posted on 20-May-2002 11:10:57 PM
Authors:
E-mail me at:
Rating: R to NC-17
Disclaimer: I own everything! ba ha ha ha ha. (ER… er, I’m taking pills, but they don’t seem to help)
Summary: AU Max and Liz help each other out through difficult times
Feedback: Always, always welcome...
NOTE: I got some requests to repoast this, so here it is, you guys...


Liz's POV


I stare anxiously at the light under my door, waiting for it to go out.

Sleep, why don't you?!

Its late, maybe midnight, and I'm dying to get out.

The dark suffocates me.

The light goes out.

FINALLY! I roll my eyes.

I heave aside the covers and quickly throw on a robe and some slippers.

Quietly... I open window, climb over railing, open Max's window, climb in. All the while, the theme from Mission Impossible is playing out I my head.

He's awake, at his desk, working on something. Typical. He's always doing SOMEthing. Rock music blares out of his $650 music sound system.

"How come I have to come here every night…?" I grumble, dropping myself awkwardly onto his carpeted floor.

"You don't." He's not surprised to see me here.

"No, I mean, why don't you ever come to MY room?!" I'm angry, cause I scraped my elbow on the railing.

"Cause."

"What kind of answer is that? Cause." I pause. "What you working on?"

"Math."

"Huh. What a surprise…"

I flop down onto his bed and flip through his Philosophy text. A note falls out. "Casey - 555-4889." Casey? Who the hell? I raise my eyebrow.

"Who's Casey?"

He turns quickly.

"Hey! Gimmie that."

He's blushing.

Oh, God, he's blushing. He snatches the piece of paper from my hands and stuffs it into his pocket, avoiding my laughing eyes.

"From Philosophy?"

"From English."

"Casey Dobkins? Blond, skinny, blue eyes… hair experimental extraordinaire…?"

"Yeah, that's her…" He mumbles casually. Casually, my ass! I may be a hetre-sexual female, but I know an important girl when I see one.

I laugh. He's so cute.

"You're so cute."

He rolls his eyes. "I spoke to your boyfriend today." There's a nasty tone in that sentence, but I decide to ignore it.

"…Ethan?"

He rolls his eyes. "No, Clark Kent." He's facing me now in his swivel chair, one leg propped up on the bed. The only light in the room comes from his desk lamp.

He just stared at me, a disenchanted look on his face.

"Well?!"

"Oh, right. Well, nothing happened, really. " He looks annoyed, now. He hates Ethan. "Said he'd ask you out again."

"Liar."

"I wish."

"…And he's not my boyfriend. Not yet, anyway." I shrug. No need to let him know how incredibly, incredibly elated I am, right?

He knows, anyway. I can tell by the way he's looking at me. Idiot.

"You really like him, huh?"

I shrug. "What's not to like? He's got a car."

He stares at me, as if contemplating something. I think. I cant read his expression.

He frowns, suddenly.

"What's that?" He points at my arm. My sleeve has a large red spot on it.

Crap. Its blood. I must have nicked myself while climbing over the railing.

"I'll get you a towel. Wait here, ok?" he gets out of his chair and disappears out the door.

I breathe. God, I hate blood. Its always so… menacing. Breathe.

In… out... In... out...

I can see the blood pooling out of the corner of my eye.

In… out... In... out...

I see a flash of a memory, and my heartbeat speeds up. It's thudding in my ears, drowning out all other sound. I'm breathing heavily.

My head begins to pound and images fill my head. No. No. No. Not again… I start to moan.

I rub the heel of my hand across my forehead, as if trying to erase the past from my memory.

Uncontrollable tears are running down my face. I'm sobbing.

In… out... In... out...

A warm set of arms comes around me.

"Shh… Shh… its ok, its ok. You're all right. Don't worry. Everything's alright…"

Max. I clutch onto his shirt as I cry heedlessly into his shoulder.

He rubs soothing hands down my back, rocking back and forth gently. He's seen this too many times. Seen me break down, haunted by my memories of the past.

I whimper.

He waits till I've calmed down a little before lifting up my sleeve and wiping off the blood, all the while whispering comforting words into my ear.

"Don't worry, it's ok. C'mon…You're crying over nothing. There's hardly any blood, anyway. See?…"

"...'m sorry…" I hiccup.

He nods and swallows hard, concentrating on wiping my arm.

_____________________________________________________________


I'm back in bed again. My bed.

It must be four in the morning, but I don't think I could sleep even if I tried.

Suddenly I can remember everything so clearly. I don't want to. God knows I want to forget it ever happened.

I see it again. Me struggling and crying. No, no, no….

I squeeze my eyes shut, but the tears still manage to escape my closed eyelids.

I feel so alone right now, I just want to curl up and disappear.

You'd think I was the only girl ever raped.

_____________________________________________________________

Max's POV


I should tell her.

I really should.

I mean, it's for her own good, right?

She'll only end up getting hurt if I don't.

I try to convince myself that I'm doing the right thing, as I climb over to her window. It's evening, now, and we're supposed to go eat dinner together. Monday evening thing.

I reach her window. I knock.

This is a recent thing I've started. She didn't seem to mind me walking in on her stark naked before, but I don't think its healthy for a (ahem) growing teenage guy to witness such... things on a daily basis

She opens the window.

I stare, mouth open. She might as well be stark naked.

She's posing through the open window, in her very pink and very transparent bra and panties, looking at me. Nipples. All I see are nipples.

She realizes I'm choking.

"Hiya, baby…" she bites her lip seductively. A lock of her hair falls over her eyes. "What's the matter? Cat caught your tongue?" She's enjoying this so much.

I cough.

"Y-Yeah. Ok. Can you put something on, please?"

"No. I joined a nudist colony. I'm going to dance naked on the street. Join me?"

"Maybe later."

She grins, but thankfully puts on a tank. Now she's strutting around in a semi top and panties.

I'm fine. I can handle this.

"So. You wanna get… " I say distractedly, staring at her legs.

"What?"

"Thighs… Uh, Thai. Thai food."

It's amazing what a little female skin'll do to you.

Quick! Distract her!

"Umm… lets go, already!"

"Alright, alright. Don't get your panties in a twist."

Panties. Oh, God, Panties…

I try not to groan as she bends over to search for her trousers.

How can she do this?! Does she not KNOW that I'm a guy?

Then I remember why I'm here. Ethan. I have to tell her. Now. She's putting her hair into a… fountain thingy…

I clear my throat.

"Liz?"

"Yes, Hormone-boy?"

"Look, before we go… there's …I need to talk to you."

She looks unconcerned. "Nothing serious?"

I hesitate.

"What is it?" She frowns, and sits down next to me so I can smell her lemony perfume. Tangle, or something.

"I ran into Ethan."

She smiles a little and nods, urging me to go on. I wish she wasn't so excited.

"He's… He was…" I cough. I scratch my eye with the tip of my finger. I frown. I scratch my arm. "He… was.. with another girl..."

She sighs irritably.

"I swear, Liz. And he was all over, her. He was completely… all over her and… and I just…" I cant think of anything else.

She looks skeptical. "With another girl?"

I nod apprehensively.

"But he and I are like… he was going to ask me out again."

"Oh, he still is…probably. He just… I don't know… maybe he just isn't serious about you or maybe… maybe… I don't know, ok?" I feel guilty.

Why do I feel so incredibly guilty?

"Are you sure it was him?"

"Pretty sure. They were at a bar, in a booth…"

Please. Just don't start crying. I hate that.

"You know, it couldn't have been him." She gets busy, suddenly, pulling on her pants in frenzy.

What? What does that mean?

"What? It was him, Liz… That's what I'm trying to tell you. I don't think you should go out with him again."

"Look, Max… Ethan doesn't drink. He hates bars, grills and places that serve sushi. So it couldn't have been him."

She doesn't believe me?! This I was not prepared for.

Crying, anger, depression, sure. But not this.

"Wha… I saw them, ok, Liz?! Why would I lie about something so fucking stupid? I saw them making out in a booth. At Frankie's. All right?! So stop telling me it wasn't him!"

I'm yelling. Loudly.

"How dare you! How dare you come in here and accuse my… boyfriend of cheating on me!"

What's going on? This is not how it's supposed to happen.

"I am not. Accusing him." I say calmly.

"The hell you're not!"

"Fine! You want to go out with that fucking jerk off again? Be my guest! But don't come crying to me after he's… he's…"

I'm breathing hard. We both are. I'm so mad at her right now, I can't think straight.

"I'm leaving."

"No, I'm kicking you out! Get the… get OUT!"

I'm already climbing out of her window. She slams it shut behind me.

Fuck!

I rub my hands warily over my flushed skin, and curse loudly.

I just pushed her into the arms of the devil. What do I do now?
_____________________________________________________________

Part 2


Max's POV


I pick up my books and shut the locker with a slight bang.

Students spill out of classes and into the hallway, as the bell for lunch goes off. I haven't seen Liz all day. She's avoiding me.

I join Michael at the cafeteria.

Where is she?

I'm wildly looking around for her.

"Hey, you ok?"

"Uh huh. Fine." I'm still craning my neck.

"Who you looking for?"

"Uhhhh…," Does this guy want a personal biography of my life?! "Liz…"

He sinkers. "I figure she'd be with Casanova…" He wiggles his eyebrow suggestively.

Ok, What?!

"…What?"

"Oh… well, she and Ethan Delane were kinda…" He makes you-know-what-I-mean gestures with his hands. He's surprised I don't know.

"Right… Right…"

I feel like shit right now.

Lower.

She's doing this just to taunt me.

So they're an item now. Great. Just. Fucking. Great.

I need to talk to her, so I trash my food (suddenly I'm not so hungry) and take off across the cafeteria.

I find her outside in the bleachers with Maria and my sister. She's not with him, thank God, but she's still mad at me.

"Can I talk to you please?" I say this almost meanly. I can't help it. She basically told me that she doesn't trust me last night. She's not very high up on my 'be kind to' list. But that doesn't mean I won't try to talk some sense into her.

She's laughing with Maria and Isabel, and at first I think she won't even look at me. But she sighs, and finally gets off the bench so we can go somewhere to talk. Maria looks at me with an apologetic smile.

We start walking across the grass field.

"Come to trash my boyfriend some more?"

Wow. Shut up, Liz.

"You know that's not what I'm doing."

I try a calmer approach.

"I'm not making this up, ok? I just want you to be careful. That's all. You go right ahead and do whatever-"

"I will."

"Fine!" I start walking away, fed up with her stubborn behavior...

"Hey!" She yells. I continue walking. Hell with her. I'm not her fucking guardian. She can't…

She comes around and hugs me. "I'm sorry. Ok? I'm sorry. I just really like this guy, and… I had a really crappy day… and …" She looks at me pleadingly. "I know that you're just looking out for me, and I appreciate that. I do." She pauses, as she looks down. "I just don't think it's any of your business who I go out with, and its not-"

I pull away. "So this is none of my business?" I stare at her incredulously.

"Max… I don't want to fight with you, ok? … But, yeah, push come to shove, it's none of your business."

"I don't believe this…" I mumble, laughing bitterly. I've had it. This is too much. I begin walking away again.

"What?! What can't you believe? That-"

"That some… guy's cheating on you, and you think it's none of my business to-"

"I'm not listening to this..." she turns to go back, but I grab her arm and look intently into her eyes.

"Liz, listen to me. This guy's gonna hurt you." I pause. "Just like Josh did." And even as the words are leaving my mouth, I curse myself. That went too far. I look at her, almost fearfully.

"Fuck off, Max." She shakes her head, then turns and walks away.
_______________________________________________________________________


Liz's POV

Too much?

I stare at my dolled up face and my slinky dress clad body critically in the mirror.

No. No, this is good. You don't want to look like some kid who doesn't have a clue. No, you want to look…

How do I want to look?

Sexy?

The last time I looked sexy, I ended up in a hospital room with a broken jaw and more bruises than I could count.

I swallow painfully at the memory. Then I pick up a tissue and quickly wipe away any traces of makeup on my face. I don't want to look sexy. I don't want to go there again. I can't…

My hand trembles, and I stop, clutching the tissue tightly in my fist.

What am I doing?

Sighing, I pick up my mascara and start applying again. Lighter, this time.

Not sexy. Sexy would lead to sex. And who knows what'll happen then. Right?

Suddenly I'm so confused.

I should cancel my date. I can't go out with him. What if he wants to have sex with me? What do I tell him? What if…

Headache.

I press the bridge of my nose rhythmically, trying to calm my throbbing head.

He will not ask you to have sex on the first date. He's not the type.

Is he? I hardly know the guy. Maybe he's exactly the type to…

I sigh.

I'm just… nervous. That's all. This is just my nerves talking.

Not a gut feeling. No. Just. Nerves.

I sigh contentedly. I'm fine.

But what if Max is right? He's a guy. Maybe he just knows stuff like this. Like who's a player and who's not. And maybe… maybe he really saw what he said he did.

But he didn't have to be so fucking brutal about it.

I feel a surge of anger flow through my body, at the thought. He had no right to throw what happened with Josh in my face. That was way too cruel.

I don't want to think about it.

I'm staring into my cup of water as I wait for Ethan to come pick me up.

But it is a possibility.

But he's so perfect! He'd never do anything like that.

And Max would never lie.

Maybe Max's jealous.

Of Ethan? …

No. No way.

That's way impossible. Right?

Ok, can you say stop? I'm only driving myself crazy. This guy is sweet, he's brilliant, and he's beautiful… and I'm so going to love tonight.

Feeling better, I walk into the hall, a spring in my step.

Doorbell. Ok. Good.

I'm gonna have a great time. He's not a sex maniac; he's just a guy who really likes me.

Taking a deep breath and counting to ten (Cosmo said the guy had to wait at least that long) I smile casually, and walk up to the front door.


Part 3

Liz's POV

I can't take my eyes off Ethan's perfect smile.

I know I have this really goofy grin on my face as he tells me some story about… something (its not all that important)

I want to record every moment of tonight in my memory

Every detail.

The way Ethan's hands are resting on the table, his arms and chest clad in a gray cashmere jacket.

The way he looks at his hands when he speaks.

The beautiful gray of his eyes.

The clink of the ice cubes in my water glass.

Even the smell of my gooey eggplant dish.

Every word, every sight, every sound goes into my memory, carefully catalogued.

Rainbow in prism made by glass goblet. Aroma of cheese, garlic. Ethan's fingertips on my palm. Tickle.

"Hey…"

I look up, startled. He looks amused. "Am I boring you half to death?"

Yes. But you're real cute, so I forgive you.

I give a little laugh, shaking my head. "Do I look bored?"

"Kinda."

"Got to work on those facial expressions." I pause. " I was going for totally content."

"Good. Cause I was thinking I'm really having a good time."

Ugh. Whatever.

But, but, look at those eyes…

I smile shyly. He's so cute.

"I'm having a good time too…"

I just wish he'd keep his mouth shut.

The meal is tolerable. I never really had any interest in eggplant. It reminds me of a purple zucchini… just a big. Messy. Blob.

But I eat it. And pretend its glorious, for him.

An hour later, we're dancing. I'm thinking… this is perfect.

He slides his hands up my back and pulls me closer. Not close enough. This is sooooo perfect.

Perfect, perfect, perfect.

And then his lips are on mine. Slow and sweet, at first, but gradually growing confident. He's a good kisser.

Air. I need air. Need to breathe.

Oh god.

I pull back a bit, so he'll let me, but he presses on, clutching my ass.

Oh god.

I push slightly harder, and finally get him to release me.

I'm breathing hard. And I'm very pissed off.

"Don't do that," I hiss at him, looking angrily at his chest.

But before I can complete the thought, he's apologizing.

"I'm …such a moron, God, Liz, I'm sorry, really. I just…" he looks deep into my eyes. " You see what you do to me?"

I hesitate. That's a line. (He's just full of 'em, isn't he?)

He tries again.

"When you've got the most beautiful girl in America dancing in your arms, it kinda hard to keep in control." He looks like a lost puppy.

And I melt. I know, I know… another stupid line. But hey, they were made to make girls swoon, right? So technically I'm doing nothing wrong.

"Its ok," I whisper, brushing my lips against his cheek. He just got carried away cause I'm so darn cute. Understandable.

But suddenly, his musky perfume's choking me. Suddenly, I can't wait to get home.

_______________________________________________________________________


I smile mentally as my brick-roofed house comes into view.

Good. Tonight couldn't end soon enough.

He brings the car to a halt across the road from my front door and turns to face me. His eyes look dark, now. Silver.

I smile tentatively, uncomfortable under his passionate gaze.

He moves his head toward mine, and presses his lips against mine. This feels weird.

I move away from his lips, contemplating the best way to let him down.

He doesn't take the hint.

His mouth moves to my jaw, and he groans deep in his throat, making my skin crawl. His hands begin moving possessively over my body.

Wow, this is getting intense.

But then he slips his fingers under my skirt, and an alarm bell goes off in my head . I grab his hand gently, maneuvering it away from dangerous territory, but he persists, grabbing my ass with his hand, while his mouth treads lower and lower on my neck.

"Hey!" I shove at his chest, causing him to yelp in surprise.

"What the fuck…?!" He rubs his injured chest. "… Man! That hurt like hell, woman! "

"Yeah, well, STOP next time I start resisting." I struggle to get the door open.

"What? Wait!… Liz? Hey, hey, hey…" He grabs at my arm and pulls me back in. I let him. I don't know why, but I let him.

"Look, I don't know what you want. I never pretended to and I won't now." He looks earnestly at me. "I thought… maybe you were into that… but if you're not, then that's cool too, you know?" His voice falls to a whisper. "I'm sorry. Please. Give me another chance?"

Not on your fucking life!

That's the first thing that enters my head. Go on, I lecture myself. Tell him off! Make him cry, make him BEG!!!*cackle*

I get out of the car and lean in so I can speak to him through the open window.

"I'll call you, Elizabeth." He looks hungrily at me.

"Um, no… I… I'll call you…ok?" I look at him pointedly, making sure he understands that I'm probably not going to.

He winks at me, and then takes off, destroying the stillness of the night.

Bastard. Sighing, I sling my purse over my shoulder and walk across the road. I can see Max sitting on the front stairs of his house, a cigarette dangling from his fingers. His parents don't seem to mind that he's slowly corroding the insides of his lungs. Then again, they don't seem to care much about anything but themselves.

_______________________________________________________________________


Max's POV


I watch the car peel out of the street, tire squealing. At least she's home early, I decide, as Liz crosses the deserted street, unaware of my presence.

I take another drag.

She's headed my way, now, and I take a moment to catch my breath. She looks amazing. I've never seen the dress before. It’s green and soft. And makes her look like a deity.

She smiles, swinging her tiny purse-thing lightly. "Hey…"

I nod my greeting, not wanting to disturb the quiet. She looks so beautiful.

"What? What is that look for?" she asks suspiciously.

I shake my head, mutely. Looking away quickly, I pull on my cigarette.

She reaches out and grabs it from my lips and drops it on the ground, putting it out with the toes of her sandals.

"They cost money, you know."

"They cause cancer, is what they do."

She sits next to me, on the stairs, resting her arms on her knees.

"How was your… date?" I ask, barely concealing the mockery in my voice. I hate that guy.

She sighs. "Can we not talk about this, please? We'll only fight."

I shrug. Whatever.

We sit in a relaxed silence for a while, watching the silent breeze. We haven't done this in a long time.

She pulls the clip from her hair and lets her hair fall down her back. I try not to stare.

She really does look incredible. She stares back, laughter evident in her eyes.

"Whhaaaaat, huh?"

"New dress?"

Shrug. "Maybe"

"Its pretty."

"I look like a cow…"

I raise an eyebrow.

"Ok, well, not that bad. But it doesn't fit me all that well.

She gestures to her breasts, which are squeezed together at the top of her dress.

"Looks great to me." I say mock-seriously.

She rolls her eyes. "Boys and their boobs… you'd think they'd grow out of the obsession..."

I laugh, scratching my eye with my fingernail, shyly.

"Really, though, you look great… beautiful." My voice falters and I blush a little.

To my surprise, so does she. But always one to recover quicker than me, she smiles, showing her perfect teeth. "Thank you,"

And we turn to our normal, special brand of conversation, moving from dreams, to jokes, to teasing… the night seems a little warmer, now, and a little less dark. I've known Liz all my life. She's the one person that I can say the stupidest thing to, and expect an even stupider reply from.

We sit there for hours, talking and laughing about nothing and everyhting. And we would have been there all night if we could, but Liz's mother popped a sleepy head out of her bedroom window and asked what the hell we thought we were doing.

Melissa Parker. She was a good-looking woman in her forties, as different from her daughter as she could be, with her blond hair and full body.

We apologize and quickly promise to get inside straight away. Melissa Parker was not a woman to be messed with. She once punched the garbage man because he refused to wait for her to bring her garbage out.

No, Liz didn't get her looks from her mother, but she did get other qualities.



Part 4

Liz's POV


He grabs my wrists and forces them above my head, pinning the rest of my body down with his.

I shriek. I struggle. I cry.

"Please!!! JOSH!! No-Please??"

Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god…

He's clutching my stomach with one hand, making me gasp, and removing my panties with the other. They're blue, I realize distractedly. The colour of the sky.

"No, please?-PLEASE!" I try to kick, but my legs are trapped beneath his.

I can hear his harsh breathing, coming in gasps, as he struggles to hold me down. I can smell the alcohol on his breath, see the desperation in is eyes.

He moves his hands over my body, squeezing, probing, and kneading. I just want to die.

And then he thrusts into me, and a million stars burst into white, blinding me, chocking me, killing me.

I smell blood. My blood. My blood mixed with his sperm.

His lips are slamming into me. He's so heavy. I wish he weren't so heavy. My face hurts from where he hit me. I know there's blood there, too. It dribbles down my chin, tickle.

The floor feels cold and hard against my back, but it doesn't hurt like what he's doing. What he's doing feels like… torture.

My throat is clogged with tears, and silent shrieks, but I hold my tongue. He doesn't like it if I scream. He'll kill me if I scream.

So I cry. And gasp. And hold back the pain. And pray that I'll be dead soon.


_______________________________________________________________________

Melissa's POV


Is that a whimper? I listen carefully.

There! A moan. Oh my god! Is Liz… Is she having sex?

Or worse. Masturb… I shudder. No way. Liz's is not. That kind of girl.

Moans. I can hear them clearly, now. No guy's voice. No deep groans. Only short whimpers and moans coming from my sixteen year old's bedroom.

Life just doesn't get better than this.

I slip out of bed and creep down the corridor, not sure if I really want to see this.

Her door's open. Oh god! She's being so careless? Couldn't she have at least closed the door?

I dare to look inside…

And pain and guilt claws at my heart.

Liz's in bed, tangled up in her sweat-soaked sheets, asleep, writhing and thrashing. Her face is contorted, and silent tears hug her cheeks as she moans again.

My poor baby.

I feel the tears slide down my own cheeks as I sit by her bed and stroke her cheek, whispering calming words to her. She hasn't had nightmares for months now. I thought it was over for good this time.

She wakes with a start, and stares at me, wide-eyed.

"What are you doing here, mom?" Her voice is heavy with sleep, and she swipes at her sweaty forehead with the back of her hand. "So fucking hot!" she murmurs.

"Don't cuss, baby."

"Sorry…"she yawns and stretches. Then she looks at me.

"Was I having a… ?"

I nod, pushing aside her dark hair.

She doesn't deserve to go through this. No one does.



Part 5

Liz's POV


"Walk oo-oh-on" Its Sunday morning, about 80 degrees outside, and I feel wonderful.

Maria's sitting on my bed, in a long, blue skirt and Indian-style top, looking through last year's annual. Or rather, looking at Ethan's profile last year.

"So you like him, but he pisses you off?" She stares at me through squinted eyes.

"Exactly! And he tried to molest me, Maria!He's a total jerk..." I try not to sound too heartbroken. I try not to remember his gorgeous eyes, and his gorgeous lips and…

"So then you don't mind if I take a crack at him?"

"Maria!"

"What?! Have you seen the guy's body?"

I frown. "True. It is pretty amazing."

We sit silently for a moment, mentally surveying his perfect body.

"Ok, so I gotta get going. I have a… you know… life…"

Laughing, I shove her out the door.

"I'll see you tonight at Jen's, then?"

Damn. Stupid party.

"I'm not goooooing." I sing out matter-of-factly.

But Maria has trouble hearing things that she doesn't want to hear.

"I'll pick you up at seven."

"I'm SO not going."

"Why? It's a welcome-summer-vacation thing! You can't not go!!! It'll be so much fun! And everyone's going!"

"I'm not."

"Wh-hy??!

"Because social congregations, incident-destitute parties, and communal gatherings are an underhanded ploy to lure happiness-deprived teenagers to undersized, overcrowded rooms, in an effort to advocate the alcohol and drug consumption in America. That's why." I smirk.

"Ask Ethan to go with you."

I slump against the doorframe. "No! Weren't you listening? I'm not going out with him. He's a friggin’ sex-militant!"

"Honey, all guys are! It's just a question of how well they disguise it!"

I laugh. "It’s so true, and so sad…"

I walk her out to her car and she drives away, telling me (again) that she'd pick me up at seven.

I wave to her, and turn back toward home, when I catch a glimpse of Max watering the back garden. His back is to me, and he looks bored out of his mind.

I grin wickedly. This'll be fun.

I move stealthily through the narrow passage leading to his backyard, staying close to the brick wall, so he doesn't see me.

Pressing my body flat up against the side of the house, I dart my eyes left, then right, making sure no one sees me.

I look at the prey. He's holding the water-hose, and idly scratching at the grit on his nails. Charming, I'm sure.

Still, he's unaware of my presence. Perfect.

I move out from the passageway and guardedly and I circle the clueless victim. He yawns.

"Aaaaaaaah!" I shriek and leap onto his back. He yelps, and trips over the hose, sending us sprawling onto the ground, the hose still clutched in his fist.

He's fine. He lands on me, and luckily, the hose is tuned away from him, so he escapes the blast of cold water.

I groan I'm wet. And I'm suffocating.

"What the hell are you doing?!"

"You're heavy! Oof! Get off me!"

He complies, tossing the hose aside and helping me up. I'm covered with freshly cut grass, and I smell like fertilizer. He chuckles

"Shut up." I moan, wiping off my new capris.

"Why did you do that?" He finds this all very amusing.

"Because I'm actually a terrifying, man-eating alien. And I was hungry."

He swipes off his bare chest and jeans, still laughing.

I'll give you something to laugh about. I grab the hose and aim it at him, catching him completely by surprise.

"Aw, shit!!! Cut it out!!! Damn it, LIZ!!!" He tries to dart out of the line of fire, holding his hand up against his face.

"Aaaah! Hahahahahah!" I cackle, enjoying myself.

But he's already planning his counter attack. He dives at me from the front, knocking me off my feet. I scramble up and quickly sprint across the slick grass in an effort to get away from him. The hose flits wildly from side to side, soaking the both of us.

He chases me around the garden, and laughing and shouting, we finally topple onto the ground, exhausted, his body flat out next to mine.

I'm panting as I stare up into the cloudless sky. Its quiet, except for the sound of birds and our breathing.

"Where's your mom and dad?" I ask, turning to face him.

He shrugs slightly, crossing his wrists behind his head. Poor guy. I can't imagine spending day after day without my family.

"So you're coming over for lunch? I made tacos."

"Naw, I'll grab a burger."

"No, come! Please. And then we'll go to Jen's party together." I lean my elbows onto his chest and stare pleadingly into his face. His hair's tousled and wet.

"I thought you weren't going."

"I chaned my mind. That's still legal, right?"

"I'm meeting Michael and Jake at one, anyway, so I might as well grab lunch with them. Ok?"

I pout. "Fine! Ungrateful wench." I lay my head onto his chest.

He raises an eyebrow. "So, really. How'd it go with James Dean?"

"I'm assuming, of course, that you're referring to Ethan?"

"Of course…"

"Of course. Well, honestly? It was pretty horrible."

He feigns surprise. "No! Really?"

"Shut up!"

He chuckles. "What'd he do?"

"Well, apart from trying to grab my ass and swallow me whole, he made me eat a purple vegetable and say it was good."

"He grabbed your ass?"

"Twice."

"Want me to beat him up?"

I snort. "He'd kill you."

He frowns, insulted. "I'm bigger than him."

"Yeah, but he's a blue belt in ti-quan-do."

"Really?"

I turn to look at him. "Yeah. He spent a large portion of last night educating me of his great achievements and the creation of the animal that is Ethan Delane." I roll my eyes sarcastically.

Max grins and closes his eyes, a peaceful expression settling on his face. I know how he feels. Being with Max is the most natural feeling ever. I don't think I'd be happier anywhere than here, on his chest, staring at his beautiful face.

He is pretty handsome, you know. I shamelessly drag my gaze up his body, all the way to his face. His dripping hair's spiked up, like he'd brushed it back with his hand. And, I mean, the way some of it falls on his eyes is pretty sexy, even with the little flecks of grass in it. And his eyes are the most beautiful colour of brown I've ever seen.

But mostly, he's the sweetest, nicest guy in the world.

Almost unconsciously, I lean forward, studying his face.

I smile as I remember the time he helped me home when I fell off my bike in second grade.

And the time we played house and how he sulked through the whole day, cause I wanted to be the daddy, and he had to be the mommy.

And the night he stayed up with me so I could pass my English mid-term.

And the time he held me when he found out what happened with Josh.

"Max?" I whisper, still looking at his face.

"Hmm?" His eyes remain shut.

"Max!" I shove lightly at his wet chest.

His eyes are twinkling, filled with something I haven't seen before in them, looking lazily up at me, his lips turned up slightly at the sides. Everything about him reminds me of a little boy: the way his bangs stray on his forehead, the mischief in his eyes, the way his head rests on his arms. Suddenly, I want to touch him so bad.

Slowly, softly, I reach down and press my lips against his.


Part 6

Max's POV


My eyes fly wide open at the touch of her lips. Oh my God!

She pulls away quickly, licking her lips, and I stare at her stupidly, unsure of what just happened. "Uh…"

I look into her eyes, my own face inches away from hers. Her wet bangs fall around her cheeks, tickling my chest.

I feel her breath on my face, soft puffs that warm my cold body.

The air's grown heavy with the silence.

"Sorry. Sorry, Just wanted to see what it felt like." Her eyes are boring into mine, and I can see her cheeks flushed almost as pink as mine.

I swallow. "And?"

She looks away bashfully. "Um… it was…" Her voice is trembling. I don't blame her.

Wonderful? Amazing? Incredible?

Perfect?

She blinks, suddenly, and sits up, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

The moment's broken.

"I'm… I gotta go." She nearly runs away from me, her damp hair flopping behind her.

"Come by later, ok?" She calls over her shoulder, before disappearing completely.

I slump back onto the ground, my head spinning. Wow, what…?! I can't even think straight.

She kissed me. In a totally non-platonic way. I swallow.

I get up and retrieve the forgotten water-hose, washing off my filthy toes in an almost robotic approach.

What happens now? I wonder. Do we forget it ever happened? I don't want to. Suddenly, I can't get the picture of Liz in that slinky green dress out of my head. I wonder if it's as soft as her skin. My thoughts begin to wander as I put the hose away.

My heart speeds up as I realize I've grown hard. I tug helplessly at my hair. This is waaay to creepy.

I need a shower.
_______________________________________________________________________


Later, my window opens from outside, and Liz steps in, wearing a tight blue top and a black miniskirt.

She poses dramatically against the window. "Too Bette Davis?"

I look up from bandaging my sprained wrist. I hadn't heard her come in. "Um?… I don't know… it's a bit…"

"Revealing?"

"Slutty. Yeah."

She laughs. "Alright, King Subtle, move aside." She reaches over to open my closet door, and starts rummaging.

I look at her hesitantly. What about the kiss thing? I wonder. I want to ask her what she was thinking. I wanted to know if she felt what I felt. But mostly, I wanted to kiss her again.

She wanted to forget it. Ok, fine. I can play that game too.

"I'm not into cross-dressing, Liz. You wont find anything there…"

"Sprained your wrist?"

"Hmm." I wince, moving it gently back and forth. "What the hell are you looking for, anyway? You can borrow Isabel's stuff, she wont mind."

"Where's your blue shimmery button down shirt?"

"I don't own a blue shimmery button down shirt."

"Yeah, you do. You wore it for Mom's speech, and for Nichole's party? You know, the shiny blue one?"

"That's not blue, its teal. And it does not shimmer. I don't buy shimmery shirts." I reach over her had and pull it out.

"I bought it for you. And it's blue." She grabs it from my hand, looking a little offended.

She pulls off her top in the middle of my bedroom, so she can put the other one on. I turn away, discreetly, rolling my eyes at her lack of compassion for the male sex.

"So?" She twirls around in her new outfit, and I have to admit she looks amazing.

I nod approvingly. "Its good. Now go away, I have to meet the guys in ten minutes, and I need to get ready."

She's silent for a moment as she stares past my head at the open closet. Walking purposefully to it, she pulls out a beaten, faded black t-shirt with "Eat Me" printed along the back. She holds it up with the tips of her fingers, looking it over. "What's this?"

"Um, T-shirt?" I don't get it.

"No, Max. No. Its not just a T-shirt, it's a friggin' dust rag is what it is!"

"What are you talking about?" I grab the shirt and stuff it back into the closet.

"My God, Max, that shirt must be six years old! You wore this all through summer when we were, like, 12!" She starts pulling out more clothes. "Its like a fucking flea market in here…"

Whoa! What is she doing?

"Hey, get away from there," I try to retrieve some of the stuff she's pulled out, while begging her to leave my stuff alone.

"God, I gotta go, shit, I'm late! Liz! STOP! C'mon… aw! Leave that shirt… I love that shirt… Liz!" I grab her wandering hands and look her straight in the eye.

She sighs. "Ok, ok, I'll go. Where's Isabel? I'm gonna keep her company. But just for the record, I think you're disgusting!" She calls out as she walks out the door. "And I'll see you at Jen's…"

"Bye." Smiling sarcastically, I shut the door.

_______________________________________________________________________


Liz's POV


"Craaaaaaap!" I whine as a glob falls out of the back of my taco shell and onto my plate. I pick at the glob and make a futile attempt to stuff it back into the taco.

"Here, take mine," Isabel passes me her plate and I give her mine gratefully.

"Thank you, I love you!" I exclaim, and take the plate from her outstretched hand..

We're sitting on the foldout couch, watching Christian Slater in Pump Up the Volume. It's her favorite movie, and we’ve probably seen it a million times already. I'm not surprised. It's really cool, considering the fact that it was made, like, a thousand years ago.

Max hates this movie. My stomach lurches.

Max. Ok, where did that come from? And why does my stomach feel funny?

Maybe because I can't stop picturing his face when I kissed him?

I shift so I'm facing my friend, and put on my most this-is-important look. She might not be the best person to talk to about this (being the sister of topic chosen, and all) but I'm desperate.

"I need to talk."

"Ok," Isabel nods slowly and switches the TV off. "What's up?"

"I know this is kind of…," I sigh, frowning. "Well, see, I know this… this girl…ok? And she's got this friend. A guy. But…like… not… not her boyfriend? But she's been having these…" I struggle with my hands, trying to come up with the right words.

"…feelings?" Isabel guesses.

"…pangs."

"…for this guy."

"…right."

She sighs. God, I could not be more transparent.

"This is about you and Max?"

"No." I lie.

She raises an eyebrow as if to say 'oh really?' "You and Maria, then?"

I nod, soberly. "I'm afraid so, Iz."

"Liz…" She half-scolds.

"Its true. I know it's hard for you to accept something like this but… I'm a lesbian and I love Maria and we want to get married and raise gerbils." I deadpan.

She bursts into giggles before I can get the sentence out and throws a sofa cushion at me.

I'm glad she finds this funny.

She takes a deep calming breath. "Ok, fine, so whoever this person is,- lets call him… Billy- he's not with anyone?"

I shake my head no.

"He doesn't like anyone? Like a crush or anything?"

"Not that I'm aware of…"

She nibbles on her lip thoughtfully. Then she sighs, as if she's reached a satisfactory deduction.

"Tell him." She says in a profound voice.

I hit my forehead with the palm of my hand with a large 'thowp'. "OH! GREAT! What a GREAT IDEA, Iz! I wonder why I didn't think of that! Oh, wait, I did. But I'm too damn CHICKEN, or I would have taken care of that right away! Geez! This is not advice, Isabel. This is useless. You're useless!!!" I shake my head as if deeply disappointed.

"Oh, go on," She says. "You have to tell Max sooner or later. Or else he's just gonna find someone else, and then you'll regret it forever."

"You sound like a young adult novel. And we're discussing a friend, here. Not me." I mutter grumpily.

She raises a perfectly shaped eyebrow at me.

I give in.

"Well, what if he doesn't want a Liz? Huh? What if he wants… a Belinda or a Barbara… or someone more like him? Someone… not… me?" I feel a lump forming in my throat. Even though we're kidding around, this stuff's really been eating my head. "Or what if we do get together and then it turns out horrible? Maybe Billy won’t want to be friends anymore…" I slump against the cushions, my eyes downcast.

"Wuss. "

I feel this yucky feeling climbing up my chest, and I struggle to shove it down. Don't think about it, I decide.

I sigh and grin casually.

"Anyway, what 're you gonna wear to Jen's tonight?"

Isabel's taken aback by the sudden change in topic, but she knows me, and she knows when I don't want to discuss something.

"Um… I was thinking my red strappy…"



Part 7

Liz's POV


I sway my hips seductively to the beat, pulling Joe (Jack?) closer, feeling the music pump wildly through my veins.

Freedom.

Jen sure knows how to throw a party, I note distractedly. The dim hall is illuminated by flashing lights, and the smell of alcohol, marijuana and perfume hangs heavily in the air, making me choke and cough. There must be a hundred people here.

I’m on a high. The alcohol mixed with the teensy amount of cannabis I had have me floating on cloud nine.

Maria. I can vaguely see her on the carpet, necking with some guy (Michael? Naw… she hates Michael) Wow. That’s way beyond necking. Geez, get a room.

Max is… well, was, dancing with that bitch Casey near the kitchen door. I look around dazedly, wondering where he got to.

Yeah, hello there crazy laughing guy from math class. Hm. Ooh. Cute guy, check out that ass… ISABEL!!! I love Isabel, hi!!! She’s flirting with some guy. She looks pretty wasted too.

Max? Here Maxi Maxi-

My heart clenches.

He’s still dancing with Casey. If you can call it that. You couldn’t stick a sheet of paper between the two of them. God, get away from her. And get your hands off her – BUTT?!

Oh god, I’m going to cry. Or barf. Whichever comes first.

As if sensing he’s being watched, he looks up and catches my eye, smiling sweetly. No, no, no… I have a momentary urge to run up to him and kiss his beautiful mouth. (First I’d kick that bitch’s ass, then I’d kiss his beautiful mouth)

Momentary urge.

It’s quickly replaced.

I watch as his eyes shift to the BITCH in front of him. I hate him. I hate that bitch.

I pull Joey closer still, pretending not to notice.

Bitch

Bitch

Bitch

Bitch

Bitch

Bitch

Bitch

And, I mean, who the hell does she think she is? She’s known him, what, five minutes? And there she is, wrapping herself all over Max. Bitch.

This really isn’t healthy. I have to tell Max, I decide. I have feelings for him, and he deserves to know.

Now.

I take a deep breath, preparing to send Joel away, when suddenly, there's a loud crash from the back of the room.

“…Fuck you! You calling me a liar, McCarthy?! HEY!- MCARTHY! I’M TALKING TO YOU, YOU FUCK…!”

Shit, that’s Max. I hurry over to where a crowd’s gathered around Max and Dan McCarthy. Max grabs his shirt in a fist and stares at McCarthy, his eyes cold and furious.

Oh, god, who the hell is this asshole, and what the hell has he done with Max? Max picking a fight with a fucking jock?

“Hey! GECHOR HANDS OFF ME YOU FUCKING PRICK!!!” McCarthy struggles, managing to break free. “SLUT!” He spits out, lunging at Max, full strength, and knocking him onto the floor.

They struggle around on the floor, as I break through the crowd. “Max!!

I should do something. I have to. I stand there, staring dumbly at the writihing figues on the ground.

Maria’s standing with her arm around me. When did she get here? She’s telling me something and I’m nodding.

Sure Maria. Whatever.

McCarthy’s lunging at Max.

Oh no, no, no, NO!

“Max!” Wow. That’s useful.

They’re fighting. Oh God, they’re fighting. Stop! PLEASE stop!!! My mind’s screaming so loud.

Max throws himself at McCarthy, punching him hard on the mouth, his face already bloody from where McCarthy punched him.

The music’s stopped. Or maybe I just can’t hear it.

Oh. God. No, no, no, no….

“Somebody STOP THEM!” Maria’s screaming her ass off.

Everyone’s just standing around, watching them beat the pulp out of each other.

PLEASE! SOMEONE! My mouth doesn’t work.

Someone in the crowd breaks out of their trance. Michael. It’s Michael.

He’s pulling Max off McCarthy. It takes him a minute. We’re all drunk, here, you know.

Oh, god, Max’s bleeding. He struggles against Michael’s arms, cursing loudly.

Everything’s just…

I’m moving. I’m walking toward Max. He’s breathing heavily, his eyes wild.

I’ve never seen him like this before.

He finally gets loose and stares at me, breathing hard. His eyes turn distant and unfeeling. “Liz…” He pants, as the crowd dissipates.

Oh god, what is going on?

“Max, come on, you’re bleeding.” I tug at his arm, and reluctantly, he follows, his face still void of emotion.

We reach the car, and I turn to face him, letting go of his hand.

"Have you completely lost your mind?” I ask seriously, calmly, looking him in the eye.

Brown and beautiful.

“Liz-”

“You’re picking a fight with McCarthy?! He’s three times your size, Max! He’s a friggin’ jock! He could’ve killed you!”

He sighs irritably, and slumps further against the car hood.

He looks like a stubborn kid, trying to defy me.

Fine. You want to be a jerk? Go ahead.

“Are you drunk?” I ask, as he fishes out the keys to the jeep.

“No. Had a beer. That’s it.”

“Good, cause I am.”

“Am what?”

I frown. Am what?!

“Drunk, Max. I’m drunk.”

“You’re drunk?”

“Yeah, so?”

“You never get drunk.” He looks disappointed. Angry, even.

“Ok, Mom, I’m sorry, now can we go home now? Please?”

Oh, I’m pissed off.

_____________________________________________________________

He winces slightly, as I dab the anti-bacterial solution onto the gash above his eye, jerking away from my hands.

“Hold still.” I dab at it again, this time blowing softly.

“It stings.” He whines, squeezing his eyes shut.

“Suck it up, tough guy.”

Dab. Wince. Blow. Whine.

Dab. Jerk. Blow.

“Max! Hold. Still.”

He’s sitting topless on the toilet seat, (there’s a cut on his back) as I play nurse to his wounds.

I know this is so incredibly wrong, but I can’t help looking over the taut muscles of his arms and back. He looks like the most delicious thing I’ve ever seen, sitting half-naked and helpless in his bathroom.

His eyes are troubled. Conflicted.

“Hey, you ok?” I ask, smoothening his hair tenderly.

He nods, but I can see the emotions written across his face.

“Liz?”

“Yuh?”

“Do you… you know… think about your… dad? Like, do you miss him?”

Where did this come from?

I shrug. “Sometimes. Yeah, sometimes I do, but I don’t really remember him.” I press the bandage firmly into place.

He nods. I cant read his eyes.

“I used to envy you.” He admits, smiling a little. “Your life was so… different, so exciting, you know? Like, your dad. You never…” He stops and shakes his head. “Forget it.”

I’m getting a little nervous. What the hell is he talking about? And why the hell does he look like he’s gonna cry?

_____________________________________________________________

He makes me barf into the toilet, so I don’t co home completely drunk. He’s grown really quiet now, and he’s making me some chocolate milk to drink. He looks so tired.

His split lip’s stopped bleeding, thank God. The scar looks painful.

I lean against the counter top and casually look at him.

Something just doesn’t seem right. I’m thinking more clearly, now, and I know something’s off. He seems distracted, worried, impatient, SOMEthing.

“Are you ok?” I look at him critically.

He continues to watch the kettle.

“Max!”

“What?” He looks up, startled.

“Are you ok?”

He doesn’t answer, but I know he isn’t.

He’s working his jaw as he hands me my cup. “You should get home.”

I nod, slowly, still worried, but get off my stool and walk around so I can kiss him lightly on the cheek.

He’s staring at the counter top, a strange expression on his face. He doesn’t even acknowledge my presence.

Is it me? No, no it’s something more serious. I can see it in his eyes.

I hope to god he’s ok.

_____________________________________________________________

It must be one in the morning.

Flopping down onto my bed, I sigh, and kick off my shoes. I’m still worried about Max.

I wonder if something’s up with him and his dad. I mean, Max has never been close to either parent, but push come to shove, he did love them, and he needed them in his life.

Looking over to my bedside table, I smile. There’s a photograph of Max and me in Florida. I’m looking seductively into the camera, while he smiles shyly, a blush colouring his beautiful face.

He’s the most amazing guy I’ve ever known.

I swallow.

…Oh my god. I think I’m falling in love with him.


Part 8

[this is still the night of the party...]

Isabel’s POV


God, please let mom and dad be asleep…

It’s almost two, and I know they’ll throw a fit if they see me now. The kitchen light’s still on. Fuck!

Busted.

I stand in front of the door hesitantly, thanking god that at least I'm not drunk. Slipping off my sandals, I walk inside, ready to face the firing squad.

Instead, I find Max, asleep, with his head resting in his hands, on top of the counter.

Aw…

He looks so sweet. I walk over and nudge him gently.

“Max?”

He stirs and yawns, mumbling a ‘hi’.

“Mom and dad asleep?”

“Uh huh, yeah. How was the rest of the party?”

I shrug. “Mandy spilt vodka all over Jen’s mom’s bed, someone threw up in the garden, Eliza and Harry had a fight… again…”

He nods with a wry smile and tells me he’s going to bed. He gets off the stool and walks toward the door, then pauses. He looks at me hesitantly “Did you speak to Mom before?”

“Yeah, she said she had something big to tell us.”

He nods. He looks so tired.

“Its probably that promotion… thing she was talking about yesterday.” I continue, pouring myself a glass of milk.

He nods again, but there’s something in his eyes. “Right! Right. The… promotion…” He turns and walks out.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz’s POV

“Really. It was no big deal... he's fine!” I insist, exasperated at Maria’s concern. Apparently the fight between Max and Danny McArthy is pretty hot news. I’m getting pretty annoyed with all this attention, and it isn’t even nine o’clock.

It’s Monday morning. Last week of school before the summer vacations, and no one’s interested in studying.

There’s kids laughing, talking, sleeping, eating, playing, singing, doing just about anything imaginable.

The teacher doesn’t seem too concerned either.

Max isn’t in school today. Lucky bastard. He wasn’t at home this morning, and I had to call Maria to pick me up on her way here. Which is weird, because he always tells me before time if he’s not driving me.

The period goes by quickly, and I spend most of it explaining what happened between Max and McArthy to seven different people. Wow, this is getting really old, now.

Suddenly, the door opens, and in walks Prince Max, looking furious. He doesn’t stop to give the teacher an excuse or anything, just plows through the desks and slams his books onto the desk next to mine.

Everyone seems to stop and stare for a moment.

Max Evans?

Something was definitely up.

“Where were you?” I whispered, leaning slightly on my desk.

“Out.” He pulls out his textbook and opens it vehemently, not even bothering to look at me.

I look at him apprehensively. “What’s wrong?” Poor guy, I hope everything’s ok.

“Nothing.”

“Fine. Good. Cause you can tell---”

“Yeah. Ok, sure.” He interrupts, snubbing the conversation abruptly.

I shrug. Whatever.

Jerk.
_____________________________________________________________


What the hell’s going on with him? I wonder as Max stares the teacher down. Usually, he’d just say he was sorry, and that’d be the end of it.

Because everyone loved Max. Max was the sweetest guy alive.

But this guy was another story. No, people don’t like Alternate Personality Guy very much.

And now he’s in trouble. And he won’t say he’s sorry, and he wont back down, and he’ll stare at the goddamn teacher till his eyes turn blue.

Alternate Personality Guy has a detention.

He sits slumped back in his chair for the rest of the period, staring occasionally at the wall clock like he can’t wait to get out of here. I doubt he’s absorbed a word the teacher’s saying.

I know I haven’t.

I grab his arm just as the bell rings and ask him what’s wrong again.

“Nothing. I’m just tired!! Why the fuck does something have to be wrong?”

“Then you’re ok?”

“I’m fine.”

I hesitate then nod, “ You’re not mad at me, right?”

“No.” He wants to leave.

“Ok, meet me at lunch?”

He looks like he’s about to say no, but sighs, suddenly, looking dejected. I can’t help thinking about Saturday night, in the kitchen…

“Yeah, ok, meet me by the jeep.” He runs a hand through his brown hair and tugs at the ends.

I nod and watch him walk out of the room,
_____________________________________________________________


He doesn’t show. I wait for the whole hour, just sitting, waiting, thinking.

High school is supposed to be the most carefree time of your life. When did all this change? I didn’t get the memo.

Rob Szaski said he saw Max taking off with Casey after third period. Apparently, Max wasn’t into getting an education this year. I don’t know what to do.

Of course, Maria’s great about it. She listens patiently, as I whine and complain about my pitiful, miserable life.

Max doesn’t come to school for the rest of the day. Big surprise.

I’m really worried about him.

_____________________________________________________________


Dinner’s pretty uneventful. Mom met someone at work, and she’s all excited and giggly. I can’t stand it.

I mean, I love that she’s happy. I love it that she’s smiling, but every time she says his name, I have to bite my tongue.

My mom thinks she’s a Gilmore girl mom.

You know the type, right? They’re like your best friend, you can just talk to about anything, boys, sex, food, anything. And know that they’ll understand?

She’s not.

We talk, sure. We’re close. But I can’t even tell her about Ethan, let alone Max.

…And I wish she’s stop telling me about “Raymond”. He sounds so weird...

_____________________________________________________________


Tuesday morning. Maria grabs my arm just as I’m about to enter my Math class. She has ‘some amazingly, amazingly weird news’.

Ok, sure. I don’t even need it to be bad news to miss math.

“So, Izzy told me not to tell you, but Max and Casey were you-know-whatting in his room all last night.”

You-know-whatting. Meaning: having sex.

Oh. Fucking. God.

“Huh.”

“Yeah. Is that amazingly weird or what?”

“I guess.” Appear nonchalant. Shrug. Ok, good. That was convincing.

“I’m sorry.”

“Why? Why are you sorry? He had sex with her. Big deal.”

“Well, no, not because of that. I mean for you.”

“Why should I care?” I scoff.

“No, well… I know, you have a thing for him.” She says like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Like its common knowledge.

“Oh, PLEASE! I. DO. NOT. Have a thing for MAX! PLEASE!”

Ok, so maybe I overdid that just a tad.

“Liz. Come on! Don’t insult my intelligence. And I mean, its only natural. He’s a guy… you’re a girl… you’re close… you’re both vulnerable… its only that unavoidable…”

“Huh. Really? Well, then why the hell did he sleep with Casey?”

Grin. “So it does bother you!”

“Why do you – why does everyone care so much?! I mean, maybe it does! Maybe I care about him, I don’t know!! I just- UGH! I just need to get to class. And stop smiling like that!!!
_____________________________________________________________


“You slept with her?” I spit out, horrified.

“What’s it to you?” He walks around his room, picking up strewn clothes and tossing them onto his bed.

“Did you?!”

“Yeah, what’s the big deal?”

The big deal?! The big deal, is that this isn’t you! What’s going on? You’re acting so weird and you’re just going completely bezerk with-“

“Hey, HEY! This is none of your business, remember? Your words, not mine.” He finally looks at me for a second, but then goes about the clothes, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. I want to scream.

“Damn it, why are you being like this?”

“Would you fucking back off? God! You’re not my keeper, and you’re not my godddamn girlfriend, ok?!”

“No. No, I will not back off, because you know what?" I follow him around the room. "You were here for me when I needed you, and I was too proud to admit it, and I sure as hell am going to be here to return the favour!”

“So that’s what this is all about? Returning the favour?”

“You know its not”

“Do I?”

I can’t believe him. I cross my arms and stare at him defiantly, “So how was it? Was she any good? Did you have a good time?”

He doesn’t say anything.

“What, did she stay the whole night, or did you guys come here after-“

“HEY! BACK. OFF!!!” He moves to stand in front of me. I step back, startled.

“I’m not leaving until you tell me what the hell’s going on with you.” I try not to make the trembling in my voice too obvious.

“Fine. Stay. I’m leaving; don’t come in here and give me all this shit. Stay till fucking- "

He sighs suddenly and slumps against his desk so suddenly, that for a moment I wonder if he’s hurt. When he looks up at me again, the expression is back. Tired. So tired.

“Mom has cancer.”

oh god...

Part 9

Liz’s POV


“So when does that start?”

“Chemo?”

I nod

“Two weeks, maybe three.”

“Wow.” I sigh. This is so scary. Two weeks.

“Its not serious, right? I mean, she’ll… I mean, of course she will, but… I mean-"

“Its not so bad. They discovered it before it spread too far, but they still need to operate to get it out.”

“Right….right…”

“God, I hate this.” He hangs his head.

“Does Isabel know?”

“Yeah.” She found out this afternoon. That’s when mom and dad ‘officially’ told us.”

“You knew..?”

“Jen’s party. I found out just before I left. Overheard them talking.”

I nod. What am I supposed to say?

‘It’ll be ok’?

I don’t know if it will, and it sure as hell won’t make him feel any better.

I know I should be mad at him. He’s been acting like such a jerk, treating everyone like dirt, right? But right now, I really couldn't care less. Right now, I don’t feel anything but this dire need to make him smile.

I can only think of one thing that could make it a little less painful, even if it’s only for a few hours.

“Max…?”
_____________________________________________________________


“Hey… do you wanna another?” Max holds up a beer.

“Is it a Bud?”

Max squints at the bottle, even though the label’s very obviously green. “Naw…Naw, it’s a…” He struggles to read it, then gives up. “Its not a Bud. Definitely. Not.” He nods confidently, his hand ready to toss the bottle aside.

“NO! Wait.” I reach out to it with my arms. “Gimme it!”

He hands it to me. “Its not a Bud.”

“Eeeh, Bud, Schmud.” I shrug, popping open the lid. He starts to snigger, and I join in, trying to keep from spitting out the beer in my mouth.

We’re lying in a semi-drunken heap in his basement, surrounded by empty bottles and cushions. Our feet are facing opposite walls, and our heads are next to each other. It could be late, I really have no idea. I just know that at this moment, I’m laughing, and Max is laughing, and that that picture on the wall doesn’t seem all that ugly anymore.

“You… You… didn’t even want a Bud?” He manages between gasps.

“No!” And we start giggling again, lying back on the plush cream carpet.

I sigh and stare up at the ceiling. “Max?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you really like Casey?”

“Yeah, she’s great.”

Slut.

“…Do you love her?”

Please say no please say no please say no.

He shakes his head no.

Hah. Haha!

“But then… why did you… you know… have sex with her?”

“Cause I’m a guy, and that’s all we’re good for?”

I giggle, and he smiles, but remains serious.

“I don’t know. I really don’t. I mean, it was just a… thing.” He looks thoughtful. “ I don’t think she likes me too much either. It was just a sex thing. A stupid… sex… thing…” Now he chuckles to himself. “Wow, any guy would die to say that.”

“Max?”

“Why do you always do that?” He sits up and looks at me.

“What?”

“Well, you always go ‘Max?’ and I always answer ‘hmm?’. Am I supposed to have some sort of clever answer to that?”

I giggle. “No. It’s just a thing. Deal with it.”

He laughs. “Fine. What were you gonna ask?”

“Were you... a virgin? I mean, before Casey?”

He looks suspiciously at me. “Why do you wanna know?”

“I just do.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No”

“No?”

“Do you have a point?” He giggles.

“Not really.” I pause. “Who… Before Casey…?”

“Jo.”

“Oh.”

“And Sharon.”

“Hm. Sharon too, huh? Wow, you’re a regular Don Juan.” There’s a note of sarcasm in my voice. I can’t believe it.

“I’m a virgin.” I say, taking a swig of my beer.

He clears his throat and stares at the empty bottle in his hand. I know what he’s thinking.

“I mean, except for the…” Rape. My mind’s screaming RAPE. “…Josh thing…” I struggle to explain myself. Max listens patiently, never interrupting. “I mean… I’m not a virgin virgin, because, well, you know why, but… I’ve never really… you know… had sex. you know, sex sex.” I sigh, and let my head fall back on the carpet. “Oh, fuck, forget it.”

“No, I know what you mean. You’ve never… made...”

“Yeah.”

“Ok, I get it.”

“Is that kinda pathetic?”

“No.”

“Yes it is. I’m gonna die an old maid. I’m gonna die an old, virgin. MAID!”

He laughs and looks at me affectionately.

“Thanks for doing this.”

“Yeah, forgetting all my problems with free beer, ah, who wants that?” I reply.

“Wise ass.”

“Always.”

There’s a little silence.

“Are you going to call Casey?”

“Why do you care about Casey so much?” He frowns.

“We’re secretly having hot lesbian sex.”

He stares at me. I can almost see the images flashing through his mind.

“I’m kidding.”

“I know, but still.”

“Oh God, ew! I’d never choose Casey…”

Now he’s offended. “Why not? She’s great. And she’s do it with you”

“Oh, please. She’d do it with a lamp post.”

He shrugs and drinks his beer thoughtfully. “Hm. Well that explains the whole leg thing-”

“EW!” I cover my ears. “ I do. NOT want to know the details of your sex life.” I shudder.

“Why? I’m not all that revolting.”

“Neither is a lamp post.”

“So you’d never ever consider having sex with me?”

I shrug.

“What? Yes? No?”

“I don’t know.”

“That means yes.”

“No, it doesn’t! Who died and made you king of everything?”

“So then, no?”

“Stop asking me! I don’t know!” I close my eyes and stretch my neck on both sides.

“Fine.” He lays back onto the carpet next to me. We’re silent for a few minutes.

“I would.” He says matter-of-factly

My heart thumps to a halt.

“You would?”

“Sure, why not? You’re… great…looking, and… I mean, yeah, sure, I would.”

“Ok, me too.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Or are you just saying that cause I said I would?”

“No, I really would. I mean, I trust you, you know?”

“You trust me? That’s the only reason?”

“Yes.”

“Shut up. You don’t think I’m yummy? Not even in a last-man-on-earth kind of way?”

“If you were the last man on earth, I’d hump a lamp post.”

“I hate you.”

“Ok, ok, you’re good looking.”

“Thank you.”

We listen to the music. Its some sort of horrible screeching. Tool, I think.

God, I have a killer headache. Mom’s probably going out of her mind with worry. That crack looks like a backward question mark.

I look over to show Max the amazing crack.

He’s asleep.

I smile. He’s such a cutie. I lean over and watch him. His head’s tilted over to one side, and his breathing’s harsh and steady. His hands are resting on his stomach. He looks like a little boy. His eyelids flutter, and he clears his throat, suddenly, turning over to his stomach.

“Hey…” I whisper softly in his ear, brushing aside the hair from his face.

“Mmmm…” He moans, his heavy eyes blinking open.

“C’mon, lets go to bed.”

“Will you carry me, like you promised?”

“No, I’m a liar.”

He gets up with some effort, and we trudge up the basement stairs with heavy footsteps. No one’s home yet, and Isabel doesn’t seem to be around.

He walks me to the front door, and promises to call me tomorrow so I can be mad at him for getting me so drunk.

“Thanks, Liz, for, you know…”

“Now we’ll have something to tell our grandchildren.” I pause. “Well, you know, not our grandchildren collectively, I mean, you know, separately[. Respectively. You know, you’ll tell your grand… ah, fuck it, I’m too drunk for this shit--”

“Listen, really, I don’t know what I was doing these past few days. Thanks for sticking around.”

“Sure” I punched the side of his shoulder with the side of my fist.

He smiles, then kisses me quietly on the side of my mouth.

Whoa. What was that?

I mean, did he kiss me on my lips or not? Did he miss, or did he, like intend to kiss me there?

I nod, my face slack. “OksurenoproblemI’mgonnagonow.”

I stagger across the grass, and into my front door.


Max’s POV

“So did you talk to her?” Isabel comes and sits by my bed, her face all puffy and red.

“Liz?”

“Mom.” Isabel thinks Mom and I have issues. We do. I just dont care.

I keep my face neutral. “Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Didn’t have time.”

“God, what the hell is wrong with you, Max? Why are you being like this?!”

Shut up, Isabel. Just. Please...

I sigh irritably. “Look, I cant handle this right now, ok?”

“Don’t you care at all? Max, Mom has cancer, ok? She could die. She’s going through so much, and the least you can do is be there for her. I don’t get you at - ”

I sit up angrily and look her straight in the eye, my voice coming out harsh and cold. “Last year, I broke up with Sharon. It was the worst few weeks of my life. Mom was way to busy to care. In January? I won my first school championship. Mom was out of town. March? I broke my -”

“Max, this is DIFFERENT!!!” She interrupts.

“Like hell it is!!!” I flop my head back onto the pillow, seething.

“So, what, you’re just going to hold that against her for the rest of her life?”

“Pretty much.”

She grits her teeth and looks at me with such disgust, that I have to look away. “God, I can’t believe this…” She whispers. “Its all about you isn’t it?! All about you, and your fucking pride!!! God, why don’t you GROW UP?!”

Oh, this is great, this is classic!! Now iI’m the bad guy?!

“What?! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, HUH?! YOU WANT ME TO CRY? WHAT?”

“I want you to wake up, Max!!!”

“What are you talking about?”

“You take things for granted!!! You know, everything’s not going to fall into your lap whenever you need it…”

I turn away. I don’t have to listen to this.

“Mom was crying just now, because she thinks you don’t love her! Can you imagine what that must feel like? And what about Liz? Do you even know that she’s in love with you? How could you sleep with Casey, Max? How could you hurt her like that? How can you hurt the people you love so easily? Don’t you… don’t you…” She broke off into choked sobs, her pleading eyes turning red with tears.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” I insist, flopping back onto my pillow. "Get out." I mutter, meanly.

“I hope you rot in hell!” She says, storming out of the room, and slamming the door behind her.

“Right back atcha!!!” I scream, throwing a book to closed door. It slams into the wood, and falls to the floor with a loud bang, a few pages falling out and fluttering behind it.

God, I need to get out of here.

I don’t want to go to Liz’s, because, well, she’s part of the problem, right now. A big part. So I tug on my shoes, and jacket, and make leeway for the front door.

Michael, I decide. Michael’s good for the anti-emotion chapter.

_____________________________________________________________

Liz’s POV

The next day, I stay at home. I’m too hung over to get out of bed.

Max comes by in the morning. He looks fine. A little tired, but not hung over, in the least.

Bastard. He’s going to leave me in my misery and go to school.

“I spoke to Mom last night.” He says, perching himself on the side of my bed.

“Yeah? What about?”

“Stuff. You know. Like her absence from my life for the, what, last seventeen years?”

I grin. “Wow. Isabel finally twisted your arm, huh?”

“No, no, believe it or not, Michael actually convinced me.”

“Guiren?!”

“The one and only. I know, I was as shocked as you are.”

He leaves a few minutes later, promising to call during lunch, and I think things are finally going to get back to normal.

I sleep most of the day, my dreams filled with daunting upside down question marks and green beer bottles and lamp posts.

Mom thinks I’m running a temperature, so she calls from work every hour to make sure I’m feeling better.

Yeah, Mom, I’m feeling great. I was sleeping, and I hit my foot on the way over to the phone and I think I’m in love with the boy next door, but other than that, I’m just peachy!

I have to tell him, I decide. I mean, I’m going out of my mind, analyzing every little thing he says and does. I just have to go up to him, and say ‘Max, you’re the sweetest, nicest guy I’ve ever known, and I’m in love with you. Now kiss me, you wild, sexy beast.’ I giggle. That would be so funny.

This is so hopeless. I wish I could talk to someone.

The rest of the afternoon passes in a similar haze, with me just pondering, and thinking, thinking and pondering till my head feels like an albatross.

I fall asleep again somewhere along the way, back to my strange, deranged dreams.
_____________________________________________________________

Max’s POV

I knock on her window softly. No answer. She must be sleeping.

I open the window and peer into the dark room. Sure enough, she’s lying curled up in the center of the bed, her hands clutched tightly in front of her face.

the gentle breeze causes her hair to flutter about and settle on her pillow like a deep brown halo, as I watch her slumber, peaceful as a child.

A photo album lies near her hand, closed.

I guess I’ll come by later.

_____________________________________________________________

Liz's POV

“Maria?”

“Hey. Max told me you were majorly hung over.”

“Yeah, forget that, I really need to talk to you.”

“About?”

“Max.”

“Oooooh!” She squeals. “Good or bad?”

“I’m not really sure. Maria? I think I love him”

Silence.

“Maria?”

“No. Fucking. Way.”

“Isn’t it weird?”

“No. Fucking Way!”

“Maria!”

“Tell him, Liz!!! He’s so obviously in love with you, too!”

“Why do you say that?”

“Oh, come on! Have you seen the way you guys are together? Its like Dawson’s creek all over again…”

God, I hope she’s right.

“You really think I should tell him?”

“Definitely.”

“Ok, I’m gonna do it.”

“Go girl!”

“Bye. Wish me luck”

“You don’t need it, Babe.”

I hang up the phone and walk over to my window. Wow, I’m really gonna do this.

It’s now or never. Oh god, I cant breathe. I need a mint. Gum. anything. What if he kisses me? oh god oh god oh god…

I open his window, climb in, and sit on his bed.

He’s sitting at his computer,

“Max? I have something important to ask you.” I’m totally focused.

I can do this.

Correction, I have to do this.

It’s either that, or option B: sit around and pine for him till I’m an old virgin maid.

“What is it?”

Oh god oh god oh god....

I can’t stop thinking about how cute he looks in that baseball cap. Or how incredibly familiar his room smells. Or how everything could change after this moment.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

Aw, who am I kidding?!

I swallow. “Do you have any aspirin?”

“Asprin?”

“Yeah. Aspirin. You know, small, white, kills brain cells?” My heart sinks, even as I speak. " chicken shit!" My heart leers.

“Yeah, medicine cabinet, second shelf.”

“Right.”

Option B, I guess.

posted on 20-May-2002 11:11:31 PM
Part 10

Liz's POV

The next few weeks pass by in a blur. Mrs. Evans had to quit her job, and now she’s staying at the hospital. Her room’s pretty and colourful with fruit and fresh flowers and a great view of the garden, but it’s the most horrible place in the world. It smells of medicine and disinfectant and blood, and its a constant reminder of pain.

Every hallway, every room, brings back memories. Memories I want to keep buried forever.

Its difficult coming here the first few times, but I do it for Max, because I love him, and because I want to be there for him. Isabel all but lives here. She’s not been to school for days. Everyone seems to understand.

Mr. Evans looks worse than ever. He’s been working extra hard to cover up the hospital and therapy charges, and added to the emotional stress, I think he’s just about ready to collapse.

Everyone knows, now. People at school, relatives, friends. They’re constantly pouring in to visit Mrs. Evans, to help out. They just end up being more of a burden than the poor family can handle.

Mom’s been helping out as much as possible. Max and Isabel eat almost all their meals at our place, and Isabel talks to her sometimes, and everything’s moving just about as well as can be expected.

Except Max.

_____________________________________________________________

He sits and stands and smiles like a robot, saying and doing all the right things. Never shedding a tear, or even complaining about the responsibilities suddenly thrust upon him.

He isn’t sleeping. His eyes are bleary and red and the only thing that gave his façade away. There’s an empty, tired expression in them, even when he smiles.

It breaks my heart. I want to hold him and look after him and make him believe, just for a few minutes that everything is going to be all right.

I haven’t seen him smile, really smile, for weeks. I haven’t seen him cry. I haven’t seen him feel anything. He just looks… numb.

Like right now. He’s sitting across me at the Crashdown, chewing on his food like its made of rubber. He’s been staring at the table for the past fifteen minutes, only looking up when I speak to him.

I want to scream.

I shift in my seat and lean forward. “So what time do you want to get to the hospital?”

“Six, Six thirty? I don’t know.” And he goes back to chewing and staring. Staring and chewing.

I nod and sit back. This guy was beyond help.

Mr. Evans wants him to go see a therapist.

“Max, how long are you going to live like this?”

He doesn’t look up.

Stare. Chew.

“Max?! Will you fucking answer me?” I shove at his shoulder across the small table.

“Leave me alone, Liz, I have one mother, I don’t need another one.”

“Why wont you talk to anyone?”

“Because its… ” He just sighs, and shakes his head.

And that's how it is. I tease him, prod him, make him angry, but he just nods or stares ahead, looking empty, looking void. And the worst part, is that it hurts me.

I know its selfish, but the fact that I could open up to him, and cry in his arms, and that he cant, makes me feel... betrayed? angry?... I dont know.. I'm just really... really confused...

And I want my best friend back.

Part 11

Max’s POV

Knocking lightly, I enter the hospital room. She’s sitting in the middle of her bed, knees hugged, staring out into the garden.

Her skin looks pasty, transparent. Almost as though there was no blood flowing under it. She wears a wig on her head. It looks so wrong, so fake.

“Mom?” I call out, hesitantly.

She turns and smiles. “Hi sweetie...”

“How you feeling?”

“Better, thanks.” It’s an automatic response. She probably doesn’t even mean it.

I nod, and look at the floor, burying my hands deep into the pockets of my khaki shorts.

“You ok, Max?” She looks me over, looking concerned. Pale. So pale. I don’t want to see her like this. Mom isn’t supposed to look like this. No, Mom wears expensive navy suits, and she always has her hair perfectly styled.

The stranger I see before me is truly that: a stranger.

“Max?”

“Um… yeah, I’m fine, I’m… I actually wanted to talk to you. About… about some stuff that… Ummm…” I trail off, not sure where to look.

“Ok, sure. Whats up?” She smiles, and for a blessed moment, looks like the old, in-control Mom. I want to throw up.

“I know… I know you miss your job and all that, and I know it was hard for you to give it up. But… Um… When you get better, I wish you’d spend… you know, more time with us… Isabel and me.”

Understanding dawns in her clear brown eyes.

I hurry to continue. “I mean… You don’t know a thing about me! I know this is gonna sound extremely selfish on my part, but we need you to be around for us. You know, Mrs Parker knows more about me than you do. Everytime she see’s me, she’ll make sure I’ve eaten, that I’m ok, and she’ll keep going on at me to quit smoking, or drinking, or something.” I Pause. “ Why don’t you? Why don’t you try and stop me, huh? Why does Mrs. Parker care that I smoke, and you don’t? Is it really-” I stop and sigh, pulling a frustrated hand through my hair.

“Max-”

“And now, with this…” I struggle, gesturing at the machines her bed is hooked up to. “Its just… I wish it was you, ok? I wish you were the one making sure I got home ok last night. Not… Not Mrs. Parker.”

“Come here, Max.” She pats the bed beside her. I stand my ground. I’m still angry.

“I can’t shout across the room, Max, I don’t have the strength.” I slowly walk up to the bed, and perch myself on the edge.

Mom sighs, and looks at me firmly. “Its not that I don’t care? Ok? Look at me.” She turns my face toward hers. “Its not that I don’t care. I just don’t want you to have the kind of childhood I had-“

"What are you talking about? You had a great childhhod. You just weren’t as well-off as we are---"

“Honey, I had to work my way through high school. We all did. I worked three jobs, and so did your Aunts and Uncles. And even then... we barely made enough to keep going.

"So you do this for the money?"

"I do this for you. I do this because I never want you, or your children to go through what I had to as a kid. Ok?"

“But this-"

“OK?”

I nod, grudgingly. “Yeah, ok.”

“I’m not a great Mom, I’ll be the first to admit it.”

“You are…” I say feebly. Great. Now I feel like an asshole.

She looks at me for a minute.

“Ok, here’s the deal. You take care of Iz and your Dad till I get better, and I swear I’ll try to be a better Mom when I get better, ok?”

I smile. “Sure.”

She looks at me with a wistful expression on her face. “You were such a tiny baby. Now look at you. God, you’re seventeen years old. You're a man.” She stars to tear up, and I quickly pull her into my arms.

“Oh, god…” She whispers into my chest.

“You’re gonna be fine, Mom.”


Liz’s POV


A few nights later, there’s a frantic knocking on the front door. It must be two in the morning. When I reach the bottom stair, Mom’s already holding the door open.

Max. He’s crying desperately and trying to explain something to Mom all at the same time.

Oh, God... My own eyes begin to sting as I watch his helpless, scared tears.

“Liz, get the car keys,” Mom orders, when she sees me. I oblige, and five minutes later, we’re pulling out of the driveway and heading towards the hospital.

Mrs. Evans had a reaction to some sort of medicine, and she’s gone into a seizure. Max is staring out the window, his lips moving quietly. “Please, please, please” He whispers over and over. He’s praying. Isabel’s lying in his arms, not even bothering to hide her tears.

Mom keeps telling them that everything’ll be ok, and that their Mom was a strong woman. “Nothing’s gonna happen to her.” She says.

_____________________________________________________________


She’s dying. At least that’s what I think Dr. Springer just told Mr. Evans. No one’s sure what’s going on. He won’t say. I just know that something’s really wrong, and that everyone looks as scared as I feel.

“What happened?” I ask dumbly as the doctor walks away. No one answers. Max stands up suddenly and disappears down the hall.

“What happened, Mom?!”

“They’re going to try and pump out the medicine, Honey. If they can do it in time, then she’ll be alright.”

“And if they don’t, she’ll die.” Isabel blurts out.

Oh God.

I turn down the hall to search for Max and find him sitting on one of the chairs, his head in his hands.

I walk up to him and sit in the chair next to his, placing a comforting hand on his back.

“She’s not gonna make it.” He whispers, his head still in his hands.

“You don’t know that.”

He looks up at me desperately. “Its in her blood, Liz! They can’t remove that. They…. She’s…” His face contorts in pain and his voice breaks. Suddenly, its like he can’t hold back the tears anymore.

I pull his head onto my shoulder, and he lets me, twisting his arms around my waist, as a sob wracks his body. “I don’t want her to die, Liz.” He chokes out.

He breaks down, then, sobbing, clinging to me tightly, almost in desperation. I haven’t seen him cry since we were kids… Max has always been so in control, so strong.

His body trembles, and I can feel his hot tears against my skin.

I wish I could make it better.

I smoothen out the hair at his neck as he weeps into my shoulder.

“It’ll be okay Max,” I say gently, reassuringly to him. “Everything is going to be alright.”

I hope to god I’m right.

_____________________________________________________________

Four hours.

Four agonizing hours, we wait, in tortured silence, as doctors, nurses, relatives drop in to see how we’re doing.

It’s early morning. No one’s slept all night.

God, I want this to be over.

I want to be at home, getting ready for school worrying about a Bio test.

Not the life of my best friend’s Mom.

Finally, after endless ‘maybe’s and ‘all-we-can-do-is-wait’s Dr. Springer tells us that they’ve managed to remove most of the chemical from her body, and that she would probably wake up in a few hours.

A small relief. No one looks very happy. So she’s not going to die tonight. So what? It’s just a matter of time before she does.

Max and I have been sitting like this for almost three hours. Hands clasp loosely, sitting slumped in the hard orange chairs of the waiting room.

He sighs. “You should get home. Its almost time for school.”

“Oh, gimmie a break. Like I’m gonna go.”

“You have a test today.”

“I can make it up later.” And I lean my head onto his chest and sigh.

We’ve been talking all night. Softly, aimlessly, just being together, keeping each other awake.

I can’t remember the last time we did this.

We get some food from the hospital cafeteria, but only because my Mom insists that we do. I’m not really hungry. I can tell neither Max nor Isabel is.

Isabel.

God, I wonder how she’s going through all this. She sat with her Dad the whole night, comforting him, calming him down.

I smile at her sympathetically as Max goes to get our treys from the counter. “Hey, how’re you holding up?”

She smiles back, but I can see how worn out she really is. Her eyes look dull and blotchy, and for the first time in years, there isn’t a trace of makeup on her face.

“I’m just relived. I don’t know if I can deal with this cancer thing for much longer. …Its so exhausting, you know?”

I nod. I do know. I’ve been there every step of the way.

Max drops the treys onto the table and falls into the empty chair beside his sister.

I want him to sit here. Next to me. Where he’s been for the past three hours.

He glances at Isabel, who’s staring hard at the tabletop, her brow furrowed with strain. She looks so scared. Max drops his spoon, puts an arm around her and leans down to kiss her on the cheek. “Its ok. She’s alright.”

Isabel nods and then hugs her brother, whispering “Thank God, thank GOD!”

I feel like an impostor. I should leave, or something. I tell them I’m going to the bathroom, then hurry across the cafeteria and into the door marked ‘Ladies’.

I idly wonder what Maria’s doing at this very moment. And Michael. And just about the whole town of Roswell. They’ve all been snoring away in their beds, while Max and Isabel fight for their mother’s life.

It all seems so hysterical.

Isabel enters the bathroom, suddenly.

“She’s awake, come on.”

I grab my bag and rush out after her, into the hallway. Max is nowhere in sight. As we turn the corner of Mrs. Evans’ room, I see the door still shut, and Max and Mom talking softly in the hallway.

“What’s going on? I want to see her.” Isabel cries, looking at Mom.

“Give your Dad a few minutes, sweetie. He’s been really worried.”

Isabel nods and chews on her lip nervously.

She’s scared. So scared.

Mr. Evans calls them in, a few minutes later, and they quickly disappear behind the blue door, leaving Mom and me alone.

She puts an arm around me and squeezes. We walk over to the chairs and sit, exhausted.

“I feel so horrible for those kids. They don’t deserve to go through all this.” She muses, shaking her head.

“I know.”

I can hear laughter from behind the closed door. Max. I smile. The sound’s become almost foreign to me.

I love that sound so much.


Liz's POV


Life was pretty damn miserable, but the good news is that it only went uphill from there. Two weeks ago, the doctors told the Evans’ that Diane Evans was recovering well, and that she would be able to go home.

She would never completely recover, of course, but the colour was beginning to return to her skin, and even her hair seemed to be growing back, feeble and thin as it was.

Isabel, Max and I… we all got back to school, completing missed quizzes and assignments, getting our lives back in order. We started hanging around with our friends again, and Max and Isabel, and just about everything was on the way to being about as normal as they could get.
_____________________________________________________________

“Ice!” I yell, trying to be heard over the din of the general chatter and laughter.

I look around at the forty-something people knotted in the Evans’ living room. There are people of all ages here, from cousins, parents to great-grand children.

One big happy family, celebrating Diana Evans’ new chance of a life.

Kids scurry through the rooms, with their secret games and looks, giggling, squealing, some hanging to the skirts of their mothers, others squirming under the scrutiny of elders.

There’s the sound rich male laughter in the air, and light jazz music playing in the background. The women cluster round the table, exchanging stories, gossip and general know-how.

Some of these people I’ve known all my life. Grandma Pearl’s telling stories to Max’s younger cousins. Stories of the Barbur thieves. Stories I’ve heard all my life.

...This is my family too.

Mrs. Evans wanders around the kitchen, protesting as the other women insist on doing everything for her. She smiles, but I know she’s dying with frustration. ‘Leave my kitchen alone!’ she’s screaming inside. ‘This is my house!’

Mom’s talking to her now. That seems to calm her down a little. They’ve grown close these past few months. I’m glad.

Isabel looks beautiful. She’s laughing and flirting with all her uncles, making them feel young, and attractive.

And Max.

My Max.

He’s sitting in front of the piano, looking beautiful as an angel, learning Heart and Soul from his five-year-old cousin Gabrielle.

I could stand here watching him for days.

The glint of mischief in his eyes as he speaks to her.

The sweet smile that’s plastered on his face.

The hair that’s falling on his forehead.

Just… Everything.

He looks over Gabrielle’s tiny head and winks at me, his smile growing insolent. I roll my eyes and wander off, in search of the wayward ice.

I slave through the party, being the sweet little old angel that I become around family, using words like ‘shall’ and ‘certainly’.

It’s almost midnight, now and the party’s still booming.

It's time for a breather. The front lawn’s strewn with uncles and dads, so I head out towards the backyard. It’s dark and empty.

Good.

I slide the door open and slip out, making sure no one sees me. I want to be alone.

The door blocks out most of the noise, and the sudden silence hits me like a jackhammer. Only the sound of the music floats through the speakers outside. I sigh and close my eyes, rotating my tired neck muscles contentedly.

“Tired?”

I gasp and turn to see Max sitting on the stairs in the corner, a cigarette between his fingers. A beer can rests near his foot.

“No,” I lie, trailing over to the stairs and sitting down next to him. I look at the sky. I feel calm and protected and loved.

Or maybe that’s just because of Max…

“Its pretty out here.”

“Yeah. I love this time of night. Its like… so…” He struggles to find the right word.

“…Eternal?” I muse, hesitantly.

“Exactly. It’s like… its huge, you know? The sky, the silence. The smell.” He looks at me, then laughs, seemingly embarrassed by the way he’s been going on.

“You’re polluting it all, you know.” I nod at the cigarette.

He glares at me as if to say ‘don’t start’. I shrug and hug my knees closer to my chest.

“God, I love this,” I murmur, closing my eyes and leaning my head back, so my hair swings down my back. He pulls on his cigarette.

He’s licks his lips. He’s thinking. I notice these things about him. The way he bends his head over when he laughs, the way he scratches his forehead with the tip of his finger, the way he looks straight ahead when he’s nervous.

“You going to the prom?” He asks suddenly, butting out the cigarette in a little makeshift ashtray/bottle cap.

“Probably.”

He nods, and licks his lips again. “Who with?” He’s sitting with his elbows resting on his thighs, his fingers dangling idly.

I shrug. “Dunno. Why?”

“Zack McGraw asked you right?”

“Yeah.”

“You said no?”

“He smells his fingers.” I say this with much distaste.

“So?”

“So that’s weird.

“What about Dylan Mareviro?”

“He didn’t ask me.”

“He’s gonna.”

“I’ll say no.”

“Why?”

Because I want to go with you.

“Because.” I’m irritated. I chew my lip thoughtfully. “Maybe I’ll just go alone.”

He frowns. “ Don’t do that I’ll take you.”

OH GOD!!!

“Ok, fine.” I shrug.

“Cool.”

“Yeah.”

He nods.

I nod.

He frowns.” It wont be weird, or anything, right?”

“No. Not weird. Definitely not. I mean we’re not, like, brother and sister or anything-”

“Right.”

“And who cares anyway?”

“Exactly.”

We sit silently, for a few minutes, just thinking. I look at his face out of the corner of my eye, wondering when he started to look so gorgeous.

He turns to me and I divert my eyes quickly, blushing.

Suddenly, he puts his beer down, and stands. “C’mon.” He says, offering me a hand up.

I take it. “You wanna go back inside?”

“No…”

He slips his hands around my waist and starts to move to the slow beat of the music.

Can you say sexy?

I nod, a flirtatious smile slipping across my face. “Ohhhh… you wanna dance with me? I’m flattered.” I move in close to his body.

“Oh, definitely. I always, always choose the pretty ones.” He whispers in my ear.

I snort. I’m going to retort with a snaky comment, when I think the better of it, and simply rest my head on his shoulder, swaying slightly. His hands move lower, onto my hips.

This is wonderful.

He sighs.

We’re both unusually quiet.

The music’s low and sensuous, and it swirls around us, melding into the stillness of the night.

Max’s breathing is loud and heavy, just above my ear. His thumbs gently knead my skin through the fabric of my dress, and I swallow hard, willing my heartbeat to slow down.

And then he begins caressing my hair with his lips. His eyes are half closed.

I’m a goner.

He runs his fingertips across my back, pulling me closer in his embrace as we continue to dance. His fingers alternate running through my hair, and through the straps that hold together my halter dress.

My eyes roll back into my head and I let out a breathless sigh. “Max.”

“Yeah?” He breathes, pulling me closer, so I’m flush up against his chest. It’s getting hard to move. It’s getting hard to breathe. I don’t care, I press up against him.

“Max…” I think I’m going to faint. There’s electric sizzles running through my body, everywhere I touch him.

Our breathing’s getting louder. He pulls back slightly, and I stare into his dark, stormy eyes. There’s something in there. Something that makes me believe that what he feels for me goes deeper than I imagined.

He removes a hand from my hips, and slowly, deliberately, picks up a few wisps of my hair and runs his fingers over them with a muted ‘hiss’, feeling their smoothness.

His eyes follow his fingers as he gently places them on my cheek.

I hold my breath in anticipation as Max’s lashes lower over his eyes. He glances at my lips.

“What am I doing?” He whispers, more to himself than to me.


Part 14

Max’s POV


She smiles. Oh, god that smile. I could cum right there with that smile.

“I don’t know,” She whispers, licking her lips. “But don’t stop.”

Oh, fuck. Don’t. Don’t say that.

I want to touch her.

She’s so delicate.

I lean over slightly.

We’ve stopped moving a while ago.

She stares at me, hesitantly, almost frightened.

Our eyes are fixed on each other.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz’s POV


His fingers reach up, and stroke my cheek sweetly.

His gaze shifts over to my lips again.

And he leans in and touches them with his own.

Softly, at first, hesitant and curious.

They’re soft and wet, and I can’t get enough of the tangy hint of alcohol in his mouth.

He moves his hands up my back, and pulls me closer. Our lips become melded together, our breaths coming in short, irregular gasps.

I can’t get over the smell of him. It’s intoxicating, hypnotic.

He comes up for air, abandoning my aching lips for a few seconds before he begins kissing my neck. I toss my head back.

Fuck, this is so good.

His mouth leaves behind a trail of fire, as it skates across my skin. His hair’s soft under my frantic fingers. I want… its… Jesus, I can’t even think straight.

He tugs gently at my thighs, and I wrap them around his waist, looking at his flushed face, now slightly below mine. And we kiss again. This time, completely.

Lips brushing, hands squeezing, sighing, moaning. I’m alive. I’m loved. I’m horny.

He walks back until I’m pressed against the wall, my legs still around him. I can’t move at all. I don’t want to.

He attacks me again, and this time I can feel his penis throbbing against my skin.

Ho.ly. fuck.

I’ve never felt a guy before. It gets me more charged up, and I begin grinding my hips into his groin.

I’m trying to lessen the burning between my legs. Oh, God…

Oh. Fucking. God! I moan.

He’s biting my neck, now, gently tugging at the skin. I just whimper. I feel so helpless.

Suddenly, there’s a loud click and the sound of a door sliding open. Fuuuuuck!!!!

He lets go of me quickly, but not before Mrs. Evans steps forward, surprise printed all over her face.

“Uh… Hi, mom…” Max is still breathing hard and his cheeks are crimson, as he desperately tries to settle his disheveled hair.

“Kids…” She nods, still a little unsure of what she had just witnessed. “ Why don’t you come inside, dessert’ s on the table.”

“We were!!! We were just gonna get back inside. That’s why we were… hugging!… before…” He cringes, hoping she would let it go.

I snort. Hugging. Hugging!

He shoots me a ‘would-you-please-cooperate’ look as he starts to follow Mrs. Evans inside. I grab his shirt quickly, and wipe away the smeared lip-gloss from… well, all over his face…

We kiss one more time before he disappears into the throng, and wistfully, I head to the dining table to help out. I want to be with Max. I want him to kiss me, and touch me, and… oh god...

I cant believe the thoughts and images racing through my head.

my body tingles with excitement.

The cake’s excellent. Everyone says so.

I move from person to person, handing out the bowls of sweet dish, being my polite, angelic self.

I feel like Satan inside. I’m going crazy. Where the hell is Max?! I just want to see him. For now, anyway.

Everyone’s sitting in the living room, now, talking, laughing, and I can’t help but feel sorrow for what I would never have as my own. There’s only Mom and me. I’d never feel the sense of belonging that everyone in this room feels right now.

Stories, jokes, gentle ribbing, laughing. I want this. This is where I want to be ten years from now.

I get up from my spot on the arm of the couch to fetch Uncle Dylan some water. The kitchen and lobby are deserted. Even from this distance , I can hear the voices. I smile…

A pair of hands winds itself around my waist, and pulls me close to a warm, and very hard body. My smile widens.

“Hey good-lookin’,” He breathes in my ear, darting out his tongue against my skin. I shiver.

“Hey Stranger… I missed you…” I say coyly, rubbing my hands over his arms.

“Yeah? How much?” He teases, leaning forward.

“You want a number?”

“I want anything you got.” He mocks, kissing the side of my neck.

I roll my eyes. “Well, I know you missed me,” He was hard. So hard.

He laughs. “Only you, Babe. Only you…” He turns my head and kisses me breathless. I wrap a hand behind his head and pull him forward.

Finally… finally!

But then, he pulls away, and I let out a whimper. A few women wander into the kitchen and Max easily slips on a casual expression, and leans against the counter, as though we were just talking.

Only the bulge in his cargos gives him away. We continue our would-be conversation as the women move in, adorned with cups and dishes.

“Yeah. Totally! Tap water is of inferior quality by all- Oh, hey Aunt Meg, Aunt Marie.” He grins his cute grin and turns back to me with the ‘ah-interesting’ expression.

I can only stand and stare in awe. Wow. How does. He do it?

I haven’t even started breathing yet.

“Ah…Um… Yeah, I agree... I mean, there’s all this… stuff in it, right? With the minerals and the… iron… and…” What the hell am I talking about?!

I wipe at my lips nervously, with trembling fingers. I don’t know why we’re doing this. Aunt Meg and Marie don’t even give us a second glance as they move around the kitchen, talking seriously.

Max is thinking the same thing. He looks at me mischievously, and he gently tilts his head towards the door, telling me that we should get the hell out of here.

“Umm… so! let's go see that… thing you said wanted to show me.” He says, looking my body over suggestively.

“I never said anything of the sort.” I tease, a hint of laughter in my voice.

I love this man. And I love flirting with him.

“Well,” He smiles, and walks closer, his eyes on the floor. “I know you want to show me something. I mean with what… happened earlier…” He stops. “Lets go talk about this. Upstairs. I’ll make it worth your while. I promise.” He added softly.

I raise my eyebrows, the grin still plastered on my face. “What did you have in mind?”

“Ah, see, I’m not at liberty to discuss that information here.” Grin. “Maybe that’s something you want to find out.”

I shrug, as though the offer wasn’t very very exciting.

The women walk out of the kitchen, chatting and laughing.

“Like I said,” he whispers, leaning in close, so his breath brushes against my ear. “I’ll make it worth your while…”

Oh, god, I can’t take this. I want him so bad. But we can’t just leave. I mean, there’s all these people… and the-

Ah, fuck it!

I smile seductively. “Lets go. Now.”


Liz's POV

I giggle uncontrollably as we jog up the stairs to my bedroom. We had suddenly realized that my house was completely deserted and available. Mom wouldn’t be home till much later, and there was no chance that some poor old soul looking for the bathroom would walk in on us. Perfect.

I’m still clutching his hand and laughing as we enter my room and pause in the doorway to kiss languidly.

Alone.

Completely alone.

He nibbles at my bottom lip, and I slide my hands up his torso, and into his thick brown hair, our bodies mushing together.

As expected, our kissed start getting more impatient, and we claw at each other’s bodies, eager to get them unclothed. There’s an incredible amount of electricity crackling between us, and it doesn’t show any signs of fading out.

I whimper and then stand on tiptoe to gain better access. Max deepens the kiss even more, his hands sliding up my arms to tangle in my hair. He angles his mouth and gently teased my lips with his tongue.

My lips part naturally, my own tongue peeking out to deepen the kiss.

His large hands are grasping the back of my head, mussing my hair, making me moan.

I’m rubbing myself against his crotch, loving the fact that I’m driving him crazy.

“Oh, fuck…” I moan, as hands reach into my jeans to clasp my ass. His mouth is on my neck, and I’m holding onto his curls for my dear life. “Max…Oh, God!”

He lifts me up. I’m flying. Hands grasping, mouths biting, gasping, moaning.

Oh God!… I love this. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I know I love this.

I’m struggling with the buttons on his shirt. They keep slipping out of my frantic fingers. I want to touch him. Oh, God, I want to touch him!!!

His hands join mine, and together, we all but rip it off his torso. I run my hands over his chest, pausing to press his taut nipples into his flesh.

“Shit! “ He yelps against my ear and quickly reaches down to knead my breasts through my dress. The skirt’s bunched up around my stomach, with all the rubbing and grinding, and he pulls down the zipper to my dress so that it flutters to the ground.

I feel a sudden chill of self-consciousness, as I stand before him, in my bra and panties, completely at his mercy.

Staring into my eyes, he gently lowers his lips to mine and feathered them over my body. Max groans deep in his throat and pulls back and kneels on the ground to kiss my thighs and stomach…

“Oh… GOD! Oh fuck…” His lips start moving along my panties, making my center throb and ache.

“Max, please…please…” He stands, and tilts my chin up, so that I’m looking into his eyes again. He’s panting, eyes are dark with passion and face slick with sweat and saliva.

“You’re beautiful.” He whispers, tracing my skin with his fingers. I kiss them as they pass over my mouth.

"Make love to me Max," I whisper, gazing into his eyes. He smiles. Then shrugs, like I did in the kitchen, as though the offer wasn’t very tempting.

My hand slides down his chest, and comes to a stop at the bulge in his pants. Max’s head falls forward, onto my shoulder, his teeth gritted. My fingers squeeze his hardness, delighting in the hiss that passes through his clenched teeth.

He curses from the shock and then swallows, closing his eyes to get back his control.

I laugh. And I squeeze again.

“FUCK!” He hisses again, grips my arms, holding his breath. He recovers and then looks at me seriously. “Fuck, that’s NOT funny, Liz. Really.”

I start to giggle. I don’t know why. He just looks so cute. “You don’t like it?” I ask innocently, knowing very well that it drives him insane.

“I - I do! It’s just… You know… Just don’t…” He cracks a sarcastic smile when he realizes I’m joking.

He walks towards me menacingly. “Oh, so you think you’re smart, huh?”

“Noooo… Never.” I walk backwards, my hands clutched safely behind my back. He grabs me by the waist and throws me over his shoulder.

I shriek. I’m laughing hard. “Max! NO!” We must make a pretty funny picture…

“Josh! No!”

…NO!!!…

I frown and shake the thought away.

He tosses me onto the bed and then crawls on top of me, growling softly. On anyone else, the gesture would look absurd, but he carries it of with such intense grace, that I find it wildly erotic.

His head is now hovering over my heaving breasts, his eyes staring violently into mine. There’s no laughter in there anymore. Just brutal hunger.

His breath makes my nipples clench.

We kiss passionately again, his teeth scraping my tongue and lips. His arousal’s straining against the crotch of his pants. He grinds himself against me again-

“Josh!!! Please, no!!! PLEASE!!! Oh god, oh god, oh god…”

I gasp. No.

No, Max.

It’s Max.

Its only Max.

He wont hurt me.

Never.

Max breaks away and looks at my face. It’s filled with passion. Love. “You ‘kay?” He gasps, smoothening my hair.

Ok, I cannot. Freak out right now.

I nod and smile quickly. “Fine! Great!” I swallow. He nods, but continues to look at my face hesitantly. As if to prove it, I pull his face down and start kissing his smooth chest, flicking his nipples with my tongue. “Liz…” he moans, letting his sensations conquer his qualms.

He presses his body against me, and I cant breathe.

“Josh, please!!! Oh, god, please!!!” He’s so heavy, I cant breathe…

…oh God, please, please, please….

I taste salt. I didn’t even know I was crying.

_____________________________________________________________

Max’s POV

I look up, expecting to see her face wild with passion. Instead, I see her fighting for control, tears streaming through closed lids.

She doesn’t want this.

Oh god, what the hell am I doing?!

I scramble off her and land on the floor with a THUD

She looks startled, at first. “Max… I don’t-”

“Umm… I’m sorry, I’ll just… I’m…” I look around for my shirt. I should go. She thinks I’m a pervert.

I’m thinking about fucking her, and we haven’t even been together a day yet. I am a pervert. “I’m just gonna go…” Where the hell is my goddamn shirt?

“Oh… yeah, ok.” She looks sad. Is she sad? Does she want me to stay? God, give me a sign. A hint. Anything. I tug on my t-shirt and stare at the groung for a moment, breathing hard.

Or is it Josh?

My chest constricts, my embarresment (embaressment?) replaced with fervent concern, as the realization hit me. Josh.

Without a word, shift onto the bed next to her.

“Shhh…” I hold her as she starts to sob. I want to keep her in my arms forever.

“Oh, God, I want this to stop! I just- I hate this! I-” She trails off, covering her mouth with her palm and squeezing her eyes shut, as another round of sobs rack her body.

I can’t stand this. Watching her so desperate, and so helpless.

“I’m gonna go,” I say softly. I don’t think she wants me around right now.

“NO!” she grabs me by both arms and looks dejectedly into my eyes. “No, please! I’m sorry, ok? Please don’t go, I -”

I lift my hands up in surrender. “Yeah, ok, sure. I just thought you might want to be alone… That’s all.”

She shakes her head no, miserably.

I reach out and stroke her velvet skin, wiping away tears. She’s so staggeringly beautiful, I have to catch my breath.

I hesitate for a moment, before saying,“You know, this stuff… that you keep inside?… Its gonna drive you insane.”

Shit. I shouldn’t have said that. Its none of my business.

She sniffs, and looks at me tentatively. We’ve never talked about this.

“Meaning…”

“Meaning… that you keep saying ‘yeah, I’m fine’ and ‘its ok’ and everything, when the truth is… the truth is that you’re scared shitless, and you have no idea how to deal with what happened.”

Please don’t hate me for saying that.

I just want you to be all right. That’s all.

I just want you to be all right.

She looks at me with such pain in her eyes, that I want to throw up my dinner. She hates me. She’s gonna start yelling.

Any minute now.

“Um…” Her voice is surprisingly soft. “Its hard to talk about. It’s just… I don’t want to bring all that stuff… back, you know? It’s the past, it’s over-”

I nod slowly, stroking her cheek. “But if you keep it all buried inside, its gonna… just… talk to someone, alright? Talk to Maria. Talk to your mom. Or me.”

She nods. I hope she gets it. I know she feels responsible for what happened. I know there’s stuff inside her that she doesn’t want to think about now. Or ever. I know she feels ashamed, somehow.

She doesn’t realize how brave she’s been about this.

Or how much I admire her for being… her. For getting her life back in order, even after something so horrible.

She looks up suddenly, and hugs me. It’s a little awkward, because we’re sitting on opposite sides of the bed, but I can tell she means it. “Thank you.”

“For?” I pull away to look at her.

“For… caring… so much… just, you know, always being there for me. You’re like, the one person that I can always count on, you know?” She smiles shyly, looking at her hands.

I stroke her cheek, and she looks up at me under her long lashes, looking so damned beautiful that I have to smile.


Part 15b

Liz’s POV

I want to tell him how much this all means to me. I want him to know.

We look at each other, and he smiles, a little bashfully. The smile is so Max. Oh god, he’s so amazing.

He swallows, and leans in closer. I want him to kiss me. He pauses, just inches from my lips, as if to ask permission.

I bridge the gap and bring my lips onto his.

The kisses are different, now. The hunger is gone, replaced by a tenderness and a warmth that I had only imagined. He lays me down gently onto the bed, and drops kisses down my jaw, leaving behind it a trail of fire. I sigh softly, contentedly.

My skin tingles from my toes, all the way through, to the roots of my hair.

I want him.

He sucks on my skin, and a little sound escapes my throat. The tingle grows intense.

He brings his hand up to the base of her neck, his thumb running across my collar bone. “Why don’t we just take things one step at a time. Ok? Take things as they come.”

His voice grows to a whisper, as he tries to calm my jangled nerves. “Whatever happens, happens.”

I give him a faint smile, leaning into the caress of his hand.

He always knows the right things to say, the right things to do.

I sniff and look at him determinedly. I can’t let Josh run my life. This is Max. I’ve loved him all my life, and I am not going to let anything get in the way of this.

With that, I grin devilishly, and rolled over, so that I’m straddling him. “Liz… I mean it…” he started, sincerely, but I cut him off.

“Hey? Shut up.” And I cross my arms around my chest, and pull off my bra, like I would a t-shirt, feeling my breasts flop out of their cups.

I felt him tighten beneath me, and I gasp. Even through the layers between us, I can feel his cock throbbing with lust. His breathing’s labored, as he watches me, afraid to move. He’s scared I might bolt.
I lean forward and bring his hand up to touch my breast. He begins to caress and mould it with his hand, pinching and teasing my hard, tense nipple.

I’m moaning. Loud. “Yes! Oh GOD! YES!,” My back arches forward, as I let him manipulate my senses. My insides are on fire.

His other hand begins playing with the hem of my panties, tugging, tickling. We both wanted them off. He studies my face carefully, eyes intense and alert as a panther.

With great difficulty, I tug away his hand and get to my feet, on top of the bed. He kneels below me so he’s face to face with my tummy, and I easily begin to pull my panties down my smooth legs, thanking the heavens that I had shaved.

He grabs ahold of my hands, and tosses them aside, moving his fingers over my panties and over the barely exposed curls at the base of my tummy. With slow, tender fingers, he tugs them down and buries his face between my thighs. I can hardly breathe, let alone think, as he lightly flicks my lips with his tounge, tasting the wetness beneath.

“Max… Max… Oh, god, oh fuck…” I tighten my grip on his head, rocking my hips to his mouth. His hands slide down my legs and clasp my ankles tightly, his tounge growing more self-assured and persuasive.

Oh… god…

I feel sizzling bolts rip through my body as he continues his assault, my orgasm just inches away. And then he pulls away, gasping, his hands still on my ankles.

“ NO! Max!!! Max, please!…” I moan, tears stinging my eyes.

“Not yet.” He orders, his voice full of power. He jerks my ankles towards him, and I flop onto the bed with a surprised yelp. My head rests at the foot of the bed.

He crawls over me and starts to kiss my mouth, savagely, passionately. We’re both moaning and gasping, our dire need apparent. “Max… Max…”

My fingers crawl down to his pants, and I frantically undo the button and zipper of his pants, my heart ponding with anticipation. He lifts his hips, and together, we shove them off his legs, so he’s dressed only in his black boxers. We roll over, and I’m staddling him again. I move my hands inside and brush my nails across his penis. He clenches his teeth and moans, the chords in his throat tightening with effort.

“Liiiihhhhzzzz… oh, fuck, oh…” He hisses, his hands pressing into the mattress.

I need him. Right now…

Haistily, I pull off his boxers and toss them aside, quickly grasping his penis, and rubbing my hands over it. Soft. It’s so soft. I cant get enough of seeing him like this, frantic and moaning. We roll over again and he attacks my breast with his mouth, sucking, biting, licking. “Oh, baby… Oh fuck... That’s it…”

One hand slips between my legs, and traces the inside of my vagina. Oh god… I can’t…

Sensations, the like of which I’ve never even heard of, are shooting through my body.

Max's fingers stroke my inner walls in a smooth rhythm. His breath is warm and ragged on my flushed face, and I cling to him, hips moving with his fingers. His mouth loweres to mine sucking, gasping, tangling.

Suddenly, his fingers are gone. I yell out, frustrated and close to tears again. “Max! Max, please!!! Oh fuck, PLEASE!!!”

He shoves his tounge inside my mouth and caresses every corner, every crevice. “Cond… Condom,” He gasps between open-mouthed kisses. “I need a con…” His words cut off into pants, as I explore his body with my hands.

Condom, I realize. We need a condom.

I tremble slightly, as his warm breath grazes my aching nipples, waves of pleasure rippling through my veins.

Condom. “Max… Stop, baby…”

I push him away with my hands, and he abruptly sits up, his face apprehensive. “What’s wrong?” he pushes his hair out of his eyes as I scramble off the bed and grab a-hold of his discarded pants. I know he has a condom in there. All guys do.

“Where is it?” I ask irritably, hunting through the endless pockets. He blinks at me. “CONDOMS! Condoms, braniack!”

“Right. Condoms.” He shakes his head to clear it, and then snatches away the clothing from my hand. A second later, he removes three foiled packages and tosses two of them on the nightstand.

Three? Three condoms?

“A little confident, aren’t we?” I tease, watching him struggle to open the foil. I crawl towards him seductively, my lower lip entrapped between my teeth.

“Better safe than sorry.” He murmers, his eyes fixed on my aroused body, the package forgotten in his hands.

My face is inches from his. I lick my lips and stare into his golden eyes, now dark with desire. “Max.” I lick his earlobe slightly, and then bite it, causing Max to elicit a sharp gasp. “Max!”

“Yeah…” He sounds drunk.

“The condom?”

He jerks his head up and quickly releases the plastic from the package. Before he can put it on, I grab it, and roll it onto his cock, slowly, tortuously.

He’s moaning and kissing me everywhere he can. My hair, my arms, my neck…

He feels so full and large in my hands, and for a moment, I wonder if it’ll hurt as much as it did the first time.

As if reading my mind, he pulls my hands away, and we turn over, with him on top. “Baby… relax…” He sooths, rubbing my tense shoulders. Immediately, the doubts dissipate, and I’m only filled with longing, and a frenzied desperation to kill the ache within my core.

“Max… I want you now…”

He swallows, then places his forehead on mine, trying to calm his frantic nerves.

I feel his tip pressing into me. “Yes!”

He moves slowly, at first, inching, inching… grinding his teeth with the effort. “Oh, god, yes, don’t… don’t… stop. Oh, LORD!!!”I scream, thrusting my hips upward, urging him to fill me completely.

He stops, suddenly. “Ooooh! So that’s what the different flavours are for.” He says, in such an adorable voice, that I launch into a fit of giggles. “Max… this is so not the time…” I gasp, thrusting my hips up to emphasize my point.

“Right, sorry…”

I let out a cry of pleasure when he pushes inside me forcefully. My body slides slightly towards his footboard and I reach out a hand to keep my head from hitting it.

Oh, god. This feels so right. So fucking RIGHT!!!… I’m in ecstacy… Max pulls back and thrusts back in, bring about a tiny creak of protest from the bed.

He moves slowly but steadily and forcefully. I can’t get enough.

“Max! Yes. Yes. Yes! Oh FUCK! YES!!!” I yell, with each thrust. We built and built and build…

I scream and moan and beg, biting into his heaving back and holding onto it for my dear life. He whispers my name, over and over, telling me how much he wants me, loves me. I run my hands all over him, looking for a way to pull him deeper inside of me.

I want the ache to recide. Its only becoming stronger. My voice grows louder, higher, till I’m almost shrieking his name, his baritone murmring only turning me on even more.

"Liz...” he pants, his breath coming in cool, short puffs against my skin, as sweat trickles down over the taut muscles of is back.

I feel a sudden sense of stillness, before the orgasm hits, where every sensation, every sound, every touch is suddenly magnified into a single memory, where the words ‘pure bliss’ stream cross my conciousness and fill every pore of my body.

And then I hear it, soft and low just by my ear. “It’s ok, baby... Just let it happen....”

And with those words, the bottom drops out.

I feel my body go stiff with pleasure, a final cry escaping my parted lips.

Max continues to thrust into me, as he comes inside me, pouring everything that was him into my body, the warm, cloudy liquid pooling between my thighs. His whole body pulses into sporadic treamours.

Brilliant colors flash across my vision, making me feel drunk and light headed.

So this was what it’s like. The yes that comes from so deep within that you hadn’t even known it existed.

Beads of sweat rolled down my face, the tension in my body suddenly giving out to exhaustion. Whimpers escape my throat as I gradually descend from my high.

“Oh god…" He whispers, as he slumps down onto my frame, still buried deep inside of me.
____________________________________________________________

Panting, I stare up at the ceiling, a bead of sweat trikling down my neck. I cant believe that just happened.

Or how wonderful it feels to lie in his arms.

“Wow… talk about sexual frustration…” I muse. All these years of pent up feelings for each other suddenly gave way to the wildest sex I’ve ever had. (ok, the only sex I’ve ever had; whatever)

Max looks over at me, and I giggle, suddenly finding the whole thing incredibly amusing. His lips twich, a bit, and he joins in, and pretty soon, we’re both laughing hysterically, not because what I said so damned witty, but just because we both need a release from the intensity of what happened.

Recovering from his bout, Max leans his head on his palm, staring adoringly at my flushed face. “God, I’m so in love with you.” He says, suddenly, his face serious.

I feel my chest constrict. “Yeah?”

He nods, stroking my cheek.

“I fell in love with you… I think it was…” I squint, trying to remember. “You remember that time we just walked and walked, like, all day?… and it was raining like crazy? And we found that store…”

“The Dime-Time Store, right!! And we bought those silly best friend rings?”

“They were not silly!!! They were so cute! I still have mine…” I scramble out of bed, and pull open my bedside drawer, digging at the very back for the round plastic.

“Here!” I hold it up triumphantly, and then slip it onto my finger. The word ‘best’ is written across it. Max’s had said ‘friends’.

“That’s when you fell in love with me?”

“Uh-huh…”

He chews his lip thoughtfully. “God, it must have killed you when I… slept with Casey.”

I lean my head on my palm, too, so my face is level with him. “You know what? Don’t have regrets, ok? I have a ton of ‘em, and… its not worth it… really.”

He nods solemnly, and we both snuggle together, ready for sleep.

Tenderly, I stroke her head with my hand, until the rhythemic sound of her breathing lulls me to sleep


Part 16

Max’s POV

You know that stage between the dreamworld and reality, where you’re desperately trying to get to sleep but the peace just wont come?

And the thoughts stream through so loud and fast, you hardly have tome to grab onto them. Your eyes start to hurt from being rolled up inside your head, and finally you have no choice but to open them.

And the relief is deafening...

A gentle puff of air greets the top of my head, and I feel a lovesick smile spreading across my face. I’m lying on her chest, my arm thrown across her body, as she sleeps.

She’s dressed in my black t-shirt, and I admire the way she looks in my clothes. I want to see it more often.

I gently brush her hair out of her eyes, and shift, so that I’m streatched out beside her, and no longer on her tiny frame. She whimpers, acknowledging the loss, and cuddles closer to tuck her head below my chin.

Her skin is damp and sweet, and I lazily caress it with my fingertips.

I’m already addicted to her smell, and for the hundredth time, that night, I feel a current of contentment flood into my veins. My Liz.

Does she love me as much as I do her? Could she?

I toy with the plastic ring on her finger.

She wants to know the exact moment I fell in love with her. When she kissed me that day in the garden? Last Christmas, when she wore that black dress? The day she broke her foot and cried in my arms? I wrack my brain trying to remember…

Truth is, I don’t have a clue.

Maybe I’ve always loved her, just never been discerning enough to realize. She had always been my Liz.

It makes you think, doesn’t it? Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see...

I’ve lain here countless times before tonight, on this bed, in this room. I’ve watched the same ceiling and breathed in the same air. But it’s never looked like this before.

Idly, I wonder if tomorrow, or the day after that, if I’ll ever look at this room, and feel included; like I belong. Because, right now, I cant think of anything I want more than to belong to her, and to be with her. My Liz.

My divinity.

I smile as I gently stroke her damp cheek with the back of my fingers. She’s mine. Finally.

She smiles in her semi-slumber state, and kisses my fingers tenderly as they pass by her lips.

“Goodnight, Baby,” I whisper, then slowly untangle my limbs from hers, and open the window to climb out.
_____________________________________________________________

Melissa’s POV

I walk into the kitchen, tying my hair up into a ponytail. Max is already there, sitting on the counter eating cereal, and squinting at the tiny kitchen television in front of him.

“Hey Mrs. P.” He calls out, flashing me a distracted grin.

“Morning.” Having Max here before me is not unusual. He’s been doing it since he and Liz were kids, and I never minded. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a part of my family. “Mom get enough rest last night?”

He nods through a spoonful of cereal, not bothering to look up from the TV screen. “She’s still asleep.”

“Hey, do me a favor?”

“Anything for you, Mrs. Parker…” He wiggles his eyebrows.

I roll my eyes. “Go wake up that princess of yours.”

“Liz?” He stops smiling.

His eyes suddenly droop to his hands, as a shy blush spreads across his handsome face. I narrow my eyes with suspicion. Diane told me about the backyard and the heavy make-out session last night, and I wonder if he’s nervous to see her again.

Aw, young love, I smile wistfully.

“I’m awake, don’t bother…” A third voice groans out. Liz trudges into the kitchen, and flops down into a chair. She’s dressed in a long t-shirt, and socks.

She suddenly starts to tug at the bottom, uncomfortably, as if Max hadn’t ever seen her wearing it. “Uh, hi.” She says to him, awkwardly.

He nods back, and clears his throat, staring into his cereal.

Liz hesitates, and then goes over to where he’s seated, reaching out for the cereal box. “Uh… could I…”

He quickly grabs it, and all but shoves it in her direction. “Um, yeah, sure… I’m not... I don’t… I don’t need… it. Here.” He sighs, as she walks away from him.

Whoa. Definite vibe.

I watch the exchange between the two suspiciously, wondering if I should be worried.

I need to know. Maybe if I just casually mention it, they’ll… they’ll… what? Max’ll probably deny that anything’s up, and Liz will tell me to mind my own business.

I decide, what the hey, I’m the mother around here, and I get to know everything that goes around.

I wipe my hands on a towel and face the two of them with a casual expression.

“So!!!” Whoa. A little too loud. Liz jumps in her seat and Max looks over quickly. “Sorry… Uh, so last night. I heard you two were getting-” the words die on my lips as Liz shoots me a death glare.

Max goes into a coughing fit, and Liz quickly pipes up. “Mom, stop. Ok, this is… just don’t… just stop.” She slumps back into her chair, and pushes her spoon around, uneasily. Max’s coughing fit seems to have stopped, but his face is bright red.

Oh. Oh. Something definitely happened last night.

“Right.”

I clear my throat. Max is still beet red. “I’m just gonna go…” I point to the door. “Um, get some… stuff…”


Liz’s POV

I smile secretly at Max, as Mom leaves the room. Pushing my chair aside, I quickly march over to him, and he turns to face me, so I can fit comfortably between his parted legs. We kiss languidly, letting our tongues survey each other’s mouths. His strong arms envelope my body and crush me to his chest, his breathing loud and slow.

“Hi.” He says shyly, a crooked grin spreading across his face.

“Hey stranger…” I greet, my fingers entwining with his. His face is still inches from mine, so I can feel the puffs of air as he breathes.

He starts to kiss my neck and chest, but I grab his head before it travels further, teasing, “We got all day for that, Hunk-O… Patience…”

He groans deep in his throat, and pecks me soundly on the lips. “Hey, speaking of today, you know what we should do? Blow everyone off, and have wild, animal sex all day in the jeep.”

“Max!” I whine, whacking him on the arm. He chuckles softly, nipping at the air above my nose.

“I got a better idea,” I whisper, close to his ear, reaching out my tongue to lick the sensitive skin behind it. He sighs, drunkenly, pulling me closer to his body.

“How ‘bout,” I kiss his cheek. “We take the jeep,” I kiss his jaw. “Drive into the desert,” Other cheek. “Park somewhere really dark,” Nose. “And then,” I breathe, my lips hovering over his quivering, wet lips. “And then I have my way with you... on the sand…”

I plant my lips firmly onto his lips, reaching out to grasp his hair in my fists. “Mmmm… I like.” He approves, before twining his tongue teasingly with mine. “You know what else – Uh, MRS. PARKER!!! HI!!!” He stands so quickly, that I clutch onto his shirt, trying to regain my balance.

He thrusts me away, and quickly struggles to smoothen out his rumpled hair, as Mom walks in, carrying laundry.

“Oh, come on,” She chides, wryly. “Like I didn’t already know…”

Max laughs, and buries his red face in my neck. I roll my eyes.

Well there goes that...



posted on 20-May-2002 11:12:41 PM
Part 17

Max’s POV

“Where the hell were you last night?!” Isabel shrieks, as I saunter in through the front door, well after noon.

My head is already throbbing with lack of sleep, so I wince and hold up my hand to quiet her down. She continues to look at me with an outraged scowl on her face, but I walk past her and up the stairs to my room.

She follows. Oh great. I need sleep right now, not a friggin’ third degree…

“Max?! Hello? Would you please answer me? You were with a girl, weren’t you? Asshole! You asshole!!! How could you? I mean, we all know you’re sexually acti-“

“Go away, Iz…” I beg, flopping down on my bed, and covering my face with a pillow. “I was with Liz, ok?… Now Leemee alone?”

Silence.

I peep out from behind the pillow. Isabel looks hesitant.

“Yes, I was with her all night.”

“ With her?” She asks suspiciously. She looks at me guardedly. I can tell she’s looking for ‘morning after’ signs. Hickeys. Scratches. Lipstick stains. She does it every time, but today, except for the hidden marks on my back, and a bruise on my… uh… nipple, there’s no way she’s gonna know.

Suddenly her eyes go wide with shock, and she grabs the pillow off my head. “You did, didn’t you Max? You had sex with Liz Parker last night!!!”

Whoa! What, do I have a sign on my head? “How the fuck do you do that?!” I scream, looking at her increduously.

“Are you insane, Max? What the hell is wrong with you? Liz is your…” I tune out the rest of the lecture, wildly searching my body for the tell tale signs on my body that Isabel’s so skilled at discovering.

Nothing.

It’s a radar of some kind, I conclude, scrutinizing her face. Yeah, it has to be that.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz POV

I walk into my room and pick up a stray bra, shoving it into a drawer.

Casually picking up a scunchie, I tie my hair up into a high pony-tail and go over to my desk.

I straddle my desk chair, resting my chin on the back. “What are you doing here?” I ask the reclined figure on my bed. He’s dressed in boxers and a t-shirt, and there aren’t any shoes on his feet.

“Sleeping.”

Of course! Sleeping. How silly off me.

“Oh. Right.” I frown. “You know, for future refrence? That great big soft thing in the middle of your room? It’s called a bed.”

“I know.”

“It is often used for wild and exciting things like studying and sitting… but I’ve heard some people even sleep on them.”

“ I know that, and you know that. I just wish someone would let my family in on it.”

“The herd keeping you awake?” I ask sympathetically.

“Are you kidding? I’m beginning to think that my mean streak is going bad.”

“God forbid.”

“Right. Where would the fun be there?”

“ God knows,” I roll my eyes and come perch myself by the bed, pulling his head onto my lap. “Ok, tell Auntie Liz what happened.”

“Auntie Liz?” He quirks an eyebrow.

“Did Mommy make you mad, little boy?”

“ Little boy, huh? You weren’t complaining last night…”

“Last night I was having wild, erotic sex with a Greek God. I didn’t have time to complain… anyway, tell me what happened.”

“Ok, first? Isabel lectured me for about an hour about what a fucking asshole I am for sleeping with you…”

“She’s really beginning to come out of her shell, isn’t she?”

“ …and then my dad walks in, all business-like, and he asks me ‘were you with a girl last night?’ I say yes. He says, ‘do you love this girl?’ I say yes. Then he gives me these.” Max reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of condoms.

“Twenty. Fucking. Four of them.” He tosses the bunch onto the bedside table, and groans, burying his face in his hands. “He chooses now to get involved in my life…”

I laugh. “Oh, come on! It couldn’t have been that bad!”

“Oh, yeah?” His face looks tortured. “He asked me if I knew how to use one, and yah! He would have showed me, too, if I hadn’t run out of there…”

I laugh and kiss his troubled forehead affectionately. “Poor baby.”

He tugs my head down, and gives me a mushy kiss on the lips.

God, I love this guy.

“Hey…” He licks his lips. “You still wanna go for that ride?” Insolent grin.

_____________________________________________________________


Max’s Pov

We never went for that stupid trip… No. No, instead we settled for four hours at the video archade...

“You’re insane.” I declare, throwing my air hockey thingamajig (is it called a racket?) onto the table with a bang. Liz is dancing around the table in a victory dance, sneering at me. “Aw, yeah!!! That’s the stuff, uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh!!!”

Thank god the archade’s deserted.

I pick up my all-too-sweet rasberry slushie from the ground, and sip it moodily. That was the sixth game in a row that I’ve lost to Liz tonight.

“Aw, yeah. Max Evans? You can kiss. Ma. Ass!!!”

I roll my eyes and continue to ignore her. “Come on, lets go…” I pick up both our jackets and slushies and make a leeway for the front counter, to pay for the games.

“Here,” Liz starts to remove her half of the twnty bucks from her bag, but I hastily wave her off.

“No, no… I got it.” I know I’m blushing.

Its silly, right? Its just… going to the archade is something the two of us have done all our lives. And every time, she pays half. The difference feels a little weird.

“Ok.” She shrugs, and puts her money away. “Thanks.”

We head out of the small shop and wander around for a while, before heading home. The journey isn’t more than five minutes, and we flop onto the wet grass of her front yard, talking and laughing in our natural manner, as the sound of crickets fill the air.
_____________________________________________________________


Liz’s POV

I stare at the grass.

“Why so silent?” He asks, after along pause.

“I’m not silent.”

“You haven’t said a word for about 12 seconds.”

“I’m thinking.”

“Congraulations.”

I roll my eyes.

There’s another pause.

“What are you thinking about?”

“Just. You know, us.”

“Us?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“Is there something to think about?”

“Yeah, sure there is.”

“Like what?”

“Like…” I squint my eyes, thinking hard. “Like, we’re so different… the two of us? We’re like, you say green… and I see blue, you know?”

Max frowns, as if to say ‘not really’, but I cut it off.

“Its an Oprah thing, just go with it.”

He nods obediently.

“I mean. Why are you even with me? Is it because of my irresistable charm?”

“Charm?” He looks at me playfully.

“Ok, not charm. What about my immaculate IQ score?”

He shrugs. “Naw.”

“My money? No, scratch that, no money… uh… My impeccable taste in clothing?” I look down at my baby-blue shirt and khakis.

“Actually,” He licks his lips sensually, shifting closer to me, so his eyes can look directly into mine. “Actually, all I’m after… is your body.”

The smell of grass mixed with Max tingles my nose and I feel my heart throb out of control. I lean in closer to study the wolfish gleam in his eye.

“Oh, you got it, Baby…” I press my lips against his, and we begin to wrestle around on the grass, giggling and shrieking until finally, I have him pinned beneath me.

“Hah, HA!” I cry, bringing my face close to his, so I can sneer at him.

He jerks his head upward, and covers my mouth with his own. Taken by surprise, I drop his wrists, and wrap my arms around his head, abandoning my decadence.

“Max…” I breathe, sucking gently on his bottom lip.

He pulls away, and stares deep into my eyes, turning my knees to banana mush. “I’m with you… because I admire you and respect you more than any other person in the world.”

I swallow.

He never seizes to amaze me. Trust him to come up with the simplest, most sensitive answer ever.

“Thank you.” I murmer, dropping my eyes. I love this guy.

“Hey, you crying?” He coos, the playfulness back in his eyes. He pinches my cheek impishly. “Aw, look, I made her cry…”

I shove his hand away, blushing. “Shut up, I’m not crying!”

He laughs, then pulls himself off the ground, brushing his pants clean. He hauls me up next to him, and I wrap my arm around his waist, as the two of us head inside.

I love him so much.


Part 18

Max’s POV [this is like, a few days later…]

“I cant believe you did that!!!” I drop the groceries onto the kitchen counter harshly, and glare at Liz. She is so infuriating some times!

Liz scowls and mumbles something about me being uptight.

Isabel, sitting calmly on a stool eating her yogurt, looks suspiciously between us. “What’d she do?”

“Ask her!” I glare at her again.

“Liz, what happened?”

“It was no big deal! I wanted to get ahead in line, so I flashed the guy at the checkout counter…”

“…And made sexy faces at him!”

She sighs. “ And made sexy faces at him.”

“No, no… don’t say it like that… like everyone does it… you could get arrested for that, you know…”

“Thank you, Sheriff of Nottingham..”

“Isabel, tell her!!!”

Isabel shrugs. “I’m with her… Go girl!””

“See, Max? Its fine!… I don’t know what you’re getting so bent out of shape-”

“Hey! You’re my girlfriend ok?-”

“Geez, I wasn’t gonna go sleep with him… just make it seem like I wanted to.”

“Oh, that’s classic!… Much better…” I roll my eyes and slum against the kitchen counter.

“God, I can’t believe you’re – YOU’RE JEALOUS!!! God!!!”

“Of course I’m Jeal-”

“Why, cause you wanted to flash him?!” She rolls her eyes. I stare at her.

Suddenly, images of myself making sexy faces at the cashier, and lifting my shirt up seductively fill my mind.

I burst into spluttering laughter.

She glares at me for a moment, but a second later, she laughs too, covering her mouth with her palm, and leaning her head onto my chest.

We stare at each other again, and another fit of giggles overtakes her.

Man, she’s beautiful. I lean forward, and nuzzle her neck.

We both kiss, the fight forgotten.

“You guys… I mean, You cant even have a decent fight!” Isabel calls out disgustedly.

We continue to kiss, oblivious to her presence. Liz giggles against my lips, and slides her hands beneath my shirt. “Lemmie see your manly boobies.”

I laugh, allowing her to lift up my shirt to my shoulders, so she can see my nipples.

“OK! I’m leaving…” Isabel sings out, tossing her half-eaten yogurt in the trash.

“Hey, Iz, what time did Mom and Dad say they’d be back?” I ask, suddenly, dropping my shirt.

“Late, why?”

I grab Liz’s arm, and drag her up the stairs to my room.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz's POV

“Max…” I moan. His lips are hot and thin, opening long and wide over mine. In seconds, I've got my hands in his shirt, stripping him hard and fast, as his body begins to grind into mine.

He quickly jerks off my shirt, and tosses it onto the ground. I’m naked underneath. Pressing me up against the bedroom door, he lifts me up, so my knotted, pink nipples are level with his face.

He stares at them for a moment, heaving with my laboured breathing. My insides blaze with passion and frustration, as I wait for the feel of his mouth on me. “Jesus Christ...” he murmers.

A second later, I let out a scream of pleasure, as a warm, wet mouth covers my nipple, tounge rubbing against the sensitive centers.

“Holy FUCK!” I moan, grasping his head to keep from falling. His hands slide up my legs, and under my skirt, clutching my ass with brutal strength.

“You know what?” He gasps, suddenly, letting go of me. “You know what? we need to slow down, like, a lot.” He’s breathing like its going out of style.

I nod quickly, and lean my head back aganst the door, breathing hard. “Oookaaay…” He mumbles. I open my eyes to see him staring temptingly at my breasts, which are almost thrust into his face.

“Sorry,” I mumble, then walk over to the bed, Max in tow. I wriggle out of my skirt and panties, and throw them into a corner.

Max is looking at me with dark, passion-filled eyes, his mouth parted as his breathing becomes heavy. Sweat glistens on his muscled torso.

We stare at each other for a moment. “Fuck slowing down!” He declares. Taking two steps forward, he grabs my head and my ass, and wrenches my body to his, his teeth scrapeing my neck. I laugh, for a moment, but the sound quickly turns to moans of pleasure, as he continues to ravage me. His pants graze against my tummy, and I moan in protest,

“Oh… Oh God… Max…” I move against him, my whole body trembling with desire.

He pulls my ass up, and I wrap my legs around his waist, as we stumble about blindly, knocking off books and clothes to the floor. “Max.”

He slams me onto his desk, and continues to maul me, as I moan and cry in frustration.

Fiinally, unable to take it anymore, I shove down his boxers and pants, grasping at his cock, now completely aroused.

Oh god, I’m gonna collapse.

“Wait… stop…” He pulls away, and goes over to his bedside table to retrieve a condom.

Max… I groan longingly, thrusting my hips helplessly against the desk.

He comes over, and I immediately thrust myself onto him, crying out at the release. “Oh… God…!!!”

We start to move, creating our own special rythem, moaning, begging, screaming.

“Max!…Maaax!! yes! Yes, oh god, YES!!!” I moan, bringing his mouth closer to my neck.

“Shh…” He holds me close as I feel my inner walls contracting, the waves of my orgasm washing over me.

“Oh Baby… Baby…” He whispers, later, the two of us slumped against each other. “This is completely insane…!”

I giggle breathyly, and reach out to wipe away the pink smudges from his face


Part 19

Isabel’s POV

I rub my eyes warily, as the next slide comes on.

All around me, kids are struggling to keep from nodding off, and I take comfort in their company. At least I’m not the only one wishing I was… well, anywhere but here, in this classroom, watching these slides.

Reproduction cycles of frogs. If that doesn’t get you going in the morning, I don’t know what does.

Liz snores softly by my side, her mouth open, completely oblivious to the glares being shot her way.

Next slide.

“…And here we can clearly see the ovaries, of an adult female frog, which is to say, a female frog that has reached sexual maturity, and will be ready for mating with an adult male frog after her…”

… I hate this class.

Suddenly, the door slams open, instigating a surprised cry from Liz as the light flickers on and jolts her awake.

Mrs. Dudley, the short, African-American secretary stands in the doorway, scowling. “Phone call in the office.” She grunts.

Who’s the lucky bastard this time? I wonder, looking around the class.

Usually, calls to the office can only mean an emergency at home, and thus, the rest of the day off.

Mrs. Dudley looks at the chit of paper in her hand crankily. “Parker. Elizabeth.”

Liz?! I turn to see her captivated with an elastic band, which she’s stretched across her fingers like a slingshot.

There’s a moment’s pause, as the entire class watches with interest as Liz twirls the elastic band further across her fingers, her tongue peeking out from the side of her mouth as she concentrates. Wow, that’s pretty cool, the way she stretches out the -

“Miss PARKER!”

Liz jumps, the elastic band shooting off her hand and snapping Linda McCarthy in the arm.

“Um, oh… me?” She splutters looking around her to make sure.

“No.” Mrs. Dudley glares at Liz. “The Miss Parker behind you.”

Haha. Clever, Miss Dud. Good job. I roll my eyes.

Liz smiles sarcastically, and grabs her things, making a beeline for the door. Lucky, lucky, lucky bitch. I muse, as the light flickers off again, and another scarring image of frogs illuminates the screen.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz's POV

I wonder if it’s Max. Maybe he’s doing this to get me out of school or something. I smile giddily.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the emergency could possibly be.

Mrs. Dudley trudges through the office doors before me, and then reluctantly hands me the phone. “Don’t tie up the line.” She says gruffly.

“Thank you, Mrs. Dudley. And may I just say, black is so your colour.” I smile sweetly, and put the phone to my ear.

“Hello?… Uh-huh. Oh, hi Sheriff Valenti. Is… Is everything ok?

What the hell is he calling for? I haven’t spoken to him for two years. Oh god, I hope Mom’s ok.

“Yeah, I’m great. Uh huh. Uh huh. Oh… He’s… He is?… oh, ok…”

My smile disappears, and I freeze, fear clutching my heart.

“Right… Yeah, I’m fine… Uh huh… NO! Um, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t, ok? I don’t think I’m ready to see him… not just yet, anyway.” I take a deep breath. “Yeah, I’ll tell her… Ok, Thank you for calling, Sheriff.”

I replace the receiver, and lean my head against my hand, trying to control the tears collecting under my lids.

…Oh God…

“Hey. Are you ok?” Mrs. Dudley’s unnaturally concerned voice makes me look up, suddenly. I stare at her for a few seconds, unblinking.

“Hey!”

I nod quickly, whispering that I’m fine.

Grabbing my bag, I start to walk towards the door, still in shock. “Parker!”

I turn to her again.

“You can take the rest of the day off, you know.”

I shake my head no. “I’m fine…”

Opening the office door, I step back into the hall and head back to class.
_____________________________________________________________

Max’s POV

I watch silently through the tiny crack in the door, waiting to see her beautiful face, so I can drag her inside and ravage her. Of course, she’ll probably object with all sorts of ethical rationale about why we shouldn’t be… doing it (for a lack of a better term) in school, but I think I can handle her…

I grin insolently, dirty ideas flittering about my head.

Jesus, where the hell is she? I wonder two minutes later, as the halls begin to empty out. I’ll give her another minute, I decide, slouching down on a table.

Just as I’m about to give up on her, I catch sight of a quiet huddled figure walking hurriedly down the hall.

Well hello there, Miss Parker, I think dizzily, watching her beautiful hair drift along her back.

Almost here…

Reaching a hand out, I grab her wrist, and pull her inside, quickly placing my lips on hers, waiting for my usual greeting giggle.

It doesn’t come. Instead, she moves her head away from mine, looking almost annoyed. “Max… Max… Stop it.”

I let her go reluctantly. “What’s wrong?” I’m a little disappointed… ok, hurt, if you really want to know, but I try to hide it behind the concern.

She struggles to get the door open, ignoring the question.

“Liz! Hello?” I grab her wrist, and spin her around so she’s facing me. She quickly snatches her wrist away, and glares at me. “I’m late for class, ok?”

With a final angry stare, she takes off down the now empty hallway,
leaving a very wounded and confused me behind.
_____________________________________________________________


“IZ!… ISABEL!!!” I turn around to see Max jogging down the stairs to catch up with me, his bag sung over his shoulder.

“Oh great…” I say less than enthusiastically.

Aw, come on, like you treat your siblings any better. I love my brother, really. Just… not in public.

“Have you seen her?” He pants, his eyes dark with worry.

“Liz?” Even as I’m saying it, I’m thinking duh!

He nods quickly and I shake my head no. “I saw her last period, but she disappeared right after the bell rang… why, is everything ok?”

He shakes his head slowly, looking confused. “I… don’t really know. I tried to talk to her, and she totally blew me off. I don’t know… maybe she’s freaking out with what’s going on between us, because…”

I tune my brother’s whiny voice out. It’s a really bugging voice. You know, the type of voice where the’re actually talking to themselves and – oh, wait. Oh god. “Max… there was a phone call!” I say hurriedly.

He stops in mid sentence. “What?”

“At the office. She had a phone call at the office. Maybe something happened to Mrs. Parker.” Oh god; poor Liz.

He shakes his head quickly. “No, I just called her on her cell. I thought maybe she knew where Liz would be.”

“Hey guys!!!” And there she is, standing two feet from us, her face perky and happy as usual.

“Liz?” Max rushes over and wraps an arm around her shoulders protectively. The two of them dissipate into the crowd.

I shrug. Oh well. She looks fine to me.
_____________________________________________________________

Part 20

Liz's POV


I moan sleepily, and reach out to touch his hair.

My hand hits air. “Max?”

“Hey… Go back to sleep, its still early.” I open my eyes to see Max leaning against his bedroom window, a cigarette clasped loosely between his fingers. He looks a little somber, like he’s been thinking.

“Baby?” I sit up, and look at him carefully. “What’s wrong?”

He’s silent for a moment.

He pulls on his cigarette, eyes focused on the floor. “I was just thinking, you know. Are we really… I mean, this relationship… are you happy?”

“Of course I’m happy! Wh-”

“And we’re close, right? I mean, I tell you everything… and…” He trails off, staring at the cigarette in his hand.

He’s having doubts about us?

“What’s this about?” I ask, squinting my eyes a little.

He shrugs. “I don’t know… I mean, you were crying I your sleep just now, and… with what happened in school…” He looks up at me. “You never really open up to me, and I kinda hate that.”

“What?!”

“Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Oh… Please tell me we’re not going to go through this again…”

“Let me guess… You’re fine, right?” His voice turns mocking.

“Yes. I’m fine.”

“Its always the same bullshit with you, isn’t it? Goddammit, Liz! How long are you going to shut me out? You call this… crying… keeping secrets… you call this fine?”

“Would you please keep your voice down?!” I hiss, quickly pulling my night shirt onto my body.

“Where are you going?”

“To sleep. In my room.”

“No. No you’re not, Liz. You’re gonna tell me what’s going on.”

“Fuck you, I’m going.” I grab my panties from under the bed, and put on my slippers.

“Fine! Go. Run away. You’re good at that.”

I feel the anger bubbling up inside me, and I quickly press my lips shut, so I don’t say something I’ll regret later.

He watches with a tight jaw, as I scramble out of the window, and land to the ground outside with a soft cry. Pain shoots up my left ankle, and crumple to the ground, still clutching my panties.

Max’s head pops out of the window, and he quickly climbs out behind me. “Here, let me see that.” He moves to touch my ankle, but I jerk away, shoving at his chest with my other hand.

“I can take care of myself, ok? I don’t need you to be my fucking knight in shinning armour.” With that, I pull myself up, and limp over to my room.

Asshole.
_____________________________________________________________

Max’s POV


I fall onto my bed, fighting back the urge to either hit something really hard, or start bawling into my pillow.

She’s so goddamn stubborn! I know something’s bothering her. She’s been acting really weird since we got home from school.

There’s a quiet knocking on my door, and Isabel’s voice cuts through the silence. “Hey… Is everything all right in there?”

“Fine. Go away.” Please go away.

“Ok, cause you’re being kinda loud.”

That’s the least of my problems right now.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz's POV


I shut the bathroom door, resisting the desire to slam it behind me. Asshole. That asshole.

Who does he think he is, huh? My master?

I don’t have to tell him anything. Its my business.

He has no right to… to…

To what? To want to be there for me? To love me the way he does? To care?

Dammit!!! I drop onto my bed, covering my head with my hands.

This is so bad.

He’s confused too, I realize. He has no idea how I’m going to react, everytime he touches me, and its only fair that he’s upset.

I owe him the truth, I realize. I owe him that much.

My thoughts turn back to the afternoon, and the call from Jim Valenti.

Almost immediately, I feel fear creeping up my back, and settling in around my chest.

I push the memory away. I cant deal with it, right now.

Its so fucking hot. Sweat dribbles down my face, and down the vally of my neck. Confused, guilty, and completely helpless, I fall into a deep, disturbed slumber.
_____________________________________________________________

Liz's POV

Grabbing ahold of the hinges, I haul my body into Max’s bedroom, careful to make as little sound as possible. Its still dark outside, and shadows scatter over his bedroom floor.

As expected, Max lies on his back, one arm dangling off the bed, and the other thrown across his face, in a troubled stance, his lips slightly parted.

Poor baby.

I limp over to his bed, and watch his angelic face, completely at peace. I could stand here watching him for hours, but my hand violates my thoughts, and strokes his forehead tenderly.

“Mmm.” He protests, sharply, jerking his face to one side.

I giggle. My hands must be freezing in the morning air. The movement causes his sheet to shift a little, so it exopses the expanse of his smooth, taut chest, and stomach.

Wow.

Shamelessly, I drag my eyes over his chisled muscles, coming to a stop at the edge of his boxers.

I climb over his sleeping form, and straddle him. The view is perfect, and almost immediately, I feel myself start to burn with longing.

His long, dark lashes rest against tanned skin, fluttering ever-so-slightly in the breeze.

Licking my lips, I reach down, and start placing wet, sensual kisses along his bare, smooth neck.
_____________________________________________________________

“Baby?” Somewhere between dreamworld and reality, I feel soft, wet lips working their way down my neck.

I slit open one eye, only to see a small, very aroused body moving seductively on top of mine. Her hips crush my sleepy cock into my legs, waking it slowly.

“Baby?” My voice is thick with arousal this time. She looks up from my chest, and a slow smile spreads across her lips. Slow and purposefully, she leans her body, so its flat out on top of mine, and brings her face inches from my quivering lips. “Hi.”

“Uh…” I swallow. I cant remember what I’m supposed to say. She bites her bottom lip, then goes for the kill, smushing her lips against mine.

My mouth immideately opens out, and I push my tounge into her mouth, inviting hers to play with mine. A deep moan vibrates within her core, and she runs her icy hands over my nipples.

Her hips continue to grind into mine. I wrap my hands around the small of her back, and roll her over, so I’m on top, and in control. Opening my mouth even wider to accommodate her aggressive tongue, I run my hands over her body, feeling the curves and valleys in the cup of my hand.

As the air-supply in my chest starts to deteriorate, I break off, gasping, burying my head in her breast.

“Oh fucking God…” I gasp.

She picks my head up with her hands, and looks me straight in the eye. “I’m sorry about last night.”

“Me too.”

“No, just listen to me, ok?” She pauses, and licks her lips. Her red, wet, beautiful lips. “I know I’m not as open as I should be with you, and I’m sorry. I mean, I trust you completely, and I love you to death. I’m really not being fair to you.”

I’m still panting. “I just need to know that you’re ok. That’s all I need.”

She nods. “And… I didn’t mean all the stuff that I said… you know, about not needing you. I acted like a total bitch, and I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” All I see are her lips.

“So we’re fine?”

“Um… Yeah.” What does she expect after a wake-up call like that?!

“Just like that?”

“You were expecting something more?”

She grins a little. “Well, I thought I’d at least have to make it up to you…”

Oh. Like that, is it? I feign innocence. “What did you have in mind?”

“Oh, I’m sure we can come up with… something.” She smiles coyly.

I love this girl.

“You’re the best girlfriend ever” I say this almost tearfully. She laughs, as I feel my emotions running wild.

She climbed into my window, essentially seduced me before sunrise, and now she wants to fuck me till I say stop.

Someone must really love me up there.
_____________________________________________________________

Part 21 a

Isabel’s POV


“Hi.” I crawl through Liz’s window, cursing as I stumble onto the ground.

She looks up from her book, and frowns disappointedly. “You’re not Max!”

“Glad you noticed.”

“Are you being bitter?”

“Bitter?”

“As in resentful. Unpleasant. Cold. Pick one.”

“No, I just help with this. Would it help if I were bitter?”

“Probably not. It would help if you were Max.”

“Help you, anyway.”

“The only kind of help I care about.”

I shrug. “Ok, so are you going to help me, or what?” I hold up my Spanish textbook.

“Or what. It may look like I’m doing nothing, but on the inside, my head is starting to resemble Porabello road.” She nods ruefully.

“Portabello road?”

“It’s a very noisy... road, forget it. You got a minute?”

“I got two.”

“Great. Sit. I need to talk.”

“With me?”

“Uh huh. Why do you sound so surprised?”

“Well… I don’t know… Its just… Max and you are, like… you know…”

“So you think I’d be more comfortable talking to him?”

“No. Yes. I think so.”

“Well, I’m not. Something happened… something big, and I cant… I don’t know how to tell him.”

“Is it sex related?”

“Nope.”

“Damn. So what happened?”

“Do you swear to keep your mouth shut?”

“Pinkey swear.” I say, holding up my little finger.

“Ok, rememebr the phone call?”

“Not really.”

“In Biology. The office?”

“OH! Ok, yeah, right, I remember.”

“Right.”

“So?”

“So… So it was Sheriff Valenti.”

“Uh huh.”

She pauses. "Josh got out last week. He wants to meet me.”

Oh. Oh.

“Oh my God.” I whisper, my eyes wide.

“I know.”

“So what’re you going to do?”

She shrugs, crossing her legs, Indian style. “I was kinda hoping you would help me with that part.”

I choose my words carefully. I know this is a sensitive subject for her, and the slightest fault on my part could send her over the edge. “Do you want to meet him?”

“No.” She swallows, picking at the lint on her bed.

“What did your mom say?”

She swallows again, but remains silent.

“No. Liz?”

“I just want this to end, Isabel! I don’t want to keep dragging everyone into this. Mom’s just going to get overprotective and paranoid, and Max’ll probably have a machismo attack and decide to take matters into his own hands. So I actually picked you by default.” She grins weakly.

I’m silent as I think about what she just said.

“Iz?”

“You gotta tell your Mom, first off… and I don’t-”

“You know what, actually? Just forget it.” She becomes busy, suddenly, picking up books from the floor, and putting them away. “Just forget I said anything.”

“Um, NO? Liz, what’s going on? What happened suddenly?”

“Nothing.” She fluffs up her pillow violently. “Nothing happened. Lets just talk about something else, ok? Something else.” She puts down the pillow, and stares at it, breathing hard.

“Are you…”

“I’m fine.” She looks at me and smiles, her eyes looking dead, unfeeling.

“Ok.”

“I’m gonna go for a shower, ok?”

“Now? Its - ”

“I’m going for a shower.” With that, she hurries across the room, and disappears behind the bathroom door.

Part 22

Melissa’s POV
[A few days later]


I replace the receiver, and lean my head on my hands, my temple throbbing. This is going out of control. I mean, completely.

I bite my lip thoughtfully.

I have to talk to her. Its gonna be hard, but I can’t see any other solution to this.

I can hear her with Max in the next room, giggling and playing, pretending to study for their finals. God, this is going to be so brutal.

I walk to the doorway of the kitchen, and watch them for a second. Sitting close together, they look like a couple out of a magazine, laughing and whispering sweetly in each other’s ears. “You’re so gross!” She giggles, shoving him playfully. “I’d never do that!” She dissolves into laughter.

I square my shoulders. “Elizabeth.”

My voice is sharp and cold enough to cut glass. The two of them scramble apart, and grab a book each, trying to look busy. “I need to talk to you.

“Now?” She says, looking pointedly at the books laid out in front of her.

“Right now.”

Liz rolls her eyes at Max, and puts down her book. Trudging into the kitchen, she proceeds to slump down on a stool by the counter. “What? I left the milk out again? That’s still leagal according to fif-”

“I just got a call from Sheriff Valenti. He wanted to see how you were handling the news about Josh.” I stare at her, my face expressionless.

The laughter in her eyes immediately dies out.

“…Oh fuck…” She whimpers, looking the counter in defeat.

“‘Oh fuck’ is right. What is this? Keeping things from your mother? I have not spent seventeen years of my life raising a daughter only to see her lie to me!”

Liz covers her face with her hands, breathing hard. I can tell she’s trying not to cry.
_____________________________________________________________

Max’s POV


I throw my head back, and chug down the last of my drink, wondering what’s taking Liz so long.

Another? I ask myself, looking at the can. Why not?[

I haul myself off the ground, and head for the kitchen, when suddenly…

“Mom, stop yelling. I was going to tell you, ok?!”

“You are not going to use that tone of voice with me, Liz Parker. Do you understand?”

Whoa…

Voices, very angry voices make their way through the kitchen doorway, and I stop dead in my tracks.

Too late.

Both Parker eyes turn to glare at me angrily.

Not a sight for the faint hearted.

I open my mouth to politely excuse myself, but Mrs. Parker cuts in.

“Did you even tell Max?” She looks at her daughter.

Whoa. Tell me? This is about me?

“Tell me what?”

Liz shakes her head no, looking at her hands.

“Tell me WHAT?!” I demand, looking at Liz, then at Mrs. Parker, as a tense silence fills the room.

Mrs. Parker glares at her daughter, as if daring her to open her mouth.

Liz sniffs, and then looks at me dejectedly. “…Um, Josh… Josh got out last week.” Her voice is hoarse, and weak, and I can feel her despair coming off in waves from across the room. “He… uh, he wants to…” She swallows, fiddling with her watch.
_____________________________________________________________

Melissa’s POV


“He wants to meet her.” I finish, looking over at Max.

Poor guy.

He looks like he’s been hit over the head with a baseball bat, but he presses his lips shut, and continues to stare at Liz.

I clear my throat. “I told him Josh could come here tomorrow.”

“What?!”

I watch as Liz’s head snaps up, and drains of all its colour. “NO! Oh God...!”
She breathes, trying to control her tears. “Mom. You have no right… Please. I can’t. Don’t make me do this…”

Panic fills her eyes, and she breaks down into wrenching sobs, that seem to rip out of her. “Oh god, Mom, please… Please don’t do this… I cant…” Petrified tears choke her words, and I feel my heart break a little.

She curls up into a little ball, her face white with terror, as she sobs and begs, the deperation evident in her trembling voice.

I feel my resolve beginning to crumble, as I watch my daughter, distraught. Tears burn in my own eyes.

What do I do?

Finally, unable to take it anymore, I rush over to her side, and pull her close.

“Its ok, Baby…Shh… Its ok… I’ll just call Jim, and tell him we’re busy, ok? Its all right, baby… aw…. Its all right… ” I’m sobbing too, now…

“Oh god…” She comtinues to sob, clutching onto my shirt desperately.

“Its ok, its ok… shh…”
_____________________________________________________________

Max’s POV


I watch the whole episode in silence, unsure of what to do. Her sobs cut through my heart like blades of glass.

Get out of here, I decide. They need to be alone.

I start to back out of the room, heading for the door, but Mrs. Parker quickly calls out to me.

“Max! Wait. Here… Take her while I call Sheriff Valenti…”

She cups Liz’s cheeks, and looks her in the eye. “Everything’s gonna be all right, ok, Baby?”

She nods at me, then walks out, leaving me alone with Liz.

Her tears are calmer, now, softer.

It occurs to me that I haven’t seen her cry like this in years. Suddenly, she looks fifteen again, sitting huddled on a hospital bed, whimpering. Suddenly, I cant bear to see it, and suddenly, the only thing I care about is seeing her smile.

She refuses to look at me, as she sobs softly into the open room, her hands lying limply on her lap, eyes lowered.

She looks exhausted.

I walk over to her, and she slumps further into her chair, as if she’s afraid of me.

“Come here, Crabby…” I smile comfortingly, and pull her into my arms, resting her head onto my chest. She giggles slightly at the nickname I’d given her years ago.

She goes silent as I hold her close, rubbing her back soothingly.

“You ok?” I whisper, stroking her hair.

“I’m so sorry…” Her voice is muffled and soft, against my chest. “I would have told you - ”

“Its all right. You don’t owe me anything.” I say kindly, and I can feel her stiffening a little, as a sob escapes her. “Don’t worry. It’s going to be okay. I promise.”

And suddenly, Liz breaks down again, her body convulsing with wrenched sobs. I pull her closer.

She struggles to suppress her sobs. “What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t even know why I’m crying…” She laughs a little, but the sobs resume. I feel a tight ache in my heart.

I’ll never know what she’s been through, I realize. Try as I might, I’ll never be able to understand the enormity of what happened to her and how much its messed up her life.

“Its ok,” I say softly, rubbing her back. “Just let it out… everything’s gonna be all right.”

Comfort. That’s is all I can give her.

Part 23

Max’s POV


I gaze down at her sleeping form, a grave sense of protectiveness washing over me. Its late evening, now, and I can hear Mrs. Parker on the phone with her lawyer. Its been a few hours since Sheriff Valenti’s call.

She’s been crying non-stop since then - I’m talking serious weeping.

She fell asleep about twenty minutes ago, completely worn out.

I stroke her hair idly, looking around at the all-too-familiar environment around me. desk, chair, dresser. Poster of Ethan Hawke from a years ago crush. Shoes. Bra. Hair clampy-thing.

Everything you could expect to find in a typical girl’s room.
At a glance, no one could even begin to guess at the grave experiences that the four walls had sheltered. If ever -

Liz stirs, and moans softly, her eyes clenching. “Shh… Shh…” I quickly pull her against me and rub her back, waiting for her breathing to return to normal. She looks so pale.

There’s a soft knock on the door, and Mrs. Parker pokes her head in, motioning for me to come outside.

“She ok?” She asks, as I shut the door behind me.

“Yeah… I don’t… I guess.”

She nods sadly, and we make our way towards the kitchen. “I don’t know what I was thinking…” She moans, and I can see the remorse shadowed in her eyes.

Poor thing.

“Don’t… I mean, its not your fault, ok? She just… I can understand why you… you know… why you would do that.” I manage to say, looking at her.

She reads the sincerity of my words, and smiles greatfully.

“So, what’d you find out?” I take a seat opposite her on the kitchen counter.

“Right. Well, he’s definitely out. They released a Josh Harding last Friday for extended periods of suitable conduct.” [*A’s note*: heh heh… Josh Harding… Get it?]

“They can do that?”

“Apparently.”

I pause, tracing the patterns on the cold stone counter. “She looked so scared.”

“… I know.”

I bury my head in my hands, and sigh tiredly. “And this whole thing is so… I don’t know, unfair.” I mumble helplessly.

Mrs Parker laughs, and ruffles my hair affectionately. “You should get home, Sweetheart, you look completely worn out. Tell Mom I said hi, ok?”

I nod, and pick myself off the stool, my heart still aching for Liz. The image of her sobbing uncontrollably in my arms seems to be burned into my memory.


Liz’s POV

“Oh god, yes! Yes! Max…” I push down upon him, my sweat soaked hair flying with my urgent, frantic thrusts.

His hands are everywhere, on my face, my arms, my breasts…

“Dear god…”

I can hear him moaning. “… Oh Babe… Oh Baby…”

He grabs ahold of my back, and we roll over, so he’s on top now, shoving his cock deep inside me.

His hands grab my wrists, and roughly tug them above my head… (Ow, that hurts )

“Open your eyes, Bitch.” He laughs harshly in my ear.

No.

OH GOD, NO!

I look up to see Josh’s hard, malevolent face leering at me, his eyes wide with greed and delight.



NO!

I sit up in bed, my heart thudding loudly in my chest.

The wind gently blows my lace curtains into the room, but other than that, the room is still.

Oh God…

Wiping my face in the already wet sheets, I take deep slow breaths, trying to calm my raging emotions.

My fingers tremble, as I snap on the light by my bed, making sure I’m alone.

I nearly laugh out loud as I do, thinking, I must be the only seventeen year old alive, who’s still afraid of the dark.

Laying back onto my pillow, my thoughts drift back to Josh’s dark, grubby face. I need this to stop.

Its been weeks since that day in the kitchen, but the nightmares have only grown worse.

How long am I going to live like this?


“NO!” I shriek, frantically shoving Josh’s body away from mine. He’s so close, I can smell his breath.

I fight hysterically against the bulk on top of me. He’s shouting, “Liz! Stop, STOP IT! Liz, it’s me! It’s Max.”

It’s Max.

My eyes snap open, and I immediately start to sob, as I see Max’s anxious face in front of mine. He’s sitting by my bed, in his boxers, his hair still mussed with sleep.

The window’s wide open. He must have heard me shouting.

“Max?” I sob, and he pulls me into his arms, stroking the back of my head.

“I heard you scream… Are you ok?”

I shake my head violently. “NO… God, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t… God, I can’t… breathe!!!” My voice is shaky and thick with tears.

The door bangs open, and Mom rushes inside, her robe flapping behind her. “Liz?”

“I’m ok, I’m fine…” I quickly pull away from Max, and wipe my eyes.

“I heard her scream…” Max begins, not wanting her to get the wrong idea, but Mom waves him off. She knows she can trust him.

“You better get some sleep. You too, Max. School tomorrow.”

“Right…” He’s still looking at my face, trying to see if I’m ok.

“Liz, you’re going to see Dr. Covey next week.” Mom continues.

It’s not a request.

“Fuck… Mom?! Come on! I told you, I don’t need a goddamn shrink ok? I - ”

“You better watch that tongue, Elizabeth Parker. I’m your mother, and as long as you’re living under my roof, I make the decisions. You’re going to see Dr. Covey, and I don’t want to hear any more about it, is that clear?”

I stare at her, eyes rigid. Max shifts awkwardly in the corner of the room, obviously uncomfortable being caught in the middle of this.

Is. That. Clear?!

“Yes ma’am!” I mock, as Mom leaves the room.

There’s a moment of silence, as I stare after her. Max opens his mouth to ask if I’m all right.


Max’s POV


“I’m fine.” She says, even before I can get the words out of my mouth.

I nod sheepishly, and watch as she drinks hungrily from the bottle that’s always sitting by her bed.

“I’m not going.” She says matter-of-factly, placing the bottle back on the table.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t expect this from her. If there’s one thing I know about, it’s her obstinacy. “Really?”

“Really. I mean, what if she screws me up even more?”

“What if she helps you?”

“Helps me…?” She shakes her head in disbelif. “Why is everyone so fucking intent on helping me? Do I have like, a sign on me that says ‘Help me, I need your help’?! I can take care of myself, ok? And you know what else? Since you know me so goddamn well, why don’t you go in my place, huh? You can pretend to be me, answer all her fucking questions, and leave happy. Do us all a favour.”

She snaps her bedside lamp shut, and turns her back to me, a clear sign that she wants me to leave.

Whoa.

I walk over slowly to her heaving form, and rub her tense back soothingly. She visibly relaxes, and I lean down to kiss her softly on her temple. “Goodnight, Baby.”

With one last squeeze, I head for the open window.

“Max?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.” She mumbles.

“ I love you too, sweetie.” I whisper, my heart dissolving.

And I do. So much. We’ll get through this. I know we will.



posted on 20-May-2002 11:15:06 PM
I dash across the crowded hallway, looking for a line of escape. An open door, a porthole to another dimension… anything…

“Liz!” I hear Max call out, as he struggles to catch up with me. The million or so students milling out of their classes makes it a little tough, but I manage to slip from his vision.

Hey, God? You up there? I could really use some help if you’re not too busy. I’m not asking for much, really. Just don’t let him see me.

As if in answer, I catch a glimpse of open classroom door, about ten yards away from me. Refuge!!!

I can just make it!

All but diving into the classroom, I slam the door shut, and lean against it, breathing hard. I should be safe in here…

Twelve pairs of eyes turn and blink at me.

Oh.

This must be West Roswell’s infamous Freshman’s Chess Association. “Can we help you?” The tall, pale, freckled guy with a funny accent asks me.

“Help me?” I blink right back at them.

“Yeah… are you, like, a new member, or something?”

“Yeah, uh, no. I’m actually just visiting.” I explain, looking at him seriously.

The door behind me opens, and I feel a large body standing behind me.

Oh Fuck. Bus-ted.

“Hi Max.” I smile sweetly, and turn to face him. “What are you doing here?”

“Me? I was looking for my girlfriend… you know, small, dark hair, talks a lot…?” He smirks. “Come on, you got an appointment with Dr. Covey in a half hour.”
Pause for dramatic effect.

“That was today?” Innocent. Play innocent.

He gives me a ‘don’t-even-bother-trying-that’ look, and I slump my shoulders, defeated.

Time for a different approach.

“I’m not going, Max. I’ve made my decision. So if you don’t mind?” I gesture towards the door. “My friends and I have plans.”

“Really?” He says slowly. God, that smirk can be so annoying sometimes.

“Yeah, so…”

He nods strangely, and looks around the room. “Ok, then I’ll see you around.”

“Bye.” I smile, secretly heaving a huge sigh of relief.

He turns to the door, as if to open it, but then abruptly takes my arm, curls it over his neck, and then throws me over his shoulder. “Oh God, Max, what the hell are you doing?!” I hiss, clutching on tightly to his shirt.

The habitually silent members of the chess club break into spluttering laughter, as Max nods goodbye to them, then saunters out of the door.

Everyone in the crowded hall stops to whistle, or yell some stupid comment as Max and I make our way to the front door. “God, you are the most… most… I hate you!” I mumble, mortified.

“I know.”

We reach the benches by the parking lot, and Max stops abruptly. “You promise to behave?” He calls over his shoulder, preparing to put me down.

“NO!” He lets me down anyway, and I shove at his chest fiercely.

I am so pissed.

I know he’s just trying to help but somehow, somewhere, he’s hit a bundle of nerves, and the anger comes pouring out.

“Who the fuck do you think you are, Max Evans? God! I’m not…” I bit my lip, my eyes flashing with anger. I’m shouting. “Max, understand this: you do not own me, okay? This is my life, my decision, and I’ve made it! OK?!”

I watch his expressionless face for a moment, unsure of how the words have affected him. “Your life… ok, fine. FINE!… I shouldn’t be surprised.”

He shakes his head in disgust, and begins to walk away from me.

“What, huh?! Max…. MAX!!! Fuck, would you just talk to me straight?!” I run up to him, and place a hand on his shoulder to turn him around.

He shrugs it off meanly.

“You want it straight? Here it is, loud and clear. This is not just about you. This not just about you or your goddamn life… It’s about all the fucking people who think about you and… worry for you. It’s about your Mom. It’s about Isabel. It’s about me And every other idiot who gives a shit!…” He leans in close. “We. All. Fucking suffer, all right? Know that.”

And he stalks away, leaving me all alone in the middle of the parking lot, a book clutched loosely in my hand, and my eyes downcast.


I’ve been walking around the parking lot for a while, now, just thinking, snapping at every poor soul looking to give me a ride home.

I really need my Mom right now.

I think I’m gonna cry.

I pull my hands through my hair, going through Max’s speech again. “We. All. Fucking suffer, all right?”

Yesterday, I thought I had finally hit it. Rock bottom. But then this happens, and suddenly, there’s rock bottom, then fifty feet of crap, then me.

I giggle.

Really. Is there any more shit that we can possibly pile on top of Little Liz Parker’s head, huh? She’s seventeen, which is the worst part of any kid’s life already; she’s been raped and abused as a minor; her father lives in Germany with a twenty-one year old bimbo, and refuses to talk to her; she just destroyed the best fucking relationship she’s ever going to have… and oh, yeah… she’s flunking Math…

I let out an involuntary yelp of laughter, then quickly cover my mouth guiltily.

But this… my life suddenly seems like this amazingly low-budgeted soap opera, and I watch the bimbo playing me strut around in the television of my mind, mesmerized.

And suddenly, I find the whole thing incredibly funny.

I begin to laugh.

And I’m not just talking usual giggles, or anything… this is like crazy, uncontrollable, gasping, tear-causing laughter.

My life is in such a fucking mess!

Oh god… Gasping, I lean against the nearest car, trying to calm myself down.

The car’s alarm springs to life, protesting and flashing its lights threateningly.

Stifling another fit of giggles, I hurry back into the hallway, hoping to catch a ride.

Maybe I am insane…

___________________________________________________________________


You know what’s strange? If you stare at something long enough, a design, a painting, or something, it seems to blur… changes shape, and then it starts looking like something completely different.

Bottle…

Tricycle…

Some sort of dragon…

I’ve been staring at the swirly green patterns on the floor, for what, twenty minutes now?

It’s really quite exciting.

The plush green waiting room of Dr. Covey’s Clinic has little else for my amusement.

A sophisticated, elderly woman sits to my right, calmly reading a magazine. (I’d ask her where she got it, but I’m scared she’ll start crying, or screaming, or something terrible like that.)

The room smells of coffee, and the odor is oddly… comforting. Real, you know?

I play nervously with the strap of my bag, shooting Magazine Woman an occasional glance.

God, why am I here again?

I turn back to my happy swirls, wishing I wasn’t here. I had to grow scruples now?
Why couldn’t I have been the selfish, cowardly bitch I always am, and sulked till Max came to talk and make up?

“Ms. Parker?” A young girl, wearing a suit comes out from behind a closed door, and looks at Magazine Woman and me expectantly.

“Uh… Here!” I raise my hand as I would in a classroom, and quickly stand. “I mean, um, yeah, yes. That’s me. Hi.” Wow, way to make an impression, Liz. I’m kicking myself mentally.

Now she’s really going to think I need help.

“Dr. Covey will see you now.”

Oh, she’s not Dr. Covey? Thank god!

“Um, right. I mean, Ok. Yeah, sure.”

God! Listen to me, will you? Normally, I can’t stop talking and here I am, stumbling over a dinky little ‘ok’.

I tentatively walk into the room she indicates, and look around, trying to gauge what kind of person I should expect.

Whoa. I’m not really sure about what I expected to see, but this definitely wasn’t on the list.

Barring the little desk in one corner, and a coffee machine in the other, the room looks like something out of a Martha Stuart magazine.

Stylish white rugs cover the bare floor, and a wicker coffee table rests in the middle of the room, surrounded by chairs of different shapes and sizes.

Two goldfish swim lazily in a bowl on the table.

“Um… Hello?” I stand by the doorway, a little intimidated, wondering if I’m supposed to just walk in and make myself comfortable.

One of the chairs swivels around, and I find myself face to face with a thirty something blond woman, casually dressed in short white dress and socks. She smiles at me, her kind blue eyes twinkling, as she holds out her hand.

“Elizabeth?”

“Um, Liz. Hi.” I shake her hand, tentatively, and smile shyly.

“Great, come on in, have a seat.” Her voice is strong, powerful, but genuine.

“Right. Thanks.” I sit on the couch, and wipe my hands nervously on my jeans.

“So you’re Melissa’s little girl, huh?”

“Um, yeah. Right.”

“You don’t look a thing like her.”

“I know. God’s great that way, isn’t he?” I joke weakly.

She laughs quietly, in a way I’d expect her to, and then crosses her legs Indian style on the big chair she’s seated in.

“Ok, before we get started, I have two rules. One, you never lie to me. And I mean about anything. Two, we don’t sit around all day listening to your sob stories. We’re here to learn about your feelings, not get my sympathy. Agreed?” She raises her eyebrows, laughter evident in her eyes.

I like this woman already. I know, I’m as shocked as you are.


By the time I get home, its well after six, and I find Max and Michael playing basketball in his front yard.

“Hey guys…” I call out, walking towards them.

Michael raises his hand in a greeting, but Max pointedly ignores me, and plows ahead with the ball, shooting. It sails through the air in a perfect arc, bounces on the rim, and falls back onto the ground.

Wow, he’s really mad.

I decide to head inside and get cleaned up, cause as opposed to what everyone says, looks really do cut the deal. And I must look like shit right now.

I plan out an entire speech as I get dressed; an apology, and an hour later, I head back down to make peace.

Its still light out, and I can hear Max dribbling and shooting by himself. Michael must have left. I walk over, and lean against the wall, just watching him. He shoots. He sco-

…Airball...

He glares at me for a second, almost accusatorily, and then looks away. “Go away, I’m still mad at you.”

“I know. I came to apologize.”

“Apologize later. I’m busy.” Air ball.

“Well, I’m busy later.”

He shoots again. “Tough.” The ball doesn’t even touch the basket. “Damn-DAMMIT!!”

He goes over to get the ball, and starts dribbling, pretending I’m not there.

“Max?” No response.

“Hey! Fur McDuffy??!” That name usually got a laugh out of him, but not today. He dribbles moodily, sweat dripping off his thick muscular arms, and onto the floor.

Fine. He wants to play tough? I can play tough.

I stride over to him, and tear the ball away from his hands, turning to make a basket. He blocks me, grabs the ball, and quickly shoots himself. The ball sails through the basket.

He looks at me, a glint of challenge shinning in his eyes.

He bends over, and begins to dribble.

An hour later, we’re still at it. I’m losing terribly, but we’re having so much fun, I don’t even care.

I start to giggle as Max purposely fouls me, and dunks the ball into the basket.

“And the crowd goes wild! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” He hisses, to his fake audience, and raises his hands up in a victory stance. “Thank you, New Mexico!!! You guys are great. Really.”

I’m still giggling like crazy, on the floor, screaming, “Hey…You fouled me, you suck!!!

“The words ‘kiss my ass’ come to mind…”He sits on the ground, and smirks at me triumphantly.

“You suck…” I declare, the laughter evident in my eyes.

“I suck?”

“Yeah.”

“What do I suck?” He raises an eyebrow, and grins insolently.

“Get your dick out of your head, Evans. Its not healthy.” I tease, rolling over, and pushing him down, so I’m straddling him. He looks up at my flushed face for a moment, before he speaks.

“I distinctly remember being mad at you.” He mumbles, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

I lower my eyes. “Yeah… about that…”

“Yeah…”

“…I actually… I went to see her.”

“Her?”

“Dr Covey.”

Dr Covey’s a her?!”

“Apparently.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, I didn’t check or anything, but yeah, she looked pretty feminine from where I was sitting.”

“That’s really weird.”

“Anyway, that’s not really the point…”

“So, how was it?” His eyes soften.

I shrug. “Ok, actually. Not as scary as I thought.”

He nods, rubbing my arm comfortingly. “That’s good.”

“I’m also sorry about that… other--- ”

“Listen, forget it…” He says, shaking his head dismissively. “I mean, I know you’re going through some stuff, and… I mean, its ok.”

“No, its not …I mean, I can be pretty self-centered and… Um, thanks. Cause I… ”

“I told you, don’t worry about it.” He nods, biting his lip.

“And I am sorry.”

He shrugs, smiling. “Its fine.

“Good.”

“Yeah, Beating your ass was reward enough.”


Part 26
Liz’s POV

GODDAMN IT!” I cry, throwing down my pencil and grabbing my head in frustration.

Ok… What the hell is a hyperbole?!

“Is there a problem, Miss Parker?” The teacher calls out from the front of the class, removing his glasses and placing them on the desk. “Migraine… Heart attack, maybe…?”

Don’t you just wish, I think, looking spitefully at Mr. Mitchell, unanimously named Mr. Need-to-get-some by the student body of West Roswell. Ok, fine, so that’s just what I call him, but it still doesn’t change the fact that his attitude sucks.

I smile sweetly at him. “No, Mr. Mitchell I’m fine.”…Cause I’m getting some. And you’re not, you 50 year old virgin!!! Ahahhahaha!!! I quickly clear my throat to choke back my laughter, when an all too familiar face catches my eye.

Max. He waves from the little window-type-thing on the door, and motions for me to come outside quickly.

“Uh… Mr. Mitchell?”

“Miss Parker?”

“Could I get …another bathroom pass?” I realize too late that I’ve already used one this class.

“Weak bladder?” He asks, dropping it onto my desk, and smiling sweetly.

“I have my period.” I smile back, just as sweetly, watching his face turn twelve shades of red, before grabbing my stuff, and exiting the room with a dramatic toss of my head. Asshole.

Max grabs my arm, and quickly pulls me from everyone’s view.

“Hi.” I hiss, and he quickly covers my lips with his in a sweet, playful kiss.

“Hi.” He brushes my hair aside, and kisses me again, his hands winding around my waist. I drop my bag and books to the ground, quickly grasping his neck, and pulling him closer. A giggle escapes me.

A door bangs open at the end of the hall, and we break apart, hastily grabbing my stuff and taking off before someone catches us.

Eraser room, here we come.

Max slips open the door, and we stumble inside, laughing like a couple of kids.

Without a word, I throw myself onto Max, and entwine my tongue with his, kissing him fully, openly.

“Max, oh God…”

He grabs my butt with his large hands, and I wrap my legs tightly around his waist. I can already feel his rigid penis pressing against my stomach.

“oh…” He whispers, and I smash my lips onto his for another heavy, open-mouthed kiss. God, I am so willing to go to hell for this. He moves forward, and drops me roughly onto a desk.

Pain shoots up my ass, but at a time like this, even the pain feels erotic. “Shit…” I gasp, as Max kneads my breast with one hand, entwining the other with mine.

A loud bang echoes through the tiny room, as he slams into me and his mouth swallows my surprised yelp. He pulls away, breathing hard.

“Max…”

“One second.” He swallows, his eyes clenched shut, as he tries to get some sort of control over his body.

I smile sympathetically. Thank god I’m a girl.

He sighs, and looks up again, his face considerably calmer, but still flushed

Damn, I love Math class…

“Wait… What did you want to talk about?” I ask suddenly.

He looks confused. “What do you mean…?” My low collar suddenly diverts his attention, and he bends forward to taste.

“You pulled me out of class, Max. Tell me you had a reason.” I try to sound exasperated, as he sucks impertinently at the edge of my neckline.

“Um.” He raises his eyebrows, and I can tell he’s stalling, trying to come up with a story. “Sure... Sure I had a reason.”

I pull his head up and look at his eyes expectantly. “Well?”

He pulls me close. “So I was sitting in… Biology… and thinking… if there was… one thing I could… do right… now… it’d be …” He kisses my neck, and I moan appreciatively, pulling his mouth closer. “…this. ”

He pulls away, and stares at me, his sweet, passionate face flushed. “So I came to get you.”

“’That it?” I said, feigning dissapointment.

“Gimmie a minute, and I’ll come up with something more appropriate.” He teases, dragging a finger down my face

I laugh appreciatively, and pull his face up, inches from mine. “You’re sweet.” I declare, pecking him on the lips. “Can I keep you?”

“As long as you want.” He promises, mirroring my lovesick grin.

You gotta love a guy who’d risk so much, just to hold you.

I kiss him slowly, letting my tongue explore his lips. His eyes shine with want, as he cups my jaw to deepen the kiss.

There’s two types of kisses. First, the hard and fast kind… where you have difficulty telling one tongue from another, where moans and desperate gasps ring loudly in your ear, where the world seems to swirl out of its axis and sweep you into a dark, sensual oblivion…

And then there’s this. This sweet, gentle kiss, where he strokes your cheek, and smiles at you the way he smiles at only you. Where you feel completely at ease, completely in love.

He’s staring at me.

“What?” I smile, looking around self consciously.

He shakes his head. “Nothing. Sorry. You’re just… You’re beautiful. Have I told you that?”

I nod, blushing.

Blushing.

I have wild animal sex with the guy, and here I am, blushing over something so small.

“Go out with me tonight.” He urges, suddenly, his eyes dancing with excitement.

“Where?”

“I don’t care… We’ll just go. I mean, we haven’t had any fun for ages, you know?”

“We have fun…” I begin defensively, but he cuts me off.

“No, I mean, we do have fun… its just not, I mean…” He struggles to explain himself.

But I know he’s right. My entire life’s been completely wrapped up in this therapy shit, and I think I’ve been taking him for granted, a little.

“Ok.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I got therapy till six, but after that, I’m completely…” I move closer, seductively. “…yours.”

“I like the sound of that.” He grins, kissing the side of my mouth affectionately, as the shrill sound of the bell cuts through our romantic interlude.

“Crap, I gotta go… I have a quiz.”

“Stay?” He begs, holding me tighter.

“I can’t…”My words trail off, as he stares at me wistfully.

He has such beautiful, soulful eyes… oh, no, no! Don’t do that… Don’t do the sweet, shy, ‘I-love-you-and-that’s-the-only-reason-I’m-asking’ face!

Aw, what the hell… I grasp the back of Max’s head, and bring his mouth onto mine.

___________________________________________________________________

Maria’s POV
[Later that evening]


“But you know, I’ve always thought of you as being really… I don’t know, bitchy.” Michael says casually, poking at the nearly-dead bonfire in front of him.

Liz rolls her eyes. “Thank you Father Guerin, but confession’s not for another hour.”

“I’m serious.”

“Really?” Liz gapes at Michael, her hand hovering over Max’s mouth. “You thought that? You thought I bitchy?”

“Didn’t I just say that?”

“Yep, you did.” Max calls out helpfully, through a mouthful of M&Ms. His head rests comfortably in Liz’s lap, as she tries to aim the tiny candies into his mouth. The game’s been raging for hours.

“I don’t believe this!” She says, sounding a little hurt.

“Why? You’ve always been a little…” He hesitates, looking for the right word.

“Grumpy? Snobby? Rude?” Max pipes up.

“Yeah. Snobby. Thanks, man.”

“No problem.”

“Um, hel-lo. You can’t say stuff like that.”

“I can’t?”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Why not?! Cause you’re my boyfriend, you moron!”

“She’s right, Max, you can’t say that.” I nod enthusiastically

“Yeah. Its against the rules.”

“What rules?”

“I don’t know. Some rules. It has to be against some sort of regulation, right Maria?”

“Absolutely.”

“You’re crazy, the both of you.”

“So, you wanna swim?” She always wants to swim.

“Its too fucking cold.”

“Said the camel to the polar bear.”

“What?”

“I don’t know. So do you wanna?”

“Not really.”

“Michael?”

“I don’t swim.”

“Maria?”

“I didn’t bring my suit.”

“Oh, me either.” She assures.

Silence.

Clearing of a throat. “So… uhm… are you gonna, like, swim in your clothes?”

“I’d have nothing to wear home then, would I?”

“So… you’re gonna…”

Liz stands, pulling off her shirt. And bra.

Ho-ly shit.

“Join me?” She winks impishly at Max, then runs down the grass to the lake, dragging her jeans down.

“Whoa. Look at that.”

“Yeah.”

“She’s naked, man.”

“I know.”

“Whoa. Look at that.

“Hey. Wait, that’s my girlfriend…”

Ugh. Drool. Everywhere.

“So the party was pretty good, huh, guys?” I say perkily.

“…You can’t say stuff like that about her.”

“But… She’s naked, dude…”

“…Yeah, I had a great time, what about you Max? The food was a little-”

“Oh my god, she is. She’s naked.”

“… Unimaginative, to say the least. I mean, pizza? That’s so un-innovative.”

“Frolicking.”

“Naked frolicking girl. In the lake.”

“Hello?! Guys?! Earth to guys!”

“You gonna go join her?”

“I guess.”

“This is ridiculous, you guys!”

“Its cold.”

“True. But it’ll be sooo worth it.”

I shrug. “Ok, fine! If you cant beat em, join em.”

“Maria??! OH FUCK! MARIA, PUT YOUR GODDAMN CLOTHES – MARIA!!!”

“Holy fuck, TWO! There’s TWO of ‘em now!”

“Two naked, frolicking girls in the lake.”

“Come on, we’ll be telling this story for years…”

“Right behind you, man…”

“Hey, don’t you fucking look at my girlfriend, ok?”
___________________________________________________________________

Max’s POV

“See that? The three stars over there? That’s Orion. The - ”

“Hunter, I know. I told you.”

“Can’t you just pretend you’re impressed?”

“Fine.” I make my voice an octave higer, and thrust my lace-covered chest forward. “Really? Wow, Max, you’re so smart. What’s ostentation mean?”

He laughs, pulling me closer. “Shut up.” I love his laugh. It makes me fall in love with him all over again.

I grin up at him adoringly. We’re lying on the grass behind the jeep, half naked, just talking and making out, completely lost in our own little world.

Maria and Michael disappeared a half hour ago, but I’m pretty certain they’re ok. More than ok… heh heh.

“You know what?”

“What?”

“We have exactly 86 days before graduation.”

I pause. “Why did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Bring that up.”

“Sorry.”

“Lets just not talk about it, all right?”

“Sure.”

I pause. “Did you get any responses yet?”

“Just from ENMU. You?”

“Nope.”

“It’s still way too early.”

“I know.”

“Don’t worry. No one has repiles yet.”

“You do.”

“I applied early.”

“Are we going to break up after gradualtion?”

He turns his face sharply. “What?”

“Well, you’re gonna go off to some stuck-up, way-too-expensive university, and I’ll probably be… somewhere else. Here. I don’t…” I trail off, looking at my hands.
I cant imagine my life without him.

“We’re not gonna break up, ok?”

“How do you know that? Maybe… Maybe we won’t have a choice.”

“We’ll think of something.”

“Yeah?”

“I promise.”

I smile, then giggle as I look up into his chocolate eyes. “I can’t believe we did this.”

“Skinny dipping?”

“It was… weird.”

“Yeah, well, the view was pretty amazing.”

“Really.”

“Uh huh.”

“You’re such a guy.”

“Thank you?”

“Come here.”

“There’s nowhere else to go but here…” He indicates helplessly to his squished body.

“You complaining, Aqua-Boy?”

“No Ma’am.”

“Good. Now shut up and kiss me.”

Max laughs (oh god, that laugh again) and then reaches down to nibble on my bottom lip. I twirl my arms around his neck, and bury my hands in his hair, marveling at its thick softness.

I breathe him in. God, I love his smell. Even after a swim in the murky, grassy water, he manages to smell like… him. I cant describe the smell. Its like… just a really warm and solid smell, that I can never get enough of.
I want to kiss every inch of him. I want to stake my claim to every part of this man that seems to make each aspect of my miserable life worth living.
It dosen’t matter how fucking rotten my day is, as long as Max is waiting for me when its done.
“I love you, you know.” I whisper into his hair.
“Yeah, I know…”
He climbs on top of me, his mouth still encased with in my own. He holds himself up by his thick arm muscles, and his mouth slides down, towards my neck.

Oh god…

I roll my head back, and feel his soft mouth exploring, sucking, making me moan. Max… He presses his hips into mine, so I can feel his cock hard and hot against my panties.

“Baby…” He moans, holding himelf up, and looking me over, slowly. My skin tingles with excitement, under his scrutiny, and I feel my center beginning to throb erratically.
Slowly, he dips his head and places a kiss on my flesh right below the collarbone, working his way lower until his teeth are caught at the lace cup of my bra.
Aggresively, he drags the cloth downward until my nipple stands exposed, tight and hard as a stone. And then he captures it between his lips.
I can’t think - only feel. Pleasure shoots through my body at an intensifying rate, and I cry out, again and again, my chest heaving and lunging.
“Max…” I moan, trying to pull his mouth back onto mine.
He has other plans. He lets go of my aching nipple, but don’t return to my lips. Instead, he moves lower, placing tender, wet kisses along my quivering stomach, lips coming to rest at the fork between her legs.
I writhe beneath him in pleasure.
When he finally reaches his goal, I’m moving wildly beneath him. He steadies my hips with his hands, and I obey, completely at his mercy.
I stare down at him through heavy-lidded eyes, knowing well what’s going to happen next.
Oh god.
Max positions himself between my legs and looks up at me with dark, stormy eyes. Then, without any hesitiation, he parts my thighs, and brings his mouth to my centre
Oh… God… ohgodogodogod…
“Please… Oh God, oh fuck…” I moan, as he teases the hem of my panites gently with his tongue, slipping it under the soaked material, and then pulling it back out.
“Max… Max, please!…” I scream, tears of frustration pooling in my eyes. I’m so wet. I need him. Now.
“What? …Please what?” He challenges, staring into my eyes.
“Oh… Oh god… Fuck me. Fuck me!”
His tongue slides home.
“Oh Shit!” Oh god… Oh god!
I cry out at the first touch, clutching the cool grass in both fists as his tongue plays along my folds with more talent than I’d ever realized he possessed.
“Oh God! God! Max!” I cry out. I can feel my body tensing, waiting for the impending burst of heaven that I know will soon overtake my senses.
Every languorous movement of his tongue brings me closer and closer to the edge.
I squirm and squeal and beg him breathlessly to let me go, to push me off that bottomless cliff.
And suddenly, he does.
With a quick flick of his tongue over that tiny bundle of nerves, I go rigid beneath him, elicitting a tiny cry as my body clentches with an amazing intensity.
“Ogod… oma… oh my…”
The waves of my orgasm wracks through my body for several moments, and then I’m still again.
Max’s mouth moves back up my body to my lips, tenderly kissing the skin in between. He’s whispering something I can’t hear.
I lay in his arms for a while, reveling in the feel of his damp, sweet smelling skin around me.
“Max?”
“Mmm?”
“Where the fuck did you learn to do that?!”
And we break into spluttering laughter, our voices echoing over the stillness of the night.

Gail Covey’s POV
“…And then Michael and Maria came back… while we were still lying there? And I was kind of giving him a… well, never mind… God, you should have seen Max’s face! He was, like, ready to run, or bury his head under the sand or something. He’s not very comfortable with the whole sex thing.” Liz prattles on, distractedly playing with a Koosh! Ball.
“And you are?”
“Sure. There’s nothing wrong with having sex, you know.”
“I didn’t say there was.”
“I know you think there is.”
“You don’t think 16 is too young to be having sex?”
“Nope.”
I pause.
“Do you and Max have… sexual engagements very often?”
“Once, twice a week, maybe.”
“And it’s an exhilarating experience for you every time?”
“Umm…” She raises an eyebrow at me curiously.
I laugh. “Don’t worry, I mean that in the least perverse way possible. I just… I think that maybe, in your own way, you use sex as a release. You know, to free pent up emotions from your past.”
She doesn’t approve of my theory.
“Oh, that’s bullshit…”
“Really?”
“Yeah! I love Max---”
“I’m not implying that you don’t. I’m simply trying to point out, that there is a possibility…” I let the sentence go unfinished, knowing that the subject’s upset her.
“God, I hate it when you do that.”
“Do what?”
“That… thing. My mom does it too. I mean, everything I do and feel is not a direct result of… of…”
“The rape?”
“Yeah! And, I mean, I’ve moved on, you know. I don’t have any pent up feelings about that stuff anymore. So your theory is really just bullshit!” She slumps into her couch, crossing her hands stubbornly over her chest.
She looks just like my three year old, I decide, taking in her defensive, irrevocable posture.
“Liz, do you have trouble sleeping? You know, sleepwalking, nightmares, insomnia… that kind of thing?”
“No.”
“Never?”
“Sometimes. Ok, yeah.”
“Insomnia?”
“Nightmares. But they’re not all about…you know... sometimes it’ll just be about school or at home or something.
“But you do have nightmares.”
She nods slowly.
“Ok. Why do you think that is?”
She smiles a little. “Isn’t that part of your job?”
I let it pass, and reach down to pick out a folder from my desk. She visibly stiffens, as if she knows what I’m holding.
“Liz, I think we need to talk about something we’ve been avoiding since the beginning. Its not going to be pleasant, but nonetheless, it needs to be done. Ok?”
“Damn, and we were getting along so well…”
I look at her, trying to make her see how serious I am about this. “Liz, what happened that night Josh came to you?”
Her eyes turn hard and expressionless. “You know what happened. You have the goddamn police report in front of you.”
“I want to hear it from you.”
“Great. Fucking great…”
“Liz.”
“Can I have a lollipop?”
“Maybe later.”
A pause.
“If I don’t talk about it, you’re gonna think I’m repressive, or some shit like that.”
“Possibly.”
“You know what? That’s fine. That’s perfectly all right with me. I’m repressive. Big. Fucking. Deal.”
“You don’t think hiding your feelings is unhealthy?”
“No, and you wanna know why?” Her voice turns desperate. “Cause if we didn’t repress our shit, then we’d all be running around naked on the streets, having group orgies with fucking strangers, and letting-” She’s breathing hard, on the verge of tears. “Sorry. I’m sorry.” She covers her face with her hands, and sighs deeply. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said all that…”
“Its all right.”
“This is just--- I can’t…”
“We cant avoid this forever, Liz.”
She swallows.
“Take your time, Liz.”
I sit quietly for a few moments, watching her struggle with her emotions.
“Ok… Ok.” She crosses her legs beneath her, and bows her head as she speaks. “Um. You know the Crashdown, right? On Stevens?”
I nod encouragingly.
“Ok, um, I used to work there as a waitress. I mean, it wasn’t a great job, or anything, just, like, I don’t know, a summer thing.” She shakes her head dismissively.
“I closed every night, because… I really liked like that time of night, or something, I don’t know, I don’t remember. Anyway, sometimes Max would stop by and keep me company… or sometimes I’d just do it alone… it was a pretty normal, you know? Seven ninety-nine an hour.” She picks picks at her skirt distractedly.
“So one day… I was sweeping, or mopping, or… something, and he came to see me. to keep me company, I guess.” She looks up. “ Josh. Not Max. And, I mean, I didn’t realize he was drunk or anything, cause he looked completely normal. But he was talking weird, you know?
“Weird how?”
She’s quiet for a while. “I don’t know. Flirting. He was flirting with mean. I mean, he kept telling me how cute my ass was, or something… I can’t… remember…”

Liz’s POV [flashback]
Two years ago.
“…Um, ok. My ass says thank you?” I say a little unsurely, looking up to see Josh’s smirking face. He’s really creeping me out.
He laughs at my joke, a second later, and grabs my hand. “You’re a funny girl, aren’t you? Little Lizzy Parker? Funny funny girl.”
I laugh uncomfortably, and pull my hand away. He’s staring at me like I’m standing naked in front of him. oh god, I really wish he’d go away.
I contemplate calling Max to pick me up.
“You wanna fuck me funny girl?”
I start.
What?
Before I have time to register that, he’s grabbing my forearms tightly, and holding them up, as if showing off his strength to my struggling form.
“STOP IT!! God, what the hell are you talking about??!” I jerk away from him immediately, pulling at my arms. God, he’s strong.
“You know what I’m talking about.” He sneers, leaning down so his eyes are level with mine.
Oh god, he’s going to kiss me. I twist away desperately, pushing at his chest.
“No. Josh, look, you have a girlfriend, ok? And I have no intention of… fucking you. not now, not ever. Ok?!”
“No. Not ok,” He slurs drunkenly (god how could I not notice he’s drunk?) and presses his lips to mine.
Oh god!
“Josh! Oh God, stop it!I’m not kidding, Josh, STOP! ” I grit my teeth, kicking wildly at his body with foot. I’m panicing, now, moving backwards. He’s too big for me to fight off, and if I don’t get out now, I never will. I’m in tears now. “NO! Stop, or I’ll scream.”
And suddenly, something comes crashing into my jaw with such incredible force, that I black out for a few moments.
My jaw’s broken. And it hurts like nothing I’ve ever felt in my life.
When I come to, I’m lying on the floor of the main serving area, with Josh straddling my hips. Oh God, his hands… his hands are attacking the buttons on the front of my uniform, his grubby fingers pausing to knead my breast, occasionally, as he rips apart my buttons.
Oh god, this is really happening to me.
“NO!” I scream, a stab of fire shooting through my face at the movement of my jaw.
He grabs my wrists and forces them above my head, pinning the rest of my body down with his.

I shriek. I struggle. I cry.

"Please!!! JOSH!! No-Please??"

Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god…

He's clutching my stomach with one hand, making me gasp, and removing my panties with the other. They're blue, I realize distractedly. The colour of the sky.

"No, please?-PLEASE!" I try to kick, but my legs are trapped beneath his.
This is really happening. I’m being raped. Oh GOD! No, no, no, no…

I can hear his harsh breathing, coming in gasps, as he struggles to hold me down. I can smell the alcohol on his breath, see the excitement in is eyes.
“Yeah, that’s it. Scream for me, Bitch.”
He pinches my nipple. Hard.
“NO!” I shriek.
“LOUDER!” I see stars.
“Oh god, PLEASE! PLEASE!”
“Yes! Yes!” He’s humping me, hurting me.

He moves his hands over my body, squeezing, probing, and kneading. I want to die.

And then he thrusts into me, and a million stars burst into white, blinding me, chocking me, killing me.

I smell blood. My blood. My blood mixed with his disgusting cum.

His hips are slamming into me. He's so heavy. I wish he weren't so heavy. My face hurts from where he hit me. I know there's blood there, too. It dribbles down my chin, tickle.

The floor feels cold and hard against my back, but it doesn't hurt like what he's doing. What he's doing feels like… torture.

My throat is clogged with tears, and silent shrieks, but I hold my tongue. He doesn't like it if I scream. He'll kill me if I scream.

So I cry. And gasp. And hold back the pain. And pray that I'll be dead soon.
___________________________________________________________________

posted on 20-May-2002 11:16:19 PM
Gail Covey’s POV


Suddenly, she presses her fingers to her eyes, and her face contorts into an anguished grimace. “Oh God, I can’t. I can’t. I’m sorry. I can’t do this…” She shakes her head harshly.

“Ok, ok… calm down. Its all right. Its over.”

She nods uncertainly.

“Are you all right?”

“Yeah.”

I squeeze her arm gently. “Its ok. We don’t have you talk about it, ok?”

She nods weakly, breathing hard. “Thanks. Can I still have a lollipop?”

I smile tenderly at the courageous and spirited young woman in front of me, filled with awe. She’s obviously suffered a lot in the last few years, but inspite of that, inspite of everyting, she’s managed to hold on to her untainted, positive spirit and amazing sense of humour.

________________________________________________
Magazine Woman’s POV


Oh my! I watch with barely disguised interest as the gorgeous hunk of a guy walks over to the receptionist and bends over to speak quietly to her.

Whoa… I don’t think I’ve seen a more beautiful ass before.

He straightens up smiling sweetly to the lady, and then comes to sit in one of the chairs across me. What could this guy possibly be doing in a psychiatric clinic? He should be on the cover of Vogue or something.

I drag my eyes shamelessly over his well-built chest and arms. Are you taken, you stunning work of art, you?

He’s fiddling with something --- A ring? A plastic ring?
Can’t be a wedding band, so hell with it, I’m going for the kill.

As if sensing my thoughts, he looks up – right at me. I give him my most mysterious, sassy smile, and wait for his response.

Come on, sugar, I have an appointment in five minutes.
Could we hurry up the flirting, already?

He looks confused for a minute, and then smiles uncomfortably, shifting in his chair. Oooh. The shy, silent type, are you? Bet you’re a real animal in the sack.

Shy, sexy, passionate work of a fucking genius!

Suddenly, one of the doors opens, and the bruenette -
Attitude Girl, I call her, walks out, eyes downcast, hair hanging limply on her shoulders.

“Hey!” Shy Guy calls out, and he’s walking over to her.
No. No! Aw, hell. Why are all the good ones always taken?! Maybe they’re brother and sister?

My shoulders slump in defeat, as he pecks her lips sweetly with his full, pink, rosy… I give my head a quick shake as my head fills with images of his beautiful lips

…Of what those lips could be doing to me.

So I watch silently as the lovers speak affectionately into each others’ ears. Oh yuck, like, get a room?

His eyes shadow over with concern, as Attitude girl’s face sobers. She’s fighting tears.

“What happened, Baby?” Did I mention I read lips?

She shakes her head, her teeth gritted, but I can tell she’s losing the battle. He’s holding her arms, and leaning back, trying to get a look at her eyes.

And she’s crying. In that ‘oh-god-I-need-a-big-strong-man-to-hold-me’ way, where her face crumples, and she sniffles repeatedly as if she’s on crack. You know what
I’m talking about…

Oh give it up, Attitude Girl! Who cares about your stupid troubles?! You’ve got Mr. America doing the whole Mr.
Sensitivity act on you, you lucky bitch.
I avert my eyes quickly, disgusted by the scene in front of me.

I’m gonna be one of those crazy old ladies with sixteen cats, aren’t I? Oh, lord, I need to get a life.

Or a husband.

I wonder if that cashier from the Kwik-E-Mart’s single…

I mean, granted, he speaks three words of English, but hey, you work with what you have, right?

________________________________________________

Max’s POV


“Aw, oh, Sweetie?” I pull her against my chest, and softly caress her back.

She chokes and gasps against my shirt, continually mumbling apologies. I guide her out of the main lobby, towards the elevators. “What happened?” I ask again, totally freaking out at her reaction.

She wipes her eyes. “I don’t know…” Her voice is laden with exasperation. “I DON’T KNOW! I’ve been crying more this past week than I have in my entire life! I hate therapy…”

I have to laugh. She sounds like a kid when she complains like that.

Suddenly, she looks up at me. “What are you doing here, anyway?”

“Oh, you know, the usual. Selling cigarettes to minors, giving illegal chiropractic lessons… stuff like that.”

“Right. I thought as much…” She rolls her eyes and hugs my arm lovingly, as we wait for the elevator.

________________________________________________

Liz’s POV


Max tugs at my hair again, drawing out a sharp yelp from me. “OW! Max, you’re not doing it… You’re not doing it right!”

“Ok, then help me! I need help!” He says helplessly, his hands tangling in my curls.

We’re laying back on the living room couch, my body streached out on top of his, as I try desperately to teach him about the wonderful world of braiding hair.

I was thinking, hey, if he’s planning on sticking aound for a while, he might as well do me some good, right?

Needless to say, he sucks.

“Max, aw, stop! Ok, LET GO! …Leggo-leggo-leggo!” I yank desperately at my hair, prying his eager fingers away, and pulling loose the… braid? More like knot.

Max slumps back, sulking, as he watches my figers working deftly through years and years of practice. “Fucking pain in the ass, is what it is.”He mumbles, an annoyed pout shadowing his beautiful face.

“Ok, you guys better be decent!” Isabel’s interfering voice rings out, as she comes into the living room, her arms laden with chips and popcorn packets.

“What is this?” I ask, surveying the packs, completely ignoring her earlier comment.

“Food, honey. And lots of it.” Maria grins, dropping down beside Isabel at the base of the couch.

“I gathered as much.” I roll my eyes. “You know, this stuff usually lasts us a month.”

“Yeah! Cause you eat like a twig!”

“Twigs don’t eat.” Max calls out helpfully, his face nuzzling my hair.

“Two words, Buddy Boy: What. Ever.”

“That’s one word.”

“Yeah. You know, you should really work on those people skills, Maria.” I agree, kissing my boyfriend’s arm protectively.

Maria looks up, incredulous. “Oh, this from the person who offered to give Mr. Mitchell a blow-job?”

“What?!” Isabel sits up, laughing.

“I told him he needed a blow job, Maria. Big difference.”

Poteyto, potaato.” She dismisses the topic with a flick of her hand.

“Wait, when did this happen?!” Max slurs, now moving his lips onto my neck.

“You were--- You were right there, Max! Oh, fuck it! Just bury your face in her neck, why don’t you?!” Maria rolls her eyes, and looks away, disgusted.

‘Mmm… I could think of other things to bury in---” He starts off, grinning impudently, but Isabel’s cries of protest cut him off.

“Oh… God! Stop! Right there! You’ll scar my brain for life.”

“Ditto.” Maria quickly flicks on the movie.
_______________________________________________

Maria’s POV


The two of them manage to behave themselves for most of the movie, with only the constant, tired hiss of Max’s hands running over her skin to distract us.

The movie’s pretty awesome, and everyone seems content for the time-being. The food packets lay open on the floor, half eaten, and cans of soda and beer litter the tables around us. And only one thought courses through my head:

I wish Michael was here.

That bastard.

My mind drifts back to last night, and the feel of his crazy, frantic lips on mine. His demanding hands wandering over my bare skin. His eyes… oh god, his eyes. Just the memory makes my knees ---
A soft girly giggle cuts off my train of thought. “Max!”

Oh, great. I think we all know what’s coming next.

Sure enough, more giggles follow.

And then a hushed whisper. “Max!” Giggle. “Sto-op…”

I exchange a look with Isabel.

God, they’re disgusting.

“Come here.”

Giggle.

Yelp.

Picking up the remote, I raise the volume pointedly.

“Stop it, Max. Really. Look, watch the movie…”

Pause.

Deep, male laughter.

“Trying to watch a movie, here!” Iz calls out.

“Right. Max, really. Stop it.”

“Make me.”

More giggles. Then silence. Then a faint moan.

Oh, yuck… I can only imagine what that means.

Suddenly, the doorbell sounds.

“You should get that, Liz!” Isabel pipes up, quickly, not
daring to look behind her.

“Yeah it could be really important.” I agree, seriously.

We’re thinking the same thing: Anything to make them stop.

“Ok, ok!” Liz gets up reluctantly, kissing Max soundly as
she hops off the back of the couch.

“You got fifteen seconds, Parker!” He calls after her, a
lovesick smile spreading across his face.

I roll my eyes again.

Liz trails in a moment later, holding two pizza boxes.

“Food! Thank you God!”

The lights flicker on, and a flurry of activity follows, as
everyone tries to get their food in order.
“Hey, what is this shit?!”

“I need a plate.”

“Here.”

“Oh god!”

“What’s this white stuff?”

“Oi! Hand me a plate?”

“Its tofu, Max.”

“Hand that over!”

“Where’s my coke?”

“Who ordered this?!”

“I did.”

“I found it!”

Suddenly, I catch sight of some movement from the
corner of my eye.

My heart leaps into my throat.

Michael walks in, and leans against the doorway, his
face twisted into the trademark smirk he usually wears.

“Oh hey, Mike! Guys, Michael’s here.” Liz scoots over to
make place for him.

He walks over, and settles himself between Liz and me,
reaching out for a plate. I smile at him uncomfortably.

And then he does something I’d never even dreamt he’d
do. He kisses me on the cheek. “Hi.” Casually. Like a
normal boyfriend would do. Like Max would do to Liz.

Oh god.

I barely hold back my elation, as he leans across me to
get a slice of pizza.

“Hey what is this?”

“Its tofu.”

“Iz ordered it.”

“I hate olives.”

“Hey, Liz? You got any more of this stuff?”

“What are you doing?”

“Give them here.”

“Licking cheese off your face.”

“Oh, Ew---”

“What’s tofu, anyway?”

All of a sudden, Max tosses his tofu at Isabel, vowing to
never let her near a pizza place again.

I start to giggle as Isabel throws her crust at him.

Suddenly, there’s food flying all over the place as Isabel
and Max battle over the lost tofu Pizza.

Liz and I are giggling uncontrollably on the floor.

Michael shakes his head in disgust, as he watches Max
toss a mushroom at me. “Buncha fuckin’ babies…” He
mutters.

A second later, he’s hurling his paper cup across the
room.

________________________________________________
Melissa’s POV

“Liz, this thing’s broken.” I whine, fiddling with the camcorder, as Maria, Isabel and Liz scramble around her
room, trying to get dressed for the Valentine Day dance.

Tissues, make-up kits, shoes clothes, magazines cover
every corner of the room, making it hard to move, let
alone figure out how to use heavy machinery.

“Anyone seen my brown Lauriel eyeliner?” Isabel calls
out from the bathroom, her voice sounding unusually
loud and panicked.

“L-hiiiz!!!” I moan, following her around, as she
frantically digs through the mess for her earrings.

“Here… I saw it under the…aaaah!” Maria grabs the
curtain to keep her balance. “Ok, and we’re changing
the shoes
!”

“Any luck with the eyeliner?”

“What eyeliner?”

“I’m going to return this in the morning. Its broken.”

“By the sink!”

”I saw them a minute ago, they cant be under the bed…”

“SHE SAID ITS BY THE SINK, IZ!”

“I’M NOT DEAF, MARIA!”

“Mom, stop doing that!”

“But its broken!

“Give it here.”

“ITS NOT THERE, LIZ!”

“Oh dear Lord! How did you do that?”

“I pressed the big red button that says on.”

“I found it! HEY GUYS, I FOUND IT!”

“We’re celebrating, Iz, really.”

“Oh god, it’s a quarter to eight… I’m going!”

“No, wait, I’ll walk you out.”

“Hey, kids, have a good time.”

“Thanks, we will.”

“Bye Mrs. P!”

“Cya Liz!”

“I’ll take a few minutes, Iz! Tell Max.”

“Tell me what?”

_______________________________________________

Isabel’s POV


Maria shrieks, as Max saunters into the roomful of girls,
and flops onto the bed. “Hello ladies.”

Great. He’s in one of those moods.

“Max, you could wait downstairs, you know.” I throws a
tissue box at him, and he catches it in mid-air. “What if
we were in our underwear?!”

“Chill, Cindy Crawford, I was… well, hello there, Miss
Parker…” He slurs, as Liz walks out of the bathroom,
grinning.

“Hi baby… ” She coos. Max sits up, and grabs her around
the waist.

“Mmm… you smell great. And look great. And… ”

”And you’re early!” She scolds.

“You complaining, miss?”

“No sir.”

“Happy Valentines Day, Baby.”

“Happy Valentines Day.”

“I love you.”

“I love you more.”

“You couldn’t.”

“I do---“

I shudder. “Ok, stop, or I’ll spew all over your room.”

“Hey, are we leaving, or what?”

“Yes. Anywhere’s better than here with these two.”

________________________________________________

Liz’s POV


The lights of the glitzy ballroom sweep softly across the room, creating a romantic glow, as the handful of couples glide across the floor with us. A sign above the bleachers reads: The West Roswell Valentine Dance. Its all hearts and cupid, red and white. Cheesy as hell.

And yet, everyone seems surprisingly content with it.
Everyone seems to have this really goofy, gooey-eyed
look on their face, and I have to be greatful that Max
and I haven’t reached that level of aloofness just yet.

Everyone looks so… calm.

“Fuck! No, your right footright! Not LEFT!”
I grasp onto his shoulders as we both stumble a little. “Geez, Michael, you really do suck.”

“Shut up, ok? You’re the one who asked me to dance!”

“Only because Max went to the bathroom.”

“Second choice, huh?”

“Don’t flatter yourself.”

“You know, I taught Max to dance.”

“Right. And I’m Megan O’Pierce.”

“Who…?” He frowns.

“Never mind.”

“So I need to ask you something.”

“I told you, Michael, I’m not into threesomes.“

“Shut up, I’m serious.”

“Ok, ok...”

“I… bought her something.”

“Maria?”

“No, Pamela Anderson.”

“Ok, what did you buy?”

“Um… A…” He clears his throat. “Its kind of like… A…
Well…” He coughs.

“Should I start guessing?” I rasie my eyebrows.

“Look, forget it. Forget the gift. I’m… I was actually
going to ask her to come to Las Cruses with me. This
weekend. You know, for her birthday. Kind of like a.. you
know, getaway” He says in a rush, suddenly, his face
reddening.

“Aw! Mike, that’s really sweet! See? You aren’t a total
jerk after all!”

“Thank you. Do you think she’ll come?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. Go for it.”

“If she says no---”

“She won’t.”

“Ok. Ok, thanks.”

I grin at him for a second.

“What?”

“Nothing. You’re a real softie inside, aren’t you?” I poke
at his chest, making baby noises. “Just a great big,
gooey mess!” I tease, loving the way he squirms in my
arms.

“Shut up.” He growls, his face turning almost maroon.

I laugh.

“Hey…” Michael looks at something behind me.

“Beat it.” A male voice commands, and suddenly,
Michael’s gone.

…And I’m in Max’s arms.

"Hi." I smile, caught in his powerful gaze.

"Hey." Max whispers, his eyes bright with adoration.

Oh, this is more like it.

My stomach drops at that look, and I swallow hard. Max
Evans could make me lose total control right here, in the
middle of the dance floor…

My neck sits perfectly against his chest, and we talk
softly, words only lucid to the two of us.

He brushes his lips against my hair, and I’m suddenly in
his back yard, where he kissed me all those crazy nights
ago.

… I grin up at him, and he leans his head against mine.
We dance in slow circles, oblivious to the fast beat of
the music.

He whispers in my ear, and I laugh, smacking him softly.
He hugs me tighter, and I kiss his chest, before leaning
my head onto it again.

Distractedly, I drink in Max’s smell, his wamth, his
familiarity, the sound of his slightly unsteady heartbeat
against my ear. I’m so content right now, so wound up, I
feel like I could burst.

MINE, MINE, MINE!!! I feel like screaming.

My Max. My sweet, passionate Max.

God, please don’t ever take this moment away from me.

______________________________________________

Max’s POV
Looking over at the passenger seat, I have to smile at the picture that greets my eyes.

Liz sleeps, curled up against the car door, her tiny hands clasped under her head. Her once neatly piled hair hangs loose and open, framing her delicately lit face, making her look more and more like a goddess.

I turn into the driveway, careful to make as little noise as possible. Its already three in the morning, well past curfew, but I don’t expect much grief from the parents.

Not on Valentine’s Day.

Softly, I walk around the car, to the passenger door, and knock on the window gently. She looks up sharply, her eyes groggy with sleep.

I jerk my head towards the houses. “Come on…”

She pulls at the top of her off-shoulder dress, and climbs out of the car, instantly leaning against me for support.

“Today was so cool…” She mumbles, swinging her sandals lightly. “I don’t want go inside.”

“You don’t wanna sleep?”

“Naw, sleep’s way overrated.”

“So what do you want to do?”

“Rescue a baby seal from the coasts of some tropical island, and have my picture in the newspaper and then---”

“I meant tonight.”

“Oh. Sit out here, I guess.”

She drops her sandals on the concrete stairs, and raises her arms languidly above her head. Her dress rides down an inch.

_____________________________________

Liz’s POV


I look at him out of the corner of my eye. “She wants you, you know.”

“What?”

“Sarah Fontaine? She was flirting with you all night.” I tease.

“Come on… I don’t even know her.” I love it when he blushes.

“Its true. And then she poisoned my drink.” I continue, matter-of-factly.

“Liz, there was nothing in your punch.”

“It tasted funny.”

“Everything tastes funny to you.”

“I’m telling you, she wanted to get rid of me.”

He just laughs, shaking his head. He looks up, as if suddenly remembering something. “Oh, hey, I almost forgot.” He reaches into his jacket pocket, and gets out a small velvet ring-box.

“Um… should I be thinking about my future right about now?” I ask, swallowing hard. Oh god, what the hell is he doing?! My mind races, as I suddenly realize what’s about to happen.

He looks confused for a second, then quickly assures, “Oh! No… its not… its not what you think. I’m not proposing or anything…”

“Oh good.” I sigh.

“No its just… “ he scratches his eyebrow, suddenly blushing and stumbling over his words. “I don’t even know why I bought it… its just. Its stupid, ok? I mean, I just thought of it one day… and… well, here. Its stupid.”

“Ok, if you insist. Can I have it?” I look pointedly at the box, which he’s clasped tightly in his hand.

“Oh, right.” He smiles sheepishly, handing it over. I have no idea what to expect. The way he’s going on about it, I’m half expecting brightly coloured, pig-shaped cufflinks that I saw on The Simpsons.

I remove the silver thread carefully, and pop pen the box.
Oh my god…

Nestled in the white satin base, are two identical silver rings, one for a man, one for a woman – me. In tiny letters, the words ‘best’ and ‘friends’ are inscribed on the outside of the rings, and the letters ‘L & M’ on the inside. They’re beautiful.

“I got them made in real silver. You know, the Dime Store rings we bought that day-”

“I know what they are.” I murmer, my heart literally melting with wonder and adoration.

He mistakes my silence for annoyance, and a shadow falls over his face. “You think they’re stupid.”

“What- NO!” I cup his face gently with one hand, looking him deeply in the eyes. “Thank you… So much. This is the sweetest thing in the world… I… I don’t know what to say…”

I swallow hard as he smiles, my own lips broadening to match his. “I love you, Max Evans. Insanely.

He laughs. “I love you too, Baby.” He pulls me into his arms, and we kiss like we’ve never kissed before.

Whispering vows of devotion, trusting. Touching. Caressing.

Suddenly the emotions surging through my body overwhelm me, and I feel a familiar burn, as tears slip out of my eyes.

And, oh, look, I’m crying. Again.

He must be so fed up with this.

He pulls away as his hand encounters my wet cheek. I begin to apologize, but the reassurance in his eyes stop me. Its almost embaressing, this faucet that seems to be permanently stuck in the ‘on’ position nder my eyes.

He tendlerly wipes away my tears with his thumb, kissing my eyelids softly.

“They must have cost you a bundle, huh?” I quickly look at the box in my lap, eager to change the subject. I start to slip mine on, but he plucks it out of my hands.

“What-?” I stare at him quizzically as he slips it on himself.

“Practice.” He says simply, handing me the larger one.

Laughing at his presumptuousness, I slip it on his finger. “What makes you so sure I’m gonna wear your ring, buddy boy? Maybe I’m looking for doctor or a lawyer.”

“Naa. You’ll wear it.”

I roll my eyes, and stand, holding my hand out to help him up. “Oh, by the way, I have some interesting news.”

“Mmm?”

“Dr Covey says we can’t have sex anymore. Its very important to my recovery.” I say mock-seriously.

“Really?”

“Yeah. She thinks I’m just using you as a release for my pent up feelings, so… No sex. ”

He pauses. “How long?”

“Six months.” I lie, nodding my head seriously.

“Cool. I can handle it.” He puts an arm around me. He knows I’m just messing with him…

“This is not helping with my self esteem problem, you know.”

“You have a self esteem problem?”

“I could.”

“You’re insane.”

“I’ll tell you who’s insane. Sarah Fontaine, that’s who…”

My voice fades into the darkness, as the two of us dissappear into the house, and silence settles over the yard.

The end

Divinity: n. being divine; god.

Epilogue
Max
[two weeks before graduation]

The twelve of us walk down the deserted street in a drunken haze, our voices echoing through town.

I’m a little tipsy, but not drunk, which is more than I can say for the rest of us. Isabel, Maria and Celina Bautherfist sing passionately to the rest of us, as we waddle and sway our way back home.

I turn to see Liz walking a few paces behind us, her head bent in thought.

I jog back to where she is, and wrap an arm around her waist. She amiles. “Hi.”

“What’s with the seriousness?”

“Just thinking.”

“Congratulations.” I snigger. Hey, I’m drunk. You don’t need much to come up with pitiful jokes.

“I need to talk to you.” She looks so serious.

I nod, quickly, my expression becoming serious almost immediately. This sounds important.

“Max, its… I’ve been thinking about Josh. And you know, about everything that happened and…” She sighs, her eyes still downward. “I think I want to meet him.” She looks up at me, asking me silently what I think.

I rub my eyes warily, and sigh, suddenly feeling so tired, I can’t keep my eyes open. “You sure you wanna do this?”

“No. I don’t wanna do it, but I think I have to. I owe it to him.”

“You don’t owe him shit!” My eyes blaze for a second, but I swallow hard, trying to calm myself down. The group ahead bursts into laughter. “Listen, if you think you need to do this, then… I mean, it’s probably a decision that only you can make, so yeah. I think you should do it if you’re ready.”

I don’t want her near that prick.

“Yeah?”

Fuckng a-hole. I’d kill him myself, if it wasn’t a crime.

“Absolutely.” I smile encouragingly.

We walk silently for a while. We’re quite far behind the rest of them, so the night seems quieter, more serene.
Thirteen days. I have thirteen days of this life left. This life, this town, this woman.

“I’m scared.” She whispers suddenly, so soft, it could have been my imagination.

I look over at her. She’s huddled close to me, her head nestled in the crook of my arm. “Of what?”

“Of everything. Of meeting him, of leaving here… leaving you. Of the rest of my life…” She shakes her head miserably, and I squeeze her side tightly, kissing her head. What do I say?

“I’m so scared.”

And we walk down the street, arm in arm, not knowing where it leads, or how to cross it. Maybe we’ll be together at the end of it all, maybe not.

I just know that no matter what, we’ve crossed this far together, and no god, no destiny… no one, can ever take that away from us.

We will get through this.

_____________________________________________

PEACELOVESHEEPSIGNIN'OFF


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 14-Oct-2002 11:58:41 PM ]