posted on 6-Aug-2002 11:09:21 AM
Renaissance
By: MoonLily AKA Isabel

Disclaimer: I don’t own Roswell! Although, I think that’s pretty obvious.
Rating: PG-13/R for language, violence, and themes
Email: BehrFanatic⊕yahoo.com
Category: AU M/L
Summary: It’s the summer after the gang’s junior year, and a new girl has arrived in Roswell. Her name: Liz Parker. But not everything is as it seems. Could she hold the missing link to the aliens’ past?
Author’s Note: This is a Tess-less story! Enjoy!


Chapter One

The first thing she noticed was the smell. She caught one whiff of the greasy odor and immediately wanted to turn right back out that door and run.

The second thing she noticed was the decoration. Alien heads and flying saucers seemed to be popping out everywhere. Sure, she knew what Roswell was famous for. Who didn’t? But this was a bit excessive.

The third thing she noticed was the uniform. Oh, those God-awful waitress uniforms. She prayed that her dad would have the good sense to redesign them.

The fourth thing she noticed was the couple. They seemed to be in their mid-eighties. No wonder they had been willing to part with the café on such short notice. The poor couple was probably more than ready to retire and just relax.

The fifth thing she noticed was that her parents were leaving. Wait…what?

Liz ran to catch up with them. She had evidently spaced out there for a few moments. The customers must think she was a complete idiot, standing by the door like a statue. But why should she care what anyone else thought of her? Ever since-

“Lizzie!” That was her dad. She must have zoned out again. “So, what do you think?”

Liz gave a noncommittal shrug. Who cared about what she thought? He obviously hadn’t. In fact, he hadn’t even given a damn when-

“Well, how ‘bout we take a look around upstairs?” Sheesh. There she went again. She had to stop thinking about that. It was over. Done with. And there wasn’t a thing she could do about it.

With that, she followed her parents up the stairs.

~*~*~

Liz was still in shock. How could her dad do this to her? The Fates definitely had a grudge against her. Why else would she have alien antennae sticking out of her head and a huge alien head resting in her lap?

Halloween was five months away. Besides, she was too old for that kind of crap anyway. What was the meaning of making her play dress-up? This was torture.

There goes the minute hand. Break was over. It was back to work for Liz Parker. Otherwise known as the sworn enemy of the Fates That Be.

Pose. Smile prettily. Scribble unintelligibly. Walk away.

All the while pretending like she didn’t notice how the pervert was checking out her ass in the way too tight, much too revealing uniform.

Guys were all alike. Every single one of them. The day she met a guy who didn’t think with Mini-Me would be the day she found her soul mate.

But, of course, that was simply impossible. Everyone knew Liz Parker did not fall in love. The very idea of soul mates made her scoff. She pitied those poor, misguided people living in their illusionary lovey-dovey worlds. Fools. The whole lot of them. Didn’t they realize that their make-believe fantasies were just that? Fantasies? And that sooner or later, those same fantasies were going to come crashing down on top of them? And when the inevitable happened, they would be crushed.

“Order up!” Liz grabbed the tray of steaming food. It was for Table Number Four. Wonderful! That guy simply did not give up. As she was setting his lunch on the table, his arm “accidentally” brushed up against her chest.

Needless to say, she retreated as soon as humanly possible. Out of the corner or her eye, she saw the girl he was with, whom she presumed to be the jerk’s girlfriend, smack him on the arm. The girl should have done it harder. And in a far more painful area.

Wait, what was that? Oh, great. The guy was calling for the waitress. That meant her.

It was going to be a long day.

Almost an hour later, Liz was tired.

The pervert and his girlfriend had finally left (thank God!), but what was her tip? Hm? What was her compensation for the suffering? A measly dollar. For a twenty-five dollar meal. And five trips of replacing mysteriously disappearing condiments.

Yes, Liz had a right to be exhausted.

Fortunately, business had trickled down to a couple of tables. The remaining customers all seemed to be locals, which was very good news. No more annoying tourist questions that Liz couldn’t answer. She was barely out of tourist status herself!

The door chimes tinkled, inciting a groan from Liz. She didn’t want to look up. “Don’t let it be a tourist. Or a guy. Please, just be a nice, safe, elderly lady,” she whispered under her breath.

Slowly, she raised her head from the tabletop. Her stomach sank. The newcomer was definitely not an elderly lady. He didn’t look particularly safe, either. And the nice part? Well, she’d have to wait a little bit on that one.

Now, why wasn’t the person her ideal customer? Because the last time she checked, nice, safe, elderly ladies weren’t tall with dark hair. They didn’t wear snug white T-shirts that showed off just the right amount of muscle.

But, most of all, they didn’t have chocolate brown eyes flecked with amber. Eyes that appeared to be staring straight through her. Eyes that seemed to know her deepest secrets.

She was in trouble.


[ edited 5 time(s), last at 8-Sep-2002 4:49:16 PM ]
posted on 6-Aug-2002 11:10:47 AM
Chapter Two

“All right, Liz. Remember your routine. You can do this,” Liz coached herself. She took a deep breath. Here goes nothing.

She started striding over to the corner booth where the stranger was sitting. The cliché of tall, dark, and handsome fit him perfectly.

Liz mentally pinched herself. What was she thinking? He was just another creep, waiting to snatch her up, have his way with her, and toss her away like a useless rag doll after he was through. Wasn’t that what all guys did?

Their eyes locked together once more when she was halfway across the room, and all of her logical reasoning flew out the window. She felt as if she knew those eyes. Like she had gazed into them for hours on end many times before. And now, looking at those dark brown orbs, for some reason, she didn’t find that too hard to believe. She could easily stare into them all day.

She shook her head slightly to clear out the thoughts. Was she finally going insane? Here she was, dreaming about a guy she’d barely even known for two minutes. Scratch that. She didn’t know him at all. So why was she feeling like she had found her…soul mate? Hadn’t she been thinking just a few minutes ago how ridiculous the very concept of soul mates was?

Liz reached the small, two-person booth and couldn’t help but notice the stranger was alone. That was funny. Most guys with his looks would have surely brought a girl along, if only to flaunt her to the world like some sort of trophy.

Now, here was an opportunity. Maybe she could fill the position? It would be so easy to slide in across the table from him…

No! What the hell was wrong with her today? She, of all people, should know what it felt like to be an arm decoration. It was far from pleasant. And that wasn’t even the worst part.

Liz resolved to stick to business-related thoughts from then on. Business. She was a waitress at the Crash Down Café. Right.

That meant taking customers’ orders. Not leaving the person that had been trying to catch her attention for the past two minutes sitting there with an empty stomach. Even if he was a guy.

‘And a damn cute one, too!’ Liz quickly shut the traitorous part of her mind up.

“I apologize for the delay. May I take your order, sir?” It was back to business for Liz Parker. Uh-huh. She would be all about business from now on. Business before pleasure. That was her motto. Not that there would be any pleasure. Nuh-uh. None at all. Not on her part. She-

“Excuse me? Liz, are you all right?” A voice broke into her thoughts. His voice.

“Of course. I’m sorry, I must have blanked out there for a few seconds. Could you please repeat your order?” That’s right, Liz. Just act professional.

Suddenly, something hit her. Right when the guy was opening his mouth to speak, Liz interrupted. “Wait a minute. Liz?”

The guy smiled charmingly.

No! He did not smile charmingly! He was grinning. Probably even leering. Whatever it was, it was most definitely not charming!

“Would you prefer to be called ‘miss’? It’s just that when I saw we were around the same age, I thought you wouldn’t mind me using your first name. I’m sorry.”

Okay, now he was starting to creep her out. How did he know her name? Was the guy a stalker or something? She cast a furtive glance around the restaurant. The few people there didn’t look like they would do any good if he tried something.

Stalker Boy must have noticed her look of surprise, for he pointed to her chest. What? Even guys usually weren’t this forward. She was beginning to think he was even worse than the kleptomaniac stealing all the condiments.

Liz opened her mouth to give him a piece of her mind when a glint of gold caught her eye. What was that? She looked down and immediately felt a flush spread across her face. Duh, Liz. It was called a nametag. A nametag with the name “Liz” printed on it, as clear as day for all the world to see. Yeah, she was an idiot.

“Uh, no. Liz is fine.”

She couldn’t quite bring herself to look him in the eye as she finally took his order and hurried away. What was the matter with her? She was usually so calm and composed. The picture of control. But what was left of her now? A heart beating almost painfully fast and a lump of mush formerly known as her brain. Just like all the other ditzy teenage girls. What was she turning into?

She would have to make sure to steer clear of him as much as possible. He was a hazard to her health. There was no telling how much damage he could do.

With her mind made up and a will of steel, Liz Parker was prepared for anything. Nothing he threw her way would affect her in the least. Yes, everyone knew what she could accomplish when she was determined.

A sudden cold, wet sensation snapped Liz out of her musings. Her right hand was covered with Cherry Coke. His Cherry Coke.

Oh yeah. She was definitely off to a fantastic start.

After she washed off the sticky mixture, Liz took a deep breath and tried to slow down her once more erratic heartbeats. He was just another customer. All she had to do was walk over there and set down the soda. Plain and simple.

She could do this.

Her confidence somewhat recovered, Liz began to make her way across the room. At first, it seemed to last an eternity, but suddenly, she was there.

“Your drink, sir.” That was good. Nice and calm. Perfectly businesslike.

Later, Liz could never recall exactly how it happened. Maybe it was her silent musings getting her in trouble again. Or perhaps it was some subconscious force controlling her. She wasn’t sure.

All she knew was that one moment, the Cherry Coke was in the glass—where it belonged. The next moment, it—wasn’t.

It had somehow ended up on the floor, to be precise.

And in his lap. No, more like on his upper thigh. His very upper thigh.

Her elbow, the culprit, was still cold where it had bumped against the glass.

For the second time that day, Liz Parker blushed crimson.

posted on 8-Aug-2002 11:53:36 AM
Chapter Three

For a few seconds, Liz just stared in horror. This couldn’t be happening to her. But it was.

“Uh…uh…I’m s-sorry, s-s-sir,” she managed to stutter out while desperately fanning her flaming red cheeks.

Liz could tell the guy was uncomfortable with the situation, but to his credit, he didn’t take it out on her. In fact, he merely quirked that little half-smile of his and replied smoothly, “It was an accident. Don’t worry about it.”

Liz could only nod before she rushed off to fetch some napkins. She grabbed two handfuls from the counter and hurried back to her unfortunate victim.

“Once again, I am so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I’m not usually this clumsy, you know.” Liz realized she was babbling like an idiot.

“Like I said before, it’s all right.” The stranger placed a comforting hand on top of hers to calm her down.

Liz was shocked to feel a warm current of electricity spread through her hand and shoot up her arm. In an effort to get a hold of herself, she pulled her hand away as hastily as she could without appearing rude. Heavens knew she didn’t need any more of that today.

“Right. Here, at least let me help clean it up.” Liz started dabbing at the rapidly spreading spot on his jeans, not fully noticing what she was doing until she heard a sharp intake of breath.

Wondering what she had done now, and not really sure she wanted to find out, Liz glanced up. As it turned out, that was the wrong place to look, for the guy was staring down. Liz gulped. Her gaze slowly traveled downward, and when it reached its destination, all coherent thought processes promptly screeched to a halt.

The napkin had been there, touching…that place. Rubbing against it. Soaking up the— But, of course, it wasn’t the napkin that was the problem. Her hands had been there, too.

All remnants of Operation Control immediately flew out the window.

The only thing she could currently think of was her resolve to put business before pleasure. And how she had been so determined that there would be no pleasure. That was funny. What she had just been doing sure seemed like pleasure to her.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Liz regained her senses. The rational part of her mind recalled another time, another place—and an occasion involving that same part of the male anatomy. Liz was jolted back into reality as if a bucket of ice cold water had been dumped over her head.

She quickly straightened up. That memory was the one sure thing that could get her mind back on track again. And keep it there.

Liz chose to pretend like she didn’t notice anything wrong with where her hands had been a few brief moments ago.

“Well, I apologize for the mess again. I’m sure you can clean up the rest yourself. There’s a bathroom in the back. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to go find something to wipe up the floor.” With that said, she briskly walked away and, a few minutes later, returned to an empty booth with a mop.

If anyone had been watching closely, they might have noticed that the girl was rubbing at the floor a bit too vigorously for a mere soda spill. But no one was.

After that incident, Liz’s whole demeanor changed. She was no longer the clumsy and embarrassed waitress who couldn’t even pour someone a soda without getting it all over her hand. From then on, she really was the picture of control, even around the mysterious stranger who seemed to have wormed his way under her skin.

But the ironic thing was, Liz didn’t have to try anymore. She had no more annoying thoughts that would distract her. Occasionally, when one would start to tickle in the back of her mind, she easily swatted it away before it could even form completely.

When the stranger left, Liz’s only thought was relief. Not because of what the guy did to her judgment, but because he had left a more than generous tip, despite the soda spill episode.

Oh, and that perhaps he was better than the kleptomaniac after all.

For little did she know that she would change her mind the very next day.

posted on 14-Aug-2002 5:29:18 PM
Chapter Four

Mondays suck.

That was her philosophy and it hadn’t been proven wrong yet.

Of course, Tuesdays suck too. The same with Wednesdays…and Thursdays… She gave up. Might as well face it.

Life sucked in general.

Liz Parker sighed as she fiddled with the milkshake machine. She was deliberately taking her time to delay going back to the kitchen. The chef her dad had hired seriously scared her. He bore striking resemblance to an axe murderer, with that permanent scowl he had affixed to his face and the almost maniacal way he waved those knives about. Although she wasn’t quite sure if she’d ever heard of an axe murderer with hair like a porcupine’s.

She wondered if he’d mind if she started calling him Porky. Porky the Deranged. Sounded like a demented pig.

The milkshake was ready. Damn. Guess she’d have to go pick up that order now. At least the other waitress had decided to show up today. That was a good thing, too, since Monday lunch crowds were rumored to be huge. Not at all like the relative peace on Sundays.

Now, if only Liz could remember her name. She hadn’t been paying too much attention when the bubbly girl had introduced herself and began blathering on about some trivial matter. Liz had much more important things on her mind.

Uh-oh. The other girl was approaching. Fast. Quickly, Liz racked her mind for some inkling she might have picked up from the rather one-sided “conversation.”

Didn’t it start with an M?

Mary? No, that sounded too old-fashioned. Like somebody’s eccentric old aunt. Didn’t everybody have an Aunt Mary?

Melissa? Possibly, but it didn’t sound quite right.

Mildred? Morgana? Oops. She’d been watching Little Mermaid too much.

Marian? Nope, that was from Robin Hood.

Oh wait! Maria! That had to be it!

“Hi Maria!” Liz exclaimed a bit too enthusiastically. She internally winced at the fake brightness in her voice.

The other girl seemed a little taken back by Liz’s sudden cheery attitude.

Liz could have kicked herself. Now Maria was going to think that Liz was trying to make friends, when, in fact, it was the last thing on Liz’s mind. She didn’t have friends. She couldn’t afford to have any friends.

“Hey Liz. Michael’s been asking for you. I warn you, though, that he seems pissed off. Be careful.” Maria offered a warm smile.

Liz returned a tentative one of her own. This was bad news. If she’d thought the guy was creepy when he was in a relatively good mood, he would probably be downright intimidating now. She involuntarily shuddered.

If Liz had been the optimistic type, she would have at least had a reason to be grateful for the lunch crowd. But Liz wasn’t one to be optimistic. Besides, Porky looked like the kind of guy who wouldn’t give a damn if there were a hundred witnesses.

The bell sitting on the kitchen counter dinged again. Porky stuck his head out beyond the window to glare at Liz.

“Yo! What the hell is taking so long?” The perpetual scowl deepened, if that was even possible.

“I was preparing a milkshake,” Liz answered in the coldest tone she could muster. “You got a problem with that?” She returned his look with an equally unpleasant expression.

Porky held up his hands in defense. “Woah! Sorry I asked. Sheesh, I think you’re even more of an Ice Queen than Isabel. Didn’t think that was even possible.”

Before Liz could ask who Isabel was, the door chimes jangled.

“Ohp! Well, as pleasant as it has been talking to you, I have another customer. So sorry,” Liz stated sarcastically as she grabbed the order that was beginning to get cold and sauntered away, leaving a pair of incredulous eyes staring after her.

“Unbelievable,” Michael muttered under his breath as soon as she was out of hearing range. He glanced about for a familiar head of bouncy blond hair. The owner was heading his way at that very moment. As soon as she reached him, he leaned in close and whispered, “Is that Parker girl for real?”

Maria shrugged back at him. “I wouldn’t know, Spaceboy. Is my order ready yet?”

“Don’t you think I would’ve let you know if it was ready?” The frown was replaced by a look of annoyance.

She was unperturbed. She was used to being about Michael when he was experiencing these mood swings. She simply rolled her eyes. “Fine. Give me a ring when it is.”

“No, I’ll just wait while the customer starves,” he replied sarcastically.

Maria chose to ignore that last remark and merely walked away. However, she stopped short a moment later when she caught sight of the expression on Liz’s face. There was shock, disbelief, wistfulness, and sadness written all over her features.

Maria was somewhat relieved. So the girl had feelings after all. Maria had begun to seriously doubt that fact. This was the first time Liz had shown any sign of emotion all day. And Maria wasn’t entirely sure, but was that a hint of envy she detected? Or maybe even jealousy?

She cast her gaze about, trying to spot the one responsible for this sudden change. It came to rest on a couple in a corner booth. Bingo! She should’ve known. Only the local dark-haired mystery hunk could get Liz to act like this. The same way he did with half the female population of Roswell.

Maria noticed that the aloof mask had slipped back over Liz’s face, erasing all traces of what had been there mere seconds ago. Damn, that girl was good at hiding her feelings. One thing was for certain. Liz Parker was a girl with many secrets. And Maria DeLuca was the girl who was going to find out just what those secrets were.

~*~*~*

For the second time in two days, Liz had lost the control she had worked so hard for. How was it that what this guy had managed to do with his mere presence had been impossible to all others?

Liz was terrified. A few seconds ago, when he had walked in with another girl, Liz had felt stirrings of a feeling that was so unfamiliar and alien to her that she had wanted to bolt up the stairs. Run away and hide in the safety of her room. But she had a job to do. Liz had always prided herself on her sense of responsibility. And, currently, that sense dominated over her own selfish wants.

She composed herself and advanced toward the booth where he was sitting…with a blonde bimbo. Not that she cared in the least.

He spotted her coming and his face broke into a smile that almost managed to melt the icy walls around her heart. Almost.

“Hey, Liz.” He placed an emphasis on her first name, gently teasing her about yesterday. “Now, are you sure you don’t mind me calling you that?”

If it had been anyone else, Liz would have been beyond indignant by now. But she made the mistake of looking into those alluring eyes, and couldn’t look away, much less get the least bit annoyed at him.

“No.” The word came out as a whisper, and neither Liz nor the stranger acknowledged it.

But someone else did. A very blond someone else, to be precise. “All right, break up the staring contest. I, for one, would like to actually have lunch before the day’s over. Even if, apparently, somebody didn’t come here for the food.”

Liz snapped out of her trance. She knew she should be relieved for the interruption. But, somehow, she couldn’t quite bring herself to feel grateful towards the blonde.

“Okay, what would you guys like today?”

Somewhere, in the depths of her overactive imagination, Liz thought she heard a soft “You.” She almost rolled her eyes at her wishful thinking.

But, for some reason, the blonde was now glaring at her boyfriend. “Well, I would like a Will Smith burger. With Sprite,” she stated a little louder than was necessary. What was her problem? Did she think Liz was deaf or something?

“I’ll have the Will Smith burger, too. And a Cherry Coke, since the one I had yesterday was just delightful.”

There it was again. That mild teasing tone interlaced with something she couldn’t quite identify.

All of her instincts were screaming at her to slap him. But, for some reason, she held back and walked away. Throwing a glance back over her shoulder, she was somewhat pleased to see the blonde appear to be chewing him out in heated whispers.

At least he was receiving some punishment for his actions. Honestly, the nerve of him to so openly flirt with another girl right in front of his girlfriend! The guy was definitely trouble.

Liz filled up the drinks, not spilling any on herself in the process this time, and started walking back towards the booth. She almost halted in surprise when she noticed the dark-haired guy was alone.

“So, where did your girlfriend go?” she casually inquired, setting the drinks down on the table.

‘What, did she get fed up and storm out?’ she mentally added in her head.

The guy looked up in surprise. There was a long silence. “Girlfriend? Oh, you must mean Isabel.”

Isabel? So that was the girl Liz was supposed to be even more of an Ice Queen than. But why was he so shocked? Her question was answered a second later.

“She’s my sister.”

Liz felt incredibly stupid. She had embarrassed herself in front of this guy once again. This was becoming a regular occurrence. Not good.

“Sorry.”

However, not even Liz could suppress the surge of elation that spread through her. He didn’t have a girlfriend! That meant he was perfectly free!

“Oh, that’s okay. Anyone could have made the same mistake.”

‘Could that anyone also forget that she had a nametag on? Spill soda on you and then attempt to help clean it up, only making it worse? In the same day? All because she couldn’t manage to control herself? There. I didn’t think so,’ Liz berated herself.

“You’re new in Roswell, right?”

Liz blinked in surprise. He was speaking to her. She had apparently zoned out again. She, of all people, should know how risky that was around him. And yet, she just kept on doing it.

“Would you like me to show you around town?”

What? Say no! She couldn’t possibly accept a tour of Roswell! Not from a guy! And especially not from the likes of him. It was too dangerous! He was dangerous. Even more so now that she knew he didn’t have a girlfriend.

“Sure.” Damn it!

Fate was most definitely a cruel creature.

And yet, a small part of her—it was a very small part, mind you—was wondering if maybe, just maybe, Fate might not be so unkind after all.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 14-Aug-2002 5:30:04 PM ]
posted on 8-Sep-2002 4:48:09 PM
Chapter Five

A gorgeous smile broke out, slowly spreading over his features. It wasn’t one of his trademark half-smiles; this was a full-out, heartwarming grin that definitely became him.

“So, are you free tomorrow?” the stranger asked, then winced at how eager he sounded.

Liz was perfectly free after her breakfast and lunch shifts, but she wasn’t about to tell him that.

Or was she?

“Ye-“ she started to accept, but stopped herself just in time.

No! She couldn’t! No tomorrow! She was putting herself in enough danger agreeing to this in the first place! She had to stall.

“Um, no. How about Saturday?” Good. That was perfectly executed. It was mildly comforting to know that she had some control left. Today was Monday. That gave her a whole five days to regain her common sense and cancel on him. It felt great to have a plan again.

He felt an edge of disappointment. Saturday was almost a week away! Maybe she actually regretted her initial decision and didn’t really want to spend more time with him? Or was she just being polite since he was a paying customer?

“Are you sure you aren’t available during the weekdays?” He grimaced again. Jeez, if he kept this up, he was going to scare the poor girl away—if he hadn’t already.

Something flickered across her face, but was gone again almost instantly. “No. ”

Was that a hint of coldness he suddenly detected? He knew it. He was being way too forward. He reluctantly realized that he was going to have to back off and give the girl some space. He was, after all, still a complete stranger to her, even if he felt like he’d known her forever.

“I have other tables to wait. If you’ll excuse me.” Liz turned and hurriedly retreated. That smoldering stare of his was just too much.

“Max Evans,” the stranger called after her.

Liz paused in surprise. Throwing a small smile over her shoulder, she replied, “Liz Parker.”

Their gazes met for a brief second before she glanced away and rushed off, leaving the stranger—Max—to follow her wistfully with his eyes.

“You can’t, you know,” a voice suddenly cut into his thoughts.

He had to force himself to tear his gaze away from Liz and concentrate on his sister. “What are you talking about?”

“You know perfectly well about I’m talking about.”

Uh-oh. Isabel did not look happy. In fact, she had her hands on her hips and was currently glaring at him.

Max shrugged nonchalantly. “Don’t worry about it.”

Isabel sighed. “How can I not? I’ve never, in seventeen years, seen you look at a girl that way. And you’re telling me not to worry?”

“Isabel, you’re acting like I’m going to tell this girl our secret or something. I’ve only known her for two days!” Max felt the beginnings of anger stir within him. Couldn’t his sister understand that he was in control? And just what would be the harm of actually having fun for once?

“Exactly! You’re already acting like she’s the only girl in the world. When was the last time you ate here two days in a row?”

“Isabel, it’s my life, all right? I can take care of it. The subject is closed.”

“Max, I just—”

“The subject is closed, Isabel,” Max repeated firmly.

She let out a defeated breath. There was no arguing with Max when he got that look on his face. “Fine. I’m going to go sit over there at the counter, all right?”

“Okay,” Max said absentmindedly, not noticing the way Isabel was glowering at him for his inattentiveness. Instead, he had returned to his favorite pastime as of late—watching Liz.

Isabel slid out of the booth and was about to walk away, but couldn’t resist one more warning. “I just hope you know what you’re doing, Max.”

He stared after her retreating back. “So do I.”

~*~*~

Tuesday morning found one Liz Parker hunched over the toilet seat. She groaned. That was the third time so far this week. It was probably just food poisoning…or so she hoped. She had a sneaky suspicion of another, much more terrifying explanation, but she shoved it to the back of her mind. Life couldn’t possibly be that cruel after everything she had been through…could it?

She eyed the box sitting in the back of her bathroom cabinet. She had bought it three months ago, just in case. Did she dare?

Liz gently hoisted herself up from the floor and stumbled over to the open cabinet door. With shaking hands, she reached out and removed the kit from its resting place.

She would know for sure sooner or later anyway, so she might as well be prepared. At least, that was what the logical side of her mind was telling her. But, for once, she didn’t want to listen.

She adamantly shook her head to clear out the thoughts. She had to be strong about this. She had to do it.

With her whole body trembling, she carefully read the instructions and followed them. The worst part was the waiting afterwards. Finally, when it was ready, she hesitantly grasped it between two fingers and turned it so she could see the result.

Liz stared at the little stick in disbelief. No. It wasn’t possible…was it? This couldn’t be happening to her. But it could and it was.

She sank slowly to her knees onto the cold tiled floor. She couldn’t believe it.

Liz Parker, seventeen years of age, was pregnant.