posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:49:02 PM


Title: Accept the Challenge
Author: LiLEvEe ((Evelynn))
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: AU (no aliens, no destiny) and CC ((mainly Max/Liz)) set in ‘Once Upon A Time’ land.



Philip Evans was a well-respected, wealthy merchant who owned two large shops, one in the Kingdom City, and one in a small town near Mount Roswell. Philip and his wife, Diane, had two children, eighteen year old Maxwell and seventeen year old Alexander. Both boys were very close, as well as Maxwell’s close companion, Michael Guerin. Michael was Maxwell’s age, and was left orphaned at the age of fourteen. Philip Evans then took it upon himself care for the boy. Michael was taken in and cared for as though he were another member of the family. The three boys hung closely together and they complimented each other well.

Michael was mainly brawn. He wasn’t as fortunate as Maxwell and Alexander as a child and didn’t get the privilege of a good education. He was very impatient and relied too heavily on gut instincts. He was quick-tempered but extremely loyal and trustworthy.

Maxwell took after his mother, a very charming person. He had a huge ego and was continuously in search of a good challenge. It was questionable who was stronger physically, Maxwell or Michael, but neither would challenge the other to ascertain. Maxwell was highly intelligent, but what stood out the most about him were his strikingly good looks. He was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome. Girls would give a limb to catch his attention, though he tended to be oblivious to the fact.

Although Maxwell was bright, he was not as academic as Alexander. Alexander took after his father. He was a very studious and educated young man. Alexander was fundamentally a know-it-all genius. Although it was apparent in Alexander’s physique that he possessed more mental strength then he did physical, no one would dare harass him without facing the wrath of Maxwell and Michael.


[ edited 4 time(s), last at 16-Aug-2002 3:26:29 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:50:29 PM

Chapter One

The Kingdom City was enormous capital with overcrowded streets filled with places to shop, eat, and sleep. There were inns, restaurants, taverns, and shops for everything one would ever need. The city was a vast place where each person was in a rush to complete one task or another in order to hurry home. It was filled with all sorts of news and excitement. And the center of all the excitement would be Maxwell Philip Evans. The thrill of the day, just outside the city, townspeople gathered to catch a glimpse of what mess Maxwell would find himself in today.

And were the people in for a sight. The city’s favorite young man was in his usual predicament. The governor’s nephew, Sean Deluca, has always been trying to outdo Maxwell in anything and everything that he does. The two have been competing with one another since they were children. Sean has challenged Maxwell from eating contests to who could hold their breath the longest. Today was just another challenge that Maxwell could not decline.

“It seems as though Evans is a no-show. Why don’t you pay up now, Guerin? Your boy is obviously too chicken to even bother to show his face,” one of Sean’s goons sneered out at Michael from where they were waiting, just outside the city. Sean stood, waiting with an arrogant smirk on his face with his group of brainless cronies behind him.

“He’ll be here,” Michael said calmly, leaning against a tree a few feet away as he patiently waited for his friend. It was the usual routine. Sean and his gang would arrive. Michael would meet them shortly afterwards, followed by a small audience, mainly young women who would sit, watch, cheer, and try, although unsuccessful, to catch the attention of Michael, Alexander, or especially Maxwell.

“I wouldn’t blame him though. No one, and I repeat, no one, meddle with Sean,” another goon droned out, which elicited another smirk from Sean.

“I said he’ll be here. Maxwell never turns down a challenge,” Michael said followed by a long sigh. Maxwell has always been fashionably late, but this was just becoming ridiculous.

“Well, he is going to wish he had stayed home after I humiliate him today,” Sean spoke out conceitedly. Apparently becoming more confident with Maxwell’s growing tardiness.

“I beg to differ,” Maxwell called from out of nowhere. He came galloping in on Dreamer, his gallant white stallion, followed by Alexander a short distance behind. The crowd watched in awe as always as Maxwell rode in, slowing his pace until he came to a stop next to Michael. The sun somehow seemed to shine brighter in each exact spot Maxwell was, making his intense amber eyes shine brighter, his sparkling teeth whiter, and giving his wind tossed hair a glossier gleam. He was a vision that made the men envious and the women swoon.

“Maxwell. What kept you?” Michael asked while Maxwell dismounted from his horse. Alexander, being the helpful little brother that he was, went about tying the horses before joining Michael and Maxwell.

“You know me. I have to make an entrance,” he answered with a playful smirk. And all of the women began their attempts, waving to them, blowing them kisses, and flaunting their bodies, all the while going unnoticed by each of the three.

“That’s nice and all, but let’s get started, shall we?” Sean called out as he approached with his goons following. They stared each other down. Maxwell, with Michael to his right and Alexander to his left, and Sean with goon number one and goon number two on either side of him.

“What’s the hurry?” Maxwell called out with a smirk on his face, casually leaning back against the tree. “Anxious to be beaten?”

“Cocky, aren’t we? What do you say we raise that wageer then?”

Maxwell shrugged. “It’s your money.”

“Fine. Let’s double it to two hundred gold pieces.” Pulling out a money pouch, Sean waved it in front of Maxwell’s face.

Maxwell straightened up. “You have got yourself a bet. Michael will hold the money. Name your terms.”

“My horse versus yours. First one to reach Mystical Pond wins.”

Maxwell was about to accept when Michael muttered to him, “Mystical Pond? That’s over half a day’s journey.”

Sean snickered, “What? Maxie-boy here, scared?”

Maxwell raised an eyebrow and was about to speak out again when Alexander warned, “I don’t know if Dreamer’s up to it, Maxwell. She hasn’t been up to her usual speed lately. And two hundred gold pieces is a lot of money.”

Sean, happening to hear Alexander’s little comment, smirked, looked Maxwell straight in the eye and said the words he knew Maxwell couldn’t resist, “I thought Evans men never backed down from a challenge.”

“You’re on,” Maxwell said with a look that said he was not to be messed with. He mounted his horse. “Alexander, run home and inform mother I’ll be arriving late to dinner tonight. I have a race to win.” With that, they were off.


After Maxwell and Sean rode off, everyone headed back to into the Kingdom City. Michael and Alexander headed back home. Diane Evans will be thrilled to know that her son was off having yet another adventure while Philip would shake his head, sigh, and wonder how much he would have to pay for any damages Maxwell causes this time.

Philip let out a frustrating sigh as he sat down in a chair. “How is that boy ever to manage the shops after I am gone if he is never here to learn how?”

Diane walked over to her husband and tried to soothe his worries. “Philip, let him be young and free while he still can. Before you realize it, he’ll be a grown man. He’ll be married and settle down when he starts a family.”

“I’ve been meaning to have a talk with him about that. You two, too,” he said, looking at Michael and Alexander. “You are all growing up and it is about time you started to think about marriage. There are plenty of beautiful, healthy, young women in this very city for you to choose from.”

“Father, can’t we discuss this when Maxwell returns?” Alexander said, trying to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible. Michael simply slumped down in his chair. He knew once Philip started, it is best to just let him finish talking than to try and interrupt.

“I know you boys want to be free and have fun, but there comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to settle down. Now, your mother and I want you to be able to choose whom you are to spend the rest of your lives with. But if it comes down to it, I will not hesitate to choose for you. So I suggest that both of you boys take me seriously on this. I mean it.”

“Yes, sir,” they both said together.

Philip nodded approvingly at both. “Good. Now go and remind Maxwell that he is having dinner with the Governor this evening. He wants to introduce his eldest daughter to him. I hear she is a lovely young lady. The most beautiful in the entire Kingdom City, in fact. That should get Maxwell to at least arrive on time.”

“Umm… Father?” Alexander spoke hesitantly, fearing his father’s reaction. “M-Maxwell… he um… he cannot make it. He’s riding all the way out to Mystical Pond.”

“What?!” Philip erupted. “What do you mean he can’t make it?! He’s known about this dinner arrangement for a week now! How could he be so irresponsible?! Is he purposely trying to defy me?!”

“Philip, calm down. You know what the doctor said about your heart condition,” Diane said, trying to console her husband.

After taking several deep breaths, Philip looked toward Michael. “Michael, you will be taking Maxwell’s place and joining the Governor for dinner this evening.”

Michael was about to protest, but the look in Philip’s eyes said that there was no room for discussion. Michael would just have to do his best to be somewhat conversational. He was not really what you would call, a people person. That was Maxwell’s area of expertise. Alexander snickered at Michael’s predicament.

It didn’t go unnoticed by Diane. “Alexander, why don’t you join Michael? Didn’t you used to tutor the governor’s younger daughter a few years back? I know the governor would love for you to join him. I’ll send someone to inform him right away.”

“But… mother…” Alexander’s appeal was ignored and she was already out of the room.

Both Philip and Michael were chuckling now. Both remembering, years ago, how Alexander used to come home from the Governor’s house complaining about a skinny little blonde, repeating over and over again that he hated her with the vengeance of a thousand suns and if he never saw her again in his whole life, it would still be too soon.


Maxwell rode on faster and faster. He was far ahead of Sean. It was laughable to think that Sean was any competition for Maxwell when it came to riding. Maxwell was the best rider in the kingdom. He only had a few more miles to go. He would have already reached Mystical Pond, but Dreamer was tiring. He could feel her muscles tighten, her pace slowing, and her breathing more labored. Dreamer wouldn’t last the last few miles. Maxwell’s competitive side was persuading him to easily just push the horse to its limit and reach the pond before Sean, but his compassionate side just wouldn’t allow himself to do so. Sighing, Maxwell slowed to a stop, dismounted Dreamer, and walked her over to the nearby stream. He was hoping that maybe, after a little rest, Dreamer would be able to complete the journey, but even that thought was highly unlikely.

Maxwell let the horse drink and sat himself down on the ground. He sighed and put his head in his hands. What was he to do? He still had ample time to reach Mystical Pond, but all he needed was a horse.

And as if his prayers had been answered, he heard a low neighing sound. He looked up and saw a beautiful chestnut horse a small distance away. He jumped up and ran toward the creature. Perhaps he could convince its owner to allow him to borrow her for a short while. He was an expert at handling people. With his good looks and his boyish charm, he could have anyone eating out of his hand.

As he reached the horse, he scanned the area for a possible owner but there didn’t seem to be anyone around. He was prepared to simply take the mare and return it later with a hefty reward to compensate for his borrowing, but as he was about to mount the horse, he noticed clothes draped over the saddle. Maxwell looked the clothing over. They obviously belonged to a lady, a pretty petite one at that.

Maxwell abruptly came to a realization. If her clothes were here, where was she and what was she wearing? Only then did he become aware a humming a few feet away. He could tell her voice was beautiful, though she had yet to speak a word. He was unconsciously drifting towards her voice like a siren’s call. As Maxwell neared the stream, he saw her. She was enchanting. He could not take his eyes off of her. There she was, bathing herself while she hummed and twirled in the water. She let out a soft giggle and Maxwell felt his heart flutter.

How could she be so beautiful? The tall grass and the water shielded most of her body from him, but he could still see the smooth skin of her shoulders and neck. She had long dark brown hair that cascaded down her back, deep brown eyes, and soft pink lips. She had a naïve carefree childlike quality as she spun around in the water, giggling.

Maxwell felt his heart quiver at the vision before him and let out a soft sigh. He heard his raven haired beauty let out a gasp and turned around abruptly to face him. Their eyes locked and he felt as though she were looking straight into his soul. His heartbeat quickened as he felt a rush of emotions run through him. Her breath caught in her throat and Maxwell wondered that perhaps she was feeling the exact same way. Her lips slowly parted and Maxwell waited for the first sweet words to emerge from them.

“You PERVERT!” she fumed out while ducking deeper into the water, in attempts to shield herself. “How dare you spy a lady while she bathe! Have you no manners?!”

Maxwell was too stunned to even speak. All he could do was stare at her. No woman has ever spoken to him with such condemnation before. Such fire. Such spirit. “I… I was… um… I,” he stuttered out.

“I know what you were doing and I will tell you what you will be doing. You will turn around, walk over to that tree, and wait while I dress so that I can give you the beating of your life,” she snapped out with unmasked fury.

Maxwell nodded and did as he was told while she hurriedly dressed. His mind was contemplating the ways to apologize and explain himself when he saw Sean riding towards him less than a mile away. He quickly turned around, eyes widening at the picture before him. She was only half through dressing herself and she quickly crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.

“I’m sorry, but I must go,” Maxwell said, jumping onto her horse.

“That is my horse!” she tried to stop him but he was already galloping away.

“Don’t worry! I’ll bring her back!” Maxwell called out, glancing back, he gave her a to-die-for smile that made most girls weak in the knees. It seemed to simply enrage her more as he saw her let out a loud groan of frustration and anger and hurry to finish dressing. He shook his head and concentrated on getting to Mystical Pond. She was going to one hard challenge for him to win over, but Maxwell was convinced that there was not one person out there who wasn’t susceptible to his charm.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:11:35 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:51:09 PM

Chapter Two

Governor Valenti lived with his two daughters, an eighteen year old and a sixteen year old named Isabella, on an estate that was the largest in the Kingdom City, other than the palace itself, of course. It was a very prestigious invitation to have dinner with the Governor, and so both Michael and Alexander were dressed in their best outfits and had promised Philip and Diane that they would make a good impression.

“Why must I go? Why can’t you go by yourself?” Alexander complained as they slowly made their way through the city streets towards the Governor’s home.

“Because, dear brother, you have a play date with the young miss Isabella,” Michael said, winking at Alex.

Alexander groaned, “Do not remind me. I still have yet to recover from my last visit and that was almost three years ago.”

Michael chuckled, “It couldn’t have been that bad. Besides, they say that the Governor’s daughters are the most beautiful in the Kingdom City.”

“Yes, well, who would dare say otherwise? After all, they are the Governor’s daughters. If anyone ever uttered a cruel remark regarding them, he would have them thrown in jail.” Alex shrugged, “Besides, they are rarely allowed outside their home. How would they know what the girls look like firsthand?”

“So what does the Governor’s eldest daughter look like firsthand?” Michael questioned.

“Well, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never actually met her. She was always in her room. And I was always with Isabel,” Alex said, making a face as he mentioned Isabel’s name.

“At least you don’t have to go to evaluate a girl for Maxwell,” Michael said, shaking his head.

“I don’t see why you didn’t just tell father that you are already have interest in someone else.”

Michael stopped walking and looked at Alex. “And who, pray tell, am I interested in?”

“Maria,” Alex shrugged out casually.

“Maria? Maria? As in, the blonde little pixie who always seems to get into trouble, Maria? The little sprite that I always seem to be saving from thugs and hooligans because she just can’t seem to keep her mouth shut, Maria?” Michael practically shouted.

“Yes, that Maria. Also the one you can’t seem to get out of your head. The one you retell to me countless dreams about. And the one who is, and I quote, more beautiful than the goddess of love, who shines more brightly than the sun itself, and whose spirit is as free, caressing and gentle as the wind. Need I go on?” Alex said with a smirk on his face.

Michael found himself smiling at Alex’s words. They didn’t begin to describe how incredible Maria was. Michael’s eyes become ‘spacey’ as a grin appears on his face whenever he thought of her. But Michael’s far-off and longing look soon turned gloomy. “Yes. She’s also the same Maria who always disappears, the one that catches the attention of every man she passes, and also the one who doesn’t return my affection,” Michael said the last part in a whisper, but Alex heard all the same. He patted Michael on the back reassuringly and they both started back down the street toward the Governor’s.

“AHHH… Let go of me you fiend!!” came a shriek from an alley not far from where Alex and Michael were. They both shared a look before turning to run towards the cry.

They raced down the alley at lightning speed and what they saw before them made Michael’s blood boil. There, stood Maria, with her hands pinned to the wall above her head, her blonde haired tousled and her green eyes glaring at the man in front of her. That man happened to be Sean’s goon number two. He was twice her size and was looking at her with a smug smirk on his face and an evil gleam in his eyes.

“Let me go!” Maria seethed out through clenched teeth. Michael saw red. He stormed over, grabbed Maria and wrenched her from the scoundrel’s hold on her. Maria visibly relaxed upon seeing that it was Michael who came to her rescue.

The goon was annoyed. Didn’t whomever it was that messed with his fun realize that he was one of Sean’s men? He turned to address his opponent. “I don’t know who you think you are but…” he stopped upon seeing whom he was speaking to. He stood face to face with none other than Michael Guerin. Fear instantly came over the goon’s face. Michael had a look that showed that he was more than simply pissed. He looked ready to kill.

Michael voice was deep and deadly, “Now, you listen here. If I ever so much as see you looking at her again, I swear I will…” he didn’t get to finish as the goon ran off. Michael was about to go after him when Maria pulled him back.

In a soothing voice, Maria tried to calm him down, “Michael, don’t go. He is not worth it.” Maria had a pleading look on her face and he just couldn’t help but give in to her.

“What were you doing with that guy, Maria?” Michael asked, his voice still had a hint of anger but was more laced with concern. He still hadn’t let go of her hand and was rejoicing in the fact that she hadn’t pulled away either.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Michael,” she said, giving him a shy smile that made him forget all about the whole incident. Her lips were moving and she was saying something to him but Michael wasn’t paying attention. He already had that look on his face, the goofy grin and spacey eyes. “Oh space-boy,” Maria called in a singsong voice, waving a hand in front of his face.

“Huh?” Michael finally snapped out of his reverie, but the grin never left his face. “I’m sorry. I kind of spaced out.”

“I know,” Maria said with a smile. She secretly loved that look. “I said, how about I take you boys out to dinner as a thank you for saving me.”

Michael just now realized that Alex was also there. “Well, actually… we umm… we…” he hated saying no to her, but he couldn’t let Philip down.

Luckily, Alex came to the rescue. “Michael would love to, but unfortunately, I have other engagements to attend.” Alex started walking off but turned around. “Oh, and Michael, have fun.” Alex said with a wink, meaning that he’d cover for Michael with the Governor and with Diane and Philip.

“So, I guess it is just you and me, space-boy,” Maria said, linking her arm through Michael’s. The goofy grin appeared on his face again as they walked together down the street. He glared at every guy that tried to look at Maria. Maria was his and he would stand up to the of challenge any and every person who stood in his way of getting her. That is, if she’d let him.


Maxwell reached Mystical Pond with enough time to wipe the sweat off his brow, catch his breath, and put a victorious smirk on his face as he watched Sean panting as he rode up.

“What kept you?” Max asked, faking a yawn to stress his smart-alecky remark.

Sean dismounted with a smile on his face. “You sure are damn cocky after having lost.”

“Lost?” Max asked with a smile. “How, pray tell, did I lose if I arrived before you did, Sean. You do realize that the person who takes the least amount of time to get here wins the race, right?” Max said the last sentence very slowly, pronouncing each syllable for Sean to understand.

“The terms were your horse versus mine, Evans. I don’t recall you starting out with this horse this morning,” Sean said, walking up to the chestnut colored mare. It backed away, apparently not liking Sean anymore than the next person.

“You did not say that we had to ride one consistent horse throughout the entire race, Deluca,” Max said, walking up to the horse, stroked its mane, and succeeded in calming the creature down.

“No, but it had to be your horse, Maxwell,” Sean said, standing next to the saddle.

“She is my horse. Aren’t you?” Max asked the horse. It proceeded to nuzzle him with her nose. No female could resist Max.

“Oh? And I suppose this satchel is yours, as well?” Sean asked, giving Maxwell an eye.


“Yes. It’s tied to the saddle right here,” Sean gave a mocking gasp, “it even has a name on it. Elizabeth, hmm? New lover of yours?”

“Of course,” Max said, playing along. “The fair lady Elizabeth,” he said, correcting Sean.

“Well then,” Sean said with a evil gleam in his eye, “you wouldn’t mind telling me what is in the satchel?”

Good Lord! Max thought. Hmm…If I was a raven-haired beauty with deep, incredible eyes, soft, smooth skin and a feisty little attitude, what would I be carrying with me? Max had a smile on his lips. He knew exactly what she would be carrying with her. “In that there bag, my dear Sean, are many items.” He counted off items on his fingers. “(to pay for items she needs…) a small money pouch, (that small of a person would eat healthy so she has…) bread, fruit, berries, and ( for the personal touch…) a book.”

Sean rummaged through the bag and then threw it down with a large huff. Max inwardly sighed out in relief and outwardly showed a smug smile on his face. Two hundred gold pieces might help Max with his situation involving his beautiful Elizabeth.

Sean was just about to shake Max’s hand and admit defeat when they heard another horse galloping up in the distance.

“Hey, you!” That voice was music to Max’s ears, even when it was laced with fury. He looked up and saw his angel riding down towards them on Dreamer. He couldn’t stop staring at her as she rode up to them and dismounted from the horse. Only then did he notice that he wasn’t the only one who was watching her intently. Sean was openly gawking at her, looking her up and down as though she were a piece of meat. Max felt his anger boil. No one should be looking at her in such an insolent manner.

“I am Sean Deluca. You must be the fair lady Elizabeth,” Sean said, noticing her riding up on Max’s horse. He went to kiss her hand. Max was about to knock Sean over. He didn’t want Sean’s lips anywhere on her. Fortunately enough, Elizabeth pulled her hand away before Sean could even touch her. Good girl, thought Max.

“Yes, that would be me,” Elizabeth said warily. “How did you know my name?”

“Maxwell, here, told me,” Sean said tilting his head in Max’s direction.

“Maxwell?” She looked over in Max’s direction. So his name is Maxwell, Elizabeth thought. She was about to start haranguing him for running off with her horse, but a pleading look in his rich amber eyes told her to wait. She had a feeling something was happening and her feelings were rarely ever wrong.

Seeing that she wasn’t going to give him away just yet, he risked it and hoped that she would play along. “Elizabeth, darling,” Max said, holding out his hand for her to accept. Apparently Sean was also questioning Max’s honesty. He watched intently to see if she would go to Maxwell or not.

The suspense was deafening. There was obvious tension in the air. Maxwell or Sean…Maxwell or Sean… Elizabeth closed her eyes for a brief second and made her decision. She took a deep breath, licked her lips, and prayed the gods would forgive her for what she was about to do.

“Maxwell, dearest,” she said with a sugary sweet smile as she accepted his hand. “What is going on?”

“Oh, nothing to worry over, love. Sean, here, just didn’t believe that this horse belonged to me,” Max said as he put his arm around her. She tensed at first but soon relaxed in his arms.

“Of course, Fate is your horse,” Elizabeth said with a little giggle. “She doesn’t let just anyone ride her now, does she?”

Max smirked at Sean. “Fine. The two hundred gold pieces are yours,” Sean said, still eyeing Elizabeth. It was obvious to Max that Sean took a liking toward Elizabeth. Sean was staring at her as though wishing he were the one holding her right now. Maxwell tightened his arm around her waist and glared at Sean. Sean glared back at Maxwell and stormed off, mounted his horse and galloped away.

Maxwell was enjoying the feel of Elizabeth in his arms. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and ran his fingers through her hair. Her hair was so silky and soft, her skin smooth. His nose was filled with the scent of vanilla. He couldn’t get enough of her.

Then, she ruthlessly pushed him away. Maxwell was so startled he lost his balance and fell to the ground. He stood up, brushing himself off.

“What do you think you are doing? What was all that about?” Elizabeth asked, backing away from him and her anger returned.

“It was just a bet, Love.” Elizabeth stiffened at his last comment. It didn’t go unnoticed by Maxwell. “Two hundred gold pieces and its all yours,” Maxwell said, smiling with all his charm.

“T-two hundred gold pieces?” Elizabeth asked, stunned.

Maxwell smiled at this. “Unfortunately though, I don’t have it with me. So if you would accompany me to my home, and possibly to dinner, I would gladly give it to you there.”

Elizabeth let out a low chuckle. “I don’t want your money.” She started walking towards Fate.

“Well then, perhaps dinner, just to show my gratitude for helping me today,” Maxwell said, thinking that, since she wasn’t screaming her head off at him, she must have been growing fond of him.

She turned, looked him straight in the eye. “You should be glad I am not reporting you for theft. And as for helping you, I detested Sean a slight bit more than I did you. Consider yourself lucky.” With that, she mounted her horse and left, leaving Maxwell staring at her retreating figure as she rode off with her hair blowing in the wind.

Maxwell picked up the satchel she left behind. It even smelled like her, vanilla. She was going to be one hell of a challenge for Maxwell and one that he will never back down from.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:12:13 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:51:47 PM

Chapter Three

Alexander made his way down the street. He saw how Michael was when he was with Maria, grinning like an idiot. How could he not give Michael a little happiness and let him go off with her? He sighed. Things were just great. Big brother Maxwell was off having the time of his life on yet another adventure. Michael was having all his dreams come true by just being in the presence of Maria. And Alex? He was off to face the wrath of Isabella Valenti.

Alex was making his way up the Governor’s walkway at a snail’s pace. He was dreading the inevitable. Isabel wasn’t a terrible person. She just wasn’t the type that he would get along with. He was a book person. Isabel wasn’t. While he was tutoring her, all she would do was stare into a mirror and play with perfume and makeup.

He would try to get her to focus on her studies but she would simply wave him away like he was some sort of annoying pest. She would constantly talk about hair, clothes, and boys. Alex couldn’t believe how shallow and inconsiderate she was. And she was only thirteen at the time. Imagine how much worse she must have grown over the years.

Alex eventually knocked on the door and was shown in by one of the servants. He was led into a study and was told to sit and wait while the Governor finished up a discussion with his brother concerning his nephew. Alex had to control himself from snickering too loudly while wondering how badly Max was beating Sean Deluca at the moment.

Soon Governor Valenti stepped into the room and apologized to Alex for being held up. “It’s been quite a while since I saw you last, Alexander. Let’s have a talk. How are your parents? Is that brother of yours still keeping Philip on his toes?”

“That, he is. In fact, Maxwell is off in yet another competition with Sean right now,” Alex answered.

“That nephew of mine just can’t accept defeat,” Valenti said, shaking his head disapprovingly. “That’ll explain why Maxwell couldn’t come? Well that boy is always in search of adventure,” Valenti said with a far-off look in his eyes, reminiscing about his life when he was younger. And of a certain brunette. He shook his head to clear it. “I thought Michael would be joining us?”

“No, he... um… he didn’t feel too well.” Alex wasn’t the best at lying.

“Neither did my daughter. Must be something in the air. She has been in her room all day and won’t be joining us this evening.”

Alex’s face brightened. “Isabella won’t be joining us?”

“No, Isabel is fine.” Alex’s face fell again. “It’s her sister that’s feeling ill. You and Isabel haven’t seen each other in ages. I have to warn you, Alexander. Isabel has grown to be quite a young lady. I’m getting many offers for her hand in marriage. But you’ll be happy to know that I turned them all down. Your father has told me about your interest in her. I knew you were a special little boy the moment I saw you, Alex. And I’m warning you now. You will not hurt my little girl. Is that clear?”

Alex was too stunned to say a word. Him and Isabel… together… married? He suddenly felt nauseous.

“Is that clear, Alexander?” Valenti asked in a more threatening tone.

“Y-y-yes, sir,” Alex squeaked out. Could this get any worse?

Just then, a servant entered the room. “Your brother requests your presence at his house at once, sir. He says that it is quite urgent and had something to do with young Sean Deluca.”

Valenti nodded at the servant and turned to Alex. “Accept my apologies. I must go. It’s been great seeing you once again, Alex. We’ll talk more about the situation with Isabel later.”

“It’s quite all right, sir. We’ll simply have to reschedule this dinner for a later date,” Alex said, standing up from his seat.

“No, that won’t be necessary. Although my daughter and I cannot make it, I am sure you wouldn’t mind having a lovely dinner with Isabel.” With that, Valenti headed out the door. “Oh, and Alex?” he said, stopping just outside the door. “I’m trusting you to be a gentlemen and have dinner with Isabel, nothing more,” he said with a small wink and left. Alex was still confused as to what exactly just happened. His life was becoming even more confusing.

A servant showed Alex into the dining area and he took a seat at one end of the table. Isabel had yet to arrive. There was soft music playing in the background and a few candles lit on the table creating quite a romantic atmosphere. He was in one heck of a situation. God, he would give anything to be Max right now. He was proud of his older brother, he really was. It’s just that Max always got all the attention, the fame, the glory, and the women. Alex, on the other hand, was just the sidekick. He was so far into the background, that people didn’t even notice him anymore.

He suddenly came to a realization. It was his own damn fault. He let people ignore him. He let them push him around. He was always too shy to speak up. And frankly, he was tired of it. Things were going to change. Starting this very moment, he was going to change his life. He wasn’t going to let others kick him around, mess with him, or make fun of him anymore. This puppy was ready to bite back. That’s right ladies and gentlemen. Alexander Evans is reborn. And if Isabel has anything to say, he was ready to put her in her place where she belonged.

Just then, the doors opened and in she walked with her blond hair and blue eyes. He was actually a little disappointed at what he saw. She was cute, he supposed, but he had expected her to be prettier and taller. He stood up to greet her. “Good evening,” Alex said politely, with a slight bow.

She glanced him up and down with a disapproving look on her face. “Aren’t you a little skinny?”

That did it. The old Alex would have let that comment slide. But the new Alex? No. He looked her up and down with the same look of antipathy on his face. “Yes? Well at least I don’t bear resemblance to a gerbil.”

Her face turned red with anger. She spoke through clenched teeth. “Isabel wanted me to inform you that since it was simply you joining her for dinner, she decided to take her time in getting ready.” And with that, the short blonde turned on her heel, sending little blonde curls flying everywhere, and stormed out of the room.

Alex was shocked yet again. His newly grown backbone somehow disappeared. All he could do was stare at the doors after she slammed them shut. If she wasn’t Isabel, then who was she?


It was already getting dark when Max arrived back into the city. Many of the people he passed congratulated him for yet another victory against Sean Deluca. Max smiled and thanked them, but his mind was somewhere else, or rather with someone else. He could not get his dark haired goddess off his mind. He didn’t know what power she possessed that kept him so captivated by her. She was a mystery to him.

She seemed to have cast her spell on Dreamer as well. Max didn’t know what she did, but Dreamer seemed to have recovered. She was even faster than before. His angel seemed to bring the best out of everyone whose lives she touched. Max was so deep in thought that he didn’t hear his mother calling him. She had to shake him to get him out of his daze.

“What… huh… mom… mother… what is it?” He asked after she finally let him go.

“I’ve been calling you for ages,” Diane said, smiling at her son.

“Yes. I’m sorry, mother. I was just thinking about something,” Max said, heading into the stables.

“Something or someone?” Diane asked with a smile.

Max looked up at her. “Mothers always seem to know when something is going on, don’t they?”

“Always. Now tell me about her. Is she pretty?”

“Mother! I don’t wish to discuss my love life with you. I mean, I’m practically a man,” Max said, standing as tall as he could.

“Love life? Oh, she must pretty for my son to be speaking of love.”

“Mother!” Max’s cheeks were turning red from embarrassment.

“Oh, come along, Maxwell. You can always tell me anything.”

“I know, it’s just… I don’t want to jinx it,” Max said, getting that far-off look in his eyes again.

“Aww… that’s so sweet. My son, the romantic,” Diane said, looking her son in the eye, seeing how much he’s grown. “You get it from your father.” She said with pride. “Which reminds me. Your father wants to have another talk with you. I tried to put in a good word for you where I could, but I don’t know how far it’ll get you this time, Maxwell.”

“Thank you, mother.” Max gave her a reassuring smile, kissed her on the cheek, and started towards his father’s office.

I tear streamed down Diane’s face as she realized just how much her son was growing up.

“Oh, and mother?” Diane turned to see her son stopped at the doorway. “She’s beautiful. Just like you.” Max gave her a loving smile and headed in to face the wrath of his father.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:14:16 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:52:32 PM

Chapter Four

It was starting to get dark when Michael and Maria left the restaurant. Dinner was somewhat… uneventful. Michael was fidgeting the entire time. He just couldn’t seem to act normal in front of her. She would say something to him, but all he could do was stare at her.

She was just so dazzling. Her smile would light up the entire room. Her eyes could hypnotize him for hours. She was just so… radiant… luminous… bright… words just couldn’t describe her. If only he would stop acting like such a fool in front of her.

“Michael?” she reached and touched his face to get his attention. It was getting dark and she had to hurry and head home.

As soon as her fingertips grazed his cheek, he felt shivers run through him and head straight for his heart.

“I… um… I’m sorry. I kind of spaced out there,” he said, nervously running his hand through his hair and chuckling.

“Yes. I noticed.” Honestly, she didn’t want to disturb him. He was so darling when he was lost in his own world. His eyes sparkled and his lips curled up ever so slightly. Unfortunately, it was getting late and she really needed to head home. “I had a really nice time tonight. Thank you, again, for saving me.”

“Maria, why do you always get into these situations? You could become seriously injured in some way. And where would that leave me?” Michael asked with concern.

“Do you really want to know, Michael?” she asked with a small gleam in her eyes. She took a step closer to him and she can feel the warmth coming from his body.

Michael nodded his head, not trusting his voice. His breathing was becoming more labored as she came closer and closer to him. She was so close that her lips brushed up against his as she spoke. “So you can save me.” And she kissed him.

Michael was too stunned to kiss her back or run his fingers through her hair. He was too stunned to even think. She was kissing him. Maria, the glittery pixie herself, was kissing him. His heart was pounding a mile a minute, but before he could register what happened, she was gone. He looked about and saw her wave to him with a smile on her face before she disappeared around the corner.

Michael stood there dazed for probably half an hour more before he started heading off. He kept that spacey look on his face all the way home.


After the incident with the short blond girl, Alex didn’t know what to do. He sat back and waited for Isabel to arrive. It gave him time to think. Why was he so scared to see Isabel? What was it about her that frightened him so much? Something that sent shivers down his spine. Was it really shivers he remembered, or was it more along the lines of a fluttering feeling? Alex didn’t have much more time to contemplate. The door slowly opened up, he let out a sigh, stood up slightly bowing his head. “Good evening, Isabel.”

“Good evening, Alex. May I still call you Alex?” The sweet voice reached Alex’s ears and he slowly started to lift his head. He took note of her long silky legs, her slim waist, and her shapely body, all the way up to her sparkling blue eyes. He was openly gawking at the goddess before him. Suddenly, he felt those all too familiar shivers coming over him again. They didn’t feel like shivers anymore. Yes, they definitely felt more like a fluttering feeling. It felt like something flapping, tickling his heart from the inside.

To say that Isabel was slightly uncomfortable was an understatement. She felt as though her knees were about to give out under his intense scrutiny. He was staring so intently that it was beginning to make Isabel feel insecure. What if he didn’t like what he saw? What if he thought she wasn’t pretty enough? “So… I’m sorry I kept you waiting. I just wanted to look perfect.”

Alex immediately snapped out of his daze when he realized she had spoken. “You are worth the wait. You look lovely, Isabel.” He said it with such emotion that Isabel had to stop herself from literally jumping for joy. He started staring at her again and Isabel felt her knees weaken once more. She had to sit down.

She started over towards her chair but Alex rushed ahead of her and pulled it out for her. “Still the gentleman,” Isabel said with a remembering smile. He smiled back as he pushed her chair in and took his own seat.

Dinner was served. Over dinner he chitchatted with her about small things, how her studies were going, her hobbies, likes and dislikes. After dinner, Isabel invited Alex for a stroll in the garden.

Alex felt the fluttering shivers in full effect. He had yet to consider what they were. They walked in silence, taking in the beauty before them. Alex noticed rustling in the distance and saw a shadowy figure ascending up a nearby tree. He immediately went in defend Isabel and shielded her from the intruder.

“It’s all right, Alex,” Isabel said, stepping from out behind him. “It’s just my sister.”

Alex pondered. That figure, it looked familiar.

“It’s getting late,” Isabel said, drawing Alex’s gaze back towards her. “It was a wonderful evening. Perhaps we can do this again sometime soon.”

“Of course, and the pleasure was all mine,” Alex said, kissing her hand. He then looked into her eyes, gave her a sweet smile, and departed with the fluttery shivers never once leaving him. Frankly, he didn’t want them to this time around.


Max stood outside his father’s office pondering over any and all possible excuses to account for worrying his father yet again. He took a deep breath. He’d just have to trust his mouth to say the right words when needed. He knocked and slowly entered.

“Maxwell, take a seat,” his father said without even glancing in his direction. “I heard about your little contest with the Deluca boy. I thought we agreed that you would cut back on your play and try and focus more on work.” Philip finally turned around and sat down in the seat in front of Max.

“I know father, it’s just…”

“Soon your play will be affected by your work and vice versa,” Philip interrupted. “How you are viewed socially will affect how you are viewed professionally. How you are viewed at work will affect how you are viewed outside of work. I know the people love you now for your free spirit, but will they do business with a man who is known for his no work, all play lifestyle?”

Max kept his head down and sighed. “I can only promise that I will try my hardest. I just… I don’t know if I can live the life you do. I’ve tasted adventure, and now I don’t know if I can give that up.”

Philip sighed and looked at Max. “I had my cravings for action when I was your age too. But son, I can honestly tell you that it gets better.” Max lifted his head and looked at his father with hope. “My sense of adventure never died. When I was your age, I was more reckless than you were. But then I met your mother. And falling in love, marrying, and having a family is an adventure in its own. Do you understand what I’m trying to say, Maxwell? When you fall in love, you’ll want more than anything to make her happy and you will try your hardest to give her the life you know she deserves. There are all the challenges in trying to please her, and it’s going to be tougher than any race with the Deluca boy. You just have to find the right girl.”

“I already did,” Max whispered, but Philip heard all the same.

“Who, the Governor’s daughter?” Philip asked, noticing the far-off look in his son’s eyes. Max was growing up. He was going to make one girl really happy one of these days.

Max made a face at his father’s assumption. “No. I’m not partial to blondes, even if they are the Governor’s daughter.”

Philip sighed. If Max would only see the benefit of what a marriage to her would bring him. It would profit him in more ways than one. But Philip didn’t believe in arranged marriages, nor marriages for political reasons. “Who is she then?” his father queried.

“I do not know,” Max said with a melancholy look on his face.

“What is her name?”

“Elizabeth,” Max said the name with such longing.

“Elizabeth who? Of what family?” Philip asked, wanting to praise the girl for being able to tame such a free spirit as Max’s.

“I do not know.” Sadness returning to his face.

“Then how do you know you want to spend the rest of your life with her?”

“I just do,” Max said with a shrug. “Father, do you believe in love at first sight?” Max looked at Philip for an honest answer.

Philip saw the pleading look in Max’s eyes. “How do you think I fell in love with your mother?” Max’s eyes sparkled more.

“So…” Philip decided to change the subject. “How was the race with Deluca? Did you win?”

Max had a smirk on his face. “Do you even have to ask?”

Philip chuckled. “That’s my boy.”

“An Evans never turns down a challenge,” Max said with confidence.

Philip’s tone became serious again. “Maxwell, I had a talk with Valenti and his brother about you and Sean today. They don’t like this feud between the two of you any more than I do.”

“What do you want me to do? Let him win?” Max asked exasperatedly.

“I’m not saying that. I just don’t want it to grow to become any larger than it already is.”

“Yes, father,” Max agreed with a sigh.

“Take me seriously, Maxwell. Sean Deluca already has a criminal mind. If his father weren’t the judge and his uncle, the Governor, he’d probably already have been hanged. The next time you beat him, I’m not so sure that he’ll just shake your hand and walk away.”

“Don’t worry, father. I’ll stay out of trouble. I promise,” Max said sincerely.

Philip smiled. “Have you eaten?”

“Yes. I had some bread, fruit, and mountain berries.”

“Mountain berries? Where did you get mountain berries around here? They are only found on Mount Roswell.”

“I know,” and so is she. Max sighed, bid his father goodnight and retired to his room.

On his way to his room, Max passed by Alex, who was turning in early and complaining about tickling shivers. Strange. Max stopped in Michael’s room to pick up the money but Michael didn’t even notice him enter. He just kept looking out the window with a goofy grin on his face. Also strange. Max will have to find out what happened while he was away tomorrow. He was just too tired tonight. The day truly wore him out.

He entered his room and sat down. He pulled out her bag and emptied the contents out onto his bed. He had eaten the food she had packed. All that was left was the book and a money pouch.

He opened the small pouch and two silver pieces fell out. Two silver pieces? That’s all the money she carried with her? You couldn’t buy anything with two silver pieces. You couldn’t even buy a drink with that amount. At least, not here in Kingdom City. Max sighed and emptied his prize money into her pouch. It was hers, after all.

He put her things back into the bag and smiled as his fingers traced the small, embroidered letters. “Elizabeth…” Sighing, he placed the bag in a safe spot and prepared for bed. There was just something about her that drew him in. He’d have to find out what.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:14:54 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:53:11 PM

Chapter Five

Morning on the Governor’s estate was always the same. Servants would come in, wake the girls up, and tidy up their rooms for them while they prepared for breakfast. Isabel would always be ready before anyone. She would run to her sister’s room and they would talk about the exciting things from their previous day.

Isabel never really had much to talk about until today. Her dinner with Alex was wonderful. He was more handsome than she remembered him to be. But Isabel never had more to talk about than her sister. Her sister always had some exciting story about her life on the outside.

“God, I envy you,” Isabel said with a sigh.

“Then why don’t you ever join me?”

Isabel let out a laugh. “I wouldn’t dare disobey father’s wishes.”

“So tell me about Alex. Is he everything you imagined him to be?”

“That and more,” Isabel said with a smile. “And how was your day with your knight in shining armor? Did your plan work?”

“Like a charm.”

“Are you ever going to tell me who he is?” Isabel was interested to who had her sister so captivated.

“I will,” was all she said before they were interrupted and told that breakfast was ready.

Breakfast was the only time all three family members could spend quality time together. Jim Valenti worked most of the day, leaving the girls by themselves at home.

Jim sat down and looked at his two beautiful daughters. They were growing up so quickly. It had been hard raising the two girls by himself, but he had managed. They reminded him so much of their mother. They had her compassion and her beauty, Isabel especially. She had her mother’s golden hair and blue eyes and her gentle spirit. His other daughter, on the other hand, had her mother’s golden hair but had his green eyes and his feisty character. His wife died when both girls were very young. She was murdered when she was out in the street one night. Jim was so afraid afterwards that he forbade his girls from leaving the house. Both understood why.

“Father? Is everything alright?” Isabel asked timidly when she noticed how he was staring at them.

“Everything is fine, dear,” Jim said as he came out of his daze. “How was you dinner with Alexander?”

“It was lovely. He said he would stop by again soon.”

“Good. I really like Alexander. He is the fine young gentleman. Very intelligent, at that.” Jim then looked towards his other daughter. “I had a chat with Philip Evans the other day about Maxwell. He agreed that it would be splendid if you and Maxwell…”

“Father!” she threw down her napkin. “I told you many times, I am not interested in Maxwell.”

“Rosemary,” he warned. “Do not use that tone with me young lady.”

Maria pouted and sat back down. He only used that name when he was upset. “I’m already interested in someone.”

“Who?” Jim demanded, then changed his tone. The only way to get through to his daughter was to speak sensibly to her. “Maria, you know that it cannot be just anyone. We are highly respected in this town. Not only that, but you deserve a good life with someone who can take care of you.”

“He can, father,” Maria said pleadingly. “He’ll take care of me. He always has. He isn’t just anyone either, father. He’s an Evans.”

Jim stared at his daughter.

Isabel was about to cry. “Maria, Philip Evans only has two children. If you don’t want Maxwell, then you want…”

Maria looked over at Isabel. “Isabel, no. That’s not who I meant.” But Isabel ran out of the room before Maria could explain. Maria got up to follow her but her father called her back.


Maria let out a sigh. “It’s not Alex, if that’s what you are thinking. He is an Evans. I mean… Philip and Diane did take him in…”


Maria nodded her head. She didn’t know how her father would react. Although he did become higher in society when he joined the Evans family, Michael was still a Guerin and his real father was not that great of a man. He was the town drunk. Jim arrested the man on many occasions.

“Great. Michael is a fine young man. He’s loyal, loving, and he isn’t one to be picked on. He’ll take good care of you. I’ll have a talk with Philip soon.”

Maria couldn’t believe what she just heard. Her father liked the idea of her with Michael.

“I’ll go and talk with Isabel,” he said and stood up to go find his youngest daughter.

“Father?” Maria called out. Jim turned back towards her. “Who is Amy?”

Jim began to panic. “How do you know about Amy?”

“I don’t. I just… I heard you whispering her name in your sleep. I didn’t understand though. Wasn’t mother’s name Melissa?” Maria asked confused.

Jim sighed with a sadden tone. “Amy doesn’t exist anymore.” And he vanished through the door. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard of that name. Her father muttered it many times when he had that far-off look in his eyes. Maria knew something was wrong and she was going to get to the bottom of it.


Alex was having the most wonderful time with his beautiful blonde princess. They were holding hands and just gazing up at the stars near Mystical Pond. The water was calm and peaceful and reflected the stars. It was incredible. From their point of view, they were surrounded by stars.

“It’s beautiful, Alex.”

“Not as beautiful as you, Isabel.” She gazed up at him lovingly. He ran his fingers through her hair and looked at her. “You’ve captured all the stars. They glitter in your eyes.”

Isabel blushed slightly with a shy grin on her face. She looked back up at him and gasp when she saw the hunger in his eyes. She licked her lips and slowly parted them. Alex lowered his head slowly. His heart was beating a mile a minute. He could feel the warmth from her body as he leaned closer and closer. His hands moved to hold her around her waist and she placed her hands on his chest. He could almost taste her lips when all of a sudden he felt her pushing him into the water with a splash.

Alex woke with a start. Water was everywhere. He was completely soaked. What in God’s name happened? He looked up to see, standing in front of his bed, Isabel with a now empty bucket of water in her hand. And the look on her face told him that she was furious.

“Isabel?” Alex asked, still somewhat groggy. “Wh-What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened. You leading me on while you were off seeing my sister,” she said with tears coming out of her eyes.

“Wait… what is this about your sister?” Alex said getting up to get a towel in an effort to dry himself off.

“Don’t worry. I’m not angry with my sister. I don’t blame her. I blame you,” she spat out and stormed out of his room. She sped down the hallway to get out of the house, pushing both Michael and Max out of her way. They watched as a dripping-wet Alex ran after her.

“What was that about?” Michael asked Max.

“Beats me. This day just gets more and more exciting,” Max said, taking a seat and motioned for Michael to do the same.

“What do you mean?” Michael asked.

“Oh, nothing. It’s just that, this morning, I overheard father talking with Governor Valenti. They were discussing the arrangements and details for your engagement to the lovely Rosemary,” Max said casually. Michael jumped up from his seat.

“What?! Rosemary and I? Engaged? H-how could this happen?” Michael started pacing. “Are you sure you heard them right? Are you sure it isn’t you and Rosemary?”

“Positive. I had a chat with father last night and told him how I felt about an arrangement between Rosemary and I. I’m simply not interested in her. And apparently she isn’t interested in me, either. In fact, she seems to be in love with you, dear brother,” Max said with a smirk.

Michael stopped pacing and stared at Max. “With me? I have never even seen her before in my life.”

Max sighed and shook his head. He sympathized with his brother. “You should have told father about Maria. You can never take his threats too lightly.”

Michael hung his head and pleaded with Max. “Maxwell, you have to help me find a way out of this situation. How am I going to explain this to Maria?”

“Explain to me what?” Maria seemed to have appeared out of nowhere like she always did. Michael just stared at her. She was beautiful as always, more so today than usual.

Michael was pulled out of his daze when his father and Governor Valenti entered the room. “Maxwell, would you excuse us. We have some issues to discuss with Michael.”

“Gladly,” Max said, getting up from his seat and smiled a sympathetic smile at Michael. “Coming Maria?”

“Actually Maxwell, this concerns her as well,” Valenti said, shooing Max out of the room. Max was confused, but he’d find out about all the fuss from Michael later on. Right now, he had more important matters to deal with.


Elizabeth woke up to the sound birds chirping in the distance. The sun shined through the window basking her in light and warmth. She smiled. She loved waking up to this.

She just couldn’t get enough it. She suddenly wondered where Kyle was, seeing as how he wasn’t in bed. Typical. He was always up before the sun even had a chance to rise. She heard feet shuffling and pans clanking in the next room and smiled. Kyle was making breakfast. Kyle prided himself on his cooking skills, even after all these years.

“Elizabeth, sleepyhead, breakfast is ready,” Kyle called in a singsong voice from the kitchen. “You really should get used to waking up earlier.”

Liz stood up, stretched, and went to go wash up. Kyle was so incredible. Her awful encounter with that… person, just left her so… frustratingly angry. It was even worse that she seemed to have lost her bag and with it what little money she had and her food for the evening. Fortunately, Kyle had food out waiting for her when she arrived home. He always did. You would think he was her father or something, always making sure she had plenty to eat.

Last night, she reached the isolated small mountain cabin still fuming, thinking about her unpleasant day, but one look at Kyle and she couldn’t help but muster at least a small smile, no matter how fake, for his sake.

You just could not be angry in the presence of Kyle. It felt wrong. He was just so calm, tranquil, peaceful, but then that is how he had to be in his line of work. She would have to learn to become so too, soon, one day. She sighed thinking about it.

Liz sat down as Kyle set the plate down in front of her and took his seat. She started eating her food. Bread, fruit, and vegetables; all she’s ever eaten her entire life. Yumm…

She looked up when she noticed Kyle wasn’t eating. He leaned forward and placed a hand on her forehead. “Are you feeling alright this morning, Elizabeth?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?” Kyle removed his hand.

“I am not sure. Yesterday you looked a bit tired and last night you kept tossing and turning in bed.” Liz let out a deep sigh. She didn’t sleep well last night. It was the same nightmare over and over. She was running in the forest, being chased by something. It was her typical nightmare. Only this time, when she tripped and fell, someone saved her. He scooped her up in his arms and carried her off, taking her far away from all the darkness. He had such emotional, expressive, deep amber eyes. They were so soothing that Liz woke with a smile on her face.

Her staring off into space wasn’t helping to ease Kyle’s worry.

Liz placed her hand over Kyle’s and smiled. “I’m fine.” She got up to clear their plates and Kyle left to the sanctuary to meditate.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:15:51 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:53:33 PM

Chapter Six

Isabel ran straight back towards her estate. She could hear Alex calling her from behind, but she just kept on running. How could she face the humiliation of having him know that she cared for him while he chose to have her sister instead? How could she have possibly thought that he would have chosen her over Maria? Maria was older. Maria had poise, beauty, and class. Why wouldn’t he prefer Maria? Everyone would prefer Maria. They always preferred Maria. Isabel ran straight into her house and right up to her room, ordering the guards on the way that under no circumstances is Alex to be allowed in. They nodded their heads and left to their posts outside the gate.

Alex chased after Isabel. He was positive that everyone was staring at him, seeing as how he was running around, completely wet, in his bedclothes. It made no difference to him though. He had to find out what was going on in that head of hers. What was she talking about? Him and Rosemary? He has never even seen Rosemary before. Where would she get such an idea?

Lord, could this girl run. Those long legs of hers sure do move fast. He couldn’t stand it anymore. He had to stop. His throat was dry. His lungs were deprived of air. And his side was cramping. No wonder people teased him for being a weakling. He couldn’t even outrun a girl. His breathing evened out but his side still ached, so he speed-walked as fast as he could the rest of the way to the Valenti estate. As he tried to pass through the gate, the guards stopped him.

“Oh. My apologies, men. You probably do not recognize me in my semi-wet bedclothes, but I am Alexander Evans,” Alex flashed them a toothy smile and tried to walk through but was once again not permitted to enter.

“I am terribly sorry, Mr. Evans, but Miss Isabella strictly forbade us to allow you entrance onto the estate,” said one of the guards.

Alex couldn’t believe it. Isabel did not want to see him because he did something to anger her that he wasn’t even aware he had done. Alex let out a sigh. “Women!” he muttered, shaking his head.

No. He couldn’t just leave it at that. He wouldn’t just let the shivers fade again. He had to do something. He wasn’t timid little Alex anymore. He was the new and improved Alexander. And the new and improved Alexander would not back away with out a fight.

Alex made up his mind. He was going to get Isabel to explain herself one way or another. And if Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb out front didn’t like it, then tough. He will just get in through another way.

Alex walked halfway around the estate until he found a large enough gap between two poles of the fence. He made sure no one was watching and slid through. “Being skinny has an advantage in this case, Miss Gerbil,” Alex muttered as he headed off in the direction of Isabel’s window.

Isabel was lying on her bed, crying into her pillow when she heard someone calling her name. She passed it off as her imagination, but it was pretty darn insistent and annoying at that too. She made her way over to her window and saw Alex standing down below. She ducked onto the floor, hoping he didn’t notice her.

“Isabel, I know you are there. I saw you. Now tell me what is going on,” he yelled up to her.

Isabel continued to sit there. Perhaps if she stayed very quiet, he would get bored and leave.

“I am not leaving until you at least tell me what I did wrong,” Alex continued.

Darn it. Why did he have to be so persistent? Because then you wouldn’t feel the way you do about him if he wasn’t, Isabel thought to herself. She sighed knowingly.

“Please, Isabel. Please? Are you really going to let me stand out here in my bedclothes all day?” Alex asked, twirling around in his pajamas.

Isabel chuckled. She was already giving in to him.

“After all, they are a bit old fashion, you know. They have got ducks and chickens all over them. Honestly, what would people think?” Alex mock gasped and smiled when he heard her soft giggle from up above.

Isabel gave in. She stood up and leaned on her windowsill. “What do you want?”

He got down on his knee and looked up to her. “Forgive me?”

Isabel sighed. How could she not forgive him? He was too adorable for words. “You are forgiven.”

“May I ask one more thing of you, Isabel?” Alex said, standing up.


“What did I do to upset you?”

Isabel just looked at him and shook her head and said softly, “Come on in and we will talk about it.” Alex headed into the house. He had a feeling it was going to be one unbelievable story.


Michael was beyond confused. This had to do with him, Maria, his father, and the Governor? What was going on? He glanced at Maria. The sweet smile on her face told him that she knew far more than he did on the matter.

“Why don’t we all have a seat?” Philip suggested. Philip motioned for Valenti to take the armchair while he pulled out a chair for himself, leaving the couch for Michael and Maria to sit down on.

“Am I right to assume that Maxwell has already informed you of what I wished to speak to you about?” Philip asked, looking at Michael.

Michael nodded his head in agreement.

“That boy always seems to know everything that’s going on in this town,” Valenti said with a soft chuckle. He was greatly fond of Max. Max reminded him of himself when he was young, back when things were simple and he had his whole life ahead of him. Everything was perfect. He was born into a very well respected family. He would take on his father’s position as Governor when he grew older. He had the perfect job, the perfect life, and the perfect girl. Maybe just a little too perfect. Maybe… if Jim hadn’t taken her with him that night… if Jim hadn’t gone off to mingle and left her alone… ‘he’ might not have seen her… would not have been given the chance to ask her to dance… would not have gotten the chance to whisk her away… and she just might still be with him… maybe…

“I still don’t understand how this has anything to do with Maria,” Michael said, interrupting Jim’s thoughts. His fingers were tapping away nervously.

Maria kept a knowing smile on her face. She reached down and entwined her fingers with his. Michael visibly calmed and smiled.

She turned to him, gave his hand a squeeze, and spoke calmly. “Michael, my father and your father are here to arrange a possible engagement between the two of us. They thought it was best for both of us to be present in the discussion as well.”

Michael was still somewhat confused. “Your father?”

Maria smiled. “Yes, Michael. My father,” Maria said, tilting her head slightly in Valenti’s direction.

Both Philip and Jim watched on with curiosity. “Michael, did you not know that Rosemary was my daughter?” Jim asked.

Michael lifted and eyebrow and smirked at Maria. “Rosemary?” he questioned.

Maria gave him a warning glare. “Don’t even go there, space-boy.”

Michael chuckled. He let go of Maria’s hand and put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her body to lean in closer to him. “So,” he began, turning towards both of their fathers, “what part of our engagement should we discuss first?”


Max needed to come up with a plan to solve his dilemma. He needed to think. And when did he do his best thinking? When Alex thought for him. Problem solved. He needed to find Alex. But Alex was last seen running out of the house, chasing after a girl. So that meant all he had to do was sit back and wait for Alex.

Max was waiting on Whitman Road. It was one of the busiest streets in the city. Alex would have to pass him on the way home, and Max can catch him then. Max sat himself down beside a tree trunk and leaned back to wait.

He watched the people go back and forth, up and down the street. Some waved at him. He nodded at them in greeting. Almost every girl walked by promenading in front of him, winking and smiling seductively, but he seemed to not notice. He was only interested in seeing the brown haired head of two people, Alexander or Elizabeth.

The girl haunted his senses. The touch of her skin, the smell of her hair, the sound of her voice, the sparkling gleam in her eyes… Max sighed… the taste of her. That was the only thing he was missing. Max unconsciously licked his lips. She probably tasted like vanilla too.

Lord, he hadn’t even spent more than half an hour in the presence of this beauty, yet she filled his every thought. He even carried her satchel with him everywhere he went, in hopes of seeing her again.

He gathered the bag onto his lap and opened it. The smell of vanilla filled his nose. It was a rush for his senses. Max sighed. He was hopeless. Well, it didn’t look as though Alex was going to show up for a while. He might as well do a little reading.

He pulled her book out, placing the bag on the ground beside him. The book was royal purple in color with a soft velvet-like cover. In small gold cursive letters at the bottom right hand corner was Elizabeth Parker. Parker. He didn’t know anyone by the name of Parker. He’d have to ask around later. He flipped through the first few pages and started reading something that caught his eye.

…Kyle snores. It’s hard to sleep with him snoring so loudly right there, next to me. But then again, it’s not as though I am able to sleep a great deal. The nightmares are recurring daily now. I’m too scared to fall asleep. Afraid that one time, whoever it is I’m running away from in the dream might catch me before I wake. For heaven’s sake, Kyle’s snores have just mutated into some type of snoring, coughing, sigh. Why do I even put up with him? Oh, yes. Because he is my…

“What are you reading?” Tess asked, plopping herself down on the ground close to Max, a little too close for Max’s comfort. But then, he didn’t feel comfortable anywhere within a mile of Tess.

“Nothing,” he said, closing the book as he scooted away from her.

Tess simply edged closer, obviously not able to take a hint. “Oh, what do you have here?” she asked, reaching out for the bag next to Max. He snatched it away from her before she could get her hands on it.

“Didn’t you ever learn not to touch other people’s belongings without permission?” he said, scooting away from her further.

“Does that include touching you?” she asked, placing a hand on his thigh.

“Yes, it does,” Max said with revulsion. “Now, please remove your hand.” Tess pouted but just ran his hand higher up his thigh.

“Well, well. What do we have here?” Sean asked in a singsong voice, eyeing Tess’s hand where she was touching Max. Tess removed her hand and flushed with the embarrassment of being caught.

“So,” Sean started, “my uncle has informed me that you won’t be marrying my cousin. Apparently she takes to Michael better.” Sean meant for the comment to anger Max, but it only made Max smile.

“Yes. I’m ecstatic for the both of them,” Max replied honestly.

“Precisely. I see how you’ve moved on to my sister,” Sean said, glancing between the two of them. Tess blushed even more while a look of disgust came over Max’s face.

“Sean,” Max said in a low threatening tone. “There is absolutely nothing between Tess and I.”

Tess began to protest, “But…”

“Tess,” Sean interrupted, “why don’t you head on home. Father is looking for you.”

“Very well. Good day, Maxwell,” she said batting her eyelashes at him before she scampered off. Max did his best to ignore her without rolling his eyes. He was not, in any way, shape, or form, attracted to the gerbil creature that is Tess.

“Since you’re off running around with my sister, I suppose that means Elizabeth is up for grabs.”

Max’s ears perked up, his face stoned, and his anger boiled. “I’ll only say this once, Sean. I am NOT with Tess. And you are NOT to so much as look at Elizabeth. Do you hear me?”

“And who is going to stop me? You?” Sean took a step closer to Max.

“Yes, me.” Max was about to throw a punch at Sean, but someone grabbed his arm.

“Hold on there, Maxwell,” Alex said, still gripping Max’s arm. “Hold your horses. Remember what father said? Is Sean really worth getting father angry over?”

Max weighed his options and Alex was right. Max sighed, calming his anger. “No, Sean isn’t worth it. Sean isn’t worth anything.” Max glared at Sean once more and grabbed his bag from off the ground.

“Come on, Alexander. I’ve been meaning to have a talk with you,” Max said. The two brothers headed off leaving a still infuriated Sean behind.


After the incident with Sean, Max and Alex found a more secluded area to talk.

“I still don’t see what you want me to do, Maxwell,” Alex said, looking at his brother. It is hard to say no to Max in any way.

“Alexander,” Max whined. “You are my brother. We are family. You have to help me.”

Frustrated, “Maxwell, you are the one with the devious mind. All I ever do is restate the facts while you come up with the plan.”

“Alright, restate the facts for me,” Max said, listening carefully.

“Okay,” Alex began counting off on his fingers. “First off, father wants you to marry.”

“I have already found her,” Max said easily.

“Two, father wants you to focus more on work than play.”

“Hmm… that one is tough.”

“Three, the girl you want is on Mount Roswell.”

“So, we have to find a way to get to Mount Roswell,” Max said simply.

“Four, there is some Kyle person. What is he to her, anyway?” Alex asked, curious to know.

“I do not know. His name is written in this book she had in her bag. I think it is a diary of some sort,” Max said, picking up the bag and placing it in his lap.

“Well then, open it up and let’s have a look,” Alex said, smiling.

Max looked at his brother. “I can’t, Alexander. It’s private. I can’t go and invade her personal thoughts.”

“Maxwell, not only did you invade her personal thoughts when you read her diary the first time, you also spied on her while she bathed.”

“I know,” Max said with a groan. “And look where it has gotten me. She was just about ready to kill me then, Alex. And besides, I didn’t know it was a diary when I first started reading it.”

“Well, I know it’s a diary and I do not mind reading it at all. So hand it over,” Alex said, reaching for the bag.

Max pushed his hand away. “No one will be touching her things.”

Alex let out a sigh. “Fine, fine. Let’s move on then,” Alex said, giving up. “Next, Sean is angry with you and Tess wants you.”

Max looked at his brother as though he had gone dumb. “Alexander Charles Evans, when has that not been a problem?”

Alex looked at his brother. “You’re right, ignore that last part. So all we have left is that father wants you to work and Elizabeth is up on Mount Roswell.”

Max smiled. “That is simply too easy, Alex. There has to be some kind of fluke somewhere,” Max said, chuckling.

“What do you mean?” Alex asked, looking at his brother as though he had gone mad.

“Think about it. Father wants me to be more responsible and work, correct?” Alex nodded his head.

Max continued, “he’s also been wanting someone to manage and keep a close eye on the second warehouse, correct?” Alex nodded.

“It’s the perfect way to gain responsibility and please father,” Max said, proud of himself.

“I still don’t see how this helps with the…” Alex began but Maxwell interrupted him.

“Where is father’s second warehouse located, Alex?”

Alex smiled, finally understanding. “In the quiet little village of Zanstown, which is located at the base of Mount Roswell.”

Max smirked. “Exactly. Let’s go tell father.”

Max grabbed his bag and ran off excitedly towards home. Alex just shook his head and watched his brother go. Max wasn’t even certain how this girl felt about him, yet he was already willing to jump off bridges for her. He must be in love.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:16:26 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:54:09 PM

Chapter Seven

“So I suppose it is all settled then,” Philip said, clapping his hands together. “We will hold a ball in two weeks and announce the engagement.”

Philip stood to shake hands with Valenti. Maria and Michael looked at each other and smiled.

“I cannot believe we are actually getting married,” Michael whispered to her, running his fingers through her hair.

“Me either,” Maria whispered back, throwing her arms around him, gathering him in a fierce hug, and placing kisses all over his face. Michael just held her tightly. He was not ever going to let her go now that he had her. They stayed that way until they heard someone clear their throat rather loudly.

Only then did they remember other people were in the room. Maria turned red and buried her head in Michael’s shoulder. Michael looked up to find the amused faces of Philip, Jim, and Maxwell. Wait. When had Max come in? Michael was too busy with Maria to notice.

“I should get going, Philip. I have some matters to discuss with my brother,” Jim said, shaking Philip’s hand once again. “Maria, let us go.”

Maria pouted, but did as her father said and headed towards the door, but not before giving Michael one last kiss.

“Father, I have some business to discuss with you,” Max said as soon as Valenti left.

“I would like to, Maxwell, but I am meeting with someone,” Philip said, glancing at his watch. “Here he is right now,” Philip said as a servant escorted Sean into the living room.

“Hello, Maxwell. It’s good to see you,” Sean said with a smirk.

“Why don’t we talk in my office, Sean?” Philip said, leading the way. He opened the door to his office and let Sean enter. “Your uncle told me that you wanted to speak to me about a job opening…” The last few words could be heard before Philip followed Sean in and shut the door behind him.

Max stared at the closed door. No, no, no. This will not due. Sean will ruin everything. Max let out a frustrating groan.

“What’s wrong, Maxwell?” Michael asked, coming from behind him and placing a hand on Max’s shoulder.

“This cannot be happening,” Max stood staring at the closed door.

“Is something the matter, boys?” Diane asked as she entered he room.

“My life,” Max muttered as he plotted himself down onto the couch.

Diane looked at her son and sighed. “Michael, why don’t you run along? I need to have a talk with Maxwell.”

“I will be in my room if you need me,” Michael said, already heading up the stairs.

Diane waited until Michael left before she headed over to Max. She sat down next to him and leaned his head onto her shoulder. “Tell me what is wrong.”

“Everything is wrong, mother,” Max sighed out.

“Is this about the girl?” Diane asked, rubbing his back.

“Everything is about her. I cannot get her out of my head. It’s just so complicated. And then there’s Sean...”

“What happened with Sean?” she asked curiously.

“He wants her too. Of course, he does. Everyone would want her. She is just so… incredible.” He had the far-off look in his eyes again.

“Nothing but the best for my son.”

Max sighed. “And he has ruined all my plans at getting her.”

“What were you going to do?”

“I need to get to Zanstown to find her. With Sean taking the job I needed as my excuse, I’ll never get father to allow me to go.” Max leaned his head on her shoulder again.

“Don’t worry about your father. I’ll handle him. You just try to find a way to win her over,” Diane said, smiling at Max.

Max pulled her into his arms. “Thank you, mother.”

She hugged him back. “Just as long as you are happy.”

“I am. Or at least I will be.” He smiled at her.

They heard a door slam from upstairs. “What was that?” Max asked, turning towards the noise.

“I don’t know. I saw Alexander upstairs in your room earlier. He said he was looking for something,” Diane said, glancing up the stairs.

“I’m going to go… and… congratulate Michael on his engagement.” Max said, heading for the stairs.

Diane looked at him with such pride in her eyes. Her boys were all growing up.

Max stopped halfway up the stairs, came back down and gave her another quick hug and left. What was Alex up to?


Alexander rummaged through Max’s drawers. Maxwell may be too noble to read the girl’s private thoughts, but Alex certainly was not. And if it helped his brother in his quest, Alex would do anything.

Now, where would Maxwell hide it? It’s not under the bed, in the closet, or in his drawers. It’s not in his chest, his desk, or his hamper.

Alex did another scan over Max’s room, trying to find Elizabeth’s satchel. Aha! There it was. Alex made a dash over to the bed and pulled it out from under Max’s pillow.

He emptied the contents onto the bed and picked up the book. “Now let’s see who Elizabeth Parker is,” he said as he lied down on the bed and flipped over the first few pages.


He stashed the book under the pillow and jumped up, looking towards the door. He was getting ready to explain himself but relaxed when he realized it was just Michael. “Michael! What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack?”

“What are you doing in Maxwell’s room?” he asked, walking towards Alex.

“Oh, nothing. Just… finding out who mystery girl is. That’s all.”

“And how, pray tell, are you planning on doing that?” Michael asked, suddenly curious as to what Alex was doing.

“With this,” Alex said, lying back down on the bed and pulling the book back out from under Max’s pillow. It had an unusual scent of vanilla on it. Wonder how it got there?

“What is that?”

“It’s her diary,” Alex said, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Oh, really?” Michael asked, shocked as to what his brother was doing with it, but more curious as to finding out what was inside. “Start reading,” he ordered Alex as he sat down beside him on the bed.

“Shut the door first. I don’t want Maxwell to be able to hear from downstairs.”

Michael got up with a huff and kicked the door shut. He walked back over towards Alex.

Alex was flipping through the pages. “Listen to this…

…Although Kyle doesn’t agree with it, I went into the next town to try and find answers. If there is anything I’ve wanted more than life itself, it’s this. My family. I know. Kyle is my family now. He watches out for me and cares for me a lot. It’s just that, I want to find out where I came from…”

“What are you two doing?” Max asked from the doorway of his room. Michael jumped up and Alex hid the book behind his back.

Max walked purposely towards the two. Both Alex and Michael were scared. No one ever messed with Maxwell.

Michael began inching towards the door. “I was just… leaving.” He ran out of the room and out of the house, as well. He didn’t want to be around to find out what Maxwell was going to do to Alex. It wouldn’t be that violent. Max would just torture Alex a little.

Alex gulped. The way Max was staring at him, he knew he was in for it. “I… I was just… leaving too.” Alex made a mad dash for the door but Max grabbed him by the shoulders and kept him rooted to the floor.

“What is that behind your back, Alexander?” Max asked in a playful tone. He liked watching Alex squirm.

“N-n-nothing,” Alex stuttered out, gripping the book tightly.

“Oh, really? You wouldn’t mind showing me your hands then, would you?”

Alex pulled both hands out from behind his back. “See? Nothing.” He smiled nervously.

Max quickly spun him around. He couldn’t help but chuckle at his little brother’s attempt. There, in the middle of Alexander’s back, was a very obvious rectangular bulge from under his shirt. Max lifted up Alex’s shirt and grabbed the diary.

Alex hung his head low in shame. “I’m sorry, Maxwell. It’s just that I…”

“…wanted to help me,” Max finished for him. Alex nodded his head. Max sighed. His mood softened. “Alright, Alex. I would have done the same for you. But just try to understand. I don’t want you to go through her thoughts. Lord knows I’m tempted as hell to read through this,” he said, waving the book around, “but I cannot. My conscience won’t allow me to because it’s wrong to be reading her thoughts without her permission.”

Alex nodded his head in agreement. “I know, Maxwell. It won’t happen again,” he promised.

“You are darn right it won’t. Now out of my room,” Max said, ruffling Alex’s hair.

Alex headed for the door. “Oh, and Max? I hope you find her,” Alex said to his brother with a small smile.

Max sighed. “You and me both.”


Michael made his way down the busy street. It was getting dark and people were hurrying to run some last minute errands before heading off to their homes. Michael took in his surroundings. The kingdom city was a large place filled with markets and people. There was always some type of excitement running around. You never got bored. Michael loved it here, but it was just a little too noisy for him at times.

He always dreamed of living in a nice little town, where he can start a family and not have to worry about the dangers found in a dark and crowded city at night. He smiled thinking about all that has happened today. Perhaps Maria would like a quiet little town as well.

Michael was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts when someone yanked him into an alleyway. He faced his attacker; ready to fight back, until he noticed it was none other than his little blonde ball of sunshine.

“Maria? What are you doing out? I thought you were home with your father,” he said, looking down at her.

“Incorrect,” she said. “Rosemary is at home in bed, resting early. Apparently she was exhausted from all of the excitement of the day.”

She took a step closer to him with a seductive smile on her face. “Maria, on the other hand, is very much energized and ready to play.” She started playing with the hair on the back of his neck.

Michael looked at her with a stern expression on his face. “Maria, you should listen to your father. He’s right in trying to protect you. It really isn’t safe out here all by yourself. It’s getting dark out. Who knows what could happen to you out here at night.”

Maria pouted her lips. “Fine, my dear fiancé, I will run on home now. But that just means that I can’t do this,” she said as she pushed him up against the building and attacked his lips with hers. He ran his fingers through her hair with one hand and pulled her closer to him with the other. He started rubbing his hand all the way up her side and down again to her hip, liking the feel of her body, until she abruptly broke the kiss, winked an eye at him and scampered off.

Michael took a minute to gain his composure. He was about to follow her to make sure she made it home safe, but someone was blocking his way. It was too dark to see the person’s face from where he stood. But he could tell it was a woman from her shadowy figure. The shadow moved closer towards him and he instantly knew whom it was.

“Hello, Michael,” the voice called out to him sweetly. A voice he hadn’t heard in so long.

“Courtney,” Michael whispered out softly, hardly believing his eyes.

Courtney took another step towards him, stepping fully into the light of the moon. “It’s been a long time.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:17:29 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:54:45 PM

Chapter Eight

Maria made her way down the street. It was very sweet for Michael to worry over her, but him and her father needed to accept the fact that she can take care of herself. She’s been sneaking out and walking around these same streets since she was twelve.

Sure, it would be very dangerous if she wasn’t familiar with the city streets, but she was. She knew her way around. She knew which streets to walk on and which alleys to avoid.

It didn’t matter either way. Everyone knew not to mess with her. They were probably even more scared of her now that she was Michael’s girl. She smiled at the thought. She was Michael’s. And Michael was hers. Yes, she had him wrapped around her little finger. And no one would ever take him away from her.

Maria was about a block away from her home when she heard noises coming from an alley. She heard some vulgar cursing and what sounded like a scream. Someone was in trouble. Maria started off into the alley, but then hesitated. It was one of the alleys she was to avoid, especially at night. She heard another high-pitched scream followed by a painful yelp. She dashed in without a second thought.

If it were she in this situation, Michael would have come in to rescue her by now, but Maria highly doubted that this girl happened to have her very own little knight in shining armor to save the day.

When Maria reached the muffled cries, the scene made her pale. There, in front of her, was one of Sean’s goons, ripping at the clothes of a very scared and helpless girl. Maria’s anger boiled. She hated to see helpless girls getting harassed by big ugly tyrants like this goon.

“Hey, Dim-Witt. Leave her alone,” Maria yelled out, trying to get the goon’s attention.

“Looks like someone else wants in on the action,” the goon spoke out while turning around.

Maria saw a shiver pass through him when he saw that it was she. She smiled inwardly. “Touch me and I will not stop Michael this time when he hunts you down and beats the hell out of you,” Maria threatened.

The goon knew not to take Maria’s threat lightly. After what happened the other day, if he so much as looked at Maria, Michael would pound his face in. He looked from Maria to the girl on the ground and ran away down the alley.

Maria looked at his retreating figure, making sure he disappeared before she sighed in relief. Her heart was beating away. She was lucky the goon left. There was a good chance that he could have made it to where she wouldn’t be alive to be able to tell Michael.

Maria was busy calming her nerves that she forgot all about the girl. She suddenly remembered when she heard a soft whimper come from her as the girl tried to stand.

“Are you alright?” Maria asked as she stooped down to help the girl to her feet. Maria grasped her arm to help her up, but the girl’s face contorted in pain and she pulled her arm away.

Only then did Maria notice the sore bruise on her arm. Maria gasped at the sight of it. It was already starting to turn purple. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you more,” Maria gushed out, really feeling the girl’s pain.

“I’m fine. Really,” she said in a soft voice as she painfully stood up. She looked Maria in the eyes. “Thank you for saving me. I was so scared.” Tears were pouring down her face again.

Maria didn’t hesitate to gather the stranger into her arms and try to wipe away all her fears. The girl was just so small and vulnerable, though she probably wasn’t much younger than Maria herself. “Shh…it’s alright. Nothing is going to happen. I won’t let him hurt you.”

The girl felt comforted by Maria and felt soothed by Maria’s gentle spirit. “I was just… I was walking and… and… and then he just… he grabbed me and I… I screamed but he… he just… he wouldn’t let go…” she broke down again and Maria continued to comfort her. When the girl calmed down, Maria wiped away the rest of her tears, dusted off her clothes, and brushed her fingers through her long brown hair in an attempt to try to make her look presentable. It wasn’t hard to do. The girl was beautiful. She had such adorable doe brown eyes and precious rosy cheeks.

“I am Rosemary Valenti,” Maria said, extending her hand out for the girl to take. “Everyone calls me Maria. Call me Rosemary and you die,” Maria said narrowing her eyes.

Maria was rewarded with a soft chuckle and a warm smile. “You can call me Liz.”

Maria smiled, “Alright, Liz. Let’s go get a cup of tea and you can tell me all about you. My treat.”

Liz relented and followed Maria out of the alley.

“So, what brings you to Kingdom City?”

Liz laughed. “Is it that obvious that I’m not from around here?”

“Honestly, yes. You are much too sweet and innocent. You aren’t tough like us city girls,” Maria said, flexing her arm muscles.

Liz just laughed. She liked Maria. Liz could sense that she had a generous and caring soul. “Actually, I’m just looking for someone.”

Maria and Liz walked down the street side by side. The way they were laughing and smiling and how comfortable they were with each other, you would have thought they’ve known each other all their lives, not just a few minutes.


Jim knocked softly on Isabel’s door before he opening it. Isabel was sitting at her vanity in her long nightgown. She was brushing her long blonde hair, getting ready for bed. She was looking more like her mother each day, Jim thought with a smile on his face and stepped into the room.

“I just wanted to say good night before I turned in for the night, sweetie,” Jim said, walking over and giving her a kiss on the forehead before sitting down on her bed. No matter how grown up she becomes, she would always be his little girl.

“So, how are things with Alexander?” Jim asked, looking at his daughter’s reflection through the mirror.

“Things are well.”

“Did you correct the little misunderstanding between you and Maria?”

“Yes,” Isabel said, embarrassed. “I cannot believe that I thought that Maria was with Alex. She’s even older than he is.”

“It’s alright. So long as you are no longer upset.”

Isabel sat down on the bed next to her father. “I was surprised that Alex wasn’t angry with me. I embarrassed him a great deal,” Isabel said, giggling. “Practically the whole town saw him in his bedclothes.”

Jim chuckled. He heard about the little incident from the guards. “Next time, just don’t jump to conclusions so soon.”

“Believe me. I’ve learned my lesson,” Isabel said with a smile. “Alex would, and I quote, jump off bridges, juggle knifes, and walk through fire before he ever tried to hurt me.” Isabel giggled remembering his words from that afternoon.

“Walk through fire? That serious already?” Jim let out a deep sigh. “I don’t know if I can give away both of my daughters so quickly.”

“You have nothing to worry about, father,” Isabel said, smiling at him. “It’s not serious. I do care for him…. but I’m not certain if I want to spend the rest of my life with him.”

“He’s a fine young man, Isabel. A tad bit on the scrawny side, but he’ll take good care of you,” Jim said, patting Isabel on the head.

Isabel chuckled. Alex was a bit skinny, but he had a big heart to make up for it. “Thank you, father,” Isabel said, hugging her father.

“Sweet dreams, honey. I’m going to go head off to your sister’s room and wish her good night,” he said, standing up from the bed.

“No!” Isabel practically yelled, tugging on Jim’s arm. “It’s just that… um… y-you know how cranky she is when you wake her. She’ll be moody all day long tomorrow.”

“I know,” Valenti said with a chuckle. “It’s just that she won’t be my little girl much longer. I want to enjoy what little time I have left with her.” Jim left the room, shutting the door behind him.

Isabel prayed to God that Maria was already home in bed. Lord knows what her father would do if he found out about her sneaking out of the house.


Max was lying on his bed with the contents of her bag emptied beside him. To read the journal or to not read the journal. God, was he tempted. He traced his fingers over the gold lettering. Maybe he should take just a little peek. It wouldn’t hurt, right? He’s already read part of it anyway, right?

Maxwell gave in to the enticement and picked up the book. He opened it up but then heard a knock on his door. Max shoved the book under his pillow.

“Come in,” he called out.

His father opened the door, stepped in and closed it behind him. He pulled a chair up next to Max’s bed and took a seat. “Your mother told me that you had something you’d like to discuss with me.”

Max sat up, prepared to get down on his knees to grovel and plead with his father. “How much did mother tell you?”

“Enough,” his father said, his face unreadable.

Max feared the worst. If his father knew he his primary intention was to chase after a girl, he would never allow Max the opportunity to go off to find her. No matter, Max had to at least try to plead his case.

“Father, I…”

“Maxwell, let me say something first,” his father interrupted. “I just want to say that I am very proud of you, son. Your desire to jump into the responsibility is enough to make me want to hand the entire company over to you.”

Max’s eyes brightened. He should have known better than to have doubted his mother. She would never say anything that would make his father disappointed in him in any way. He’d have to thank her later. She was the best mother in the world.

Philip saw the happiness on his son’s face. He didn’t want to be the one to squelch the bright gleam in his eyes. Philip sighed, placed a hand on his son’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “But…”

Max’s hope dwindled. Why is there always a ‘but’?

“…you need more than just ambition to succeed. I need to know that if I give you this opportunity, you won’t just toss it aside when the next exciting thing comes along. I need to know that you will dedicate and apply yourself to this responsibility. This job isn’t just any job. It’s a privilege. And I need you to see it that way. Many people want this opportunity and not just anyone can have it.”

Max hung his head even lower. He didn’t even have a chance.

“Now, I’m not saying ‘no’, Maxwell, but it’s not a ‘yes’ either. It’s a ‘maybe’. You’ll have to show me that you deserve this, Max. I’ll consider you for the position, just like I’ll consider everyone else. There won’t be any preference just because you are the boss’s son,” Philip added with a wink.

Max looked up at his father with a smile on his face. All he had to do was show his father that he was ready for the responsibility. He could do that. No problem.

Philip saw the glimmer of hope return to his son’s eyes. Philip smiled. He knew Max would prove that he was more than prepared to take on the responsibility. His son really was maturing.

Max suddenly remembered a possible opponent that might stand in the way of his dream. “Father? You’re not thinking about giving the job to Sean, are you?”

His father smiled at him. “Max, didn’t I just tell you that I needed someone responsible for the job?” Philip chuckled at the thought of Max worrying over competing with Sean. When Maxwell wanted something, Sean would not even stand a chance against him. No one would stand a chance against a determined Maxwell.

Max smiled. Things were looking up. If they continued the way he planned, Max would be with Elizabeth before she knew what hit her.

Philip saw Max staring off with a far-off look in his eyes and decided it was his signal to leave. “Good night, Maxwell,” he said as he headed for the door.

“Good night, father. And thank you.”

“Anytime,” his father called back while closing the door behind him.

Max walked over to the window and looked up at the stars. They seemed to shine more brightly tonight, giving him faith that everything will work out fine.

He grabbed her journal and held it close to his heart. “Elizabeth Parker, where are you my love?”

As if by magic, the sweet sound of her laughter filled his ears. He thought it might have been his imagination, but when he gazed down at the empty street below, there she was, in all her beauty. She had a sweet smile on her face and was practically glowing. Like an angel.

He raced down the stairs, still clutching the journal tightly in his hand. He couldn’t believe his luck.

But when he made it outside, she was gone. He ran up and down the street, checking every turn and alley, but she was nowhere to be seen. She just vanished into thin air. Like an angel.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:18:25 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:55:13 PM

Chapter Nine

Maria and Liz laughed as they sat at the stable, sipping their tea.

“So, Liz. Tell me about yourself.”

Liz smiled and warmed her hands around her hot cup of tea. “There really isn’t anything to tell.”

“Oh, come now. I’m sure there is.”

Liz got a sad look on her face and shook her head. “No, there really isn’t.”

Maria saw the depressing mood that settled over Liz and decided to aim the attention towards herself.

“Well, I am the daughter of this city’s Governor. I have one sister, two years younger than me, named Isabella. She goes by Isabel. It’s only shorter by one syllable, but she likes it. My mother died when I was young. I’m eighteen. I have blond hair and green eyes. And I am madly in love with Michael Guerin. He is my fiancé.” Maria smiled at the last part. She enjoyed saying that. She enjoyed being able to claim that Michael was hers.

“Congratulations,” Liz said enthusiastically.

“Thank you. It’s only been a day but I love it, to be meant for someone,” Maria said with such emotion.

“Maria, can I ask you something?” Liz asked, staring down at her cup of tea. “What does it feel like… to be in love?”

Maria waited until Liz looked her in the eyes before she answered. “It is the most comforting and warm and just… the most incredible feeling ever.”

Liz envied Maria. She longed to feel what Maria was feeling right now; to need someone as though they were the air you breathed, and then to have the feeling reciprocated. But Liz would never be able to feel that way. She had already promised her life to someone.

Liz let out a longing sigh. “It really is getting late and I should be heading off.”

Maria left a few gold pieces on the table and they headed out the door. “Why don’t you stay with me? We can have a little girl’s night. Eat fattening food while we do each others hair and makeup?”

Liz giggled. She liked spending time with Maria but she had to decline. “I would love to but I really don’t want Kyle worrying over me. Knowing him, he’ll probably stay up waiting until I get back. I really should hurry home as soon as possible.”

“Who is Kyle?” Maria asked, curious to know.

“I really should be heading off,” Liz said, going to untie her horse from where she left it earlier this afternoon. She didn’t have to worry about anyone stealing it. Other than that one incident the other day, Fate never let anyone ride her, not even Kyle.

“Liz, your journey will probably take you all night and you are still injured,” Maria said, using her big sister voice.

“It’s all right. Really,” Liz said, trying to reassure Maria. “I heal very quickly. I really should be getting back to Kyle. He won’t sleep without knowing I’m safe.”

“Fine. We wouldn’t want to upset ‘Kyle’ now, would we?” Maria said mockingly. Liz was one stubborn little girl, even more stubborn than Maxwell. “It’s a pity though. I know a gentleman who would be just perfect for you. You need someone to look out for you. And he just loves being a hero. He is Michael’s brother, so if you’re interested… I could get you an introduction,” Maria said with a wink.

Liz shook her head timidly. “I am really not interested. I can’t be interested. I’m pretty much taken already.”

Drat, Maria thought. Maxwell and Liz would have made such a cute couple. She could just picture the two of them dancing together at her engagement ball. Oh, that reminded her.

“Liz, before you go, I’m having a ball to enounce my engagement and I would love for you to attend.”

Liz was excited. She’s never been to a ball. But she wasn’t normally around so many people at once before. “I’d like to but...”

“Great. Come by my home,” Maria said, pointing towards her estate at the end of the street. “Come in the morning, thirteen days from tomorrow morning. Just come by and I’ll help you with everything… dress, shoes, hair, makeup… everything.” Something told Maria that this girl lived a pretty humble and modest life. Liz probably didn’t own an evening gown suitable for this occasion. She was entirely too pure and modest. No makeup on her face at all. No curls either; just straight, flowing, soft, brown hair. It was all natural beauty.

“Alright,” Liz agreed, giving Maria a quick hug before mounting her horse and leaving down the street.

Maria was making her way towards her house after they bid they adieus and went their separate ways. She paused for a second. She had this sudden urge to be at home, in her room at right this second. Call it intuition, if you will.

She ran as fast as she could down the street to her estate. She squeezed between the two poles of a large enough gap in the fence, climbed her tree, and slipped into her room.

As soon as she stepped inside, she heard footsteps down the hall. She kicked off her shoes and hurried under the covers of her bed.

There was a soft knock on her door before it slowly creaked open. Light crept through from the hallway and she could see her father peek his head in. When he saw that she was awake, he opened the door the rest of the way and stepped inside.

“Hello, honey,” he whispered, walking up to her bed. He sat down softly beside her. “I’m sorry if I woke you. I just wanted to come in and say goodnight.”

“Okay. Goodnight,” Maria said, hoping he wouldn’t notice her nervous fidgeting.

He stood up to leave, but then looked back down at her. “Are you feeling all right, Maria?”

“Of course,” Maria said, a little too high-pitched. “Wh-why wouldn’t I be.”

“You are sweating, dear. Perhaps you are running a fever.”

“I’m fine, father. Nothing a little more rest won’t cure.”

“Alright,” Jim said and headed out the door, but before he left he added, “Maria, you really should change out of your clothes soon.” And softly shut the door behind him.


Max stood there on the street in front of his house. Where could his mysterious beauty have vanished to? He was just about to start doubting her existence at all. Someone that captivating could only have been dreamt up. But then he remembered something. Still gripped tightly in his hand, was her journal.

Maybe he should just take a peek in it and see what power she held over him that kept him standing outside in the dark and cold street with nothing on but his pajama pants. He sat down on the ground with a huff. He had no idea, on earth, what possessed him to sit in the middle of the street, topless, on a chilly night.

Max shook his head. He was utterly hopeless. He would do anything to find this girl. He flipped open the book to a random page. It was the most recent entry. He started reading…

…I was closer today. Or at least I thought I was. I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just give up. Amy Parker simply doesn’t exist anymore. Every town I’ve been to and everywhere I’ve tried, not one person has ever even recognized the name; except for today. Today in Kingdom City, I asked an old woman if she knew of an Amy Parker. The lady smiled fondly, recognizing her name. The only problem was that, after she admitted to having known her, the woman became suddenly frightened and changed her mind. I suppose some reaction was better than no reaction; which is what I normally get…

Max was so focused on the book that he didn’t hear a horse trotting down the road. Thus resulted in him almost being trampled on.

“I am so sorry,” she said as she swerved Fate to stop from stomping on the man. “I did not see you there.” She stopped to make sure the person wasn’t harmed.

“It’s quite all right,” he said, dusting himself off as he stood up. “It’s my fault, really. What kind of an idiot would be sitting in the middle of the road at night? I was just so engrossed in my reading that I didn’t see you coming,” he said finally, looking towards her for the first time.

It was she. His Elizabeth. He stared at her. She seemed to be moving in slow motion as she gracefully dismounted her horse and began turning towards him.

“No, I wasn’t looking and…” she stopped, shocked to find whom her wounded victim was. “Oh. It’s you.”

“It’s a pleasure to see you again, too, Elizabeth,” he said, flashing her his to-die-for smile. “Oh, and you too, Fate.” He walked up to the chestnut colored mare and began stroking its mane. “You missed me, didn’t you, girl?” Fate snorted and nuzzled Max.

Liz was astounded. Fate was never this nice to anyone other than herself. What was so special about this person? But if her Fate liked him, Liz would have to just give him a chance. “I’m sorry if I came off as a little harsh. It just stunned me to see you. I never thought I’d see you again.”

Max smiled at her. She was starting to warm up to him. Time to pull out his charm. “Are you happy you did?”

“Perhaps not.” Liz rolled her eyes at him.

“Are you still angry with me?” Max asked with genuine emotion in his eyes.

Liz saw the somewhat timid look on his face. She relented. “No, I’m not. I forgive you.” They stared at each other. His eyes looked so familiar; so comforting. She broke out of her daze when Fate started to get restless.

“I really should get going,” Liz said with a sigh. She was somewhat saddened to have to leave so soon. She mounted her horse to depart.

“But, wait. We haven’t even gotten to really talk,” Max pleaded with her. “Come have a cup of tea with me and we can get to know each other.”

“I’d love to, but Kyle’s waiting for me.”

“Who is Kyle, anyways?” Max knew it was silly to be getting jealous. She wasn’t even his… yet.

“Oh, Kyle is just… is that my journal?” she asked recognizing the book in his hand.

Max, looked at the book. “Oh… um… yea… yes, it is… I was just… um… just trying… um… to give it back to you,” he said, handing it to her.

“You were reading my journal?” she asked in disbelief, staring down at him. “I cannot believe you would do such a thing.”

Max feared this would happen. This is exactly why he had told Alex not to read it in the first place. He chanced a glance at her. There was so much anger in her face. He had to make it right. He couldn’t just let her walk out of his life again, appalled at him. That would make for two bad encounters and one semi-good one. The incident at the pond might have been bad as well if he hadn’t gotten the chance to hold her. She felt and smelled so good.

Max shook his head to try and clear his thoughts. She was already halfway down the street.

“Elizabeth,” he called out to her. When she turned around, he dropped down on his knees and pleaded. “Please, please, please forgive me. I know I had no right and I will never intrude on you again. I assure you that it only happened once. Alright, twice, but the first time wasn’t intentional. Please, don’t be angry with me.”

Liz looked at him. What a strange, strange person. Adorable, but strange nonetheless. She shook her head, feeling her resolve crumble. “I am not one to hold a grudge.” She had a shy smile on her face. “Till we meet again.” With that, she trotted off.

Max smiled confidently. “I will make sure of it, my sweet.”


He walked up to her when he finally saw her sitting under a tree. He’d been looking everywhere, trying to find her. He sat next to her but she turned away from him.

“Look, I know you are probably semi-angry with me still. I know, I was wrong to go spying on you like that. It’s just… I love you. I really do. I don’t want to lose you.”

She turned to look at him. “You love me? I… I feel the same way for you,” she said timidly. He pulled her into his arms and held her tight.

“I want to make it up to you.”

She broke away from the embrace, her fingers grazed his cheek. “I forgive you. You don’t have to.”

“But I want to. My brother is having an engagement ball soon. I want you to come with me. It’s going to be a huge event. Even the crowned prince will be there,” he said excitedly.

“I know. I’ve heard about it. But I don’t know if I should go. I wouldn’t know how to act.”

“Just be yourself. Everyone will love you,” he pleaded.

She bit her lip, trying to make her decision.

“Please?” he coaxed, running his fingers through her soft silky brown hair.

“Alright,” she said softly. How could she refuse him? He was so adorable.

When he picked her up the day of the ball, he was amazed at the beauty standing before him.

She noticed his intense gaze and felt unsure of herself. “Honestly, how do I look?”

“Too perfect. My angel. You look absolutely perfect,” he said with such emotion.

When they entered the ballroom, the room went silent. Heads turned and everyone stared at her. She was absolutely breath taking. He walked her over to their table and pulled out her seat for her before he took his own seat.

He took her hand into his. He had everything planned. Tonight was the night. Tonight was the night that he was going to propose to her. She was just too perfect.

After dinner was over and everyone congratulated his brother and his new fiancé, he took her out into the garden. He was ready. He had practiced in front of his mirror so many times before and knew everything he wanted to say by heart.

“This is just so incredible. I haven’t had so much fun in my life,” she said, twirling around outside. “Dance with me?”

“Of course.” They danced together, their bodies close. When the song came to an end, he was about to get down on his knee, but his father came in and interrupted him.

“Son, why don’t you come here for a moment? Some businessmen would like to speak with you.”

“But, father, I was in the middle of something,” he said, fuming for being interrupted.

“Oh, she can wait,” his father said with a wink.

He sighed and pleaded to her with his eyes. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Sit here and wait for me?”

“Always,” she said with a smile.

He went off to talk to his father’s acquaintances. It was just the usual mingling. He didn’t see why it couldn’t have waited. They wanted to know what his plans were after he took over for his father, when he was going to settle down and have a family, and they were also curious about the doe-eyed angel that accompanied him here tonight and if she was as good as she looked. Those perverted old bastards.

He excused himself when it was appropriate and went hurriedly to go back to join her in the garden. He was confused when he saw two men standing guard at the door.

“Excuse me,” he said as he tried to squeeze past them.

“I’m sorry, but his highness directly informed us not to allow anyone to disturb him,” one of the men informed him.

“His highness?” he asked in confusion. When he looked outside through the window, there they were, the crowned prince and his angel, dancing away, their bodies close. He felt his jealousy and rage boil.

He tried to calm himself down. If the prince asked her to dance, she couldn’t refuse. It would be disrespectful. He had nothing to be afraid of. That was, until he saw the look in her eyes. It was the same look she used to give him. He saw her lean forward, lifting herself up on her toes, and kiss the prince. She kissed him. How could she? How could she do this to him?

He stalked off in anger. Tonight was supposed to be their night, but she was off kissing someone else. And not just anyone else, at that, she was kissing the crowned prince. He stormed out off the estate in a hurry. Tears slipping down his face. He sat down on a bench outside, his head in his hands.

He saw a vision of a blurred blonde haired, blue-eyed girl sit next to him.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

More tears slipped down his face. “No.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

He looked into her eyes and saw comfort in them, stability and loyalty. “No.”

She pulled him into her arms to help ease his heartache. “Everything will be alright, Jim.”

Jim jumped out of bed. Sweat covered his body. His heart was pounding and his breathing erratic.

He heard footsteps coming from down the hall followed by the creak of his door opening.

“Daddy, is everything alright?”

“I’m fine, sweetheart. Go on to bed, Isabel.”

She stepped in closer. “You had that nightmare again, didn’t you?”

“Yes. But I’m fine now, pumpkin. Go on to bed.”

Isabel walked over and hugged her father. She kissed him on the cheek and then headed off to her room.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:18:59 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:56:13 PM

Chapter Ten

Maxwell stretched as he lied in bed. It was early in the morning, the sun had yet to rise, and he hadn’t had a better night’s rest in quite a while. He smiled thinking about his encounter with his sweet seraph.

He reached under his pillow and pulled her bag out from under it. With all the excitement of seeing her yesterday, he had forgotten all about the rest of her things, which included her bag and money. Not to mention the food he ate. Maybe he can persuade her to allow him to take her out to dinner to compensate for it. It would take a lot of work, but he was confident that he could find a way to wiggle into her heart.

But first, there were matters to attend to. He got up and quickly got dressed. If he wanted to impress his father, he couldn’t just be on time. He had to be early. Nothing impressed his father more than eager little workers.

Max headed out his room when he noticed Michael trying to quietly sneak by their parents’ bedroom toward his room. Max smiled wickedly.

“Good Morning, Michael!” Max practically yelled. Michael visibly jumped and glared at Maxwell, putting a finger to his lips and making a shushing sound in an attempt to silence Max.

Maxwell’s smirk grew wider. “Why, Michael! What are you doing up and about so early this morning? And are those not the clothes you had on the day before?” Max said, never lowering his voice level.

“Shut your mouth, Maxwell!” Michael hissed in a low and threatening tone. Through clenched teeth he added, “don’t you see I’m trying not to wake up the parents?” He pointed towards their mother and father’s bedroom door.

Max snickered. “Relax. Father already left to the shop and mother left late last night to go visit her brother.”

“Uncle K?” Michael asked after he sighed in relief. He did not want to get caught.

“Yes. The one and only,” Max said.

“Didn’t he disappear off the face of the earth twenty years ago?” Michael asked, talking at a normal voice level now.

“Yes, well, apparently he’s been sighted and he wrote mother a lengthy letter of apology for losing touch. They are going to get together and discuss some things.”

Michael shrugged. He’s only ever heard stories about their elusive uncle.

“And where were you all night, young man?” Alex asked, leaning on his doorframe. He’d been listening quietly since he first heard the commotion.

“Nowhere,” Michael said, wishing his brothers would leave it at that.

“Ten gold pieces says he was getting some loving from Maria,” Alex said towards Max.

“It is none of your business,” Michael said, obviously not wanting to discuss it.

“Touchy, touchy,” Alex muttered as he headed back into his room.

“We are not going to repeat what happened here. Is that clear?” He said threateningly towards the both of them.

Both nodded and everyone headed in his own direction.

“Oh, Michael?” Max called out before Michael could enter his room. “Father already knows.” Max smirked as Michael groaned. “Plan on being in the house tonight. He wants to have ‘the talk’ with you.” Max wiggled his eyebrows for emphasis.

Michael’s door slammed shut and Max just chuckled as he made his way down the stairs.


“What do you think you are doing up, father?” Maria asked, barricading the front door.

“Well, let us see, shall we?” Jim said in a playful tone with his daughter. “I have my work uniform on,” he said, glancing down at his uniform. “I have on my work boots.” He stomped his foot for emphasis. “And I have my work briefcase,” he said, patting the outside of it. “Yes, I think I’m going to work.”

“No, you are not. You are going to go straight back up to your room and rest,” she said with one hand on her hip and the other one pointing towards the stairs.

Valenti chuckled at her authoritativeness. “Maria, I have appointments to attend to.” He tried to move past her but she stopped him.

“I am serious. You are going to go back to your room. You don’t have any appointments today because I cancelled all of them for you,” Maria said, pulling him towards the stairs.

“You did what?” he asked in disbelief. “Rosemary Valenti, I can not believe you would have the audacity to pull such a stunt. Do you realize how long it is going to take to reschedule all of those appointments?”

“Father, you could use a break. You work nonstop,” Maria said, frustrated. Jim saw the concern in her eyes and gave in. Maria saw his resolve crumble and inwardly patted herself on the back. “It’s showing too. Just look at those bags under your eyes.”

“Really?” Jim decided to play along. He lifted a hand, feeling beneath his eyes. “Goodness gracious, you’re absolutely right. Bring out the cucumbers.”

Maria giggled and hugged her father. “Now scamper on upstairs. I’ll bring a small snack up for you later. Get going.”

“Alright. Fine. I give up. I’m heading off to my room now,” Jim said as he ascended the stairs.

“You had better. And remember to get some rest and relaxation,” she shouted up to him.

“I will,” he called back. He mumbled something under his breath.

“Did you say something, father?” Isabel asked as she came out of her room.

“I said that Maria can be one bossy little girl. She is starting to forget which one of us is the parent and which one is the child.”

Isabel just giggled, kissed him on the cheek and headed down the stairs.

Jim headed off to his room. Now that he thought about it, he had been a little more tired than usual lately. A small nap sounded mighty tempting.

He lay down in his bed and soon drifted off to sleep….

Jim pushed open the door and entered her room.

“Hello, Jim,” she said in a seductive voice. She was sitting on the side of the bed with nothing on but a short nightgown.

“Am… Nancy,” he said, correcting himself. “I received a note saying you wanted to see me. What is this about?”

She walked over to him gingerly. “Oh, nothing. Can’t old friends just call each other up to say hello?” She ran a hand up his chest and whispered in his ear. “I’ve missed you.”

Jim stood stiff. “Nancy, what are you trying to do?” He peeled her hand off of him and threw it aside. “We are both married. Me, to Melissa, and you to his highness.”

Amy leaned into him again. “They don’t have to know.”

Jim couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Don’t you know you could be killed for this kind of betrayal to the king?” He angered. “Besides, you had your chance with me, Nancy. You are the one who turned me down.” He shifted away from her and headed towards the door.

“Jim, wait.” Jim stopped. “Just have a drink with me, just one drink. For old time’s sake?”

Jim gave in. What was one drink going to do? He accepted the glass from her hand and drank it. Nancy grinned wickedly. Everything went black.

Hours later, Jim woke up with a throbbing headache. He jumped out of bed not recognizing where he was. He looked to the now waking figure on the bed. Nancy just smiled at Jim.

“Dear God, what have I done?”

“Come back to bed, Jim,” she said, patting the space on the bed beside her.

“No,” Jim said, putting his clothes on, “I have to go home to Melissa. She is probably worried sick.”

“What about us, Jim?”

“There is no ‘us’. You have to forget this ever happened,” Jim said, heading towards the door.

“We can run away together,” she said pleadingly.

“We cannot. I cannot.” He said, refusing to look at her. “Melissa is nine months pregnant. I can’t just leave her.”

“But, it’ll be just us, Jim. We just made love. You can’t just pretend as though it didn’t happen.”

“Get it in your head, woman! There is no ‘us’! We did not ‘make love’! What we did was a mistake, Amy!!!”

The stone cold look that settled over her horrified Jim. He was frightened of what she might do in her state.

She stormed over to Jim, shoving him out the door, screeching, “Amy doesn’t exist anymore!!!”

When Maria entered her father’s room, he was tossing and turning in his bed. She placed the tray on his nightstand and tried to wake her father up from his nightmare.

“Father. Father. Father, wake up,” Maria said shaking her father awake.

“Amy…” Jim muttered.

“Father,” Maria said more forcefully.

Jim sat up. “Maria, what? What’s going on?”

“Nothing. You were just having a nightmare. I brought you a snack,” Maria said, pointing to the tray.

Jim nodded his head and Maria stood up to leave. She was almost out the door when she turned back around. “Father, who is Amy?”

Jim let out a sigh. His daughter could be very nosy. “I already told you, Maria. Amy doesn’t…”

“ … exist anymore, I know. But I don’t understand.”

“Rosemary…” Jim said in a warning tone.

“Fine. Forget it!” she said, storming out of the room. If her father wouldn’t tell her, she would have to find out on her own.


Philip has been swamped with work since he arrived at the office that morning. He had to prepare for meeting with the over-land distributors. That, in itself, was a handful. He also had to see over personal interviews with possible new workers, specifically someone he can trust to manage his other warehouse in Zanstown.

Philip wanted more than anything to be able to just give the position to Max, but he had to prove himself worthy first. He began reading over yet another contract needing his signature when he heard a knock on the door.

“Enter,” Philip called out and the door swung open. In entered Jim Valenti. “Hello, Jim. I’m surprised to see you. I thought that you were too ill in bed to work today. At least, that is what Maria told me.”

“Yes. Maria was worried that I was working far too much and put me under house arrest. I was only able to sneak out of the house when Maria left to her room.”

Philip chuckled. “Be glad she cares about you enough to worry.”

“Yes, just about as much as I worry about her.”

“Yes, that is sort of what I wanted to discuss with you. You see, Michael was out the entire night last night. Do you happen to know where he was?”

Valenti pondered for a moment. “No, I’m sorry. I have no idea. Maria was in all night in her room. By herself too, I made sure of it, checking in on her about every ten minutes.”

“Where do you think Michael would have gone?”

“I honestly don’t know. But Michael is a good boy. I’m sure he wouldn’t do anything you would disapprove of,” Jim said reassuringly to Philip. “Is that all you wanted to discuss?”

“Yes. Thank you for stopping by Jim.”

“I should get going then before Maria finds me gone.”

“Oh, tell me you don’t feel at least a little more loved with her being so concerned,” Philip teased.

“Yes, I do. But the over-concerned bit is just to make up for her sneaking out of the house.”

“She’s trying to rub up to you by being the loving daughter?” Philip ribbed.

“Speaking of rubbing up, Maxwell is down there working up a pretty good sweat,” Jim said, smiling back at Philip.

Philip was shocked. “Maxwell? Carrying cargo shipment? Are you sure?”

“Yes. I just had a little chat with him while coming in. Well, I should be heading off.” Valenti shook Philip’s hand and headed out the door.

Philip headed out the door and saw Max chatting with a worker while he lifted up another bag and carried it off into the warehouse.

“Maxwell.” Max looked up at his father. “Can I see you in my office for a moment?”

Max nodded his head, dropped the bag, and headed up to his father’s office. “Is something wrong, father?”

“No, nothing is wrong. It’s just that, when I told you I wanted you to show me that you were responsible, I didn’t mean for you do be doing any manual labor. I thought maybe you would help me supervise.”

“Father, if I didn’t know what it felt like to be doing the work of one of the lifters, how would I be able to supervise them fairly?”

Philip was astonished at Max’s remark. “How long have you been out there working, Maxwell?”

“Since about sunrise this morning.”

“Well, I’m proud of you, Maxwell. Consider yourself ahead of the competition at the time. I’m really considering you for the position. Keep up the good work, son,” Philip said, patting his son on the back.

Max smiled. He was one step closer to his goal.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 4:21:25 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:56:30 PM

Chapter Eleven

Kyle quickly walked up the trail. He had unknowingly spent an hour too long meditating at the temple and was going to be late for his meeting in town with her and no one in his or her right mind was ever late when meeting with her.

Nevertheless, he had to check up on Elizabeth and make sure she was safe first. Kyle didn’t like leaving Liz alone by herself but there was nothing he could do. No one knew; he made sure of that. And Liz was a big girl. But she was so small and innocent. He really should teach her how to defend herself. He’d have to soon, while he still had the chance.

He couldn’t believe how the years just flew by. It’s been seventeen years already. She’d been with him for that long.

Kyle opened up the door to the small cabin and found Liz sitting at the table writing in her journal. He smiled at the sight.

She probably couldn’t think without writing it down first. She had been writing in that thing ever since he bought it for her for her sixteenth birthday. It was probably the most richly colored item in the entire house, but it suited her. After all, she was special.

“Kyle!” Liz exclaimed. “You scared me!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” he said, taking a seat next to her.

“That’s alright,” Liz said with a smile on her face. She closed her journal and faced him. “I thought you were going in to town today.”

“I am,” Kyle said while standing up to leave. “I have people to meet and matters to discuss. I won’t be home until late tonight. I just wanted to check up on you before I left.”

“Don’t worry about me,” Liz replied sweetly. “I’ll be fine. I’ll be sure to have something warm for you when you come back.” She opened up her journal and busied herself again.

“Do you need anything from town while I’m there? More paper, ink, feminine product of some sort?” he asked from the doorway.

Liz blushed. “No. I… I’m fine.” She hated discussing such things with Kyle.

Kyle just snickered and left, taking the fastest trail down the mountain.

Kyle saddened thinking about Liz’s life. She deserved so much more than the life she was living. Perhaps, one of the two people he was meeting today could give her that.

Both meetings today were going to be really rough. He hadn’t seen either one of them in years and yet both held such great power over his life and Elizabeth’s.


“What took you so long? Where were you?”

Kyle was yelled at as soon as he came running up. “I’m sorry. I…”

“Do you not remember who I am or what I can do to? I can have your life with a snap of a finger. Or did you forget?” she yelled at him as she paced.

Kyle dropped to his knees. “I am sorry, your majesty. I assure you I did not forget. I just wanted to check up on Elizabeth before I left.”

Nancy sighed and motioned for him to stand. “How is she?”

“She is doing fine, your highness. She is very beautiful and highly intelligent.”

Sadness filled Nancy’s eyes for a brief moment. “That’s good, very good. Now, what is it you wanted to see me about?”

“There is a small problem.”

“Problem? What sort of problem?” she asked, eyeing him.

“The Elders are no longer allowing me to take residence outside the temple. They no longer condone my caring for Elizabeth now that she has… matured.”

“Well, do you take orders from them or from me?” Nancy asked, lifting her head high.

“Neither, your majesty. I take orders from the gods. I am a devoted monk,” Kyle said, bowing slightly to the heavens.

“A devoted monk? That is just a disguise to deceive others so that you can watch after her,” Nancy seethed out.

“You cannot deceive the gods. They see all. They know all,” Kyle said sternly, hinting towards Nancy’s wrongdoings.

Nancy laughed. “Alright. What is this really about? What is it you want? More money?”

“No. This isn’t about money. This is about Elizabeth. She is special, your highness. She deserves to have more than what I can give her. She needs someone to take care of her. Take her home with you, into the castle. She is very special,” Kyle said the last comment with much emphasis.

“Fine. She can enter the castle, as a servant.”

Kyle went livid at her offer. “A servant?!? How can you do that to your only daughter?!”

“She’s not my daughter!” she snarled at him. “She’s Amy’s mistake, not mine!”

“You are right,” Kyle roared back just as fiercely. It didn’t matter if she was the queen or not. How could someone abandon someone as sweet as Elizabeth? “She is not your daughter. You do not deserve to have a daughter as incredible as her.”

Kyle smirked at what he was about to say next, “Elizabeth is a very special girl. Unbelievably unique.” He stepped closer to her and whispered into her ear. “She’s of royal blood.”

Nancy gasped. “H-how are you sure?”

Kyle smirked. “Her resemblance to Jeffrey is uncanny.”

“That doesn’t prove a thing,” she spat out at him.

Kyle was enraged at her ignorance. “She has gifts! She can do things that normal people cannot do, things that you and I didn’t even know were possible.”

Nancy went white. “W-what am I to do now? We told Jeffrey that she died during birth.”

“‘We’ did no such thing. ‘You’ did. And I do not know what you are going to do and I sure as hell do not care. But I am warning you, unless you want his majesty, the king, to find out about your little affair, you won’t be going anywhere near Elizabeth.”

With that, Kyle headed down the street, leaving a shaken up Nancy behind. He really did want Liz to have a mother, but not a mother like her. He only had one more place to turn too. Hopefully, his sister won’t desert him.


Michael stayed in his room and sulked. He tried not to think about her, but he couldn’t help himself. He only had a little while until he had to see her again.

Courtney wanted to meet with him today to talk more. Michael had agreed, although didn’t see why. They talked all last night. Michael didn’t even remember what about, but when he left her place, it was already morning. And he hadn’t even told her that he was engaged.

Courtney had asked him if he was married yet, and he said no. He felt like he betrayed Maria in some way by not mentioning their engagement. Well, they were not actually or openly ‘engaged’ until they announce it at the ball, so there really wasn’t anything to mention, Michael tried to reason with himself.

But of course there was something to mention. He is to be married. He is engaged to Maria. He loves Maria. He and Maria are to be married. Maria will be his wife now. The person he loves finally loves him back for once. Michael’s face brightened but it soon sagged back down. He still had to meet Courtney.

Just when things were starting to look good for him, they go ‘oh so’ utterly wrong. He should just forget that Courtney is even back and focus on Maria. His mind should be filled with thoughts of Maria. He belonged to Maria. He shouldn’t even be thinking of other women. Courtney may be pretty, but Maria is, and always will be, beautiful.

She is his fiancé. His heart already belonged to her. Right? Then why did he feel such a strong pull towards Courtney?

He shouldn’t. He had no more obligations towards her, at least, not anymore. She was the one that walked out on him. She was the one that left him. He didn’t owe her anything. He didn’t belong to her. He belonged to Maria. And he was going to tell her that right now.

Michael jumped out of bed and headed towards the door. He belonged to Maria. He will always belong to Maria. Now, to be able to say it to Courtney.


Diane walked around the town. Zanstown was her hometown. She loved it here. It had plenty of excitement without the hustle and bustle of the city. This was where she grew up, fell in love, and married. Her and Philip started their business here. When it became overly successful, they expanded to the city. She has always wanted to come back, but didn’t wish to leave her husband’s side.

Diane entered the small restaurant she was to meet Kyle at. She scanned the room for him. Not seeing him, she decided to take a seat. A waiter showed her to an empty table and took her order before he left.

The waiter brought out her food and she dug in. She hadn’t eaten all day and was starved. She only looked up when someone slid into the seat in front of her. She looked at the monk, strangely.

“I am sorry. But that seat is taken. I’m waiting for someone,” Diane said sweetly, trying not to offend the monk.

The monk remained seated. “Diane, it’s me.”

“Oh my goodness. Kyle?” Diane jumped out of her seat and hugged her long lost brother. “It has been so long. What have you been doing with yourself? A monk?”

Kyle ran a hand over his baldhead. “Yes. I was surprised myself. You are not mad at me for losing contact with you for so long, are you?”

Diane smiled. “I’ve already forgiven you for disappearing on me. There is no use dwelling on the past, just as long as you are here now. So, what have you been up to?”

“Actually, there’s something I wanted to speak with you about. Something I need your help with. I know I have no right to ask this of you, but I have nowhere else to turn to, Diane. I don’t know what to do.” He was dreading that she might say no.

Diane placed her hand over Kyle’s to calm him. “Kyle, what ever it is, I will do what I can.”

“Okay. I have this girl that I’m taking care of. She lives with me in a small cabin on Mount Roswell. The only problem is that I cannot take care of her any longer. The Elders won’t allow me to live outside the temple. So I cannot watch after her anymore. I cannot take care of her anymore,” he pleaded with Diane. “She is special, Diane. There’s no one else like her around. She’s a good girl. She just needs someone to keep her safe.”

Diane was already giving in, seeing how much her brother cared for this girl. “How old is she?”

“She is seventeen.”

Diane smiled. “That’s the same age as my youngest son, Alex.”

Kyle looked at her, fully realizing how little he knew about his own sister and what all he missed out on. “You have children?”

“Yes, three sons. We’ll get caught up later. Tell me more about this girl. Where are her parents?” Diane asked, curious to know.

He didn’t want to lie to Diane, but he was sworn to secrecy and couldn’t tell a soul, a pledge of loyalty all royal guards took. “Her mother abandoned her.” It wasn’t a lie.

“Oh. How sad.” Diane already knew that she was going to help the girl in anyway she could. She couldn’t even imagine deserting any of her children.

“Can you help me take care of her Diane? Just until she can learn to live on her own. She’s a big girl and but I don’t want to leave her on her own just yet.”

“I’ll try, Kyle. I honestly will. But I have to talk with Philip first. I can’t make you any promises.”

Kyle hugged his sister. “Thank you so much. Thank you, Diane. Thank you.”

“My pleasure, Kyle,” she said hugging him back.

Kyle broke away from the embrace. “So, you married Philip Evans?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.

She hit him playfully. “We can catch up on the last twenty years on our way up Mount Roswell. I want to meet this young lady. What is her name?”

Kyle smiled at his sister. She was going to make everything alright for him, just like she always did. “Her name is Elizabeth. And she is an exceedingly sweet and adorable girl. She is the rarest of the rare, the most beautiful jewel in all the world.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 7:06:55 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:56:54 PM

Chapter Twelve

It was late at night when Philip finally started to leave his office. He stayed after for a few hours to finish reading through several contracts before he finally gave in and put up for the night. He didn’t really want to head home. Without Diane there, it just didn’t feel right sleeping at night. After all these years, he was still madly in love with her. And Philip was convinced that his feelings would never change.

As he locked up his office and headed out the door, he saw a shadowy figure, snooping around in the warehouse. Thinking it was a burglar, Philip grabbed a metal bar and crept down the stairs carefully. He made his way over to the person and lifted the bar and prepared to strike.

“Ahhhh!!! Father!! What are you doing?” Max yelled, gripping the bar just before it came down upon his head.

Philip stared at the person before him. “Maxwell? What are you doing here this late at night?” He let Max take the bar away from his hands.

“I was just finishing up carrying some of the bags of cargo,” Max replied.

Philip chuckled. “I thought you were a burglar.”

“Obviously,” Max said, placing the metal bar far away of his father’s reach.

“Come along,” Philip said, patting his son on the back. “Let’s go on home. The workers can finish storing them in the morning.”

Max shook his head. “You go on home, father. There’s only about twenty or so left. I don’t want to leave it outside tonight. It looks as though it might rain.”

Philip admired his son’s dedication. “You are a good boy, Maxwell, a really good son. I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you, father,” Max said as he lifted the bag that he was carrying.

“How about I help you,” Philip offered, rolling up his sleeves.

“You sure you up to it, father?” Max teased. “You are getting on in your years. That old back of yours might be wearing out.”

“Old? I could lift twice as many bags as you, boy. Let a pro show you how it’s done,” Philip said, lifting up two bags.

They continued on until all of the bags were loaded into the warehouse. Both were panting and sweating while heading home.

“I’m really proud of you, Maxwell,” Philip said, patting Max on the back.

“You’ve said that already, father,” Max smirked. “I don’t think your back is the only thing wearing out. Your memory seems to be slipping as well.”

Philip glared playfully at Max before he grabbed him by the neck. They probably looked foolish, wrestling in the middle of the street, but neither cared. They were both having too much fun together.

“Honestly, Maxwell,” Philip started once they made it to the house, “I’m very proud of you. I didn’t get to say it too many times when you were younger. But I’m glad I get to now. You’re maturing to become a fine young man. You’ll make someone very happy someday.” Philip headed off towards his room.

Max shook his head and sighed. “Yeah. Now all I have to do is convince her that.”


Michael was walking on the dark street alone. His visit to Courtney’s did not go well. He tried to tell her about his engagement to Maria, he honestly had. But every time he tried, Courtney would change the subject, talking about this or that. It was as if she already knew about and just didn’t want to hear it. Michael sighed in frustration and kicked a rock that was lying in the road, sending it flying.

“Beating up on rocks? My, my, Michael,” came a sweet voice from behind.

Michael spun around and came face to face with his beautiful blonde pixie.

“Maria,” he said, walking up to her and grabbing her into his arms.

“Wow. One day away and you’re this happy to see me? I should stay away more often,” she teased with him.

Michael pulled back a little, but only enough so that he could look into her eyes. “I wouldn’t be able to stand it. I’d miss you terribly. Don’t ever stay away from me. I’d die without you.”

Maria was swooning at his words.

Michael pulled her back into his arms. He really did belong to Maria. Heart, body, soul, and mind.

They were so engrossed in each other that they didn’t see someone walking up to them from down the road until she stopped right beside Michael.

“Michael, honey,” Courtney said, interrupting the two, “You left your wallet at my house. I thought you might need it.”

“Umm… thank you, Courtney,” Michael said nervously. If he knew Maria, she was jumping to the wrong conclusions already, but then, were they the wrong conclusions?

“Anytime, baby,” she kissed Michael on the cheek before heading back the way she came from, grinning an evil grin.

Michael didn’t dare glance up at Maria until Courtney left. He should have waited longer. Maria’s face was cold, her look unfeeling. But her eyes gave her away. Her green eyes were a mixture of hurt, anger, jealousy, and sorrow. Michael ached knowing that he was the one that put it all there. He was the one that made her sparkle disappear.

“Maria?” Michael tried to get her to say something, anything. Maria could talk for hours on end. So much that getting her to keep quiet was nearly impossible. Her silence was deafening. It was frightening Michael to no extent.

“Maria? Sweetie? Please say something,” he coaxed.

Maria sniffed and lowered her head, causing her blonde hair to fall over her face. But Michael could see the tears slipping from her eyes.

Michael’s heart ached knowing he hurt her. “It’s not what you think. Please let me explain.” He tried to lift her chin to get her to look at him but she jerked her head away.

“Please? I’ll tell you everything; everything about her, about me, everything I was too ashamed to tell you before. I’ll tell you now… if you let me.”

Maria was too numb to be angered, too numb to even acknowledge a word he said, and too numb to protest when Michael lifted her up and carried her off. She just leaned into him, clinging on to him for dear life. It might be the last time she would ever get the chance to feel his heart beat for her, if it ever had before.


Kyle and Diane sat at the table, waiting. They’ve arrived at the cabin for hours, but still no sign of Elizabeth. Diane was a bit worried with Elizabeth just leaving without a note of some sort to let Kyle know she was gone. Kyle seemed to be calmer about it. They continued to just sit.

Diane started tapped her fingers on the tabletop, impatiently. “Is she always out this late?”

Kyle shrugged. “Some times.”

“What does she do out this late?” Diane was annoyed at Kyle’s leniency. “Don’t you realize how dangerous it is for her to be out this late, at night, by herself?”

“I know,” Kyle said with a sigh. “Believe me, I know. I worry about her a lot. But I trust her. She’s training her heart.”

Diane didn’t find any comfort in Kyle’s words. “Kyle, how daft could you be, letting a young girl stay out this late. Do you know what kinds of people are out this late at night? Drunk and perverted men who probably can’t resist grabbing at her.”

Kyle saw his sister panicking. “Look, Diane. Remember how I said that Liz was rare? She’s special.”

“How special?” Diane said, eyeing her brother. “She is not blind or deaf, is she?”

Kyle shook his head. “No. She’s just… exceptionally unique. She has these… gifts. If she is in trouble, she will get someone to help.”

“But what if no one around ‘wants’ to help her? What if there is no one around ‘to’ help her?”

“Diane, calm down. If she is in trouble, she will call out, and the whole town will come running. If they were miles away, they would hear her,” Kyle burst out.

“What do you mean?” Diane asked curiously.

“Umm… nothing. Look, Diane, I must leave. I’m going to meet with the Elders one more time to try and plead my case. I don’t see why they are even offering me one more chance, it is not like they are going to change their minds,” Kyle said, heading out the door.

“What? You can’t just leave me here, Kyle,” Diane said sternly. “She doesn’t even know who I am. She will be scared to death to see a stranger in her home.”

“She will be fine. Just tell her who you are and why you are here. She will take one look at your gentle soul and know she can trust you.” Kyle left out the door with Diane still curious as to what he meant.


[ edited 3 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 7:07:46 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:57:23 PM

Chapter Thirteen

Michael began pacing in his room. He brought Maria here to talk, but he had no idea where to begin. He stopped and looked at her. Maria sat on his bed. She looked dead inside. All of the sparkle and shimmer had disappeared from her eyes. All that was left was pain and sadness. She had given up on him. And if he knew her well enough, she was now blaming herself.

He couldn’t stand it anymore. He kneeled down in front of her.

“Maria?” Michael tried to get her to look at him but her eyes remained vacant.

Michael tried again. “Maria, I want to start explaining, but I need to know that you are listening to what I’m saying.”

He reached out and laced his fingers through hers. “Please don’t give up on me just yet.”

Maria lifted her eyes and looked at him. She opened her mouth and mumbled something.

“What did you say, love?” Michael asked, lifting her hand and placing it over his heart.

Maria’s eyes turned cold, “I didn’t give up on YOU. You gave up on US!” She yanked her hand away while tears streamed down her face.

Her anger was finally coming out. She stood up and began screaming at him. “How could you, Michael? Not only do I find out that you are out with some whore all day, at her house, nonetheless, but that you are also keeping other things from me? Keeping things that I, as your fiancé, should know about you. I thought we didn’t keep secrets, Michael?”

“I thought we didn’t either,” Michael whispered, sitting down on the bed.

Maria lowered her voice at Michael’s somber state, her anger slipping. “What do you mean? Are you still angry with me for not telling you I was Rosemary? Is that why you are punishing me?”

Michael shook his head. “I am not punishing you. There is nothing going on between Courtney and I. What is in the past is done. You have your secrets and I have mine. We keep things from each other for a reason. Sometimes it is better to not know. Sometimes, you only get hurt. And sometimes, it is best to just forget about things,” Michael said, never lifting his head.

Maria let out a sigh. “I thought Evans men never back down from a challenge.”

Michael didn’t even acknowledge that she had spoken.

“Michael,” Maria sat down on the bed beside him. She placed her hands on the side of his face and made him look up at her. “I love you. But if you are not ready to tell me these things, then we shouldn’t be getting engaged.”

Michael looked ready to object, to plead with her to give him a chance. But Maria continued on, “Michael, you are going to have to grow up and take the challenge.” She paused for a second. “Do you love me, Michael?”

Michael nodded his head fervently and was about to tell her so, but Maria interrupted him again.

Maria stood up and began her lecture. “Do you REALLY love me? Because you need to know that you are taking a BIG risk when you love someone. You are opening up to them and letting them see all of you, both good and bad. Granted, they might not like what they see, but you still have to take the challenge and chance it. You have to let me see you, all of you. Leaving out no information, whatsoever, no matter how insignificant. Nothing. And you have to chance it that I will still love you just the same, if not more, afterwards.”

Michael was scared. Maria looked very intimidating, almost violent. She looked down at him and continued, “You know all my secrets. Are you going to tell me yours? Are you going to step up to the challenge, Michael? Are you going to take the chance and risk it?” Maria leaned over and looked him in the eye. “Are you man enough to love me?”


Elizabeth walked carefully along the path. The trail up the mountain could be very, very dangerous, especially this late at night, with only a lantern to light the way. But Liz had been traveling up and down this mountain all of her life. She practically knew where each bump was in the road.

Liz hiked up the mountain leisurely, taking her time. Kyle told her this morning that he had people to meet and not to expect him home until late. That meant that she shouldn’t wait up, but then she always did, or at least tried to.

She was surprised when she saw a candle lit in the cabin. She hurried in, thinking it was Kyle, home early.

“I am so sorry I am home so late. I was in town all day and I thought you weren’t going to be home until later,” Elizabeth called out as she entered the cabin.

“That’s quite alright, Elizabeth,” a warm voice called out.

Liz stopped in her tracks and looked to see to whom the voice belonged. Sitting at the table was a woman, probably in her forties. Liz could tell she was probably very wealthy seeing the fine clothes she was wearing. She had a warm and motherly smile on her face.

“Hello. How do you know my name?” Liz asked warily.

“Kyle told me,” Diane called out warmly to her.

Liz gasped. “Are… are you… Amy?”

Diane was confused. Who was Amy? “No, dear. My name is Diane.”

Liz’s face saddened, but she quickly covered it up with a smile as she came and sat down on the table across from Diane. “It’s just that you looked familiar. Like I’ve sensed you somewhere before,” Liz thought for a second. “You remind me of someone, a man.”

“That’s probably Kyle, I am his sister,” Diane said extending her hand for Liz to shake.

Liz shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet you finally, but it’s not Kyle you remind me of. It’s someone else. Someone I met recently,” Liz shrugged it off. “Kyle’s mentioned a lot about you over the years. He’s missed you. I am glad you are here to see him, but he won’t be in until late tonight. He’s meeting with someone.”

Diane smiled warmly at the girl. She really was such a sweet girl. “I know, dear.”

“Great. Then, you are welcome to stay and wait. In fact, I insist. We don’t have company often. It’s always just Kyle and I.” Liz got up and poured Diane a cup of tea.

“Actually, I’ve already spoken to Kyle,” Diane said. She still had yet to take her eyes off of Elizabeth. Kyle was not flippant when he said she was beautiful. This girl was stunning. She was so captivating that even Maxwell would notice.

“Oh, you have?” Liz placed a cup in front of Diane before sitting down to her own.

“Yes. Has he mentioned anything to you about not being able to live out here in the cabin anymore?”

Liz sighed and put her cup down. “It’s because of me, isn’t it?”

Diane nodded her head.

“I thought so. When I went to go visit him last week, everyone stared at me oddly. I guess I look different than I did when I last visited five years ago. Kyle didn’t like me going to the temple. Something about being a girl.”

Liz was actually taking this better than Diane had thought she would. After all, Kyle was the only family she had. “Well, Kyle wanted me to look after you now that he is no longer able to.”

“Really?” Liz asked excitedly. She was going to miss Kyle, but she could always visit him in the temple. And Diane was a woman. Liz will be able to discuss things with Diane that she couldn’t with Kyle.

Diane was happy to see that Liz was pleased with the news. “Yes. You’ll move out to Kingdom City to live with my family. I live with my husband and my three sons. It’ll be so exciting. Now, I’ll have a girl to talk about things with. A house full of boys is exhausting. I know it’ll be a little strange living in a house with more than one other person. But I’m sure you’ll love it. You’ll never be lonely.”

Liz let out a sigh. “I’d love to, Diane, but I really don’t want to leave Mount Roswell. It’s my home. I’ve lived in this cabin all my life. I just don’t think I can leave.” Tears slipped down Liz’s cheeks. “I’ve lost everything else, I can’t just leave this house too. It’s all I have left.”

Diane nodded her head and wiped Elizabeth’s tears away. “Don’t worry. I won’t make you leave. We’ll figure something out.”

Liz smiled back. “Thank you.”

“You are welcome. Now, it’s getting late and I don’t think Kyle will be getting back anytime soon. We should turn in for the night.”

“Oh, you can share the room with me. We’ll force Kyle onto the couch,” Liz said with a smile, directing the way towards the bedroom.

“You share a room with Kyle?” Diane asked warily. Kyle may be her brother and he may be a monk, but men were men.

“Yes. His bed is on the right and mine is on the left. You can have your pick.”

Diane looked at the two twin beds in comprehension. They were as far away from each other as possible. “I’ll take Kyle’s bed. You can have your bed for the night.”

Both got ready for bed and slipped under their sheets. “Good night, Diane.”

“Sweet dreams, Elizabeth.”


Max woke up before the sunrise once again, wanting to get to work early. He was just one step closer to his Elizabeth. He could just feel it.

His dreams were becoming more lifelike, as though he could actually feel her. He could feel how perfect she was for him. How their minds just seemed to click and their bodies just fit together. Perfect. Utterly, utterly perfect.

Max gave out a longing sigh before he got out of bed and began to get ready for work. He put on a pair of work pants and an old shirt. No matter how much his father protested, Max was going to work another day laboring. That way, he can get to know the workers and work out a little while he was at it. Who knows? Maybe Elizabeth will like what she sees.

He stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind him, just in time to see Maria leaving Michael’s room with tears in her eyes. She didn’t even notice Max as she headed down the stairs and out the front door.

Max walked over towards Michael’s room to see him wiping tears from his eyes, as well, before groggily plopping himself down on the bed. Max closed the door to Michael’s room gently. Something was definitely going on.

He walked over to Alex’s room to try and see if Alex knew anything about what has happened. He opened the door to find Alex, without a shirt on, striking different poses and flexing what little muscles he had in front of the mirror, murmuring words of encouragements to himself. Max gently shut the door, trying his best to keep from chuckling. He couldn’t help but smile at his little brother’s attempts.

Max shook his head and sighed. Mornings were getting stranger and stranger in this house. Max walked across the hallway towards his parents’ bedroom and knocked softly before opening the door. His father was sitting on his bed, putting on his socks.

“Morning, father.”

Philip lifted his head and looked at Max. “Good morning, Maxwell. What are you doing up this early?” Philip asked, putting his shoes on and standing up.

“I thought we could head to work together. Maybe stop for something to eat on the way.”

Philip yawned as they headed down the stairs together. “Sounds good.”

It was then that Max noticed the bags under his father’s eyes. He wasn’t sleeping well. “When is mother getting home?” Maxwell asked, knowing exactly where the problem was.

Philip sighed and scrubbed his face, “She was supposed to be home this morning. I suppose she decided to stay a bit longer. It’s for the best. It’s dangerous out at night.”

Max knew his father missed his mother and was worried about her. He yearned to have the type of love that his parents did. And he will, one day.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 7:08:33 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:57:48 PM

Chapter Fourteen

Michael wiped away the tears in his eyes as he plopped himself down on the bed. He was tired. Maria and he stayed up all night talking. He told her everything; every thing that he held back from her, all his feelings, his thoughts, his dreams, everything.

He told her about Courtney. About what his relationship used to be with her. About how she left him a long time ago, and how much he wished she hadn’t come back.

She smiled lovingly at him.

He told her about his childhood. He told her about what it was like to grow up with a father like Hank, the town drunk. He told her about how his father used to beat him, and how it only got worse as he got older.

She held his hand tighter.

He told her about his mother. How he missed her so. How much he wished she were still alive. He told her how he wished that his mother hadn’t pushed him out of the way as some maniac drove his carriage at high speed, not even noticing where he was going. How he knew it should have been him that was trampled by the horse. How his father blamed him for her death. And how he blamed himself for her death.

She wiped away the tears streaming down his face.

And he told her about his feelings for her. How he was so sorry for hurting her. That it should have never happened. How he loved her, needed her. How much joy she brought into his life. How seeing her just brightens his day. How beautiful she was to him. How happy she made him. And how he wanted to make her happy too.

She kissed him, tears streaming down her face.

Michael drifted off to sleep. He was tired, physically and emotionally. But he still smiled, remembering all they talked about. They had no more secrets. He told her everything, and she loved him more for it.


Diane woke early in the morning. She dressed and crept out of the room quietly, careful not to wake Liz.

She heard noise coming from the kitchen and noticed Kyle making breakfast. Some things never change.

“Good morning,” she called out quietly as she sat down at the table.

Kyle placed a plate in front of Diane before joining her at the table. “Good morning. Did you talk to Elizabeth?”

“Yes. I told her yesterday,” Diane said, taking a bite of her eggs. “How was your meeting with the Elders?”

Kyle sighed. “I move into the temple before next week.”

Diane frowned. “She doesn’t want to leave this house. I won’t make her either.”

“I can’t just leave her to fend for herself, Diane,” Kyle pleaded with his sister. “She’s too special.”

“I didn’t say I was going to just leave her, Kyle. I know she’s special. And I meant it when I said that I was going to help her out. I just need to have a talk with Philip when I get back, which, by the way, I should be leaving now,” Diane said as she gathered her things.

Kyle showed her to the door.

“Tell Elizabeth I said goodbye and take care of yourself, Kyle,” she said, hugging her brother, “I’ll be back soon and we’ll deal with this.”

“Thank you, Diane. You are always looking out for me,” Kyle said as he hugged her back.

“Of course,” she replied as she pulled out of the embrace, “what are big sisters for?”

Kyle watched as she headed down the trail. He stood there long after she was out of sight. He had missed her so, but there was nothing he could have done about it then. He had to practically forsake his family when he entered the palace decades ago.

He was broken out of his thoughts when Liz came out and stood beside him.

“Did she leave already?” Liz was pouting. She really liked having someone other than Kyle to talk to.

“Yes. She said to tell you she said goodbye. But don’t worry, she’ll be back soon.”

Liz brightened but then her face fell. “She’s not going to come back just to take me away is she? You’re not going to make me leave to Kingdom City, are you?”

Kyle shook his head. “No one is making you do anything. Now, go eat your breakfast, it’s starting to get cold,” Kyle said, pointing towards her seat.

Kyle watched Liz as she sat down and ate her food. “What do you think of my sister?”

Liz swallowed her food. “She’s nice.”

“I knew you’d like her,” Kyle said with a smile, sipping his tea. “She likes you a lot too.”

“She does?” Liz asked excitedly.

“Yes. She looked just about ready to drop everything and come stay here to take care of you.”

Liz smiled. “That’d be nice. No offense, Kyle, but you don’t make for that good of a female companion.”

Kyle shrugged. “Yes, well, you can’t blame me.” Liz just giggled.

“She’s got two boys, you know,” Kyle said with a gleam in his eyes. “One of them is your age, the other, a year older.”

Liz put her fork down with a frown. “Kyle, you know I’ve already promised-”

“Yes, yes, I know,” Kyle interrupted. “I was just trying to convince you to think about what you’re doing and how much you are going to be missing out on.”

“Kyle, I’ve lived this way my entire life and nothing has convinced me otherwise so far.” Liz said confidently. “And I highly doubt anything or anyone else will in the next few months.” Unbeknownst to Liz, faraway in Kingdom City, someone else was thinking just the opposite.


“Welcome back to the palace, your highness.” One of the royal servants called out to her with his head bowed.

“How is he?” Nancy asked.

“The King’s condition is still unstable. The doctors have insisted that he remain in bed. I was told to inform you that he requests your presence immediately as soon as you returned.” He kept his head bowed.

“And he is in his quarters?” Nancy asked.

“Yes, your highness, at doctors’ orders.”

Nancy sighed, “very well.” She dismissed him with a wave of the hand. She had the entire kingdom at her beck and call. No one dared to displease her, or she would have his head.

Nancy headed off towards the King’s bedroom. She entered the room to find Jeffrey sitting up in bed, waiting for her.

“Nancy,” he called out.

She walked over towards the bed and sat down beside him. “You should be lying down, Jeffrey. You are ill.”

Jeffrey ignored her. “There are matters I must discuss with you.”

“Rest first. Your kingdom needs you. What ever it is, it can wait,” Nancy said, truly concerned for Jeffrey.

“No, it can’t. I’m dying, Nancy. And I need an heir,” Jeffrey said, looking expectantly at Nancy. Nancy looked away with tears in her eyes.

He regretted having mentioned it so soon. “I know. I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t want to bring it up, but I’m running out of time.”

Nancy sniffled. “You know what the doctors said.”

“I know,” he said, taking her into his arms.

“I can’t…”

“I know, dear,” Jeffrey said, running his fingers through her hair. “I can try to heal it again.”

Nancy pulled back, alarmed that he would even suggest it. “No. That’s what made you ill in the first place.”

Jeffrey pulled her back into his arms and continued to stroke her hair. “I was already ill.”

“But it made you worse,” tears filled Nancy’s eyes.

“I can’t let my brother take the throne, Nancy. I just can’t,” Jeffrey said, thinking for the good of the people. How can an irresponsible and selfish brat manage an entire country if he wasn’t fair and just himself? Jeffrey needed an heir. “If only our daughter hadn’t died.”

Nancy tensed. If she would have just kept Elizabeth, none of this would be happening. How could she tell him now? Jeffrey is usually calm and gentle, but if she told him, he’d go livid. Could she risk being hanged for her affair, or would Khivar ruling the kingdom be that unpleasant?


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 7:09:28 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:58:25 PM

Chapter Fifteen

“One… ugh… t..two… ughh… t..t..three,” Alexander grunted as he did another pull-up on the bar in Max’s room.

“Well, well… what have we here?” Michael teased, leaning on doorframe of Max’s room.

Alex dropped his legs and stood up, looking towards Michael. “Good morning, sunshine. Or should I say good afternoon?” Alex walked over and picked up one of Max’s weights.

Michael chuckled. “Alex, what are you doing?”

“What does it… ugh… look like?” Alex said as he did a few arm curls. Alex put the weight down. “I’m working out.”

Michael smirked. “Since when do you work out?”

“Yes? And since when do you have girls in your room all night long?” Alex smirked back. He picked up his shirt from off the ground and pulled it over his head.

“It was just Maria, and all we did was talk.”

“I’m certain that’s all did, lover boy.” Alex slapped Michael on the back while passing him out the door.

Michael just rolled his eyes. “Where are you going now?”

“I’m going down to the warehouse,” Alex said, jumping down the stairs, taking three steps at a time. “If Max can get to look how he’s been looking lately AND get into father’s good graces by lifting a couple of bags of cargo, I might as well do the same.”

“Have fun,” Michael called out with smiled as Alex walked out the front door. Alex sure did have more confidence lately. He was starting to become cocky, like Maxwell. Alex was looking up to Maxwell so much lately that Michael was starting to wonder if he was going to start dressing like Maxwell as well.

Michael laughed at the vision of puny little Alexander in big brother Max’s clothes. The clothes would literally fall off of scrawny little Alex.

Michael went back to his room still chuckling. He changed his clothes. He had to go to Maria. They were going to go eat, and take Isabel with them. Maria said something about Isabel being a little depressed lately and both of them wanted to cheer Isabel up.

That was strange, Alex had been overly cheerful lately, and yet Isabel was feeling down in the dumps. What was going on there?


The sun was beating down hard and Max was busy lifting one of the last few bags left. He finished with the cargo from this shipment and went to go join the rest of the men in the shade. He sat down with a huff and pulled off his shirt and used it to wipe some of the sweat off of his face. He was exhausted.

Someone handed him a water bottle and he thanked them for it. The guys started talking about some job positions opening up in the Evan’s other warehouse. They needed young workers in Zanstown. Maxwell ignored their conversations and closed his eyes to rest.

“Hello fellows,” came a chirpy voice. Maxwell opened his eyes and saw Alexander standing next to him.

“Alex what are you doing here?” he asked, eyeing his little brother suspiciously.

“I just came to help out,” Alex replied with a smile.

Snickers came from some of the guys, but Maxwell stared them down. “Alright, Alex. It’s great to have you here.” A chorus of ‘yeah’s’ and ‘great ta have ya’s’ followed Maxwell’s comment.

Alex smiled and plopped himself down beside Max. “Thank you. So what are you guys doing now?”

“We’re trying to think of something to do while we wait for the next shipment to come in,” Max said, lying back again and closing his eyes.

“I know…” Alex chirped in, “let’s all get drunk and play ping-pong.”

Max chuckled, as did everyone else. They were warming up to Alex. That would be good. But there were still some that Max will probably have to defend Alex from.

Before the guys fully recuperated, another large shipment came in from Zanstown. Max sighed. That’s were he needed to be, in Zanstown, with her. He felt a burst of new energy and eagerly continued to work while the other lifters, eyeing the new shipment containing extra-large and extra-heavy bags, decided to take off for the day. At least Alex was here to keep him company.

Maxwell chuckled as Alex tried to move one of the cargo bags. His little brother had a lot to learn. Max came back after depositing the bag into the warehouse to find Alex still struggling with the same bag. Maxwell snickered and walked up to Alex.

“Alex, you can’t lift the bag from above and throw it onto your shoulder. It’s too heavy to do that. You have to bend your knees and lift under the bag. Here, let me show you.”

Alex watched in awe as Max squatted down, pulled the bag onto his back, and carried it off with ease.

“Now, you try,” Max said as he carried his bag into the warehouse.

Alex rubbed his hands together. “I can do this.” He squatted in front of the stack of bags, and pulled the top one onto his back. He almost lost his balance; it was a lot heavier than he had anticipated. He made his way into the warehouse and threw the bag down where Max had thrown his.

Max slapped Alex on the back. “Easy, right?”

“Piece of cake,” Alex huffed as they headed back towards the shipment.

Several hours and several more extra large, extra heavy bags later, Max and Alex plunked down on the ground, exhausted. It was already pitch dark outside, so neither noticed the figure coming up to them.

Alex felt someone slap a firm hand on his shoulder. He jumped back and screamed in surprise. “Ahhhh!!!”

Max caught Alex and steadied him before he fell. “Father, what are you doing here? I thought you left after lunch.”

“Yes, I did.” Philip looked over at Alex. “What are you doing out here, Alex?”

“Oh, I was just helping Maxwell,” Alex said, lifting his head up high and trying to stand as tall as possible.

Max slapped him on the back. “Yes, Alexander is quite the muscle man.”

Alex smiled proudly at his big brother’s compliment. “Is mother home yet?”

Philip smiled at both of his sons. “Yes, she’s home. She was worried about the two of you and so sent me out on the search. Let’s go home, your mother and I have something we want to discuss with the two of you,” Philip said, patting both of his sons on the back, leading them home. They walked down the street together, a father and his sons, side by side.


“I really wished you would have come with us, Isabel. It was quite enjoyable,” Maria taunted when she arrived home from her day with Michael. After Maria mentioned earlier that afternoon that Michael was going to be coming as well, Isabel had refused to go with them.

Isabel just huffed and turned the other way, not looking at Maria.

Maria gave out a sigh as she sat down on Isabel’s bed. “Aren’t you going to at least tell me what has happened with you lately?” she asked as she patted the spot beside her on the bed, motioning for Isabel to come sit down next to her.

Isabel stood up from her seat at her vanity and stormed over towards Maria. But she sat down faced away from her older sister.

“Isabel,” Maria said with a hint of warning. “If you don’t tell me what wrong, how am I to fix it?”

Isabel slowly shifted facing Maria with a solemn face, biting her lip.

Maria took one look at the girl’s face and sighed. “Is this about Alex?”

Isabel timidly nodded her head.

“Did he hurt you in some way?” Maria asked.

Isabel shook her head no.

“Isabel, tell me what happened and we’ll talk about it,” Maria said, using her older sister tone of voice.

Isabel crumbled. “It was awful, Maria,” Isabel wailed as she leaned onto Maria’s shoulder.

“There, there,” Maria said, rubbing Isabel’s back. “Tell Maria all about it.”

Isabel pulled back, openly sobbing. “I was… with him… in the… the marketplace… and I… I saw… saw him… another girl looking… at him. I got angry… and yelled at him because… he glanced at her too.”

“It’s okay, Isabel. It’s not your fault. He shouldn’t be looking at other girls when he’s with you,” Maria tried to reason with her little sister.

“That’s just it,” Isabel said, wiping away her tears, “He’s not WITH me Maria. We’re not together… official.”

“That still gives him no right.”

“No, Maria, you don’t understand. I told him earlier that he could,” Isabel said quietly.

“Why would you do such a thing?” Maria looked at her sister as though she’d gone mad.

Isabel lowered her head. “Because I somewhat… kind of… waved at Eddie the other day.”

“Eddie? But he’s old!” Maria cried out. “He’s twenty something. Even I wouldn’t want Eddie.”

Isabel looked up at Maria and started sobbing again. Maria just sighed and patted her sister’s head.

“I’m so stupid,” Isabel exclaimed.

“No, you’re not.” Maria comforted her little sister, still patting her head.

“NO, I am.” Isabel held her sister’s hand still. She pronounced her words slowly so that Maria could understand the full meaning of them. “I argued with Alexander over Pamela Troy.”

Maria burst out in a fit of giggles.

Isabel huffed. “It is not funny.” Isabel grabbed a pillow and hit Maria over the head with it. Maria grabbed another pillow and a pillow fight ensued. Both girls giggled as feathers went flying.

After they both calmed down, Maria looked at Isabel seriously. “Just have a talk with Alexander and explain things. Everything will turn out alright.”

Isabel hugged her sister. “Thank you.”

“Anytime,” Maria said with a smile.


Philip, Max, and Alex entered the house and found Michael and Diane waiting patiently on the couch. As soon as Max and Alex spotted their mother, they ran to her. Diane pulled both of her children in a fierce hug.

“I know I was only gone for a short time, but I missed the both of you so much,” Diane said to the two, squeezing them tighter.

“We missed you too, mother,” Max said as he hugged her back.

“I missed you too, mother,” Alex strained out, the pressure from being wedged in between Diane and Max becoming too much. “I need… to breathe.”

Both Max and Diane let go and Alex fell to the floor. Philip and Michael just snickered from where they sat, watching.

“Alright, alright,” Philip said. “We have matters to discuss.”

They all scampered to their seats. Philip sat in the armchair, Diane in a chair next to him. Leaving the boys on the couch. Michael sat on the left, Alex on the right, and Max sat in the middle. Just as it has always been.

“Alright, let’s begin,” Philip began. “First, I’d like to bring up the situation with Maxwell.”

Max leaned forward, listening intently.

“Son, I know how you were working hard and how much you were looking forward to the managing position in Zanstown, but I’m sorry, I cannot give it to you.”

Max stared at his father with a sullen expression on his face. “Father. You said…”

“I know and I’m sorry, Maxwell,” Philip said with a sigh. “I sympathize for you. I really wanted to give you the position. It’s just… well… I found someone more suitable for the job,” Philip said, looking over at his wife. Diane just smiled.

Alex looked between the two. “Mother is going to Zanstown?”

Diane and Philip just nodded their heads.

Max jumped up, ran over, and kneeled in front of Diane. “You… you can’t just leave us,” Max pleaded.

Diane patted his head and smiled sadly at her son. “Maxwell…”

“No!” Max said sternly. “I NEED my mother.”

The rest of the guys snickered but Max kept his face solemn. “Mother, you can’t just leave me and go to Zanstown, all by yourself. Who will open jars for you or get things for you that are too high? Who is going to protect you? I need you, mother. I need you to take care of me. I need you to help me with ‘the thing’.”

“What thing?” Diane asked, confused.

“THE thing,” Max said with emphasis.

“Oh… OH… THAT thing,” Diane said with realization. “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take care of it.” Diane patted her son on the head again before he stood up and took his seat with a smile.

Diane turned toward her husband. “Philip, you know how you said that it wouldn’t be safe for me out there by myself?”

Philip nodded his head slowly, not fully understanding what Diane was getting to.

“Well, I was thinking, perhaps Maxwell can come with me,” Diane said sweetly.

Philip sighed, not wanting to lose his son too, but looked just about ready to give in.

Alexander jumped up. “If Maxwell goes I want to go too.”

Philip lifted his eyebrows. “You want to go too?”

Alex had a shy smile on his face. “I hear they have some very attractive girls in Zanstown.”

“You better believe it,” Max said, slapping Alex on the back.

Philip was shocked, his wife and his two sons wanted to leave him. “Both of you want to go?”

Max and Alex looked expectantly at Michael. They made a promise as children to stay together, the three of them, no matter what.

Michael grimaced and slowly raised his hand. “Me also,” he whispered.

“You too?” Philip stared at Michael. “What about Maria?”

“I’m sure we can work out something with Jim,” Diane said excitedly.

Philip turned and looked at her. He sighed. “That’s enough discussion for tonight. I’ll have a talk with your mother and we’ll discuss it again in the morning.” He turned and stormed up the stairs with Diane following slowly behind him.

They were on their way to Zanstown. No matter how much their father disapproved, he was putty in their mother’s hands.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 7:10:31 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:58:37 PM

Chapter Sixteen

Max walked down the hall and banged on both Alex’s and Michael’s door. It was still early in the morning for them, so when Michael and Alex opened their doors, they looked about ready to pound Maxwell in for disturbing their sleep.

Max just chuckled. “Father wants us downstairs so he can talk to us.”

Both boys grimaced and went back into their rooms to get dressed as Max headed down the stairs. He stepped into the kitchen and found his father sitting at the table.

“Good morning, father,” Max called out as he poured himself a cup.

“Good morning,” Philip grumbled back.

Max sat down across from his father. “Where’s mother?”

Philip sighed. “She has already left. She said she had something to take care of.”

“She did?” Alexander asked as he and Michael entered the room, each taking their seats.

Philip nodded. “Now, let’s get to the matter at hand. I talked with your mother last night and we both agreed, the three of you are no longer children and you can take care of yourselves as long as the three of you stick together.”

Alex and Max exchanged a knowing glance.

“Since all of you think that you can manage by yourselves, you will no longer be receiving an allowance. You will be earning your own wages working at the warehouse. We need healthy young men who are capable of loading and unloading bags of cargo and you three look healthy enough to me. You can handle the manual labor. Maxwell and Alexander, you both know how this works and you can show Michael the ropes later.”

All three boys nodded.

“I managed to get you boys a residence near the warehouse. Here is a copy of the key and one thousand gold pieces for each of you,” Philip passed each one a key and a big sack on money.

“That’s all the money I’m giving you. So spend it wisely. You will not be asking your mother for money. And if at any time you feel as though you cannot live on your own, you will pack up your things and head back home. Is that understood?”

All three of them nodded their heads and replied, “Yes, father.”

“Now, are there any questions?”

Alex raised his hand. “Mother is not staying with us?”

“No, she will not be taking care of you. That is part of the deal. You will be taking care of yourselves and each other and living on your own. Your mother will be staying at her brother’s cabin on Mount Roswell.”

Max looked up. “Uncle K lives on Mount Roswell?”

Philip sighed. “Yes, your mother will explain everything to you later. Now, I suggest you all get packing. I want you out of your rooms and gone by tonight.”

All three boys stood up and headed up the stairs to gather their belongings.

“Michael, may I have a word with you?” Philip asked, stopping Michael before he headed up the stair.

“Of course. What is it, father?” Michael asked, taking his seat again.

“I talked to Valenti earlier this morning. He has agreed to let Maria go with you all to Zanstown. Isabel managed to convince him into allowing her to go as well. They will be staying with your mother.”

Michael nodded his head in understanding.

“Jim only agreed because I promised that Maria will be safer in Zanstown then in the city. I promised him that you would take good care of her.”

Michael nodded his head again and thanked Philip before heading up the stairs to pack his things for his new life in Zanstown.


Max finished packing the rest of his belongings in his one suitcase. He wasn’t taking much with him. He had his clothes, his books, some personal items, and her things. He looked around his room and sighed. He was really doing it. He was really leaving everything behind to go chase after a girl. Was she really worth it?

Max closed his eyes and envisioned his angel when he had first laid eyes on her. She was beautiful, twirling about in the water. Her soft, silky brown hair cascading down her back, the ends wet beneath the water. Her large brown eyes were sparkling with light. And her soft pink lips were turned up at the ends in a smile as she hummed with a voice that was a melodious lure.

Max sighed. “Yes, she was definitely worth it.”

“Who? Your mystery girl?” Alex asked as he lay down on Maxwell’s bed.

Apparently, Alexander had let himself in while Max was busy daydreaming.

“Aren’t you going to pack?” Max frowned at his brother while he gathered a few of his remaining items.

“Already done,” Alex said with a grin. “I went to see if Michael needed any help but he already headed off to Maria’s. So I came to see if you need any assistance. Did you know the Valenti sisters will be joining us now? Well, not us, they’ll be joining mom. And not right now, but later.”

“And where did you hear this from?” Max asked, eyeing his brother.

“I was spying on father,” Alex said, quite proud of himself.

Max smirked at Alex. “You’re learning.”

Alex shrugged. “What can I say? I take after the best.”

“Flatter does help,” Max replied. “Oh, by the way, thank you for going to Zanstown with me to help look for her.”

Alex just rolled his eyes. “Like I said last night, I’m not going for you. I’m going for the women.”

“Oh, really? And what about Isabel?”

Alex groaned, “I don’t want to get into it right now. So, did you need any help, or shall I return to my room?”

“Actually, there is something you can do, oh genius brother of mine,” Max said. “Lift up the floorboard near my bed and pull out the sacks under it.”

“My, my, dear brother, what have you been hiding?” Alex stood up from Max’s bed and squatted down to the ground. He lifted up a loose floorboard and pulled out several large and heavy sacks.

“I’ve saved up a great sum of money over the last few years, the majority of it winnings from Sean,” Max said, sitting down next to his brother.

“Wow, Maxwell,” Alex remarked as he dumped out the large sum of money from their bags. “How much do you have saved here?”

Max shrugged. “I don’t know. I have yet to count it. I haven’t had the need to. Father has always given us more than enough to live by.”

“This’ll take forever to count,” Alex said, staring at the mini-mountain of gold coins.

“Which is why you are going to do it for me, little brother. And you’d better start soon if we are going to leave by tonight,” Max said as he stood up and ruffled Alex’s hair. “Bring out that abacus, Alex.”


“I’m not going anymore,” Isabel shriek as she slammed her bedroom door.

Maria stormed in and shut the door behind her. “Isabel,” she said sternly, “I did not spend all of last night convincing father to let you go just so that you could change your mind.”

“But...” Isabel complained, “I can’t leave all my friends.”

“What friends?” Maria yelled back. “You don’t have any friends since father doesn’t allow us out of this house.”

“What about Tess?” she said smartly.

“Oh, so you’d rather stay here to be with Tess than go to Zanstown to be with your big sister?”

Isabel kept her face grave before turning her head away with a huff.

Maria sighed. Isabel was a very stubborn girl. “Besides,” Maria lowered her voice, “I thought I was your best friend?”

“You are,” Isabel said, sitting down on her bed. “I just don’t know if I can leave father by himself.”

Maria sat down beside her. “He’ll be fine.”

“I know. It just doesn’t feel right.”

Maria sympathized. “I know. You have a few more days to think about it. Father won’t let me leave until after the engagement ball.”

One of the servants came in and informed Maria that Michael was here to see her.

Maria stood up to leave but stopped at the door. “Just remember that I really want you to go with me.”

“I’ll think about it,” Isabel said with a smile.

“Okay,” Maria said before she closed the door and headed down the stairs to meet Michael.

He was sitting in the living room waiting for her. He stood up as he saw her descend the stairs. She walked up to him. “So… you’re leaving.”

Michael pulled her into his arms and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “Yes, but don’t worry, I’ll be back soon. The guys want me to go with them and get settled in first. With everything for our ball taken care of, there really isn’t much for me to do here.”

“I’ll miss you,” Maria said, holding him tighter.

Michael chuckled. “You’ll be joining me in a couple of days.”

“I’ll still miss you.”

Michael smiled lovingly at her. “I’ll miss you too.”

“I wish my father would just let me go with you,” Maria groaned out.

“I’d like that too. But they still have to get everything arranged for your stay. We can’t have you sleeping on the floor now, can we?”

Maria sighed. “I suppose not. I can’t wait until we’re married. Then we can have a house of our own.”

“I can’t wait either,” Michael said, smiling.

They stayed in each other’s arms until Max came in and interrupted them.

“Michael, the carriage awaits,” he said as he headed out the door, giving them a few more minutes alone.

Michael squeezed Maria tighter. She clinged to his side as they walked out to the front porch. “I will be see you later, love,” Michael said, caressing her cheek.

“I will see you later, Michael,” Maria said, realizing he didn’t want to say goodbye. She kissed him softly and he headed into the carriage. She watched as it drove away and out of sight. Sighing, he headed back inside.

Michael watched out the window as the city disappeared behind them and they headed into the forest. He sighed and slumped back into his seat.

He looked over next to him and found Max staring out the window at the stars with a thoughtful look on his face. Michael snickered. Max was probably thinking about his dream girl.

Michael looked in front of him. Alex was still busy, fiddling away at his abacus. His brow was wrinkled in thought, writing down on a sheet of paper and shifting beads back and forth. He had been like this since Michael had entered the carriage.

“Done!” Alex yelled as he put his things aside and picked up the paper. Both Max and Michael leaned forward and waited for Alex’s results. Alex’s face went numb.

“Alex!” Max said, shaking Alexander by the shoulder. “How much do we have?”

“Well, um…” Alex swallowed, coming out of his daze. “It’s um… umm…”

“Spit it out,” Michael said, also anxious as to how much money they had.

“Well, umm… according to my calculations, combined, Michael’s, mine, and mainly Maxwell’s, we have about roughly… t… th… thirty thousand gold pieces.”

Both Michael and Max stared at Alex in shock. Then they glanced at one another before leaning back with a cool smile placed on their faces.

Alex just stared at the two of them before leaning back and putting a big smile on his face as well. “We’re going to live like kings.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 27-Jul-2002 7:11:26 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:58:51 PM

Chapter Seventeen

“So how did you like it around here?” Elizabeth asked as she set down a cup of tea in front of Diane before settling down with her own.

“I didn’t remember there being so many things to do in this town when I was young,” Diane said with a huff.

Liz just giggled. They spent the entire day together. Kyle left to the temple yesterday. So as soon as Diane arrived at the cabin, her and Liz set about cleaning up the place and moving Diane’s things in. It was now more homely with a woman’s touch to things.

Afterwards, Liz showed her around town when they went grocery shopping and stopped to talk to everyone along the way. Who knew there were that many people in this town?

They stopped in for Diane to check up on the warehouse in the middle of town until it got dark. Then, they hiked their way back up the mountain. And frankly, Diane was exhausted.

They sat there, enjoying their tea, when Diane stood up and walked over to the window, looking outside.

“Are you expecting someone?” Liz asked Diane curiously.

“Yes,” Diane said with a sigh. “They should have arrived by now.”

“Who?” Liz asked, standing up and looking out the window as well.

“Oh, dear. We’ve been so busy all day I forgot to mention it to you. My sons are coming today,” Diane said excitedly. “They should be stopping by soon.”

They both sat back down. “Tell me about them,” Liz said, curious to know.

“Well,” Diane started. She could talk hours on end about her children. “I have three boys. One of whom was taken in, but we love him all the same. They all have brown eyes and brown hair, though Michael seems to have more hair than the other two combined.”

Liz giggled.

“Okay, let’s start with my youngest. His name is Alexander Charles Whitman. He is highly intelligent and very charming. He has great sense of humor. Although, his jokes can tend to be a bit corny at times.”

Liz smiled. “I’m positive Alexander and I will get along fine.”

“Then there is Michael. He was taken in at fourteen. His father passed away and Philip really adored Michael. Michael tends to keep to himself. He had a rough childhood so he doesn’t trust very easily. His only real flaw is that he tends to act on things without thinking first.”

Diane sighed and Liz just smiled.

“And last, but not least, there is Maxwell.”

“Maxwell?” Liz asked, she’s heard that name somewhere before.

“Yes, Maxwell Philip Evans. He is such an adorable boy. He can be cocky at times, but he has a very big heart. He is…” Diane was interrupted by a knock at the door. “That must be them,” Diane said, standing up to answer the door.

“I’ll go set the tea.” Liz stood up excitedly.

Diane opened the door and in came Alex and Michael, holding some of her small bags of luggage. “Where is Maxwell?”

“Oh, he lost the coin toss and so he’s still out there carrying the biggest box of luggage,” Michael said, snickering.

Alex shook his head with a sigh. “I told him that the probability of an outcome of receiving three tails on three consecutive tosses of a fair coin was not statistically equal to the probability of receiving two tails and one head within three nonconsecutive tosses of that same fair coin. But did he listen to me? No.”

Diane just smiled. “Come along, you can place the boxes down in the bedroom. I’ll show you the way.”

Michael and Alex followed their mother through the house, taking a good look around at where she will be staying.

Max kicked open the door and tried to squeeze in, the box was so large, he couldn’t see around it. Damn that Alex and his logic! Why did he have to think so much?

The box began to slip from his grip again. Why on earth did his mother have so many things?

“Here, let me help you,” Max could hear a muffled voice from the other side of the doorway. He felt the box lighten some as someone grab onto the other side of it while directing him into the house. They placed the box down on the ground with a thud. Both looked up and gasped when they saw the other. “It’s you!”

Maxwell stared at her, his angel. He was in heaven. And she was smiling at him. Life just could not be better. He was so infatuated with her that he barely noticed her saying something to him until she was waving a hand in front of his face to grab his attention.

“Wha… huh… um… I apologize. I… I kind of spaced out there,” Maxwell said with a chuckle.

Liz eyed him warily. “I noticed. Are you alright?”

“Y-yea… yes, I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be… I mean…” Maxwell ran a hand through his hair, nervously.

“What’s this?” Alex asked upon entering the room. “Maxwell not knowing what to say to the pretty lady? Well, I never thought I’d see the day.”

Alex then turned to Liz and stuck out his hand. “Hello. I’m Alexander. And you are?”

“I’m Elizabeth,” Liz said as she shook his hand enthusiastically. She liked Alex. She could sense his continuously happy spirit. He will be fun to be around.

“I see you met my brother Maxwell,” Alex said, pointing in Max’s direction.

Liz nodded her head. “Several times, in fact,” she said, sending a smile in Max’s direction. It was just a brief smile, but it was enough to make him forget about everything else. He dazed out again.

“Max… Max… Maxwell,” Alex said, shaking his brother.

“Wha…what?!” he asked his brother angrily.

“Someone has an attitude,” Alex said.

Elizabeth giggled and Maxwell just about lost it again but Alex yanked him out of his haze.

“Mother wants the box placed in that room over there,” Alex said, pointing towards the bedroom.

Max let out an angry sigh, picked up the heavy box, and rushed off towards the room. He didn’t want to waste a second that he could be spending with his angel.

Max hurried out of the room to get back to Elizabeth. When he entered the kitchen, the sight he saw made him stop in his tracks. Alex had his arm around Elizabeth, whispering something into her ear. And Elizabeth giggling back at what ever Alex said to her. Max saw red. He took several deep breaths to try and calm himself. Alexander was his baby brother. He shouldn’t be jealous of Alex.

Max plastered a smile on his face and entered the kitchen. “Am I interrupting something?”

Alex and Liz broke away from each other in a flash, both had guilty expressions on their faces and neither would look in Maxwell’s direction.

He walked up to them. “What is going on?”

“N-nothing,” Liz replied and risked a glance up at Max. As soon as she did, she began chuckling, and quickly covered her mouth with her hand to try and suppress her giggles, but failed miserable. Her harmonious laughter filled the air and Alexander quickly followed suit.

“What is so funny?” Max asked, curious as to what was so amusing that it had them both in this state.

Alex threw his arm over his brother’s shoulder, still trying to calm down his laughter. “I was just… telling Elizabeth here… about the time… when we were young, and you… clothes… the mud…” Alex burst out laughing again, as did Liz.

Max turned red all the way to his ears. He had sworn his brother to secrecy about that incident. When they were little, all three of them, Michael, Alexander, and Maxwell, used to go swimming in the stream out in the forest. But one time, Michael and Alex just happened to think it would be hilarious if they grabbed Maxwell’s clothes and ran off with them. Maxwell couldn’t very well walk back to town naked, so he did the best thing he could, he made some temporary clothing… out of mud and grass. He never lived it down.

“Oh, really? Well, I’m pretty sure Elizabeth would love to hear a little story about you, as well. One involving a horse’s rear end and your head.”

Alex paled. “You wouldn’t dare.”

Maxwell smirked, “Watch me.” He made it over to Elizabeth in two short strides and leaned in close. He lifted his hand and gently pushed her soft silky hair behind her ear. He let his hand linger there a little longer than necessary, but Elizabeth didn’t seem to notice.

Alex watched as Max whispered into Liz’s ear as she began laughing.

“Oh, Alex. That is much worse.” She was laughing so hard, tears began streaming down her cheeks.

Alex huffed. “Oh? Well Michael…”

“Say one more word and I will guarantee you that you will regret it later,” Michael said, finally speaking up from where he sat and watched at the table.

Alexander closed his mouth and lowered his head. Maxwell and Elizabeth laughed harder.

Liz kept giggling until she stopped to introduce herself to Michael. They both shook hands.

Liz chanced a look at Alexander and burst out laughing again with Maxwell joining her shortly after.

Diane finally came out of the room after organizing everything to find quite a sight. Alexander was fuming in one corner, Maxwell and Elizabeth were both red with laughter in another, and Michael was smiling, watching passively at the table.

“I see you are all acquainted,” Diane said. Maxwell and Elizabeth looked at one another. Then they both turned and glanced at Alexander before breaking into another fit of laughter.

Diane eyed the two. She would have to have a talk with Maxwell soon, but right now, it was getting late. “I don’t want to break up the commotion, but shouldn’t you boys be getting on down the mountain?”

Michael stood up first, hugged Diane, kissing her on the cheek, and waved to Elizabeth before heading out the door.

Alexander walked over to his mother, looked over evilly at Maxwell and Elizabeth, and then whispered something into his mother’s ear before hugging her and kissing her on the cheek. Both Elizabeth and Maxwell glared at Alexander when he stuck his tongue out at them while he headed out the door.

Diane looked disappointedly at the two of them. “Stop teasing Alexander. You know he is very sensitive about that incident,” she said sternly.

“Yes, ma’am,” replied both Maxwell and Elizabeth.

“Little snitch,” Max muttered under his breath, just loud enough for Liz to hear. She giggled.

Diane eyed them both. “Maxwell, say ‘good night’.”

Max turned to Liz and gave her a quick hug goodbye. He rejoiced because this time, she hugged him back.

He then went over to his mother, hugged her, and whispered in his ear, “it’s her.” Diane looked at her son and then glanced at Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Maxwell’s dream-girl? Diane smiled at Maxwell and ruffled his hair. Silently telling him that she would do what she could.

Max mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to her and left, winking at Elizabeth on his way out the door. Liz smiled back at him.

Max headed down the mountain with a smile on his face. Mother would make everything better.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:49:10 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:59:05 PM

Chapter Eighteen

Apparently their father was not being completely serious with that lecture of them working hard and being able to live on their own and not in the lap of luxury. The home he arranged for them to stay in was enormous. It was not as large as their old home in Kingdom City, but in this house, they were not going to have parents to watch over their every action.

Their father was not even going to force them to work until next week, after Michael’s engagement ball. He left a note for them, informing them that he wanted to get them settled in and adapted to the change in environment before they had to go off and deal with life in the real world.

In all honesty, their father was softie at heart. He did not want his boys to grow up, but he knew it was inevitable. He knew they would have a bumpy road ahead of them, but he wanted to make it as much of a smooth ride as possible.

“Remind me to thank father when we get back to the city,” Alex said as he yawned, entering the kitchen.

Maxwell was sitting down at the table with a cup of coffee and Michael was making breakfast.

Alexander looked towards Michael with a smile before he sat down. “Thank goodness one of us knows how to cook.”

“Amen to that,” Max said as Michael placed a plate in front of him.

“Yes. You just remember that later when we worry about who is going to do the cleaning,” Michael said as he sat down.

Max shrugged and said simply, “Alexander will.”

“What?” Alex asked, lifting his head. “I’m sorry but ‘Alexander’ and ‘cleaning’ are two things that do not mingle well. Besides, why don’t we hire someone to do such things for us?”

Max put down his fork. “Because we have better uses for our money than trivial things such as that.”

“Yes,” Michael agreed. “Father is paying us more than that of the average laborers. If father found out that we can afford to have someone to do the housework for us, he may reconsider his decision.”

“I suppose we’ll just take turns between the two of us, Alex,” Max said. “Since Michael is going to be doing the cooking and shopping.”

“Shopping?” Michael asked.

“Yes,” Maxwell nodded, “grocery shopping.”

Michael just shrugged and continued eating. “At least I don’t have to clean the toilets.”

Both Max and Alex looked at each other and grimaced.

“I wish mother were here,” Max sighed out loudly. All three boys held their breaths and froze, waiting.

After a few minutes passed, they gave up. “Drat, that normally works,” Maxwell pouted.

“I know,” Michael exclaimed. “It is as though she has some sort of built in Maxwell detecting device. Any time Maxwell wants her, she just magically appears.”

“Wait, let me give it a try. I am the youngest in the family and all.” Alex cleared his throat and said loudly, “and as if by magic…”

“I’m sorry I’m late, boys,” Diane said as she rushed through the door with bundles of groceries in her arms, “but we stopped by some stores on the way over.”

Alex smiled smugly as they all stood up and helped her with the groceries.

“We?” Michael asked.

“Help,” Elizabeth called out as she tried her best to balance the tower of shopping boxes in her arms.

Both Alex and Max hurried over to take the boxes from her.

“What did you buy, mother? The entire store?” Alexander asked as he placed the boxes in a nearby chair.

Elizabeth giggled. “I’ve got it,” she said as Maxwell tried to take the rest of the boxes from her.

“Let me get it,” Max said, lifting the boxes from her arms. “That way I can show you just how strong I am with all of my rippling muscles,” he said with a wink.

Elizabeth just rolled her eyes and giggled before they made their way into the kitchen.

Michael placed a plate in front of his mother. She took a bite before nodding her head in approval. “Thank goodness one of you knows how to cook,” she exclaimed as she dug in.

Michael fixed Liz a plate while everyone sat down to a late breakfast. Diane took the seat between Michael and Alexander and Elizabeth took the other seat between Alexander and Maxwell.

Michael placed a plate of sausage, bacon, and eggs in front of Liz before settling down in his own seat. Liz picked up her fork and ate all of her eggs before she pushed her plate aside.

Max looked at her. “Elizabeth, is that all you are going to eat?”

Liz nodded her head and smiled shyly. “I grew up living with a monk. I’ve never eaten meat in all my life.”

Everyone nodded in understanding.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Elizabeth?” Michael asked. “I could fix you up something else.”

Michael grabbed her plate to go into the kitchen, but Liz reached out and stopped him. “No. That’s quite alright.”

“No need to be modest, Elizabeth,” Alex said, turning towards her. “We’re practically family here.”

“I’m fine. Really,” Liz said with a smile.

“You really should eat more,” Maxwell added. “You are far too thin,” he said, looking her up and down.

“I’ll try,” Liz said, looking Max in the eyes. She was touched that they were all concerned for her. “But right now, I’m fine. I’m already full.”

“It’s okay, boys,” Diane said, breaking it up. “I’ll make sure Elizabeth has something to eat after our second round of shopping.”

“Second round?” Alex asked. “Didn’t you get enough the first round?” Alex asked, pointing towards the bags filling the living room.

“Nonsense,” Diane said, standing up and heading towards the door. “We still have to buy Elizabeth a whole new wardrobe. She was living with a monk, for goodness’ sake. Hut how much taste in clothes could he have when he walks about in that robe all day?”

Michael chuckled. His mother was beginning to sound like Maria.

Alex sighed. “How much of father’s money are you planning to spend?”

“Not another word,” Diane said, playfully pointing a finger at Alex. “It took me all morning to convince Elizabeth to let me take her shopping and you are not going to say anything to change her mind.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” Max voiced timidly.

“You do, Maxwell?” Michael asked.

Both Alexander and Michael turned to look at Max with raised eyebrows. If they remembered correctly, Max had just mentioned something to them this morning of not wasting money on trivial things.

Max chose to ignore both his brothers. “Yes. Go on,” he said to Liz. “Go with my mother and go shopping. Do each other’s hair. Go and have fun. Buy a few dresses, on me,” he said, thrusting a bag full of coins into Liz’s hands and motioning for them to leave.

“Alright. Then, we’re off,” Diane said, heading for the door. “Oh, and you boys will be dears and bring these bags up to the cabin later for me, right? Love you. Bye,” Diane left hurrying out the door with Liz timidly following behind her.

Max turned around, after waving them off, to find Alex and Michael standing there, looking pointedly at him.

“What? Let them have their fun,” Max said. “We’ll suffer the consequences later,” Max said with a sigh.

“No,” Alex said, chuckling. “You’ll suffer the consequences.” He walked off to his room.

Michael smirked and headed off as well, but not before turning around and calling out behind him. “I hope you have fun carrying boxes, mama’s boy,” Michael said with a wink.


Diane and Liz went from store to store, buying anything and everything that would fit on Liz.

“Perhaps we should slow down,” Liz said, motioning for Diane to stop before she headed off into yet another store. “This is already a lot. It’s going to take me forever to repay Maxwell.”

“If that is what you are worried about, then don’t,” Diane said to Liz. “Maxwell gave you the money to spend. You don’t have to repay him.”

“I wouldn’t feel right just taking his money,” Liz said, shaking her head.

“Fine,” Diane said, thinking. “I’ll pay Maxwell back, and you can take these new clothes as payment, for letting me live in your house.”

Liz smiled and agreed.

“Besides,” Diane said, pulling Liz into another store, “we still have to find you a gown for Michael’s engagement ball this up coming weekend.”

“This weekend? Engagement ball?” Liz gasped in realization. “Michael is Maria’s Michael.”

“Yes,” Diane said, browsing through the different gowns in the store. “Do you know Maria?”

“Yes. I met her last week when I was in Kingdom City. She’s very nice. She saved my life you know,” Liz said.

Diane froze. “Why? What happened?”

“I was being harassed by some goon and Maria stopped him,” Liz said, browsing through the racks, pretending as though it were nothing.

“Elizabeth, you shouldn’t be out alone, especially at night,” Diane said to her. “What were you doing in Kingdom City anyway?” Diane asked focusing back on finding a dress.

Liz sighed. “I was just looking for any clues as to where my family is.”

“I found it!” Diane exclaimed.

Liz stopped and looked at Diane. “What?”

“The perfect gown for you, dear,” Diane said, pulling the gown off of the rack.

Liz looked at it and gasped. “I’m surprised no one has bought it yet.”

“It’s probably because no one can fit it. It’s so small,” Diane said, eyeing the waist. “But it will probably fit you. Go try it on,” she handed Liz the gown and ushered her into a fitting room. “You try it on while I go look for shoes.”

Diane browsed through the shoes, looking for the right one. She spotted a pair of heels that perfectly matched the dress. It was high enough for Liz to gain a few inches, but not too high, so that she won’t fall. Just a little taller, picture perfect height next to Maxwell, Diane thought deviously before she headed back to the fitting rooms to hand Liz the shoes.

“Elizabeth, are you done trying the dress on yet?” Diane asked impatiently. She wanted to see how perfect Liz looked in the gown.

“Yes,” Liz said hesitantly. She sighed and stepped out of the fitting room.

The sight made Diane gasp. Liz was gorgeous. But when Diane glanced up at her face, Liz was frowning. “What’s wrong, dear? Don’t you like the dress?”

“No, that’s not it,” Liz said softly. “I really want this dress but it is a bet too tight.”

“Well, that’s nothing we can’t fix,” Diane said with a smile. “Now, go and change back out of it.”

Liz smiled at Diane before heading back into the fitting room. She carefully changed out of the dress so that the storeowner could wrapped it up for her while Diane took her around to look for more. They bought everything they could find that would go good with Liz’s gown. Liz was going to look perfect. Diane would make sure of it.

They passed by a shop and Diane told Liz to go on and buy something to eat while she ran in and ordered a few things.

Liz walked over to a small food vendor.

“What will it be, Liz?” the vendor asked her.

“The usual,” Liz said with a smile, but then looked down at the bags in her hands, specifically, her dress. “On second thought,” she stopped the vendor, “I really shouldn’t.”

“Are you sure? No charge,” he said, thinking that Liz might not have enough money on her.

“No, thank you,” Liz said, ignoring the growling of her stomach. “I’m in a hurry and I really shouldn’t stop to eat.”

“Alright, Elizabeth. Come back anytime,” he said, smiling at her.

Liz walked away and headed back towards the shop. She reached it just as soon as Diane stepped out, packages in hand.

“Elizabeth, didn’t you buy something to eat?” Diane asked as she walked over to Liz.

“Oh, I already finished eating,” Liz lied. “You took quite a while.”

“I’m sorry I made you wait,” Diane said apologetically.

“It’s quite all right,” Liz replied as they started walking back down the street.

“So, Elizabeth,” Diane began, “Do you plan on going with anyone to the ball?”

Liz blushed and shook her head. “No. I really didn’t think about it.”

“You really should think of going with someone. There will be lots of dancing, and you don’t want to miss out on that.”

Liz sighed and thought. “Will Alexander be escorting anyone?”

“Umm… probably Isabel,” Diane said. “Since you don’t have anyone to go with and Maxwell doesn’t have anyone either…” Diane hinted to Liz.

“Maxwell isn’t escorting anyone?” Liz asked surprised. “I assumed he would. He’s obviously very attractive. And many girls go for those sorts of things in men.”

“Maxwell isn’t interested in any of those kinds of girls,” Diane said, scrunching her nose at the thought of Maxwell with girls like Pamela Troy or Tess Deluca. She would much rather see Maxwell with a nice and sweet girl, like Elizabeth.

“I suppose if he needs someone, I could go with him,” Liz said with a sigh. “Other than that, I guess I’ll just have to miss out on the dancing,” Liz giggled, “I don’t even know how to dance.”

“Well, we’ll just have to teach you,” Diane said, continuing to walk down the street. “Elizabeth, may I ask you a question?”

“Anything,” Liz said in a cheery voice.

“What do you think of Maxwell?” Diane asked, stopping to look at Liz.

“He’s nice,” Liz said with a smile. But she didn’t say it with the excitement that Diane had hoped for.

Diane pushed further. “Do you like him?”

“I suppose I do,” Liz answered, not fully understanding what Diane was getting at, “He’s fun to be around.”

Diane smiled and they continued on down the street.

“So what do we do now?” Liz asked, changing the subject.

“Well, I’m starved. Why don’t we stop at a restaurant and have lunch?” Diane suggested. At the mention of food, Liz’s stomach growled.

Liz tried to cover it up. “Actually, I wanted to visit Kyle today.”

“You really should eat something, Elizabeth,” Diane said, concerned.

“I’ll grab something along the way, I promise,” she said as she headed off in the direction of the temple.

“Alright. I’ll see you at home later,” Diane called out before heading down the street.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:50:45 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:59:21 PM

Chapter Nineteen

Nancy had her mind made up. Despite how Jeffrey would react, she had to tell him about Elizabeth. He was dying inside and she needed to at least give him this small bit of hope.

She made her way down the hall and knocked softly outside their bedroom door before slowly entering.

Jeffrey was sleeping soundly on the bed. Nancy tiptoed over and softly sat down beside him. He looked so peaceful in his sleep, not the walking ball of stress that he was when he was awake. He had the weight of a country on his shoulders and he just refused to let them down. Nancy admired him so. The man would do anything for his people. Even put aside his own wife, no matter how much he loved her.

Nancy sighed thinking about it. Back then, years ago, the country was going through a military crisis. Jeffrey had pushed her aside and focused on work. She wished she hadn’t been so weak as to go to Jim. But she was feeling insecure and lonely, thinking that Jeffrey no longer desired her. She regretted it later when she realized what was going on. That Jeffrey did love her. And she loved him too.

Nancy lifted her hand and softly brushed aside a few strands of his hair. He started stirring in his sleep and slowly opened his eyes, allowing them to adjust to the dim light of a nearby lamp.

“Nancy?” he whispered, lifting a hand to lovingly stroke her cheek and run his fingers through her soft, silky brown hair.

She softly nodded, tears slipped down her cheeks at his affection.

He gently wiped them away. “What’s wrong dear?” His eyes filled with concern.

“Jeffrey,” she whispered. She softly bit her bottom lip as it quivered and took in a deep breath, trying to find the courage to go on. “There is something I must tell you, dear.”

Jeffrey could sense that it was a serious matter and tried to sit up, but Nancy stopped him. “You need your rest. Just let me say this and please try not to be angry with me.”

“What ever it is, Nancy, just tell me,” he said, pulling her hand up to his lips and softly kissing it.

Nancy’s eyes began to water again, but she had to tell him. “Jeffrey. Our… our daughter… she’s alive,” Nancy said, biting her lip.

“What?” Jeffrey gasped out, squeezing her hand harder. “H-how can that be?”

Nancy slowly pried her hand from his grip and looking away from him, dejectedly. “I lied to you. S-she did not die. She is alive.”

There was a long period of silence as Jeffrey thought. “Where is she?” He was trying to calm his anger but couldn’t.

“She is safe, living with a monk. Deluca has informed me that she will be in Kingdom City soon to attend the Evans/Valenti engagement ball. Her name is Elizabeth,” Nancy said softly.

“Why?” he asked through clenched teeth.

Nancy scooted away from him in fear. “Why what?”

“Why everything!” he screamed out. “Why did you lie to me? Why did you hide her? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”

Nancy cringed at his fury. He had never raised his voice at her before. But she knew it was her own fault. “I lied to you and I hid her because I thought that she wasn’t yours. But I was wrong. She is of royal blood. She has special gifts.”

Jeffrey thought about what she had just said. “Who?” he whispered out, his voice barely audible, his heart breaking.

“Jim,” she said softly.

“For how long?” he asked, tears streaming down his face. He made no attempt to wipe them away.

“Just once, during the military crisis years ago.” She looked over to him, her eyes pleading with him to forgive her.

Jeffrey looked away from her, seething with anger.

“Jeffrey, please,” she beseeched him. “Let me make it better.”

He turned to her, his eyes cold as he spat out. “Bring her home to me and we’ll discuss whatever else later, but not until then.”

She nodded her head obediently and left out the door. Jeffrey lay back in bed and closed his eyes tight, tears streaming down, as he willed himself to sleep.

From a shadowy corner of the room, a figure smirked at the dimly lit form of the now sleeping Jeffrey. He made his way out a secret exit of the King’s quarters. Hurrying off to give this new found information to his boss.


He waited patiently in his quarters for his informant to return with any useful information. He remained seated as the secret entrance to his quarters was slowly opened and his spy walked over and kneeled in front of him.

“Khivar, your great, I have much to inform you.”

“Excellent. Now, report,” he commanded.

“It seems as though you were right. The queen did have an affair with the Governor. But I have bad news for you, her child is still alive, and she claims the girl is of royal blood.”

Khivar banged his fist and cursed in anger, then signaled for his informant to continue.

“The daughter’s name is Elizabeth and she will be attending the Evans/Valenti engagement ball this weekend.”

“Good,” Khivar said with a smile. “We’ll just have to make certain we attend. You will obtain an invitation for me. We’ll eliminate her then.” Khivar motioned for him to leave with a wave of a hand.

“Oh. And Sean,” Khivar called out before Sean left the room.

“Yes, your highness?” Sean said with a slight bow.

Khivar tossed a small bag of coins at Sean’s feet. “Buy yourself something nice to wear,” Khivar said. “It is your cousin’s engagement ball, after all.”


Max kicked the door of the cabin. He would have knocked but both of his hands were filled with boxes his mother left in his living room that morning.

Liz opened the door, smiling widely at Max. “Hello Maxwell.”

“Umm…hello Elizabeth,” he managed out as one of the boxes was slipping out of his grasp. Why his palms were always sweating and he always seemed to be tongue-tied around her, he’ll never know.

“Oh, let me help you with that,” Liz said as she grabbed a couple of boxes before they fell. “See? I’m quite the muscle girl myself,” she said with a wink.

“I can see that,” Max said to her with a smile. Was it his imagination, or was Elizabeth flirting with him. Max shook his head. He had to be imagining it. Liz was so naïve and innocent, she probably wasn’t aware of what she was doing.

They both set the boxes down on the table before Liz went and settled down on the couch.

“So did you girls have fun?” Max asked as he sat down on the couch beside to Liz, sitting so close to her, their arms and thighs were touching.

“Oh, we found Elizabeth the perfect gown for Michael’s engagement ball,” Diane called out from the kitchen.

“May I see it?” Max asked, curious as to what it looked like. Perhaps he can coincidently match with her.

“Of course,” Liz said excitedly as she grabbed his hand, stood up, and started pulling him towards her room.

“Halt!” Diane called from the kitchen.

Both Max and Liz stopped, Liz’s hand still holding on to Maxwell’s, and Maxwell not complaining.

“Elizabeth, you are not going to show Maxwell your dress. And Maxwell, you are not going to see Elizabeth’s gown until you escort her down the stairs the night of Michael’s engagement ball.”

Max’s ears perked up. “I am escorting Elizabeth to Michael’s engagement ball?”

“Yes, you are,” Diane said with a smile towards her son.

“You don’t have to,” Liz said shyly to Max. “I mean… if you have already planned on going with someone…”

“I wouldn’t dream of going with anyone else and I’d be honored if you would accompany me,” Max said, bringing her hand up and kissing it.

Liz blushed and shyly pulled her hand away. “I would love to,” she said, smiling widely at him.

“Then, it’s settled,” Diane said as she entered the living room, clasping her hands together. “You two will be attending the ball together. Which reminds me, we must teach Elizabeth how to dance.”

Max groaned. He could master any sport in the world, but dancing just did not agree with him. It was a good thing Sean never learned of his two left feet. “I should be leaving.”

“Don’t be silly, Maxwell,” Diane said, smiling at her son. “It’s not that late, honey. Stay.”

Max hesitated. “I really shouldn’t.”

“Please? You can critique us,” his mom added in. “Elizabeth doesn’t mind, do you?”

They both looked towards Liz. She smiled and said simply, “stay.”

“Alright,” Maxwell said as he plotted himself back down on the couch, kicking himself for giving in to her so quickly.

Diane pushed the coffee table aside to clear a makeshift area.

“Alright, Elizabeth. Come here.” Diane said, holding her hand out for Liz to take.

Liz stood in front of her and placed her hand in Diane’s.

“Alright,” Diane started. “Slow dancing is fairly simple. It’s just three simple steps, like this.” Diane showed her. Liz mastered the steps effortlessly.

“That was good,” Diane said as they came to a stop. “Now, all you have to do is let the male set the pace and you follow his lead.”

Liz simply nodded her head and smiled.

“Of course, I’m not a male, and I wouldn’t be sure about what they do when they lead.” Diane looked over wickedly at her son. “Maxwell, you’re a male. Come over here.”

Max paled. “No, mother. That is quite alright. I-I’d rather not.”

“Oh, come on, sweetie,” she said, pulling him up from his seat on the couch.

“Mother,” Max complained. “I don’t know how.”

“You dance fine. Now, Elizabeth needs a partner,” Diane said, pushing him up next to Liz.

Liz was smiling at Max. Max smiled shyly back at her.

Diane saw the exchange and excused herself. “Umm… I have a… a cake baking.” She disappeared into the kitchen.

Max looked back at Liz and saw that she was waiting for him, expectantly. “I’m not too great of dancer,” Max said, placing his hand on Liz’s waist as she placed her hand on his shoulder. Their other hands intertwined.

“It’s alright. You obviously know more than I do,” Liz said with a chuckle.

Max let out a sigh and decided to chance it and take the risk. Evans men never back down from a challenge, right? He pulled her closer to him, placing her hand on his other shoulder before he placed his around her waist.

He smiled brightly and his heart fluttered when she didn’t object and clasped her hands together behind his neck.

Diane sneaked a glance at them from the kitchen. Her heart melted at the sight of them. The way their bodies were so in tune with the other and the way they held each other, made it seem as though they have been dancing this closely for all of their lives.

Max looked down at Liz with her eyes sparkling. He glanced down at her soft pink lips; they were curved into a sweet and gentle smile. Time for the final plunge, he thought as he took a deep breath and prepared himself for the possible rejection. He licked his lips and leaned down, slowly tilting his head to the side. She wasn’t backing away. Their faces were close. They could feel each other’s warm breaths. It was making him drowsy. She licked her lips and he could almost taste her.

But a knock from the door interrupted their moment. Liz took several steps back, a shocked and scared expression on her face, staring at Max for a second before rushing over to the door.

Max groaned in frustration. He was so close. He could kill the person at the door right now. He headed off into the kitchen and sat at the table while Liz opened the door.

“Maria,” Liz yelled out, a big smile on her face as she pulled the girl into a fierce hug.

Max scoffed. He was happy to see Maria and all, but that should have been Liz in his arms right now.

“I thought you were not coming until next week,” Elizabeth said, as she pulled away from the embrace.

“I convinced my father to allow me a visit,” Maria said, waving to Diane.

“That’s great,” Diane said. “I’ll go get things ready for you in the room.” She headed off into the bedroom.

Maria looked over at Liz again. “They told me that I was going to be staying with an Elizabeth, but I didn’t even consider the possibility of it being you.”

“Are you disappointed?” Liz asked playfully.

“The both of you are awfully chummy,” Maxwell said, still a tad bit angry. “How do you know Elizabeth, Maria?”

They only then noticed Max, sitting at the table a few feet away from them.

“Oh, hello, Maxwell,” Maria said, going over to give him a hug before sitting down in the seat next to him. “I met her in Kingdom City.”

Liz sat in a chair on the other side of Max. “She saved my life, you know.”

“Why? What happened?” Max asked, concerned.

“I was attacked.”

Max’s anger boiled. Who would be so vile as to hurt someone as precious and sweet as Liz? “Who?”

Liz shook her head. “I didn’t know the person, but I think Maria did.”

“Tell me who, Maria,” Max said, already planning out a way to torture Liz’s attacker.

Maria groaned. She didn’t want to bring up the incident. It would only begin by getting Max angered and end bloody and violent. She sighed and lowered her head. “One of Sean’s goons.”

Max’s rage rose. “Sean? He’ll pay.” His voice was calm and sweet. It was scaring Maria to no extent.

Liz’s face paled. She didn’t think Maxwell would actually do anything. And she definitely did not want Maxwell to get hurt over something that happened to her. Liz was about to plead with him to forget about the matter but Diane entered the kitchen.

“Maxwell, may I see you in the room for a second?” Diane said as she headed back into the room.

“Excuse me, ladies.” Max stood up and followed her into the room as Maria and Liz chatted away.

Max walked in and sat on the bed as Diane pulled out some boxes and placed it beside him. “I got you something today.”

“What is it?” Max asked, eyeing the packages.

“It’s your tux. It matches perfectly with Elizabeth’s gown. All you have to do is go to the shop down the street from the warehouse and get it fitted.” Diane smiled smugly.

Max looked at his mother in awe. “Have I told you how much I love you, mother?”

Diane smiled at him. “What is a mother for?” she winked at him.

“Oh. And this too, Maxwell,” Diane said as she tossed a sack of gold at him.

Max caught it. “What is this?”

“Your money,” she said simply.

“I thought I gave it to Elizabeth,” Max said, confused.

“She wouldn’t accept it,” Diane said with a smile.

Max’s face saddened and he let out a heart-wrenching sigh.

Diane walked up to where her son sat and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Hey,” she said, lifting up his chin, “I said she didn’t accept your money. I didn’t say she didn’t accept you.”

Max lowered his head again. “What is the difference? She wouldn’t accept my generosity so she won’t accept me. I bet if Alex would have given it to her, she would have accepted.”

Diane sat down next to him. “I was talking to her about you today,” Diane said, trying to cheer him up.

“And?” Max asked, still depressed.

“And,” Diane leaned into his ear and whispered, “she likes you.”

Max was ecstatic, his hopes rising. His mother wouldn’t lie to him about something this serious. “Honestly?”

“Straight from the horse’s mouth,” Diane said with a smile.

“Hey,” Max became defensive. “She is not a horse.”

“I know,” Diane said as she ruffled his hair.

Max smiled brightly and hugged her tight. “Thank you, mother,” he whispered into her ear.

“Anytime,” she said as she hugged him back.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:52:01 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 4:59:37 PM

Chapter Twenty

Maria walked into the kitchen yawning. Liz was already seated at the table, staring at the plate of food in front of her.

“Good morning, Liz. Did Diane make us breakfast?”

“Good morning, Maria,” Liz said cheerfully. “Yes, she did. She had to go down to the warehouse though. I hope you slept well.”

“Like a baby,” Maria said while she took a seat. “I really wished you would have let me take the couch, Liz.”

“Nonsense,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head. “You are my guest.”

“Yes, but the couch couldn’t have been comfortable.”

“It is fine. Besides, I’ll only be staying on the couch until we have Kyle’s meditation room cleaned out and turn it into yours and Isabel’s bedroom.”

“I can’t wait for you to meet my sister. You’ll get along great,” Maria gushed out.

“I can’t wait either,” Liz said.

“You’ll meet her at the ball,” Maria said with enthusiasm. “She’s going to look gorgeous on Alexander’s arm.”

Liz made a face. “Diane mentioned something about the two of them going together, but Alex never mentioned it. He has never mentioned Isabel when we talk.”

“He’s never mentioned Isabel to you?” Maria said, somewhat worried. “How often do you talk with Alexander?”

“Oh, all the time,” Liz said with a smile. “He’s so funny and easy to talk to.”

“Alright,” Maria said eyeing her warily.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Elizabeth said, jumping out of her seat. “I am to meet with him this morning.”

“Really?” Maria asked.

“Yes. I should be going now. I will see you later, Maria,” Liz said as she started closing the door behind her. “Oh. Before I forget to ask, when do you plan on leaving back to Kingdom City?”

“I’ll be leaving tonight,” Maria said, taking a sip of her tea. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, I was going to go Kingdom City to visit someone. You don’t mind if I join you, do you?”

“Of course not,” Maria said.

“Alright. Thank you,” Liz said and she headed out again.

“Liz,” Maria called back out.

Elizabeth popped her head back in through the door. “Yes?”

“You did not touch your food,” Maria said, pointing towards Elizabeth’s plate.

“Oh. I’m not hungry,” Liz said and left without waiting for Maria to reply.

She made her way down the trail, humming softly. By the time she reached town, her breathing was a little more labored. She had to rest a bit before she continued on to Alexander’s home.

When she reached the house, she knocked softly. Maxwell answered the door.

“Elizabeth,” he said happily. “You are just in time for breakfast.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the kitchen.

Liz slipped her hand out of his grip. “Actually, I’ve already eaten.”

“Alright,” Max eyed her warily but decided not to push it. “Oh, I have something I’ve been meaning to return to you.” Max grabbed her hand again, only this time he held it a bit tighter so that she couldn’t let go. He pulled her into his room and motioned for her to sit on his bed.

Liz did so obediently. “So, what did you want to return to me?”

Max smiled at her as he began searching his room for it. “Well, remember when we first met each other?” Both Liz and Max blushed, thinking about their first encounter where Max was spying on Liz while she bathed. “Well, not the first time we met, but afterwards, you left your bag behind. That’s how I had your journal.”

“So, you were the one with my bag,” Liz said, leaning her arms back on the bed, a sexy smile on her lips.

Max’s imagination was running wild. How often is the girl of your dreams in your room alone with you, on your bed? He shook his head to clear his thoughts and ran a hand through his hair nervously. “Umm… yes. Sorry about that.”

“It’s quite alright,” she said, smiling at him. He was so adorable. “So long as I can have it back. It’s the only bag I own.”

“If I can find it,” he said, rummaging in his closet and under his bed.

“Oh, it’s right here,” Liz said, lifting up his pillow. “What is it doing under your pillow, Maxwell?”

Max wanted to give her a logical explanation, but he just couldn’t think of one. “Umm…” he started chuckling, “see… see it’s sort of a… a long story. You see…”

“Do you sleep with my bag under your pillow at night?” Liz asked, standing up in front of him.

“Yes, Elizabeth. You see…” Max fumbled with his words. He was turning red from embarrassment.

“You are so adorable,” Liz said as she brought her hand up and lightly brushed his cheek.

Max looked at her. She was looking at him with a sparkle in her eyes. Her lips were curled up slightly at the ends. She was biting softly on her bottom lip. He licked his lips and slowly lowered his head. Liz tilted her head slightly, and slowly parted her lips. Max could feel her soft breath on his skin.

“MAXWELL!” came Alex’s voice from the hallway. Max and Liz broke apart, the moment ruined once again.

“BLOODY HELL, ALEX! What do you want?!” Max yelled as he ripped open his door.

“Calm down,” Alex said, putting up his hands to protect himself. Max looked just about ready to kill. “I just came to recapture my Liz, since you stole her away from me,” Alex reached out to grab Elizabeth’s hand.

Max stopped him. “Your Liz?” he asked, staring down at his little brother.

“Yes,” Elizabeth spoke up. “I came to meet Alex today. But we were so busy, I completely forgot.” Liz slipped her hand into Alex’s outstretched one, and let him lead her away.

Max stared after them. He wanted nothing more than to grab Elizabeth back into his arms, and never let her go again. But she obviously didn’t want that. She wanted Alex. Maxwell swallowed hard and closed his eyes, letting the anger and sorrow sweep over him.

He laid down on his bed and put his arm over his eyes as he wallowed in self-pity. Mother lied to him. Mother never lied to him. So why would she start now? He closed his eyes tight and willed himself to sleep.

Max let out a low groan as he felt something softly graze over his cheek. He tried to swat it away. He heard a small giggle and then felt something flick his ear. Max tried to swat it away again. He still refused to open his eyes until he felt gentle lips pressed softly against his cheek.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light, but when he looked up, Liz was leaning on him, her elbows propped up on his chest.

“Finally,” Liz said with a smile. “I’ve been trying to wake you up for an eternity now.”

“Hmm?” Max still was not yet fully awake.

Elizabeth giggled and sat up but still kept her hand on his chest. “I wanted to say goodbye to you before I left.”

Max reached up and held her hand in his. “Left?”

“To Kingdom City with Maria and Diane.”

“They’re all going?” Max asked, sitting up.

Liz smiled at him. “Yes. We’re all going.”

Max yawned and stood up. “Then, I’ll go too.”

“Maxwell, we’re leaving right this instant. You don’t have enough time to pack. The carriage is waiting for me outside as we speak.”

Max pouted. “But I want to go with you.”

She smiled, lightly brushing his cheek. She looked at him thoughtfully. “I’ll see you at the ball.” She headed for the door.

“Liz,” he picked up her bag and held it out for her to take.

She smiled at him. “Keep it. I wouldn’t want to take away your bedtime companion,” she said with a wink before leaving out the door.


“Driver, let me off here,” Liz called out as the carriage came to a stop.

“Elizabeth, what are you doing?” Diane asked, as Liz was about to exit the door.

“There is someone I wanted to meet with,” Liz said as she stepped off the carriage.

Maria jumped off as well. “Don’t worry, Diane. I’ll make sure nothing happens to her. She’ll stay at my home.”

“Alright,” Diane said warily. The driver closed the carriage door and left.

Maria and Liz waved to Diane as the carriage as it took off.

“You didn’t have to come with me,” Liz said as she turned to face Maria.

“I know. But I’ve been wanting to talk to you alone,” Maria said, following Liz as she walked off down the street.

“Really? What about?” Liz asked, smiling at Maria.

“About you… and Alexander,” Maria said shyly.

Liz looked at Maria, confused. “What about Alex and I?”

Maria pulled lightly on Liz’s arm, bringing her to a stop. “Liz, I know I’m not being fair, but I really don’t want you going and being with Alexander.”

“Going with Alex?” Liz still had a puzzled look on her face. “You mean to your ball? In that case, you don’t have to worry. I’m not going with Alex, I’m going with Maxwell.”

Maria shook her head. “I’m not speaking of the ball, Liz.”

Liz was confused again. “Then, what are you speaking of?”

“I’m speaking of you and Alexander, together,” Maria said. “I know, I cannot stop the two of you from anything. But just know this. You may gain Alexander, but is he worth upsetting and losing so many people over?”

“Upsetting which people?” Liz asked, alarmed. “Who would be upset by Alex and I?”

Maria tried to look Liz in the eyes, but Liz’s sad gaze remained on the ground in front of her. “You would be upsetting a great deal of people. Specifically, you would be upsetting Isabel and I, and especially Maxwell.”

Liz’s head shot up at the mention of his name. “Maxwell? Why would he be upset? Alex is his younger brother.”

“Exactly,” Maria exclaimed. But she knew that Liz didn’t understand all that she was giving up. Of course, Alex was a great person, but Maria has seen how both of them acted around Liz. Maxwell treated Liz better than Alex did. Maxwell treated Liz like a goddess.

Liz shook her head. “I still don’t understand.”

“Liz, consider what you’re giving up for Alexander. Think about Maxwell. Don’t you see how hurt he would be by you and Alexander?”

Liz was still confused. “Why would Maxwell be hurt? Alex and I never hurt him.”

Maria stared at Liz. “Liz, if you are with Alex, it’ll hurt Maxwell to no extent. Don’t you see how he feels for you?”

Liz shook her head no.

How could Liz be so oblivious to how Max feels towards her? “Maxwell worships the ground you walk on. He would do anything and everything for you. All you would have to do was ask. Hell, you don’t even have to ask and he would do it. So long as it would put just one small smile on your pretty little face.”

Liz shook her head in disbelief.

Maria looked at Liz and sighed. Liz lived such a sheltered and naïve life. No wonder she was unaware of how Maxwell felt towards her. Maria looked her straight in the eyes and said straightforward, “Maxwell loves you.”

Liz looked at Maria in shock, and then slowly lowered her gaze to the ground again.

Maria saw this. She was starting to worry. “Liz? How do you feel towards Maxwell?”

“What do you mean?” Liz’s gaze still remained on the ground in front of her.

“Do you love him?” Maria asked bluntly.

Liz shook her head. “I… I don’t know… what does love feel like?”

Maria lifted Liz’s head until she could look into her eyes. “Love is the most incredible feeling in the world. You have fluttery butterfly feelings in your stomach every time you see them or even think about them. You want to make them happy. You want to take away all their worries and never let anything hurt them, ever. You want to spend every second of every day with them. You need them.”

“Need them as though they were the air you breathe?” Liz asked softly. It was always the analogy she wished she could feel.

“Yes.” Maria stared at Liz’s face, trying to see if there was even a small flicker in Liz’s eyes that might mean that she reciprocated at least a fraction of Maxwell’s passion. But there was none. Liz’s face remained emotionless. Her eyes didn’t glow any brighter. She wasn’t even smiling.

Maria sighed in surrender. “You obviously don’t.”

Liz lowered her gaze and bit her lip, trying to calm the new feelings inside her. “You should get going. It’s late. I still need to visit with someone first.” Liz started back down the street.

Maria quickly followed after her. “Who?”

“Claudia Parker?” Liz said, remembering the name of the old woman she met on a trip to Kingdom City earlier. “I think she might know something about my mother,” Liz said excitedly.

“Who is your mother?” Maria asked, curious to know.

“I don’t know,” Liz said, shaking her head with a sigh. “All I know about her is her name. It was all Kyle would tell me. That’s where my last name came from.”

“I don’t want to be the one to burst your bubble, but what if your mom isn’t alive anymore?”

“She is,” Liz said simply. Maria was still skeptical. Liz sighed. “I know this might sound strange, but I can feel her, Maria.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can’t describe it. It’s just a feeling I have. It’s like a soft, warm, motherly vibe that she sends to me. And every time I’m in Kingdom City, it gets brighter.” Liz sighed. She wanted to find her family more than anything. It’s all she has ever wanted.

“Then, let’s go find her,” Maria said. No matter what, she would help Liz. “What is her name?”

“Amy Parker,” Liz said with a bright smile.

“AMY… Parker?” Maria asked.

“Yes. Do you know her?”

“No,” Maria said, shaking her head. “But I know someone who might. Let’s go see this Claudia Parker first though. Do you think she might be related to your mother?”

“I’m hoping so. But the last time I saw her she wouldn’t tell me a thing. She did recognize my mother’s name though.”

“Do you get any… what do you call them…” Maria scrunched up her nose, thinking, “…vibes… from her?”

Liz smiled at Maria. She didn’t like telling anyone about her unique gifts but she was glad she told Maria. She didn’t think anyone would accept her for them. They made her feel different.

“Not much of a vibe, but more than what I perceive from most strangers. It is a really loving and warm vibe, friendly too.”

“Is this the place?” Maria asked as they came to a stop at the door to a small house in the bad side of town. “So this is what you were doing out here when I came to rescue you.”

Liz nodded her head at Maria before she knocked softly on the door. They waited a few minutes and were about to knock again when they hear the door slowly creak back. A pair of eyes peeked out at them before the door opened wider. An old woman appeared from out behind it.

“Elizabeth,” she said in a cheery voice. “It’s so good to see you. Come on in. You girls shouldn’t be out around here this late at night,” she said, ushering them inside the house.

“Hello, Claudia. This is my friend Maria,” Liz said, pointing towards Maria, who was standing beside her.

“It’s nice to meet you, Maria,” she said while motioning for both of them to take a seat on the couch. “So, Elizabeth, what brings you by this time?”

“I wanted to see if you remembered anything about Amy Parker,” Liz said, pleading with her eyes for Claudia to give her any possible clue about her mother.

Claudia sighed. “Elizabeth, you really should stop this search. Amy Parker simply doesn’t exist anymore.” Maria’s ears perked up at the phrase.

“Please Claudia.” Liz walked over to where Claudia was sitting and kneeled down in front of her. “I need to find her.”

Claudia sighed and looked down at the girl. “What is so important about her?”

Liz looked up at the old woman and said softly. “She’s my mother.”

Claudia gasped, holding her hand over her mouth, and staring at Elizabeth.

Tears were forming in her eyes and running down her cheek as she picked Liz up off the ground and pulled her into a fierce hug. She ran her hand down, smoothing out Liz’s dark brown, silky hair and whispered in her ear, “Honey-bear.”

“Claudia?” Liz asked confused, as she pulled out of the hug.

“Now that’s no way to address your grandmother,” Claudia said with pride as she looked at Elizabeth.

Both Liz and Maria gasped and stared at the old woman, who simply smiled. “Have a seat. I’ll fix us some tea. We have a long story ahead of us.”


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:53:18 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:00:22 PM

Chapter Twenty-One

Claudia placed a cup of tea in front of each girl before she sat down with her own cup. “Now, where to begin?”

“Why does Amy not exist anymore?” Maria asked, very curious to an explanation, since her father refused to give her one.

Claudia sighed. “Because she doesn’t.” Both girls stared at her, not understanding.

“Then, she’s dead?” Elizabeth asked fearfully.

Claudia shook her head. “Amy doesn’t exist because she isn’t Amy anymore. She goes by the name Nancy now.”

“Why?” Maria asked. “And do you know anything about her connection with Jim Valenti?”

“Jim Valenti? Yes, I remember little Jimmy. Amy and Jim, they were an item. They were together for the longest time. Amy loved Jim a great deal. I remember feeling so sorry for him after she left. All of us were hurt by her decision,” Claudia said with a sigh.

“What decision?” Liz asked, even more confused.

“To marry. It was the night of Jim’s brother’s engagement ball. She was very beautiful, all dolled up. She told me all about it when she came home.”

“I still don’t see why she changed her name,” Maria said, shaking her head. “Or why she left Liz. Or where she is now.”

“You have to be of high status in order to marry royalty. That’s why she changed her name. They made up an identity for her where it would be socially acceptable for her to marry the prince. I think they said that she was a high priest’s daughter in some far off land. I don’t know. I never saw her after that. Everyone who knew her was forbidden to speak of her for ten or so years, and she was just forgotten. No one cared, so long as the queen was beautiful. In this society, that is all that matters.”

Liz was still too shocked to speak, so Maria did for her. “So she is the queen now,” Maria said, realization dawning on her. “So that makes Liz…”

“A princess,” Claudia filled in for her.

Both Liz and Maria stared at each other in disbelief.

“But… why would she leave me with Kyle?” Liz asked dejectedly. “They obviously have enough money to raise me. It wasn’t because they were poor or unable to. They didn’t want me. Was it because I was too different?”

Maria leaned over and hugged Liz. “You are not different. You are special. There is only one of you in this entire world. And there is no one who wouldn’t want you. You have a good heart, Liz. The world loves you the more for it.”

Claudia sighed, unsure of why her daughter hadn’t kept Elizabeth, but glad that Liz found someone to help her, especially someone as sweet as Maria.

“You girls must be hungry. Why don’t I go and make you something to eat, and you can tell me all about yourselves.” Claudia headed into the kitchen and Maria followed her, with her arm still draped over Liz.

All three sat down at the table with a bowl of ice cream for each of them. It wasn’t much of a dinner, but Maria suggested it, seeing how Elizabeth needed a little cheering up. And what better food is there to put a smile on your face than ice cream?

“So, how long have the two of you been friends?” Claudia asked while taking a spoon of her ice cream.

“Actually, not very long,” Liz said as she swirled the ice cream around in her bowl. “I met her the last time I was in Kingdom City.” Maria noticed that Liz hadn’t even eaten any of her ice cream, but decided not to confront her about it now. She’ll have a talk to Liz about it later.

Claudia was surprised. Maria and Liz seemed as if they’ve known each other their whole lives. “So, I want to hear all about you girls.”

“I’ll start,” Maria said, knowing Liz didn’t like too much attention. She was hoping that it would make Liz a bit more comfortable. “My name is Rosemary Valenti. I am eighteen years of age. I have one younger sister named Isabella. And I’m engaged to Michael Guerin of the Evans family. And it will be announced this weekend at my engagement ball.”

“Congratulations on your engagement. Love is a beautiful thing,” Claudia said, smiling at the two. Both Maria and Claudia then turned, looking towards Liz.

Liz bit her lip subconsciously under their gaze. “Well, my name is Elizabeth Parker. I am seventeen years of age. I will be turning eighteen in a few months. I grew up on Mount Roswell. There isn’t much else about me left to say.”

“No special person in your life, Elizabeth?” Claudia asked with a small grin.

Liz just shook her head.

“Oh, come now. A young woman as pretty as you? You have to attract men like bees to honey.”

Liz just shook her head again. “There is not much to be attracted to.” Liz stared down at her bowl of ice cream. Maria had to be wrong. Maxwell couldn’t love her. Someone as smart, sweet, loving, playful, handsome, charming… the list goes on and on… and overall just an incredible person as Maxwell couldn’t feel that way about her. Her own parents didn’t love her enough to want to keep her. She was just a freak.

Maria sighed seeing Liz’s dejected look. Liz had such a low self-esteem at times. If only she could look at herself through someone else’s eyes. Then she’d see what a great, loving, and beautiful person she is, especially if she saw herself through Maxwell’s eyes. Maria sighed thinking of Maxwell’s situation. She wondered why Liz didn’t see how much Maxwell loved her. It was so ironic. Max could have any girl he wanted. They would come from miles around, throwing themselves at his feet. But he wanted the girl that Maria wasn’t sure he could have.

“It’s getting late,” Elizabeth said with a sigh, still staring at her melted bowl of ice cream.

“Yes, we really should get going,” Maria spoke to Liz. “Thank you, Claudia. I really would love to stay and chat more, but Liz and I have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. My engagement ball is the day after. You should come. I’ll have an invitation sent to you,” Maria said while Claudia walked them to the door.

“That will be lovely dear, but I’m afraid I can’t make it,” Claudia said, giving Maria a hug goodbye.

“I’ll send you one, just in case you change your mind,” Maria said as she stepped outside the door.

“Goodbye, grandmother,” Liz said as she gave Claudia a hug. “I’ll come visit you tomorrow.”

“I’d love that, honey-bear,” Claudia said, hugging her back. “Whoever he is, he’ll come running back, like bees to honey.” Claudia gave Liz a knowing glance.

Liz was uncertain of what she meant but offered her a small smile and left with Maria down the street.

Liz and Maria hurried down the street at a fast pace. It wasn’t good to be out in this part of the city late at night. They made it onto the main street that lead to Maria’s estate and walked up to the gate.

“Miss Valenti,” a guard greeted Maria. “It’s rather late. We were expecting you home sooner. A carriage has stopped by earlier this evening with your belongings. I had them sent up to you room.”

“Thank you,” Maria smiled at the guard as he let her inside. “Is my father asleep?”

“Governor Valenti is spending the night at his office to finish up some paperwork before the ball.”

Maria sighed. Her father worked far too much. “What about Isabel?”

“She’s waiting for you in your room.”

Maria thanked him again before heading off with Liz into the house.

Maria told a servant to prepare a guest room for Liz to stay in as they headed up the stairs.

“I can’t wait for you to meet my sister. Isabel is just going to love you,” Maria said as they reached the top of the stairs and headed into Maria’s room. When Maria opened the door, she found Isabel asleep on her bed.

Maria tiptoed over, putting a finger to her lips to signal for Liz to be quiet. She grabbed a pillow off the bed and began attacking Isabel. Isabel sat up, startled as she was repeatedly hit. She grabbed the pillow she was laying on and began retaliating. Soon, both girls were knocked out on the bed. Liz just watched on, giggling.

Isabel hadn’t noticed someone else in the room until she heard her soft laughter. She froze and looked in Elizabeth’s direction, somewhat embarrassed at her childish behavior. She stood from the bed and walked over towards Elizabeth.

“Hello, I am Isabel. And you are?” Isabel asked as she extended her hand for Liz to shake.

“Elizabeth Parker,” Liz said politely as she lightly shook Isabel’s hand.

“Liz?” Isabel looked towards Maria, who nodded her head. “So, you’re Liz. I’ve heard a great deal about you.”

“Likewise,” Liz said with the same evil grin adorning Isabel’s face. Both girls broke out in a fit of laughter.

Maria watched on with a smile. She was right; they would all get along great.

Liz and Isabel were still busy talking that they didn’t see the sinister smile on Maria’s face. Maria slowly grabbed two pillows, stealthily walked up to the two, and succeeded in knocking them both down before running out of the room laughing.

Liz and Isabel shared a knowing glance before grabbing the pillows and rushing out the door after her, knocking a few things over on their way.


That morning, after Elizabeth left, Maxwell, Michael, and Alexander had to go up to her cabin and prepare the room for Maria and Isabel to stay in while they were here in town. They hired people to help carry the beds up the mountain. They cleared out Kyle’s meditation room and put two beds in it and did a small amount of decorating. It didn’t look all too feminine, but they were positive that once Maria and Isabel moved in, they would fix it up with girly frilly things.

After that, they had to go get their tuxes fitted, which took hours to do. Their mother had taken the liberty to getting all of their tuxes for them. All three of the tuxes were basically black, but they had different colors within the different parts of the tuxedo to match with their respective companions for the evening. Apparently, Maria’s dress was going to be green, Elizabeth’s white, and Isabel’s blue.

After they were done at the tux shop, they had lunch together. They were quiet most of the meal. They each had different things on their minds, or different people for the most part.

Michael was still having doubts about his engagement. He loved Maria and he wanted more than anything to marry her, but what if she suddenly realized whom she was marrying? What if she decided he wasn’t good enough for her? What if she called it off last minute? What would he do without her? What if she decided she didn’t love him anymore? He would just have to put his heart out on the line and risk it. That’s what Evans men do, right? They never back down from a challenge. Michael’s mind was crowded with thoughts.

Alexander was nervous. He only had one more day to get things right. Elizabeth helped him a great deal, but she wasn’t going to be there to hold his hand through this. She was going to be out there dancing with Maxwell during the ball. Alex was just going to have to face his fears. So what if he was somewhat scrawny and somewhat brainy? If she liked him, then she would like him for him. He would just have to tell her. They’ve known each other for so long now. If the feelings were there, they would have developed by now. He’d just have to see. He would have to tell her and face the consequences. That’s what Evans men do, right? They never back down from a challenge. Alex’s head was crowded with things to do.

Maxwell was more confused than ever about his Elizabeth, but he was still hopeful. After all, there were plenty of signs that showed him that she cared for him, right? She came to say goodbye to him before she left. She didn’t have to, but she did. She gave him her bag. It was her only bag, and yet she gave it to him. They almost kissed. Twice. And she kissed him. Granted it was a peck on the cheek, but she still kissed him, not the other way around. And he was going to escort her to the ball. Max shook his head. None of that meant a thing. It only meant that she was his friend. Hell, at least he had that. He didn’t know what he would do if he couldn’t have her in his life. But would he be able to take the rejection if he told her he loved her and she didn’t say it back? Could he just stand there and watch the love of his life walk out on him. No. He’d have to put his heart out on the line and hope that she won’t step all over it too much. That’s what Evans men do, right? They accept the challenge. They embrace it. Maxwell’s momentary confidence soon dwindled. His thoughts were so crowded with emotions.

After lunch, all three split up and went there separate ways.

Michael went home to think out things. He said that rest would do him good and help clear up his mind and prepare him for the ball. Apparently, Michael thought more rationally in his sleep than he did awake.

Alexander went walking around town to think. He decided to stop by a few shops along the way and stepped into a music store. He spent hours inside. He always thought best with a guitar in his hands.

And Maxwell headed off to the warehouse to check up on things while his mother was in Kingdom City. He could always think clearly when he busied himself with something else. And carrying bags seemed more tempting than dwelling on how pitiful he was. He stayed there after all the laborers left for the day and finished up loading the last of the bags before heading home.

Max opened the door to his house and walked in. Imagining what it would be like to come home to his own house with his Elizabeth waiting for him inside. Max chuckled, playing out the scene in his mind.

He would walk through the door and shut it behind him, calling out, “honey, I’m home.” And Liz would appear in the living room welcoming him home with hugs and kisses. They would talk about their day over dinner. Spend the evening in the garden, looking up at the stars. Or in front of the fireplace, just enjoying each other’s company. Then they would both ready for bed and slip in under the covers together. Holding each other as they fell asleep with smiles on their faces.

Max sighed. He would give anything to have his blissful fantasy life. But if he told Elizabeth about his dream, would she want the same too? Or would she laugh at him?

Max walked into the kitchen and poured himself a drink before heading up to his room.

He stopped by Michael’s room and found Michael already asleep. His bags were all packed. They were to leave for Kingdom City early in the morning so they will arrive around the afternoon. That way they can prepare any last minute details before the ball the next day, and get well rested.

Max checked up on Alex. He creaked open Alexander’s door, but Alex wasn’t in his room. His bags were all packed but where was Alex? Max walked about the house in search of his little brother. It was beyond late, and Alex should be asleep. They had a long journey ahead of them tomorrow.

Max heard noise from the garden. He headed over to the window and peeked outside. There, in the soft light of the moon, was Alex, gently strumming his guitar and softly singing a song.

Max smiled, glad that Alex picked up his old hobby again. Not only was Alex a genius, he was one hell of a musician. When did Alex ever stop playing? Max thought for a while. It was a couple of years ago. Back when Alex also stopped tutoring as well. Max wondered if there was a connection, but decided not to ponder too much on the subject. His mind was already filled with so many things to figure out, he didn’t have room for Alex’s situation. At least not about Alex and Isabel. There was already a huge part of his mind fathoming about Alex and Elizabeth.

Max shook his head to clear his thoughts. He didn’t have time to think about the Alex and Elizabeth situation. There shouldn’t even be a situation. It was late and he still had to pack his things. Max headed off to his room. He walked over to his bed and pulled his suitcase out from under it. He placed it on his bed, unzipped it, and began packing some necessities for the trip.

He packed clothes, money, and cologne among other various items. His tux was baggaged separately, as not to get wrinkled. He walked over to his dresser and opened the bottom drawer. He pulled out a rectangular jewelry box. He snapped it open and stared at it. The diamonds sparkled. It had cost him a pretty penny, but it was worth it. It was beautiful, but not as beautiful as her. Nothing would ever come close. He bought it to give to Liz on the night of the ball. And Maria had assured him that it matched well with Liz’s gown for the evening. He would give it to her and confess his love for her. But would she accept it? Would she accept him? Max snapped the box shut and placed it into the suitcase. Lastly, he pulled her bag out from under his pillow and placed it in the suitcase before zipping it up and putting it down, beside his bed.

Max readied for bed, stripping down to his shorts, and slipping under his covers. He sighed, finally getting to relax and sleep from the long day. Closing his eyes, he tried to will himself to sleep, but he just couldn’t. He tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable position, but something didn’t feel right. His heart was yearning for something just out of reach.

He clutched his pillow tighter and inhaled the sweet smell of vanilla, but it just wasn’t enough. Max stood from bed and blindly opened up his suitcase, pulling out her bag. He climbed back under the covers with it placed next to him. He sighed and finally closed his eyes to sleep. He was content. He found what was missing. Her. It was always her. His angel. Her smell just wasn’t enough. He needed to hold on to her, anything of hers. Max longed for the night when it’d actually be his love that he was holding in his arms. What would it feel like to be in heaven with his angel? What would it be like to be able to touch her skin and run his fingers through her soft, silky hair? To feel her body fit perfectly in his arms again? It would be heaven. Every part of her filled his senses as he drifted off to sleep, dreaming about his Elizabeth.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:54:32 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:00:51 PM

Chapter Twenty-Two

All three girls were sprawled out in Maria’s room. Maria was lying on the bed, leaning over the side. Isabel was lying on the floor propped up on her elbows. And Liz was sitting up, leaning against the side of the bed.

They were all exhausted from running around the house, chasing Maria. When Isabel and Liz finally caught her, they pummeled her with pillows until Maria surrendered.

“So Maria,” Liz began, “what does it feel like to soon be the fiancé of the charming Michael Guerin?”

“Michael Evans,” Isabel corrected her.

Liz looked at Maria. “I thought his last name was Guerin?”

“It is,” Maria said, confused. “What do you mean by that, Isabel?”

Isabel groaned, she wasn’t supposed to mention anything about it. “Nothing.”

Both Maria and Liz looked at her expectantly, knowing that she was hiding something.

Isabel gave in. “Fine. Father and Mr. Evans are working on a surprise for Michael but you did not hear it from me.”

“Congratulations, Maria. You’re going to be an Evans,” Liz said with a wicked smile.

“You know what they say about Evans men,” Isabel said winking at Maria. “Just imagine what they’ll say about Evans women.”

Maria hit Liz’s arm playfully and threw a pillow in Isabel’s direction. “I would not be talking if I were you. You will both be Evans women too, sooner or later.”

Isabel mock gasped. “I have no idea of what you are talking about,” Isabel huffed and then started giggling.

Liz just looked at Maria confused. “What do you mean, Maria?”

“Well, I’ve heard from both father and Mr. Evans that they are already discussing Alex’s engagement to Isabel,” Maria said, winking at Isabel, who threw a pillow back at her.

Liz was still confused. “But you said we would both be Evans women.”

“Elizabeth, darling,” Isabel began, “Maria will be engaged to Michael. I will possibly be engaged to Alexander. Who is left?” Isabel asked with a big toothy grin.

Liz gasped. “Are… are you implying that me… and M-Max… engaged??”

“I thought that was what you wanted,” Isabel said, confused. “Do you not like him?”

“Yes. But I don’t think…”

“Isabel,” Maria interrupted her. “Let’s not discuss it any longer.”

“We will discuss the ball then,” Isabel said, not wanting to mention anything that might upset Elizabeth.

Maria had an excited look on her face. “It is going to be amazing. I’m going to wear the green gown I had made. Remember the design of mother’s dress, Isabel?”

Isabel nodded her head.

“I had it designed somewhat similar to it. It’s gorgeous,” Maria said, thinking about it.

“You’ll be the belle of the ball,” Liz said with a smile.

“What does your gown look like, Elizabeth?” Isabel asked.

“It is so beautiful,” Maria answered for her. “It’s a satiny white with bits of gold in it. Liz will look just perfect. She’ll catch the eyes of more than just one person. Every man will be drooling.”

Isabel giggled. “Gives everyone just one more thing to envy Maxwell Evans over.”

Liz blushed and smiled politely.

“Oh, Liz,” Maria began, “Maxwell is just going drop dead when he sees how gorgeous you are at the ball. He’s already swooning when ever you are even near him.”

“Already?” Isabel asked. “I never thought I would see the day that the charmer himself, Mr. Maxwell Evans, would fall head over heels for a girl. But then, there couldn’t have been anyone better.”

Liz blushed again. “Stop, you’re embarrassing me,” Liz said softly.

“Oh, come on, Liz,” Maria added in. “There’s no need to be modest. You are gorgeous. Look at you, that skin, those cheeks, that hair, and your eyes? Too perfect. All you have to do is pout that lip of yours and guys will come, throwing themselves at your feet.”

Isabel mock gasped. “But then we wouldn’t want to get Maxwell jealous, now would we.”

“Evans men are quite adorable when they are jealous. Why do you think I flirted with so many men in front of Michael before?” Maria asked with an evil grin.

“Why?” Liz asked.

“So he could see what he was missing out on. Michael would go crazy and start glaring at every guy we passed. As if already claiming me as his. But then, Michael never really acted on it though,” Maria said with a sigh.

“Oh, but Maxwell,” Isabel began, “Maxwell is a very active person. He is very much the knight in shining armor who must find his damsel in distress. He would being down anyone in his way.”

“You know what we should have her do?” Maria suggested to Isabel. “We should have her dance with someone else at the ball. Then we could see how Maxwell would react.”

Isabel brightened at the idea. “If she kept dancing with other men all night, Maxwell would go insane with jealousy.”

Maria giggled. “He would probably throw her over his shoulder and carry her off.”

Isabel laughed and Liz just leaned back and sighed. They were talking about her as though she weren’t there.

Maria’s laughter stopped and her face became solemn. She looked at Isabel. “But she mustn’t dance with Sean. We have to make sure that Sean stays far away from both Maxwell and Liz.”

“You are right,” Isabel said. “Maxwell would kill Sean if he even set eyes on Liz.”

“He wouldn’t really do anything, would he?” Liz asked, worried.

“Maxwell’s threats are never to be taken lightly,” Isabel said softly. “Especially against Sean.”

“Liz, when Maxwell gets here, talk to him. Make sure he doesn’t do anything,” Maria told Liz.

“I’ll try, but you know how stubborn he can be at times,” Liz said, biting her lip.

“Liz, if you told him to jump off a cliff, he’d do it without question,” Maria said.

Isabel giggled. “I bet he would walk through fire for her.”

“Juggle swords.”

“Eat worms.”



Both Maria and Isabel broke out into a fit of laughter. Liz just shook her head and stood up, heading towards the door.

“Liz, where are you going?” Maria asked.

“I’m surprised you even noticed me, seeing as how you were talking about me as though I’m not here.” Liz mocked anger and put her hands on her hips.

All three girls just started laughing.

“You are right though. It is late,” Isabel said as she picked herself up off the floor.

“Yes. We have a great deal to do tomorrow,” Maria agreed. “Goodnight all,” Maria called out.

Both Isabel and Liz stopped at the door and called out before shutting it. “Good night, soon to be Mrs. Michael Evans.”

Maria smirked at them. “And don’t you ever forget it.”


Jim finally finished the paperwork and placed it in his briefcase. He spent all night working on it for Philip. Philip told him that there wasn’t a rush, but he wanted to do this for his soon to be son-in-law. He was glad Maria found someone as good-hearted as Michael. Michael will take care of Maria even better than he could.

Now he only had Isabel left. He had already been discussing with Philip the matters of Isabel and Alexander’s relationship. They agreed that the two were very fond of one other, but they decided to wait and see if their feelings lead to where Philip and Jim hoped they would.

All of his children will be married then. But Philip still had Maxwell. Jim just could not think of a girl good enough for the boy. Maxwell needed someone special whom he could care for. But Maxwell was already certain that he found the perfect girl. At least, that’s what Philip told him.

Jim was convinced that the girl had to be special to catch Maxwell’s attention. And it’s a good thing Maxwell found someone too. His brother had wanted to set up a meeting with Philip to discuss a possible engagement between Maxwell and Tess. Jim shuttered at the notion. He was fond of his niece and all, but she just would not suit well with Maxwell. She was just too… superficial. Maxwell was charming and daring. He needed someone soft, sweet, and loving to be with. And that was not Tess.

Jim made it home later that morning after he dropped off the paperwork at Philip’s office. The guard informed him of Maria’s return as he entered through the door. Immediately, he heard laughter and felt the warmth and love in the house.

He headed up to Maria’s room, and knocked softly on the door before opening it. He pushed the door open and saw her. Long, silky dark brown hair. Bright deep brown eyes. Soft creamy skin. Lips curved in a small sweet smile. She was beauty decked in the flowing white dress that made her perfect, too perfect… “Amy?”

Liz just stared at him. Maria stood up from where she sat on the bed. “No, father. This is Elizabeth Parker.”

“Parker?” he asked Maria, giving her a look.

Maria nodded her head knowingly at him. “Parker.”

“We are getting some last minute things together for the ball. Liz was modeling her gown for us to see. Doesn’t she look beautiful, father?” Isabel asked.

Jim looked at her. She was a replica of Amy from that day. “Too perfect,” Jim said softly before heading to his room.

Maria just sighed and closed the door. She walked over to Liz. They were deciding how to tell the hairstylist to do Liz’s hair.

“It’s definitely going up,” Isabel said. “This is a formal affair, her hair must be done up.”

“Adorned with flowers?” Maria asked Isabel.

“No. I think more along the line of beads or pearls of some sort,” Isabel said

Maria nodded her head in agreement. “You’re right. Flowers would not look as nice. It’d be too much.”

“What else do you have to go with the dress, Liz?” Maria asked.

“It’s all in that trunk,” Liz said, pointing to the chest near the bed.

Maria opened it up and pulled all her things out onto the bed. “These are perfect. Did Diane help you pick these out?”

“Yes,” Liz answered, nodding her head.

“Good. Diane has excellent taste,” Isabel said while picking up some of the items.

Both Maria and Isabel helped Liz try on the rest of her ensemble. Both were in awe at how gorgeous Liz looked, even without her hair and makeup done. They let Liz change and told her to join them downstairs later.

Maria and Isabel sat on the couch in the living room.

“Liz looked beautiful,” Maria said to Isabel.

Isabel nodded in agreement. “That dress was so small though. How could she fit it?”

Maria sighed. “I don’t think she’s eating,” Maria said, concerned.

Isabel sighed knowingly. “She wants to look perfect for Maxwell.”

“Yes,” Maria agreed. “No matter how much she denies it. She loves him.”

“You saw it too?” Isabel asked her sister.

“Yes,” Maria said with a smile. “She had that look in her eyes when we were speaking of him.”

“The look of longing,” Isabel said with a sigh.

“I’ve seen it on Maxwell’s face far too many times. He loves her too, you know.”

Isabel was confused. “Then why aren’t they together?”

“She’s scared of something,” Maria said with a shrug. “Probably scared of getting hurt.”

“Aren’t we all?” Isabel asked with a sad face.

“Don’t worry, Isabel,” Maria said, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Alexander will come around. He’s head over heels for you. You just have to show him that you feel the same way. Men are the biggest cowards around. They have the biggest egos that bruise so easily.”

Isabel giggled, then sighed and nodded her head.

“Let’s go get something to eat,” Maria offered.

“Yes. That sounds nice,” Isabel started up the stairs to inform Elizabeth they were all going out to eat.

She knocked softly on the door. “Liz, are you ready? We’re going to go eat.”

Liz opened the door. “I’m not really hungry,” she said as they headed down the stairs.

“You have to eat something, Liz,” Maria said sternly from the bottom of the stairs. “You barely touched your food at breakfast.”

“I’m just too excited to eat,” Liz said, trying to brush it off.

“Please, just eat something,” Maria pleaded with her.

“I will. I promise,” Liz said, nodding her head.

“Let’s go then,” Isabel said, waiting for them at the door.

“Oh, but I was planning on visiting Claudia now,” Liz said, following Isabel out the door.

“We’ll go with you,” Maria insisted. “I need to give Claudia her invitation.”

“Actually, I wanted to talk to my grandmother alone, if you don’t mind,” Liz said softly.

“That is alright. Maria and I will just go and you can meet us at the Evans’ estate after you are done,” Isabel said, smiling at Liz. “The boys should arrive by then.”

“Alright,” Liz said as she headed off down the street.

“Remember to eat something,” Maria called out to her.

Elizabeth nodded her head at Maria and left. Maria and Isabel headed to a restaurant.

“Do you think she’ll eat?” Isabel asked.

“No,” Maria replied sadly.

“Shall we tell Maxwell?” Isabel asked, concerned for Liz.

Maria sighed. “We don’t want to worry him too much. Only if we must. He won’t be pleased though. Not one bit.”


[ edited 8 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:55:41 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:01:07 PM

Chapter Twenty-Three

Maxwell stepped out of the carriage and stretched his tired muscles. He had been stuck sitting for hours, and frankly, his muscles were cramped.

Michael playfully shoved him out of the way. "Some of us would like to get off of this moving box as well, you know."

"Ahh... fresh air," Alexander said with a smile as he hopped out of the carriage.

Max smiled at his little brother and then went to help with the luggage. He wanted to make sure nothing happened to his suitcase. If he lost it, he wouldn't know what he would do. It would toss his entire plan off balance and then he'd start panicking. A panicking Maxwell was not a good Maxwell.

He grabbed most of the bags and hauled them into the house. Working at the warehouse had many advantages. He was a great deal stronger. Max could probably take down Sean twice as fast now. And was Sean going to get it.

Max placed the bags down in the living room and brought his bags upstairs. Michael and Alex could handle their own bags.

He stepped into his room. Everything was the same as he left it. He smiled at the familiarity and plopped down on his bed with a sigh. He missed this. He missed his life here and his father.

But, wherever Elizabeth would go, he would follow. Max groaned. His obsession was getting out of hand. He loved her more than anything, but what if she didn't want him following her around on his hands and knees, worshipping her day and night. Perhaps he should shy away from her a bit. Perhaps that is why she is always so anxious to get away from him.

Max laughed at himself. Even if he did decide to stay away from Elizabeth, he just couldn't keep from being around her. A whole Roman army wouldn't be able to keep him from her.

He heard a soft knock on his door before it slowly opened. Diane came in and sat down next to Maxwell on his bed. "How is Elizabeth?" he asked her.

"I don't know," Diane said, shrugging. "I haven't seen her since the carriage dropped her off with Maria the other day."

"Really?" Max asked, sitting up. "You don't think there could be anything wrong with her, do you?"

Diane smiled at Max's concern. He really did care for Liz. "I'm sure she's fine."

Her response didn't comfort Max any. "I just have this strange feeling. It's probably just nothing," he said, dismissing it while lying back down.

"Well, your father wants to see you after he has a talk with Michael," she said, getting up and heading towards the door. "Your father misses you a great deal. He wants to ask you to come home. Do you think you would?"

"Only if I can tie Elizabeth up and keep her in my closet," Max replied, not even looking at his mother.

"Maxwell," she said with a hint of warning in her voice, "I'm serious here."

"As am I," Max answered her.

Diane shook her head and sighed. "The girls should be over in a short while," she told him before she headed out the door and down the stairs.

She walked into the living room and found Alex waiting patiently on the couch. "Eager, are we?"

"Just waiting," Alex said with a smile on his face. His mother knew he was anxious to see Isabel. The whole world probably knew he was anxious to see Isabel.

"Mother, may I ask you something?" Alex asked timidly.

"Anything, Alex," Diane said, giving him her full attention.

"Do you think I am a... geek?" he asked fiddling with the hem of his shirt. "Honestly, mother."

"No," Diane said, ruffling his hair. "I think you're the most charming person in the world." She leaned in to his ear, "don't tell him I told you, but you are even more charming than Michael."

Alex's face brightened. "Really?"

Diane nodded her head with a smile.

Alex narrowed his eyes at her. "What about Maxwell?"

"Of course you are more charming than Maxwell," Diane said.

"So out of the three of us, who do you love the most?" Alex asked, pouting his lip at her.

Diane rolled her eyes and sighed. "You know I love you all the same."

Alex smiled widely. "I know. But you can't blame me for trying. Sure Maxwell is a mama's boy, and Michael is every mother's dream, but I'm the baby in the family. You have to love me."

“No comment,” Diane said, rolling her eyes.

“But mother…” Alex whined.

“I’m not listening…” Diane said in a singsong voice.


“Look, Isabel’s here,” Diane said, pointing towards the door.

Alex jumped up and ran to the door and swung it open. He turned away from the empty doorway and gave his mother a look.

Diane just sat on the couch with an innocent smile on her face.

“Very nice, mother,” he said, still giving her the look.

Diane shrugged. “Is it my fault that you are so head over heels for Isabel.”

“Head over heels?” Alex asked.

“Yes,” Diane said, smiling.

“I may care for her a great deal, but I’d hardly describe it in that sense.”

Diane smiled, “Hello, Isabel.”

Alex scoffed, “Oh, no. I refuse to fall for that one again.”

Diane just snickered.

“So you care for me a great deal?” came Isabel’s voice from behind him.

Alex slowly turned around. He blushed a deep red as he came face to face with Isabel. Maria was standing behind her, snickering.

Alex rubbed his neck nervously. “Um… hehe… h-hello, Isabel. H-how are you?” he stuttered out.

Isabel smirked at him and Maria simply laughed harder as she pushed past him to join Diane on the couch.

Alexander still stood there, frozen in his spot. Isabel smiled, grabbed his hand, and tugged him towards the stairs. “Come along. We’re going up to your room. We have some things we must discuss.” Alex nodded his head and followed her obediently.

Maria and Diane laughed harder from where they watched on the couch.

“Isabel has him wrapped around her little finger,” Maria said, shaking her head.

Diane sighed. “All of my sons are saps for love, just like their father.”

Maria smiled warmly at Diane. “I hope Michael and I are as happy as you and Philip.”

Diane smiled at her soon to be daughter-in-law. “You will be. Trust me, you will be. I can sense these sorts of things. You and Michael will be very happy. As will Alexander and Isabel. And even Maxwell and Elizabeth will have their happily ever after too.”

That reminded Maria. “Has Liz arrived yet?”

“No, she was not with you?” Diane asked.

“No. We wet our separate ways. She agreed she would meet us here. But that was several hours ago,” Maria said, concerned.

“Where did she go?” Diane asked.

“To visit family,” Maria was starting to panic. “But she was going into the bad side of town. It’s where she was attacked the last time.”

“She’s where?” Maxwell asked from where he stood at the bottom of the stairs. He walked over to Maria. “Where is she, Maria?” he demanded in a stern voice.

“The third alley on the right off of Main Street,” she yelled out to him as he raced out the door. He should have gone with his gut instinct. He always trusted his gut instinct. And it was telling him something was wrong, very wrong.


Max ran as fast as he could down the busy street, trying to avoid bumping into people in his way. Some of the citizens tried to greet him and welcome him home to the city, but he just rushed right past them. He didn’t want to be rude, but Elizabeth was calling him. He could feel it in his heart. She needed him.

He made a sharp turn, nearly missing the alleyway and knocking over a small cart in his path. But he didn’t have time to apologize. He’d find the person and pay for any damages later. Right now though, Elizabeth needed him. And nothing will stand in his way of finding his angel.

He made it all the way to the end of the alley, but he still saw no sign of Liz anywhere. He started panicking. Dear God, where could she be? Max closed his eyes tight. What was that saying? ‘Let your heart be your guide’ or something of that sort. Let’s hope it works, Max thought as he tried to feel any signal from Liz, any sign that might tell him where she was.

That’s when he felt it, the feeling from earlier. Elizabeth was calling him and she was scared. He raced down the alley, took a sharp turn down the street and turned down another alleyway. He made it halfway there when he saw them, and the sight made his blood boil.

Liz was lying still on the ground. And someone was hovering above her. Not just someone, Sean Deluca, the scoundrel himself.

Max stormed over and launched himself at Sean. Knocking him across the alley, away from Elizabeth. Sean hurried to his feet and fled away. Max wanted to go after him and permanently disfigure him for what he did to Elizabeth. But he couldn’t leave Liz, not in the state she was in.

He kneeled down next to Liz’s body. She was so frail, lying there helpless on the ground. Max lifted her up in his arms with ease. Was it just him, or was she lighter than she was before? She shifted in his arms, snuggling up closer to his chest.

She opened her lips to say something. She spoke too softly to hear, but Max could make out a soft murmur. He must be imagining things because he could have sworn he heard Liz call out his name.

Max brushed her hair away from her face and gently caressed her cheek. He ran his fingers through her hair. Thanking whatever gods in the heavens for letting him find her before Sean could do anything worse.

He slowly stood up and made his way back home. Everyone stared at him in the streets, but he paid no heed. His thoughts were all on Elizabeth as he held her close to him, walking towards his home.

He kicked open the front door to the house and carried Elizabeth in. Everyone came running up to him, worried about her. But Maxwell ignored them and walked up the stairs to his room.

He placed her gently on his bed, adjusting her arms and legs to a more comfortable position. He pulled his desk chair over next to the bed and sat down, holding Liz’s hand, waiting patiently for her to wake up.

He didn’t want to think about it yet. He didn’t want to think about what Sean could have done to Liz. He didn’t want to think about what he will be doing to Sean. He just wanted Liz to wake up and tell him everything was going to be okay.

Diane came in with a tub of water. She placed it on the table beside his bed and began wringing out a towel. She started to gently clean off Liz’s face and arms. She worked around Max, who still never moved from his position next the bed, holding Liz’s hand.

Max just stared at Elizabeth. Diane sighed, lifted the tub of water, and headed down the stairs. Maxwell was a wreck. He looked as though he might lose it any second now. But there wasn’t anything else Diane could do. The only person who can help Maxwell right now, was Elizabeth.

Diane walked to the kitchen, and dumped the water out before she reported back to everyone else in the living room. Philip was seated in the armchair. Isabel and Maria sat on the sofa, while Alex paced back and forth.

They all looked up as Diane entered the room.

“How is she?” Alex asked, voicing the question that was on everyone’s minds.

“She’s breathing fine. She’s a little pale though. And she hasn’t wakened yet,” Diane sighed as she leaned on the armrest of Philip’s chair.

Philip held her hand and offered her a comforting smile. “I’ve already sent Michael to call for a doctor. He should be back soon. Jim is also on his way.”

Diane nodded her head and leaned back onto Philip’s shoulder.

Alex stopped pacing and headed for the stairs. He had to see her for himself. He crept up to Maxwell’s door quietly. He didn’t want to disturb Max. Alex knew Maxwell needed his time alone with Elizabeth right now.

Alex creaked open the door and took a peek inside. Max was whispering to Liz quietly. Alex could barely make out what he was saying.

“… and then I’d hold her while we both fell asleep, warm and happy. The end. And that’s my happy fairytale life with my wife. My wife… the only problem is that I don’t have her yet to hold. So the position’s still open if you are interested. The only requirement is that… it’s you, Elizabeth. So that means you more than qualify. But you have to wake up first, darling. I need you to wake up for me. So we can live our happily ever after.”

Max closed his eyes as the tears came down. He gripped on to Liz’s hand even tighter, bringing it up to his lips and kissing it gently.

Alex watched the scene with tears in his eyes. Maxwell truly did love Elizabeth. There was no doubting it.

Alex didn’t want to intrude any longer. He quietly headed down the stairs. Everyone lifted their head and looked at him as he entered the room. He just shook his head, no, and sat down next to Isabel on the couch.

Isabel pulled Alex into her arms and let him lean his head on her shoulder. Alex let a few tears slip down his face and just pulled Isabel to him. He would never want to be in the situation Max is in right now. He wasn’t strong enough.

And he wasn’t too sure if Maxwell was strong enough either. But Maxwell had to be, for Elizabeth’s sake.


[ edited 6 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:57:27 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:01:23 PM

Chapter Twenty-Four

Sean sat in the chair, holding a wet towel to his face where Max had hit him. The blood stopped and it was now caked to his skin. His lip was swollen and bloody. He had a black eye that was bruised and purple. And he had scratches all over his back from when Max rammed him into the wall.

“What the hell were you thinking you incompetent fool!?” Khivar shouted at Sean as he paced back and forth in the room. “You weren’t supposed to make a move until the ball. That was the plan. Stick to it. Learn to follow orders you dimwitted nincompoop.”

“I didn’t make a move,” Sean said, defending himself. “I saw her heaving and panting in the alley and asked her if she was alright. I didn’t even know that she was the Elizabeth you were referring to. I knew she looked familiar though. She resembles the queen so much.”

“You know her?” Khivar asked as he stopped pacing and stared down at Sean.

Sean squirmed in his seat. Khivar was quite intimidating. “Yes,” Sean nodded his head slowly, wincing at the pain it invoked. “She is Maxwell’s girl.”

“The Evans boy?” Khivar asked in surprise.

“Yes,” Sean said. “Who else would dare give me such a bruise?” Sean lifted the towel and showed Khivar his face.

Khivar laughed. “The boy did nice work. But I could do better,” he added with a smirk.

Sean groaned. “You’re royalty. Royalty has powers. Can’t you heal this?” Sean pointed to his face, pleading with Khivar to help him. How was he supposed to impress anyone at the ball with a face like this?

Khivar rolled his eyes. “Apparently you know nothing about the royal family.”

“What does that mean?” Sean asked curiously.

“Nothing,” Khivar answered. “Besides, you aren’t worth the effort.”

Sean murmured something under his breath as he slumped down in his chair.

“Just remember the plan for tomorrow night,” Khivar said as he left the room. He needed to make sure the rest of the arrangements were made for the ball, when he would eliminate his competition.


Maxwell waited impatiently outside for the doctor to finish checking on Elizabeth. It took a great deal of effort, but at everyone’s insistence, they were finally able to have Max release his hold on Liz’s hand and leave the room so that the doctor could do his work. But they couldn’t get him to go far. Max was now pacing back and forth outside of his bedroom door.

Alex was leaning against the wall in the hallway, staring at his older brother’s frantic behavior.

Governor Valenti made it here shortly after the doctor arrived and he, as well as everyone else, retreated to the office, discussing what to do about Liz’s situation, the ball, and everything else. Alexander had volunteered to keep an eye on Maxwell as to make sure he didn’t go completely berserk. And inform the others as soon as the doctor was done.

Max’s pacing was getting Alex dizzy and frankly, Max was only getting worse.

Alex straightened up and walked over to his brother.

“Maxwell,” Alex said, grabbing him by the shoulders. “You need to calm down. Mother isn’t going to like it if you put a hole in the floor from all your pacing.” Alex tried to joke, but realized that it wasn’t the time to be funny by the evil death glare Maxwell sent him.

Max let out a deep breath. “I’m just…worried.” He squeezed his eyes shut tight, to get a hold of his emotions.

“I know,” Alex said while nodding his head sympathetically, “But you are no good to anyone of us panicking like this. She wouldn’t want you to worry so much. She needs you to be strong,” Alex said, looking Max in the eyes. Making sure Max understood what he was saying.

Max nodded his head and took another deep breath. Alex was right. He had to be strong, for Liz’s sake as well as his own.

Max ran a hand over his face and turned his body towards the door, staring at it, willing it with his eyes to come open. But no such luck. Max let out a huff.

Max sighed and tried it again. But this time, glaring at the door. Still, no such luck. Max sigh in frustration again.

Alex snickered at his brother’s attempts. “You want me to try?” Alex offered Max. “I’ve been getting better at this than you lately.”

Maxwell stepped aside, welcoming Alexander to try his luck.

Alex smiled widely. He stretched his arms over his head and rolled his head around a good measure. “Okay,” he said, waving his hands at the door. “Abracadabra.”

The door swung open, as if by magic. It startled both Alex and Max. The doctor stepped out and stared at Alexander, who was still standing in a ridiculous magician stance.

Alex straightened up and smiled nervously at the doctor, rubbing the back of his neck, embarrassed at being caught acting like such an idiot.

Max was trying his best to look past Doctor Davis to see Liz.

The doctor just smiled at them both before turning to Alex. “Tell Philip and Diane that I’d like to talk to them about Elizabeth’s situation now.”

Alex nodded his head and headed off to the office.

Max tried to walk past, to check up on Liz himself, but the doctor stood in the way, not letting him through.

“Doctor Davis,” Max pleaded with him, “Please. I just want to see her.”

“Maxwell,” Brody said sternly, “She needs her rest.”

“But… I just want to see her,” Max begged. “I won’t disturb her.”

Brody sighed, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, Maxwell. But if you want her to recover as soon as possible, you’re going to have to let her rest.”

Max conceded with a sigh. He wanted Liz to better as soon as possible. She had to get better. “How is she, doctor?”

Brody smiled at Maxwell and patted him on the back, “She’s fine.” Brody has known Maxwell ever since he was born, but has never seen him this worked up over a girl. She must be one special young lady.

Everyone emerged from the office, each of them desperate to know Liz’s condition.

“Let’s all go downstairs and we’ll talk about it in the living room,” Philip said as he led the way down the stairs and out of the crowded hallway.

Brody walked down. Diane followed close behind him with Michael and Maria after her, and Alex and Isabel after them.

Max waited until everyone was out of sight before he quietly pushed the door slowly open.

Elizabeth was lying peacefully on his bed. She looked better than when he found her earlier in the alley. There was more color in her cheeks. She looked healthier, more alive. Liz seemed as though she were simply sleeping. Not as if she were attacked.

Maxwell’s anger rose thinking about it. As soon as Liz recovers, he would go after Sean and make him pay for even looking at Elizabeth. He wanted to make Sean bleed for doing this to Liz, but he couldn’t leave her side, not until she was better.

After a few moments, Max hesitantly made his way down the stairs, but not before getting another quick glance at Elizabeth, his angel, dreaming peacefully on his bed. Maybe one day he could join her, holding her in his arms while she slept.


Everyone was seated when Maxwell made it down the stairs. Michael, Alex, and Isabel were on the couch. Maria was sitting in Michael’s arms. Philip sat in the armchair while Diane leaned against its armrest. Diane pulled a seat up for Max to sit down in on seeing him enter the room.

With everyone situated in the living room, Doctor Davis began. “Now, I know you are all concerned about Elizabeth’s condition. I need you all to know that we have a very serious situation.”

“What?” Max jumped to his feet. “You told me that everything was fine. That she was fine.”

“She is fine, Maxwell. This time. But if this keeps up, she is going to need critical medical attention,” Doctor Davis said, looking at each person, making sure they understood how grave the situation was.

“Don’t worry,” Maxwell said with a low growl, “Sean won’t be coming near her ever again.”

“Maxwell,” Maria spoke up hesitantly. “I don’t think the doctor is talking about whatever happened with Sean.”

“What do you mean?” Max asked, turning towards Maria, “What else happened to her?” Max suddenly became fearful. What if someone else had been hurting her and he hadn’t even realized it?

“Who?” Max hissed out.

“Liz,” Isabel whispered out.

“Who is hurting Liz?” Max asked through clenched teeth, trying to restrain his anger, but failing miserably.

Maria let out a deep breath. “Liz. She is hurting herself.”

“What?” Max asked, not understanding what Maria was saying.

“She isn’t eating,” Maria whispered out to him. “She has been starving herself.”

Max’s face fell and his breathing quickened. “How long?” he asked as he slowly sat himself down in the chair.

“I’m not sure, but it has been a while now,” Maria said, looking down at the ground in front of her. She felt ashamed that she hadn’t tried to stop Liz, or at least sat her down and fully talked to her about the deadly consequences.

“And no one thought to tell me? To talk to her? Anything?” Max spat out.

“We tried, Maxwell,” Isabel spoke softly, “We honestly did. But every time we mentioned it, she would change the subject or avoid talking about it completely, walking away from us.”

Max leaned back in his chair with a groan. He was right. Liz was skinnier than before. God, why hadn’t he notice sooner? You’d think he would have been able to see it coming. All the signs were there. He doesn’t even remember seeing her eat once before. Max ran his hands over his face and let out another groan.

“We have a very serious situation on our hands here,” Dr. Davis spoke up, atracting everyone’s attention. He looked over towards Max. “Now, Maxwell. I know that you believe that Sean may have done something to Elizabeth, but there are no signs of an attack in any way. Elizabeth does not have any bruises or any other markings on her.”

“But I saw Sean there,” Max protested. “He had his hand on her.”

Philip looked towards his son, “I’ve already spoken to Valenti about this. He says that Sean may have been simply checking to see if Elizabeth was alright. Unless Elizabeth says otherwise, Sean was just a concerned bystander.”

“Well, she can’t really say anything while she is unconscious now, can she?” Max exploded.

“She isn’t unconscious,” the doctor spoke up. “She is merely sleeping. Liz was lucky. Her body was weakening due to her lack of nourishment. But as soon as the medicine entered her body, she reacted to it immediately, about ten times sooner than most young girls would. It is miraculous even.”

“When will she wake up?” Maria asked from where she sat.

The doctor thought for a moment. “At the rate that she is recovering, she’ll probably wake up any second now.”

“So she will be able to attend my engagement ball?” Maria asked, being very hopeful.

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” Doctor Davis replied, shaking his head. “She should remain resting, at least the rest of this weekend. Even after that, I would advise that she refrain from doing any strenuous activity.”

Everyone nodded their heads.

“Thank you, doctor,” Philip said, standing up to shake the doctor’s hand. “Is there anything else we should know about Elizabeth?”

“I would advise that you find someone close to her, that she would listen to, and have them sit her down and discuss the full impact of what she is doing to herself. Other than that, just make sure she drinks plenty of liquids and gets plenty of rest.”

“Thank you, doctor,” Philip shook his hand once more before looking towards Michael’s direction. “Michael, would you take the doctor upstairs to the office and get the prescription and payment for the bill.”

“Yes, father,” Michael said, nodding his head and heading for the stairs.

“Oh, Jim should still be up there finishing up paperwork. I think he needs your signature on a few more things. I’ll be up shortly,” Philip said to him before turning to the others in the room.

“Now, you all heard that,” he said to the group, but mainly towards Maxwell. “Elizabeth is not to do anything to overexert herself. That means no getting her to do anything tiring. Are we clear?”

Everyone nodded their heads, understanding fully well what he meant. That meant no taking her out to play, no horseback riding, no shopping, no running around, no anything.

Diane sighed, “Who do you think should talk to her about her predicament.”

“I think Maria should,” Alexander suggested. “They seem to be the closest.”

“Isabel and I have tried,” Maria said, shaking her head. “Liz won’t listen. I think the person she would listen to would have to be Maxwell.”

“I agree,” Isabel spoke up, “I think Maxwell should. She will listen to him. She practically remembers every word he’s ever spoken to her.”

Max ducked his head a bit, blushing. His lips curled up slightly at the corners and he started getting a dreamy look in his eyes. If Maria and Isabel suggested that he talk to Elizabeth, she had to care for him, right? If she remembered their every encounter? Their every word exchange? God knows he remembered them all too well. Her face was permanently etched into his mind.

“Now, Maxwell,” Philip spoke up. Max lifted his head and looked towards his father. “I know you are very disappointed, but Elizabeth cannot go to the engagement ball. We would postpone it, but the night before is just too late to cancel and get notices out in time. And before you even say anything, yes you will be going. You are Michael’s brother and your presence is necessary at the ball. I know that Elizabeth was to accompany you, and she can no longer go, but you need to be there. You understand that, don’t you?”

Max let out a deep and saddened sigh before nodded his head in agreement.

“Good,” Philip answered. “I know you probably won’t like what I’m about to say next, but Tess is still available to accompany you to the ball.”

Max stood up with a huff, disgusted that his father would even mention such a thing, “Father…”

“Maxwell,” Philip warned, “I’m only informing you.”

“Fine,” Max spat out.

“Maxwell. This is a very formal occasion. I merely suggesting-”

“I’ll think it over,” Max said, interrupting his father as he rushed by him and up the stairs. There was only one place he wanted to be right now. And only one person he wanted to see.

Max leapt up the stairs, taking them three steps at a time. When he reached his door, he took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself. He did not want to be angry in the presence of Elizabeth. What if she could feel him like how he felt her this afternoon?

Max quietly turned the doorknob and slowly inched the door open. The doctor said that she would be waking up any moment now, but he didn’t want to wake her just yet.

Max peaked inside his room. Liz was still lying peacefully on his bed. He tiptoed over to the bed and sat down in the chair beside the bed. He took her hand into his, caressing it gently. She was so beautiful. Maxwell stared at her intently. His intense gaze was filled with such longing that he even startled himself. He knew he loved her, but he didn’t know to what extent his love was. That is, until he almost lost her. That was when he realized that she meant everything to him. She was his whole world… his angel… his Elizabeth.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 6:59:16 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:01:50 PM

Chapter Twenty-Five

“…So… um… Liz… um…. I… um…” Max tried to stutter out. They were sitting on a bench outside in the garden. The moon was shining brightly, stars flickered in the dark night sky, the sweet aroma of flowers surrounded them everywhere, and Elizabeth sat there next to him, utterly, utterly beautiful.

“Yes, Maxwell?” Elizabeth asked, leaning towards him. She was so close that her hair brushed against his arm. He wanted nothing more than to run his fingers through it, feeling the soft silky strands slip through his fingertips.

Maxwell swallowed hard. He just had to tell her. If only he could work up the courage. “I… um… I… just wanted to tell you… that um… y-you see… there’s this…”

“What ever it is, Maxwell, just tell me,” she said with a big smile, giggling softly at his nervousness. She bit her bottom lip slightly.

Max stared at her cute little habit. Elizabeth noticed his gaze and ran her tongue over her lips. Max wanted so much to kiss her, to taste her, to be able to feel her lips against his. But there was no way that was going to happen unless he told her.

“Alright. Here goes,” Max cleared his throat. “I… um… I bought this for you,” he said as he pulled out the box from inside his coat jacket.

He held out the box to Elizabeth. She looked at it quizzically. Maxwell took a deep breath and snapped open the top to showed her the beautiful diamond bracelet that he bought for her. The diamonds sparkled in the moonlight. Maxwell held his breath, waiting for her reaction.

“What is that?” Elizabeth asked, pursing her lips and looking at the bracelet.

“It’s… um… it’s… for you. I-I bought it as a… uh… a token… of my love… for you.” Max managed out, still waiting to see her reaction.

Elizabeth looked up at him with questioning eyes. “Maxwell?” There was a soft twinkle which Max interpreted to be hope. Perhaps she wanted this as much as he did. Perhaps she was just as unsure of herself as he was of himself.

Maxwell’s heart was beating a mile a minute. He looked into her eyes and said the words he has only dreamed of saying to her. The words that he has repressed for too long. The words that simply rolled off of his tongue. The words he has been longing to tell her. “I… I love you Liz.”

Elizabeth stared up at him, gasping. “Awww… that’s so sweet of you, Maxwell. You are so adorable. But you really, really shouldn’t have done this.”

Max smiled, “I wanted to um…”

“Really. You shouldn’t have. See this little thing?” She asked, lifting up the diamond bracelet, swinging it back in forth in front of his face to taunt him before throwing it over her shoulder. It disappeared into the rosebushes. “It is nothing compared to this.” Elizabeth flashed out a diamond bracelet on her wrist. The diamonds on it were ten times the size of those on Maxwell’s bracelet.

“Sean gave it to me,” Liz said with a big smile. “We’re getting married next week!”

Max’s mouth dropped open as he stared at her. His heart stopped beating.

“Isn’t that right, dear?” Elizabeth called out.

Sean popped out of a bush and came and hugged Elizabeth from behind. “Yes. That is right, sugarpie.”

They shared a kiss as Liz leaned back into Sean’s embrace. “Maxwell, you really should come to the wedding.”

Max woke up with a start. His breathing was rapid and there were drops of sweat all over his face. He used his sleeve to wipe his forehead. That was one incredibly wrong nightmare. How on earth did his subconscious come up with that scenario? Maxwell had to shake his head to get his thoughts straight. His Elizabeth would never act in that manner. His Elizabeth was sweet and kind. She wouldn’t hurt him like that, would she?

Max looked down at the angel sleeping soundly in his bed. No, she wouldn’t hurt him like that. If anything, she’d find a way stomp on his heart gently.

Max sighed. What if she didn’t care for the gift he bought for her? What if she didn’t care for him? He closed his eyes tight and took a deep breath. He was not going to know unless he told her.

Max sat up and straightened his back, wincing at the aching pull in his muscles. He fell asleep sitting in his chair, while he leaned his arms and head on the bed. His back was cramping from sleeping in the uncomfortable position. He stretched his back a bit and slowly let his muscles adjust.

Max looked back down at the sleeping form in his bed. She still had yet to wake. Doctor Davis said that she was going to wake up soon. But that was last night. She had not stirred at all. But the color returned to her face. Her breathing was normal and her cheeks were rosy. And yet Max was starting to worry.

What if she stayed like this, a sleeping beauty. Max smiled softly at the thought. What if, all she needed to wake her up was a kiss? Was it worth a try? Max was thinking about Elizabeth’s well being here, not how much he wanted to taste her lips. He might as well give it a try. After all, what was a little sacrifice if it was for a greater good?

Max gently sat down on the bed beside her. He placed his arms on the bed on either sides of Liz’s shoulders, and started to lower his head. He ran his tongue over his lips and parted them. He could now feel Liz’s warm puffs of breath on his face. He could almost taste her lips, but his conscience was restraining him. His bottom lip grazed hers before he pulled back up.

How did Prince Charming do it? It just didn’t feel right without her permission. Maxwell groaned and opted in going to get the doctor instead of furthering his experiment with fairytale mythology.

Max stood up and turned towards the door, about ready to break out into a run to get the doctor and bring him here to check up on Elizabeth again. But he didn’t want to leave Elizabeth here without his supervision if something should happen. Neither did he want to be gone if she should wake. But what if something was terribly wrong and she never woke?

Max was about to head out his bedroom door when it crept open.

“Good morning, dear,” Diane whispered, “Is she still not up yet?” she asked, tilting her head towards Elizabeth.

Maxwell shook his head no. His eyes were cast down, a look of distress on his face.

“I will go get the doctor,” Diane said as she shut the door softly behind her.

“Oh, Maxwell,” she called out as she opened the door again. “You really should be getting ready for the ball. You have only got a couple more hours. Did you find someone to take with you yet?”

Max let out a long sigh. He nodded his head. “Yes,” he said with his head bowed down, ashamed of his answer. He didn’t lift his head until he heard the soft click of the door being shut completely. He never enjoyed lying to his mother, but he just refused to go with anyone other than Elizabeth. His heart belonged to her and he couldn’t take it back now, no matter how hard he tried. And going with someone else just felt as though he were betraying her in some way.

Maxwell walked back over to the bed and solemnly sat down in the chair. He lifted her hand into his, brought it up to his lips and kissed it. “Don’t worry, Elizabeth. Everything will be fine. You’ll see. Mother will go get the doctor. She will make everything better.”


“Yes. Sure. No problem, man,” he said, patting Alexander on the back.

“Great. So after the announcement tonight?” Alex asked the group.

“Anything for you, Alex,” one of them answered.

“It’ll be like old times,” another one commented.

“Thank you, guys, I owe ya,” Alex called out as he headed out the door.

Alex made his way down the street with a big smile on his face. Everything was going as planned. Perfect even. Well, except for the whole Elizabeth ordeal.

Alex’s face fell. Why is it that bad things happen to good people? And Elizabeth was as good as a person gets. She was sweet and kind. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. She did get a little feisty every now and then, but that was only when Maxwell was around.

Alex was pulled out of his thoughts by a voice in front of him.

“Can you direct me to the Evans’ home?”

Alex looked up and saw a monk asking a few townspeople in front of him. He walked up to the man, “You are looking for the Evan’s estate?”

Kyle looked at the boy in front of him and nodded his head, “Yes. Can you tell me where it is?”

“Yes. In fact, I’ll show you the way. I live there and was on my way home right now,” Alex said as he started down the street with the monk at his side. “Was there someone specific you needed to speak with?”

“Are you one of Diane’s sons?” Kyle asked.

Alex nodded his head, wondering how this man knew his mother.

Kyle smiled, patting Alex on the back, “Then you must be Alexander. I’m Kyle.”

Alex stared at the monk for a moment before it hit him. “Uncle K!” Alex pulled him into an embrace. “Mother has told us all about you. How did you know I was Alexander?”

“Well, she did mention that you were a bit on the scrawny side,” Kyle said with a teasing glint.

Alex rolled his eyes playfully, “I’m just going to pretend that I didn’t hear that.”

Kyle laughed. He remembered Diane saying that Alex was quite witty.

“So you’re here about Elizabeth?” Alex asked with a sad expression on his face.

“Yes. What happened?” Kyle asked. “I only received a small message from your mother saying that Liz was ill and she needed me to watch after her. I came right away.”

“Well…” Alex started, not quite sure how to tell his uncle, “…umm… she… she hasn’t really been… eating… all too well.”

“Not eating well?” Kyle stared at Alex, confused. “She has told you that she does not eat meat? She’s in training. She hasn’t eaten meat in her entire life.”

“It’s not that she hasn’t been eating meat,” Alex said warily, curious as to what Kyle meant by Elizabeth being in training. “It is that she hasn’t been eating at all.”

Kyle stopped walking and stared at him. Liz not eating? Why would she not eat? Liz always ate. She even ate more than he did. They always used to joke with her about it, asking her where she fit all that food in her bony body.

Alex saw Kyle’s confusion. “She fainted the other day. Maxwell found her in an alley. She still hadn’t woken when I left this morning. Although, she looked a lot healthier than she did yesterday,” Alex kept walking, past the gate. “You can see her for yourself though. She’s right upstairs in Maxwell’s room.”

Kyle ran past Alex through the front door. He raced into the house. He saw a few people stand up and look towards his direction when he entered, but he continued on his way, running up the stairs. He was in such a hurry he ran sraight into someone at the top of the stairs.

Kyle looked at the half-dressed boy he almost knocked over. He was most likely one of Diane’s other sons. Probably Maxwell. Diane said that Maxwell had the tall, dark, and handsome, Prince Charming look. And this boy’s hair was definitely more tamed than how Diane described Michael’s unruly hair.

“Whoa… careful,” Max said as he leaned onto the wall for balance. He was on his way to the bathroom to get his shirt when he was almost knocked over by someone. He stared at the monk that stormed into his house. “Umm…” Max thought for a second, “Uncle K?”

Kyle nodded his head. “Where is she?” he asked, panicking, and out of breath.

Max frowned, knowing exactly whom Kyle was referring to. His sleeping beauty. His angel. Max sighed, closed his eyes and pointed to the opened door of his room. He stayed in the spot long after Kyle raced off in Elizabeth’s direction.

Max let out a deep breath. The ball was only hours away and Liz had yet to wake. Doctor Davis came by earlier. He did another check on Elizabeth and said that she was fine. A lot better than yesterday but that she just needed rest. She would wake up when she was recovered. He made a special note to Maxwell, not to rush Elizabeth, and to let her wake on her own accord.

Max hung his head low, how could he not want her to wake up as soon as possible? His whole plan… everything… was ruined. Maxwell kicked himself. How can he be selfish now when he should be hoping the best for Elizabeth’s recovery, not that she was dancing with him at the ball tonight? The ball… Elizabeth was to accompany him. Now he’d have to settle for the next best thing. Maxwell groaned, eyes still cast down.

Alex walked slowly up the stairs and saw his brother, gloomier than ever. Alex sighed and made his way over to his brother. He put a comforting hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, “Max. Mother and father have already left to the Valentis’. You should finish getting dressed, and we’ll head down there together. Alright?”

Max shook his head. “Elizabeth still hasn’t wakened. Who is going to watch her?”

“Uncle Kyle will,” Alex said, steering Maxwell into the bathroom, so he could finish changing. “Mother had him come. He’ll take good care of her.”

“But…” Max began to protest.

Alex shook his head as he forced his brother into the bathroom. “Maxwell. You know you have to be there to support Michael. It’s his big day.”

Max sighed, “It’s just…”

Alex interrupted him again, “I know, believe me, I’m worried about Liz too, but there is nothing we can do about it now. You are just going to have to let her rest, like the doctor said.”

“But what if…”

Alex stared his brother in the eyes. “Even if she woke, she wouldn’t be able to be at the ball, dancing with you. She would still have to spend a day or two more in bed. But Michael needs you there.”

Max nodded his head in defeat. He knew Alex was right. There wasn’t much more he could do. He already stayed by her side all night and day, talking to her, holding her hand. He even sang to her, and he was as terrible a singer as he was a dancer.

Alex patted Max on the back and shut the bathroom door behind him as he headed towards his room. Maxwell stared at the closed door for a second before he threw on the rest of his clothes. He didn’t even bother with his hair nor did he look in the mirror before heading out the bathroom to see if he looked presentable. He could care less. His mind was focused on more important things… or rather… a more important person.

Maxwell made his way over to his room and peeked inside. Kyle was sitting in his chair, beside Elizabeth’s bed, holding Elizabeth’s hand. Maxwell felt a small pang in his chest. He shook his head and laughed at himself. Only over Liz could he ever be jealous of a monk.

Kyle heard soft chuckling coming from the hallway. He looked towards the door and spotted Maxwell standing just outside the room. Kyle stood up, placing Liz’s hand softly on the bed.

When Maxwell saw Kyle stand up, he walked into the room quietly. Although he wanted Elizabeth to wake up, he didn’t want to be the one to wake her. She just looked too peaceful in her sleep. He couldn’t bring himself to try and wake her now.

“Are you and Alexander about to head off?” Kyle asked as he met Maxwell halfway in the room.

Maxwell nodded his head. “Yes. At least, I am ready. It will be dark soon. There is a lantern on the table. Umm… you can find matches in my desk drawer. Make yourself at home. If there is anything you want, just help yourself,” Maxwell said to Kyle, but his eyes were glued on Elizabeth’s sleeping form.

Kyle nodded. He noticed the yearning gaze Maxwell was giving Elizabeth. He would have to have a little talk with Liz when she woke up. He raised her in such a sheltered environment; she probably didn’t even realize how much longing was filled in those looks Maxwell gave her. Kyle sighed.

“Maxwell, don’t worry. I will watch after her.”

Max sighed, forcing his gaze away from Elizabeth. “Can you do me a favor? Will you send someone to get me if… when she wakes up?” Max corrected himself

Kyle smiled and nodded his head. “Of course.”

“Maxwell,” Alex’s voice came softly from the hallway. “We should get going.”

Maxwell let out a deep breath and took one last glance at Elizabeth, lying on his bed, before heading out the door, away from her, his sleeping beauty, His angel.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 7:00:49 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:02:03 PM

Chapter Twenty-Six

Michael was seated on the stairs as he watched his soon to be announced fiancé run back and forth between the rooms, clearly panicky and nervous about the ball. She was running about so much, it was starting to make him dizzy.

Maria counted things off on her fingers as she entered the ballroom once again. “The flowers are set. The decorations are done. Candles are up. The caterers are here. Music is… where is the band?” Maria paused and looked around frantically. “How are we to hold a ball without music?”

Michael snickered at her distress. Why women get so anxious and worried, he would never know.

Maria spun on her heels, facing the crude hyena. “And just what on earth are you laughing at? I don’t find it funny that we are without music for our own ball. Do you? Because if you do, something is certainly not right.”

Michael stood up and held Maria by the shoulders, looking straight into her dazzling emerald eyes. “Maria, dear, sweetie, the band still has over an hour before they have to be here. Do not worry so much. Alexander knows them. They will make it on time. We will have music,” Michael snickered again.

Maria let out a huff and pouted, knowing fully well that she was overreacting. She leaned into his embrace, throwing her arms around his neck. “I just want everything to be perfect.”

Michael leaned his head down so that their foreheads were touching. “Everything will be perfect, so long as you don’t decide that you want out of this last minute, and leave me.”

Maria looked to the side, as if contemplating the thought before looking back and smiling at him. “That is a very tempting alternative, but I highly doubt that you can rid of me that easily. Besides, if I left you, who would be here to knock some sense back into that thick skull of yours, oh love of mine?”

Michael chuckled and leaned down to softly kissed her lips. He tightened his grip around her waist, pulling her body up against him. He lifted one of his hands to run his fingers through her hair when he heard someone clear their throat.

Michael and Maria pulled apart at lightning speed, both beet-red, embarrassed at having been caught being so intimate in public.

Isabel simply giggled, amused at her sister’s flustered state. “I can just imagine what would have happened if father had caught you two.” Isabel giggled again, earning a glare from Maria.

Upon seeing the scowl on Maria’s face, Isabel suppressed her laughter as much as possible. “Maria, the hairstylist is here. We should be getting ready.”

Maria nodded her head, tiptoed up, and gave Michael a quick peck on the lips before following Isabel up the stairs towards their rooms.

Michael watched her as she ascended the stairs. She was beautiful. How did he ever manage to become engaged to such golden-haired goddess as Maria? Not that he was complaining. In fact, he was thanking his lucky stars that she chose him, of all people, to be with.

Michael stood their long after she had disappeared from his sight. He finally came out of his reverie when he heard a servant open the door and footsteps approaching from behind him. Michael turned around and saw Alexander walk up towards him.

“Hello Michael. So… today is the big day… isn’t it?” Alex asked, slapping Michael on the back.

Michael rolled his eyes at him. “You should see how stressed Maria is.”

“I could imagine.” Alex said, laughing at the mental picture of Maria pulling her own hair out. “So… where is Isabel?”

Michael smiled at Alex. “Very subtle, Alex. I was actually expecting that to be the first thing out of your mouth.”

Alex blushed and rolled his eyes.

Michael laughed again. “She is upstairs with Maria, getting dolled up.”

“Great!” Alex replied with a toothy grin.

“I’ll bet,” Michael said as he sat back down on the steps. “Oh. Your friend came by and dropped off your guitar. It’s in the living room,” he said, looking up at Alex.

“Great!” Alex replied with another sparkly smile.

Michael eyed Alex curiously. “You are a little too chippery today. What are you up to?”

Alex shook his head wildly. “Nothing. Why would I be up to something?”

Michael shrugged his shoulders with a smile. “You’re just a little too happy, is all.”

“Hey,” Alex said, making a face and putting his hands on his hips with a huff, as though he was offended by the comment. “I resent that.”

Michael just laughed.

“Besides,” Alex said, his face falling, “better to be overly chippery than to be like Mr. Gloomy Gus over there.”

Michael looked to where Alex was pointing and saw Maxwell, leaning against a wall with his back turned towards them. Michael hadn’t even noticed Maxwell come in. That was how you knew that something had to be wrong with him. Max thrived on the attention of creating big entrances, and making his presence known to all. And Michael knew exactly what was bothering Max, or rather, who. “So… Elizabeth not awake yet?”

Alex shook his head, his eyes downcast. “I had to practically drag him here.”

Michael nodded his head in understanding.

“Don’t get him wrong,” Alex said upon seeing Michael’s dim expression. “You know Maxwell wants to be here to support you and all, it’s just that…”

“I know,” Michael interrupted, “He’d rather be with Elizabeth. I don’t blame him. I’d probably rather be there too.” Michael let out a sigh.

Alex smiled sympathetically. “Uncle Kyle is watching her.”

“Yes, I know,” Michael replied. “Mother already informed me.”

“Where is mother?” Alex asked.

“She is probably upstairs with Maria and Isabel, critiquing the stylist. Father is with Governor Valenti in his office with more paperwork,” Michael said, his mind clearly elsewhere.

Alex sighed, he hadn’t wanted to bring Michael’s mood down. Today was his big day. Alex gulped thinking about it. Today was his big day too. Maybe he should just go over it one more time. “I think I’m going to go spend some time in the garden. Where was my guitar again?” Alex asked as he headed out the room.

“In the living room,” Michael called out to him.

“Thanks,” Alex called back before disappearing through the door.

Michael sighed and shook his head, thinking about the Liz situation. He looked at Max, who hadn’t moved an inch since Michael first saw him. He didn’t even look like he was breathing. It didn’t matter anyway. Max was already dead inside. That is, until Elizabeth wakes up, of course.

“Max,” Michael called out as he stood up and walked towards him. Michael stopped in front of Max and threw a comforting arm around his shoulder as he began steering him out of the room, forcing Maxwell to walk with him. “Let’s go out to the garden. It’s beautiful outside today.”

Max nodded his head reluctantly and headed out into the garden with Michael.

“So…” Michael began when they were both seated under a tree in the garden. Michael wanted to sit down with Alexander too, just the three of them again, but Alex seemed to have disappeared. “Did you find someone to accompany you?”

“I already have someone,” Maxwell said, shrugging his shoulders.

“Is it Tess?” Michael asked with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

Max grimaced and gagged at the mention of her name. “Michael, how could you even suggest that?”

Michael laughed. “Come off it, Maxwell. You and I both know that you didn’t ask anyone to go with you to the ball. Hell, you probably even turned down each and every lovely lady that had the courage to approach you. But…” Michael said, leaning back, “that’s not what you told Mother, now is it?”

“No,” Max said, shaking his head guiltily. “But, I DO have someone.”

“Maxwell,” Michael said softly. “I know who you are implying, but she can’t. Even if she was to wake up, you know what the doctor said…”

Max nodded his head. “I know what the doctor said. It is just… I asked her first. I can’t just turn around and go with someone else now. It just… it doesn’t feel right.”

“I know,” Michael said, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I support your decision completely. And I am positive mother and father do too, they just wanted you to go with someone so you can forget about all that has happened and have some fun, even if it is for a little while. They really had the best intentions, Maxwell.”

Max just nodded his head. “But they don’t understand.”

“I’m pretty sure they do. It’s just that… we’re still young, and they just want us to be able to have fun while we still can,” Michael said as he stood up and offered his hand to Maxwell.

Max pulled himself up and brushed blades of grass off his pants.

Michael laughed. “Sorry about that. Not a good idea to sit on the ground in a nice and expensive tux. You look nice by the way.”

“Yes. Don’t I always?” Max asked with a smile.

Michael smiled. “Great to know you’re back to your normal cocky self.”

Max chuckled. “You should go get dressed. I’m going to go find Alex.”

“Alright” Michael said. He patted Maxwell on the back before heading off to the guestroom to change.

Maxwell sighed. He was still worried about Elizabeth. Everyone was worried about Elizabeth. He didn’t need to have them worrying about him as well. He’d just have to be more lively, even if it was all just an act. He would just have to suck it up, smile, and play nice, while his thoughts were far away with a certain beauty asleep in his room.


“Is everything set?” Khivar asked as he buttoned up his shirt, looking at his reflection in the mirror.

“Everything is ready, your highness,” Sean replied.

Khivar smiled wickedly and walked over towards his chair and retrieved a jacket that was draped across the back of it. “Has the Queen left yet?” Khivar asked casually as he walked back over to the mirror to button up the jacket.

“Yes. The Queen’s carriage has already departed,” Sean said, bowing his head slightly. He remained standing, in his spot, a few feet away from Khivar.

“Excellent. Have you sent the assassin to the King’s quarters?” Khivar asked impassively as he inspected himself in the mirror.

“Actually… um…” Sean took several steps away from Khivar. “The King is… isn’t… um… he’s not in his quarters.”

“Alright then, send the assassin to where ever in the palace he is,” Khivar said, turning around to look at Sean, becoming slightly irritated.

Sean stared down at the ground while he timidly replied. “Umm… you see… he… he isn’t in the palace.”

“Where is he?” Khivar asked, his anger rising.

Sean backed several more steps away from Khivar. “He left with the Queen to the ball.” Sean closed his eyes tight, bracing himself for whatever pain Khivar would inflict on him for his plans becoming disarray.

“What!?” Khivar shouted, causing Sean to flinch. Khivar began pacing, taking several deep breaths to try to clear his mind. He abruptly stopped and looked at Sean.

Sean cowered, fearful of what Khivar might do.

Khivar shrugged his shoulders and walked back over towards the mirror. “No problem. It’s just a minor glitch in the plan. Besides, the man will die on his own accord. No need to have more blood on my hands. At least, not to where it can be linked toward me.”

“Yes, sir.”

Khivar glared at Sean’s reflection through the mirror. The bruise that Sean had received from Max was still highly visible. “How is your eye?”

Sean turned his head to try and cover up his face.

Khivar just snickered before his face stoned. “Make sure there are no more slip-ups tonight. The girl must be eliminated.”

“Yes, sir,” Sean replied, visibly relieved that nothing was being hurled at him.

“Good. Now, to more important matters…” Khivar said in a cheery tone as he spun around to face Sean. “How do I look?”

“Like a King should, your highness,” Sean said, bowing his head.

Khivar smiled. “Perfect then. Let us go,” he said as he walked past Sean, out the door.

They walked to the carriage and a servant opened a door for him. Khivar stepped in and took his seat. Sean started to enter as well, but the coach driver stopped him. “I am sorry, sir, but his highness never rides with others.”

Sean looked at Khivar, who had a look of superiority on his face. “Oh, and Sean. Make sure you do not address me in public. Do not even come near me at the ball. We don’t want any more slip-ups, now do we? And we don’t want any of this linking to me. Besides…” Khivar said, looking Sean up and down, “you look common.”

Sean nodded his head obediently, stepped away and watched as the carriage rode off.

“Common? I’ll show you common,” Sean cursed after it was out of sight. How was he to get to the ball now? That was his carriage that he took to the palace. And now Khivar has it. He could walk, but it was a rather long way to the Valenti estate. Perhaps he could take a horse.

Sean looked around and spotted someone. “You there!” Sean called to a servant standing nearby.

The servant turned around realizing he was being addressed and groaned when realizing it was Sean calling him. He never liked Sean. The boy was just too arrogant. Not the charming Maxwell Evans type of arrogance, but rather the kind that made you want to punch him in the gut.

Nevertheless though, Sean was higher in status than that of a servant. “Yes, sir?”

“Run along and fetch me a horse,” Sean said, waving a hand in a gesture for him to go.

The servant rolled his eyes. It’ll be a cold day in hell when he followed orders given by this brainless twit. “I’m sorry sir, but the royal horses are not meant to be ridden by others without permission. And the King and Queen have already left for the Valenti and Evans engagement ball.”

“Do you not realize who I am?” Sean asked, glaring at the servant.

“Fully well, sir. But the rules still apply. Even to spoiled brats such as yourself,” the servant added the last part under his breath. “So, unless you are royalty, which would be an immense felony to claim to be as such, when you are not, I cannot and will not retrieve a royal stallion for you.”

“Fine!” Sean huffed. “But I will be royalty someday and you will highly regret this!”

“I’m sorry sir, but you just don’t have the manners or the looks to be royalty, especially with that enormous bruise on your face. How, pray tell, did that happen to you?”

“It was nothing that would concern that of a servant,” Sean sneered out. “Bring me what you do have then.”

“Well,” the servant chuckled, “I think I can find something that will suit you just perfectly.”

“Fetch it then and bring it for me,” Sean spat out. “I don’t wish to be late to my cousin’s engagement ball. Why, practically everyone will be there. Everyone that’s of high status, that is,” Sean said, holding his head up high.

“An ass for an ass,” the servant muttered under his breath as he rolled his eyes and walked away. It was just like Sean to remind everyone that he was born to a rich family. This is why everyone is always cheering for the Evans boys. They were always friendly to everyone, everyone except for Sean that is.

However, lately, there hasn’t been much news about them, other than the engagement ball. But there was a rumor as to where and how Sean received that bruise on his face. The servant snickered as he entered the stables.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 10:46:57 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:02:24 PM

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Maxwell stood about. The ball had begun quite a while ago with guests of all kinds; from high royalty to lowly sluts. Well, that was a tad bit cruel of a thing to say about Tess, but he just couldn’t help himself at times. The way that she flaunted her body and threw herself at men, especially him, just reminded him too much of a cheap whore.

Maxwell knew he should be inside mingling. It would really help his father’s company to get into the good graces of some of these prestigious businessmen, but he just didn’t care for it. Not when his mind was somewhere else.

So he was standing outside, getting a breath of fresh air and greeting people as they arrived to the ball, fashionably late. Some of the lovely women offered to stay outside and keep him company, but he dismissed them all, as nicely as he could. Declining their dance offers as well. He simply didn’t dance.

It took a little more effort to get rid of Tess though, but Alex came to the rescue. Of course, now, Tess had a very lovely crystal blue dress, with a very red punch stain on it. Normally, Max would have felt terrible, but it was just Tess. Besides, she would probably head home and change. That, and go inform Sean about what happened and somehow persuade him to get revenge on Alex.

Nothing that Maxwell couldn’t handle though. Where was Sean? He hadn’t see him arrive with the rest of the Deluca clan. Sean wasn’t going to miss his own cousin’s engagement ball, would he? Maxwell was very anxious to finish the little brawl they began in the alley. Very, VERY anxious.

“Hello, Maxwell,” came an obnoxiously husky voice, disturbing Max’s thoughts.

Maxwell turned towards the voice and saw a very voluptuous, very blonde, and very scantily clad, Pamela Troy. Couldn’t she see that he wanted to be alone? And no matter how much Maxwell wanted to tell her off, he couldn’t. It wouldn’t be good business. After all, her father owns one of the shipping companies that his father worked with. So he had to at least play nice, even if he despised her.

Maxwell plastered an obviously fake smile on his face. “Good evening, Pamela. That is a lovely gown you have on.” Max inwardly gagged after commenting on her dress. It was so tight on her figure that it looked like she painted it on herself.

“Why, thank you, Maxwell,” she said, running her hands over her hips in an attempt to entice Max. But Max, as always, was not susceptible to her advances. But that didn’t stop her from trying. “You look very yummy yourself.”

Max wanted to hurl. Yummy? What sort of a compliment was that? “I’m sorry, Pamela, but I…”

“Maxwell!” Both Pam and Max turned towards the voice and saw Alex, standing a few feet away with another cup of punch in his hands and an evil glint in his eyes.

Max was greatly relieved to see Alex, but Pam looked more…annoyed. “Alexander, don’t you have somewhere else to be?” she sneered out.

“No,” Alex said cheerily, shaking his head as he approached the two, taking his steps very slowly.

“Well, Maxwell and I very much want to be alone right now,” Pamela said, linking arms with Max. Max tried as much as he could to slip his arm away, but she had a pretty strong grip.

“Well, in that case, I’ll just…” Alex pretended to accidentally stumble on something, causing his punch to fly out of his hands. “Oh, my god!”

Pam screamed as the liquid came out of the cup and splashed onto her, drenching her with a large, red stain, right on her chest.

Alex and Max suppressed their laughter. “I am so sorry,” Alexander said as he stepped towards her, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket. “Here, let me help you.”

“No,” Pam said, backing away from Alex, tripping backwards on a low shrub, ripping her dress and causing another shriek to come from her lips.

“Oh my god, Pam.” Alex came towards her again. “Here, let me help you up.”

Max was snickering in the background as he watched the two.

“No. NO!” Pamela almost screamed as Alexander approached her. “I-I’m fine. Don’t come near me.”

“At least let me…” Alex began.

“No!” Pamela interrupted him, holding her hands up, trying to ward him off.

“You are a mess. You can’t go back into the ball looking like that. I’ll call a carriage for you,” Alex said, raising his hand to call a driver forth.

“No! You’ve done enough, Alex,” Pam said, trying her best to keep even a little bit of poise. “I’ll get a carriage myself.”

“If your sure,” Alex said with a toothy grin.

“Yes,” Pamela replied, nodding her head. She turned towards Max, “Goodbye, Maxwell.” She curtseyed slightly, and turned on her heel, adding as much hip to her turn as possible before strutting off. Apparently too much hip as her heel caught on her dress and she tripped once again.

“Pamela!” Both Max and Alex yell.

Pam picked herself back up and stormed off, utterly embarrassed.

Max and Alex gave each other a look before they both doubled over, laughing.

“Oh god, Alexander… I thought that… the Tess thing was comical… but this… this was over the top hilarious!” Maxwell managed out between his spurts of laughter.

Alexander took a deep breath after his laughter died down. “I actually would have felt terrible for her, if it wasn’t for what she did to Isabel,” Alex said with a sigh.

“What did she do to Isabel?” Max asked, concerned for the girl. Whatever Pamela Troy did, had to be bad for Alex to do what he did to her.

Alexander sighed again. “Pam tripped her in the ballroom. Isabel was so embarrassed that she ran to her room and won’t come out. Not even when Maria pleaded with her.”

Max shook his head. Appearances are everything to girls. He wondered if that’s why Elizabeth wouldn’t eat. Was it because she wanted to be skinnier? But she was already thinner than most girls he knew. Max frowned. He didn’t even get to see her gown. She was so excited about it.

He sighed and shook his head. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about what he was missing out on with her asleep. He’s supposed to just want Elizabeth to wake up.

Alex noticed Max’s expression and knew where his thoughts were. “Don’t worry, Maxwell. Uncle Kyle said he’d send someone as soon as Elizabeth woke.”

Max nodded his head. “Alright.”

“I think they are going to make the announcement soon. We should get inside,” Alex said, directing Maxwell towards the house.

Alex and Max started to head inside, but stopped when they heard a noise and an animal’s hoofs clanking on the ground behind them. They turned around and both were dumbfounded at what they saw.

“M-Max?” Alex asked, his mouth hanging open.

“Y-yes, Alex?” Max replied, gawking at the sight before him.

“Do… do you… am I…” Alex stuttered.

“I don’t think you’re imagining it, if you’re seeing the same thing I am,” Max said, still shocked.

“Sean Deluca riding in on a donkey?” Alex asked.

Max nodded his head wildly. “Yes.”

Sean dismounted. Brushed off his jacket and straightened up his stance. “Not one word!” he threatened as he brushed past the two.

Max and Alex stared after him as he entered the house. They looked at each other. The scene that both of them just witnessed was simply too ridiculous, neither of them knew how to comment upon it.

“So,” Alex began, “I… I didn’t imagine that, right?”

Max shook his head. “I saw it too.”

Alex nodded his head. “Sean rode in on an ass.”

Max burst out laughing and soon had Alex following.

“That was the highlight of my day,” Max chuckled. “It was more hilarious than that time that you went up to that horse and…”

“Hey! I believe we weren’t going to mention that incident anymore,” Alex said, glaring playfully at his brother.

Max threw his arm over his little brother’s shoulders. “So long as you drop the mud clothes story.”

Both agreed before entering the house, side by side.


“Where is she?” King Jeffrey asked as he scanned the crowd of people once again.

“I’m not sure,” Nancy said, as she too looked over the mass of people crowding the ballroom.

“I thought you said she would be here,” Jeffrey said, getting somewhat irritated.

“She will be here,” Nancy tried to comfort him. She knew he was anxious to see his daughter. And it was all her fault. She sighed heavily, regretting more than anything, her mistakes. She would do anything to make it right again. Even give her own life, if it would make Jeffrey happy.

“I’ll go see if she has arrived yet,” Nancy said as she stood up from her seat and left the small area, reserved especially for them. She entered the ballroom and glanced about for a familiar face, for any familiar face.

Nancy spotted Jim mingling with a few other men off to the side and headed off towards his direction. She almost reached him when someone grabbed her arm and pulled her to the center of the room.

She was finally able to see whom it was that grabbed her when he pulled her into his arms and began swaying to the music.

“Khivar! What is the meaning of this?” she whispered furiously.

“What?” he asked innocently. “Can a man not dance with his sister-in-law?”

“Since when have you even wanted to speak to me? Nevertheless admit to me being your brother’s wife?” she asked venomously.

“Since never,” he chuckled out. “So there wouldn’t be a point in starting now. I’ve found out some very interesting information about you.”

“Like what?” she spat out, trying to pull herself away from him, but he tightened his grip on her.

“Like what a whore you have been,” he sneered out evilly. “Sleeping around with men behind my brother’s back. What’s wrong? The royal bed is not enough for you?”

Nancy gasped, “W-What… what do you mean?”

“You know very well what I mean, Amy,” Khivar spat out.

“I am not Amy,” she bit out threw clenched teeth.

“Oh, but you are. Amy Parker. Amy the whore,” Khivar tightened his grip around her waist. “I warned my brother about you. But did he listen? No! Now look where it’s gotten him. His only heir was thrown out. Imagine that. A royal princess mistaken by her own mother to be a bastard child.”

Nancy slapped Khivar hard across the face. “Don’t you ever speak that way to me!” she snarled at him.

“You’re in no position to make threats, Nancy!” Khivar spat at her. “Once Jeffrey is gone, I will be King! And you will suffer the consequences of ever having crossed me!” Khivar stormed out of the room, leaving Nancy standing there, the center of attention.

Nancy looked about at the people staring at her. Her and Khivar had caused quite a scene. She was fidgeting under everyone’s intense scrutiny. She locked eyes with Jim, pleading with him to help her in any way and get the attention off of her.

He nodded his head and walked towards the stage, signaling for Philip, Michael, Maria, and everyone else to join him. Nancy snuck away as inconspicuously as possible and took her seat back next to Jeffrey, who watched her suspiciously.

Philip and Diane walked together, their arms linked, and followed Jim up the stage.

Maria and Michael followed as well, large smiles on both of their faces.

Maxwell followed after them with a bright smile plastered on his face waving at people on his way to the stage. He looked behind him and saw a very happy Alexander walking up with an equally cheery Isabel clinging to his side.

They all stood on the stage. On the left stood Alexander and Maxwell, their parents beside them; then Michael and Maria, with Valenti and Isabel beside Maria.

“So,” Max whispered to Alex. “You managed to get Isabel out of her room? Or did you simply join her inside? That smile on your face is leaning me towards the latter.”

Alex glared playfully at his brother. “I told Isabel what happened to Pam.”

“Did she thank you and kiss you senseless?” Max asked with raised eyebrows.

Alex rolled his eyes but grinned widely. “She called me her knight in shining armor.”

“Aww… how sweet.” Max said, pinching Alex’s cheek.

Alex swatted Max’s hand away. “Yes. And after she sees what I have planned, she’ll be mine.”

“And what, pray tell, do you have planned in that devious head of yours, little brother?” Max asked curiously.

“You’ll see,” Alex said, refusing to tell Max any more than that.

When everyone was up on the stage, Jim began speaking in a cheery and loud voice, clearing his throat. “As you all know, you are all here to celebrate and announce the engagement of my eldest daughter, Rosemary Valen-”

Maria cleared her throat loudly.

Jim chuckled. “I’m sorry… Maria Valenti, to the son of Philip and Diane Evans, Michael Guerin!”

Everyone cheered and applauded as the couple smiled and bowed slightly to the crowd.

“Aren’t they a lovely couple? I know my wife is smiling down upon us from heaven. She’s as proud of my daughter as I am. She is no longer a girl. She is a woman now.”

“Daddy,” Maria whispered as she gave Jim a hug.

Everyone in the crowd smiled at the sweet show of affection.

“Now that I’ve given away my eldest daughter, all I have left is to wait and give my youngest daughter, Isabella, away,” Jim said, pointing towards Isabel as she smiled and blushed nervously.

All of the young men in the room straightened their stances and held their heads up high, trying to catch the attention of the beautiful blond on stage.

Alex glared down at them all, sizing each of them up, and deducing that he could take them all on.

Max chuckled. “I don’t think you’ll have a problem there, Governor. Alexander, here, has pretty much gotten that area covered,” Maxwell said, tilting his head towards Alex’s direction.

Everyone looked at Alex questioningly, with raised eyebrows.

Alex turned red, all the way to his ears. Max laughed harder at Alex’s discomfort and was rewarded with an elbow in the side. Isabel just smiled a sweet smile at Alex, causing him to blush again, and Maxwell to laugh harder.

“Before we get out of hand here,” Philip started. “We also have another announcement to make.”

“STOP!” came a cry from the crowd. “I’m calling off this engagement!”

Everyone turned to look at the intruder and saw a blonde haired girl standing at the doorway.

“He can’t be engaged to HER!” she screamed out as she stormed towards the stage. “Michael is engaged to ME!”

A shock gasp emanated from everyone in the room and a hush fell over the crowd as they held their breaths, watching the scene as it transpired before them.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 10:48:33 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:02:52 PM

Chapter Twenty-Eight

The room was filled with silence as everyone waited for a reaction, for an explanation, for anything.

“What the hell are you talking about, Courtney?!” Michael asked, furious that she interrupted his big night, uninvited.

“I’m talking about our engagement, dear,” Courtney said in a sickly sweet voice.

“Michael?” Maria asked through clenched teeth and a fake smile on her face, trying her best to hide her anger. “What is she talking about?”

“Nothing, darling,” he said as he leaned in and kissed her forehead.

“Don’t ‘darling’ me,” Maria said softly as she gently pushed him away. “Not until you explain what is going on.”

“Isn’t it obvious, you green-eyed hussy?” Courtney spat out. “Michael and I are engaged. That means that your engagement, if you could call it that, is invalid.”

“Green-eyed Hussy, am I?” Maria asked. “I’ll show you what a green-eyed hussy can do,” she said as she stormed towards Courtney.

“Maria, stop!” Michael called out as he grabbed her arm and pulled her back away from Courtney.

“Oh, so now you’re DEFENDING HER!?” Maria asked, tears streaming down her face.

“He damn well should be, after all, I am his fiancé,” Courtney said with an evil grin.

“No, Courtney!” Michael said sternly. “WE are not engaged! Maria and I, we’re engaged.” He looked down at Maria, pleading with her to forgive him for allowing Courtney to disturb their night. Maria smiled up into his loving eyes.

“But, baby,” Courtney pouted out.

“Bitch!” Maria screamed as she threw herself at the girl. Luckily for Courtney, Alexander and Maxwell were there to stop her before she mauled the girl.

“Alright,” Valenti yelled out angrily, his lips in a tight line. “Michael, I want to know what is going on.”

“We’re engaged is what is going on!” Courtney spat out again.

“SHUT UP!” Both Maxwell and Alexander screamed at her. They all wanted to hear what was happening with their brother.

“Michael?” Philip asked.

Michael let out a deep sigh, his gaze to the ground as he spoke. “This is Courtney,” he said as he pointed towards her direction.

Courtney held her head high, until Maria glared at her, causing her to cower her head somewhat, fearfully. The rumor was not to mess with an angry Maria. And Courtney wasn’t sure if she could take her on now that she has seen just how feisty Maria can get.

“I see that!” Valenti said, still staring at Michael. “Would you mind explaining to me what it is she is talking about?”

“Umm…” Michael bit his lip. “About how her and I WERE engaged.”

“So what she’s saying is TRUE?” both Philip and Jim asked.

“No!” Michael tried to clear up. “We WERE engaged. As in, past tense. As in, not any more.”

“Of course we ARE!” Courtney screamed once again.

Alex turned around and glared at her, grinding his jaw. Courtney cowered her head and bit her lip.

Maxwell snickered. Alexander may be scrawny, but he could be very intimidating.

“Michael, would you please explain?” Philip asked, irritated that he was beating around the bush.

“It was back when my old man was still alive,” Michael said, referring to his biological father, the drunk.

“Hank?” Valenti asked.

Michael nodded his head. “Yes,” he smiled sorrowfully. “Way back then.”

“I’m sorry, Michael,” Philip said, coming up to him and placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I know how you don’t like discussing your past. We all know you had a rough childhood.”

“I’m going to have to face my ghosts sometime,” Michael said with a sigh.

“So, how did you and Courtney become engaged?” Valenti asked cautiously.

Michael laughed. “Hank and Courtney’s father were drinking buddies. My father… obtained… her for me when we were young.”

“So, are the two of you engaged still?” Alex spoke up from where he was blocking off Courtney from Maria’s grasp. Maria glared at him. “Sorry,” Alex said to her, timidly, fearful of the intent behind Maria’s look. “I was just curious,” Alex shrugged.

“No,” Michael answered with a somber smile. “Shortly after my mother passed away, she ran off with some old rich man. He promised her gold, jewelry, things I couldn’t give her, in exchange for… her.”

“Michael,” Maria said, shaking her head, “you weren’t even a teenager when your mother…” Maria paused and thought about all that Michael had implied. She gasped and gave Courtney a dirty look, “ewww… that is disgusting.”

Courtney crossed her arms over her chest and lowered her head, feeling a bit filthy at what Maria had said.

“So. By doing that, she called the engagement off?” Philip asked Valenti.

Valenti shook his head and shrugged. “It could still apply. Michael did obtain her, and since her father has passed away, she no longer has family to take her in.”

Michael groaned and glanced over at Maria. “I’m so sorry, honey. I never meant to hurt you.”

Maria turned her face away, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“There is nothing set, yet,” Valenti continued. “Do you have any paperwork?” he asked Courtney.

Courtney lowered her head and walked slowly towards Valenti while pulling a small piece of paper out of her pocket and handing it to him.

Valenti chuckled when he looked at the ‘document’. “This is written on a napkin,” he said, looking at her with skepticism and then chuckling again. “It’s on the back of a Crashdown Tavern napkin. It’s even got the logo right here,” he showed Philip.

Everyone in the room laughed. Courtney ducked her head shamefully. “But it has everything there, stating that me and Michael Guerin are engaged,” she said quietly.

“Well, you’re right there,” Valenti said, looking the paper over once again. “You and Michael Guerin may well be engaged. But there is no Michael Guerin here.”

Courtney looked at the Governor as though he’d lost his mind and pointed her finger towards Michael.

Valenti chuckled once again before standing back on the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen. Like we were about to announce, before we were so rudely interrupted, Michael is now… officially… an Evans!”

“What?” Michael and Courtney both asked.

“It was a surprise, son,” Philip said as he patted Michael on the back. “All that paperwork we’ve been doing, makes you now Michael Evans. That is… if you want to be. What do you say?”

“O-of course,” Michael said with a wide grin on his face. Michael pulled Philip into an embrace.

Everyone in the room cheered and applauded.

“No! Even with a name change, the engagement should still apply!” Courtney screeched out.

“I’m sorry,” Valenti said, shaking his head. “But a note written on a cocktail napkin in highly unreliable.”

“Wait, wait,” Maxwell said as he stood up on the stage. “We may be a bit rowdy at times, but we are not uncivilized people.”

Everyone nodded their agreement.

“Now, Courtney,” Maxwell said, turning towards her, “We will be more than happy to repay you what ever dowry your engagement to Michael was settled over.”

Courtney lowered her head, ashamed, and Michael burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Maxwell asked Michael.

“It’s just…” Michael shook his head and continued laughing.

Max rolled his eyes at his brother and turned back towards Courtney as he pulled out his money sack. “How much was it?”

Courtney didn’t want to say. She knew her lying about it wouldn’t be any good. Especially since Michael knew about it. She mumbled her answer under her breath.

“You are going to have to speak up. I can’t hear you.” Max said, leaning down closer to her in an attempt to hear her better.

Courtney rolled her eyes and spoke, “Never mind.”

She started to turn away but Michael stopped her. “No, Courtney. It wouldn’t be fair, now would it? Go ahead,” Michael said with an evil glint in his eyes. “Tell Maxwell what your father traded his beloved daughter for.”

Courtney crossed her arms over her chest and let out a huff before whispering it to Maxwell, barely audible.

“W-what?” Max asked, chuckling. “I don’t think I heard you right. Repeat what you said.”

“A shot of whisky, alright?” Courtney screamed at him. “My father traded me for a shot of whisky.”

Everyone in the room burst out laughing yet again.

Max stood up straight. “You hear that,” he called out to the bartender. “Get the lady a drink.”

Courtney pursed her lips and huffed before storming out of the room, thoroughly embarrassed, with everyone still laughing at her.

“Alright, everyone. Let’s get back to the celebration,” Maxwell said, signaling for the band to begin the music.

Everyone in the crowd cheered. Some couples began dancing again. Others went up to congratulate Michael and Maria. And others began gossiping over the entire situation.

Maxwell scanned over the crowd and shook his head. Everyone will be talking about this for years to come. Maria did want a memorable evening, and did she get one. Max froze, he thought he saw a glimpse of someone sneaking up the stairs. But when he looked back, the figure seemed to have disappeared. He must be seeing things.

“Well,” he decided as he jumped off the stage, “time to mingle.”


Maxwell sat back in the chair as he watched people socialize all around him. So much for the mingling. At least he tried. And he had, with great effort too. After he jumped off the stage, he left to join his father and a small group of businessmen.

The men were gabbing on about how much he had grown since the last time they saw him. Max thanked them and held his head high, though he still felt out of place in the gathering of bearded men, though not as much as when he was younger. Maybe he really was growing up.

They asked him if he planned on following in his father’s footsteps and managing the Evans’ business. He nodded his head and said that he only hoped he would be able to fill such large shoes. His father looked at him with such pride in his eyes, it made Maxwell smile.

They then asked him when he planned on moving out and getting a place of his own. Max told them he already had one in Zanstown with his brothers, thanks to his father. And if things worked out the way he wanted them to, he’d be able to return to it soon, and help his father with the warehouse they owned there. Philip smiled again and patted him on the back.

Then they started commenting on Michael and Maria’s engagement and how they made a beautiful couple. Maxwell smiled and nodded his head in agreement. He was ecstatic for his brother and future sister-in-law. Max has never seen Michael so happy before. He knew Michael has always wanted a family. Sure, he was a part of the Evans family, but Michael wanted a family of his own. He wanted to be a father, a great father. One that was not like Hank. Michael wanted to be the best father to his children, like Philip was to him.

The men then went on to ask Max when he planned on becoming engaged himself and how the women were probably throwing themselves at him, trying to stake their claim on him. Max smiled despondently and nodded his head, his heart slightly stinging. He just couldn’t take it any longer and excused himself as politely as possible.

As Max walked away, he heard the men talking to his father, trying to persuade him that their daughters or their granddaughters would be perfect for Maxwell, Tess’s father’s voice the most dominant of them all. Max grimaced at the thought of him with Tess. Hell, he would grimace at the thought of him with anyone that wasn’t Elizabeth. He just couldn’t imagine himself with anyone else.

Max groaned when he heard his father tell Tess’s that he would consider it. His father wouldn’t do that to him, would he? His father knew how much he cared for Elizabeth. His father knew how he would do anything for her. His father knew that Max would drop dead before he would even kiss Tess. But then, he father had suggested that he accompany Tess to this celebration. Perhaps his father didn’t know. Well, Maxwell will just have to make sure that he did as soon as possible.

But not now. Now, he wanted to get away from the overbearing group of men. To get away from the young men, trying to buddy up with him, just to be able to claim to know him. And mostly, he wanted to get away from the all not-Elizabeth’s, asking him to dance with him.

Maxwell walked away and found an empty chair to sit in. And that was where he was, leaning back in a chair, by the door, waiting. Waiting for one of their house servants to burst through the door. Waiting for them to announce that Liz had waken and demanded to see him before she saw anyone else, so that she can profess her undying love to him. So he would admit to his devotion to her.

They would kiss, a real kiss this time. It would be mind-blowing. Like nothing he had ever experienced before. She would tell him about how sad she was that she missed the ball. About how much she wanted to attend and was looking forward to dancing with him, just one dance. He would smile at her and pull her into his arms as they swayed to the music of their hearts. And then he would stop, pull the bracelet he bought for her out of his pocket and give it to her. She would be so happy and kiss him all over, and they would dance the rest of the night away, until she became tired. Then he would lay her down on the bed, and she would fall asleep in his arms, where she belonged.

Max chuckled at his own thoughts. Only in his dreams would something so magical transpire. It was ridiculous to think that such a thing would happen. Nevertheless, the romantic in him wanted, more than anything, for his dreams to come true. He even brought her bracelet along with him in his jacket pocket, so he could give it to her… just in case.

Max chuckled again. She just might possibly request to see him when she woke, but most likely not implore that he be the first one she saw. And Maxwell highly doubted that she would profess her love for him, though Maxwell sensed… or more so hoped… that Elizabeth had at least some sort of feelings towards him. In the general vicinity of love? He’d even settle for a slight attraction. A fondness, even?

The way she acted around him made him think so. Even Maria sensed it. Around everyone else, Elizabeth was very timid and modest. But around him, she was more, dare he say, playful. That had to be a definite advantage, right? Besides, if you love someone that much, as Maxwell did, how could they not love you back… even just a little?

Maxwell was pulled out of his thoughts as a pair of white heels materialized in the spot on the ground in which his eyes were transfixed. He slowly lifted his head, running his eyes over the figure in white, before him… hoping… praying…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 10:50:12 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:03:11 PM

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Max ran his eyes up her body until he reached about around her knees until he noticed that something didn’t seem right. His pulse wasn’t racing. His palms weren’t sweating. And his heart wasn’t pounding away, like it usually did. And that was when he heard it, a voice that made him shudder with revulsion, an obnoxious and completely unwelcome…

“Hello, Maxwell.”

Max wanted to gag. The voice she used was meant to entice and somewhat arouse him, but it only succeeded in appalling and sickening him. But still, nonetheless, his parents had raised him to be a gentleman. So no matter how much he wanted to just tell her off, no matter how much she couldn’t take the hint, he had to at least be civilized to her.

“Hello, Tess,” Max muttered, not raising his eyes to look at her. Instead, he turned his attention to a fine, marbled and very shiny floor. Hell, it was easier on the eyes than looking at the gerbil in front of him. Maxwell chided himself once again for his cruel thought. Of course, Tess wasn’t as bad as a gerbil. She was worse. Gerbils were at least furry and cute every once in a while. Tess was just annoying and squeaky all the time.

Max scolded himself again. But he realized that he couldn’t help himself. It was just that, after having met Elizabeth, everyone else just didn’t seem as attractive anymore. Not that Tess was ever attractive. But Elizabeth was just… so gorgeous… so sweet… so kind…s he was everything to him.

Maxwell was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts when he realized that Tess was still there and was talking to him. Apparently she was expecting some sort of response from him. He stood up and finally looked at her. “I’m sorry… did you say something?”

“Yes, silly,” Tess squeaked out as she pouted her lips and ran a hand playfully over his chest. “I want you to dance with me.”

“I’m sorry, Tess. But I don’t dance,” Max said as he grabbed her hand to remove it from his body. Just the thought of her touching him made him shudder. It made him feel… dirty.

Apparently, grabbing her hand was a bad move. Much to his dislike, Tess clinged to his hand, even after he tried to pry it away from hers. She just wouldn’t take a hint. And soon, he was being dragged, by that hand, onto the dance floor.

“Tess…” Max complained, trying, yet again, to pull out of her grasp, but the girl held on strong. Before he knew what hit him, Tess let go of his hand and clasped herself to his body, her hands gripped tightly around his waist as she swayed to the music.

Max groaned as he stood there, muscled tensed, standing as still as possible. Why was he always getting into these awkward situations? His eyes darted around the room, searching frantically for his little brother. Normally, by now, Alex will have came to his rescue and found a way to pry the wretched wench off of him, either with another glass of punch… or a crowbar… but Alex was nowhere in sight.

Without warning, Maxwell felt someone grab his arm and spin him around, startling Tess as she tried to steady herself, to keep from falling. A hand suddenly placed itself on Max’s shoulder and the other reaching for Max’s hand. Max stared down at Isabel smiling up at him. He sighed a great sigh of relief upon seeing her.

Tess stormed up to Isabel. “What do you think you’re doing?” she asked, raising her voice.

“What does it look like?” Isabel said with a cool smile. “I’m dancing with Maxwell.” She tilted her head slightly towards Maxwell’s direction.

“I don’t think so,” Tess said. “Maxwell and I are still in the middle of our dance. And besides,” Tess added, standing as tall as she could, though still very much shorter than Isabel, “I highly doubt that Maxwell would want to dance with you.”

“Oh, but you’re wrong there, dear cousin of mine,” Isabel said in an obviously too cheery voice. “Maxwell has already promised me a dance. Haven’t you, Max?”

Both Isabel and Tess look towards Max for his response. Hmmm… dance with Isabel, or be mauled by Tess. Did he even have to think about it? “I’m sorry, Tess…”

Tess, with her hands on her hips, pursed her lips, and huffed before she stormed off, fuming.

After Tess had left, Max glanced down at Isabel. They both laughed.

“I’m sorry,” Maxwell said, apologizing. “I didn’t mean to have you be crude to your cousin like that.”

Isabel rolled her eyes. “That’s alright. She deserved it. How that girl is related to me, I will never know.”

Max chuckled. “Thank you, by the way.”

“No problem. Really. Don’t think anything of it. After all,” Isabel said with a sly gleam in her eyes, “I had an ulterior motive.”

“Oh really?” Max said, raising his eyebrows playfully. “And what, pray tell, was that?”

Isabel smiled. “Alex was in the bathroom, so he was too preoccupied to come and help you like he always does, being the loyal little brother that he is. I, on the other hand, was free and saw your distress and came to free you from the evil clutches of the she-devil.”

Maxwell chuckled again. Isabel reminded him a lot of Alex. They were both always so cheerful. They suited each other perfectly. “So, you were just doing this for Alex?”

“Yes,” she answered with enthusiasm. “Just trying to get into Alex’s good graces.”

“Are you sure that’s it?” Max asked, narrowing his eyes. “Are you sure you’re not just secretly in love with me? Because I have to warn you, my heart is already taken.”

Isabel rolled her eyes at him and laughed. But soon her expression dimmed. “I’m really sorry about Elizabeth,” she whispered to him.

“It’s not your fault,” Max said with a sigh.

“I can’t help but feel as though I could have done something to help though,” Isabel said sadly.

“You and me both,” Max said, equally gloomy, if not more.

“I wish she could be here,” Isabel said, her eyes downcast.

Max brought his finger up and lifted her chin until Isabel was looking at him in the eyes. “She will be.”

Isabel smiled and nodded her head.

Both Max and Isabel chatted a little more before the room got quieter as someone approached them. They both turned their gaze to the side as the person stopped right in front of them, before uttering, “May I have this dance?”


Isabel looked towards the speaker and then nervously back at Maxwell. Maxwell was somewhat apprehensive as well. He didn’t want Isabel dancing with that… person. Maxwell didn’t want anyone to have to dance with that creature. Everyone has heard wild stories about him. The worst part of all the stories was that they were all true. He was evil. But then, how do you turn down royalty? How do you say no to the King’s brother, or half-brother, anyway?

“Khivar,” Isabel greeted him with a slight bow. “It is a great honor to meet you.” Max could tell Isabel was very uneasy, but she didn’t dare upset the man. Who knows what he could do to you? The man could probably get away with murder… and probably has… many, many times.

“It’s nice to meet you, as well,” Maxwell said as he extended a hand for Khivar to shake.

“Likewise,” Khivar said to Isabel, completely ignoring Maxwell. “But, it would be an even greater honor for you if you would dance with me.” Khivar extended his hand for Isabel to accept.

Isabel glanced at it, unsure what to do. She didn’t like that look on Khivar’s face. Nor did she like the way that Khivar was eyeing her. But what else could she do?

Isabel squeezed her eyes shut as she slowly and shakily slipped her hand into his. Khivar began leading her out towards the center of the room. She glanced back pleadingly at Max. Praying that Maxwell could think of something… anything… to get her out of this situation with Khivar.

Max silently apologized to her for the predicament she was in and nodded his head, assuring her he would do his best to come up with a way to help her, like she did for him.

Max’s mind was working as he watched Khivar pull Isabel into a close embrace… a little too close… WAY too close… and began swaying to the music. Maxwell could always ‘accidentally’ spill punch on Khivar, but then who would bring a cup of punch out onto the middle of a dance floor with them? And Khivar would be positively enraged if he happened to be soaked in punch. An angry Khivar is not a good Khivar. And there is the slight chance of getting Isabel wet as well. There was a definite chance of getting Isabel stained, seeing as how Khivar was now manhandling her.

Max’s blood began boiling. In Max’s eyes, Isabel already belonged to Alex. It might have been fine if the person touching her was his little brother. If Isabel wanted to be touched, that is. But even Alex should be grabbing at a young lady like that.

Maxwell just couldn’t handle it any longer. He started towards them. Isabel saw him coming and her eyes widened. She shook her head at him. Signaling for him not to interfere. Max was hesitant, but backed down and moved back towards the side of the ballroom, walking towards the bar.

The bartender handed him a drink. He gulped it down and hung his head low, irritated that he could not do a thing.

“Yeah, me too,” came a voice beside Maxwell.

Maxwell looked up and saw Jim standing there with a drink in his hand.

“I want more than anything to walk up to them and break them up,” Jim said, pointing towards Isabel and Khivar. “But even I can’t do anything.”

“Why not?” Max asked. “You are her father. And you are also the governor of this city.”

“That is still not enough,” Jim said, shaking his head. “Khivar is… infamous for his zero tolerance of anyone who gets in his way of getting what he wants. He has numerous resources at his fingertips being the King’s brother and all. Mercenaries, businessmen, law makers, the whole crowd.”

“Really?” Max asked, glancing back towards the two on the dance floor.

“Yes,” Jim sighed out. “I think he even has Sean working for him.”

“Deluca?” Max asked, his anger rising more. “Deluca is working for Khivar?” Max’s mind was whirling. “Do you… do you think that Sean and Khivar may have something to do with Elizabeth?”

“Max…” Jim started, shaking his head.

“I know,” Maxwell said, interrupting Jim, “I know the doctor said that it was because Elizabeth wasn’t eating, but I just can’t get the image of Sean standing over Elizabeth’s slumped body in the alley out of my head. What if he did something to her?” Max asked, fear creeping up his spine.

“Maxwell…” Jim placed a hand oh Max’s shoulder. “She will be fine.”

Max took a deep breath. “I know. I just wish she would wake up already.”

“You can’t rush these things,” Jim said sympathetically. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and get a cup of punch, the redder the better.”

“You already have a drink,” Max said, pointing towards the glass in Jim’s hands.

“The punch isn’t for me. It’s for him,” Jim said, tilting his head in Khivar’s direction. “Or… rather his nice shirt, anyway.” Jim smiled an evil grin and walked towards the punch table.

Max laughed and shook his head. Valenti will probably get himself into a great deal of trouble with what he was planning to do, but did Maxwell really expect Jim to stand around passively while his daughter was being harassed by a man, no matter who he was? No. A father would do anything to keep his children out of harm. He just had to look at his own father, who would probably endure any amount of torture, if it meant his sons’ happiness.

And Max will do just the same thing for his children, if he has children… when he has children, Max thought with a smile. He was going to have a perfect family. A more than perfect family… with Elizabeth. His Elizabeth. It will be great, Max thought as a goofy grin began to form on his face, like it always did when he thought of her. They were going to be amazing parents, so loving. Elizabeth would make a great mother. She’d have the family she wanted, he’d give it to her. If she would just wake up!

Max began to become frustrated again. He groaned. How much longer did he have to be here? He didn’t know if he could endure any more. That was it. Maxwell made up his mind. He was leaving. He was going to go home… home to Liz. The goofy grin started forming again.

How does she do it? How does she manage to captivate him so? It was as though he were under a spell. As though she were forcing him to think thoughts of her… and only of her… of the way her rich brown hair cascades down his back… her smooth silky skin … the way her eyes sparkle when she’s happy… the way her perfect pink lips curve upwards when she smiles… how badly he wanted to be the one to make her smile.

Max groaned again. He slammed his drink down and pushed away form the bar. He took thunderous and deliberate steps as he headed towards the door. He was going to Elizabeth, anyone in his way be damned, especially if it is Sean. He still had a score to settle with him.

Maxwell was on his way out the door when a hand grazing his arm stopped him.

“Maxwell, I’ve been looking everywhere for you…”


Max looked back at the person behind him. He groaned and spun around.

“Maria…” he whined. “I am on a mission.”

Maria giggled. “Mission?” she asked, wiggling her eyebrows at him.

“Maria…” Maxwell said, wanting to leave, now.

“I’m sorry agent Evans,” Maria said, chuckling and pushing him towards the ballroom, “But your mission has been postponed. You have bigger things to worry about right now.”

“Like what?” Max asked skeptical about the thought of something being more important than Elizabeth.

“It is Alex…” Maria said gravely.

Maxwell’s ears peaked up, putting Elizabeth aside for a moment. He never said that Elizabeth was more important than his duties as an older brother, to protect Alex, and it isn’t as though she weren’t just as important. But Alex might really need him right now.

“What’s wrong with Alex?” Max asked, anxiety creeping up on him.

“Take a look for yourself,” Maria said as she pointed towards the dance floor. “Michael was trying to talk some sense into him, but he won’t listen. At least Michael has managed to hold him back. But we need you to talk to him, Maxwell.”

Max rushed over to the area in which Maria directed her to and saw a very upset Alexander. He was more than just upset though. He looked like a rabid dog, ready to attack. Michael just barely being able to hold him back, despite how much bigger Michael was than Alex. Max looked towards where Alex was glaring, his eyes practically leading a dotted line towards the middle of the dance floor, where Khivar and Isabel were dancing, if you could call it that.

Max hurried over to Alex. “Alexander…”

Alex jerked his head towards Maxwell, fuming. And for the first time in his life, Maxwell was actually a tad bit scared of his younger brother. Alex looked as though he could rip Khivar to shreds.

“Thank goodness, Maxwell,” Michael said upon seeing Max walk up to them. “Here,” Michael pushed Alex over towards Max a little, but still keeping a firm grip on him. “See if you can knock some sense into him. Apparently, he doesn’t believe me when I say that he could get himself killed if he tried to do anything to Khivar.”

“I’m willing to risk it,” Alex bit out through clenched teeth.

Michael laughed. “You may be willing to risk your life, but we’re not willing to risk losing you over this.”

“Look at him,” Alex spat, his face scrounging up in disgust. “Look at the way he’s touching her. She doesn’t want to be anywhere near him.”

“Alex,” Max grabbed his younger brother by the shoulders and looked him square in the eyes. “You cannot just go over there and anger Khivar.”

“Why not?” Alex whined out.

“Because, Khivar could say one word and you would be dead. Do you really want that?” Max asked him honestly. “I know I wouldn’t. Neither would Michael, mother or father. And I sure as hell know that Isabel wouldn’t want that either. How are you supposed to protect her if no one is there to protect you?”

Alex stopped struggling against Michael and stared down at the ground, taking deep breaths, trying to calm his anger. Deep breaths.

Max closed his eyes and took a deep breath as well, glad to have calmed Alex down. He snapped his eyes open when he heard a loud gasp.

“Oh… oh my goodness… I am so sorry.”

All three of the boys looked up and saw the Governor standing next to Khivar and Isabel with an empty punch glass in his hands. “I wasn’t watching where I was going. Please forgive me, your highness.”

Khivar looked down at the red stain on his clothes, and then back up at the Governor. His eyes were narrowed and he was grinding his teeth ever so slightly. In a normal situation, Khivar would have had the man annihilated immediately, not caring if the man was a governor or not.

But in this situation, he had everyone’s eyes on him, waiting for his reaction. His brother was also looking on from a far, waiting. Khivar weighed his options. To demolish the governor and gain everyone’s hatred and be dubbed as an evil ruler. Or to not demolish the man, and try to get into the people’s good graces? Khivar gave in.

He started laughing. No one on the entire estate had expected that. They had all thought that Khivar was going to have the Governor decapitated right before their eyes. And were they ever glad they were wrong.

“Well, this has been a very eventful night,” Khivar said towards the Governor.

Jim let out a sigh of relief. “Let me call a servant and we’ll get you cleaned up and into another tux.”

“That’s quite alright,” Khivar said, stopping Jim. “I was just about to leave anyway. I have some… business… to attend to,” a corrupted grin on his face.

“Well, then, if you must leave, I’ll have a servant call a carriage for you,” Jim offered.

“I have my own,” Khivar called back, already walking out the door.

“Just send me the cleaning bill and I’ll take care of it,” Jim proposed.

“Quite all right, really,” and Khivar was out the door.

Everyone let out the breath they were holding.

Jim plopped into a chair, running a hand over his face. “Wow… tonight certainly has been one hell of a night, and it isn’t even over. Don’t you just wonder what is going to happen next?” Valenti muttered as he leaned back into his chair.

Suddenly, a few of the candles were blown out, dimming the room even more. A low strumming of a guitar was heard, coming from the band area. Everyone turned around towards the stage. There, up on the landing, was Alexander with his guitar, playing with the rest of the band. Everyone looked on, amazed.

“This is a song I wrote, with the help of a good friend, for a very special person whom I care deeply about… Isabel,” her name slipping through his lips, he hadn’t meant for them to.

There was a moment of silence as they stared at each other from the distance. Isabel could not believe what was happening. This was one of the most embarrassing moments of her life, but it is also the sweetest. She wanted to just rush up there and kiss him senseless. Alex was just too good to her.

After he broke from his daze, Alex cleared his throat a little, nodded to the rest of the band behind him, and began strumming his guitar.

“This ball just gets stranger and stranger,” Maria muttered under her breath as Alexander’s music soothed her.

“You wanted a night to remember,” Michael whispered into her ear as he wrapped his arms around her from behind. “And I have a feeling that this is one that you will never forget.”

Maria twisted around in his arms, looked up in his eyes, and kissed him softly on the lips before leaning up and whispering into his ear, “Never.” She then leaned her head onto his shoulder and they began swaying to the music.

Maxwell looked about him as other couples began dancing. He had never felt lonelier in his life. God, he wished Elizabeth was here. Perhaps… perhaps if he just… if he closed his eyes really tight… perhaps…

Maxwell did so, but then snapped them back open when he heard murmuring around him and a few gasps. What was going on now, he thought as he tried to figure out what caught everyone’s attention this time. He followed everyone’s gaze towards the staircase, still not sure as to everyone’s speechless gawking.

His eyes traveled upwards until they reached the top few steps when Maxwell’s eyes bulged at what he saw. Like everyone else, Max could not do anything but gaze in awe at the sight before him. He… it was… indescribable. There, at the top of the steps…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 10:51:50 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:03:39 PM

Chapter Thirty

“So much for sneaking down unnoticed,” she whispered under her breath as she scanned over the ballroom below her. She had everyone’s gaze on her as they openly gawked. Even the band had stopped playing and was gaping up at her. She fidgeted nervously, not liking to be the center of attention.

That was when she spotted him. Dear god… he looked so handsome… all dressed up… like Prince Charming. She smiled at her analogy. It suited him perfectly. He was sweet, kind, charming, loyal, all neatly wrapped up in a cute little package. And his eyes… what girl wouldn’t be captivated by them? They seemed to put a spell on her whenever she caught his gaze, making her melt with just a glance.

Then, she saw his eyes traveling upwards until it locked with hers. Her breath caught in her throat at the intensity of his gaze. She watched on as the corners of his lips turned upwards, curving into a smile, the same one that he always gave her.

Even from where she stood, on the second floor, she could see his emotions through his eyes. It was as though he were bearing his soul through them. How can someone have so much emotion flickering through their eyes? But then again, there’s no one quite like him.

“Well, here goes nothing,” she murmured to herself as she began descending the stairs, careful not to fall, but her gaze never leaving his.

The music started up again. At least, he thought it did. But he could be imagining it. His imagination did tend to run wild when she was near. He watched as she slowly moved down the stairs, like an angel… his angel… floating down towards him.

He was gravitating towards her as well, just as slowly, afraid that, if he made too sudden a movement, she might disappear.

Her white gown fit perfectly to her body as it flowed about her. She really was an angel. He must be dreaming. How could someone be this perfect if not existing in a dream? But even if this were a dream, he was still going to take full advantage of this moment. He patted him jacket, making sure the bracelet was still there. Maria was right, his gift went perfectly with her gown. Not that she needed the extra accessory, she was already gorgeous enough on a normal day.

The last few steps took a little more effort on her part. She had to slow down her already slow pace to catch her breath. She still felt a tad bit weak, but she wasn’t going to allow that to stop her. It had taken a lot of persuading to get her here tonight, and she was going to enjoy the most of it that she could.

Tess saw the ravenous beauty as she descended the stairs, curious to know whom she was. As she came closer, Tess noticed her eyes were locked on something in the room, or rather, someone. She looked over to the direction of her gaze and saw that she was staring lovingly at Maxwell. But what Tess noticed more, was that Maxwell was staring right back at the mysterious stranger, with the exact same look in his eyes.

Tess stormed over to the stairs. She was going to stop this right now and show that hussy that Maxwell was hers, not anyone else’s. She brushed past Maxwell and reached the bottom of the stairs just before he did.

Maxwell broke the staring contest between him and his angel when he felt someone bump into him. He saw Tess rush past him, towards the stairs. He looked at her, curious to what she was doing when he saw it. He saw exactly what Tess was planning. There were only a few more steps left, and Tess was there, at the bottom of the steps, her dress hiked up a bit, and her foot extended out, ready to trip the love of his life. And all the while, his love being oblivious to it all, because her eyes remained on him.

Only a few more steps, she thought. Almost there, and at the bottom, she’d catch her breath. Why did there have to be so many steps to this staircase? But then she supposed that there had to be a long journey in order to get to a great prize like the one at the end of hers. She was down to the last step, but as she lifted her foot to carefully place it on the ground, it caught on something. But unfortunately for her, she realized it too late. Her left foot gave out. She was already losing her balance and came tumbling forward.

She took a sharp intake of breath as she closed her eyes and braced herself, bringing her hands out in front of her, trying to help block the fall… but it never came. Instead, her hands came in contact with something softer than the hard floor she had expected to feel.

Max’s hands instinctively came up to grab her around the waist as he held her up.

She slowly opened her eyes and met those of his, mere inches away. Once their eyes met, their gaze locked and they were drawn into each other, staring intently. Emotions were rolling off in waves.

The rest of the guests were still staring on, waiting for a reaction. They noticed the deep stares, the longing in both of their eyes, the comforting silence between the two. Like a princess, finally being reunited with her prince, after being separated for years. Both lovers were rendered speechless, not sure of what to say.

Maxwell still couldn’t believe his eyes. He was totally engrossed in his angel. His arms still have yet to remove themselves from her sides, hers still remained on his shoulders. Max wasn’t sure if it was he or she, but they seemed to be drawing each other closer.

She finally came out of her daze when he heard a loud huff, and saw an angry little blonde storming off. She turned her head back to look at Maxwell and found that he had never taken his eyes off of her. It was very unnerving but exciting at the same time. Her heart was beating away, a mile a minute.

She finally noticed where her hands were and quickly removed them from his firm shoulders muttering a quiet, “Oh,” and looking down, abashed. But Max’s hands refused to let go of her and remained around her waist.

She could feel herself being drawn in closer. She looked up and met his intense and steady gaze. “Max,” she murmured softly, unaware that she had spoken it out loud.

His breathing became more labored as he heard her whisper his name. Hoping he wasn’t imagining the longing that was put into the word, the same longing he felt for her. So many emotions were running through him as her name softly rolled off his tongue, “Liz…”


“Liz…” he spoke in a hushed whisper, speaking any louder seemed inappropriate. “What are you doing here?”

“You’re not going to back out of our date now, are you?” she joked with him but a sudden realization came to her. “Oh, you probably accompanied someone else here, didn’t you? I-I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

Max just stared at her, yet to comprehend what she was saying.

“Was it… was it that girl… a while ago… with the blonde hair? I-I’ll just… leave.” She started to slowly back away from him, looking about nervously. But his hold on her stayed firm, yet oddly gentle.

He shook his head slowly, smiling at her. “No, Elizabeth,” he whispered to her. “Don’t go.”

Liz stopped backing away from him, lifted her head and looked into his eyes. He was practically glowing. He looked so… happy. His lips curved up at he looked at her intently. Elizabeth couldn’t help but smile back at him.

“I’m not here with anyone else,” he kept his voice low and spoke softly, soothingly. “I wouldn’t dream of going with anyone but you.”

“Really?” Liz asked, smiling. She was surprised by his words. Did he really mean them? Did he honestly care for her?

Max nodded his head slowly. Everything he did, he did softly and slowly, as if in a dream. “Really,” he answered, taking a small step closer to her. He smiled at her, a genuine and full-out smile. When she smiled back, he lowered his head.

Liz gasped softly, suddenly not sure what to do. Max was lowering his head as though to kiss her. She’s never been kissed before. She closed her eyes and ran her tongue over her suddenly dry lips.

Max watched her as she licked her lips. He had to catch himself before he did something he yearned to do, but was unsure if it was what she wanted. He wanted to kiss her lips, but settled for simply being in her presence.

He leaned his forehead against hers and watched her as her eyes fluttered open. It was probably his imagination when he saw her pout her lip a bit, seemingly disappointed. Did-did she… want… him to kiss her. Maxwell kicked himself for losing such a good opportunity.

He suddenly let out a deep sigh and gazed down at her with a sad expression on his face.

“Is something wrong?” She asked, concerned at the sudden woeful look in his eyes.

He nodded his head lightly, eyes cast down. He lifted his forehead from hers and finally looked into her eyes. “You shouldn’t be here, Elizabeth,” Maxwell said, hating to have to say this to her. The sadness that entered her eyes was enough to make him kick himself for making the smile disappear from her face. “You should be in bed, resting.”

Liz suddenly had a mischievous look in her eyes as she spoke. “But you aren’t going to make me leave, are you?” she challenged him.

“Liz…” he moaned. “You know I want you to stay. But…” he was having a fight between his logical self and his selfish self. Nevertheless, his heart won the battle. Elizabeth should be resting, not exhausting herself simply for his sake.

Her lips pouted in a way that Maxwell thought was absolutely adorable. “Please Max,” she pleaded with him.

The quivering lip was enough to break him down. Now he knew why his mother always had her way with his father. How can you say no to someone who meant the world to you? Sadly, Maxwell knew he had to do the right thing. He must. It would be better in the end. It would be better to have her recovered completely, soon, than to risk it.

“Please Max,” she beseeched him again, seeing that he was starting to crumble. “Please don’t send me away.”

“Liz…” Maxwell moaned again.

“I just wanted for you to see me in my dress,” Elizabeth whispered softly, her eyes downcast as she sighed. “To dance with you, just once.”

That did it. What little resolve Maxwell had, deteriorated. He lifted his hand from her waist. Grazing it along her bare arm and shoulder, sending chills down her spine, as he lifted her head gently with his finger, forcing her to look up at him.

Her eyes were sparkling in the dim light of the room…sparkling with unshed tears, causing Maxwell to hate himself even more for ever denying her anything.

He smiled apologetically to her as he leaned his head in closer to her to whisper in her ear, “just one.”

Elizabeth smiled up at him, blinking away her tears. She slipped her hand into Maxwell’s as he led her out to the dance floor.

Everyone around the room, sighed at the heartfelt scene before them before they returned to their mingling and dancing, wanting to give Maxwell and Elizabeth their privacy. Elizabeth looking awfully familiar to them, but they couldn’t quite put their fingers on it.

The crowd seemed to part and clear as Maxwell led Elizabeth onto the dance floor. He settled on an area near the center of the room before he turned around to Elizabeth.

She placed her other hand on his shoulder, like she was taught, as Maxwell placed his free hand on her waist, pulling her closer to his body. They swayed to the music, completely in tune with each other.

After a few seconds, after he could sense that Elizabeth was completely comfortable with it, he brought Liz’s hand up around his neck, and put his arm around Liz’s back, his hands completely encircling Liz’s waist. He pulled their bodies closer and leaned his chin to rest lightly on Liz’s shoulder, liking the feel of her silky smooth skin under his.

Liz tensed at first, but then relaxed in Maxwell’s comforting embrace, leaning her head on Max’s shoulder with a sigh of content and closed her eyes. They danced for several songs, neither noticed though. Max completely overlooked his agreeing to only one dance. When Liz suddenly lifted her head from Max’s shoulder, he lifted his head as well and looked down at her, alarmed.

“What’s wrong?” his concern growing. “A-are you tired. I-I could take you home. I shouldn’t have kept you out here.”

Liz frowned and shook her head. “I don’t want to leave yet, Max. I’m not tired.”

“What is it then?” Maxwell asked, glad that she didn’t want to leave him, just yet.

“Oh… I was just… curious about… what is this?” she asked, poking at the bracelet box that was in the inside pocket of Maxwell’s jacket.

“Oh… that…” Max said, blushing and flustered. “Umm… that’s just… it’s just…” He took a deep breath, knowing fully well that he needed to articulate his words for Elizabeth to hear them.

“It’s a…” Maxwell paused. He looked about him at the crowded room, deciding that this isn’t where he wanted to be when he declared his love to Elizabeth. He wanted to have her all alone, all to himself. “Let’s get out of here,” he said with a mischievous smile on his face. “Would you like to join me for a stroll in the gardens, Miss Parker?”

“I would love to, Mr. Evans,” she said with a smile as she slipped her hand into his, for him to lead the way.

“Good,” Maxwell said, smiling widely. “There are some… matters… I have been really meaning to discuss with you.”

“Like what?” Liz asked as they stepped out into the crisp and cool night air.

“Well… it’s just that I…” Max started, but decided that they had better sit down before he told her.

He spotted a bench and led them to it, motioning for her to sit down. Elizabeth shivered as she settled herself down on the bench. Seeing this, Maxwell shrugged off his jacket and placed it around Liz’s shoulders with a smile, his hands lingering on her a little longer than necessary.

“Thank you,” Liz said, looking at him as he sat down beside her.

“You are welcome,” he replied back, “So… like I was saying…”

“Oh my goodness,” Liz exclaimed as she stared down at the bracelet in her hands.

“Oh, yeah,” Max said, forgetting about the bracelet he had bought for her.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said, snapping the box shut. “I didn’t mean to… I was just… curious.” She held the box out for him and looked away. He probably bought it for that other girl, the blonde one he was most likely spending the evening with earlier, until she showed up.

“No, it’s fine,” Maxwell said with a shy smile. “I bought it…for you.”

“Really?” Liz asked, lifting her head to look at him, shocked that he would buy, simple little her, something that probably cost him more money than she’s ever seen in her entire life.

“Yes. Here let me help you.” He snapped open the box and gently removed the bracelet. Elizabeth held out her arm and he fastened it gently around her small wrist. “How do you like it?”

Liz twisted her hand around, watching the diamonds sparkle in the moonlight. “It’s beautiful,” she smiled. But her face soon dropped. “Max, I can’t accept this. It probably cost you a fortune.” She held her hand out for Max to take the bracelet off of her.

Maxwell took her hand, but didn’t unfasten the bracelet. He held her small hand, intertwining his fingers with hers. “No, Elizabeth. I bought it for you. Take it. Please?”

Liz was still unsure. She shook her head, biting her lower lip. “I can’t. I mean… I don’t understand… why would you waste so much money on me? I don’t deserve to wear something this beautiful.”

“Elizabeth, you are the most incredible person. And you are right. You don’t deserve that bracelet. You deserve so much more,” Maxwell said sincerely, making sure she heard every word he said. Liz needed to believe in herself, and Max was going to help her to see just how incredible she really was.

“The reason I bought this for you… is because… I…” Maxwell took a deep breath. It was now or never and Max was going to do it. He was going to take the plunge. He licked his lips and took another deep breath to prepare himself. “It’s because… I love you, Liz…”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 10:53:50 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:04:01 PM

Chapter Thirty-One

“Liz?” Max was starting to panic. After he had said what he had been dying to say to her, she just gasped a little and remained quiet. Not a good sign. “D-Did you hear what I said?”

“Huh?” Liz asked, coming out of her daze. She didn’t know how to respond. How was she supposed to respond to something like that?

“Liz, I… I said… I love you,” Max said, staring at her intently, trying to read her thoughts, to feel how she was feeling. “I’ve loved you since the moment I first saw you, by the river that day,” Max admitted, smiling in remembrance of that day, so long ago. It’s seemed like years ago, not just mere weeks.

He was silently praying to the gods above to please give him this. Just this one moment of happiness and he won’t ask for anything else. He’d be content for life.

Elizabeth stared at him with her mouth hanging open again, before turning her head away, biting her bottom lip as it quivered slightly. “Oh,” she remarked softly, almost inaudibly.

“Oh?” Max asked, his voice quivering. “W-wha… what do you mean, Liz?” He had no idea what was going on in her mind. Liz normally wore her emotions on her sleeve but he couldn’t gage any of her feelings with her looking away from him like that.

“Liz…” Maxwell whispered. He used his free hand to clasp her chin and gently forced her head up to look at him. He locked gaze with her and took in all he could. He tried to read her eyes for any emotions, and what he saw made him crumble. Her eyes were pleading with him… begging him for forgiveness. They were so full of sorrow, of regret… of… pity.

Max couldn’t keep the hurt from coming. His heartache washed over him in wave after wave of sorrow. Drowning him in despair. She pitied him… for loving her? How could she pity him?

Of course she could. She had every right to. She was this incredible, gorgeous being. So sweet. So kind. So above everyone else. Unlike him. His mind was completely focused on himself and his wants. He wasn’t a good person like she. And he actually thought that he could give her the life that she wanted when it was only the life that he wanted. He laughed thinking back on his dreams. She deserved a better life than anything he could ever give her. She deserved better than him. She deserved better than everyone.

How amazing she was, how could she not have men head over heels for her, as well, as she strung them all along on a leash. He probably wasn’t the first man who has bought her expensive things. Not the first man who was completely devoted to her and her alone. Not the first man who admitted to her that he would do anything for her. Walk on fire, juggle swords, even kill. And certainly not the first man to have his heart stomped on and ripped to pieces by her.

“I’m so sorry, Maxwell,” Elizabeth apologized while shaking her head slowly and biting her bottom lip. “I never meant for you to.”

“You never meant for me to?” Max laughed cynically, nodding his head. Whatever gods up in the heavens must really have it in for him. “You never MEANT for me to fall in love with you!?” he bit out coldly. He closed his eyes tight to stop the tears from coming. He wasn’t going to cry in front of her; not now; not ever. He was already humiliated by her enough as it was.

“Max…” Liz pleaded again. She placed her free hand on top of their joined ones, rubbing his hand gently, trying to apologize. She needed to explain to him… to explain to him everything. “Please try to understand…”

Max looked down at their linked hands in disgust. “ I don’t want to hear it,” he spat out at her through clenched teeth, his voice dead and heartless. The brightness in his eyes earlier all but died out.

Max jerked his hand away from hers, jumping to his feet as he stormed away… away from her, the source of all his agony. He ran deeper and deeper into the garden. He had to get away, to think. To wonder over where he went wrong or whether he was ever right when it came to Liz.

Elizabeth stood and stared after him as he walked away from her. She watched as he disappeared past bushes and trees, into the darkness of the night.

She sniffled, biting her lip slightly, before slowly sitting back down on the bench. She pulled Max’s jacket tighter around her shoulders as she shivered, wrapping her arms around herself. The night suddenly seemed colder.


Elizabeth remained seated on the bench long after Maxwell had left. It was getting colder and colder outside and Maxwell’s thin jacket was not keeping her from shivering. But she refused to leave the spot, not until Maxwell returned. She couldn’t just leave things as they were, with him angry with her. She had to explain. She had to make things right again between them. She just had to.

“Liz?” A voice called out.

Liz turned and faced the voice. “Isabel, what are you doing out here?”

“Looking for you, actually,” Isabel said, taking a seat beside Liz. “Alex said he saw you here tonight. I wouldn’t believe him unless I saw for my own eye. So… are you feeling better?”

“Much better, thank you,” Liz smiled. She was touched that Isabel was concerned. Elizabeth didn’t think many people even noticed her or even wanted her around. Her parents had even abandoned her.

“That is great. Everyone was so worried about you,” Isabel said, looking Liz in the eyes. “Especially Maxwell.”

“Max…” Liz whispered with a sigh. Her face fell and her eyes lowered to the ground. Maxwell was worried about her… Maxwell loved her. How could this be? He wasn’t supposed to love her. No one was supposed to love her. It wasn’t in the plan. Liz would just have to make Max see that he was mistaken.

“Yes. You should have seen how distressed Max was. He refused to leave your side for even a moment. It was as though he were on the verge of tears every second. He must love you,” Isabel said, winking at Elizabeth and elbowing her lightly in the side.

“Yes…” Liz murmured. “He might have, but he… he doesn’t anymore.”

“What are you talking about?” Isabel asked. “Max is head over heels in love with you. You should see the gift he bought for you. He showed it to me. It is absolutely gorgeous. I almost fainted when I saw it,” Isabel said, her eyes growing wide.

“You mean this?” Liz asked as she lifted her arm for Isabel to see the beautiful diamond bracelet as it sparkled slightly in the dim moonlight.

“Yes,” Isabel said with a smile. “He already gave it to you? So… did you hug him and kiss him all over when you saw that?”

Liz shook her head sadly. “He gave it to me alright. But I didn’t… I didn’t get to thank him.”

“That’s okay. Maxwell is probably ecstatic just by you wearing it. It is his way of claiming you as his. Where is Maxwell anyway?” Isabel asked, glancing around the garden. “Wasn’t he out here with you?”

“No. He… he was… but he left,” Liz spoke softly.

“Left you here by yourself? I doubt that,” Isabel said, shaking her head slightly. “He probably just ran off to go buy you a set of matching diamond earrings or a necklace,” Isabel teased. “Or at least a fur coat. It’s freezing out here.” She rubbed her hands up and down her arms to try and warm herself.

Liz nodded her head in agreement. Max’s jacket was slipping and she pulled it tighter around her shoulders. The smell of his cologne was embedded in the jacket. Liz smiled at the thought that she was totally encompassed in Maxwell. But then she sighed heavily.

“Why don’t we head inside? Everyone is still there, and there are plenty of people for me to introduce you to,” Isabel said, standing up and grabbing Elizabeth’s hand in an attempt to pull her inside.

Liz slipped her hand out of Isabel’s. “No. I need to wait here. I have to wait for Max to come back. There are some… things… I need to tell him that I didn’t get to earlier.”

“Liz,” Isabel said with a warning in her voice. “It’s too cold and too late at night for you to be out here by yourself. This is your first ball, so I have to warn you that there are a lot of drunk and delusional men loitering out around here at night. It is not safe. Besides, you are still ill. And I highly doubt that the good Doctor Davis would approve of you out in the cold.”

“But…” Liz protested.

“No buts,” Isabel said as she grabbed Liz’s hand again. This time, successfully pulling Liz towards the house with her. “Don’t worry. Maxwell will find you. He’d probably search hell and back just to get to you. And in the mean time, you can come spend time with me. There are some very handsome young men attending this event that I’d like to meet, and I guarantee that you will want to meet them too.”

“What about Alex?” Liz asked, teasingly.

“What about Alex? It’s not like we are actually interested in any of these fine young men. We are simply getting to know the members of our community… friendly mingling,” Isabel said with a mischievous smile.

Liz sighed, “fine,” she slumped her shoulders in surrender, agreeing to follow Isabel into the house. She would just have to sneak away later to wait for Max. And judging by how angry he was, he will most likely be outside a while longer.


Maxwell pounded his fist on the hard trunk of the tree before him, succeeding in bruising his hand in the process. But he didn’t care. No. He needed to relieve some of the anger building up inside of him. He wasn’t angry with Elizabeth. No, he could never be angry with Elizabeth. He was more angry with himself. Angry that he wasn’t a better person.

If he were a better person, maybe… just maybe, Elizabeth would return his affection… or at least show some type of fondness towards him. Any emotion, any emotion other than what she felt… pity. He saw PITY in her eyes. Like he was just some pathetic fool, which he probably was. Max took another punch at the tree, blood now dripping out of his knuckles, before he slowly dropped to the ground, hanging his head between his pulled up knees.

Why did this have to happen to him? Of all things, he wanted her more than anything else, but she didn’t want him. She probably wanted Sean. Max was disgusted at the notion. Elizabeth would never want someone like Sean. He knew she wouldn’t. But then again, he had thought that she wanted to be with him. Oh, god. She probably did want to be with Sean.

But he bet more than anything that she wouldn’t want to be with Sean if he proved to her just how corrupt Sean was. How much of a better person he was than Sean Deluca. Max stood up, a plan forming in his head. Granted, it wasn’t a very thought out or a calculated plan, but it was a plan nonetheless. And he was going to go through with it. After all, Evans men never back down from a challenge. And right now, Sean was his main rival, as they challenged to win Elizabeth’s heart… if it was even obtainable, Max thought with a groan, his shoulders slumped and his resolve dwindling.

No, he thought firmly. He was not going to lose. He was going to prove to Elizabeth what a great person he was, and he was going to do it now. And if she didn’t see just how great he was and fall as much in love with him as he was with her, he would just have to make her see.

Maxwell stomped towards the house, completely motivated to do just about anything.

But when he heard voices calling, not far away, he ducked to the ground and hid himself. Everyone knew that these balls always had drunk and delusional people out around. And that was exactly what he was… a drunk… drunk off love.

Max held his breath as the people came closer towards him. He could hear them rustling past the bushes.

“Where is she?”

Max heard an authoritative voice question. He recognized it.

“I… I don’t know. I saw her coming out here earlier.”

Now there was a voice Maxwell definitely recognized. Sean DeLuca. The worming scumbag himself. What was he up to now?

“Well you had better find her. I want her eliminated. No mistakes!”

Who did he want to get rid of? Max wondered

“I don’t see why you want her gone that badly. I mean… Elizabeth isn’t all that bad. She’s really pretty.”

Bloody hell? Maxwell thought. Did Sean just say that they were going to eliminate Liz? His Liz?

“Sean. I am going to pretend I didn’t hear that and walk away without bashing your head in. You know damn well that I need her gone. Now… you find that girl and you get rid of her, or else, I’ll get rid of you.”

“Yes Khivar!”

Khivar… Khivar wanted Liz gone? Why? What did Elizabeth ever do to anyone?

“Good! Now go and find her.”

Max heard the voices drift off as they headed in a different direction. Once he was certain they were out of sight, Maxwell jumped up and ran towards the house. He had to find Liz. He had to save her.

Max made it to the bench they sat at earlier, but there was no sign of Liz. Why did he ever let her out of his sight? She was still not fully recovered yet.

Max made a mad dash for the house. He rushed through the door and looked about frantically for Liz. Max heard laughter a few feet away from him, a sweet, harmonious laughter. One that made his lips curl up and his heart soar.

He turned towards her, his angel, wearing her white flowing gown. Her hair done up in a simple and yet elegant twist. Her face was glowing with a sweet smile on her lips. She had his jacket casually draped over her arm. But his bracelet still shone out slightly, sparkling in the candlelight, claiming her as his. She was absolutely breathtaking. Normally, when he looked at her, his heart would melt.

But what he saw made his heart crumble and his face fall. His Liz was talking with another man. What hurt more was that she was laughing at his jokes. H was making her smile and touching her. He was running his hand up and down her bare arm. Anger and jealousy filled Max as he stormed over to her, fuming.

When she spotted him a few steps away, she turned towards him with a smile. “Maxwell, I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Yeah. I’ll bet,” he spat out at her.

Liz’s face fell at his sharp words. He was still angry with her. “Umm… this… this is Brad,” she said, motioning with her hands the person whom Max felt a dire need to punch in the gut this very instant.

“Hello, Max Evans. It’s great to finally be able to meet you,” Brad said, extending his hand for Max to take.

Max looked from Brad to Brad’s hand and back to Brad again, before he spoke. “Leave,” Max said, annoyed that the boy would even try to stick around after Max had arrived to stake his claim.

Brad quickly spun on his heel and left. He might not have known Max personally, but everyone knew not to mess with Maxwell Evans. It was like playing with fire.

Liz turned her head and watched Brad scamper off. She needed to talk to Max, but wasn’t sure if she wanted to do so while he was in the nasty mood he was in.

“What? You want to follow him?” Max asked, noticing her gaze after the jerk she was talking to. “You want to stop him from walking away? Go ahead. Stop him. Tell him you want him to stay. Tell him you love him. That you want to be with him. God knows you didn’t even try to stop me,” Max spat out, his hurt shining clearly in his eyes.

“What are you talking about, Max?” Liz asked, shaking her head. “I just met Brad.”

“Yeah. And what does he have that I don’t? What makes him so special that he can make you laugh… make you smile like that?” His voice got lower as his lip started quivering.

“I don’t know, Max,” Liz shook her head. “Why don’t you ask yourself that question? You always made me smile… made me happy… anytime you were near, except for recently.”

“And whose fault is that!?!” He bit out through clenched teeth.

Liz stared at him, tears shining in her eyes as she began to crumble. “Who are you? You’re not the Maxwell I know. You… you’ve never been this cold to me before.”

“Yeah? Well, the Liz I knew wouldn’t have hurt me like you did,” Max snarled out. “I don’t know what I ever saw in you. You are nothing but a manipulative bitch, stringing men along like they are nothing. I wish I had never met you,” Max snarled at her.

Liz couldn’t restrain her tears anymore. They came flowing down her cheeks. She was right. Max didn’t care for her. Liz lowered her head and fidgeted with her hands. She smiled ruefully and bit her bottom lip to keep it from quivering.

After the hurtful words came pouring out of Max, he could only watch Liz as she broke down in front of him. A small whimper coming from her made him crumble. More than regretting every word that came out of his mouth. Max reached up and ran his hand up and down her arm, trying to soothe her, trying to apologize. “Liz…”

Liz spun on her heel, her hands coming up to cover her sobbing and wipe away tears as she ran out of the room, into the garden.

“No,” Max yelled after her. “Elizabeth, don’t go.” She couldn’t go into the gardens. They will capture her there. He was supposed to be protecting her, keeping her away from them, away from everything evil in the world. He loved her, no matter how much it hurt, how much he wished he didn’t anymore, he still loved her more than anything. And he was more than willing to risk his life for hers. Max ran in after her without a second thought.


Liz ran through the garden, past the trees and bushes, hiking up her dress so that she can quicken her pace. She could hear Max calling for her not far behind, making her run even faster. She brushed past a few rose bushes, hissing as the thorns scraped her across her bare arms and clung to her dress. She still had Max’s coat jacket in her hand, still holding on to it. She could feel blood dripping out of her arms. But Liz ignored the sting as she kept running, not wanting to be anywhere near Maxwell. She didn’t want to be around to hear any more of his hateful words.

Max ran after her, calling her name and trying to stop her, but she was always just barely out of his reach. And when he could almost scantily grab her arm, she slipped between two fences in the garden. It was too narrow of a space for Max to slide through, so he was forced to go around them, allowing Liz ample time to increase the distance between them. When he finally made it around the wall, he was able to catch a glimpse of her as she disappeared into the bushes. Max ran in after her.

Liz couldn’t last much longer. Her breathing was laborious, her pulse was erratic, and her heart was pounding harder than ever before. If she didn’t stop soon, she would faint. But up ahead, she could see the outline of carriages, parked in the long driveway, the coachmen standing around mingling with one another as they awaited their masters to call upon them. Actually, one person was going around to the different carriages and talking to the other coachmen.

Liz could hear Maxwell’s footsteps several yards behind her once again. She waved her arms around frantically to the coachmen, trying to signal them. The one she took note of earlier nodded towards her as he hopped onto the front of a carriage and turned it around, ready for her to hop in and ride away immediately.

And Liz did just so. Hopping into the open carriage door and shutting it as she stepped in. She sank down onto the seat, trying her best to catch her breath and calm her heart before she fainted. The coachman sped the carriage off, down the road, and away from Max.

Max watched as Liz signaled the coachman and headed straight for the carriage. He prayed that he reached her before she could get to it, but he knew praying was useless. The gods just weren’t on his side. He watched as Liz entered the carriage and slammed the door shut. Max still raced towards her, looking on as the seemingly familiar outline of the coachman waved at him. Even in the darkness of the night, the moon shined brightly enough so that Max could see the smirk smeared across the coachman’s face, as if claiming his victory. That face. It made Max cringe. The face Max will always remember. The face he will despise for an eternity, along with the reptile it belonged to… Sean Deluca.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 29-Jul-2002 10:55:52 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:04:24 PM

Chapter Thirty-Two

Elizabeth woke with a start as the carriage ran over a large bump in the road. She must have fallen asleep after the carriage took off. She was so exhausted. Tonight was just too much for her, and it still was yet to be over. Liz peered outside the window and took in her surroundings. What she saw scared her.

The coachman had taken her deep into the forest, not where she wanted to be taken. Come to think of it, Elizabeth hadn’t told the driver where she wanted to go. The driver had simply taken off after she entered the carriage.

Liz carefully moved to the bench facing her. There was a small window above it, where the coachman sat. She knocked on the glass of the window before pulling it back. “Excuse me,” she spoke politely.

“Yes?” Sean asked glancing down at her.

Liz gasped, recognizing his face. He was the man Maxwell was competing with the first day she had met Maxwell. He was also the last person she saw before she blacked out in the alley. What was his name… Sean… was it?

That was strange. The way that Sean was flaunting in front of Maxwell that day, made Elizabeth believe that Sean came from a very high-class family. And that wager that the two made was over a great deal of money. So why was Sean a coachman for a carriage? And where was he taking her?


Elizabeth heard Sean curse and looked around to see what was the matter. She could hear a horse galloping up at a distance, but could not see anything in the darkness of the night. She tried to make out who was riding upon the galloping horse by looking through the back window, but could not make out who it was. She began panicking. What if it was a thief? Or a hijacker?

In her distress, she began praying, begging for help.

“W-who is that behind us?” Elizabeth stuttered out. She had moved to the seat closer to Sean.

“No one for you to concern yourself with, my dear,” Sean said with an evil grin. “That should be the least of the worries on your mind right now.”

“Where are you taking me?” Elizabeth asked. She didn’t recognize this part of the forest. She’s never taken this route before.

“You shouldn’t be worrying about that right now either. You should be worrying about how much longer you have left to live.” Sean smirked at her. “Or whether I feel generous enough to give a quick and easy death.

Elizabeth gasped and backed away from Sean, taking the seat near the back window. Oh, please, no. Someone help her.

Sean whipped the horse again and sped the carriage away. But Elizabeth could hear the galloping horse come closer. She looked out the back window again and could make out the faint outline of a figure on a horse. A very familiar figure. Elizabeth stood up shakily in the moving carriage and pried open the back window.

“HELP!” she cried out to the horseman. Praying to the gods that, who ever the person was, they were coming to help her.

“HELP ME PLEASE!” She managed out before she let out an ear-piercing scream as she felt a sharp sting to her back. Liz turned around and saw Sean’s hand through the window. The whip that Sean had used to whip the horse, he had used to whip her as well.

“Shut your trap, whore!” Sean yelled at her from where he sat. “No one is going to be able to help you! Just wait until I get my hands on you! We’ll give Maxwell something to really be jealous over!”

NO! Liz thought. There had to be another way out. Elizabeth’s mind began to spin as she considered her options. She could stay in the carriage. Then, Sean would either kill her quickly or painfully. Then there was the horseman. He could help her, unless he was also out to get her.

Or she could get out of the carriage. If she jumped for it, she would definitely be hurt. There was a high chance of broken bones. And there was a chance that Sean would still run after her. There was a chance she would be able to get away. There was a chance the horseman might save her… or kill her. And there was also the chance of her dying from the impact. But was it a chance she was willing to take? YES! Anything was better than to have Sean’s hands on her. Sean’s wickedness was coming off strong. Elizabeth was becoming nauseous.

She made her mind up and pushed open the door. The speed of the wind as the carriage whipped through the night air made the door jerk open and slam into the side of the carriage with a loud bang.

“What the HELL do you think you’re doing?” Sean yelled back to Liz. But before he could say any more, Liz jumped out the carriage, throwing herself out the door and trying her best not to break any limbs.

She landed face down with a thud, wincing and moaning at the pain that was coming over her body. She could hear the carriage coming to a screeching halt, a horse neighing nearby, and the thunderous gallops of the horseman stop shortly after. Elizabeth could faintly hear footsteps coming at her from both sides, and the sound of someone yelling out her name before her body gave into the pain and she slumped to the earth, blackening out.


Maxwell rode on as fast as could. He had to get to Elizabeth. Maxwell had finally begun to catch up to the carriage upon exiting the city and entering the forest. Where was Sean planning on taking her? How far was he planning on going?

Suddenly Maxwell felt it, the fuzzy feeling he first felt the other day in the alley. It was Liz. She was calling him. Begging him to help her. Maxwell quickened his speed. Elizabeth needed him.

As he started getting closer to the carriage, he could see Elizabeth jumping back into the seat through the back window of the carriage. If Sean did something to her… Max felt his anger rising. Fear was coming off of Liz in waves. She was terrified and panicked.

Max saw her pry open the back window and stare right at him. Some fallen strands of her hair were whipping around her face. He could hear her yelling out to him, “HELP!”

Don’t worry, love, Max thought. “I’m coming!” he yelled back, but it was drowned out by the sound of her loud shriek. Max saw it. Sean was hurting her. That bastard. When Max gets his hands on Sean… Sean was a dead man.

Max was almost there… almost to her when the door opened with a bang and out came Liz’s body. What was she doing? Max thought to himself. He stopped the horse abruptly, causing the horse to neigh loudly in protest. The carriage had also stopped and Sean was already running towards Liz.

Max jumped off the horse and ran towards her. He needed to get to her before Sean could lay another finger on her. Hopefully, she was alright and the pain from the impact of the ground wasn’t too much for her. But then, she was still so weak.

Max saw her head fall to the ground, passed out just as Sean reached her. Max was only a few steps away. He slammed his body into Sean’s, shoving the filthy bastard away from his Liz. Max hurdled towards Sean and started pounding, letting out all his built up rage and anger. For Liz hurting him. For Sean hurting Liz.

Max used one of his hands to hold Sean up, and the other to pound at him. His hand was already sore from his bashings on the tree earlier that evening, but he paid no heed. He welcomed the pain. It helped him forget about the other aches his body’s been subjected to lately… specifically his heart.

Max finally stopped himself when Sean slumped to the ground, unconscious. Now, Max had someone else he had to deal with right now. Someone else he had to take care of.

Max turned around towards the spot where he had last seen Liz, but she was no longer there. He looked around frantically before spotting her, her dress flowing around her, her hair, a mess, flying back behind her as she ran deeper into the woods. She was running away… away from him… again. Max bit down on his heartache at seeing her retreating figure… fleeing away from him, not wanting to be around him, Max noted painfully… before he ran after her… again.


Liz ran as fast as she could, or rather, staggered. She knew she wouldn’t be able to last much longer, but she had to. Something was after her. Something evil. Her senses were fuzzy, warning her to get away... far away.

When she woke up, she was in pain. Her whole body ached. She looked up and saw the horseman attacking Sean. He looked familiar, the horseman did, but her vision was still foggy from her fall and she couldn’t make out whom he was.

That was when she felt it; the fuzzy feeling that crept into her mind. Warning bells ringing through her ears, telling her to leave. She picked herself up, grimacing at the pain that shot through her from every part of her body, staggering her first few steps. But her fear pushed her on and kept her moving.

She was only able to limp a few feet before she heard footsteps following close behind her. She could hear someone calling out her name. At least, she believed she did. It was hard to tell with her senses still hazy from the impact from the ground and the warning bells ringing in her head.

Who ever it was, was close. Liz heard her name being called again. This time she was positive she heard a voice calling to her. That voice, it was so familiar. It soothed and comforted her, even with the harshness and anger evident in its tone.

With her breathing more labored than ever, Liz turned her head, glancing back and saw him. He was standing only a few steps behind her. Though she could see hurt and anger in his eyes, she was more than pleased to see him. “Max…”

Elizabeth moaned and cried out as a she felt a sudden sharp pain in her back. Max was at her side instantly. “Liz…” his voice was full of concern, all anger gone. “What’s wrong? W-where are you hurt?” he spoke, looking her up and down, taking in all the scars and bruises that were forming all over her body. “Oh God!”

Liz clenched her teeth hard and grimaced as another pain shot through her. This time, she felt it in her entire body. Max was frantic, not knowing anything better to do, he gently put his arms around her, pulling her into an embrace, trying to take away all her pain.

At first, Liz tensed as she felt his arms go around her, but she soon relaxed as Max seemed to take all the pain away. It was like he absorbed it all into himself, just so that she would feel better. She didn’t expect to feel warmth and comfort in Max’s arms…but she did… she always did. So many emotions were running through her head as she leaned into his embrace.

Suddenly, the fuzzy warning rang in her head again. Warning bells were going off in her mind. The person that she sensed, coming after her earlier, wasn’t Max. It was someone else. And that someone was still after her. Evil was pulsating off this person. Who ever this person was, they were after her and would stop at nothing until they got to her. They’d even kill…

Max loved the feel of Elizabeth in his arms. This was how it was supposed to be… his life with her. He forgot all about Sean, about the ball, about everything. He was completely engrossed in Liz. It was blissful to feel her smooth and honeyed skin underneath his fingertips, to be able to run his fingers through the soft and silky strands of her hair… it was heaven… until she pushed him away.

“N-no… Max,” Elizabeth panted out as she tried her best to push him away. But she was so weak. Her throat felt so dry and her body ached again without Max’s arms around her, to take away the pain. She wanted nothing more to just stay in his arms, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t do that… not to him. She cared for him too much, Liz admitted to herself. She couldn’t put him in harm’s way.

“Liz…” Maxwell murmured softly, pain in his eyes. He removed Liz’s hands from his chest, holding them gently in his own. “You can’t push me away forever…” he whispered out to her.

Liz nearly broke down at how much pain was in his words… in his eyes, but she couldn’t hurt him… not now… not ever. She slipped her hands out of his and threw them around his neck, tiptoeing up to whisper in his ears, that way she wouldn’t be able to see the look on his face… the pain in his eyes.

“Please Max. Just leave. I need you to leave. I don’t want you here.” Elizabeth slid down Max’s body and hurried off again, the aching of her body went ignored as she focused more on the aching she felt in her heart when she saw the devastation in his eyes, but who ever it was, was coming for her, not Max, and she had to get away from him, to save him. Liz staggered off into the night again, not glancing back, not once.


Maxwell stared on in disbelief. How could this girl be so fickle? Did he not just feel her responding to him? Did he not just feel her relax in his arms? He did not just imagine that. He knew he didn’t. He felt it. So why does she keep changing her mind about him?

Max was too shocked to feel her slip down his body, to feel her push away from him, or to noticed her stagger off. When he finally did come out of the reverie, it was too late. She was already gone.

Max turned in circles looking around, trying to find any clue to which direction she went. She may not want him near her, but he’d be damned if he was going to just allow her to walk away from him like that, especially in her condition.

He closed his eyes tight and tried to sense her again, like he did before.

“Which way did they go?!”

Max heard a voice yell from out of no-where. He hid behind a tree, sucking in his breath and trying to make himself as small as possible, as to not be seen.

“I… I… I don’t know,” another voice sobbed out.

Max’s eyes widened. He recognized that voice… those voices. He peeked out from behind the tree, and sure enough, a good distance away stood Khivar, as he towered over a cowering and bloody Sean.

“What do you mean you don’t know?!” Khivar shouted at as he flung Sean to the ground, causing Sean to yelp out in pain. “I send you out to do one simple task, and you can’t even do that?!”

“M-Max… h-he…” Sean sniveled out, backing slowly away from the enraged Khivar.

Khivar walked slowly and deliberately, circling around Sean, like a hawk closing in on its prey.

“Max?” Khivar said in a wickedly calm voice.

Max held his breath, thinking maybe Khivar had spotted him.

“That sniveling little twerp did this to you?!” Khivar boomed out.

Max saw Sean violently nod his head.

Khivar let out an echoing evil laugh. “YOU were beaten to a pulp… once again… by that little brat?”

Again, Sean nodded his head.

Khivar laughed again. “You feasible little weakling. I thought maybe you were ambushed by a group of wood bandits, perhaps they did this to you, and perhaps they made off with the girl, but this was all just Max’s doing?”

Sean nodded his head slowly, not liking the sinister look in Khivar’s eyes.

Khivar huffed angrily before holding out his hand to help Sean up. Sean looked at him warily before accepting the hand and pulling himself to his feet.

Once Sean was standing, Khivar still held onto Sean’s hand in a tight and painful grip. Max could hear Sean moaning in pain as Khivar’s nails dug deep into Sean’s skin. “You’ve messed up one too many times, and I don’t tolerate screw-ups.”

“B…but Khivar. Y…you need me to…” Sean tried to plead.

“Everyone is dispensable to me, especially you,” Khivar spoke, pulling out a knife and jabbing it in Sean’s gut.

Sean yelp out and then grabbed his stomach, falling to the ground, and crying out in pain, blood gushing out of him.

Max closed his eyes tight, leaned back against the tree, and covered his ears. He did not want to be witness to the murder of a man, even one as vile as Sean Deluca.

When Maxwell finally uncovered his ears a few seconds later, he peeked around the tree to find Sean lying motionless on the ground. Max glanced around for any sign of Khivar and could barely make out the faint outline of his retreating back. Khivar was going after Liz now, Max thought frantically.

Maxwell was going crazy with concern. He had to find Liz before Khivar did. Max stopped pacing and took several deep breaths to clear his thoughts. He needed to get to Elizabeth now, but where would she be?

“Think of Liz… think of Liz… think of Liz…” Max muttered to himself over and over again. He thought about her, about how he first met her, about how gorgeous she was, how her dark brown hair cascaded down her back, how her deep brown eyes tended to draw him in.

Max’s eyes suddenly flew open. He sensed her. He could faintly feel that fuzzy feeling inside of him again. Max made a turn, close to in the direction Khivar headed, Max noted dreadfully, and headed off in a hurry. Elizabeth was calling him, and he’d be damned if he didn’t answer her.


Liz’s body was aching. Her side was hurting, and she was so out of breath. She didn’t think she could go on any further, but she had to. She had to get as far away from Maxwell as possible. She wasn’t going to get Max hurt while he tried to defend her, which she knew he would.

Liz stumbled a little on her dress, but managed to catch herself before she fell. The scenery… this part of the woods seemed awfully familiar to her, but from a fuzzy part of her mind, like from a distant memory…like from a dream… Liz gasped realizing that it was just that. This was her dream… her nightmare actually.

Terror suddenly came over her. She’s had this nightmare one too many times. Liz knew what was coming up… she knew what was going to happen next. But there was no way she could stop it. No way she could prevent the inevitable from happening.

That was when she felt it. She felt her foot getting caught on the root of a tree. She felt herself lose balance. And she felt the hard dirt ground as she fell forward, with not even enough time to brace herself for the fall.

Liz let out a loud moan and closed her eyes tight. Wincing at the pain from her fall and at what was to happen next. She knew what was to come. This was the part where whoever it was that was chasing her, caught her. They would reach her and hurt her. But this wasn’t a dream, this time. This time, this was real.

It was real and she wasn’t going to wake up soon in her bed and find that it was all a dream. That everyone she has met, even Maxwell, was all a part of her wild imagination. She wasn’t going to wake up to the birds singing and the sun shining through her window. Or to the sound of Kyle singing as he cooked her breakfast. She wasn’t going to even get to see Kyle ever again.

Liz tensed as she heard the pounding footsteps behind her, tears streaming down her face. She gave up. She gave in to the pain of her body. She let it wash over her as her mind drifted to a far off place, where she could live her happy life… with Max. She was completely gone when she felt warm hands lifting her into their arms. Hands that were oddly comforting and soothing… hands that could help take all the pain away… if she let them…


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Jul-2002 3:58:42 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:04:53 PM

Chapter Thirty-Three

He carefully and tenderly lifted his beautiful angel into his arms and noticed her eyes slowly shutting. She fainted again. She was so weak. She felt so light and frail in his arms… but still so beautiful.

But he did not have time to think about that now. He had to hurry. He could sense Khivar’s presence not very far behind, lurking in the darkness. Since when was he able to sense people?

But it wasn’t really him that sensed it. It was Liz. These feelings were coming off of her. Max could feel her body vibrating; warning him in some way as she unconsciously snuggled up closer to him.

Max tightened his grip around her possessively and continued on through the forest and the never-ending maze of trees. He wasn’t sure where he was headed, but this was the direction Liz was running off to before she collapsed.

After what seemed like hours of running, the muscles in Maxwell’s legs were tightening and he grew tired. He wasn’t sure if Khivar was still close on their trail, but he wasn’t going to risk it and wait to find out.

Max felt a small drop of water hit his face and roll down his cheek. He glanced up at the sky, and sure enough, rain clouds were forming above him. “Just perfect,” he muttered as he pulled Elizabeth closer to him, trying his best to shield her body from the light sprinkle of raindrops.

Up ahead, he could see the trees giving way to a small mountain or a large hill and a river. The gods were smiling down on him. Max recognized the area. It was where he, along with Michael and Alexander, used to fish and swim as children.

Max reached the bottom of the hill and made a sharp turn right, raindrops beating down harder on him. There was this place that he used to play in as a child. It was a secret lair that they happened upon one day, long ago, hidden away by trees and shrubbery. And that was where Maxwell was headed.

It took him a while until he finally found the entrance. What little moonlight there was, was dimming due to the downpour of rain. The wilderness had changed over the years. The trees were larger with more leaves, the entire outside was hidden behind vines and weeds, and the entrance was now a lot smaller than he remembered it to be. It was hard to believe that Max used to know this place by heart, and now it took him forever to find it. With any luck, Khivar won’t be able to find it at all. Hopefully, Khivar gave up on trying to find them all together when it started pouring.

Max carefully squatted down and lowered himself and Elizabeth into the cave. It was far too dark in the cave to see, but hopefully, things were still somewhat in the places he remembered them to be.

Nevertheless, he inched his way through the cave, holding Liz close to make sure he didn’t accidentally bump her into anything. He could hear thunder echoing and feel the coldness of his soaked clothes down to the bone. Liz’s skin was freezing as well. Although he tried his best to shield her, her gown was almost as completely drenched as his clothes were.

“Alright,” Max muttered once he found his footing. “Five steps forward,” he said out loud as he ventured out five steps, slowly feeling the ground in front of him before stepping forward, careful not to slip on anything. It wouldn’t do him nor Liz any good if he tripped in this dead of night.

After the fifth step, Max smiled as he felt the cool wall of the cave on his back. He scooted to the left three spaces, using the wall as a guide, before he slowly slid down the wall until he was seated on the floor of the cave.

He shifted Elizabeth up in his arms until she was seated on his lap, her head leaning on his shoulder. He wiped away some of the water damping her skin before he blindly felt around on the floor. The last time he was out here was years ago, but, with any luck, his things were still here.

His fingers brushed against the contours of a hard wooden object. The gods were definitely on his side. Probably making up for their slip up earlier this evening, Max thought, thinking back on the night’s events. This was certainly the longest evening ever, and it had yet to end.

Max shook his head and cleared his thoughts. He had things he still had to do. He had to get his old treasure box open, in the dark, and make sure there are still matches inside and that they still worked. Find their old oil lamp and light that so that they can have light while Max works on getting a fire started from whatever dry wood there was in the cave, before they freeze to death. All while holding onto Elizabeth for as long as possible.

He didn’t want to have her lying down on the cold, damp and dirty floor. It’ll only make her condition worse. It took her so long to finally wake up the first time. Imagine how long it’s going to take this time.

But this time, no one was here to force him to stay away from her to let her rest. This time, he’d be able to watch after her and he’d wait for her. He’d wait for her to open her eyes. Open her eyes to wake up and to realize just how much he cared about her. How he risked his life like he had, all for her. How he’d do anything she wanted him to.

Max placed his hand on her upper arm, running it up her shoulder, lightly tracing her collarbone, up her neck and cupped her cheek. If it were possible to feel beauty, he just had. Yes. He would most definitely wait… he’d wait an eternity.


Max stared down at the beauty before him as he ran his fingers through her hair. After he had the lamp lit, he found that there was plenty of dry wood in the cave. He had the fire started in no time. The cave was now lit up and warm. It wasn’t much different from how he remembered it to be. There were a few more cobwebs and weeds about. But overall, it was still a nice cozy hideaway.

It has been a few hours since they’ve arrived at the cave and Elizabeth still had yet to stir. Maxwell was leaning back, his bare back against the cool wall of the cave. He had taken his shirt off a while ago to lay in on the ground for Liz to lie down upon. He had a feeling that she might be a bit frightened if she woke up, wrapped in someone’s arms. The last thing Maxwell wanted to do was to scare her. And he did not want to experience the feel of her running away from him yet again.

Though it was about an hour before he lifted her head from his shoulder and laid her down. But Max kept her head propped up in his lap, instinctively running his fingers through her hair, brushing loose strands away from her face and neck, caressing her shoulders, her collarbone, her neck and her cheek on the way. Her skin was no longer cold or damp, but nice and warm again.

Max ran his fingers through her hair once more before he gently lifted her head and lowered her carefully onto the ground, his jacket vest as her pillow. Max reluctantly rose to his feet, his eyes never leaving her. He sighed and turned around, walking about the cave and gathering more firewood. The fire was burning low and he needed to keep Elizabeth warm for however long she was asleep.

The rain was still pouring down outside. Maxwell wondered if it would ever lighten up, but was somewhat praying that it wouldn’t, so that he could have more time alone with Elizabeth. The rain was the only thing keeping them in the cave. Khivar should have long given up on trying to find them by now. And most importantly, the rain is what would keep Elizabeth from running away from him… again.

A plan had already formed in his mind as he tended to the fire. When Liz woke, he would sit with her and tell her exactly how he felt, only this time it would be in a non-pressuring and non-frightening sort of way, unlike how he did before.

He was a fool for thinking that she would jump for joy at his confession of love earlier. She was scared and she had every right to be. He should have known to think of a better way to tell her that he cared for her… that he loved her. They went from being friends one second, to him practically proposing to her the next. Who wouldn’t panic? Well, it was not exactly a proposal, but it was close enough. Him, professing his never ending love for her and giving her a rather expensive, but utterly beautiful piece of jewelry, and her, successfully running away from him.

Max glanced over at Elizabeth, then at her wrist, still adorned with the bracelet he had given her. Although she didn’t know it, the bracelet was Max’s way of claiming her. It really was. Everyone who will see it will comment to her about how beautiful it is. She would in turn thank them and tell them that it was a gift from the love of her life. Maxwell scoffed. At least that’s what he wanted for her to say.

Max glanced over at her hand again and noticed her fingers moving, curling slightly. He dropped the stick he was poking the fire with and rushed towards her, nearly stumbling over his own feet along the way. He was kneeling down beside her when her eyes began to flutter.

“Liz…” he whispered her name softly, gently placing his hand over her upper abdomen, feeling her chest rise and fall with every breath she took. He could feel the warmth of her body through the satiny thin material of her gown.

Max lifted his hand to brush the stray strands, sticking to her face. His fingertips barely brushed against her rosy cheek when he heard her speak. He felt her body suddenly tense under his touch, her eyes squeezing together tightly, and her sweet heavenly voice ringing through his ears as her harsh and cold tone chilled him to the core. “Don’t touch me…”


Max jerked his hand away from her and jumped back. He chuckled sardonically at the situation he was in. Here he was, planning on talking to her rationally about their feelings towards one another, while she didn’t even want him touching her. He scoffed. Love is anything but rational.

Max looked back towards Elizabeth. She was tossing and turning on the ground, her arms flinging about around her, as if to ward off something. But what he noticed most, was that her eyes were still squeezed shut and she was murmuring and moaning. She still wasn’t awake yet.

“No… please…. stop…” she tossed and turned more.

Max leaned back towards her, shaking her gently. “Liz…”

He heard her whimper and saw tears coming from the corners of her eyes.

“Liz…” he called out her name again, this time, bringing his hand up to brush away her tears and caress her cheek. He heard her sigh in content, her lips curving slightly into a smile. Was it his imagination, or did he just hear her sigh out his name with a smile on her face?

It had to be his imagination, he thought, at least that was what he thought until she started leaning her head into his hand and turned her face to kiss his palm. He blinked several times, staring down at her. He had the goofy grin back on his face. This cave ordeal was looking better and better.

Max’s fingertips lightly traced her features, the slope of her nose, the softness of her cheeks, the featherlike touch of her lashes. All the while, Liz lay passively, her soft pink lips curved in a sweet smile, giggling every now and then from Max’s sweet caresses. Her eyes still remained closed, as if not wanting to wake up from her dream just yet.

Max lied down beside her and draped one arm over her stomach possessively while his other hand continued exploring her, waiting for her to open her eyes and see him. His fingers softly traced around her ear and traveling downward to her collarbone as his thumb ran down her jaw line to the base of her throat, eliciting another giggle from Liz’s sweet lips, followed by a soft moan.

Max continued his exploration. He ran his hand across her smooth shoulder, traveling down her arm, his wrist accidentally brushing up against her breast. Maxwell blushed, but Elizabeth didn’t seem to notice. Her eyes were still shut, still refusing to wake.

Max’s fingers traveled down to her hand, he lifted her hand lightly softly kissed her palm in a show of affection. He heard her gasp slightly. Apparently it had the same affect on her as it did on him.

Max intertwined his fingers with hers and kissed it once again before setting it softly down at her side. He ran his fingers through her hair, tucking a few strands behind her ear, whispering to her, “Elizabeth…”

Liz made a small whimpering noise in response.

Max smiled at her reluctance to open her eyes. “Liz… sweetheart… it’s time to wake up…” he murmured softly to her. It didn’t seem appropriate to speak any louder than a soft whisper.

She whimpered again, pouting her lips, and shaking her head slightly.

“Please Elizabeth?” Max asked, his hand tucking an imaginary strand behind her ear, fingers running down the side of her face, and his thumb grazing over her pouty lips, softly.

She still shook her head.

“But…” Max pouted, “I want to see the heaven in your eyes. The stars tonight just don’t seem to shine as brightly. They don’t sparkle the way you do.”

Liz’s lips slowly curved into a soft smile as her cheeks blushed slightly. She finally opened her eyes, but they were looking in the opposite direction from Max, a smirk on her face.

“You are such a tease,” she taunted before looking up at him while he was partially on top of her. She should stop this, she thought to herself, but she didn’t have the strength to. “I bet you say that to all the girls, sweeping them off their feet,” Liz whispered, batting her eyelashes playfully at him.

“No,” Max said with a smile, shaking his head lightly, “just you.”

Liz’s smile widened. There was something in the way he said it, or the look he gave her when he spoke, that made this feel so good… so right. Her, being here with him. “So…” Liz began, neither of them having moved from their spot next to each other. “What other lines do you have for me?”

“Plenty,” Max said with a smile. “Would you like to hear them?”

“No…” Liz said shaking her head uninterestedly.

Max’s face fell, his lips frowning as he looked away from her.

“But…” Liz said with an impish grin on her face. “Since we’re stuck here, I might as well hear a few of them. Just to make sure you aren’t making a complete fool of yourself in front of other people. You know, just for your sake, of course.”

“Of course,” Max said grinning at her.

“Are you going to just stare all night?” Liz asked, wiggling her eyebrows at him.

Max smiled again. “Well, if I had my way, I would gaze into your eyes for an eternity.”

Her breath caught in her throat. The way he was looking at her as he spoke. “That was nice,” Liz said, letting out a deep breath after finally coming out of her reverie. “That line will most definitely have you in the good graces of plenty of beautiful young women.”

“It’s not a line,” Max spoke sincerely. “And the only beautiful young woman I want is you.”

Liz was getting drawn into his eyes once again, but shook away her thoughts. “I have one,” she said, clearing her throat and looking into his eyes, trying to turn him into putty with her words like he did to her. “It looks like my prayers have been answered, the gods have made you just for me.”

Max just stared at Elizabeth. The way she was looking at him, the sexy glint in her eyes. “I… I don’t know if I have heard that one before…”

Liz smiled. “Do you think you could do better?”

“I don’t know…” Max said shaking his head playfully. “That was a pretty good one.”

“Well, it doesn’t look like the rain will be letting up any time soon,” Elizabeth said, glancing out the entrance before looking back towards him. “So you have all night to try.”

“Just a night?” Maxwell asked, his face solemn, there was so much more underlying in his words than just lines.

“I don’t want you to bore you,” Elizabeth teased.

“You’ll never bore me,” Max spoke with so much intent.

Elizabeth’s breath caught in her throat at how much emotion there was running through his eyes. How much he was saying in just those few words. He was pleading with her… begging her for something, but she didn’t know what.

“Alright. It is your turn,” Elizabeth cleared her throat and smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

Maxwell thought for a second. “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I would put U and I together.”

Liz smirked before she let out a long sigh.

“What’s wrong?” Max asked, concerned.

“Why is it that I have to climb a hundred mountains to get you, but all you have to do to get me is smile?”

Max’s smile widened, and Liz laughed as he blushed slightly.

“Liz?” Maxwell asked, his tone serious. “I like this.”

“Me too,” Elizabeth said, looking him in the eye, just so he knew she was speaking truthfully.

“How much longer are you willing to play with me?” Maxwell asked, wanting to know exactly where they were headed.

“Until I bore you, Max,” Elizabeth smiled up at him.

“Good,” Maxwell said with a smile, “an eternity then.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, “Or until you run out of lines.”

“Is that a challenge?” Max asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Yes, Mr. Evans, it is,” Liz said with a cool smile on her face. “Do you accept?”

“Always. Evans men never back down from a challenge,” Max said, raising his head high.

“Is that so?” Liz asked mockingly. “You’ll never back down?”

“Not until the day I die. But…” Max said with a mischievous look in his eyes. “I think I might have already died and gone to heaven because I see an angel before me.”

Liz hit his arm playfully and rolled her eyes. There were so many hidden meanings in what they just said. Hopefully, he won’t take them all too seriously. She was getting herself into something deep. She knew it. But perhaps, this is where she should be. Perhaps…

She looked back over towards him with a smile. “I can top that one,” she grinned seductively at him. “I’m going to have to arrest you Mr. Evans.”

“Why is that?”

“You’ve clearly stolen all the stars from the sky. I see them sparkling in your eyes.”

“Oh, yes? Well Miss Parker, love is a very complex word, but I think I just found the meaning of it.”

Everything seemed to freeze as they stared at each other. Max was waiting for any type of reaction from Liz. He hadn’t meant to say what he had, but he wasn’t going to deny what he felt. He saw Elizabeth glance around nervously before her eyes settle back on him. She bit her lip slightly before she spoke, “Max…”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Jul-2002 3:59:57 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:05:18 PM

Chapter Thirty-Four

“Where are they?” Maria screeched as she paced back and forth in the now empty ballroom. The ball had ended hours ago and neither Elizabeth nor Maxwell were accounted for. Maria paced more and more, practically losing her mind. Too much had happened in one night. First the Elizabeth ordeal, the Courtney ordeal, the Khivar ordeal, and now Maxwell’s and Elizabeth’s disappearances.

Maria practically pounced Michael and Alex as they entered the house. “Did you find them?”

Alex lowered his head and walked over to the living room, where Isabel was sitting, waiting for any word on what happened to Maxwell and Elizabeth. Isabel looked up at him, her eyes hopeful. Alex shook his head and pulled Isabel into his arms as she cried her eyes out.

Michael looked at Maria, closed his eyes and sighed as she shook his head back and forth.

“Are you sure?” Maria asked, frantic. “Are you sure you checked the entire garden? They were out there earlier, weren’t they?”

Michael sympathized with his fiancé. Everyone was worried over Max and Liz. They had all seen the harsh words exchanged between the two before Elizabeth ran out into the garden. “Yes, Maria. They were out there. But…”

“Good,” Maria interrupted. “Then I’ll just have to go out there and find them.”

Michael grabbed a hold of Maria’s waist before she even reached the back door that lead out into the garden. “Maria, honey, it is pouring rain outside. You can’t go out there. You’ll fall ill.”

“But what if they are out there, Michael?” Maria sobbed out as she leaned into his shoulder. “What if they are trapped out there somewhere, waiting for us to find them?”

“I’m sure they’re fine, Maria,” Michael assured her, pulling her closer to him.

“How can you be sure?” Maria blubbered out as she let him soothe her and take all her cares away.

“I’m not,” Michael admitted. “But I have faith in Maxwell. And I know that Max would never let anything happen to Elizabeth. Not if he could help it.”

“Does he really care for her that much?” came a voice from behind them.

Michael broke away from their hug and spun around to face the voice.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude,” the man apologized to Michael, “but I heard you speaking about my Elizabeth.”

“Michael, this is King Jeffrey,” Maria introduced her fiancé to the king. “His highness, as well as the queen, have offered to stay with us and help in our search for Maxwell and Elizabeth.”

Michael bowed his head to greet the king, “Your majesty. I thank you greatly for your help in searching for my brother. Umm… pardon my asking, but what is this about Liz being ‘your’ Elizabeth?”

“I’d like to explain it just one time tonight. I suggest we find Elizabeth first, and then I’ll explain myself, to her and to everyone else,” King Jeffrey offered. “Now, what is this about Maxwell with Elizabeth? Are they… involved?”

“Not exactly,” Maria offered. “They both care deeply about each other though neither will admit it. Or rather Liz won’t admit to it.”

Jeffrey nodded in understanding. “And still no word as to where they are?” King Jeffrey asked with a frown.

“No,” Maria shook her head. “I’m sorry.”

Jeffrey sighed, closing his eyes. The King’s breathing became more labored. He let out a deep breath, inhaled greatly, and let out another deep breath.

“A-are you alright, your highness?” Michael asked. Both Michael and Maria were becoming concerned.

“I… I… I’m fine,” King Jeffrey huffed out, holding a hand over his chest. He turned and glanced about the room. “Nancy?”

“I’m here. I’m here,” Nancy called out as she rushed over to him. Jeffrey leaned towards her, slumping over. Nancy looked towards Michael. “Could you help me get him to the couch?”

Michael nodded his head and stood over next to the king. Michael threw one of the King’s arms around his neck to hang on to as his arm went around the king’s waist. And together, they hobbled over to the couch. Michael laid Jeffrey down on the sofa and Nancy sat down beside him.

Michael and Maria watched on in wonderment as Nancy intertwined her fingers with his with one of her hands. Her other hand cupped his cheek, Jeffrey smiling at her touch. It was as though she were taking away his pain. Nancy’s hand traveling down to his throat and to his chest. Jeffrey’s breathing seemed to clear up instantly at her touch.

They continued the process for a few more times before Jeffrey sat back up, completely refreshed again. He smiled at Nancy and she smiled back.

“Umm… what just happened?” Maria asked, her mouth still hanging open at what she saw.

Jeffrey smiled at her and began his explanation. “It is a part of the magic that the royal-blooded possess. It is hard to explain. When you give your love to someone,” Jeffrey glanced at Nancy, “it’s as though you give them a part of yourself. Your life is in their hands and you have to trust them. They can either hurt you or heal you. That’s why I needed to know about Maxwell. If Elizabeth loves him, as you say, it is best that he is there with her, especially if she’s hurt in anyway. It’s the only way she will heal, if she will even heal, that is.”

Maria and Michael nodded in understanding, although they didn’t actually grasp the entire concept.

Just then, Philip, Diane, and Kyle entered the room.

Michael was the first to see them. “Did you find Max and Liz?”

Philip shook his head. “They aren’t at the house. Kyle says that they haven’t been back to the house all night.”

“Kyle… you look familiar…” Jeffrey said, squinting his eyes at he monk. “Were you ever in the palace?”

“Umm…” Kyle cleared his throat. “I… I… umm…”

“Where’s the governor?” Michael asked upon noticing his uncle’s discomfort.

“Oh. He is sending out a search party,” Diane informed them.

“We also have people out looking for them,” Jeffrey said, standing up. “My men are to inform me immediately upon finding any information.”

“That is good,” Philip spoke up as he began pacing. “The more people out there looking for them, the sooner we’ll find them.”

“Philip…” Diane walked over to her husband and tried to console him.

Alex motioned for her to take the loveseat he and Isabel were seated in. Diane nodded at him and led Philip over to take a seat.

“I know everyone is worried,” Alex spoke to the group. “But we aren’t going to help Maxwell and Elizabeth any if all we can do is panic. We have to keep our faith and hope for the best. Pray that they are fine.”

Everyone nodded their agreement. Isabel walked over to him and gave him a soft peck on the cheek. She loved how he was always so levelheaded, especially in situations like these.

Everyone waited patiently after Alex’s little speech. Correction, they waited patiently all for about thirty seconds until the King stood and began pacing. He had just now found his daughter and she had disappeared before he could even approach her to speak with her.

He still could not believe how beautiful she was, and how grown up. Nor could he fathom how much of her life he had already missed out on. But that was going to change, as soon as he found her, he was going to bring her back to the palace and give her the life she deserved as the princess and the heir of a vast land of people.

Suddenly, guards burst into the room, tracking mud and water into the house. “Your highness,” the chief guard spoke while the rest of the guards kneeled down until Jeffrey motioned for them to stand. “We’ve found something.”

“You found her?” Jeffrey asked, his voice ecstatic.

“No, your majesty,” the guard spoke, shaking his head from side to side. “We’ve found a body.”

“A body?” Maria gasped.

“Yes. A dead body. He hasn’t been identified yet, but he is a young man, looked about eighteen, brown hair, dressed in formal wear, so we believe that he was in attendance at this ball.”

“H…how did he die?” Philip asked, fearing the worst.

“Stabbed, sir. Bled to death. He was also badly injured with many wounds. He was obviously attacked,” the guard informed them.

“Dear god…” Maria muttered as she sank to the floor.

Michael stooped down and gathered her into his arms. “W-w… where did you find the body?” Michael asked reluctantly.

“In the forest,” the guard notified them. “But we still have yet to identify the body.”

“MAX!!” Diane screamed as she jumped from her seat next to Philip and rushed out the door before anyone could stop her.


Different voices called out to her. But she ignored them as she bolted out the door to find him… her son… her Maxwell…


“Max… I… I… um…” Elizabeth looked about the cave frantically. Things weren’t supposed to be this way. Things were becoming complicated. And complications were not good. She was to be preparing her soul for the life of …

Her thoughts were interrupted by the low grumbling of her stomach. Elizabeth bit her lower lip and looked away, embarrassed.

Max just smiled at her. “Hungry?” he asked, smirking slightly.

Liz nodded her head, still not looking at him.

“I’ll be right back,” Max said as he jumped to his feet before she could stop him, not that her mind was working well enough for her to be able to. Her eyes took in the sight before her. She had the most incredible view of Max when he stood. He was standing tall, his chest bare, gleaming in the firelight. His muscles were sleek and smooth. He was like a Greek god, an Adonis, a perfect body that was so well defined and toned. Liz wondered where on earth he was hiding such a beautiful body like his.

Max smiled under her intense scrutiny. Her small smile and her glazed over eyes told him that she most likely enjoyed what she saw. He was suddenly very thankful for all of those days of hard labor he endured when he went to work for his father in the warehouse. He had done it all for Elizabeth in the first place. And she looked just about ready to pounce him. Maxwell chuckled. He probably had the same look on his face the first time he laid eyes on her.

God… that look in her eyes. He was so tempted… But he had other things he had to take care of first, namely her. He couldn’t just take advantage of her… not now… not yet, at least… Maxwell thought with a wicked gleam in his eyes as he turned and left out the entrance, welcoming the cool rain that poured down on him.

Elizabeth was pulled out of her thoughts as she noticed his slight shiver upon stepping out into the rain. He had to be completely insane. Or just praying to become ill. Where was Max going in the rain? It had died down a little, but was still pouring hard enough to where they were still confined to stay within the cave walls. At least, Max insisted that she did. Apparently the rules did not apply to him.

Elizabeth sat up, pulling her legs close to her body. Maxwell wouldn’t let her sit up earlier, saying that she needed the rest, but she felt fine, completely recuperated back to her old self, if not better. But she shivered suddenly, her heart began beating a bit quicker. The cave felt so empty without Maxwell here with her. Liz’s body was trembling. She felt so cold. She tried shifting closer to the fire, but it didn’t have as much affect on her as it had earlier. Or maybe it was just Max who was keeping her warm, comforting her.

When Max came back to the cave, he was soaking wet from head to toe. His arms were filled with wild berries. He saw Liz lying down on the floor where he left her, her head leaning on one of her arms, and her legs pulled up close to her body. Max smiled. She was probably tired. She was still ill, she needed her rest. He dropped the berries into his jacket vest and set them aside. He stood up near the fire, opposite from Elizabeth and tried to wipe some of the water off of his skin and dry his clothes before he went near her.

After Max was somewhat dry, he walked over to Elizabeth and sat down beside her with a smile. He lied down next to her, his body brushing up against hers. That was when he noticed it. Elizabeth was shivering, her body shaking. Maxwell straightened her legs, lying her down on her back. Her eyes were closed and her lips were quivering. He placed one hand on her abdomen and felt her chest rise and fall at a frantic rate as she breathed. He lifted his other hand to feel her forehead and her cheek. Her skin was so cold.

Max began to panic. He shifted her closer to the fire. “Liz…” he called out to her, trying to wake her so that she could tell him what was wrong. She was perfectly fine before he left. Why did he leave? Max kicked himself for having ever left her alone. This was how the whole ordeal began in the first place, when he left her.

“Liz… sweetheart… you have to wake up,” he pleaded with her. “Open your eyes for me, Elizabeth. Tell me what’s wrong.”

Liz’s eyelids fluttered slightly, but she didn’t open her eyes. Her lips quivered more, “cold… so cold…”


“This is it, right here,” the chief guard pointed to the cloth-covered body on the ground.

Everyone was gathered about the body, protected from the rain by umbrellas, though there wasn’t much rain left, it seemed to have died down greatly. Alex held an umbrella over him and Isabel. Michael over Maria. Philip over Diane. And three guards holding umbrellas over the Queen, the King, and the Governor.

“Are you ready?” the guard asked as he bent down, grabbing a hold of one end of the cloth covering. He saw the women basically covering their eyes and leaning into the shoulders of their respective others, while the men nodded their heads desolately.

The chief guard pulled back the sheet slowly, and only enough to see the pale and bruised face of the body, in order to identify him. Gasps were heard from everyone. The women turned their heads away, as did the men.

The governor stooped down, staring at the face. He lifted the sheet up slightly, to where only he and the chief guard were able to see the bloody body, before dropping the sheet carefully, covering the entire body once more.

“It’s Sean…” Valenti said softly.

The King and Queen stared at the governor, a confused and questioning look on their faces.

“Not Maxwell…” Valenti said, shaking his head. The King and Queen nodded their heads.

Everyone closed their eyes, saying a silent prayer for him. The women cried while the men bowed their heads in grief for the loss of such a young man; a young man who had his entire future ahead of him.

Sean may not have been liked by many, but everyone, excluding the queen and king have known him for almost all of his life. They have all learned to tolerate him. How could they not but be mournful?

Everyone was silent for a long period of time, no one sure of what to say, until Alex voiced what was on everyone’s mind. “So… where is Maxwell?”


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-Jul-2002 4:01:54 PM ]
posted on 4-Jun-2002 5:05:33 PM

Chapter Thirty-Five

Max was frantic. Elizabeth was cold. What was he to do?

“It’s okay…” Max whispered to her, more so to reassure himself rather than to reassure her. “It is going to be okay.”

Max lifted Liz’s body into his arms, shifting closer to the fire. Elizabeth sat in his lap as he pulled her body closer in contact with his.

Liz leaned her head onto his shoulder and pulled her legs up closer to her body, so that she was clinging to Maxwell, not just because she desired to, its just that Maxwell was so warm.

Her shoulders curled in towards his and he could feel just how cold she was. He grabbed his shirt from off the ground and draped it around her shoulders. He felt her body shiver and shake, her lips quivering against his shoulder.

“God… Liz…” His hands around her held her tighter. His arms rubbed fiercely against her skin as he tried his best to keep her warm.

Elizabeth’s body suddenly heated up, her breathing calming to normal. Max was more confused than ever. He loosened his grip around her, but she kept her hold onto his body, her head never leaving his shoulder.

They sat there for a while, Elizabeth just enjoying being in his arms. Maxwell had started to wonder if she had fallen asleep. But when he tilted his head to look at her, he found her eyes gazing right at him.

She smiled at him, but kept her head on his shoulder, lifting a hand, grazing her fingertips lightly down his chest as she whispered to him, “If I told you that you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?”

“Where did you learn that line,” Max chuckled, the worry and tension leaving him as he gazed down at her. He just couldn’t ignore the fact that her body fit so perfectly against his.

“Where I learned the rest of them,” Elizabeth said nonchalantly.

“And where would that be?” Maxwell asked playfully, keeping the mood light.

“From the men,” Liz said shrugging her shoulders.

“What men?” Max asked, the playfulness all but gone from his voice.

“The ones in town,” Liz said, offhandedly as she fiddled with the gold chain around Maxwell’s neck. “You know them… most of them are from your father’s warehouse.”

She could feel Max’s body tensing under her, his voice tight and somewhat… enraged, “those men?”

“Yes. Why?” Liz asked lifting her head to look at him. “Are you jealous?” she wiggled her eyebrows at him.

“Not at all,” Max said with an obviously fake smile on his face. “I am just… curious,” he shrugged.

“Oh, well in that case,” Elizabeth leaned back onto Maxwell’s shoulder with a smile on her lips.

“Yes, curious,” he let out a long sigh, “so… what do you say to them when these… men… say these things to you?” Max tried to ask casually, but failed miserably.

Liz chuckled at him, and then lifted her head so that she could look into his eyes. “I tell them the truth.”

“And what is that?” Maxwell asked with a sigh, suddenly uncertain if he wanted to know.

She leaned in closer to him and whispered, “that I am already taken.”

Max smiled, relaxing as he leaned back on his arm, Elizabeth still sitting on his lap. “Anyone I know?” he asked with a smirk. He glanced down at the bracelet around her wrist and smiled even wider. She was his… finally.

“Of course,” Elizabeth said, tilting her head teasingly. “Everyone knows him.”

Max sat back up and leaned closer to her. “No need for flattery, sweetheart. If you want some of this Maxwell loving,” he flexed his arms, “all you have to do is ask,” he winked, smirking at her.

Elizabeth laughed and slapped his arm playfully. Wow. His muscles were very… hard… nice, very nice.

He stared at her with a smile on his face. Then sighed and looked at her intently. “You really had me frightened there,” Maxwell said with so many emotions running through his eyes.

Liz mocked a gasped and widened her eyes. “The great Maxwell Evans… frightened?”

“Yes,” Max said sincerely, staring into her eyes so that she would see that he meant every word he was saying.

“Now why would you be frightened?” Elizabeth asked with a smile. She wanted to keep the mood light, but with the way Max was staring at her, she doubted that it was anything but a frivolous conversation.

“I was so worried about you,” Max said, licking his suddenly very parched lips.

“You don’t have to worry about me,” Liz said with a shy smile on her lips, shaking her head slightly.

“I can’t help it,” he said, raising his hand and tucking a few loose strands behind her ear, his hand remaining there, his thumb grazing her cheek, his palm near her chin, his fingers softly caressing her neck. Liz wondered if he could feel just how fast her heart was beating.

“Liz…” Max said, waiting until she would lift her head and look into his eyes before he continued. “Elizabeth… I love you.”

She stared at him. This wasn’t fair. He wasn’t being fair. How could he keep doing this to her? There were so many emotions in his eyes. How could she tell him? How could she tell him now? Elizabeth had tried to earlier, but he began changing the subject. And now…

The silence was deafening as Maxwell stared at her. Elizabeth lowered her gaze and closed her eyes. Max began to panic. Not again, he thought to himself, not again.

He saw Elizabeth bite her bottom lip softly, as if she were unsure about something. Then he saw her sigh, her shoulders slumping. Her eyes opened, and all that he could read from her was… guilt.

She licked her lips, sniffled, and looked away from him, as she spoke. “Max…” she shook her head slowly from side to side, “you can’t.”

“I’m so sorry, Maxwell,” Liz whispered to him as she tried to slip out of his arms, but he kept his grip tight. The look on his face told Liz that he didn’t quite register what she had just said.

“I-I’m sorry Liz, but…” Maxwell stumbled out, shaking his head back and forth, “…I… I just… I don’t understand.”

“Max… y-you can’t love me…” she said, lowering her head, she felt so ashamed of the way she’s been acting around him tonight. How could she have enticed and toyed with him and expected him to think it was just casual and friendly conversation? She should have known better. She should have known that Maxwell wasn’t that type of person to just take things lightly. He was just too sweet… caring… loving…

Maxwell placed a finger under her chin and gently forced her head up to look at him. “But Liz… I DO… I love you,” he said every word slowly and carefully, letting everything sink in.

“Max…” she whispered to him, tears slipping down her face. Max lightly brushed them away from her cheek. His touch was so soft… gentle… loving…

Grr… everything about him was loving. Why hadn’t she see it sooner?

“I can’t be with you, Maxwell.” More tears streamed down her face as she shook her head away from his touch. “I can’t…”

“Why not?” Max asked coarsely. If she didn’t love him, he still needed an answer. He needed to know why. He needed to know what he had done wrong. Perhaps he could change, be better, fix things. She wasn’t going to just walk away from him this time. He would make sure of it.

Elizabeth bit her bottom lip, trying to stop it from quivering. She closed her eyes tight, trying to stop the tears from coming. She held her body rigid, trying to stop it from trembling. All attempts were unsuccessful. She couldn’t answer Max. She couldn’t look at him, nevertheless speak to him. Liz just shook her head fiercely, from side to side.

“You’re not being fair, Liz,” he ground out through clenched teeth, fuming.

“I’m not being fair?” Liz berated him as she jumped up from his lap and began pacing in front of him. “I’m not being fair?! You are the one who is not being FAIR!” she pointed at him.

“What?” Maxwell asked, standing to defend himself. “YOU are the one who keeps pushing ME away and I’M the one not being FAIR?”

“YES!” Liz started her pacing again. “I had my whole life planned out. Everything was set. Everything was planned. Everything was perfect. And then YOU came along,” she said pointedly at him. “YOU come into MY life and contort EVERYTHING. You made everything so… COMPLICATED!”

“Well I’m sorry your life is now so complicated, but love is complicated, so I guess I’m sorry for loving you,” Maxwell spat out sarcastically.

“As you should be,” she spat back.

Both of them turned away from each other, taking deep breaths, trying to calm down. Neither one of them enjoyed yelling at the other… or being angry with one another.

After a few minutes, Maxwell let out a heart wrenching, dejected sigh. He spoke to her calmly, his words soft and gentle, he could never stay angry with her long, he loved her far too much…

“So…” Max began. They both stayed facing the wall of the cave, seemingly not looking at each other. Though both were secretly glancing at one another through the corners of their eyes.

“Why can’t you love me?” He winced at his own words.

Liz noticed it and her face softened. “I did not say that,” her voice sounded so frail and hurt that it made Maxwell’s heart sink. He hated raising his voice at her.

“Well then… why can’t you ‘be with me’?” he asked, recalling her words.

“Because…” Elizabeth spoke with her voice just as faint as his. “I’ve already promised myself to someone else.”

Max closed his eyes tight, bracing himself as his heart tore to pieces. She couldn’t love him because she loved someone else. Perfect, just perfect, Maxwell thought, nodding his head sorrowfully. “Who?” his voice came out strained and hurt.

Liz lowered her head even more, knowing that she was the one who made it that way. “The gods,” she said softly.

Max turned and looked at her. Liz turned her head sideways to possibly gage what he was feeling. Also so that he could tell her to her face how much he hated her. That he despised her now. Hell, that he never liked her at all and that he only pitied her. She deserved it all. But to her surprise, he was laughing, a smile on his face.

Liz looked at him questioningly and noticed that it wasn’t a happy laughter. It was laughter of sorrow and pain. And it broke her heart.

Max’s face was adorned with a contorted smile and he sniffled, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before he spoke. “It’s funny. It’s just so hilarious,” he scoffed. “It figures I’d lose to them,” Max spoke, his lip quivering.

“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked cautiously.

Maxwell laughed and shook his head. “Nothing… it’s just… the gods have it in for me,” Max said, raising an eyebrow and chuckling some more. “I think it was all those times I fell asleep during prayers when I was young.”

Liz laughed, her lips curving up in a big smile.

Max loved her smile, her laughter. It made her look so heavenly. Max scoffed. Heavenly. Yes, that was what she was… heavenly.

He took two large steps and stopped right in front of her. “Liz…” he brought his hand up and lifted her chin until she was looking at him. “Are you sure that is the kind of life you want?”

Liz bit her lip and looked away from him. “I’ve already promised myself…”

“But people can change their minds,” Max interrupted.

“I don’t know, Max,” she said with her bottom lip quivering. “What should I do?”

He would have told her that he wanted her to be with him, wanted her to forget about having ever promising herself to anyone but him. But he couldn’t. He loved her far too much. What was the saying? If you love something, set it free. If it come back, keep it forever. But if it doesn’t, it was never meant to be. Well, this was exactly the case.

“What do you want, Elizabeth?” he asked her. “Listen to your heart, not your head,” Max said, leaning his forehead against hers. “What do YOU want?”

“Max… I…” she wanted to tell him but was interrupted by Max’s lips coming down on hers as he kissed her thoroughly, his tongue caressing hers.

Max didn’t know where he was able to find the courage to kiss her like that. But he was just thankful she was kissing him back. He had to show her exactly what she would be missing out on… or just to see exactly what HE was going to be missing out on. Either way, he was glad he went for it.

Max’s hand on Liz’s waist traveled upward before he felt her place her hands on his chest and push him away.

Max backed off dejectedly as he tried to catch his breath.

“Max… I…” she wanted to tell him. She wanted to tell him everything and put her heart out on the line, just like he had for her… multiple times.

“Well, who am I to compete with the gods? You can’t blame me for trying though,” Max interrupted her, throwing his hands up in the air