will make your eyes jump out in 2 days. Just you wait and see…’ Liz mischeviously grinned, already thinking of ways she could make her lover's heart beat little faster.


Part 20


***************************


On the morning of december 31st, friends lazily got out of their bedrooms, gathering for breakfast at the kitchen table, laying out what they wanted to do with the day, while Liz was still in the bathroom. Tess was standing at the kitchen stove and was busily flipping pancakes, while Kyle got orange juice and syrup for the cakes out of the fridge.

Is leaned cosily on Alex's shoulder, still half asleep,while he talked to Michael and Max about what was to go about today.

“Guyz, I heard that big New Year's party is to take place in the main building. So I thought that we could go there and join the celebration. What do you think?”

“ Sure, that's great idea, Whitman. Maria and I are in 100 %. Kyle, you and Tess?” asked Michael, while Max grinned secretly. Tess and Kyle nodded, agreeing with the general plan.

“Well, Is and I definitely will go. I WANNA SHAKE MY BOOT-AY ON THE DANCE FLOOR!!!” exclaimed Alex, grinning at his friends and his fiance like crazy. Everybody laughed out loud, feeling almost sorry for Is, knowing exactly what Alex meant.

Dear God, if someone could embarass you on the dance floor, it was definitely Alex. OK, guy was a wiz for playing, but dancing??? Hmm, well lets just say that as long as ballads were playing, everyone was safe from Alex…Is looked at Alex and just groaned, already thinking of ways to stop him from stepping on the dance floor.

“So…Max…that just leaves you and Liz. What are YOUR plans?” winked Alex suggestively at Max.

Max's gaze was still glued to the tabletop, while this amazingly loving smile shone on his lips ths very second he thought of his beloved. He glanced longingly at the stairs, that led to the first floor, awaiting impatiently his love's arrival.

As if she heard what he was thinking, Liz came down the stairs, and while he watched her, everything slowed down. He was amazed at the graceful way she moved, her every curve like a magnet to his hungry gaze, while he felt to his toes incredible pull her body was causing for his. Max could actually feel itching in his fingertips…it was an addiction for him to put hands on her body.

When Liz padded barefoot to the table and got herself glass of orange juice, she adoringly kissed Max and settled herself in his lap. He burried his face in her neck, kissing her gently for a long moment and pulling her deeper in his embrace.

“Did you sleep well, love?” whispered Max in her ear. She nodded, wearing smile on her lips, leaning her cheek on Max's biceps, breathing his fresh scent deeply in her lungs. For a few distant moments, everything around them fell away. Their friends noticed it and just left them alone in their world, continuing with their conversation.

“OK, I think I know what our LOVERS will be doing tonight…” laughed Kyle,joining Michael, who rolled his eyes. Alex grinned at them, shaking his head at their comments. Luckily, neither Max nor Liz heard absolutely nothing, so everything was still perfect in their world. Michael continued talking about New Year's Eve party.

“So, people, everybody except Max and Liz are shoe in for the party, right?” Group agreed with Michael and girls started pulling clothes out of the closets to plan what to wear to the party.

Later on, Liz once more saw Max and Maria in a hushed conversations. She just knew that the two of them were up to something. If only she could find out what…
On her inquiries, Max gently smiled and said that all she had to do was wait till evening, that he had surprise for her. Liz desperately glanced at his partner in crime, Maria, who pulled a move across her mouth as if to zip up her mouth and threw away the key.

“Maria, you're evil, you know that? I thought you were MY best friend…” pouted Liz at both of them. Max grinned at his beloved, kissing her tenderly on her forehead, tucking string hair behind her ear. He sweetly cradled her face with his hands, and gazed for a second in her eyes.

“Love, you should learn patience. Patience is a virtue, you know? And it will bring you so much more pleasure once you gain what you desire…” explained Max, winking at her.

“You promise?” teased Liz.

“Oh, yeah, sweetheart! You will get even more than you expect. Just have a little more patience, cause tonight I will give you the world…” he whispered that last thing in her ear and than hugged her tightly, pulling her into his body, laying sweet kisses on her luscious mouth, which she fervently gave back.

And so, day went on with everyone making last plans before going off to the main hall. Somewhere around 8 PM, everyone was more than ready for the departure. As the gang was out the door, Max and Liz were already in their own universe, even before their friends were out of sight. Young couple hurriedly wished them great time and finally, Liz and Max were left completely alone in the cottage.

Max pulled her into his arms, kissing her collarbone and leaving trail of wet kisses on her neck. Liz sighed breathily.

“Sweetness, we are completely alone. What to do…?” winked Max at Liz. She laughed and hit him lightly on his shoulder.

“You are a VERY bad man, Max Evans! You want to corupt little innocent me, don't you?”

“Uhm…can't blame guy for trying…Maybe I do, maybe I don't. It depends on you, my love.”

“Well, maybe, finally, I want to be corrupted!” flashed Liz her mischevious smile, pulling Max in her embrace, leaving passionate kisses on her lips, their tongues dancing all over each other, while hands started roaming over the bodies, beginning their search.

When breathing became urgency, Liz took Max's arm and began pulling him toward their bedroom. Once there, slowly they advanced toward bed, still tugging on each others clothing, wanting more then ever to feel others skin. Liz managed to unglue her lips from Max's for the moment, noticing finally the way entire bedroom was set up.

Till my body is dust
Till my soul is no more
I will love you
Love you


Candles all over the room, encompassing everything in the otherworldly, ethereal gleam, dancing excitedly over their faces. Adoring smile formed on her lips, and she suddenly had trouble breathing, seeing her fantasy unrolling in front of her very eyes. She raggedly breathed in and out, slowly turning toward Max, who watched her carefully, hopping he did the right thing. Warm tears trailed down Liz's cheeks, her breathing pattern shallow, while she lovingly gazed at him.

Till the sun starts to cry
And the moon turns to rust
I will love you
Love you



Max cradled her face with utter tenderness, caressing her lower lip with his thumb. Liz felt, as if she was blessed with most wonderful man in the galaxy. She leaned her cheek in his hand, taking in all his warmth. She turned her face and with love in her eyes, kissed adoringly his palm. Max pulled her closer to his body, tucking her head gently in his shoulder, still kissing her with utmost cherishing.

But I need to know
Will you stay for all time
Forever and a day?


“Max, this is my fantasy…like a dream I had for our first night together. I never thought…” she hiccuped, trying to still her wildly beating heart. He lay loving kiss on her lips, showing just a little bit of everything his that will be hers after tonight.

“I will love you with my dying breath…I can promise you that, Liz…” She nodded, still crying, affirming she felt the same way.

And I'll give my heart
Till the end of our time
Forever and a day


And as he layed her slowly on their bed, it was as if world turned on its axis, as if somewhere deep, in some other galaxy planets alined, while soulmates loved each other…

Air was electricized with their longing and love for each other. It was as if both of them were burning with desire and nothing on this earth could've stopped what was to happen tonight.
It was simply meant to be…

Till the storms fill my eyes
And we touch the last time
I will love you

posted on 12-May-2002 9:06:12 PM
Part 21

************************


I feel so alive for the very first time
I can’t deny you
I feel so alive
I feel so alive for the very first time
And I think I can fly



Max layed on the bed, drifting between dreams and reality, walking thin line of conciousness, eyes closed. Liz was conviniently hugged to his chest, while Max was lovingly combing through her hair with his fingers. There was pretty content smile on his lips,while he basked in the aftermath. Max realized that Liz was his entrance to bliss. There was one completely newborn axsiom in Max Evans world, one new definition and that was definition of heaven.

All he had to do was to open his eyes and glance down and the beautiful creature lying leisurely on his chest and to sigh satisfying sigh.
Heaven was Liz…Liz was heaven…and if he ever did ANYTHING good in his previous lifetimes to deserve love of this woman, he held so dilegerently in his embrace, he thanked powers above.

Her kisses, gentle sweep of her fingertips on his skin, the way her body moved under his…he felt so…ALIVE!

The way her moans reveberated inside their bedroom, while he thought he will combust in the cloud of blissful climax, taking Liz along every time he moved inside her perfect body. There were actually no words how he could explain the way Liz made him feel.

Just thinking back on their lovemaking set tingles all over his body. He felt as if every living cornerof his body had a life of its own, every patch of his skin suddenly sang with joy whenever Liz touched him. If he ever before doubted, which was highly unlikely at this point, whether Liz was his present and hi future, this night certainly proved him wrong.

Max could now feel blood circulating inside her venes, chaos of her brain cells, as she dreamed about their union, he could guess the rhytm of every new inhale or exhale that liz would make. They were linked irreversibly, it seemed, not that either minded. And if Max tried to explain to himself what that meant, one could say that their sould were cemented for all eternity. And that only brought goofy grin to his face.

He had to smile to himself just thinking about it, now feeling slightly silly for monologuing inside his head. But still he knew that was exactly what happened. Their essences were definitely cemented together, and there was nothing in this and any other worlds that could ever separate Max Evans and Liz Parker, soon to be Evans, ever again.


Suddenly, brown mane on his chest started moving slowly, signaling that his beloved was waking up. Liz lovingly splayed her palm over his abdomen, and lay adoring kiss on his navel. Max laughed, while he tried to pull her way up on the bed, to the pillow.

“Liz, hon, sweetie….I am up here! Can I get a kiss too?” She stuck her tongue at Max, grinning wolfishly.

“Uhmmm…well, the way I see it, you're down here too…” She glanced under the blanket mischeviously. Max shook his head. OK, if she really wanted to play this game, he was up…well…all for it. So he took the lead.

“Hm, so now you want me only for my body? So you could do all kind of crazy sexual…er, things with it, ha?” Max frowned, acting insulted, winking suggestively at the little vixen in his arms. Liz displayed her grin approvingly at him, all of a sudden her hand disappeared under the blanket.

If Max even had time to think about her intentions, the moment her warm fingers found their destination, when they tightened around his already aroused member, sent a wave of tingles throughout his body, making him moan deeply, once again closing his eyes.

“Liz, baby…things you do to me…”

While she untiringly moved her hand up and down,Max started squirming all over the bed. She could feel her own building desire pooling at the appex of her legs, her insides already aching to once again feel Max inside her body. As if Max read her mind, he put his hand over hers, stopping with desperation movement of her fingers.

“Love, please…I really want to come inside you.”

He sighed huskily, decidingly moving his hand between her thighs, searching for the paradise inside her body. The very moment he touched aroused center of her feminine folds, moan of his name tumbled from Lizs lips.

Those gentle sweeps of hands, touches…it all made their skin to tight for their bodies. Their slow lovemaking all of a sudden turned into something completely different, and after that everything moving at the unimaginable pace.

Max manuevared Liz over him, pulling her once more at the spot of their joining. He could actually feel in that split second all the warmth her body emited. Not even thinking twice, Max whispered, almost aroused to the point of losing conciousness.

“Ride me, Liz…”
For a millisecond, their eyes reconnected, and Liz lowered herself on Max, taking him deep inside. Both moaned at the sweet friction of their bodies, as Liz started moving at the slow, erotic pace. Max splayed his hands over Lizs hips, guiding her through the motions and helping her set the rhytm.

Liz moved up and down like obsessed, eyes closed in almost tangible bliss, causing reactions inside her body she never knew existed. And as candles threw their light on the lovers, Max thought he would literally burst. Moans of them both were louder and louder, bouncing from the bedroom walls, pointing lovers as a guiding light to the edge, in the fullest sense of the word. For all they cared, there could be end of the world, and they wouldnt even blink an eye.

Their coming together was so strong, so powerfully alive, that it seemed that there wasnt enough oxygen in their lungs, in this room…hell, in this whole planet, to help them catch their breath at the exact moment of their climax.

Liz fell spent on Maxs chest, trying to inhale, adrenaline still circulating wildly through her entire body. Max hugged her closer, kissing her head gently. He felt as if he couldnt love this woman more, even if he tried.

“God, I love you so much…so very much, Liz Parker. Words fail me constantly…” Max said, feeling frustrated. Liz kissed his neck tenderly.

“I love you too, Max, so much it almost feels unreal at times, you know? Like I had all this love reserved inside my heart just for you, even years before we met…
Max did you ever think that some things in life are predetermined for us? Like there are moments in our life that are totally out of our control, pure kismet?” Max nodded thoughtfully.

“Yeah, but I feel like throwing myself on the ground and thanking heavens above for whatever predetermined kismet that brought you into my life, Liz. Can you promise me that whatever well have to go through once we get back home, that well get through it together? I know there are no garanties in life, but I need to know that if you can have control over your actions, that you will stay by my side. Can you promise me that, beloved?” Max pleaded silently, heart in his throat. Max could feel Lizs tears on his neck.

“Oh my God, Liz, honey, I didnt want to make you cry!”

Then she kissed him so sweetly, with such reverence, fingertips touching his cheekbones.

“Max, I will always be with you… ALWAYS!!! I will love you till the day I die, and even lifetimes after that… You will never get rid of me, you hear?”

“Thank God, beloved, cause getting rid of you never even entered my mind.”

Max smiled, fingering her lower lip with his thumb. Liz kissed it lovingly.
“Liz Parker, you are mine forever! Mine and noone elses…”

Liz gazed in his eyes, knowing that the posessiveness Max was displaying was pure, unadultered love. This was definitely the man she wanted to spend all her lifetimes with. Sure, things wont always be easy and dreamy like this, but like her grandma Claudia said, if things were too easy, they probably arent soulmates.

Liz basked in the safe circle of Maxs embrace, her heart overflowing with love and passion for this sweet man.

“Yes, Max, yours and noone elses…ever!”

He just pulled her closer to his body, and still joined, they drifted away leaving real world far behind.


Now that I know you (I could never turn my back away)
Now that I see you (I could never look away)
Now that I know you (I could never turn my back away)
Now that I see you (I believe no matter what they say)


Part 22


*******************


New Year Party – Two and a half hours later (11 PM)

Crowd was in the uproar the minute DJ put Ash's ‘Burn baby Burn’ on. Bodies were swaying and heads bobbing up and down, following merciless dynamic of the song. But there were smiles and happiness ever present on the gang of friends, that spent their holidays together for the very time.

Since Michael wasn't really into fast dancing, Maria and he were warming chairs in the nearby booth of the main hall.

You're all I have in this teenage twilight
Your gold hair and pale blue eyes
But through all the days and sleepness nights
we have never been satisfied


Kyle and Tess sat on the other side of the room, laughing like escaped mental patients to some inside joke only two of them knew of.

And last but certainly not least, Alex was definitely shaking his bootay on the dance floor. As far as Izzy was concerned, for as long as he was so oblivious and eager to disgrace her image of good dancer, she decided to act as if she doesn't even know him. So right now she was in the very process of doing exactly that. Only the problem was, Alex was so in his own element, he didn't really give her strange behaviour any thought. He just bopped and shook around the floor like man posessed, trying his best to pull everyone to infamous dance floor.

Tumble like the leaves
Yeah, we must fly on the autumn breeze
almost to the point of no return
everything will burn baby burn

Look into my tired eyes
see someone you don't recognise
Bonds that can't be untied
oh this is slow suicide


Finally even as she wanted to be angry at Alex, while he displayed his so called ‘gift’ for dancing, Izzy just felt so happy to be at this particular space and time, surrounded with people she cherished.

And, as BURN BABY BURN reached its highest point, Izzy completely unintentionally saw Max and Liz entering the room. Closer to each other than ever, it was clear to anyone that wasn't blind what exactly went on in the 2 hours they stayed behind. Slowly, she turned her head toward loopy man beside her, still twisting in most particular fashion and couldn't help but smile, her heart filled with love and satisfaction.

Feelings that I can't disguise
and never will be reconciled
Oh something inside has died


Yep, Liz was definitely the one…the one that carried her brother's heart in the palms of her hands, so gently and carefully, that just by looking at them, one could go completely blind from obvious adorement lovers had for each other, now more obvious than before.
Knowing her brother was so blissfully happy, Izzy relinquished her hold on her own feelings and joined Alex in his dancing.

You walk like you're in a daze
unresponsive eyes in a distant gaze


Entering the room, totally entranced by the woman holding his hand, Max tried to fix the location of their family, and one thing pulled his attention. At the edge of the dance floor, large circle of people stood around a couple, that danced on the floor like pure professionals. They were obviously having a great time, and were bouncing like mad to Ash's song. But one thing neither he nor Liz expected…to realize that the couple in question were actually Alex and his sister Isabel.

When Liz realized it, she grinned at Max, pointing in their general direction, not believing her own eyes, but soon, Max confirmed it for her. He laughed throatily, pulling Liz to his side, steering them both toward the dance floor, to join the madness.

“OMG!!! I remember Izzy always loved to dance, but THIS??? Who IS that woman?” exclaimed Max, still grinning, loving his sis having time of her life with Alex.
Liz flashed him her pearly whites.

“Max, I think real question would be, who is that MAN? I believe everyone said Alex royally SUCKED at dancing!”

“Well, not exactly suck, but definitely hazardous. But by the looks of it, I am starting to suspect that maybe they are posessed by ghosts of some couple that died years ago after winning a dance competition!” shouted Max, trying to assure Liz would hear him over the booming sounds of the music DJ played. Liz rolled eyes at him, hitting him lightly on the shoulder.

“I am very serious, my love…”

Max suddenly pulled her by the hand into his own body, gracing her sweet lips with a quick and passionate kiss, that soon turned into 5 minute smooch session.

All of a sudden, Max felt tapping on his shoulder.He turned annoyed and just a bit dazed and and there stood Kyle with a leering grin plastered on his face, with Tess by his side, both laughing like drunken squirells at Liz and Max.

As if Max felt Kyle could start cheering for the home team, if he realizes how they spent those wonderful 2 hours alone in the bungalow, he just put a hand on his mouth, stating tactfully to him to keep silent even before he said anything.

“Kyle, if you want to stay alive, shut your trap!!!”

Still with his mouth covered by Max's hand, Kyle grinned at his longtime friend.

‘Yeah, they definitely did it! Look-into-my eyes is still there alright, but it seems to burn more brightly, and their body language is WAY to intimate to deny…Oh, I will definitely tease him tommorrow about it!’ thought Kyle, glancing from Liz to Max, watching their interaction.

Liz glanced at her own sister on Kyles side, who started pulling Liz's hand to get her alone for a minute.

Max stood there just a tad bewildered for a split second, looking at Tess like she was from another planet, when she started pulling Liz out of his embrace, but soon he realized that their friends are happy for them and that Tess probably just wanted to talk to Liz. Only worry that entered his mind from time to time was what will happen when they come back home.

‘Rising Phoenix’ had a new single coming out on january 15th, and he knew that lots of interviews were scheduled to promote it. And not to mention Grammys, since their album was nominated for best album of the year and Everything for best pop song….

Truthfully, Max wasn't really worried for himself, but what all this publicity could do to his Liz. He almost wished they could just move to Alaska, far in the wilderness, so he could protect her from all bad things that were lurking in life and music business. But he also knew that, Liz being person she was, was more than able to stand up for herself, fight for her own rights and she would most definitely kick his ass if her EVER tried to take her away in the woods.

‘Oh, yeah, and she would probably also make me sleep on the couch just for thinking I could do that!’ Max started laughing like mad.

Liz looked at him little funny, raising her eyebrow, questions in her gaze. Max just shook his head at her, now trying to choke his laughter. Still not knowing what went on in his mind, Liz smiled, rolled eyes at her lover and turned all her attention to talk she had with her sister. Two of them were deep in conversation even 10 minutes later, while Michael and Maria came to join Max, who stood laughing to some joke Kyle told.

DJ changed songs for the 10th time since Max and Liz came, and now notes of KISS ME by Sixpence None The Richer mellowed in the air.

Rhytm of swaying bodies slowed down a bit, now everyone was in their significant others arms, enjoying music and each others company.

Even Maria managed to get Michael to dance, which was olympic success, considering her said he had not 2 left feet, but 4 just two minutes ago. Maria lovingly smiled at him, pulled him by the arm to the dance floor, encouraging him on the way.

“Michael, you will do just fine! All I wanna do is dance with you…Nothing else matters, OK?” Michael nodded at her, realizing not for the first time the gem this little pixie really was. And to remember he actually thought at the begininning he could resist her? What a fool would he be, if he ever turned his back on her…

So her readily joined her on the floor, hugging her closely to himself, where all their friends already danced.

Kiss me out of the bearded barley
Nightly, beside the green, green grass
Swing, swing, swing the spinning step
You wear those shoes and I will wear that dress


Couples smiled at each other, listening to lyrics.

Of course, Max just HAD to kiss Liz. He would later said voices told him to do that, which will once again earn him a slight slap on the shoulder from his beloved, but as far as he was concerned, he had in his arms one person he always longed for and dreamed of, and as long fires of love burned brightly in her beautiful eyes, he will do his best to kiss her breathless on every possible moment.

Soon, Alex and Izzy were in their own conversational world, while Maria enjoyed simple pleasure of dancing with the man she loved, with her head leaning on his shoulder.
And for the first time since they all met, gang realized Kyle was kissing Tess right there on the dance floor. This time Alex and Michael started cheering on and whistling at them, which they both ignored for few minutes, still lip-locked.

Once they thought guys gave up, they just turned at them, looked at them, Tess sticking her tongue at them with a wide smile and Kyle grinning like a love fool he was.

Two minutes till midnight it seemed everyones best wishes came true this year and all there was really was to wish for continuation of it, lots of happiness and good health. And refrain of the song walked them right to the entrance to a new year.

Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance
Silver moon's sparkling
So kiss me


Ten seconds before it struck midnight, group of friends came closer to each other, standing in the circle, shouting out last seconds of another dying year and celebrating coming of a new one.

At midnight sharp, loud whistling started, everyone was laughing happily and congrats to new year were all around.

Finally, Max hugged Liz closely to his side, kissing her gently, wishing them both a very long life together filled with galons of happiness. All she could really add to his plea was a loving smile and a kiss of her own. It was more than enough for now…

Kiss me down by the broken tree house
Swing em upon its hanging tire
Bring, bring, bring your flowered hat
We'll take the trail marked on your father's map


As another new year came, friends continued celbration and danced to music still very alive in the room. So Max decided to bury his worries for a night and just enjoy tonights party inside circle of friends who were almost like family to each other, and most important person that still stood in his embrace, being a part of him as much as he was a part of her.

Max hugged Liz tightly to his body, drowning in her scent, while closing notes of latest song still rang in the room.

So kiss me And he did.

With all his soul, his heart swelling with undying love, Max kissed her, knowing that kissing Liz will always like touching heaven…


Part 23


**********************

The razors and the dying roses, plead I don't leave you alone
the demi-gods and hungry ghosts, god, god knows I'm not at home
I'll never find someone quite like you again
I'll never find someone quite like you again
I looked into your eyes and saw a world that does not exist
I looked into your eyes and saw a world I wish I was in


Night after the party, when group came back to the bungalow, they were so tired that walking through the door to their respective bedrooms was accomplishment. They crashed down so fast, one could think the whole household went into a coma.

When thex finally woke up, Alex realized they overslept last 48 hours. So after waking Izzy up, he went into others rooms and decided he will get everyone on their feet if it kills him, and if one would know his friends, they were definitely heavy sleepers.

But his mission was succesful and everyone gathered for lunch in record time. After lunch, entire group planned their next 5 days around fun. They regularly went walking, Max even decided to teach Liz how to sky, which was probably the sweetest gesture he could think of.

Oh, the laughs two of them had on the snow…

After falling about 30 times just while standing on the skis, Liz had to admit to herself that maybe skying just wasn't her cup of tea. Now, not so easy thing was to persuade Max of that simple fact.

He was so dedicated to teaching her to sky it was actually quite endearing, but at the end, all it took really was few hugs, couple breathtaking kisses, promise of everlasting love from Liz for Max to give up that particular mission, at least for now.

“Max, love, next time, when we come here again, I promise, you can teach me to ski. And who knows…maybe in few years my ability to stand on the skis will improve dramatically!” laughed Liz at her own skiing inability.

Max cupped her chin lovingly, smiled and graced her lips with gentle kiss.

“Beloved, as far as I'm concerned, you never have to set foot on the snow. As long as you are mine forever, there is nothing to fear for me, is there?”

Liz shook her head, pulling Max back to her lips, still able to taste his breath on her face.

This was everything she wished for…just to be able to stand in his warm embrace, knowing she was cherished by the most loving man on this Earth.

Max pulled woolen hat Liz had on her head over her ears, to keep her warm, and hugged her even closer to his body. Everything was perfect in his world in this place and time…

And today, exactly four days later, after 2 wonderful weeks of fun and rest, and experiences some of them will carry inside their hearts all their life, gang of friends was in the middle of packing their things, preparing to head back home.

Michael and Kyle put already packed suitcases in the back of the van, while Alex and Max carried remaining things out of the bungalow, after girls kept entire packing operation under strict control. In less than two hours, everything was in the vehicle, and they all stood outside the bungalow, just waiting for Maria to come back from main building, where she went to drop the key off.

Max stood with his back leaning on the van, holding Liz in front of his body closely.

Liz layed her head back on Max's shoulder, following his line of vision toward the bungalow. There was distant sadness present in his eyes, almost heartbreak.

“Why sad face, honey? These 14 days were like a fairytale…And I know I will always cherish these days I spent waking up in your arms.”

Max nodded, looking down at the angel in his embrace.

“Love, that is just it…I feel like leaving something behind! If I could, I would just move this whole bungalow back home… ” Liz raised her eyebrow questioningly, smile on her lips.

“Care to elaborate?”

“Sweetness, I made LOVE with you for the very first time under this roof, right in this house….on the bed we slept for days….

That night brought me down to my knees, cause although I always dreamed and longed for that to happen, to finally have the chance to cherish you properly, I never really knew one could feel so incredibly loved…like you loved me that night.”

Liz closed her eyes, feeling tears already in the back of her eyelids, clogging her throat, knowing exactly what he meant. This was where everything really started, where their dreams came to life, and she would miss this place maybe even more than Max will, but until now she tried to put it in the back of her mind.

“I know, love…I know….But you can bring me here for any of our wedding anniversarries, OK? And I will gladly come…”

And so they were in each others embrace, feeling like time stood still around them, while they celebrated and mourned at the same time leaving Aspen behind.

Few minutes later, Maria finally came back and they were on their way home.

Four hours later, van was entering city limits, in the record timing, and while driving by the nearest downtown mall, Kyle asked Michael to stop the van, so he could buy newspapers for the latest sports page.

But once in front the kiosk, and taking one sweeping look over latest NEWS OF THE DAY cover, there was once suprise he definitely didn't expect so soon.

There it stood in large, bold letters : “IS FRONTMAN OF NATIONS LEADING BAND RISING PHOENIX GETTING HITCHED?”

And right under it stood long article about Max Evans and misterious beautiful young woman, he was so often seen with lately. There was even small picture included. On it, Max and Liz sat a table, smilling at each other lovingly, holding hands, while having breakfast at local donut shop.

With couple newspapers in tow, Kyle hurried back to the van, handing one over to Michael. Michael looked up at Kyle, little confused for a second, and Kyle shook his head, pointing at the picture and article in the papers.

Few minutes later, they still stood in the parking lot, finally questioning Michael why aren't they going home yet.

Michael gave Max newspapers Kyle brought, waiting for his reaction. He knew his best friend was very private person, and he certainly didn't want to have his love life printed all over the first page of any newspapers.

Max took his time, holding Liz even closer into his embrace, not letting anything pull them apart, and seeing news, she understood him completely.

“So, Max….?” Inquiered Michael his friend, who was in deep thinking mode.

“So, nothing. It seems, it has begun already…But I gave my promise to this wonderful woman in my arms and as God is my witness, I will keep it. For as long my lungs can push oxygen in and out of my body, we will be together.”

He kissed her forehead sweetly, giving Liz his eternal devotion, once again laying his heart open on the altar of love, knowing Liz will give back as much as she receives, and she will be there to catch him, if he falls.

Because if Max anything deeply in his heart, very big part of it was reserved for the sweet woman in his arms. And making them official in the eyes of the world couldn't be more eagerly waited for.

I'll never find someone quite as touched as you
I'll never love someone quite the way
that I loved you




Part 24



**************************


Amy hit the atmosphere
Caught herself a rocket ride out of this gutter and
She's never coming back, I fear
But any time it rains,
She just feels a lot better
And that's all that really matters to me

We've waited so long for someone to take us back home
It just takes so long
And meanwhile the days go drifting away
And some of us sink like a stone
Waiting for mothers to come…



After Michael dropped Liz, Maria and Tess off to their home, they took the van back to their building on the other side of town. It was deaf part of the night, only howling of dogs carried through the neighbourhood. And there, on the sky, such amazing moonlight shone over the town, like none of them have ever seen before in Los Angeles.

Although L.A. by nature was never silent town, tonight was something in the air, something magical…different.

Streets of their neighbourhood were completely bare, only now and then car would drive by, breaking fragile silence of the night. And then everything went back to the way it was before.

By the time they got home, Izzy was asleep in Alex's embrace, who also joined her in the dreamworld. Max glanced at them, and smiled at the beautiful picture both of them made to him.

He was thankful for everything good life brought them and he couldn't be more satisfied or more happy with the life Alex and his sis planned for each other. Max shook his head with a feral grin on his face, thinking what kind of mother his sister will be. God, if their daughter would have just a small piece of his sister's personality, poor Alex was in big trouble. And although that thought brought smile to his lips, it also brought a light sadness in his heart. He couldn't how fast both of them grew up…

It felt like yesterday that two of them were six, when their parents adopted them from local orphanage.At that time, Is was all he really had in this world. Just when he thinks about all the times he and Iz spent playing in the park…

If I could make it rain today
And wash away this sunny day down to the gutter
I would
Just to get a change of pace
Things are getting worse but I feel a lot better
And that's all that really matters to me


God, he was so frightened when Diane and Phillip Evans brought them home from orphanage. She showed him his room, he looked at her with tears in his eyes, and layed in his bed, burrying his face in the pillow and cried his little heart out althrough the night. And although she was in new and unknown enviroment too, Iz heard him through the doors that separated their rooms and came to him to comfort him. Soon, his cries silenced to hiccups and soon both of them drifted away. No words were spoken between siblings those first nights after adoption, but falling asleep in each others embrace. But even Izzy wasn't able to silence completely his cries.

Diane felt her heart breaking, listening Max cry and not knowing how to help him. So one night, while sitting in the bed with her husband and talking about their children, she remembered small toyhouse she once got from a client of hers, who was working with adopted children all her life. And with that toyhouse, she realized that although they adopted Max and Iz, he probably still felt abandoned and alone.

So she padded to his room one night and seeing Izzy fell asleep, and Max was still awake, watching through the window, she approached his bed and sat on the edge.

Max didn't react at all, still looking with blank eyes at the window, while raindrops hit the glass, obviously in deep thinking. Diane gently combed her fingers through his hair, pushing bangs from his forehead back. He looked up and their gazes connected. His so vulnerable and scared, hers motherly loving and gentle. Diane presented little toyhouse and showed her to Max, trying to relax his fears and show him how much both of them were loved.

“Max, I know you probably feel alone and scared now. And I know that life was hard for you and Isabel since the day you were born, but I want you to know that we love you two more then anything in the world. Phillip and I never could have children and the day we found you two our life completely changed….There is NOTHING in this world that could change how we feel about you, you understand? Nothing.” Max nodded unsurely. But willing to hear this nice lady out.

“You see this house? Its a magic house. And if you held on to it, it could take you home. But still I hope you will let us in to show you how much we love, and we do…very, very much.”

She hugged his small body close and for the first time, right there in her arms, Max felt at home. He looked up from her shoulder with his soulful eyes, full of question that he will voice on day, expecting answers, but for now this was all he really needed. This was how Izzy probably felt, he realized.

Glancing at the toyhouse in his hand, he nodded, showing a tiny, shy smile on his lips, accepting everything Diane Evans had to offer him. That night was the night Max Evans felt not so alone anymore. And that night will forever be the most important bond that he and his mother share, cause that was the night their lives truly began… once Max let Diane into his heart, one closely-knitted family came to life.

Yes, he was confused and scared when adoption went through, but everything that came after was heaven sent. Life showed him on more than occasion that every cloud has a silver lining, and he made them golden whenever he had the chance. That somehow got him thinking about Liz and their love. It seems everything sooner or later got him thinking about her…Max smiled to himself.

Liz was definitely one thing he won't EVER feel sorry for. They were just 30 minutes apart, and he was already longing for the touch of her skin, her lips…

“OK, Max, stop that line of thinking right now, or there won't be any sleeping for you tonight, buddy!” OMG, life could be SO cruel to him at times…and to think Liz was all across the town. Well, he will just call her to wish her good night when they come home. Yep, thats all…

Once they stopped in front of their building, Max gently shook Izzy and Alex, while Michael poked Kyle, waking him up in the second. Kyle jumped so fast up, banging his head on the roof, and Michael laughed at him, sticking his tongue at him.

“Guerin, you are dead meat!!!” Michael laughed at Kyle even harder, making Kyle not being able to stay mad at him. Step by step, they unloaded the van and once they entered their apartment, all luggage was left just inside the door, and everyone went to their bedrooms to get some so needed sleep.

Max, after getting into bed, took his phone receiver and thought about whether it was good idea to call Liz so late at night. She was probably sleeping a fitful sleep. He was so deep in thoughts he didn't realize that phone he held in his hand actually was ringing for last minute. He heard knock on his doors, which shook him out from his thinking. Iz stuck her head through, still half asleep, glaring just a little at her confused brother.

“Max, could you PLEASE answer that phone? Its 4 in the morning and we are trying to sleep here, OK? And tell Liz I said goodnight…” She winked at him and closed the door behind.

Max answered the phone, and on the other end one angelic voice greeted him. He smiled at how clairvoyant his sis was.

“Liz, love, I thought you were asleep by now. I just thought about calling you, and you beat me to it…” She laughed with warmth in her voice, little sleepy. This was the very moment he wanted to gather her in his embrace so much…

“Couldn't sleep alone. You are not here…” Max nodded, although knowing she couldn't see him through the wire. So he voiced his feelings.

“I know, beloved, how you feel. I will think about it and we will make it work, sweetie. I just wanted to hear your voice before I go to sleep. I already miss you so damn much.” Liz laughed softly.

“Me too. Can you talk to me till I fall asleep? Tell me about your days in elementary school.. How exactly did you Michael, Alex and Kyle became such great friends?” Max snorted lightly, grinning just thinking about those days.

“Well, you see, one day, back in 7th grade, Michael, Kyle, Alex and I landed together as group for lab. After we almost blew whole lab up, and had a blast doing that, we sort of stuck together till today. Although we knew each other from kindergarten, until that day we never socialized as a group in school. That day defined us completely. God, even today I thank our biology teacher for being so understanding as she was back then, taking the blame for us in front the principal. She is one of the reasons why I chose biology as my major in college…”

On the other end, small breathing sound could be heard, and Max knew his lover fell asleep hearing his voice. He smiled and drifted away himself, dreaming about his future with Liz.


Feel the steady dance of the faithful tide,
sound that break the slightless chance of a dreamer denied,
what does it matter in the scheme of things where you've been,
or where you're going with...

…Love could be right around the corner,
or it could be right in front of your face,
and if you just look, your bound to notice
it could be in your orbit any given day...

Take for instance the way of breeze,
the beauty parts eventually,
it could be the very thing you fear the most,
it's everything your looking for...




Part 25


****************************



I won't go, I won't sleep, I can't breath, until you're resting here with me…


One week later, after lots of rescheduling due to practices of the band, Liz and Max managed to get together for breakfast. Week that went by was so chaotic for Max, trying desperately to make time to spend with Liz and joggling between band responsibilities. He missed her like the air he breaths.

Talking to her 10 times every day somehow just didn't quite make it up for not seeing her or holding her close in the middle of the night. But he was brainstorming for the last 3 days non-stop, trying to work out a plan that would allow both of them to spend time together. And suddenly, last night at 4 AM, while he was lying awake in his bed, it came to him. He couldn't believe he didn't think of it before, since it was staring him in the face right from the beginning. So Max waited 2 more hours wide awake, counting seconds till he was more or less certain he wouldn't wake up Liz from deepest slumber.

At 6 AM sharp, he dialed number he knew by heart and they agreed to meet by the beach, Max explaining all excited that he had a proposition for her.

“Max, please, what are you talking about? What plan?” asked Liz, slightly annoyed for being woken up from the most wonderful dream about Max she had recently, but the fact she was on the phone with the person of her dreams, kind of melted her annoyance.

“Love, just meet me there and I promise I will make your dreams once more come true!” answered Max with light beam in his heart.

Three hours later, Max and Liz were sitting in a coffee shop overlooking the beach. And as morning waves crashed against the shore, plans of a lifelong happiness were made.

“Liz! God, how I missed you…” breathed Max in Liz's neck, while holding her tenderly in his arms. She answered with as much need. If only somehow they could be together 24/7…

“Same here, honey…” smiled Liz lovingly.

“So, Max, what about that plan you talked on the phone at 6 AM? Can you tell me what exactly is your suggestion?”

Max nodded, trying to still the nervousness and excitement in his body.

“Well, since we came back from Aspen, I have been thinking about something. From the moment we got engaged, I have been aching for the day when I would once again be able to hold you in my embrace all through the night, and that ache has been even stronger in the last week, when we couldn't meet at all. So I was wondering would you perhaps…”

It was obvious Max was stalling. Liz smiled at him and tried to get him to say it finally.

“Jeez, Max, sweetie, first, breath! And second, just spit it out! You have been wondering WHAT?”

Their gazes connected. Max took her hand in his, holding it with reverence. Finally he pushed words out, almost whispering.

“Would you move in with me? I was thinking we could go see some houses here, and you could pick out any house you want. I have more than enough money for it, and that would be resolution to our staying apart. Now I know we aren't married yet, but you know my heart from the beginning and…”

It seemed Max was right on the path to win ‘Babbling idiot of the year’ award, and that picture of him was so sweet, it brought grin to Liz's lips. He was so excited about it, there was gleam in his eyes. She put her fingers over his mouth and he stopped.

“Max, honey, you are beginning to babble, and you never do that. Of course I will move in with you! I would go to the edge of the world with you. Don't you know that by now?”

Max pulled her closer and layed gentle kiss upon her lips, breathing her in. His heart was rejoycing at her agreement. So far, fate was on their side…

Max somehow hopped that all this novelty thing all over newspapers about him and Liz has turned down in the last week noone saw them together. He glanced around, spying for paparazzis. Nope, none in sight. Thank God!

His gaze went back to Liz, who just watched him, seemingly knowing what he was doing. It was almost freaky how connected they really were! But neither would trade it for anything in the world, that was a given. It was special for them both to be able to feel each others essence.

Finally, Max took piece of paper from his jacket packet, putting it in front of Liz.

“OK, so these are some of the houses in the neighbourhood, so what do you say we start with nearest to the beach? I think it would be somewhat cool to live near the water, don't you? Midnight skinny dipping?” hinted Max, winking at his lover suggestively with a devilish grin on his lips.

Liz laughed warmly, shaking her head at Max. How did she ever get this man for life?

Soon, two of them payed their check, heading to their first possible home.
When this world doesn't turn anymore,
when the stars all decide to stop shinning,
till then I'm gonna be by your side,
I'm gonna be loving you forever,
every day of my life…




Part 26



*****************************



"No matter if there are mountains you can't move
Or harder times than you thought you'd go through
And when the weight of your world's too much to bear
Just remember I'll always be there."



Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Alex and Isabel were picking out wedding rings. As always, Izzy was taking eternity to finally decide on one particular, but Alex wasn't really bothered by it, since he had most interesting conversation about computer programs with jeweler's assistant, who was, it seemed, also as informaticly concious as Alex was.

If situation was any different, maybe Isabel would be jelaous as hell at his intelectual ‘flirting’ with the girl, but she was actually very happy he found someone he could talk about computer stuff with.

Isabel made peace with her inability to work on computers couple years ago, when she was trying to pass her computer education class in her highschool senior class.

First, she managed to short-circuit two computers in the computer room, and later, while trying to move her keyboard further on the desk, she pushed unintentionally monitor over the edge, successfully crashing it to the floor.

After that incident, she completely gave up on computers and turned toward people, thus going to college and studying psychology And as if world wanted to play some cosmic joke on her, most important person in the world for her was computer expert. Well, life sure had weird sense of humour…

Suddenly, Isabel's gaze fell on beautiful white gold ring set, with small diammond in the middle. She grinned with satisfaction in her ehart, looking around for Alex and beckoning him to come and see it.

“You found ones you liked, Is?” she nodded, grin still on her lips, pointing toward the rings. Alex inspected them with almost comical look on his face, trying to look like some scholar.

Isabel laughed, hitting him lightly on the shoulder. He grinned at her, taking her in his arms and giving her sweet kiss. She rolled her eyes at his goofiness.

“They look great, honey. So we are set for that part of the wedding?” she nodded, beaming at Alex.

“Yeah, now we only have to send out invations, check that everything else is done, and than all we have to do is wait for the D-day. Oh, Alex, I can hardly wait!”

For a second there, Is looked to Alex like a little girl, obvious happiness on her face, almost ready to start jumping around the shop in excitement. But he shook his head and hugged her.

“Me too, love. You can be sure of that!” he kissed her gently on a cheek, they took care of the payment, and left the shop.

“Alex, is Michael today at the childrens shelter, or is that tommorrow? I cant remember anymore.” asked Isabel, while they were walking and looking through store windows

“Its today, honey. He said this morning that he should be home by noon. He even took Maria with, so she could meet few kids.” said Alex, smilling a little.

“God, I can't believe how much Michael changed since he and Maria are together, and for the better! I am so glad for him. You know he has a tendency to push people away…”

“Yeah, been there, done that with him…” laughed Alex.

“Is, I think even Max went through those stages with him, and they are best friends.”

She looked at him, when he said it.

“Alex, are you OK with that? With knowledge Max and Michael are best friends?” asked Isabel, slightly concerned. Alex grinned, instantly killing all doubts.

“Jeez, Izzy, even as two of them are best friends, Max isn't any less my friend. Fate brought us all together for a reason and I am greatful for that. I don't think there is more tightly connected family, that is not related by blood, than ours.

Lets just hope everything in the future goes as smoothly as it did by now!” prayed Alex only half-jockingly.

“So what, next week your new single is going out? Don't tell me Michael, Kyle and Max actually agreed on something! I swear, sometimes they act exactly like little old ladies, bickering all over the house…” laughed Isabel, thinking about that image.

“Well, since first single was EVERYTHING, they decided that THE ONLY ONE could be perfect 2nd single. After all, that last concert did bring us all together. And it seems Max has special love for that song…” winked Alex at Izzy, suggestively hinting his meaning, which could only lead to Liz. Everything usually somehow ended on Liz for Max.

Izzy shook her head, laughing.

“Ewwww…. Alex, I am his SISTER! There are simply things I dont wanna know about or mental images I can do without, you know?” Alex joined her in laughter.

“OK, shutting up now! But I must observe that your brother has been on needles for last week, since he wasn't able to see Liz.

Did you see how he was watching phone in the leaving room yesterday? I am telling you he is planning something big!” Izzy smiled, remembering.

“Yeah, you could be right. I wonder what that is. He sure ran like a bat out of hell this morning. He didn't even drink his coffee and he just starts functioning after 3 cups of that particular poison.” sighed Isabel.

“Well, I'm sure he'll tell us all about it tonight.” Izzy nodded.

With that settled, they crossed the street, entering their car and headed home, while sun was at its highest point on the horizon, throwing its warm beams all over the city.



Part 27


**********************************************


The moon and stars aren't mine to give
Neither is eternity
But I'll give you a promise tonight
That I can keep.


I'm yours as long as I live

/John Michael Montgomery/

Two days later, Max and Liz were still on their house hunt. It left them both little discouraged that none of the houses they looked wasn't what two of them would call their dream house. Few times in the last days, it brought Liz to crying how Max did his very best to animate her in his view of those houses, but it seemed from time to time that her heart just wasn't in it.

She seemed more than little erratic in one moment, and then completely focused in the other. Max was lost and puzzled with her behaviour through it all. It was as if she was different person. Liz just wasn't like that...

So in his last desperate attempt to satisfy his beloved finally, they cruised their way to Malibu, where Max hoped one of the houses offered would pick some liking from Liz. Sure, those houses were little pricey, but in Max's book, Liz was worth every penny in this world. It was definitely worth it to pay bigger amount of money to ensure their happiness together, wasn't it?

With that thought still lingering in his mind, he stopped his car in front one of maybe smaller houses, but just by watching Liz's reaction to it, he knew this was it.
After two days of almost torture, everything pointed to the fact that house of their dream has been found.

House alone was just a smidge out of sight from the street. Little sandy path led to it, but it was like something right from pages of some fairytale. It was mostly wooden, built on two stories, with little balcony in the front. Steps led on the porch, leading inside the house...romantic and and practic, all roled into one package. Around the house on the sides were trees, enriching the picture of perfection for both Liz and Max.

Max couldn't stop watching Liz smiling from the moment they arrived. Dazed smile was constantly glued on her face, and he could almost spy bounce in her step, while she ran over the lawn. Once they entered the house, it was obvious this was end of their hunt. Liz was so excited by everything she saw, that she ran through the house like a small uragan, just pulling Max from room to room. And that was a lot of pulling, since just second story had 4 bedroom. First story was 2 guest rooms and 2 smaller bedroom, probably planned for children and a bathroom with toilet.

He just laughed at her antics, so happy to see Liz act this way. This was his Liz!

"Max, oh, my God! This house is perfect! So perfect!!! All these trees and not to forget that at least we aren't right on the street.
Can you imagine us sitting on the front porch, listening to music and watching sun setting?" asked Liz with twinkle in her eyes, beaming at Max. He cupped her face lovingly, and hugging her closer, small blissful smile plastered on his lips.

"Yes, love, I can most definitely imagine us doing that. This is house I would love to see our kids growing up... So you like this one, I gather?" pushed Max to be sure, teasing. Liz nodded just a little to excited.

Next thing happened all too fast, but it was like in slow motion for Max.

Liz turned toward stairs that led to the first story of the house, and it seemed as if she lost her step. Luckily, her swaying coached Max into action, and as she was nearing the floor in front of the staircase, he managed to to catch her in hs arms, and pull her away from the stairs. Last thing that passed her lips before it all went dark was his name.

He swiftly carried her to the bed in the bedroom across and lay her there. She was still unconcious, and Max wasleft in angst, tears in his eyes. He fearily watched those stairs, not even wanting to think what would happen if Liz fell down. In that once second his entire world almost stopped turning, and he began to hyperventilate, just now all cathing up on him.
He could have lost everything today...

He kneeled by the bed, gently fingering Liz's hair, hopping with all his soul she will be OK. He passed his knuckles over her smooth cheek, willing her to wake up. He knew he wouldn't want to live in this world if anything ever happened to his beloved. She was his everything... So he prayed with all his might.

Still deep in praying to the forces above, 15 minutes later, he didn't realize Liz was starting to move around the bed. When her right hand, that he was still holding between his palms, started to move, ke looked up. It felt great to breath again!

"Liz, love, are you alright? Are you in any pain?" words tumbled from his mouth, while he was still scared out of his mind, his heart about to burst on the seems from waves of love he felt for this woman.

Liz shook her head, trying to clear it, still just a little out of it. She held her hand to her forehead, little clueless at everything that was going on.

"Max, what happened? Why am I laying on the bed?" asked Liz, looking around the room.

"Isn't this that last house we were looking in Malibu? Have we already moved in?" Liz whispered to her fiance, feeling slightly lost and fearful.

Max smiled gently, shaking his head, gathering her in his embrace.

"Yes, love, we were looking this house today, but we didn't move in yet. You said you loved this house, and than next thing, I was diving toward the stairs, doing my best to prevent you from hitting the floor or even worse, falling down the stairs.
Honey, you scared me out of my witts today!!!

You know I would die if anything happened to you..." said Max, holding her closely, refusing to let her out of his embrace. He was terrified of losing her.

But luckily, he was brought out of his negative thoughts by Liz's hand slapping on his back, and small throaty laugh. It was the most wonderful sound he heard lately.

"Max, hon, I still need to breath!"

He grinned at her, loosing his embrace, but still not letting her completely. It was just too soon for that yet, and Liz understood it. So she made herself more comfortable in his arms and recollected what went on before she fainted.

"I think I might be coming down with something. Just yesterday, Maria told me there was some virus going around the place she works part-time."

"That talent agency?" asked Max, trying to make his brain to start working outside Liz-boundaries. She nodded at his question.

"Yeah. I'm not sure even now what exactly inspired her to start working there." laughed Liz, shaking her head.

"She always wanted to sing her own songs, produce...you know, everything, but then again, on the other hand, with her obsession with fashion, it overthrowed her." Liz grinned with mirth, thinking about her best friend.

"Well, she's very young. She can still change her mind 100 times, until she finds herself. You know, maybe she's just waiting for the right thing to come along... And once again, you managed to switch the subject, you little vixen!" laughed Max this time.

Liz grinned, more than a little relieved.

"OMG, I can't believe you would accuse me of such a crime! And here I thought I was this stealthy chick..." sighed Liz, dissapointment in her overacted sigh. Max rolled his eyes.

"You are so bad, Parker! My love, you are stealthy, but nothing gets by Max Evans..." winked Max. Liz laughed, shaking her head at his playful behaviour.

"You know, I think women like you should be forbidden by law!" Liz flashed him her pearly whites, feeling great once again. This man was perfection for her!

He gathered her from the bed, and they got down the stairs, still talking about the house.

"So...can I say to real-estate agent that we're taking this one, sweetness?" checked Max once more with his lover.
"Definitely, Max! This is SO the house where I would like our kids growing up also..." winked Liz, teasing Max with his last statement.

"OUR kids, love?" asked Max, heart in his eyes. She nodded.

"OUR..."

With that, they wondered off to the tree nearby the house and sat in front of it. Max leaning his back on it and Liz sitting on his lap and his tight embrace.

And while lovers enjoyed inside the bubble of love that surrounded them on this beautiful winter day, sun was setting on the horizon, washing out beams of color all over the city. There was once problem less in their world...


Part 28


*********************************************


Day later, Max sat with Michael at kitchen table. There was everlasting silly grin plastered on Max's lips and Michael didn't even need to ask what was that all about. He just shook his head, smilling at his friend and resumed stuffing pancakes in his mouth. After all, he had his share of good fortune. On the other hand, although Max seemed happiest ever, something was obviously on his mind, since his breakfast was left untouched, other than from Max's pushing it all over the plate.

So after watching Max do it for 5 minutes, he finally lost his nerves and clinging of Michael's fork resonated through small room. Max looked up. Michael sighed.

"Maxwell...what's weighing you down on this fine sunny morning?"

Max tried playing it cool.

"What? No. No weighing on my part."

And once more, he couldn't resist gazing at the table top as if its most interesting thing in the world, engaging his hands in removing nonexistent spot on it. One more clue for Michael that something could be wrong.

"Max, how long have we been best friends?" asked Michael patiently.

Max glanced at him, questions in his gaze.

"How long, Max?" Max sat, concentrating for few moments.

"Well, forever..." Michael nodded.

"So, tell me, what exactly makes you think that after all this time I can't tell when something's worrying you, buddy? It's almost like you have neon sign stuck to your forehead, saying something's wrong!" laughed Michael sympatheticly.

This brought shy grin to Max's lips and roll to his eyes. Michael squeezed his shoulder in sign of support.

"So, dish it, my friend" Let me be your conscious." Max laughed out loud, shaking his head.

"Oh, yeah, that will be the day, Mikey!" Michael grinned.

Moments of complete silence drifted in the air for next minutes. Then Max exhaled heavily.
"It's couple things, actually. Liz..."

Michael nodded, not really surprised at the state of his best friend.

"What about Liz?"

For a split second, there was unexplicable sadness in Max's eyes.

"Michael, Liz...she fainted. She fainted, and almost fell down the stairs... And there I was, completely helpless, waiting for her to come back to me..."

Max breather in and out, trying to keep his lungs pumping air.

"Michael, those 15 minutes were the longest in my life!
I don't think I would be able to survive, if anything happened to her..."

He let out painful sigh, locking eyes with his best friend in the world. Michael was stunned at the volume of Max's distress, but still he understood him. Last few months clearly showed that to Max, Liz was everything. Nonetheless, he decided to try and bring some light into his friend's dark thoughts.

"Max, she probably just picked some bug somewhere. Maybe she she's coming down with flu...
I don't think you should go all gloom and doom on the poor girl. Think happy thoughts, my friend!"

Michael finished his little motivational speach with huge grin. Max glanced weirdly at him.

"Think happy thoughts? OK, who are you and what happened with my best friend, previously known as WorldSucksAndNobodyLovesMe-Michael Guerin?"

Michael stuck his tongue at Max, sighing happily.

"Maria Deluca happened. I'm a changed man, Maxwell." Max shook his head, smilling.

"Boy, oh, boy... Can I say you're starting to scare the shit out of me here?" Michael grinned.

"Join the club, pal!!! I think that at this point I'm even starting to scare myself."

Both laughed at that. Max hugged him and pathed his shoulder.

"I'm very happy for you, man. And more power to Maria! I always knew change would do you good. I just never thought a woman would be the one doing the changing!"

"So, what are you saying? I wasn't your usual 'Hills are alive and life is wonderful" kind of friend in the past, Maxie?" Max laughed.

"Hm...let me see...NO!" And that was said just a bit to fast. Michael rolled his eyes.

"Oh... Well, say no more!"

"What? No more GloomIsMyMiddleName-Michael? I can't believe you would deny the world an opportunity to know pessimism at its best!"

"I said, say no more and I meant it, Maxwell!" Friends laughed and decided to change the subject.

"OK, enough about me, Maxwell. What's your other problem?"

Max thought about it and just blabbed it out.

"LizandIaremovingintogether." Michael stayed little comfused.

"What did you just say?"

Max had deer-caught-in-the-headlights look on his face for couple seconds.

"LizandIaremovingintogether." Michael laughed.

"Max, you went motormouth-Maria on me now. Now take a deep breath and please, try to keep words SEPARATED this time, K?" Max nodded, inhaling.

"Liz and I are moving in together."

"OMG! Congratulations, Max! When is that happening?"

This time, Max smiled dreamily, obviously thinking about Liz.

"If everything goes well afterwe tell that to Is, yesterday!" Michael sat little lost.

"Why would you be afraid to tell it to Isabel? That's great news and if anyone is as happy for you as I am, than she's it. Max, she wants all the happiness in the world for you and Liz..."

"Yeah, I realize that. It's just...we were all living together all our lives, you know? And I guess I'm just afraid she will feel like I'm...abandoning her." Michael shook his head.

"Max, lose that worry. You are leaving her and going into the world, but you two will always be brother and sister. This is just part of life and growing up." Max sighed, listening to Michael.

"I know. I guess I just needed to hear someone else say it." Michael nodded.

"Don't obsess about it anymore, OK? I mean, for heaven's sake, she's getting married in a month or so! I don't think she will give you headache about moving in with Liz."

Max laughed.

"Michael, this is Isabel we're talking about here! She'll definitely give me headache, if not for anything else, than for the fun of it, just to see me squirm!" Michael grinned, starting to feel sorry for his friend.

"Yeah, you're right. Sorry, buddy! Well, better you than me!"

Max sighed, torture in his heart almost gone.

"But, she does just because she loves you so much. Everything will go fine tommorrow. So that is why Isabel is threathing my life?It seems that she suspects something big is in the works, since she said your parents are coming too. She said to me, in particularly brutal manner, if I may add, that if I don't show up on time tommorrow for dinner, I might as well, and I quote 'leave the country, cause I will hunt you down and finish up your pitiful existence' end quote!"

Max started laughing like crazy. Michael pushed him back a little, starting to smile himself.

"You know, I think we should really do something about Izzy's threats to my life! I'm sure that is forbidden by law in this country." At this point, Max was laughing so hard, he almost fell from his chair.

"Oh, just give it up, Guerin! You know, you love her!"

Both laughed.

"Well, just don't spread it around. Soon, every drop dead gorgeous female of this world might come knocking on my door, threathing my life, expecting me to love them!"

Max grinned and rolled his eyes. Michael once again changed the subject.

"So, where did you two find your perfect place under the sun?"

"Malibu. Liz really loved it there..." Max sighed happily. Michael laughed.

"Whatever makes you happy, my friend..."

But Max was already far, far gone in his Liz-thoughts. Michael resumed his breakfast and rest of the morning was spent in enjoyable silence, while only radio could be heard playing in the distance.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Liz was still in deep sleep, smile on her lips, dreaming about her man. Alone in the appartment, with both Maria and Tess gone to work, she burried herself even more under the covers. Two mintes later, buzzing of the clock was heard and Liz, still half-sleeping, pawed over her head blindly to silence the damn thing.
Once she stopped the buzzing, only radio stayed turned on. There, on the radiowaves, her favorite song was played.

Come to me now
And lay your hands over me
Even if it's a lie
Say it will be all right
And I shall believe

I'm broken in two
And I know you're on to me
That I only come home
When I'm so all alone
But I do believe


Suddenly, bile rose in her throat and she jumped out of the bed, keeping hand over her mouth. With a speed of light, Liz was sitting in front of the toilet, throwing almost even her soul down the drain.

That not everything is gonna be the way
You think it ought to be
It seems like every time I try to make it right
It all comes down on me

Please say honestly you won't give up on me
And I shall believe


After everything she ate in the last week or so was out of her system, finally she breathed in, praying to god for some mercy. She honestly couldn't remember ever being this sick from flu her entire life. So guided with the thought that maybe there was more to it, she crawled to the phone and dialed her doc's office and made herself an appointment for noon that same day.

She was so sick of being sick! Liz grinned tiredly to herself.

I wish Max was here with me...

Right then, message arrived on her cell phone. It was from Max. Liz smiled.

'Figures. We might as well live on opposite sides of the world, but result is always the same.'

On the screen, bright letters flashed out his love.

Miss you already... I love you with all my heart!

Open the door
And show me your face tonight
I know it's true
No one heals me like you
And you hold the key


Liz touched letters on the screen lovingly, and immediately wrote back.

Love you too...SO MUCH! Call me tommorrow morning.

After couple minutes, his answer came.

OK, sweetness... Don't forget me! Liz smiled adoringly.

Like that would even be possible, love...Tommorrow! xoxox

With her sickness almost gone, Liz crawled back under the covers and tried to catch few more hours of sleep before noon. Soon, she drifted away, once again dreaming about future in Max's arms.

Never again
would I turn away from you
I'm so heavy tonight
But your love is all right
And I do believe

That not everything is gonna be the way
You think it ought to be
It seems like every time I try to make it right
It all comes down on me
Please say honestly
You won't give up on me
And I shall believe
I shall believe

And I shall believe




Part 29


************************


Two and half hours later, Liz was running through the appartment, panicking. First, she searched for her house keys, than her health card, and the latest search party was about her cellphone. Finally, after losing completely the little nerves she had left, Liz finished her dressing and took her bag off the chair, living her appartment for doctor Topolsky's office.

Twenty minutes later and one step from insanity, Liz managed to reach the clinic.

'Dear Lord, who of good judgment would leave these people on the streets! UGH!!' grummbled Liz to herself.

Huffing and hurrying inside, Liz spent next 10 minutes in constant worrying. Since she was once again, before leaving safety of her house, visited by 'porcelain fairy', Liz was more than anxious to solve this out. Thinking about it, she probably checked and unchecked every ilness from here to Indonesia, but never once did it fall on her mind the obvious reason for her being sick.

"Liz Parker?"

Liz looked up as one of older nurses called her name. She jumped from her chair as if on needles, but she was in the end more and more reluctant of actually entering that damn office. What if there was just something terribly wrong with her? What would she tell to Max? To her family and friends?

Before she could totally lose her nerve and run the other way, she was already inside the room and was being offered to sit down by dr. Topolsky. One positive thing about this doctor was that she was Liz's doctor all her life.

"Liz, how are you feeling? I hear you went through some sickness last few days." asked the doctor.

Liz nodded at the woman, feeling little more relaxed, talking to someone that knows her this well.

"OK. Now, I know this might be little embarassing for you, but I have to ask. Are you sexually active?" asked doctor with a small honest smile.

Liz blushed and connected her gaze with the floor. Than little nod was evident. Doc wrote something down in Liz's chart, then asked again.

"Did you use contraception? Condoms? I see here that sometime I go I did prescibe you contraception pills."

Liz nodded once more, just a little embarassed, but knowing its normal procedure.Doc once again wrote something in her chart.

"Well, Liz, we will take some blodd and test it and we'll see what will results show. You do know that but pills aren't 100 % effective? In my experience, combination of pills and condoms are always best to try and prevent a woman from getting pregnant." inquired doc.

Liz was half excited, half teriffied at the thought of being pregnant.

"Did you experience anything else out of the ordinary? Dizzy spells?" asked dr. Topolsky.

"Uhm...I fainted 2 days ago, but since I was running before it, I assumed I lost oxygen or something. I thought maybe that could be a reason..." answered Liz thoughtfully.

There was a sudden small smile on dco's face. It seemed she had a pretty good idea what Liz's sickness was all about.

Doc stood up and draw some blood. She made some note on little bottle and put it away.

"OK, Liz. Tests should be over till the end of today, but just to be sure, you can call tommorrow morning for results. And don't worry... I'm sure everything will turn out just fine."

Liz smiled at her doctor with little trepidation and doctor escorted her out of the office with words of support.

On her way home, Liz started thinking about kids. Was she responsible enough for children yet? Would she be able to take care of them? Then she thought about Max, her lover and her reason for waking up every day. Would he be happy if she was indeed pregnant?
So many questions ran through her head...

Liz hurried home to make something to eat for Tess and Maria. so most of her afternoon and evening was spent in cooking and enjoying music from her stereo. She felt exhausted from everything and so she fell asleep on the couch of their living room, notes of Garbage's
'I THINK I'M PARANOID' sneaking in the distance.

Bend me, break me,
any way you need me,
all I want is you...

Bend me, break me,
breaking down is easy,
All I want is you...


Next morning she woke up at 6 AM, unable to sleep anymore and waiting to finally call for test results. Minutes dronned by as slowly as possible for Liz and finally, when her watch struck 8 AM, she called the office.

"Good morning. This is Liz Parker speaking. I'm calling for results of my blood test."

On the other end, rustling of paper could be heard as technician read her results.

"Ms. Parker, Your results are showing that you're pregnant. Congratulation!" answered the voice on the phone.

Liz was frozen in time.

"Pregnant?" managed Liz to choke out.

"Yes. Not for long, but...Isn't that good news, miss?" asked technician.

Liz nodded, although she couldn't been seen through the line. Than she smiled a big smile, her hand flying to her stomach.

"Great news in fact! Thank you very much!" And with that, she disconnected.

Liz felt something bubbling up inside her heart and she stood in the centre of her room with awed expression on her face. So she snatched phone once again and dialed Max's number as fast as she could, hardly being bale to wait to tell Max the news.

Connecting of lines could be heard as Max answered.

"Max? Could you come urgently to my house? I've been to doctor's office yesterday and I have something I have to tell you, but I can't tell it over the phone!" babbled Liz excitedly in the receiver, not even realizing how much worrying she was causing for Max. He was just plain terrified, but as if Liz could exactly know how he felt, she added.

"Max, honey, don't panic! Just get here pronto!"

"OK, Liz. I'll be over in 15."

Both hung up and Max started panicly looking for his car keys all over the room, finally finding them in his pants, which he, by the way, wore at that moment.

'OK, Evans, BREATH! Breath, breath...Everything will be alright!' coached Max himself, as he left the house.

As if he was F1 champ, he drove through town, wanting to already be at Liz's. Luckily, nothing alarming happened on his way over and in record timing of 10 minutes, his car's tires squilled to a stop in front of her building. He ran up the entering stairs to the elevator, cursing stupid thing for taking so long to arrive to Liz's floor. Once there, already in full panic mode, Max ran toward her doors, almost being in such state, he could just break down the doors to finally find out what was happening to his beloved. So he knocked on her door and very smiley Liz opened it, happiness almost radiating of her. By now, it was safe to say that Max was left completely puzzled.

What the hell wasgoing on here???

Liz kissed him and ushered him inside.

"Please, Max, sit down. You wanna a coke or something?" He shook his head, disconcerted. Finally, he lost it.

Max stood up from the couch and went straight to the point.

"Liz, cut it out, OK? I'm dying here, for heaven's sake! What it you wanted to tell me?"

Again, there was special gleam in Liz's eyes and than she spoke.

"Max, you know how I was sick and that dizzy spell I had?" Max nodded, but added.

"Liz, you FAINTED, not had a dizzy spell!" Liz nodded, aknowledging him.

"Well, it seems I'm feeding two mouths now..." grinned Liz at Max, who was totally and 100 % lost.

"Two...two mouths? What" Liz smiled lovingly.

"Max, love...I'm pregnant."


P.S. Peeps, 2 things to know for this part:

1. Kathleen Topolsky is around 45 years old in my fic.
2.For the sake of the fic, its already nearing the end of january in the story now, so just stick with it,k? Its because of the Liz's pregnancy...*sigh*
Did I mention I suck at counting days? And I finished math highschool...Jeeze...*big*



Part 30


*********************************


Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open




Max Evans stood like a fish out of water, yapping helplessly for a minute or so. Liz was getting antsy, waiting for his reaction. Would everything in their life stay perfect, or would this house of cards tumble down on her?

Suddenly, as Liz was very close to crying, biggest smile on Max's lips was bron. Excitement lit his amber eyes and without thinking, Max walked purposefully toward Liz, immediately covering her stomach with his gentle hand. Their eyes locked without mistake,searching for answers.

"My baby?" breathed Max huskily, almost unable to form words from joy bubbling inside his heart, and butterflies swarming in his own stomach.

Liz nodded, eyes filling with happy tears, seeing Max was OVERJOYED with happiness. She put her both hands over his. Max fell to his knees in front of his goddess, laying his cheek and his unending love on the warm surface of her tummy, reverence in his moves. Then Liz started crying in earnest. This man was gift sent from heaven and he was hers forever!

Couple stayed in that position for long moments after,. just breathing in and out.

Twenty minutes later, he finally stood up, sweeping Liz up in his strong arms, and sat down on the nearby sofa. Then he planted her softly on his lap, kissing her tenderly.

Smile was permanent feature, stuck on his lips, it seemed, and with her arms tucked around his neck, she laughed like crazy, enjoying completely his playfullness.

"OK, love, now that I kissed the very ground you walk on, metaphoricly, of course..." Liz grinned, sticking her tongue at her lover "tell me EVERYTHING you know about this little guy!"

"Little GUY? Why do you think it will be a boy?" frowned Liz, smile still in her eyes.

"Call it 'Daddy Intuition'...You know, wome aren't the only ones with it!" answered Max in his know-it-all manner, and pride of knowledge he'll become a parent in the next 7 months, visible in his every gesture. Liz nodded, patting him on the head, like one would pat innocent child and grinned.

"You know, gang will totally spoil this kid rotten. Think about all the things this child will get he doesn't need..." sighed Liz, just thinking about how happy will Tess be, when she finds out she will become an aunt. Max laughed at her musings, pensive look on her face.

"Don't I know it! Alex and Iz will spend a fortune on this kid's every whim! And the rest...OMG, I don't even wanna think about toys Kyle and Michael could think of!!!"

Both Max and Liz laughed, Kyle's and Michael's weird sense of humour giving them nightmares already. Things those two could do...well, mostly, it could leave you with a permanent traumatic experience, but sometimes they were just plain funny...in the GOOD way.

"So...when did you find out you were pregnant with my son?"

"Just yesterday. I ws so excited when I heard, that I couldn't sleep at all through the night. Couple of times, in the middle of the night, I dialed your number, but I didn't have the heart to wake you up...I know how tired you get with all that practicing for the upcoming april tour. So I just waited till morning and here you are!"

Max nodded, leaning his forehead on her shoulder.

"Sweetie, thank you for thinking about my fatigue, but you know that you can call me ANY time, day or night. Thank God we're moving in together! Now you won't have to go through it all alone. I want to be with you every step of the way, love."

Lovers kissed tenderly, welcoming this change in their life. And few minutes later, they fell asleep in eahc others arms, smiles on their faces.

Yet another big test stood in front of the young couple. That very night they were sharing news about the new house and a baby on its way with both sets of parents and the rest of the gang. But all this layed in the background for the moment and lovers slept peacefully, enjoying warmth of each others embrace.

*big*
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:43:58 PM
Part 31



*****************



Isabel was breezing through the house like a butterfly on drugs. She wanted to make perfect dinner for their parents and for whatever news her dear brother had. If only he'd spill the beans...She massaged her neck, already feeling preasure of the upcoming dinner inside her body, and dinner didn't even start yet. At times like these, she felt like killing her baby brother, but after all these years of her watching over him like a mother hen she was, didn't she deserve some first hand news? Iz sighed , little miffed at Max,but still, that loving twinkle was always present in her beautiful brown eyes. Nervously, she glanced at her watch, checking how much more time till the party started. And of course, it figured that of Max and Liz still was no showing.

Knowing those two,they were probably still somewhere looking into each others eyes...chuckled Isabel to herself.

Gently, arms came around her waist to rest on her stomach and chin perched on her shoulder. Smile came instantly on her lips and she tenderly stroked her love's cheek. She could feel him smile back, reciprocating her love hundred times.

"Tired, sweetie? Maybe you should sit down and rest for a second?" hinted Alex gently to her, seeing her already tortured. She shook her head.

"Alex, I'm fine. Just a little headache, that's all. You know, I wish they all were already here and we could just finish all of this off. I feel like I didn't have good night sleep in months!" sighed Isabel. Alex smiled a little, something similar to pride in his eyes. He just had to tease her.

"Can't keep up with me? My worldly knowledge of sexual science is using up all of your energy? I KNEW I was good!!!" grinned Alex at Isabel. Finally, she laughed. She knew he was provoking her to laugh and that was so sweet of him, but that required playful comeback.

"Alex, you ARE good, but face the music, hun...You ain't THAT good!" winked Isabel at her love. This time he laughed, pulling her even deeper in his embrace.

Meanwhile, clock was ticking away, and soon, entire army of people came storming on their front door. First, mom and pops Evans came behring hugs and kisses from entire family back home, starting with uncles, aunts and grandparents, and Isabel was so incredibly happy to be hugging her mom again. Mom was always her lifesaver...She even promised to help with some finishing touches for the wedding. Also she was so satisfied her dad built such a great understanding with Alex. .

"Alex, son...I see you're doing great job in looking after our baby girl here." winked Mr. Evans at Alex, knowing he will get rise out of Izzy.

"Daaadddyyy..." huffed Isabel at her pops, already seeing through his evil plans, so she decided to play his game this time.

"I'm not a baby anymore...I'm a big girl now!" winked Isabel at Alex, laughing along with him especially at the priceless deer-caught-in-headlights expression on Alex's face. But she just pulled him in a light kiss, patting him on a cheek. Her dad just laughed out loud at two of them.

"She sure got you wrapped around her finger, son, but don't feel bad...Izzy has me there too for years now." grinned Mr. Evans. Yep, his baby girl was definitely a woman now.

He was so proud of them all. Max and his friends chose life in the spotlight, but somehow they all still mamnged to life their lives almost...well, normally. Actually, normal never could be applied to Max and Iz. The moment they came in their family, there was just something different about them both.They always did things their own way and looking at their lives today, they chose right paths for themselves.

And Iz & Alex's wedding that was coming up in a month or so...he already felt nostalgic for giving his baby away to another man, but the simple truth was, Izzy couldn't pick better for herself. Alex was the sweetest man and more than on one occassion, Alex, made Izzy happiest she ever been, all the way back from highschool times.

Ah, things that start out with friendship...just like Diane and myself." thought Phillip Evans, lovingly looking over to where his wife of 25 years was rather animatedly chatting and laughing with both Isabel and Alex.

Five minutes later, front door opened and two couples breezed in still in a happy banter, but the moment Is saw them, she just waved and smiled at them, trying her best to follow her mom's story.

"Michael, I'm telling you that were Max and Liz at the parking!" Kyle tried to reason with his friend. Tess just laughed at Michael's frown and after a moment, Maria joined her, just grinning for Liz and Max. Boy, was Michael clueless on this one...

"Valenti, those two people were plastered all over each other and lip-locked down there. How could you even identify themlike that? And one more question...can you even IMAGINE two of them doing something like THAT in the public place?" explained Michael his logic. All three of them nodded slowly, trying their best to see it through Michael's eyes, but not a minute passed by and front door opened, letting couple in question enter the premises. And if anyone believed in Michael's logic even for a second, scene right in front of their eyes prooved exact opposite.

Both Max's AND Liz's hair tussled wildly, reminants of lipstick on Max's chin, and obviously, both of their clothes tucked in hurriedly. Kyle couldn't really resist it.

"Uhm...Evans? Love the lipstick, but I don't think that's your color. Maybe peach would go better with your eyes..." laughed Kyle.Michael still starred with his mouth open, not really believing his best friend was such a sex fiend. He just shook his head at Max and gave thumbs up at them.

Max mischeviously grinned, rolling his eyes at his friends, then pulling spaced out Liz into his hard embrace and giving her most lovable kis. Guys cheered on, girls laughed, and mom and pop Evans just enjoyed seeing them all so happy. Diane couldn't wait to pull her son and his girlfriend into her embrace. Oh, how her son loved that slip of a girl...

Half hour later, everyone was gathered around the kitchen table and not 10 minutes went by, Isabel stood up and asked for their attention, wanting to finally put Max in the spotlight. Not knowing his news was slowly but surely killing her nerves.

"People, as much as we all love to have family at dinners, today was a special occassion, although I still don't know which, cause my loving brother didn't see me worthy of his secrets... ME, his best sister on this entire planet." grinned Iz at Max and laughter spread around the table, showing them she was just teasing. Max grinned, and bashful looked down. Liz grinned at two siblings teasing each other.

"So, without further ado, I give you Max Evans, the great one..." Is sat down and everyone clapped, trying to coax Max into talking.

Moment of truth had finally arrived for the young couple. Max took Liz's hand, kissing her knuckles gently and at her nod, and love in their gaze, finally stood up and faced the crowd. Everything quieted and their entire attention was on him. Max cleared his throat unsteadily and took a deep breath, glancing every few seconds at Liz, her small hand still in his.

"Good thing is you all are sitting right now, cause this might just knock you of your feet." Only deadly silence could be heard at the table.

"Liz and I...well, you all know how we felt about each other right from the start. Fate brought us together and I knew right then and there, at that very concert hall, that she was my only one."

Girls silently awed at that, both Maria and Tess wiping away trail of tears, while Isabel watched amazing interaction between Max and Liz, and smiling tenderly for them.

"Lucky thing was she felt the same for me too..."

Everyone laughed heartily at that. Max grinned.

"So, since there is no sense in waiting around, we made some decisions. First, I asked Liz to marry me and she says yes."

Liz flashed at them her ring finger and girls started jumping on their chairs in excitement happily for a second. Guyz sat still and waited for the rest.

"Second, Liz and I decided to move in together. We even found our dream house already, although we had somewhat frightening episode there." Continued Max, aluding to Liz's fainting spell. Clapping around the table was heard and even guyz joined this time in cheering on the couple.

"And last, but definitely not least...maybe even most important news in our lives...in my life, cause to tell you the truth, before I met Liz, I never knew human being could be so happy, like I feel every moment she spends in my life loving me..."

Rivers of happy tears, Liz's included,were shed at these words, as Max's speech edged toward the end. Max squeezed lovingly Liz's hand, mouthing I LOVE YOU to her and bringing small smile to her lips.

"I wanna take this opportunity and share with you all, my family and friends, this great joy I feel inside my heart."

Max inhaled once more and smiled.

"I found out today that I'm going to be a father. And what better way to celebrate that, then in the circle of people closest to us, right?"

All of a sudden, both of them found themselves encased in loving hugs. Girls still couldn't quite believe everything they heard and saw, but the moment Max embraced Liz tenderly, putting his palms on her stomach protectively, everything fell into place.

"Maxwell, you sure move fast!" Michael patted Max on the back, showing him in his own way how much he was happy for two of them.

Isabel turned around after congratulating Liz toward Max.

"Max, not telling this big of a news to your best sister...Are you trying to kill me?" smiled Iz at him.

"Iz, you are my best and ONLY sis. And you know I love you way too much to not want to have you around for, say, another 100 years." winked Max at her.

"So, when are you and Liz inviting everyone to the move in bash then?" voiced Kyle his thoughts, joined by Tess, who was still joined by one hip to her sister, and Maria on the other side. Max laughed at the image, shaking his head at them.

"Well, we just got the place. Probably in about 2 weeks..." jumped Liz in, offering information and at the same time, locking gazes with her lover to see if he agrees with that plan. Max nodded, smiling and pulling her back into his personal bubble.
For few minutes, everything else fell away around them.

"God, how much I love you..." sighed Max happily into his love's ear. Liz smiled loving smile and gave him a kiss.

"Exactly as much as I love you, baby..."

Two of them stood still,watching their entire family and friends enjoying their news, and somehow they felt this was one of best moments of their lives.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 31-Aug-2002 1:46:00 PM ]
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:48:01 PM
Part 32



*****************************



I want you to know
I'm standing here right now
I'll never let you down
I'll give my everything
Cus I want you to feel me

I'll open up to you
I know your heart is true
I'll save myself for you
Cus I Want you to feel me




Today, 3 weeks later, buzz inside Evans house was at its panicked stage. One more week, ans Is was about to say the deciding YES to numero uno man in her life. Alex was on the cloud #9 for the last 6 years anyway. Of course, Isabel, being true to herself, made enourmous effort about making their wedding day a day to really remember all their lives. Max just laughed at her earlier today, when he saw how energized she was feeling about the whole thing, but the truth was, he really couldn't blame her. He knew how important to is getting married to Alex was. He longingly glanced at Liz, who was sitting at their kitchen table, little frown on her face as she studied some new recepties his man dropped off the day before.

He himself could hardly count the days till july 20th, knowing that will be the day when Liz Parker will become his wife.Sure, Liz wasn't obsessive about preparations as his dear sis, but knowing Liz, he knew she had a checklist in her mind, already knowing exactly what she wanted for that day. Just the vision of her ecstatic gaze full of love, as she would watch him after they were pronounced man and wife gave him confortable chills all over his body.

As if she could feel him staring at her, Liz looked up, successfully locking gazes with the most important being in her world.

"What?" inquired Liz gently. Max just shook his head, still watching her.

Small, but still most lovable smile shone on her full lips, as she shook her headlittle at his lovestruck gaze. Oh, how she adored this man...If only everything else was as simple as their love for each other.

She hoped Max didn't suspect anything in her daily demeanor, although she doubted it would last. He just knew her too well. Still, she fought with herself for a week now. Should she share what happened with him? After couple sleepless nights, she decided against it. She knew how he would get. He would act toward her like a mother hen, or at least hire 20 bodyguards, efficiently locking her inside golden cage, and she certainly didn't want that.

With everything positive, but all the same, very stressful things that were going on these days in their lives, what with Iz&Alex's wedding and "Phoenix Rising" USA, that was in front if them. She just didn't have the heart to put this too on his shoulders. Understandably, Iz was beside herself with nervousness as it is, and her last "last second preparations"...Liz rolled her eyes at her friend...Izzy was sure organized, right down to the work frazes And if Liz was completely honest with herself, Alex "the always easy going, cool as cucumber" Whitman wasn't very far behind Iz in nervousness department. For Heaven's sake, sometimes dealing with those two was like having to deal with two Maria's at the same time! Like one Maria DeLuca wasn't enough for the world...

Liz sighed to herself, that tiny smile somehow slipping off her lips.

Her mind was again on the flowering envelope, that was burried deep inside her closet, under countless negliges Max bought her since day one.
The day mail came in was day like any other before that. She and Max layed in bed, morning sun was playing all over their faces, their bodies still enjoying the aftermath of their recent lovemaking. They were talking about everydays stuff, including Liz's first natal doctor's appointment she was scheduled for, well, actually, later today. Max will be accompanying her, just after he stopped by to his sister's daily whining about how life was mean, how nobody loved her,about what was she thinking when she said she would marry Alex in two weeks...As Max just nodded away, already deaf to her spiel of self-pity after 3 weeks of similar torture, she finally screamed was he even listening to her. God, if he didn't know different, he could almost swear Isabel was pregnant! Just like his Liz...

Somehow, he just couldn't turn away from her. There was just something magical in the way she perched her chin on her hand, in the way her beautiful brown eyes blinked, the way she breathed, slowly inhaling and exhaling, as she was obviously concentrating hard on the paper in front of her. Everxthing looked and felt SO perfect...It felt almost unreal....

Already three week on their own, it felt like a whole new world to them, like a heaven just inside the door and Max didn't regret their decision to move for a second. One thing he did regret, or at least wasn't sure it was the right thing, was Liz's decision to help Iz out on the whole fanmail stuff, knowing just how wound up Liz was with the pending wedding. He tried 2 weeks ago his very best to talk her out of it, being his usual overprotective self cause of the baby, but Liz was also being her usual stubborn selfm and rather than actually fighting with her on this, which he really didn't wanna do, he gave in, while Liz smiled triumphantly, blowing butterfly kisses all over his face, celebrating his capitulation on this particular matter. She could be excited as a child sometimes. Max silently laughed to himself remembering it.

"What is with you today?" asked Liz, grinning at him.

Max tried staying serious, but it was more than obvious he was on the verge of laughing his cute behind off. He stood up and came behind her chair.

"Nothing. I'm just...happy"

He gently hugged her to his body, and nuzzled his face in her nack. She smiled, eyes closed in near ecstasy, resting her palm on his right cheek. He smelled so nice.

"You off to Isabel's?"

She could hear him groan his response. Liz laughed lightly.

"Would you rather stay home with me?"

He nodded desperately against her neck. Liz grinned at how adorable he was about this.

"You poor baby...OK, I'll promise you something."

She felt him stop breathing for a moment, and her grin intensified.

"If you do your duty as a brother today, I will be youe willing love slave tonight. You can do anything you want to me!"

Max gazed little uncertain at her, question marks almost visible in his eyes. Liz slyly nodded.

"ANYTHING..." she winked at him.

Next thing she knew, Max was out of the front dood, while her lips still breeded from his hot goodbye kiss. Liz couldn't help but lovingly laugh at his behaviour. Men were sometimes so easily manipulated...

Still, there was one thing that Liz couldn't stop thinking about...that damn letter.
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:49:25 PM
Part 33




************************



*20 hours till wedding*


Liz stood by the stove, finishing lunch, when phone rang. She turned quickly and reached for the receiver on the wall, already knowing in her bones who was on.

"Hey baby..." smiled Max on the other end, when he heard her voice, his heart overflowing with longing and love for this wonderful woman in his life.

"How did you know I was calling? Another hunch of your, love?" Liz sighed content.

"Max, I ALWAYS know. I can feel you inside..." Max uncomfortably chnaged his sitting position with a groan back in his old apartment.

"LIZ!!!" He half whined, half growled in the receiver.

She giggled, knowing exactly what she was doing. Still, she couldn't drop it. He was just so teasable!

"You are so deep inside of me, that I..."

"OMG, please stop..." whispered Max huskily in her ear, causing her to shiver. She could feel tingles running down her back, fluttering of butterfiles in her belly going crazy.

"Liz, can I barrow one of your T-shirts?" shouted Isabel, coming out of the bathroom. Liz glanced out of the kitchen, phone still in her hand, silent for a second.

"Yeah, just take one out of the closet in our bedroom!" shouted Liz back. Max groaned, remembering again why he wasn't with Liz. Sisters!!!

"Did I already mention how much this situation sucks? I can't believe mom & dad actually forbid Iz and Alex to see each other night before the wedding! And why again was I exiled here, Liz? For heaven's sake, two of them LIVE together!" sighed Max heavily in the phone, feeling deeply sorry for himself. Liz bursted into laughs just by picturing .him pouting on the other end.

"Max, honey, it's a tradition. You know that! Can't you suffer for your sister just for couple hours?" grinned Liz, teasing.

"Fine! Just don't think I'm happy." humphed frustated Max in her ear, causing Liz to grin. He was completely adorable.like this. She could imagine how he would act if this was their wedding and they were in Alex&Izzy's shoes.. He would probably climb walls by now, just a second before he'd act as a cavalry and snatched her right out of the house! And what a sight that would be...

"So, what are four of you planning to do today? Before the bachelor party, I mean?" asked Liz almost too causally. Max sighed.

"Well, I think Michael said there was some hockey game in 20 mins, so I guess we will vegetate in front the TV set till 8 PM, eat pizza and feel sorry for ourselves for getting absolutely no action tonight..." teased Max back, causing Liz to laugh like crazy. just then Iz entered the kitchen in search for something to drink. Seeing Liz still had receiver on her ear, she good-naturedly rolled eyes at two of them. She knew how Max felt being separated from Liz. She couldn't wait till tommorrow to be in Alex's arms. What were her parents thinking?

Isabel sat down at the kitchen table, sipping orange juice. In case her brother and her friend managed to tear themselves from the phone in the near future, lunch could be served, since Maria and Tess were just about to get home from work.

"Lizzie, where are Maria and Tess? I'm STARVING!" whined Iz. Lizi shook her head at her future sister-in-law.

"God, Iz...You and Max are twins alright. YOU BOTH WHINE LIKE THERE'S NO TOMMORROW!" laughed Liz. Both siblings stuck their respective tongues at her and although she couldn't see Max, she knew him to the bones. Two of them were like 2-yearolds sometimes...

"Max, behave at the party, you hear? Do NOT let guyz talk you into something, please!" frowned Liz at the sound she heard on the other end, cause it sounded awfully like...well, like a giggle. Did Max just giggle?

"Max, did you just giggle at me? You are giggling, aren't you? Why, may I ask?"

"Uhm, giggle? Honey, sweetie, love, I don't giggle." For few seconds there was some muffled talking on Max's end, causing Liz to frown again and then he spoke once more.

"I just wanted to tell my parents said that you girlz should be at our old house at noon tommorrow. You know...For "last minute preparations", as Iz would say." Lizi could just see him make air quote signs in her mind's eyes, and it brought loving grin to her face.

"So, have fun on your girls' night and we'll have some fun on our own..."

She could hear Michael laugh, as Kyle shouted back to him about some girl that will come by later? Frown once again on her face came to life. Then Max "whispered" to Michael to shut Valenti up, which sent Alex into laughing frenzy. Now, all four of them had to do was to find a place where they could unceremoniously fall all over each other in a heap, like in good old days.

"Max, what was that Kyle talking about? What girl? MAX EVANS, so help me God, if you are planning something..." laughter silenced a little, cause she could hear Max trying to shush them, but still Alex's laughing rang through the receiver, as if he was sitting right beside her.

"Liuz, honey, love...we gotta go now!" I love you." Liz opened her mouth to respond, but all she heard was disconnected line, leaving livid Liz standing in the kitchen, holding phone in her hand, enraged at her boyfriend. She slammed the receiver down, as if it was her worst enemy.

"You know, Iz, your brother is a jerk! Can you believe he actually hung up on me???" Isabel grinned.

"Hey, he's your FIANCE, you know!. I'm just a sister. You know, you two are getting as bad as Michael and Maria. Soon, you'll be treating fighting as foreplay or Olympic discipline, than you'll start visiting sex shops in search for bondage..." Isabel numbered off, smirking at stuned Liz.

"Wow...Getting married has really turned you into worldy woman, Iz! I remember how you rolled your eyes ar Max and I, when we'd kiss in public, and now you use words foreplay and bondage in the same sentence like it's yesterday's news?" Liz couldn't stop laughing.

"Well, Max might bemy brother, but we're both adults, for heaven's sake!" laughed Is back at Liz. " By the way, I am not dead yet and I'm still a woman, so I know about birds and bees, hon..." winked Isabel at Liz, who grinned back.

Rattling of keys at the front door was heard, followed by silly chatter of Maria and Tess. Liz gave to Izzy "be silent" sign, waiting for two other women to find their way to kitchen area.

"...and than Michael found handcuffs at the other aisle, and asked me do we still have baby lotion at home!" Tess burst into laugh at the bewildered eyes of her friend.

"I mean, I never knew Michael could be so kinky!" Maria shook her head.

"Of course, if you knew, you would've introduced him to it WAY sooner, right?" asked Tess, right as they entered the kitchen.

"Understandably!!!" Both women grinned at each other.

"Talking about sex offenders..." Isabel loudly whispered to Liz, which set them both into laughing madness.

"Oh-oh..." sighed Tess. Maria was left at the kitchen entrance, embarassed and pale, but Tess just couldn't stop laughing and as fast as she could, she ran towards bathroom.

"Uhm...handcuffs, huh?" sugestively asked Liz. Maria stood there, silent mouth still opened wide and too embarassed to even blink.

"Baby lotion too?" Is took a stab at the poor girl herself. It was a rare moment that Maria Deluca found herself caught in the spotlight like this. So both Liz and Isabel knew they better milk it for all its worth.

Maria fell down on the chair, all fight gone out of her body. Still mute, inspecting desktop with her fingertips, and chewing her lower lip like posessed. Just then Tess came back and joined the circle at the table, grin still on her face.

"Is, can you help me set the the table?" Isabel nodded at Liz. And still, Maria said nothing all through lunch.

Finally, 1 hour later, after they started to clear away the dishes, Maria just blurted out one thing that should've explain everything, but it didn't exactly do the trick.

"It was all Michael's idea!" And another set of laughter rang through the Evans house, as girls enjoyed their night together. At the same time, simmilar scenario played itself out over at Evans residence.
posted on 31-Aug-2002 1:53:16 PM
Part 34




**************************



I was scared
I was scared
Tired and underprepared
But I'll wait for you

If you go, if you go
And leave me down
Here on my own
Then I'll wait for you


/Coldplay - In my place/




"...and then I found handcuffs on the aisle nearby and Maria than asked should she get more baby lotion..."Michael suggestively winked at Kyle and Alex, trying to brag about his sexual conquers to his buddies, but as always, it backfired. Both Kyle and Alex thought it hilariously funny and Michael found himself offended, turning to Max for support. Max really tried to stay serious, but was failing miserably.

"So, I'm guessing this handcuffs/lotion thingy was your idea, huh? You, big Casanova you?" Max nudged Michael before he burst into laugh, falling down on the couch, side by side with Kyle and Alex.

"And you're calling yourselves my friends?" pouted Michael. Few milliseconds later, laughter was totally out of control, and partying continued althrough the evening, sucking even Michael in, despite his hurt pride.

D-day came all too soon, though it was the day everybody could hardly wait for. Buzzer went off at 9 AM shap and brought girls to life, each of them nagging about how in the God's name will they function properly on 5 hours of sleep. Luckily, Max called Liz on her cell, since he was already one full hour on his feet, just waiting to talk to her. Yeah, big surprise there, Michael would say.

While talking to Max, Liz made coffee and breakfast for girls, trying to persuade them to get out of bed.It worked its charm, when she put cup of freshly made black jo under Izzy's nose. Actually, it was enough for Liz to enter her room bringing coffee, and next moment, Iz's arm just stuck out blindly from under the covers, in search for her morning drug. Then she turned her attention to the sweet voice in her ear.

"Liz, love, wait for the postman today. I think he should bring you something special today..." whispered Max mysteriously.

"Special? Max, have you done something?"

"Sweetie, you should definitely spend less time with my sis!" laughed Max. "Has she been telling you stories again?" shivered Max, knowing his sister.

"Are there stories that she could tell me?" teased Liz.

"Stories??? What stories are you talking about, love? There are, and I repeat, NO STORIES about me!" hurriedly spilled Max. Especially about first three years of my life... whispered Max under his breath.

"Oh, first 3 years, huh?" inquired Liz curiously, but Max didn't even register that Liz heard his mumbling.

"Yep, I'm clean as a new born lamb!" grinned Max on the other end.

"OK then. I believe you, hon...." Max exhaled. obviously relieved. That didn't last long though.

"OH, ISABEL !!!!!!" shouted Liz, still holding phone in her hand so Max could her loud and clear, which he did, obviously.

"Lizzie, baby, please, don't wake the sleeping lion! I'll do anything to get you to not ask her!!!" Liz grinned. Oh, she knew EXACTLY what that anything would be, although she didn't have any real intention to grill Iz about those stories. On the other hand, Max didn't have any idea what he was promising her. Well, some things are better left untold, right?

Isabel still half-asleep padded into kitchen.

"What do you want?" groaned Iz. Liz waited few seconds, until Max's voice penetrated the silence on the phone.

"Lizzie, please..."

"Max says he loves you very much and wishes you all the best for your life with Alex." Liz grinned once more at the relieved sigh of one Max Evans, that floated to her ear. Liz's words brought a smallest smile even to Isabel's sleepy face.

"Tell that big lug thanks and ditto." Liz did that, and sighed happily. Another good deed done, and all in one morning's work.

Is heardbell ringing on the front door and began to stand up to go and open it, when Liz intervened and gave her the phone to talk with Max, while she checks the door. Next 5 minutes were total silence and than Is heard hard slamming of the door.

"Max, let me check something...Stay on the line!"

"K, Iz..."

Isabel put the receiver down and trailed over to the front door.Her gaze worriedly fell on the slim, long, half-opened carton box, lying on the floor. Confused as hell, she glanced down the hall, searching for Liz.

Slowly, Iz lifter the leed off. Her breath hitched and clogged inside her throat, her body suddenly tensing. What in the world was going on here??? She inspected content of the box, trying not to touch anything too much, and with each new glance inside, she felt more paranoid.

Thanking heavens Maria & Tess were still asleep, Isabel spied large enough piece of cloth on the coffee table and carefully wrapped thebox into it. After checking that front door were locked again, she padded in the store room and locked the bundle in the closet, taking the key with.

Then she searched for Liz, finally stopping by the bathroom, after hearing familiar voice of her friend. Trying to keep it quiet, she rapped on the door.

"Liz, are you OK? Can I come in?"

She waited 20 seconds without any answer, then she heard ckicking, as Liz unlocked the door.

Image that met her eyes struck her straight in the heart.

Liz sat on the floor, in almost fetal position, since her pregnancy started to show, her eyes staring blindly in front of her. She looked SO small and vulnerable on that tiled floor, that Is had almost burst in tears just by seeing her.

Liz's silken cheeks were marred with salty trails, showing exactly what she was doing prior to Isabel's entrance.

Inhalling deeply, Is closed and locked the door, trying to silence alarm going off in her mind or to succumb to panic. Kneeling beside Liz, her heart in her eyes, Iz gently put her hand over Liz's, encouraging her to meet her gaze.

"Liz, who was at the door?" Liz sniffed few times.

"Iz, you can't tell anyone! Please..." pleaded Liz with her friend.

"Honey, we have to, at least, tell Max. He'll know what-" Liz shook her head repeatedly.

"No, no, please, Iz! Not Max! You know how he'll get. And I dont want to worry him, you know. Maybe it's just a prank..."

Isabel pulled a blank at her friend's behaviour. What was she talking about? Didn't she understand this could be highly dangerous situation, for both her and the baby?

"Sweetie, judging by that box, someone is wishing you harm. Now, I dont know if it's a prank or a legitimate threat, but we definitely have to tell someone." Isabel tried to reason with Liz, which wasn't easy with her hormonal ups and downs, on top of recent events. Liz bursted into crying again, causing Isabel to pull her closer, unsure what to do with this situation.

"Iz, can we wait few days before we tell anyone? I want you and Alex to have a great wedding and I know this will ruin everything for everyone!" Liz pleaded with Isabel.

Is slowly nodded, wiping Liz's tears away, and tried to stay strong for her friend, although fear simmered deep inside of her. She gently helped Liz up and led her out of the bathroom, completely forgetting Max was still waiting. In the meantime, Tess woke and after dragging Maria out of the bed, both of them went in search for food.

Bewildered Tess picked the receiver up from the desk and spoke unsurely in it.

"Hello...?"

"Tess?"

"Uhm..yeah?"

"Can you see where is my sister? I'm waiting on her for 20 minutes already! She said she just wanted to check something and it had been silent after that." Max asked, worry in his voice. He could somehow feel something was wrong, but couldn't pinpoint exactly what, but he knew that involved Liz somehow.

"Uh, wait...I'll go look for her. So, how's Kyle?" Tess asked too casually. Max grinned, knowing how close two of them were to entering into full-blown relationship. If only they didn't backstep every time!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the apartment, Isabel was steering Liz toward her bedroom to get some very needed rest before the wedding. Just then, Tess came around the corner, bumping straight into two of them. Condition of her sister instantly alarmed her, seeing her hanging heavily onto Isabel.

"Is, what's wrong with Lizzie? She's so pale..." Tess lovingly traced sister's cheek. Is shook her head.

"Just a really bad case of morning sickness, Tess. Nothing to worry about..." Well, beside the fact that someone wants your sister very dead and she thinks this is a great time to be unselfish. I guess everything else is just peachy!!! growled Isabel inside her mind, but not wanting to break her friend's confidence. I just KNOW I'm gonna regret this decision down the road...sighed Iz.

Tess gave Isabel the phone, and Is asked Tess to take Liz back to her room for an hour or two, but before resuming her talk with Max, she pulled Tess aside and instructed her to mention nothing to Max about Liz's sickness, explaining it with Max's overprotectivness where Liz is concerned. Tess grinned, knowing exactly Ts was talking about and just agreed to keep silent, suspecting nothing. And as Tess gently padded toward Liz's room with Liz almost sliding to the floor, Isabel's heart broke in two for her friend, still not being able to believe someone would inflict this kind of mental torture to one of the sweetest human beings she knew.

Is spoke for 20 minutes with her brother, about everything and anything, making last second adjustments for menus, and trying to erase from her mind's eye what she'd seen before. Who would be that sick to send to a pregnant woman box of white roses, with their heads cut off? Why Liz? And why did signature at the bottom of the card inside the box, that said THE ONLY ONE, spelled real trouble in Isabel's book? That they meant business, whoever they are?

So many questions roamed inside Isabel's mind, looking for answers, but none were on the horizon. Yet.



P.S. Guyz, thanks for all the beedback, both on the repost and on the running story.*wink* I REALLY appreciate it!!!*bounce**bounce**bounce**tongue*
posted on 30-Oct-2002 2:03:15 PM
Part 35



********************



Thank God I found you
I was lost without you
My every wish and every dream
Somehow became reality
When you brought the sunlight
Completed my whole life
I'm overwhelmed with gratitude
Cause baby I'm so thankful I found you


/THANK GOD I FOUND YOU by Mariah Carey feat. 98 Degrees/




Ten minutes before the ceremony, there was insistent banging on the door. It seemed that both Alex and Isabel had a case of cold feet. So Maria kept banging on the door, hoping Isabel would open and let her in.

"Is, come on! You've been planning this wedding for a year! Do you really want Alex to marry someone else instead, girl? Get you hiney here fast and open this damn door!" Michael just rooled his eyes at his girlfriend.

What Maria didn't know was the simple fact, that Izzy already acted this way few times in the past. Actually, if he thought back really hard, in most cases, when something was REALLY important to her, she froze up and wanted for time to stop. Naturally, to Michael-cool-as-cucumber-Guerin (or at least, he saw himself that way, but his friends had completely different view of him) that was absolutely hilarious, time and time again. That is why, when Maria heard his laugh, she smacked him upside the head. Then it was silence.
But, at the same time, Michael knew that there wasn't a force on this Earth that could stop Isabel Evans to marry her only love, Alex Charles Whitman.

If he was honest to himself, he was really proud of Is. She stayed true to herself and made her dreams come true. It was almost like a fairytale happily ever after. Was this even possible in today's world? Somehow, it looked to him like their group had all the luck at this moment. They were all together and one wedding was here. Hopefully, soon, there would be another. With gentleness, he looked at Maria and knew, that when their time came, he would be one lucky groom.

Another round of door banging brought him out of his thoughts.

At the same time, inside the room, Isabel fought with herself and Liz, who was at the moment putting her dramatic existence aside and focused on a friend, her future sister-in-law.

"Is, what are you doing? I thought marrying Alex was what you always wanted to do. What is this really all about?" asked Liz in a whisper. Isabel finally sat down across from her and sighed deeply.

"Liz, what if I lose everything? What if something happens to you or my brother? Or Alex? Oh, my God, I don't know what I'd do if I lost anyone of you guyz! And with what happened earlier today..." Liz nodded her head, knowing exactly where her insecurities lie.

"Izzy, we still don't know what that really is. And I never, in million years, wanted to ruin your wedding like this..." Isabel shook her head, pulling Liz in a sisterly hug.

"Liz, don't you dare talk like that! You, Maria and Tess...you three are like sisters to me. We're family, soon even in front of the law. So, you better forget this martyr path, OK?" Liz nodded, then sniffed a little and hugged Isabel back. Is smiled, satisfied.

"Is, there are no garanties in life. Sometimes you just have to have faith. Let's just try to focus on beautiful future that lies ahead of you and Alex, of all 10 kids you two will have..." Izzy's eyes bugged out in fear.

"OMB, only if Alex gives birth to them!" Girls laughed hard, while trying to picture Alex pregnant. "BAD mental pictures!" Both giggled.

Determined, Is stood up, fluffed her wedding gown, checked herself in the mirror and pulled Liz by the hand.

"Girl, pick up your step. We have a wedding to go to." Liz grinned and followed Isabel out the door.

Meanwhile, Alex was on the other side of the house, wearing the carpet out by all the prowling. Max was starting to lose nerves with him. For 30 minutes straight he listened to Alex question every single thing from his and Isabel's life together, managing to work himself up to such a frenzy, that it was actually comical to watch, while his arms flew around in panic. So, Max banged his forehead few times on the nearby door, hoping to pull Alex's attention from obsessing over the wedding.

He knew Isabel loved him to pieces and there was zero chances for two of the not marrying today. Finally, when Alex started to bring in question if Isabel even wanted him around, Max lost it. He grabbed Alex's flying arm and faced him.

"Alex, get a grip! I have two simple questions for you. First, do you love my sister?"

"With all my heart and soul. You know that." answered Alex in a sigh. Max nodded approvingly.

"And second...Is my tie crooked?" Max grinned from ear to ear. Alex laughed out loud at his old friend.

"So, buddy...Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't we have a wedding to catch?" winked Max and pulled him in a one-armed hug, tugging Alec out the door.

People were talking among themselves in the living room, waiting for the young couple and there was just something special in the air. Entire house was perfectly arranged for the wedding ceremony and party afterwards, just big enough for the family and friends. It was exactly what Isabel wanted on her wedding day.

Finally, Alex and Isabel saw each other across the hallway and ran into each other's arms. There was no ending to their happiness.

Alex kissed her so tenderly, that is brought tears to her eyes, while Max and Michael wiped away their imaginary tears. Maria and Liz started crying.

Slowly, first notes of the Christina Aguilera's "Turn to you" were heard inside the den. Alex picked the song out himself for Is.

When I'm lost in the rain,
In your eyes I know I'll find the light
to light my way.


Isabel gave watery smile to the man beside her. Alex kissed her gently on the cheek.

And when I'm scared and losing ground;
When my world is going crazy,
you can turn it all around.


Soon, there was no dry eye in the room. All female members were sniffing and using their handkerchiefs to the maximum. Bridesmaids made their way through the room.

And when I'm down you're there; pushing me to the top.
You're always there; giving me all you've got.


Finally, Phillip Evans stood proudly, with Is on his hand began their descent to the improvised altar at the front of the room, where Alex waited for his bride, with Max and Liz as best man and maid of honour.

For a shield from the storm;
For a friend; for a love
To keep me safe and warm,
I turn to you.
For the strength to be strong;
For the will to carry on;
For everything you do;
For everything that's true,
I turn to you.


With smiles on their faces, while winter sun illuminated the room, they reached the front, father giving his daughter away to another man. Even he teared a little, sitting beside his wife, who took his hand, squeezing is gently. Alex was amazed at her beauty and couldn't stop grinning. Luckily for him, Isabel wasn't much better either. There was a 1000 MWts smile on her lovely face. Tess, Liz and Maria cried like there was no tommorrow, but someone watching them could've easily think they were in middle of a mass nervous breakdown. They didn't mind it one bit. At the front, minister smiled at the couple, opening his Bible. Still, song played in the distance, setting the mood.

When I lose my will to win,
I just reach for you and I can reach the sky again.
I can do anything,
'Cause your love is so amazing;
'cause your love inspires me.

And when I need a friend, you're always on my side;
Giving me faith that gets me through the night.


"Dearly beloved, we have gathered here to join this man and this woman in the holy matrimony..." The rest of the speech fell into the background, both of them only waiting to say I do, already knowing each others heart. And as Isabel and Alex said their wovs, promising to love and cherish each other till their dying day, a fairytale began for the two.

When minister pronounced them married, Isabel promptly started crying, joined by her usual chorus of cryers, all dabbing their cheeks with handkercheifs. Already knowing the procedure in such situations, guyz pulled their girls in a close hug.

At the front, Alex did the same, pulling Is closer and kissing her forehead. She smiled, content. She was home. Nothing else mattered in this time and place, she decided.

Nothing but her husband and her family. And for few hours, she completely forgot this morning.