posted on 3-Sep-2002 2:29:57 PM



Beginnings

Summary: AU fic. No aliens, the whole gang is here, yes even Tess, being a skank as usual. Basically, Liz is a new girl in WRH and this is just her journey of being accepted and having true friends and finding true love. With a few twists thrown here and there!

Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters of Max, Liz, Michael, Maria, Isabel, Alex, Kyle and Tess or any of the Roswell characters so please keep the lawsuits at bay! They belong to Jason Katims and Melinda Metz and UPN.

Authors Note: Finally, here it is! This is the re-edited version of the story so a couple of things will be different. I haven’t finished writing OR editing this yet, but since a Lot of ppl have been asking for this, here it is. Hope you guys won’t be too disappointed, since it’s a little different from Cupid and Journey. What else? Um, I think that’s about it. Would love to her what you think!

Chapter 1

Liz Parker walked into the halls of West Roswell High, oblivious to the stares and whispers that followed her. She walked with a confidence and assurance that amazed most of the students considering that it was her first day. But they couldn’t help but stare, especially the boys. Liz had that ‘look’ about her, the one that screamed, ‘ Destined to be popular’. Her long, luxurious brown hair fell over her shoulders in waves and a few strands that were too short to be tucked behind her ear fell over her face and covered her left eye, giving her a mysterious air. She wore a tight fitting white top with spaghetti straps that clung to her curves nicely coupled with a tight fitting white skirt that reached all the way to her ankle but had a slit on one side that reached about mid thigh. A black, short sleeved polo shirt was worn over her white top but its buttons were left unbuttoned and black wedge mules completed the ensemble. The look was classic. Cool. Elegant. Totally her. And no one in the crowd could deny that she carried it off with style.

She continued through the halls, trying to get her bearings. A girl called Maria De Luca was supposed to meet her at the front of steps to show her around but apparently, ‘Maria’ had forgotten or had abandoned her anyway. A small smile curved on her lips. Like that was anything new. She was used to being the new girl, so she took it all in stride. She glanced down one corridor, taking note of the classes there. A few more minutes, and she’d have this wing covered. Just as she was about to turn down another passageway, someone came rushing round the corner and bumped into her, sending her off balance. Liz gasped. For one terrifying moment, she felt that sensation between standing and falling but the next instant she was enveloped in two strong arms, arms that steadied her. Liz looked up in surprise and found herself staring straight into a pair of dark, soulful eyes. Eyes that belonged to the most perfect face she had ever seen…

Earlier

Max Evans stood at his locker, listening to one of his closest friends, Kyle Valenti go on about this girl he’d seen in the school parking lot, talking to Principal Adams.

“ Max, I’m telling you! This girl was hot! Super fly. A real babe.”

Max rolled his eyes. “ Kyle, she’s a new girl and you saw her from a distance. Remember that little rule of yours? Never date any girl out of your social circle and who’s not a cheerleader. Besides, you have Pam don’t you? What happened to that?”

Kyle shrugged. “ Pam and I still go out. But you and I both know that relationship isn’t going anywhere. And this girl, has got way, way, way more going for her than Pam ever will.”

Max laughed and slammed his locker shut, clutching the books he needed for class in his other hand. “ And you know this because you haven’t met her before, gotten to know her or even know her name,” He tilted his head to one side and grinned at Kyle. “ I’m impressed, Kyle.”

Kyle waved his hand in the air. “ Details, details. I guarantee by lunch, I’ll know everything about her, from where she came from to what flowers she prefers.”

Max laughed again. “ Right. Come on. Let’s get going to class.”

“ Why? The bell hasn’t even rung.”

“ I know. But the way you flirt your way through the halls, we have to allow extra time and there is no way I’m getting stuck with you and Michael in detention again.”

“ Did I hear my name?” Michael Guerin, Max’s best friend, showed up suddenly beside Kyle. Kyle jumped.

“ Geez, Mike, don’t do that!”

Michael just rolled his eyes and grinned. “ Do what? Anyway, what were we talking about?”

“ Being late for class.” Max answered. “ I told you two we didn’t have time for another round of basketball but did you listen? Uh uh.”

Michael ran a hand through his already messy and spiked up hair. “ Max, what can I say? My girlfriend was watching. I couldn’t let her down.”

Max grinned. “ Your girlfriend had a free period then. She had nothing to worry about. Where is Maria anyway?”

Michael smiled. “ She’s around here somewhere. She overslept. I had to wait outside for fifteen minutes and then she had to drive us to school at about 80 an hour so we wouldn’t be late. She’s supposed to show this new girl around,”

Kyle perked up. “ New girl? What a coincidence. Just who we were discussing earlier, right Max?”

Max nodded. “ Yeah.”

“ Have you seen her?” Kyle asked Michael eagerly.

Michael shook his head. “ Nope. But there were an awful lot of whisperings around this place when we came in. Maybe she’s freaky looking.”

“ No,” Kyle began, shaking his head vehemently. “ Uh, uh. That is not possible.”

“ Why not?” Michael asked with an upraised eyebrow.

“ Cause Kyle here has a thing for the new girl even though he’s never met her or seen her up close.” Max said, turning his head from the front long enough to tell Michael why with a grin.

He never noticed the petite girl walking around the corner and he crashed into her as he looked forward. She let out a startled gasp and teetered for an instant. Max immediately reached out and grabbed her by her waist, steadying her. The momentum was too much though and she lurched into him, raising her arms up to grab his neck to support herself and ended up folded in his arms.

Present Time

Max looked down at the face of the girl he was holding and his breath died in his throat. If he doubted that angels existed before, that doubt was erased. There was no doubt in his mind that the lovely girl he held in his arms was indeed an angel. From her long, silky hair, to the dark pools of chocolate that made up both eyes the nose that sloped down adorably to point down to her full red lips she was perfection itself. Her lips were begging to be kissed at that moment. They were partly opened in surprise and her eyes widened when she met his unwavering gaze. A few strands of her hair were too short to be tucked behind her ear and covered one of her eyes partly. Max could feel electricity running through him everywhere their bodies were touching. A small smile curved on his lips as he stared down at her and when she smiled back, his breath was stalled once again.

Know those angels I doubted existed a minute ago? Well they just started singing.

Whoa.

That smile…it was perfect, unreal and as beautiful as she was. Neither of them was aware that they were now locked in a staring match. Both of them were completely oblivious to the whispers, giggles and stares now directed at them.

“ Hey,” Max said softly.

“ Hey,” she replied calmly.

Behind them, someone cleared their throat and she broke her gaze at him momentarily and looked at the two guys behind them, looking uncomfortable at the scene before them. Liz brought her eyes back to the gorgeous hazel ones that had never left her face. Her eyes began dancing with amusement and a full-blown smile broke out over her rescuer’s face, causing her heart to speed up uncontrollably. She managed to grin up at him.

“ What?” Max asked, wanting to know the cause of her grin.

“ Thanks for rescuing me but I think I can stand on my own now,” He blinked, as if he hadn’t realized he was still holding her. “ People are beginning to stare,” she whispered, a slight flush appearing on her cheeks. Max thought she looked completely adorable at that moment and he was reluctant to let her go. He glanced around and saw that they were indeed the focus of attention. He raised an eyebrow at her.

“ Does that bother you?” He whispered teasingly.

Liz shook her head, her eyes dancing with laughter. “ No, but I think it bothers them,” she said, nodding slightly towards the two guys behind them. Max turned and his face went red at the sight of Michael and Kyle grinning at him slyly. He looked back down at the girl and shrugged.

“ Oh them? That’s okay. As long as it doesn’t bother you, though.”

She laughed. “ Doesn’t it bother you?”

“ Not one bit,” Max answered, truthfully.

“ Liz Parker! Great, I finally found you. Hold it right there!” They heard a voice cry out. They jerked away from each other and a disappointed groan came up from the crowd that had been watching them. “ Alright, people, show’s over!” The same voice announced. “ Get going!” The crowd began to disperse.

Max looked around to see who had disturbed their perfect moment and his eyes landed on Maria, who was one of his closest friends. She had a confused but disturbingly pleased look on her face as she looked from one flushed face to the other. Well, well, well. Maria thought, a grin breaking out on her face. What was going on here? She had been majorly freaked to find out that she had overslept and missed her meeting with the girl she was supposed to show around school. She had freaked even more when she couldn’t find the girl, whose picture she had, but with looks like those, Maria knew it wouldn’t be long till she found her. Of course, she didn’t know she would be wrapped up in Max Evan’s arms when she did. She really regretted having to break them up but hey, it was her first day and Maria simply couldn’t let her charge fall into anything until she gave her the 411 on things. Still, they did look pretty cozy and really, she couldn’t deny the sparks she’d felt even from her distance. She walked up to Liz and grinned at her.

“ Hi, I’m Maria De Luca. You must be Liz. I’m soooooo sorry I missed meeting you this morning but I overslept and for that you can blame my lunkhead of a boyfriend over there,” She said, nodding towards Michael. Liz smiled at her earnestly and Maria liked her immediately. For all her looks, she sure didn’t look snobby or stuck up to Maria. There was nothing phony about her.

“ Hi. Don’t worry about it. I oversleep tons of times myself. Nice to meet you, Maria.”

Maria smiled. She’d been right. “ Great to meet you!” She cast her gaze about the place and saw Max still staring at Liz with this kinda dazed look on his face. “ Oh, where are my manners? Liz,” she began, taking her arm and making her face the three guys. “ That there you were hugging a few minutes ago is Max Evans. Max Evans, Liz Parker. I take it you two have already met?” She asked, stating the obvious.

Max turned red again, but shrugged it off, “ We weren’t hugging,” he said to Maria before smiling at Liz. “ And yes, we have met. It’s nice to meet you. I mean, really meet you,”

Liz smiled back. “ Yeah. Same here. Sorry about bumping into you like that,”

I’m not, Max thought silently. “ That was my fault. I wasn’t looking. Are you okay?”

“ I’m fine,” Liz said easily. The sound of a throat being cleared brought them back to earth.

“ Okaaay!” Maria said, her grin growing even wider. “ Moving on. He of the spiky do over there is the afore mentioned boyfriend, Michael Guerin.”

Michael smiled at her good-naturedly. “ Hey. Nice to meet you.”

“ You too,” Liz replied.

“ And this is Kyle Valenti,” Maria said. “ All around jock.”

“ Nice to meet you,” Liz said.

“ Pleasure’s all mine,” Kyle replied, a wide grin on his face.

Just then the bell rang and Maria snapped to attention. She rushed over to Michael and gave him a peck on his cheek.

“ Bye sweetie! I’ll see you at lunch okay?” She took Liz’s hand and began to haul her off. “ Later guys! Come on, Chica, let’s go! Our first class is Trig. And it’s all the way on the other side of the building. We’d better get a move on or we’re gonna be late! Later guys!”

“ Bye!” Liz called back before allowing Maria to drag her off.

The three guys stood for a second before taking off at top speed, Michael and Kyle laughing crazily as they went.

“ What’s so funny?” Max asked between breaths.

“ You! You have it bad!!!!” Michael stated as they turned the hall that would take them to s.

“ And Michael, if she looks freaky to you, I’m gonna have you committed to an asylum!” Kyle said.

Max laughed. “ I’m with Kyle!”

The three skidded into class just as the second bell rang. Mr. Gilmore stared at the three of them disapprovingly.

“ Mr. Evans. Mr. Guerin. Mr. Valenti. Made it just under the clock I see. Take your seats gentlemen. And please, try to remember that you should be in class as soon as the first bell rings and not before the second bell does?”

Max nodded and led the way to the three empty seats at the back of the class that were always reserved from them in this class. He tuned Mr. Gilmore out as he droned on about some majorly boring topic, choosing instead to fill his thoughts with Liz’s beautiful face. Oh yeah. It was going to be a great day.

Chapter 2

By lunchtime, word the ‘the new girl’ had been wrapped up in Max Evans arms, on her first day, no less, had circulated around the school. Tongues were already wagging with countless versions of the story. So far, people had approached him with three main stories. One: He and Liz were having their own little ‘body exploration’ in the hallway. Two: They had practically been making out in the hallway. Three: They had decided that they couldn’t wait until they got to the eraser room so they had a go at it in the hall. Max grinned. People sure did have a way of twisting things around. He wouldn’t have minded the second one though. Heck, he wouldn’t have minded any of them. As his thoughts wandered to Liz, he suddenly became worried about her. He hoped she wasn’t getting uncomfortable with all the rumors flying around. Guys who had seen them (or heard different scenarios of how they had been) kept giving Max envious looks. Not that he noticed. He never noticed those anymore. You learned to deal with those things once you became part of the crowd everybody wanted to be in. Max kept glancing around the hall as he waited for Michael, unconsciously looking around for the dark haired, dark eyed beauty that had bewitched him in the morning. He kept reliving seeing her every feature from her full red lips, to her adorable nose to those dark, doe like eyes. He could get lost in those eyes… Suddenly, two arms wound their way around his waist and pulled him close, breaking the spell.

“ Hi Max. Looking for me?”

Max winced. Perfect. He could tell by the sugary sweet voice and the perfume that threatened to overpower him that this was none other than Tess Harding. Tess was his… well, not his girlfriend exactly but he did go out with her more than any of the other girls. But the way she’d been acting lately, Max was sure she wanted to be a couple. An official couple. As discreetly as he could, he removed her arms from about his waist and turned to face the blond girl. Forcing a smile on his lips, he greeted her.

“ Tess. How are you?”

Tess pouted. “ Not very well, I’m afraid. Max, why haven’t you been returning my calls? I left four messages for you on your machine yesterday.”

Max sighed inwardly. “ You did?” He asked feigning surprise. “ It must’ve gotten erased somehow,” Yeah. My finger ‘accidentally’ pushed the erase-all-messages button.

“ I’m sure that’s it. So when do you want to get together again?” She asked, batting her lashes up at him.

Max fidgeted. “ I don’t know Tess. I’m pretty busy these days. I’m not sure if I’ll have time,”

“ Well, make time,” Tess whispered, moving closer to him and wrapping her arms around his waist again. “ We can have a nice, quiet, romantic dinner…just the two of us…” she let her voice trail off suggestively and Max took a deep breath and once more extracted himself from her grasp. What was it with this girl? He liked flirting as much as the next teenage guy but Tess came on so strong; it was like facing a tidal wave. The first time she had done so, Max had felt flattered at the lengths she went to make sure he knew she liked him. It had been nice. And which guy couldn’t want Tess? She was gorgeous, popular and obviously adored him. But she was becoming way too clingy and he didn’t want any attachments. Especially that type. Unlike Michael, he hadn’t been lucky enough to find a girl who truly wanted to be with him because of who he was inside and not because of his looks or popularity. He wasn’t sure he ever would. And if she did exist, he would stake his life that she wasn’t Tess Harding.

“ I don’t think so, Tess. Practice keeps me busy.”

She gave him a measuring stare. “ This sudden reluctance to see me wouldn’t have anything to do with another girl, would it?”

Liz Parker’s face flashed before his mind’s eye. There had been something in her eyes that had captured Max so. The same restlessness and searching look that he often saw in his own eyes. Could she be the one? He shook his head at Tess and a diabolical smile curved on his lips as he attempted to look hurt. And failed miserably. He went on anyway.

“ I’m hurt, Tess. What makes you say that?”

“ The rumor that the whole school saw you and a new girl basically making out in the hall,” Tess snapped, losing her icy cool.

Max grinned. “ I wouldn’t believe everything you hear, Tess.”

Relief showed on her face. “ So you’re saying it’s not true?”

“ No, it’s not. Not yet, anyway.”

The shocked look that appeared on Tess’ face made Max struggle to keep his laughter in. He doubted that Tess had ever been rebuffed in her attempts to win anyone over before. In the midst of the uneasy silence that followed, Michael came out of the Art Class. He’d asked Max to wait outside for him, as he didn’t want anyone to see his latest creation. It was his rule. But he’d been finished for the last ten minutes and once he’d heard the conversation outside, he couldn’t resist listening in. When Max had delivered his last line Michael smirked. Way to go, Maxwell! He thought in triumph. He’d never liked Tess. She was snobby and stuck up and what Max had liked in her enough to go out with her was beyond him.

“ Hey Tess,” He said, grinning widely at her. “ See ya later!”

“ Later.” Max said as Michael began dragging him to the quad.

Tess let out a frustrated shriek as soon as Max and Michael had disappeared from sight. God, Max Evans was so…difficult. And yet, it was that same resistance that made him irresistible to her and countless other girls. Of course, those gorgeous looks of his and that gloriously formed body did nothing to steer girls clear of him either. He was sexy as hell and he knew it, using that to devastating effect. And yet, for all his flirting and playboy ways, not one girl had ever been able to bag him for more than one date. Until her that is. Tess smiled at her triumph. Getting Max to ask her out after their first date had been a challenge but she rose to it eagerly and succeeded. But two dates wasn’t enough. Nor was three dates. Tess wanted to do what was deemed the impossible. To do what nobody else had. To become a legend. To be the person who finally ‘got’ Max Evans and brought him down to his knees in front of her, her willing counterpart. And she’d be damned if she let anything her plans. The last sentence he’d said to her before leaving reverberated in her mind…

No, it’s not. Not yet, anyway.

Tess frowned again. He’d practically been telling her it would only be a matter of time before this…rumor… became true. That was unacceptable. She’d waited too long, planned too carefully to let her prize slip out of her hands now. Stepping out into the quad, she made a beeline straight for her best friend, Pam Troy.

“ Pam. Let’s go,”

Pam stood from the group of cheerleaders and waved goodbye, regarding her curiously. Then a knowing grin broke out over her face. “ You’ve heard, haven’t you?”

“ I have. It doesn’t mean anything. At least for her sake, it shouldn’t.” Her face took on a menacing glare but it disappeared behind a mask of sweetness. “ Come on. Let’s go meet the competition.” Tess narrowed her eyes. She was the kind of person who got what they wanted no matter what. And she wanted Max Evans. So by hook or by crook, or maybe even a little of both, she would get him in the end. And nothing, especially some nameless new girl, was going to get in her way.

Chapter three

Liz followed Maria as they made their way through the quad at lunchtime. The morning had been… eventful to say the least. Apparently the little incident in the morning had made it to all corners of the school by third period and by lunch, everyone was buzzing about it. She and Maria had heard countless versions of the story and it was really getting funny. One was even outrageous enough to claim that they had gotten lost on the way to the eraser room.

Liz wrinkled her nose as she smiled to herself.

What was an eraser room anyway? She’d forgotten to ask Maria, who had been laughing so hard at the time. And for the umpteenth time that day, Liz’s mind wandered to the soulful brown eyes of Max Evans, shining down at her with laughter and amusement. God, he had incredible eyes. Eyes that could pull her in and hold her captive…forever.

“ Liz?” Maria said a little loudly, snapping her fingers in front of her newfound friend’s face. Liz came to and gave Maria an embarrassed grin.

“ Sorry.” Liz said sheepishly. What was she thinking? She’d promised herself she would never becoming entangled like that again.

Forever

The word echoed off the vast caverns of her mind, bringing past emotions, lost promises and broken dreams to the surface causing her neutral façade to crack slightly. Snippets of past conversations flashed through her mind

“Don’t worry, Lizzie! I’ve got your back. I’ll be here for you.”

“You promise, Allie?”

“Yes. Forever.”


Alison…

“I love you Liz. I’ll never leave you. We’ll be together…forever…”

Justin…

Waves of pain and regret crashed over her heart. Oh, if only she’d known then… she never would’ve left Alison alone…never would have let Justin into her heart…never would’ve trusted words like ‘always’ and ‘forever’.

“ Liz!” Maria called, touching her shoulder gently. Maria was getting worried. Liz hadn’t looked like she was bothered by all the whispers and the stares laced with admiration and envy she’d been getting all morning but when they had stepped out onto the quad, she suddenly seemed to freeze up. “ Are you okay?”

Liz blinked and looked back at Maria, her face turning red. “ I’m sorry. I guess I’m still tired from the move and all,” She cast a look about her, meeting the gaze of each and every person who was staring at her, unwaveringly until they averted their eyes. Maria was definitely impressed. “ Well. I didn’t know almost falling and being rescued by a guy could do all this,” She said, turning back to Maria with a grin.

Maria smiled back at her. “ Only if the guy is Max Evans, one of the most eligible hotties of West Roswell,” Maria announced dramatically.

“ I hope these rumors aren’t going to make trouble for him,” Liz said, biting her lip. “ Does… he have a girlfriend? She might, I don’t know, get mad or something,”

Maria looked at Liz and her respect for her grew. Most of the girls she knew would have probably milked the rumor for all it was worth or would have been hiding away in some dark corner but not Liz. Here she was, daring to stare back at people who were probably discussing her at that very moment and she was worried about Max.

“ Max? A girlfriend? No, he doesn’t, and I really wouldn’t worry about him. He can take care of himself. And as for the staring, I wouldn’t lose sleep over that either. I got the same type of reception when Michael grabbed me in the middle of History and kissed me,”

Liz gaped at her, her ghosts forgotten at the image her mind conjured up. She laughed. “ He did? How sweet,”

Maria shook her head. “ Sweet? No, uh uh. It was anything but that.”

Liz furrowed her brow. “ Why? I thought you guys were together.”

Maria grinned at sat down at her usual table and Liz sat down opposite her. “ We are. Now. Two semesters ago, we hated each other’s guts! We used to be at each other’s throats everyday and had at least one public argument a week.”

Liz laughed.

“ I’m serious!” Maria exclaimed, her blue eyes twinkling with delight. “ It was in History when we started arguing and I mean really arguing, you know, standing up from our seats and yelling and all that. Poor Mr. Powell didn’t know what to do. Then when I was rounding off my argument what does the jerk do? He just grabs me and kisses me.” Maria spoke with lots of animated gestures. “ Then when it was over he had the nerve to tell me he did to shut me up,”

“ You’re kidding!” Liz’s eyes sparkled with mirth. “ What did you do next?”

Maria shrugged as her eyes twinkled mischievously. “ I slapped him. Hard.”

Liz’s mouth fell open. “ No way.”

“ Yes way! After that I left class and left him standing cradling his cheek like a lost puppy,” Maria laughed at the memory. “ I don’t think Michael looked anyone in the eye for a week after that.”

Liz smiled. She could definitely picture that happening.

“ Hi Maria. Aren’t you going to introduce me?”

Liz glanced behind her to see a tall, gorgeous blond with warm dark brown eyes smiling earnestly and her and Maria.
Liz smiled back. There was something vaguely familiar about her…

“ Isabel!” Maria exclaimed, grinning. “ Where have you been all morning? You missed all the excitement, girl,” She added, her eyes twinkling playfully as looked at Liz.

Isabel laughed and slid in next to Liz. “ So I hear. I got in late this morning, I had an appointment with my dentist.”

“ Liz Parker, meet Isabel Evans. One of my nearest and dearest friends.”

Isabel smiled at the beautiful brunette she’d heard so much about in the space of the morning. She certainly was as gorgeous as they said. She offered her hand.

“ Hey. Nice to meet you,”

Liz took it and smiled back at her. “ Hi. Nice to meet you too,” She tilted her head to one side thoughtfully. Evans. Where had she heard that before? Max’s smiling face suddenly appeared in her mind’s eye. “ Are you Max’s sister?” She asked.

“ The same. I’m his twin, actually. So, care to tell me what really happened in the hall this morning?” Isabel asked Maria and Liz. “ I’ve had twenty people approach me since I came in, all of them with different versions of what happened. So what really happened?”

Maria held up her hands. “ Hey, don’t look at me. I just came into the scene when Max and Liz had their arms around each other.”

Liz laughed. “ Okay. I’m setting the record straight. We bumped into each other, I was going to fall but Max managed to catch me and then somehow I ended up in his arms. That’s all.”

“ Really.” Isabel’s eyes gleamed impishly. “ So how long did you two stay like that?”

A slight crimson colored Liz’s cheeks. “ Um, less than five minutes.”

Maria laughed. “ More like more than ten minutes. Izzy, I tell you, it was like you could almost feel the electricity coming off of them.”

“ That hot, huh?”

“ Maria!” Liz exclaimed, turning even redder. “ It wasn’t like that.”

“ Oh yes it was! I-” Maria trailed off and her eyes narrowed in irritation at the sigh before her. Sighing, she stood from the table and smiled quickly at Isabel and Liz. “ Excuse me for a sec, guys. I have to go do my thing,” She explained before marching off with a determined stance.

Isabel and Liz looked at each other in surprise and turned to watch where Maria was going. She made straight for a group of girls who were surrounding two tall figures that towered above them. They looked really familiar. One had spiky hair and the other had raven black hair.

“ Oh no,” Isabel said. “ Maria’s on a warpath. Heaven help the poor girl, whoever she is,” Liz laughed at Isabel’s comment. No wonder ol’ spiky looked familiar. It was Michael. So if that was Michael, then the other one had to be… Max.

Liz stared at him in fascination as he watched Maria march up to the group and nudge a girl away from Michael’s side not too discreetly. Max grinned at this and Liz smiled as she watched his eyes begin to sparkle with amusement. Maria was now by Michael’s side and facing the girls with a sweet smile on her face as she listened to one of them and began to speak. Immediately she finished, the group dispersed leaving just Michael, Maria and Max, whose eyes were dancing with laughter. Michael had a totally embarrassed look on his face while Maria’s displayed one of pure satisfaction. She spoke to Michael again and he ran a hand over his face looking torn on whether to spank Maria or cover her face with kisses. Max was laughing now and Liz’s eyes were immediately drawn back to him. His laughter could be heard from where they were sitting and Liz sat completely still, letting the deep, clear sound wash over her. Max glanced in their direction and the instant that their eyes met, his laughter faded. Suddenly, it was like the world had melted into nothingness and there was just Max, staring into her eyes with an intense gaze, like he was somehow seeing into her soul. She returned his gaze steadily, just as curious to see what secrets those eyes were hiding. Of course it was pretty hard to concentrate the way he was looking at her. Like he could devour her…consume her…The amusement in his eyes disappeared as his eyes turned a shade darker and he smiled slowly, a lopsided grin appearing on his face. She felt her heart stop. Jesus. Could Max possibly get any cuter? She had this sneaking suspicion that he most certainly could. Beside her, she thought she heard Isabel giggle but they were still locked in a world of their own, where nothing existed except Max and Liz. The spell his eyes had cast on her was broken when Isabel’s voice broke into the foggy haze in her mind.

“ So, Liz, um, where are you from?” She asked. Liz could hear the laughter in her voice and she blushed. God! She had just checked Max out, in front of his sister no less! What was happening to her? She normally wasn’t so easily… obsessed, yeah, that was the word. Obsessed. She swallowed and looked at Isabel.

“ New York,” she answered easily.

“ New York? Wow! Did you like it there?”

Liz nodded, remembering all her happy childhood days, spent with Alison. She had liked it there. Till… that day. She could still hear her screams.....smell the smoke that threatened to choke her.....

She brushed all the unpleasant memories to the back of her mind, focusing on Isabel.

“ Yeah. It was pretty…nice.”

“ So what brings your family to Roswell?”

“ Actually, it’s just me.”

“ Just you?” Isabel’s eyes widened. “ What about your parents?”

Liz shrugged. “ My dad and step mother are still in New York. They have some business to take care of. They’ll be joining me later.”

Isabel nodded. “ So where do you live?”

“ On Green Hill Avenue. You know that old mansion they’ve been restoring?”

Isabel nodded. “ That place? Your parents allowed you there all by yourself?” Liz nodded slowly, a hint of sadness appearing in her dark eyes. Isabel wondered if Liz’s parents were like those overly stressed city executives that didn’t give their kids more than fifteen minutes of their time. “ Are you okay up there? I mean, that place is so…huge.”

Liz smiled up at her. “ Thanks for your concern, but I’m fine. The servants are there and they keep me company.”

“ It must be really lonely up there,” Isabel said softly. Liz eyes took on a wistful look.

“ Yeah. It is.”

Isabel opened her mouth to say something but was interrupted by Michael and Maria’s bickering as they walked to the table. Isabel grinned at Liz and mouthed, ‘Watch this.’

“ Maria, was it really necessary to announce to all of them that I don’t clip my toenails?” Michael was asking irritably as he sat down, placing his tray in front of him with a thud. “ Toenails, Maria! Who looks at guys’ toenails anyway? They’re always in his shoes for crying out loud!”

“ Hey, she said she was just getting to know you.” Maria replied defensively, sitting down next to him. “ So I thought I’d speed up the process and give her a few more in depth details.”

“ Like telling them I change my socks only once a week or when they start to have holes?” He demanded.

“ Don’t forget, she told them you prefer wearing boxers to briefs when you sleep too,” Max added, as he sat beside Liz.

Liz looked up at him and he smiled at her. She smiled back before turning away to watch the Michael/Maria drama play out. His proximity was beginning to affect her though. In the morning, she’d been too busy trying to remember how to breathe to notice the heady scent of his cologne. Now it washed over her and surrounded the air she breathed like a welcome, comforting friend. Liz tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Watch yourself Liz. No attachments. Closing her mind up to the distraction of Max sitting next to her, she concentrated on watching Michael and Maria bicker, a grin beginning to appear on her face. Just as she was finally getting herself under control, his hand brushed against hers as he put his tray on the table. Liz’s eyes widened at the sparks she felt from that simple contact. What had Maria said earlier? Electricity. Yeah, that’s what it was. Electric. She swallowed and managed to maintain the grin on her face, tuning in to the argument.

“ You do?” Isabel blurted out, laughing. “ Michael, I didn’t know.”

Michael groaned and gave Max a look. “ Great, Max. Could you say that a little louder? I don’t think the people on the other side of the quad heard you,”

Maria laughed. “ Well it was either that or telling them about that cute little birth mark of yours right on your-“ Maria was interrupted when Michael clamped his hand over her mouth..

“ MARIA!” He all but shouted. The group laughed at his actions. Michael’s face had turned into a brilliant shade of red. “Alright, alright. You win. I’m sorry! Can you please stop now?”

Maria nodded.

“ Promise,” Michael said, giving her a penetrating look. Maria nodded again.

He released her mouth and Maria grinned triumphantly. “ Just remember today any time you even think of flirting, Michael!”

Michael raised his hands in defeat. “ Hey, it wasn’t my fault. I came out with Max and then suddenly whole friggin’ cheerleading squad surrounds us,”

“ You didn’t look like you minded though. Were they Max worshippers?” Maria asked.

“ Yeah.” Michael nodded, choosing to ignore her earlier statement.

Liz raised an eyebrow. “ Max worshippers?” She turned to Max who had a slight smile on his face. “ People actually worship you?”

He looked her straight in the eyes and gave her a sexy grin. “ So I’ve heard.”

“ Drool over him is more like it,” Isabel said teasingly. “ Course, the fact that he’s a shameless flirt may have something to do with it,”

Maria nodded. “ I agree. Max, please keep your groupies away from my man. He doesn’t need any temptations!”

Michael rolled his eyes but kissed Maria’s cheek softly. “ You’re crazy. But I adore you for it,”

“ I adore me for it too!” Maria exclaimed with a saucy grin causing Isabel, Max and Liz to crack up. Lunch continued without a hitch with Max occasionally stealing glances at Liz out of the corner of his eye. Glances that didn’t go unnoticed by either Isabel or Maria. Max and Michael stood up a while later to buy sodas for the girls.

“ So, Liz, what class do you have in the afternoon?” Maria asked.

“ Biology.” Liz answered. “ What about you?”

“ Nuts. I have Chemistry then. And they’re on different floors. What about you Izzy?”

“ English Lit. All the way over on the other side of the building.”

“ Forget about asking lunkhead. I don’t think he even knows what class he has next,”

“ Hey, I resent that,” Michael announced, sitting back down next to her and handing her the soda. “ I’m having History. Why?”

“ I don’t have a class with Liz this afternoon and neither does Izzy. We’re practically in different parts of the building. I need to find someone to show her the way.”

“ That’s okay, Maria, really. You’ve shown me so much already, I think I can find my way to the class by myself,”

“ What class do you have?” Max asked as he passed the cans to Isabel and Liz, hoping he didn’t sound too desperate.

“ Biology.”

Max couldn’t believe his luck. “ That’s my class too,”

Chapter 4

Maria grinned widely. “ Great! It’s settled then. You guys can go to class together,”

Liz nodded. “ Yeah.”

Isabel glanced at her watch. “ We have to go. The bell rings in five minutes.”

They all stood up and tossed their junk in a can before heading into school, laughing and joking. Max couldn’t help himself. Every other second or so he’d glance over at Liz, just to see a glimpse of her smile or the laughter as it danced in her luminous eyes. As they passed by a door with the name ‘ Eraser Room’ on it, Liz grinned. Max saw this and raised an a curios eyebrow at her.

“ What?” He asked.

Liz gestured to the room. “ Eraser room. I mean, I know it has something to do with erasers or stuff like that but why do I get the feeling there’s something else?”

Isabel, Maria and Michael all laughed. Max was about to reply when the bell rang, effectively cutting off more conversation. A surge of students hurrying to their classes seemed to appear out of nowhere, jostling them. Maria grinned.

“ Why don’t you ask Max? He’ll tell you all about it,”

Isabel laughed. “ Probably because he’s been in it the most times,”

Liz smiled good-naturedly. “ I’ll do just that. See you guys later?”

Maria nodded. “ Totally! We’ll come get you after class and head over to the Crash.”

“ Is that okay?” Isabel asked.

“ It’s great,” Liz said. It was getting harder to walk through the halls with people pushing and pulling at her in all directions. She began to look around for Max’s raven black head and saw him standing quite close to her, conversing with Michael in low tones. She saw Michael grin and slap Max on the back before nodding to her as he passed to say bye to Maria.

“ Later Liz,”

“ Bye Michael.”

“ Max!” Maria hollered across the rapidly increasing gap between them. “ You take care of Liz! Don’t let anyway weird guys sink their claws into her!”

The majority of the students in the hall laughed. Isabel shook her head and sighed while Michael buried his face in his hand and muttered, “ One of these days, Maria, one of these days,”

Maria looked at him and Isabel with a questioning look on her face. “ What?” She shrugged. “ Did you hear me Max?” She yelled again.

Max came to stand behind Liz, who was by now laughing at Maria’s antics and wasn’t the least bit embarrassed. “ I heard you!” Max answered.

Michael had grabbed Maria and had placed a hand over her mouth, effectively stopping any more words from coming out of her mouth. He began to drag her in the direction of her class. “ See you two later!”

“ Have fun guys!” Isabel called to them knowingly. “ Later, Liz!”

“ Later!” Liz called back.

She and Max were finally left standing together and Liz glanced up at him to find him staring down at her. She chose to ignore the intensity of his gaze. “ So… shouldn’t we get to class?”

Max nodded. “ Yeah. Come on. It’s this way.” He led the way through the crowd and they parted to make a small path for them automatically. Liz didn’t miss the many looks girls cast at Max, not that she could blame them. She was walking behind him and the view was…Liz shook her head at all the ‘thoughts’ running through her mind. Her eyes betrayed her and wandered back to where she had been staring a moment before. Damn. She shook herself mentally. It’s the heat, she told herself. The heat is making you think all this.

Max glanced back at her and grinned. “ You can walk beside me you know. I don’t bite.” He said teasingly. Liz lifted her eyes from where they had been plastered and sighed with relief when he hadn’t noticed what made her so content to walk behind him.

Liz grinned and stepped up to his side. “ You don’t? Better be careful then.”

“Why?”

“ Cause I do,” Liz replied in the same teasing tone. Max laughed. Liz cleared her throat. “ So… about this eraser room. Isabel tells me you’ve been in it the most times. Something tells me you weren’t cleaning erasers then,”

“ Well, no, I wasn’t. I was… actually it was…it’s used for…” He stuttered and trailed off this adorable embarrassed expression appearing on his face. How was he supposed to tell her what really happened in there without totally falling over himself? As he tried to arrange his thoughts, Liz laughed.

“ Come on Max. I’m the new girl, remember? I need information.”

“ Okay. It’s used to clean erasers,” he began.

Liz smirked up at him. “ Yeah, I figured. Now that’s covered, can you tell me what really goes on in there?”

“ Do you really want to know?”

Liz shrugged. “ It seems to be pretty popular. And wasn’t it the place we were supposedly headed for when we got ‘distracted’ this morning?”

Max looked at her. “ You heard about that huh?”

Liz nodded. “ Yeah. Among other things,”

“ Sorry.”

And he looked it too. Liz gazed at him questioningly. “ For what?”

“For all the rumors flying around.”

She laughed. “ That’s okay. I can deal. In fact, it’s actually kind of funny, you know?”

He smiled back at her. “ Yeah, I know. So you mentioned that you heard ‘other things’. Care to fill me in? I have more than my fair share of the stories but I’d like to hear what you got,”

Liz narrowed her eyes and him and grinned. “ Oh no, you don’t. Stop changing the subject Max. Tell me what the eraser room is.”

Max sighed. “ Alright. It’s…it’s basically a make out room,” He blurted.

Liz raised an eyebrow. “ A make out room? And you’ve been in there the most times, huh?” She asked teasingly.

“ A few times,” He said, his face turning slightly crimson. “ Do you want me to give you a tour of it sometime? It can be arranged, you know,” He asked, grinning at her.

Liz flushed but laughed anyway. “ Oh, I don’t know. I think I’d probably like to get ‘distracted’ in the hallway again more,” she replied, matching his playful tone.

Max nodded. “ That can be arranged too,”

She shook her head at him and laughed. “ I’ll think about it,”

“ You do that,”

Liz smiled. She was fast beginning to see how Max’s life at school was. He was ultra popular that much was evident. She could easily picture him being involved in sports of some kind and his presence at parties seemed to be a definite must. And as for girls, she’d witnessed for herself how they fell all over him. Hey, how many people could actually say they had worshippers? She tilted her head to one side and stared at the boyish grin on his face. Yeah, he was flirty, yet he didn’t seem like the type of guy who went around stealing girls from other guys. He wasn’t snobby and definitely seemed nice enough. He looked down at her and their eyes connected. Liz could see that part of him was guarded, shielded from the world. And even though she’d only known him for a few hours, suddenly, nothing seemed more important that to get him to reveal that part to her and she could help him. Maybe, just maybe, doing that could… heal her too. Liz felt her pain coming rushing back into her. No. It wasn’t fair to anyone that she drop her burdens on them. It was her problem. She had to deal with it.

The students that filled the hall were beginning to thin out as they went into their classes. Max spotted the turn of the corridor that would lead them to Biology and he turned in that direction with Liz beside him. The Bio classroom was just as the end of this hall but they would be late if they didn’t hurry. He glanced over at Liz to find her staring at him assessingly. Their eyes met. It was like she was studying whom he was inside, instead of concentrating on what was outside. He had no idea why he suddenly felt as if he could trust with anything: His thoughts, his dreams…his heart. And he’d only known her a few hours! Suddenly, a flash of pain clouded her eyes, and her gaze at him faltered and fell to the ground. It was now Max’s turn to wonder what she was hiding behind those dark eyes of hers. He’d seen pain and misery in her eyes in that brief instant and he wanted nothing more than to make it all go away. He was totally oblivious to the fact that the bell had rung until Liz looked back up at him again.

“ Max?”

“ Yeah?”

“ The bell.”

“ What?”

Liz smiled slowly. He’d been staring at her again. She felt it. She felt had felt it all the way through lunch and through the hall when the group had split up to go to their classes.

“ The bell Max,” Liz said, laughing a little. “ That was the bell. We’re late.”

Max suddenly came to. “ The bell? Damn! Come on, let’s go,” He took hold of her arm and they ran down the hall, coming to a stop in front of a door. ‘Biology Classroom’ was stenciled on the glass pane. Liz lifted a hand to open the door knob but Max stopped her.

“ Wait. We’re going to have to find an excuse if we’re going to get out of detention,”

Liz raised an eyebrow. “ We?” She repeated skeptically.

“ Yeah. We.” Max maintained. “ Will you play along with me?” He gave her a pleading look. “ Please? I can’t afford another detention this week.”

“ Another? Don’t tell me you frequent that room too.” She grinned at him. “ Of course. What’s the plan?”

“ Just follow my lead.”

Max took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

“ Come in,”

TBC…

posted on 5-Sep-2002 12:01:18 PM
Chapter Five

Max opened the door and stepped in with Liz hidden from Ms. Hardy’s view by his body as she stood behind him. A wave of whispers swept through the class but Max and Liz ignored them, focusing on the teacher. Still, it was hard to block out the whispers…

“ Oh my God! They came in together…”

“ Probably from the eraser…”

“ Is that her? She’s hot…”

“ Yeah. Did you hear what happened…”

“ You heard too? What…”

The teacher cleared her throat and the class became silent once more, choosing to focus on the happenings in front of them. “ Late again, Mr. Evans?” Ms. Hardy asked.

Max gave her a sheepish grin, automatically turning on the charm. “ Actually, Ms. Hardy, this is the first time I’ve been late to one of your classes this sem but I have a really good excuse.”

Ms. Hardy crossed her arms and sighed. “ Let’s hear it.” Max grinned at her and began the excuse that he so hastily made up only seconds before.

“ Um, well, I’m one of the students here, right?” A couple of snickers sounded from the seated students and Max rolled his eyes at himself, knowing how lame that must sound. Ms. Hardy raised an eyebrow and behind him, Liz shifted her gaze from the students who had been staring at them back to Max, a grin beginning to tug the corners of her mouth upward. How exactly did Max expect them to go Scot free with a start like that? Still, it was funny to see how far he’d go and something told Liz he’d done this kind of thing before.

“Okay. So as one of the students of this fine establishment, it’s my duty to uh, encourage co-operation among students and to especially make new students feel welcome and help them out. After all, if you don’t help others who’s going to help you when you need it?” Max paused and took a deep breath. He wasn’t really lying. He did believe it was important for everyone to get along and help each other out. School just became so much more enjoyable that way. Especially if you got to meet someone cute in the process but that was just a bonus. But unfortunately there were some people who persisted in being jerks… such as the jocks who were leering at Liz. Max glared at them intimidating and they looked away. This wasn’t the time to go into that. Ms. Hardy still looked mildly interested but cleared her throat to signal that he should get on with it. “ So anyway, I like to practice what I preach,” More chuckles from the class. “ And as I was walking by the history class, I see this new student and I offered to show her to class, ”

Ms. Hardy cracked a smile. “ Very commendable, Mr. Evans. Now, suppose you tell me who this Mystery student is,” Liz took this as her cue to drop in and rescue Max from his dilemma. She stepped out from behind Max, giving Ms. Hardy a bright smile and she began to speak.

“ That would be me,” Ms. Hardy noticed her for the first time and nodded.

“ Oh, yes, you’re Ms. Parker, am I correct? Principal Adams mentioned you’d be coming today. Welcome to West Roswell High.”

Liz smiled at her. “ Yes, that’s right. And thank you. I’m the reason…Mr. Evans,” she said, biting back her grin at the ‘what-are-you-doing’ look Max was giving her when she took charge, “ is late. I, uh, left my class schedule in my locker and I couldn’t find my way back so he took me to it then got me to class which just happened to be the same one he was having,” Liz managed to look completely convincing and even a little embarrassed that she had caused another student to be late.

Ms. Hardy gave Max a questioning look. “ Is this true Mr. Evans?”

“ Yes, Ms. Hardy,” Max said, arranging an innocent expression on his face.

“ Alright. I’ll let it slide this time as it is your first day, Ms. Parker and since Mr. Evans here was doing something within the rules for a change,” The class laughed and Max grinned and bowed. “ But I expect both of you to be on time tomorrow. Is that clear?”

“ Yes ma’am.” They both answered.

“ Good. Since you both got here a little late, you missed the assigning of partners. Let’s see,” Ms. Hardy looked over her notes. Max and Liz glanced at each other and unconsciously moved closer together. It was as if they had made a mutual agreement the moment that they had entered the classroom that they would be partners, be it in crime or be it in biology. “ Is Mr. Whitman here?”

A couple of no’s were her answer. Ms. Hardy nodded and resumed looking over her list carefully. She glanced up at Max and Liz. They were standing close together, not touching but still somehow managing to create the impression of possessiveness, like neither was willing to let the other move away. Hoping she wouldn’t regret this, she sighed softly and jotted their names down as lab partners. “ Take your seats,” She said.

They looked at each other then back at her in confusion. “ Where?” Liz asked.

“ Next to each other. Since Mr. Evans here was being so helpful today, I decided he’d help you through the semester. He may not like playing by the rules all the time but he is one of my best students. He’ll have you caught up in no time,”

Max felt like doing a dance right then really, he did. He got to sit with Liz and… not let any weird guys sink their claws into her, to quote Maria. Yeah, right, Max, that’s why you’re so glad to sit with her. Max led the way to a table in the back, away from the prying eyes of their classmates. Liz sighed inwardly with relief when Ms. Hardy had decided to pair her up with Max. She wasn’t entirely comfortable with total strangers and although she was always friendly and polite, Liz remained wary of them. Given her experience with the people in her life, there had only been two people she had trusted. One was…gone and the other she wished she had never met. Glancing to the side, she saw Max staring at her worriedly a small frown on his lips.

“ You okay?”

“ I’m fine.”

Pam Troy sat at a table near the front of the class with Brent Sanders, another jock. Pam and her friends only came to Bio to keep up appearances but they got all their know how from the geeks who were dumb enough to be talked into hacking into Ms. Hardy’s records and stealing the tests. They were careful to never let their marks get too high, just high enough to pass. And when the nerds didn’t want to hack willingly any more, well, their boyfriends took care of that. Except hers. Kyle actually wanted to pass Bio on his own, hard as that was to believe. Pam had no idea if he would pull it off but that was not her main concern right now. This, ‘Ms. Parker’ person was. She and Tess had searched the whole school looking for her and they’d been told that she was hanging out with Maria De Luca and Isabel Evans. That made them think twice about publicly telling ‘Ms. Parker’ to stay away from Max. Maria and Isabel were extremely popular in school and they were well liked by all the students. This was why Max was such a prize for Tess too. All the students looked up to Max and it was a sure thing that he would be voted Class President this year. Not that they were chopped liver themselves but it was some sort of unspoken pact that even though Tess’ and her friends couldn’t stand Isabel, Maria and the rest of their friends, they would never attack them directly. It could mean social suicide. So while the two groups couldn’t get on, they at least put up a show of tolerance. Which was why the new girl joining the group would make it all the tougher to get Tess’ little plan to work. Max hung out with Isabel and Maria a lot and that meant he’d be seeing a lot of ‘ Ms. Parker.’ Add that to fact that they were now lab partners and had come in together from only god knows where…well, Tess wasn’t going to be happy. And Pam was in no mood for one of her screeching bouts. Beside her, Brent whistled softly as he glanced back at Liz, his eyes raking over every inch of her form.

“ Damn, Pam, how come Evans always gets so lucky?”

Pam shot him an irritated look. “ What are you prattling on about now, Brent?”

“ I’m talking over little Ms. Parker over there. She is fine,” he whispered in a low tone.

Pam rolled her eyes. “ Brent, you’re drooling. Don’t be such a dog,” She hissed.

“ I’m not a dog, Pam,” He glanced back over at Liz to find her whispering to Max. “ I’m just horny. And from the looks of things, I’m not the only one.”

Pam glanced back to see Max and Liz talking in low tones. She didn’t miss the concern in Max’s eyes. She groaned. Tess was going to have to know about this. But something told Pam she wouldn’t like it at all.

The whole class passed smoothly, without interruption. Ms. Hardy began to teach but all through her lecture the students in front kept glancing back towards Max and Liz, hoping to see some of the action that had occurred in the morning, much to the two’s amusement. Max must’ve noticed the look in her eye earlier cause he kept passing her notes telling her about funny things that had happened in the Bio lab, obviously trying to cheer her up. Like the time one of the students attempted to pass off his cells as alien cells by adding green food coloring to it. Or the time when someone had changed the color of one of the white lab rats to turquoise by rubbing dye into it’s fur then letting it loose during Ms. Hardy’s lecture. The girls and the teacher had shrieked and promptly jumped up on their tables and desk, screaming their lungs out. Or when one of the students had been too engrossed in staring at Pam Troy’s bust to pay attention to the chemicals he was mixing resulting in an explosion that had half the school in hysterics. Liz began to turn red from the effort of keeping her laughter in as she continued to copy the notes Ms. Hardy had started writing as soon as she had finished talking. When the double periods were about to finish the teacher turned from the blackboard where she had been writing and Liz immediately ducked her head down to hide her face.

“ Alright, class, I’ll be giving you your first assignment today and it’ll be due next week Friday. And trust me, ladies and gentlemen, you do not want to start out with a fail this year. Not if you hope to pass your finals,” She walked around the room handing each team question papers. “ The labs will be open all this week during lunch and after school and next week as well. I’ll consider this assignment as your first test,” Several loud groans were uttered and Liz reached for her copy, skimming through the contents. It didn’t look too hard. She’d covered some of it at her old school and at home but some things she had no idea about. Which wasn’t that big of a surprise, since she hadn’t had constant lessons since…since forever. Liz frowned. She had some serious studying to do.

“ Hey. It’s okay,” Max whispered to her. “ I’ll help. We’ll have it done in no time,”

“ I don’t know Max. Some of this stuff is pretty new to me.”

Max shrugged. “ Don’t worry. You heard her yourself, I’m one of her best students,” He began to tease. He had no idea why he loved teasing her. Maybe it was just to see her roll her eyes in that adorable way and let a smile creep onto her lips as she shook her head at him, the same amusement dancing in his eyes reflected in hers.

“ Right. And you’re so modest too,” Liz responded in a lowered voice, matching his teasing banter.

“ I try.”

Liz grinned. “ Try harder,”

Just then, the bell rang and the students stood and began to gather their stuff. Liz grabbed her books and slipped the question paper into her folder, slipping down from her stool. She glanced over at Max.

“ Hey. Could you point me in the direction of the Chem. Or English Lit classes? Maria and Izzy are supposed to come get me but I hate being an inconvenience to them,”

Max shook his head at her. “ Do you always worry about inconveniencing people? As I recall you were trying to get out of being shown the way to Bio at lunch too,”

Liz shrugged. “ It just feels weird to me, okay? I mean, I’ve always had to do things myself.”

“ Not anymore you don’t.” He grinned at her. “ Come on. Let’s go,”

“ No really, I can find it. Just let me-”

“ Liz,” Max interrupted. “ You’re not inconveniencing me.” He frowned. “ Can you do me a favour?”

“ Will you let me go by myself if I do?” She asked hopefully.

“ Probably not.” He said, grinning.

Liz was lost. What was it about his smile that made anything that came out of his mouth irresistible? She sighed. “What is it?”

“ Can you stop using such huge words? Do you know how hard it is to say 'inconveniencing' two times in a row? Talk about a tongue twister,”

Liz laughed. She couldn’t help it. The look on his face was adorable and yet funny at the same time. Max grinned back at her. He loved making her laugh. Together, they headed down the hall to search for Isabel and Maria, unaware that Pam and several other people had witnessed all this. She headed to the bathroom where she found Tess pacing impatiently.

“ There you are! Well, did you see him?”

“ Worse. I saw them.”

“ Them? You mean she has this class with him?”

“ Actually she’s his partner,” Pam braced herself for the shriek she knew would come.

“ WHAT?!!!”

Lord, sometimes she hated being right……


Chapter Six

Across the country, in a high-rise building that sheltered 100 floors and bore the name Parker Industrial, Kathleen Topolsky Parker stormed her way through the posh reception area that lay outside her husband’s office. Ignoring the stuttered protest of his secretary, Anne, she burst into Jeff Parker’s office, arranging her features to look distraught when all she felt inside was…fury.

“ Kathleen!” Jeff exclaimed, standing up from his chair as he took in her quivering lip and wild eyes. “ What’s wrong?”

Kathleen marched right up to him and he drew her into a hug. “ Oh Jeff! It’s Liz…she’s gone. I went back to the hotel room to check on her and she wasn’t there. All her belongings were gone and oh, what if something’s happened to her?” She blinked rapidly allowing a few of her crocodile tears to fall.

In normal circumstances, this would have fitted perfectly into the plan but there had been no sign of a break in to signal a kidnapping and the bodyguards that Jeff had posted around the clock to guard his daughter were gone too. She had been present when Jeff had ordered them to never let Liz out of their sight and each of the men had sworn to do just that. There was no possible way Liz could run away when five men were always hovering around her. So there was only one possibility left. She had been moved and Jeff hadn’t told her where. This little act of hers would have the answer out in no time.

“ It’s alright, Kathy,” Jeff soothed. “ She’s fine. She’s fine. I just had her moved to a safer place where she can start over,”

Kathleen’s face snapped up from where it had been buried in his shoulder to meet his gaze. “ Start over? You mean…”

“ A new school, Kathy. You know how badly Liz has wanted to go back to school,” He led her to the black leather couch and sat her down.

“ But Jeff, is that safe? I mean, he might still be out there…”

He sighed. “ I’m well aware of that. But we haven’t received anything from him for a quite few months now. Liz hasn’t been having the nightmares as much. Dave really believes, and I agree, that it’s safe enough for her to go back. And the place we’ve picked is the best possible choice. It’s small, out of the way and best of all, far away from here. She’s completely safe,”

Kathleen wiped the few remaining tears from her face. She knew why they hadn’t received anything. Her accomplice had agreed to give them time so their guard would be lowered and she could tell him the perfect time to strike. Then the little ‘surprise’ packages would keep coming again. She had to find out where they had moved her ‘beloved’ stepdaughter.

“ Where is she, Jeff? Can I go see her?”

Jeff regarded her steadily, his face not giving anything away. Kathleen shifted uncomfortably. She hoped that he wasn’t getting suspicious. He seemed to be thinking about something before nodding.

“ We moved her to-”

Jeff was cut short by the door to his office opening again and this time, Dave Summers, Liz’s chief bodyguard and one of his most trusted advisors, stood in the doorway. Dave had been taking care of Liz and Alison ever since they were two years old. He was practically family. His tall, impressive frame filled the doorway and by the look on his face, Jeff knew something was up. He knew Dave felt responsible for what had happened to Liz and Alison no matter how many times he’d tried to tell him it wasn’t his fault. He was fiercely protective of Liz, even more so than before.

“ Sorry to interrupt, Jeff but I need to speak to you. Alone.” He gave Kathleen a nod of greeting. “ Mrs. Parker,”

“ Dave,” Kathleen greeted back. She knew Dave neither liked nor trusted her though he had never voiced his opinions to Jeff or his men. She stood and gave one last final sniff then kissed Jeff on his cheek. “ I’ll give you two some privacy. See you at the hotel, Jeff.” She walked out the door that Dave held open for her and felt his gaze on her back, making sure she stepped into the elevator before she saw the door to her husband’s office close. Immediately the doors on the elevator slid shut, she whipped out her cell phone and dialed in a familiar number.

“ It’s me. They’ve moved her.” A pause as she listened. “ Don’t worry. I’ll find her. And when I do, he won’t think she’s so safe anymore…”

Meanwhile in the office, Jeff regarded Dave curiously. He was pacing up and down clearly agitated about something.

“ Dave? What’s wrong? Did something happen to Lizzie?”

Dave turned to him. “ No! Nothing happened. I got her into school and Matthews hung around to make sure no one was bothering her,” Dave began to pace up and down once more.

Jeff raised an eyebrow. “ What are you not telling me?”

“ Matthews told me she crashed into someone,”

“ WHAT? Is she hurt? What was she driving?” Jeff asked worriedly.

“ No, no. It wasn’t that type of a crash. She just…bumped into somebody but he managed to catch her,” Dave said, his voice catching on the word ‘he’. “ Apparently, they had their arms around each other around each other for the longest time, just staring…” Dave trailed off, a look crossing across his face. The same one that had appeared the day Liz had brought Justin home. Jeff smiled. Oh. So that was it.

“ What happened after that?”

“ I don’t want to go into details. And last I heard over the phone they were having lunch together.”

“ Alone?” Jeff asked, the beginning of a frown tugging his mouth downwards.

“ No. Group of friends, too. But they were definitely…what is that word Matthews used? Flirting. Right. They were definitely flirting,” He stated disapprovingly.

“Oh.”

“ Oh? Is that it? Oh? Aren’t you worried about her?”

Jeff smiled. He knew Dave considered Liz to be his niece if not a daughter and was perfectly willing to let her live without boys for the rest of her life. Jeff however was not. Granted, he wasn’t happy with the thought of his daughter alone in a strange town and attending a high school infested with hormone driven teenage boys but after all that Liz had been through this year and the last, Jeff wanted to give her some sense of normalcy. Lord knew she deserved it.

“ Of course I am. But you and I both know this is precisely the reason why we moved her there. To give her a chance to start over. To live in a real house instead of hotels, go to school instead of hiding everyday, make friends…meet boys. To live like a normal teenager. We haven’t been able to give that to her and…she deserves that much, Dave.”

“ I know she does. That, and so much more, but don’t you remember what happened last time she had a boyfriend?”

Jeff nodded, his eyes growing dull and haunted, his head bowed. “ I do.” Then his gaze snapped up to meet that of his lifelong friend. “ She was younger then. More inexperienced. But even then, she never truly gave Justin her heart, you know,” He shifted his gaze and stared out of the window, at the bustling city of New York. “ I trust Liz, Dave. She’s a very bright young woman and she’ll make the right choices,”

Dave smiled. “ I know.”

“ So, what’s his name?”

Dave raised an eyebrow. “ What makes you think I know his name?”

Jeff laughed, the action immediately banishing the signs of a past being remembered from his eyes. “ I know you. You probably know everything about everybody who’s come into contact with Lizzie so far, if not the whole school,”

“ You really do know me too well,” He crossed the room and set his briefcase on the large mahogany desk before opening it and pulling out four files. He handed one titled ‘Maxwell Evans’ to Jeff. Jeff opened the file and scanned it reading all about the boy. He grinned in satisfaction. Dave certainly was thorough. He had the boy’s home address, list of sports he took part in, extracurricular activities, his class schedule this semester…everything. He even had a list of grades Maxwell had obtained the semester before as well as copies of report cards and teacher’s opinion’s on him.

“ He looks fine. Everything else check out?”

Dave nodded. “ Yeah. The other people she’s been hanging out with are Maria De Luca, Michael Guerin and Isabel Evans, Max’s twin sister. They’re all clean.”

“ Good. Is she okay? Any nightmares?”

Dave shook his head. “ No.”

Jeff sighed with relief. “ When are you heading back?”

“ Immediately. I still have to oversee the installment of the security system.” He looked over at his friend. “ Jeff, I want to ask you a favor.”

“ Anything.”

“ Can you put off telling Kathleen until I have made sure the mansion is guarded well enough? The less people who know, the better.” Seeing that Jeff was about to protest, Dave cut in smoothly. “ It’ll only be for a while. Three weeks at most.”

Jeff frowned clearly not happy, but then he nodded. “ Alright. Three weeks, then she’s going to come up with me.”

“ Thank you. I have to get going.” Dave collected the files and tucked them back into his case, going to the door.

“ Dave?”

“ Yeah?” He turned around to see that Jeff had picked up the photo on his desk and was staring at it intensely. He knew the picture that was in it. It was a shot of two little girls, identical in features with the same thick, brown curls, mischievous smiles and eyes that were shining with life as they posed for the camera. There was Nancy’s handwriting on it too. Allie and Lizzie’s fifth birthday was scrawled in her elegant penmanship.

“ Take care of my baby. She’s the only one left I have of her mother,”

Dave nodded solemnly, knowing how much Jeff had loved Nancy. “ I promise.” And then he was gone.

Chapter Seven

Maria hurried out of her Chem. Class and mixed with the crowd, searching for Isabel’s distinctive figure. She glanced around her in wonder. Most of the students were milling around the hallways and basically just hanging around as if they were waiting for something to happen. Maria stood on tiptoes and spotted Isabel’s blond head. She weaved her way through the stagnant crowd to get to her and tapped her shoulder.

“ Hey, Izzy.”

“ There you are! I was worried I wouldn’t find you in time.” She glanced around at the students littered throughout the hallway, rummaging in their lockers and talking to their friends in low tones. “ What is it in here today? Are the exits jammed shut or something?”

Maria shrugged. “ Beats me, Izzy. Let’s go get Liz.”

Isabel nodded and began to step away but Maria caught hold of her arm.

“ Wait! Look,” Maria was grinning widely and pointing. Isabel turned her head in the direction she was pointing. What she saw made an infectious grin of her own break out over her face. Max and Liz were walking down the hall together, laughing and talking as if they had been friends for years. “ So that’s what everyone is waiting for,” Maria whispered.

Neither she nor Isabel missed the way the couple’s eyes lighted up every time they made eye contact. They got stopped in their progress by one of Max’s friends, Paulie, and they talked for a while, with Max glancing at Liz with a smile then pointing over to the guy in front of them. Liz flashed Paulie a smile and held out her hand, shaking his firmly. As they talked a bit more, something Paulie said made Liz laugh and Max look away in embarrassment. Isabel’s eyes locked on Liz’s face. At that moment, something clicked in Isabel’s mind. She was almost sure she had seen Liz somewhere before today. She looked over at Maria.

“ Maria,”

“ Hmm?” Maria replied, not taking her eyes off Max and Liz.

“ Doesn’t Liz look familiar to you? I mean, don’t you get the feeling you’ve seen her before somewhere?”

Maria tilted her head to the side, gazing at Liz thoughtfully. “ Now that you mention it, she does look kind of familiar. She’s really beautiful. Maybe she was a model of some sort.”

Isabel nodded uncertainly. “ Maybe… still, I have the weirdest feeling.-" She trailed off as she began to watch Max and Liz. If it were any other day, she might have felt strange about standing in the middle of the hall staring at two people shamelessly, but not today. Not when there were several other people doing the exact same thing but trying to hide it by pretending to go through their lockers or conversing with their friends. It was futile to try to hide it though. They all knew that the only thing that was keeping them in the hall after the bell had rung was watching Max Evans interact with the mysterious new girl. Somehow, Liz’s name hadn’t been made known to the majority of students so that’s all they knew her as: A new girl. Conversation was very little and mostly, they moved around quietly, most of them hoping that they weren’t wasting their time by hanging around and waiting for something to happen.

The two were still talking to Paulie and he left a few minutes later after waving goodbye to them. Max still looked slightly embarrassed, Isabel observed. Liz had looked up at him with a teasing smile on her face and she said something causing Max’s gaze to snap from the floor to her face, his mouth hanging open in shock. Liz threw her head back and laughed, causing a strand of hair to fall into her eyes when she righted her head. They conversed some more and both of them laughed. Isabel could hear the faint of sound of their voices carry back to where she and Maria were standing. Max was shaking his head at Liz, smiling as she smiled back, and then as if drawn by some invisible force, he lifted his hand to brush away the stray strands, tucking them behind her ear. He began to pull his hand back but just as his fingers trailed along her cheek, he stopped moving it away, leaving it there. They seemed disappear into a world of their own, whispering to each other as their heads moved ever so closer towards each other. This caused a furor of gasps, sighs and low whispers to begin among the watchers but even this was silenced as Max and Liz moved towards each other unconsciously, Max’s hand never leaving Liz’s face. It was as if the crowd watching them held their breath when the two began the whole look-into-my-eyes thing that they had done in the morning. This elicited an extremely loud, dreamy sigh from Maria, who was the only one who dared to speak normally.

“ Aww, that is so SWEET!” She cooed, not realizing how the silence had a profound effect on her voice, amplifying it and making it bounce off the walls.

The unexpected sound made everyone jump and it penetrated the spell that enveloped the two they had been so eagerly watching. Startled, Max and Liz looked away from each other and Max dropped his hand from Liz’s face while she scooted an arms length away from him. They looked down the hall and met the eyes of everyone staring at them. No one said a word. Max and Liz’s eyes widened simultaneously in surprise, both staying rooted firmly to their spots. Then they looked back to each other and then back to the crowd. Max raised an eyebrow at them and as if hearing some silent command, all those watching averted their eyes, conversation began again and they moved from their positions to begin filing out of the exits, talking excitedly. All of them… except for three people.

Michael made his way to Maria and Isabel’s sides. He had been on his way out when he noticed Maria and Isabel front and center of a large crowd, transfixed on something happening in front of them. He looked at their faces and noticed the totally blown away looks on them. He rolled his eyes. Girls. How they got so emotional over a guy brushing a girl’s hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear then looking into her eyes, he’d never know. But if that worked, he’d have to try it with Maria sometime. Remembering the way the crowd had quieted down to complete silence to watch Liz and his best friend, Michael had deliberated on whether to break it up but Maria had done it for him. Trust his girlfriend to break up any heavy situation with that loose mouth of hers, even if it had been unwittingly, he thought affectionately. When Maria’s voice had echoed through the halls he had jumped along with everybody else, including Max and Liz. Michael smirked when all Max did was raise an eyebrow and immediately everyone had cleared out. No doubt about it. In this place, Max Evans was as good as a god, he thought proudly of his best friend. Reaching the two girls cleared his throat and tugged on his girlfriend’s arm, bringing her back to earth.

“Hey, wake up now. Come on; let’s go get Max and Liz before they become certifiably insane. No two people can take being in the center of attention twice in the same day you know. Especially if one of them is new.”

Maria’s eyes suddenly came back into focus and she smiled at Isabel happily, both of them squealing. “ Oh my God, that was incredible!”

“ Way better than a movie!”

“ It was so… so…”

“ Indescribable!”

“ Yeah. Like, they were the only two people…”

Michael held his hands over his ears, choosing not to wade through all the too confusing world of girl talk. Maria confused him enough when she had conversations with herself but with another girl? Uh uh. No way was he going to get entangled in that!

“ Excuse me!” He finally interrupted loudly. The two stopped their chattering and looked at him as if he had suddenly sprouted a tail and two heads. “ If I recall correctly, we were on our way to save our two friends from themselves?”

They looked down the hall to see Max and Liz laughing softly about something. Isabel shrugged and began to walk towards them, Michael and Maria following behind her.

“ Doesn’t look like they need saving,” She quipped over her shoulder. As she neared, she saw an uncomfortable silence fall upon the two. Isabel quickened her pace. Maybe Liz did need rescuing after all. Upon reaching Liz, she beamed at the shorter girl. “Hey! I see you found us.”

Liz nodded. “ Yeah.” She looked around uncomfortably. She was still having a hard time getting her breath back. Being that close to Max was intoxicating and had wreaked havoc on all her senses. After Paulie left, she and Max had had another laugh and somehow, for a few moments, she’d known what it felt like to be completely free of all of life’s problems once again. The shock that was written on his face had been priceless to witness and when they began to laugh with each other, it was as if the sound chased her demons away. With them gone it left nothing but a sense of peace and belonging. She had seen the expression in his eyes change from lighthearted and teasing to something far more intense and breathtaking. Her heart had begun to drum up a storm when he lifted his hand to brush away the hair from her eyes.

‘ Um, you had a…’

‘ Hair thing,’ Liz finished for him softly. ‘ Thank you.’

‘ You’re welcome.’


His hand had remained on her cheek and then her heart did go crazy. Whether it was the feel of his hand on her skin or just the way he was looking into her eyes, she couldn’t tell. She was vaguely aware of moving closer to him but other than that, she was lost in the soulful depths of his eyes. His head was dipping closer. Oh God. Was he going to kiss her?

It was only when she heard someone’s voice echo loudly down the hall that she jerked back to reality. What was she doing? The last time she had lost herself in the fantasy of finding love she had gotten burned. Badly. And what about that rule of yours, Liz? No attachments…especially not of this type. She had moved away as fast as possible and looked down at the source of the sound. They had a captivated audience. Could she really have been that out of it that she hadn’t noticed all those people just…staring? She glanced back at Max and saw the same bewilderment in her eyes in his. But there was something else. Amusement. He actually found this funny! Liz looked back to the crowd and noted the absolutely spell bound expressions on their faces. How much had they seen? She shrugged off the feeling of uneasiness and chose to look at the humor of the situation. Actually, if you looked at it from a different point of view, stopping traffic in the halls twice in one day wasn’t a bad day’s work for a new student. Then, just as suddenly as they stopped, the crowd began to move again, talking animatedly with each other. All that had been a few minutes ago. What about now?

Liz glanced over at Max and swallowed. She had never felt anything like this before. She’d kept her heart guarded so carefully ever since what happened had happened and the wall around it seemed unbreakable. But now, she found herself yearning to break it down to let someone in, someone she barely knew. It scared her. Masking her face behind a practiced smile, she focused her attention on Isabel and Maria, suddenly remembering the large crowd of students staring at her and Max.

“ What was all that?” She asked nonchalantly.

Maria had reached Isabel’s side by now. “ All that?” Her eyes twinkled mischievously. “ That was half the school bearing witness to the ‘Hallway Chronicles’ Act Two. God, I swear, you could feel the heat coming off from both of you from where we were standing.”

Max could barely form a coherent thought in his head let alone in his mouth. It refused to cooperate. So instead, he tried to get his breathing rate back to normal. He couldn’t believe they’d done that again. What was it about her that made him lose all focus? He remembered walking down the hall with her and they’d been talking and laughing about what everybody must be saying now that they had been seen together once again. That’s when Paulie had stopped them.

‘Hey Max.’ He greeted jovially. ‘ Is this the lovely lady I’ve been hearing so much about?’ Max had smiled at that and glanced at Liz. Paulie was a good friend of his, though he had the penchant for always getting into trouble. He pointed at Paulie.

‘ Liz Parker, meet Paulie Freeman. And yes, this is definitely her,’

Liz had smiled politely at Paulie and held out her hand. ‘ Hey. Nice to meet you.’

‘You too. Max showing you around?’

‘ Kind of. I’d find my own way if he’d let me.’

‘Which I won’t.’ Max added.

Paulie had laughed. ‘ You watch yourself around this guy, Liz. He’s a wild man.’

‘ He is?’

‘ Yup. Take it from me. If streaking through the halls wearing nothing more than a pair of swimming trucks isn’t wild, I don’t know what is,’

Liz had laughed then and Max had promptly gaped and looked down at the floor, a slight grin gracing his face. Oh, he was going to get Paulie for that one. Right when they got on the court.

‘ Can’t say the girls complained though,’ Paulie added.

‘ I’ll bet,’ Liz muttered.

‘ And if you think that was bad there was the time he and Michael-'Max, sensing the direction this was heading interrupted Paulie.

‘ Paulie, if you want to survive basketball practice, you’d better stop right there,’ he warned, grinning at Paulie.

He seemed to take the hint. ‘ Right. Right.’ He smiled at Liz. ‘ See you later. Practice at three fifteen, Evans! Don’t be late and tell Guerin!’ He called back, waving as he went. Once he was gone, Max couldn’t look at Liz yet. He was sure his face was the color of a tomato.

‘ Running through here in swimming trunks huh?’

‘ Actually, it was briefs.’ He couldn’t help teasing. He heard her suck in a breath and grinned wider. Gotcha.

‘ I’m disappointed in you Max. I mean, here I was thinking you’d do that butt naked.’

Max’s eyes had widened at this and he had looked up at Liz, only to see her laughing at his expression. Max had shaken his head at her audaciousness and smiled. He was suddenly taken aback by exactly how many feelings being with Liz made him experience all at once. He was having fun, laughing, feeling infuriated at her constant attempts to go one up on him with their teasing game, feeling awed as he drank in her beauty when she laughed or smiled. Being with Liz seemed so right. She made him feel more…alive. When a few silky strands of hair obstructed his view of her face, he couldn’t help himself. He lifted a hand to brush it away and tucked it in gently behind her ear, losing himself in her steady gaze. Her full lips caught his attention and at that moment, nothing else seemed to matter other than feeling those lips on his own. Not the fact that they were in a hallway again. Not the people who were probably ogling at them in that moment. Nothing. Moving closer to her, he felt her do the same, never once breaking the gaze that held both of them captive. He dipped his head down slightly, anticipating the feel of her lips when suddenly a voice echoed down the hall and broke up their magical moment. When he had looked down the hall, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh at the hilarity of the situation that everyone had taken such a deep interest in them or cry out at always being interrupted. He looked at Liz to see if she was unsettled about this to find her looking up at him, bewilderment in her eyes. This was too much. It was actually funny. Deciding that two shows in one day was enough, Max raised a questioning eyebrow up at the crowd. They moved immediately and began to walk out the doors. By then, he hadn’t registered what he had been about to do but now, the knowledge that he had only been inches away from kissing Liz, in public no less, hit him in full force.

Maybe that’s why I’m so out of breath.

Vaguely, he heard Maria and Isabel talking to Liz and Michael laughing but he tuned them out, only paying attention when Liz’s voice came to him.

“ Bye, Michael. Bye, Max.”

His head snapped up. Where was she going? And why wasn’t he going? Then he remembered. CrashDown. Practice.

Liz is going. I'm staying. Unacceptable.

“ Liz! Wait-” He managed to croak out. The three girls looked back at him and he could see Isabel and Maria struggling not to laugh at how desperate he must sound. Max managed to grin at them. " See you tomorrow."

Keeping her gaze elsewhere, Liz just nodded and walked off with Isabel and Maria. Max began to panic. She couldn’t look him in the eye. Was she mad at him? Upset? He had just made up his mind to run after her when Michael’s arm clutched his shoulder.

“ Max! Come on. You’ll see her tomorrow, we have to get to practice.”

He allowed himself to be dragged off by Michael, still thinking about Liz. Vaguely, he was aware of Michael chuckling and saying

“ Oh, it’s official. Max is goner.”

A wry smile curved Max's lips.

I’d definitely have to agree.


Chapter 8

Liz sat on a deck chair on her balcony trying desperately to gain control of her emotions. It was early evening now and the stars were starting to come out and shower the world with their light. A warm breeze blew around her, as if seeking to warm the places in her heart and soul that had been frozen into the coldest ice. It didn’t work. Wondering when her seemingly great day had plunged into these cold depths made her re-think her afternoon. They had gone to a place called the CrashDown with Isabel and Maria still swooning over ‘ The Hallway Chronicles’ as Maria had named them. Liz had laughed, still not quite believing that half the school had been staring at them, but strangely enough, she didn’t mind if they had. Right then, all she wanted was to spend a normal afternoon getting to know her two newfound friends. It had been going great with Maria recalling several things that had happened in her childhood or talking about Michael and his ridiculous ideas on being romantic. Like watching Hockey on TV with Chinese take out was good enough for a one-year anniversary. Isabel had joined in then, talking about her own boyfriend, Alex Whitman, and his habit of cracking jokes at the most inopportune times or his love of karaoke. She had countless stories about those embarrassing moments and even more about when she and Max were kids. Liz had laughed so hard when Isabel had told them the story of using Max as a model to practice her make up skills on when they were 7. Of course, she had done that while he was sleeping and when he had woken up and seen his reflection, he’d screamed the house down and run to their mother when he couldn’t get the stuff off. It was hard to imagine tall, confident Max Evans as a sobbing youngster with make up on and the mental image was just too much.

It was about that time when they had asked her about her own family and Liz had frozen. After being closed off and isolated for so long, she wasn’t sure she knew how to open up anymore. They had opened up to her and allowed her a glimpse into lives that had been normal and laced with happiness and joys. They had had nothing to hide. Nothing to keep back. It must be nice to have that kind of freedom. Her own life had been riddled with enough pain and heartache for two lifetimes but somehow, she trusted Maria and Isabel. And wasn’t the whole point of coming here to start over? To have a new life? One that didn’t involve running and hiding…

She began to tell them the beginning of her life and how it had been much like theirs. How she had had a happy childhood as well but that happiness was cut short. Her mother, who she had adored, had always been fragile and had taken ill. Soon, she had died. The sorrow in both their eyes was evident and Maria had wrapped an arm around her shoulder, offering her silent comfort. Liz had smiled, thankful for the support. It had been so long since she had talked about her mother, her image was fast fading from her memories no matter how hard she tried to grasp it. But that hadn’t been the worst part. Isabel had tactfully asked if she had any other family apart from her father and stepmother and Liz remembered she’d mentioned that to Isabel earlier at lunch. Liz had been frozen with indecision yet again. She hadn’t mastered talking about Alison without breaking down in tears but just as before, she nodded and allowed them one more look into the wasteland her life had become…

‘ My twin. She’s… dead.’

The silence greeting her statement was deafening. Four small words that held the key to reducing her to a shaking pile of sobs… if she let them. Isabel had closed her eyes in horror then opened them to regard Liz with nothing but sympathy and compassion in her eyes. Maria had simply swallowed and hugged her tighter. Both girls had apologized profusely but Liz had waved it off, saying they couldn’t have known. It was easier not to feel when talking about things like this. It was almost a defense mechanism. Not long after that, they had driven her to the huge mansion that was to be her home from now on, giving her their phone numbers and making her promise to call them if she needed anything. Liz had smiled gratefully, thankful for the support they were offering. But it couldn’t erase the pain. As soon as they left, Liz stood underneath the security camera stationed on the wall next to the large wrought iron gate. It gave a buzz and opened immediately and after she stepped through, it slammed shut with a loud clang, like prison gate sentencing her to a night of solace and pain. She vaguely noticed the guard walking beside her right up the steps and up to the front door, ringing the bell for her. After a quick goodnight, she stepped through the automatically open door and it swung shut once again. Two maids hurried up to her to take her jacket and books and Liz nodded to them absently as she made her way up the grand staircase. Tom Langley, one of her bodyguards and closest companions met her at the top, smiling jovially and asking how school was. Liz had managed to smile and say it was fine but Tom knew her too well. He knew something was wrong but didn’t ask questions. He just escorted her into her room, checking it thoroughly for anything out of the ordinary. Tom did this twice before she was actually allowed to come into the room. Even then he didn’t leave. He just sat himself in a corner and fished his newspaper from his pocket and began to read, keeping an ever-watchful eye on her. Liz didn’t even notice him there anymore. She knew he was just Tom, being Tom and trying to protect her the best he could. It wasn’t out of the ordinary. This was the only life she’d known for the past year and a half.

And now, as she sat on her balcony, she was gripped with fear that it would be the ONLY life she’d ever lead. That, more than anything scared her the most. Never being able to walk around by herself without a constant companion in the background, shadowing her every move. Never being able to go out without looking over shoulder. Never being able to enjoy something without feeling guilty that Alison wasn’t there with her, sharing it. And most of all, never allowing herself to fall in love. An image of Max Evans’ smiling face flashed into her mind. There was no way he’d want to be a part of this… this captivity that had been made into her everyday companion. She wouldn’t wish living in fear like this on anybody. And it was foolish of her to even think of letting anyone close enough to see her real world.

Sounds of voices and footsteps in her bedroom alerted her to someone else talking to Tom, who’d moved his position so he could watch her but was hidden from her view at the same time to give her privacy. As she recognized the voice, she relaxed and continued looking up at the sky as if it somehow held the power to erase all her problems.

“ Hey, kiddo.” A soft voice said as a warm body sat at her feet on the deck chair.

Liz didn’t look at who was speaking. She knew who it was. “ Hi Dave,” she began, addressing another one of her bodyguards. Dave was more than that actually. He’d known her since she was two and was more of an uncle if not a second father. “ You’re back early. I thought you’d be in tomorrow.”

“ Well, I couldn’t miss your stories about how the first day of school went,” Dave said teasingly. Liz seemed sad. Tom had already told him that she didn’t seem to be doing so well tonight but Matthews had told him that she looked like she’d had a great time at school. Now he had to find out what was wrong. “ Tell me all about it.”

Liz shrugged. “ Nothing much to tell. It’s a nice school. Lots of kids. Nice teachers. I made some friends,” she said quietly. Dave snapped his gaze from the scenery outside to her face.

“ Liz, you didn’t tell them-”

“ No, I didn’t Dave. All they know is that I’m from New York, have a father and step mother, my real mother is dead and my twin sister is too,”

Dave noticed the slight tremor in her voice when she mentioned her mother and twin. He covered her hand with his one large one, noticing how icy cold it was. “ That must’ve been hard.” He said, not voicing the surprise he felt at her revealing that information to them so quickly.

Liz went completely still. “ They were really cool about it,” she whispered, still feeling grateful at the sincere compassion and sympathy she’d seen in their eyes. Dave could hear the torment beneath her neutral tone of voice and he knew that right now she was battling not to cry and losing fast. He saw the single tear make it’s way down her cheek and his heart broke for Liz all over again. She drew her knees up to her chest and rested her chin on top of them, brushing away the tear. She gazed out over the greenery in the large yard and into the far reaches of the town. If she concentrated hard enough, she could see the outlines of the cliffs in the desert standing proud against the sky. Stable. Secure. Knowing where their place in the world was. The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them.

“ I’m tired, Dave.”

“ Do you want to go in and rest?” He asked gently.

Liz shook her head. “ No. I’m not tired like that… I’m tired of…of always needing someone to follow me or watch me.” She swallowed hard. “ Of waiting for this sick bastard to show up. I’m tired of always having to hide who I really am because everywhere I go, trouble follows. I’m tired of never letting anybody close because they might be endangered or not what they seem. I’m… I’m tired of this life, Dave.” Liz was sobbing by now and Dave drew her into his comforting embrace, trying desperately to absorb the pain that was consuming her.

“ Sshh, Liz, it’s okay. It’s okay.”

“ No, it’s not!” She declared fiercely, pulling away from him, her eyes blazing with righteous anger and empty misery. “It’s not okay, Dave! I feel like I’m in a prison. I can’t turn a corner without bumping into a guard or seeing a camera pointed at me. It’s like I’m in this bottle and the sides are squeezing in and… I… can’t… breathe,” The tears running down her face flowed as if they would never stop. Dave couldn’t stand it anymore. He reached over and held her to him, as if trying to shield her from the world. He remembered all too well another time Liz had been like this, crying hysterically. It had been the night Alison had died. He had cradled her in his arms then too, only she had been out of control, and screaming in anguish while the roaring flames that had consumed her home and claimed the life of her twin were dancing in front of them, mocking them. Dave closed his eyes against the horrible memory.

“ I just want to be normal,” Liz croaked, her voice still thick with tears. “ Is that bad? To want live a normal life when Allie…can’t?” Dave opened his eyes looked down at Liz, hearing the uncertainty in her voice.

“ Of course not, Liz. You know Allie would have wanted you to go on. She would have never wanted you to give up things you loved because of her. She loved you, Liz. She wanted what was best for you. Like your father does. Like I do.”

Liz nodded, allowing the sense of his words to creep into her heart and mind. Unfortunately, they couldn’t heal her wounds. She wasn’t sure what would. They sat there for a while, staring up at the sky in silence, drawing comfort from each other. Finally, Liz disentangled herself from Dave and sniffed, wiping away the tears. Dave smiled at her.

“ Feel better?”

Liz nodded again, smiling slightly at him.

“ Feeling hungry?” Liz rolled her eyes at him.

“ You know me too well. How did you know I hadn’t eaten?”

“ Hey, it’s my job to look out for you, Ms. Parker! Now, let’s go downstairs and chow down.” He wrapped an arm around her shoulders as they went into her room. They stopped for a moment so that he could lock the doors leading into the room by punching in the code. The doors locked and they made their way out of the room leaving Tom to check it again before coming out and closing the door behind him.

Liz smiled at Dave.

“ Thank you.”

“ For what?”

“ Being there.”

Dave laughed and ruffled her hair. “ Hey, I’m practically your Uncle, kiddo! Why wouldn’t I be there? Besides, I’m collecting payment.”

Liz raised an eyebrow up at him. “ Oh? What payment?”

“ The payment of you telling me what exactly went on in that hallway today, twice I might add! Care to explain yourself young lady?”

Liz laughed and all the feelings she had felt when being with Max came rushing back to her, soothing all the aches and pains Dave couldn’t reach. The way he had looked into her eyes, the way everything seemed to disappear when they were together, how being with him felt so right. He made her feel… alive…and think things about him that were less than decent. Liz blushed and Dave couldn’t help but notice this as well as the starry eyed look in her eyes. The pain was still there, clear as a bell but at this moment, it wasn’t the chief emotion he read in her eyes. It was… something else. He couldn’t quite tell WHAT it was but as long as it didn’t make her cry, he was happy. As they sat down at the kitchen table and ate sandwiches, Liz began telling him in detail everything that had happened. She seemed to glow with excitement and for the first time in a year and a half, Dave felt that Liz Parker could finally have a chance of being normal, right here, in Roswell, New Mexico.

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

Across the country, in Washington DC, a young man with blue eyes and blond hair gazed down intensely at the treasured possession in his hand. It was a picture of a beautiful girl with long, brown hair, a perfect figure and warm dark hazel colored eyes that were sparkling with laughter as she posed for the photo.

“ Liz,” He whispered, touching a finger to the face in the photo. Hastily, he tucked it into his pocket and turned the key in the ignition of his motorcycle, it’s powerful engine roaring to life, and he sped off into the night. The break was over. He would not rest until Liz was in his sight again, safe and sound. Though she may not even give him the time of day after what he did to her, he had to try. He had to warn her. She was in danger and the person who was threatening her had already killed once and was not going to be afraid of doing it once again. And maybe when he found her, he could explain to her and make her see he had no choice and that he still loved her, always had and always would. Just the thought of her eyes shining at him was enough to make him go faster.

Hang on, Liz.

Please be safe…


Tbc.

Author's Note: I haven't figured out how to put links in my stories yet, and I don't even know which page parts 18 and 19 are....could someone please help?
posted on 7-Sep-2002 3:07:47 PM
Chapter 9

The next day of school came too early for Maria. She had driven to Michael’s on time for once and the shock on his face as she pulled up in front of his apartment building had been lost on her. She was still absorbed in what Liz had told she and Isabel and she was really worried about her. She looked so closed off and isolated in the emotion department…

Maria was all about expression. It was what she did best. Express herself. She did it through as many ways as she could possibly find and when that didn’t work, her verbal skills were something to be reckoned with. But yesterday, as she watched Liz telling her story, Maria could see one clear thing. Liz was NOT expressing herself. The emotions on her face seemed to have frozen the instant she began talking about her family and all feelings had been hidden behind a mask. The eyes that had danced with laughter only minutes before had dulled and turned distinctly cool and distant. There was no doubt about it. She was keeping everything bottled up inside and one day, she just wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. Maria knew that glazed and absent look in her eyes too well. She’d seen it all before…

As Michael slipped into the passenger seat beside her, the disturbed look on her face didn’t escape him. Maria didn’t even seem to notice that he was there with her. Definitely not a good sign. He waved a hand over her face suddenly jerking her back from whatever world she had withdrawn into.

“ Maria?”

“ Hmm?”

“ I’m the car.”

“ Oh, that’s nice.”

Now Michael was really getting worried. Since when did Maria De Luca answer him with three word sentences? Usually, she’d find something about his appearance or something in school to start complaining about and then the words would come flowing non-stop. He shook her arm gently.

“ Maria. You okay, babe?”

Maria’s gaze focused on him. “ Michael. Why did you build that wall around yourself?”

Michael’s eyes widened. “ What wall?”

“ You know! The one you stubbornly refused to let me into until I finally had to barge in uninvited. Why’d you build it?” She asked sensibly, turning on the engine and starting towards school. Michael was flabbergasted. What had brought this on? Yes, there had been a time when he had shut everyone out of his heart, romantically at least. After all the years of being bounced around from foster home to foster home, he had begun to feel like he wasn’t worthy of being loved and therefore, wasn’t worthy of loving others. And also, there was the fact that he was scared to love. To him, it would only end in heartache and pain. Being granted emancipation had been a dream come true. In fact, Michael would have given anything to get away from Hank and his ludicrous ideas of a loving home. So he’d shut down emotionally, not allowing himself to really feel anything. But he hadn’t known then that by denying that part of him freedom, it was corrupting other parts of him as well and making him and the others around him miserable. He had begun to notice only when everyone used to clear out of his way every time he made an appearance in classes or at school events just how much of an ass he’d become. And that was probably what had irritated Maria so much about him. During that period, he’d been surprised to see Max and Isabel stick by him, no matter what he did or said. Alex too, never left him alone while they tried to stop him from railroading himself into oblivion. But it was the beautiful girl who was sitting next to him that had finally broken down the wall around his heart. He thanked God everyday for bringing her to him and giving her the insight to see past the exterior he put out to the world and see him for the person he really was. Michael cleared his throat.

“ Um, I don’t know. I was scared I guess.”

Maria glanced at him before turning her attention back to the road. “ Of what?”

“ Of loving someone. And being loved by someone.”

“ Why?”

Michael glared at her. Okay. He loved Maria madly and insanely but she should know by now, he wasn’t really into all this express your feelings stuff. After hiding them for so long, he was only just beginning to let them out again and while it was hard, knowing Maria loved him made it a whole lot easier. That didn’t mean she still irritated him beyond words at times though.

“ Why are you asking all this? Is this some new psyche thing?” He looked at her suspiciously. “ You’ve been watching Oprah again, haven’t you?”

Maria smiled, uncharacteristically serene. “ No, Michael, I haven’t. It’s not a new psyche thing. I just want to know okay? A friend of mine seems to have built quite a wall and so I need insight from a fellow wall builder,” She looked over at him, amused at the puzzled look on his face as he tried to cope with her string of words. “ Make sense?”

“ Vaguely. What you’re saying is that there’s someone else out there with my stonewall?”

Maria sighed. “ Well, I wouldn’t call it YOUR wall but yeah. Something like that.”

“ Okay. Before I answer I just need to ask one thing.”

“ What’s that?”

“ It’s not a guy, is it? I mean, you’re not going to make it a habit of going after guys with walls are you? Because, you know, while I think it’s very…noble of you,” He waved a hand in the air impatiently, “ I think I’d kill him first.”

Maria laughed as she pulled to a stop at a red light. Michael was so cute when he became possessive. She reached over and kissed him thoroughly, leaving him with a dazed look on his face when she pulled back a little and looked into his eyes.

“ You’re the only one for me, Michael. I’m never going to let you go.” She whispered before beginning to drive again.

Michael sighed.

“ Okay. Now that that’s taken care of.” He looked outside the window before turning back to Maria. “ Who’s the friend?”

Maria hesitated only for an instant. “ Liz.”

“ Liz? Maria, she does not look like the type-”

“ Trust me, it’s there. She’s just a whole lot better than you at hiding it and keeping it separated from the rest of her.”

“ What happened to her?”

Maria bit her lip. She and Isabel had decided to tell Max and Michael only the bare essentials and no details. It would be awkward for Liz. “ It’s not my story to tell. I don’t know anything much but she lost people very dear to her, Michael. I could see her hurting and then suddenly it was gone. Poof! Just like that.”

“ Let me guess. Silent and stoic when it comes to feelings, right?”

“ Right. I mean, with the amount of crap she’s had to wade through I guess it’s… well, I don’t know. You’re the former wall keeper here, Michael. You tell me.” Maria pulled into the school parking lot.

Michael sighed. “ It doesn’t make sense. I mean, the way she was carrying on with old Maxwell…” Michael trailed off, thinking hard.

Maria unbuckled her seatbelt and grabbed her books. “ Michael, do me a favor okay? Talk to her a little. See if I’m right. I remember what that wall almost did to you and Liz is just too special of a person for me to just stand by and watch. She needs to get it out.”

Michael nodded and followed her out of the Jetta after grabbing his books. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to him as they walked.

“ You really like her don’t you?”

Maria nodded vigorously. “ Yeah, I do.”

“ She’s lucky to have a friend like you.”

Maria sighed and snuggled more into his body. “ I’m the one who’s lucky to have you, Michael.”

“ Ditto,” he replied softly, pressing a small kiss on her forehead. He grinned at her as they entered the school. “ Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s go find her.”

Liz held her head high as she walked through the halls on her second day. Already more than ten kids whom she didn’t know had greeted her by name and polite as she was, she’d smiled and said hello. Today, a heat wave had hit Roswell and Liz had woken up thinking she was in a furnace. Tom had been there, wide awake as usual, newspaper in hand. He’d turned the A/C up to it’s maximum setting and checked out the bathroom for her before she was allowed to go inside. Liz had taken a cold shower and basically ordered Tom out so she could dress. Since it was so hot, she chose a black halter top and tight dark blue jeans. Dave had been waiting to drive her to school and now that she was here, she wished that they could turn the A/C up a bit higher. She was practically melting. And all the heated stares she was getting from the guys weren’t helping any. Liz wasn’t bothered about that. She knew Matthews was prowling the halls behind her, always taking care to stay out of view. The principal had been alerted to her ‘special’ situation so Matthews was disguised as someone working in the school. Desperately, she looked around for a familiar face. She was no longer worried about getting lost but she did have fifteen minutes to kill before class started and she didn’t want to spend it trying to avoid guys who were practically drooling over her or girls that kept giving her the evil eyeball. Two blond girls in particular and their group of friends stared daggers at her and Liz was beginning to wonder what exactly they seemed to hold against her. The answer came to her almost immediately.

“ Liz!” Liz turned towards the sound of the voice to see Isabel hurrying towards her with a smile on her face. Liz smiled back nervously. She didn’t know what to expect from Isabel and Maria today after her revelation yesterday. As soon as Isabel reached her she gave Liz a warm hug. “ Hey. How are you?”

Liz almost sighed in relief when she didn’t mention anything about yesterday. She had gotten herself under control though she knew that control was going to be severely tested when she saw Max. But honestly, whom was she kidding, she’d chided herself. To think that Max would want to even spend time with her or even be WITH her after he found out, IF he ever would, just how complicated her life is, was ludicrous.

No attachments.

No attachments. Especially to Max Evans! Her mind screamed at her while her heart screamed another thing altogether, something she didn’t even WANT to acknowledge.

Taking a deep breath as soon as Isabel pulled back, she smiled gratefully.

“ I’m fine. It’s just that…I’m really hot,”

“ Yeah, you got that right.”

Liz couldn’t stop the rush of feelings she felt when she heard his voice. She knew it was him. Somehow, she knew she’d know that voice anywhere, anytime. She’d heard it in her dreams, comforting her when the images of flames had danced around her head. Liz bit her lip, irritated with herself. Great Liz. Way to start the day of not thinking about him by remembering your dreams about him. Turning slowly, she smiled slowly at Max.

“ Hey. A little fast on the flattery today aren’t we?”

Max grinned at adorable half smile of his that made her heart stop and stepped closer to her, ducking his head down slightly. The smell of his cologne was getting to her. Damn. He was making this extremely difficult. Liz began to panic. His head was moving closer and she was becoming mesmerized by his eyes. She couldn’t do it. She took a small step back and Max’s eyes flashed in apology or hurt she couldn’t tell but nevertheless he stopped moving toward her.

“ Me? Nah. Flattery gets you nowhere, remember? I was simply stating the truth.”

Liz nodded. “ Right. I was serious though. I’m really hot.”

Max grinned. “ I know.”

Liz rolled her eyes at him. “ I don’t mean it like that!” She turned to Isabel who was watching the whole exchange with interest and amusement. When she had arrived home last night, she’d given both her parents and extra kiss and hug and spent the remainder of the evening chained to Max’s side. It was funny how sometimes you had to hear of another’s heartache before realizing how lucky you were to have everything that you did. Max of course, was too in tune with her to believe the excuse she’d fed to her parents that she missed them all. He had finally gotten it out of Isabel that it had something to do with Liz. She smiled remembering how Max had panicked that maybe Liz was upset because of the whole hallway thing or something else he’d done. Isabel had set him straight saying it didn’t have to do with him but she hadn’t gone into detail. It wasn’t her story to tell. So she’d simply told Max Liz had had some very hard experiences and that she was still grieving in a way. Max had remained oddly quiet after this, as if something he had been thinking about had clicked. Isabel focused on the present, hearing the last words of Liz’s question.
“ … does this last?”

“ Um, probably just today and tomorrow. You’ll get used to it.”

Liz groaned and proceeded to fan herself. “ I hope so. I’m h-” She stopped herself from saying ‘hot’ again as Max was still there. “ I’m melting in the heat.”

“ Nice save,” He grinned at her.

“ I know.”

Maria and Michael arrived then and Maria gave Liz a hug, eying her with concern. “ How you doing, Liz?”

“ I’m doing good. Except for this damn heat.”

“ Oh, the heat wave? It doesn’t last very long,” Michael stated.

“ I hope so. I don’t know how long I’ll last.”

Michael glanced at his watch. “ Crap. I have to see Mr. Siegelman about that test I missed. I’ll see you later,” He said, kissing Maria on the cheek. “ Bye guys.”

“ Later Michael.” Max called.

“ Bye!” Isabel waved.

“ Later!” Liz called.

“ Hey Evans, great show yesterday,” One of the jocks called as he passed. “ You lucky stiff.”

Maria and Isabel exchanged glances and looked over to Max and Liz to find them not the least bit embarrassed but clearly awkward about the whole thing. They needed to talk about it. Maria nodded her head to Isabel and they both smiled.

“ Right. We both have Bio this period. What do you guys have?” Isabel asked.

Liz pulled her schedule out of her pocket. “ Um, History.”

“ I have Trig.”

Maria grinned. Perfect! “ They’re right next to each other, right? Max can you show Liz the class for me? Ms. Hardy has like, got a vendetta against me or something. She hates it when I’m late.”

Isabel giggled. “ Probably because of those less than brilliant excuse you come up with. I mean come on, Maria. Alien abduction?”

Maria shrugged. “ She has no imagination. Anyway, we’ll see you two later, okay? Max,-”

“ I know, Maria. I’ll take care of her.”

“ You better,” Isabel called. “ Bye guys.” They walked away leaving Max and Liz standing once again, alone in the hall.

“ So… Liz, listen, about the, um,”

“ Hallway Chronicles?” Liz supplied helpfully. Max raised an eyebrow and Liz shrugged. “ Maria made it up. Yeah. So, what about them? I mean, I hope it didn’t get you into trouble or anything.”

Max gave her a confused smile. “ Why would it do that?”

Liz grinned. “ I imagine your worshippers must not regard you in very good light right now. You could lose some of your monthly sacrifices.”

Max laughed. “ I wouldn’t worry about that. Um, what about you? I mean, are you okay?” Max was asking more about her own well being than the how she felt about the hallway stuff. When Isabel had told him about the ‘very, very hard experiences’ Max had immediately known that that was the cause of the pain in her eyes. While he wanted nothing more than to take them all away, he couldn’t do that until he had the full story or at least got her to confide in him. And he wasn’t going to push it. Right at the beginning of their conversation, he could already see her start to pull away and that was the last thing on earth he wanted. He had been haunted of dreams of her and she was happy…with him. It had been so beautiful and perfect, he hadn’t wanted to wake up. He had to admit though, reality was definitely better. At least here, he could actually touch her.

“ I’m fine.” She knew he wasn’t talking about what had happened yesterday but she just couldn’t…deal. So she fell back on jokes. “ So you’re sure your girlfriend won’t be mad?” She teased.

Now it Max’s turn to roll his eyes. “ Yeah, she will be,” He joked. “ She’ll probably forbid me to leave her side ever again.”

Liz stepped closer to him, unable to help herself. “ Possessive, is she?” Max swallowed. The distance between them was growing smaller with each and every passing minute.

“ Yeah.” He managed to answer, still keeping the teasing tone in his voice.

“ Then I guess all these rumors would really be bugging her, right?”

“ Right.” Max grinned but that was quickly wiped off when Liz dipped her head closer as if to whisper to him. “ She’s probably pulling her hair out as we speak.”

Liz grinned slyly, knowing her proximity was affecting him. It was time Max Evans learned he wasn’t the only one who could get away with things like that. “ I hope for your sake that she is worried. I know I would be.”

“ Is that so?” A sneering voice asked. Liz defenses rose even before she calmly turned to see who had spoken. The tone of voice seemed so reminiscent of the girls’ voices when she had attended boarding school. All those girls had been shallow and self-absorbed and when she made eye contact with the girl who had spoken, she knew that this girl was no different. It was one of the blondes, the shorter one with piercing blue eyes. She looked at Liz with a pleasant expression on her face but the look in her eyes was anything but pleasant. Her eyes literally glittered with fury. Liz gave her a bland smile before nodding. No way was she going to get into a fight with a girl whose name she didn’t even know.

“ Yes, it is. I’m Liz Parker. What’s your name?” She asked smoothly.

“ Tess Harding,” The girl announced proudly, holding her hand out as if expecting Liz to kiss it. The name struck a chord with Liz but for the life of her, she couldn’t remember where she had heard it before. Tess’ next statement completely erased her train of thought.

“ I’m Max’s girlfriend.”

Chapter 10

I’m Max’s girlfriend.

The words echoed loudly in the vast caverns of Liz’s mind, overpowering everything that stood in its way. The words stung unexpectedly and Liz felt another emotion that had been dormant for so long, she almost failed to categorize it…

Jealousy.

Damn it, Liz cursed silently. She noticed a couple of kids eying the situation with interest but for the most part, the majority were too busy getting to their classes.

She felt irritation at herself rise up and Liz struggled to keep from rolling her eyes. Why should she care if Max had a girlfriend? It didn’t matter to her. She felt nothing at all towards him other than…friendship. Any feelings other than that were taboos. They were on dangerous ground that she never wanted to walk on again. So if that was the case, why did describing what was between she and Max as ‘friendship’ sound so wrong? Liz fixed Tess with a bright smile and shook her cold hand, not holding it for longer than necessary. Her skin was cold and clammy…like…a dead fish. Liz bit back her grin at the thought, watching with interest as Tess stepped around her and practically attached herself to Max’s side. Her arm wound around his waist and her free hand grabbed his hand and tugged on his arm bringing it around her shoulders.

Liz fought the urge to shut her eyes against the sight in front of her. Ugh. Please don’t say I have to watch this, she silently implored. As usual, lady luck wasn’t on her side. Liz bit back her laughter at the trapped look Max had on his face. Liz could see his dilemma. Obviously he had something going on with this Tess girl but whatever it was, she was NOT his girlfriend. And it wasn’t just her jealousy ( wherever it had come from) that was saying this. Her over analytical mind was screaming this out to her too and for once, her heart and mind were in complete agreement. She bit back another bout of laughter as she saw Max try to disentangle himself from Tess without actually hurting her. Gingerly, he lifted his arm from around her shoulders and tried to put it between them but Tess simply released his hand and wrapped both arms around his waist, pressing her body into his side.

“ Tess, what-” Max was silenced by Tess putting a finger across his lips and for one horrible instant, Liz thought she was going to kiss him. If she did, Liz was going to be torn between retching at the sight or yanking Tess away from Max and pulling all those blond curls off her head. She saw Max recoil slightly and Tess removed her finger. Max had a deer caught in the headlights type of look. He was practically pleading with his eyes for a rescue.

Crossing her arms over her chest, Liz threw Tess a grin, quickly formulating a plan to save Max. It was time to fight for her man…um, friend, she corrected in her mind. He’s just a friend. It was time to fight for her friend.

“ How nice for you.” She tilted her head to the side as if thinking deeply. “ It’s funny though. Max never mentioned you.”

“ He didn’t?” Tess’ eyes flashed angrily. Then she gave Liz a sugary sweet smile as if suddenly sympathetic. “ Oh, you poor thing. Let me guess. He said he didn’t have girlfriend, right?” She shook her head sympathetically at Liz and looked up at Max’s shocked face. “ Max, how many times have I told you not to fool around with silly girl’s heads?” Tess scolded.

Liz raised an eyebrow. “ Silly girl?”

Tess glanced back at her. “ You didn’t actually believe him, did you? How stupid is that?” She giggled. “ Max, you’re such a playboy!”

Liz narrowed her eyes and let a smirk claim her lips. Damn, this girl was good! She certainly did give a most convincing performance. But this was all it was. A performance. She had sat in on enough of her father’s business meetings to not be fooled.

“ Is he? And you don’t mind?”

Tess raised an eyebrow. “ Why should I? I know where his heart belongs. With me. Always and forever.”

Max had a dark look on his face and he looked prepared to physically remove Tess from his side. Noting the desperate look in his eyes and the ‘ Help me!’ he mouthed to her, Liz nodded slightly.

“ Really? So you’re not the jealous type? At all?” She asked innocently.

“ No.” Tess said, glaring at Liz. “ I trust Max.”

Liz grinned slyly. “ Good. Then you won’t mind this.” She stepped forward and grabbed Max’s collar, pulling him out of Tess’ grasp. Liz stepped up to him, taking only an instant to glance at Tess’ outraged expression out of the corner of her eye and the once more shell-shocked look on Max’s face. Relief and gratitude quickly replaced it. Liz looked up at him, amusement dancing in her eyes.

“ Play along,” she whispered softly so Tess wouldn’t hear. Max needed no further encouragement. He’d dreamt about this moment too many times the night before to let the opportunity slip past. Although in his dreams, Tess certainly hadn’t been bearing witness but right now, the whole damn school could have been watching and he wouldn’t care. He lowered his head and finally captured her lips in his, never breaking the gaze they held on each other’s eyes.

Liz’s eyes drifted shut as soon as she felt the gentle pressure of Max’s lips on hers. The moment contact had been made, it was as if fireworks had been set off in her body, electrifying her nerve endings. The heated softness of his lips brushed tantalizingly against hers, making the slightest amount of friction. Liz could feel herself slipping into a world of blissful oblivion where nothing except her and Max existed. No pain… no misery…no death. Just Max with his lips on hers, causing her to forget everything. Her mind snapped to consciousness suddenly and the warning bells began. No. No. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t. It wasn’t fair. Liz had been fully prepared to leave it at that and was about to pull away, about to ignore her heart’s screams to stay in this position, when Max, as if sensing her intent, placed his hands on her waist and gently pulled her toward him. Her body betrayed her as it moved seemingly with a will of it’s own, until there was less than an inch between their bodies. Her mind was still screaming at her to flee when Max’s tongue slipped out and teasingly ran over her lower lip, begging to gain access to her mouth. All thoughts were instantly banished. After resisting for one more second, Liz finally gave in. Her lips parted and his tongue dove into the inviting heat of her mouth. Liz was lost. She could barely register all the emotions that were slamming into her. The sensations Max was causing as his tongue tentatively began exploring her mouth were earth shattering. She released one of his lapels and brought her hand up to encircle his neck while he buried one of his hands in her hair. He pulled her body closer to his with the hand that still remained at her waist until her body was flush against his. A helpless moan escaped from her mouth but the sound was muffled out by Max’s mouth on hers.

The first bell rang but none of the crowd of eight students watching heard it. They were too busy watching the show of a lifetime. And Tess had been shocked into speechlessness for once and was just staring at the two who were too engrossed in each other to notice.

Max was in heaven. Or at least he knew this was the closest thing to heaven on earth. He continued his gentle assault on her mouth, begging her to open up a bit more. When he had felt her begin to move away, he had been filled with panic and had been desperate enough to be more forward. This time, as his tongue explored every crevice of her mouth, she opened up eagerly and Max angled his head to take in more of her. The hand that encircled his neck sent electricity coursing through his whole body and Max felt a shiver run down his spine when her tongue began to duel with his. He ran his hand through her long, silky tresses, delighting in the way it felt… like angel’s wings. He could barely think. All he could do was feel. New sensations crashed around him, making him dizzy with their intensity. In all his life, he had never felt anything like the passion and fire Liz had brought out. It was like his body was humming with electricity in every part that was in contact with her. The sweetness of her mouth and softness of her lips was rivaled by no other and as her tongue continued to stroke against his, Max could himself slipping into another world as waves of pleasure rolled over him. He dragged his hand from her hair to the nape of her neck, running his fingers absently with the silky strands he found there. His hand continued its journey from her neck to her face as he gently cradled her cheek in the palm of his hand. How was it possible that that one touch was enough to make him feel whole? Complete?
In the background, Max could hear wolf whistles and loud clapping but it one sound that pulled him back. The sound that nearly shattered his eardrums.

“ MAX! Stop it! Stop it this INSTANT!!!” The shrill scream brought reality crashing back onto the couple and Liz had jerked away, her dazed eyes opening to find Max gazing down at her with eyes that were dark with passion their kiss had ignited. Liz swallowed and a fission of fear worked it’s way into her heart. Oh no. She’d never meant to… what had she been thinking? Maybe that was it. She hadn’t been thinking. Willing her feelings to disappear something in Liz clicked and all traces of emotion disappeared. Looking up at Max, she grinned and ignored the look in his eyes. Stepping away she saw Tess glaring at her openly, hatred and fury clearly coming through. Ignoring the crowd around them, Liz tilted her head to one side an amazed expression on her face.

“ Tess? Is something wrong?” Stepping closer to deliver her payback after the ‘ stupid’ comment, Liz smirked. “ You’re not… jealous, are you?”

Max had recovered enough by now to hear the conversation taking place beside him. Frankly, he couldn’t care less about what Tess or any of the others thought what he wanted to do was talk to Liz and make sure she was okay. He had seen the look of fear in her eyes and watched as she retreated into her shell and hidden behind that smile. But he couldn’t do that. Not right now.

“ Why you little…how dare you…Max, I…I…” Tess stuttered and trailed off releasing another shrill shriek, much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered to watch.

“ I thought so,” Liz said. The bell rang then and Liz turned away from Tess to the sound of the crowd cheering for her as they dispersed to their classes, late, but feeling as if it was worth getting detention for.

“ You’ll pay for this, Parker,” Tess called to her.

Liz turned and raised an eyebrow. “ Is that a threat?”

Tess’ eyes glittered with fury. “ It’s a promise.” No one embarrassed Tess Harding and got away with it. No one. And Liz Parker would pay.

Max stepped in, feeling the storm begin to brew. He really needed to have a talk with Tess and set her straight. Where did she get off treating him like some sort of trophy to be owned? And he needed to talk to Liz about, about…well, he just needed to talk to her. Period. “ We have to go. We’re late.” He grabbed Liz’s elbow and practically ran away from Tess. Max began to talk as sighted the doors of their classes a few feet away.

“ Right. Tell Mr. Harper you got lost okay? He’ll buy that.” He managed.

“ But what about you?” Liz asked softly between breaths as they came to a stop.

“ I’ll be fine. Go. We’ll talk later.” Max said quietly, pointing to the door across the one he was standing next to.

“ There’s nothing to-” Liz began to protest in a low tone as she back away from him.

“ Liz, please.” He pleaded in a whisper, already reaching for the doorknob.

Although she wanted to say no with everything in her, she found herself nodding. “ Later.” Then she turned from him and swung the door open, bracing herself for what awaited inside.

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

“ What do you mean you can’t find him?” Kathleen Parker yelled into her cell phone as she paced the entire length of the presidential suite.

“ We-we’re sorry, Ma’am. We searched the entire city. He just disappeared.” The shaky voice on the other end squeaked.

Kathleen ran a hand through her blond hair. “ Sorry is not good enough, you miserable twit! Do you know what could happen if he tells anyone? DO YOU?” She raged. Taking a deep breath to regain her composure, she spoke again. “ Do you know anything at all about where he was headed?”

“ We-a… a black Harley motorcycle was sighted heading west after passing a toll booth.”

“ West?” Kathleen demanded. “ Are you sure?”

“ Yes, ma’am.”

“ Follow him. I don’t care you end up. Just follow him and find him or I will break every bone in your body!” Kathleen screeched, her frustrations taking hold of her once again. She clicked the phone off and took several deep breaths once again. When she was reasonably calmer, she put it back on dialed quickly. The other phone picked up immediately.

“ Yes.”

“ We have a problem. Justin’s gone AWOL.”

“ Damn it.” The steely voice on the other end cursed. “ You said he could be bought off.”

“ No, you said he could be bought off. He was all your idea in the first place. But that doesn’t matter now. He’s gone. And when I get my hands on that boy, I’ll-”

“ Never mind about that. Where was he headed? Do you know?” The cold voice interrupted curtly.

“ He was sighted heading west.”

“ West? Now that could pose a problem…”

“ Why? What’s out west?”

“ Why, Kathleen, didn’t you know? It was the direction the convoy escorting your dear stepdaughter was heading.”

Kathleen paled and bit the inside of her cheek so hard, she tasted blood.

“ You think he’s going to her?”

“ Yes.”

“ What do we do?” Kathleen asked.

“ Stop him. At all costs. And while we’re on the topic, we should consider pushing forward the date of that little accident little Lizzie Parker is going to have…” The voice said menacingly.

Kathleen smiled but it never reached her cold, unfeeling eyes.

“ Best idea I’ve heard all day.”

TBC.

posted on 11-Sep-2002 4:26:55 PM
Chapter 11

“ So, Kyle, you busy tonight?” Vicki Delaney purred as she turned from her seat in front of Kyle to grin seductively. “ I happen to know for a fact that Pam will be occupied and I’d be more than happy to keep you company, if you catch my drift.” Kyle simply shook his head at her, a slight grin on his face. He should be flattered that she was practically throwing herself at him, but he wasn’t about to agree to her suggestion. Vicki was way too easy. He liked someone who could give him a challenge. Granted, Pam wasn’t exactly Everest but she wasn’t a total push over like Vicki either. He gave her a crooked smile.

“ Oh? And just how do you know that?”

Vicki grinned. “ She and Tess are having a little pow wow over at Harding Manor.”

Kyle raised an eyebrow. “ Why?”

Vicki leaned forward conspiratorially. “ Seems like Queen Tess is in serious danger of losing Max Evans to someone else. And he wasn’t even fully hers in the first place. Now, she wants to come up with some ways to bury the competition. In fact, I am invited but I could always cancel if you wanted me to,”

Kyle was about to reply when he saw the door swing open and Liz Parker stepped into the classroom. His jaw dropped. If possible she looked even more gorgeous than she had yesterday. The low whispers in the class stopped abruptly as she stood there facing Mr. Harper with an apologetic look.

“ Ms. Parker? Care to explain why you’re late?”

“ Oh, I’m really sorry about this, Mr. Harper. I still haven’t gotten the layout of the halls down and took a wrong turn somewhere. It won’t happen again,” She added sincerely.

Kyle could see Mr. Harper virtually crumble when faced with Liz’s apologetic smile. He nodded shortly.

“ Alright. You are still a new student but I advise you to learn how to find your way and fast. This excuse won’t work tomorrow.”

Liz grinned at him. “ Oh, I know, sir. I’ll just have to use another one.” The class laughed at her joke and even Mr. Harper smiled.

“ Take your seat, Ms. Parker. I believe there is a vacancy behind Mr. Valenti.”

Liz nodded and glanced around the classroom spotting the jock she had met yesterday. Ignoring the low whistles and catcalls several of the guys made at her she made her way to the seat and Kyle gave her a quick smile of greeting which she returned with a nod. Slipping into her seat, Liz flipped her hair over her shoulder and stared down all the guys gazing at her. When they finally averted their eyes, Liz turned her gaze from them to the window, staring vacantly at the scenery outside.

Kyle glanced over his shoulder at Liz, his eyes raking over her body appreciatively. Man. She was definitely going to have the whole male population of West Roswell panting after her with looks like that! Kyle focused his attention on the teacher again, grinning slyly. Who cared about the ten thousand rumors floating around the school about Max and Liz? As for his friendship with ol’ Maxwell, well, a little competition never hurt anyone. And Max definitely going to have competition for Liz’s attention. He would bet his life on it.

By the time lunch rolled around, Isabel was like a bomb waiting to explode. Everywhere she went she was bombarded with stories about the morning’s events. The first time she had heard the story, she’d been floored and demanded every single detail. Maria of course, hadn’t taken it very calmly. She had screeched, “ WHAT?” Loud enough to be heard everywhere in the school but she hadn’t cared. Neither of them did. When they’d heard the full story Maria had laughed, long and hard, ecstatic at the way Liz had shown The Wicked Witch of West Roswell up and had sighed dreamily when she heard about the kiss. Isabel for one didn’t know what to think. On one hand, she was extremely glad Liz had cut Tess down to size but she was worried about what Tess would do in retaliation. They needed to find Liz. Maria was practically bouncing next to her as they walked babbling about how sweet that must have been and how sorry she was she had missed it. Michael appeared by Maria’s side and eyed his girlfriend warily, taking in the dreamy expression on her face. He glanced over at Isabel.

“ I take it you’ve heard?”

“ We have.” Isabel answered shortly.

“ Where’s Max?” Maria asked, still starry eyed.

Michael shrugged. “ Last I saw, he was being surrounded by worshippers. Apparently, his little stunt this morning has only made him more esteemed in their eyes. Go figure.”

The trio walked out into the quad and Isabel groaned when she noticed the swarm of girls charging towards them. Michael rolled his eyes and tugged on Maria’s arm, bringing her closer to him. She still looked lost in a blissful haze of romance. Michael looked over at Isabel.

“ We’ll grab a table. See you there.”

Isabel nodded and gave the crowd of girls all a brief smile and listened patiently through another re-telling of the story. Once they were gone, she scanned the quad and saw Michael and Maria already seated and Maria seemed to be talking a mile minute, gesturing wildly. Michael had a look of amused irritation on his face as he listened to her chatter. They looked so happy together. Isabel sighed and wished Alex, her boyfriend was there with her. He had called the night before and said that his flight had gotten cancelled so it would be likely he wouldn’t make it home that week. Squaring her shoulders she took a wide circle around a group of girls sitting on benches in the middle of the quad, lest they call out to her. Sitting down at the table Michael and Maria occupied, she was just in time to catch Maria’s last words.

“ …you never do that, Michael?”

Michael rolled his eyes and grinned at Maria. “ Because I don’t feel like entertaining the masses with large doses of
PDA’s, that’s why. What we do together, I like to keep private.”

Maria pursed her lips. “ It was not for entertainment! I mean, yesterday in the hall they looked like they couldn’t control themselves or something. It was so incredibly cute! And today…” Another dreamy smile rested on Maria’s lips and Michael sighed while Isabel chose to stay silent but grinned at the scene in front of her. Maria’s eyes focused a minute later and she gave an indignant huff. “ Damn Bio! If I had just stuck around a little longer, I would have seen it all. I missed seeing Tess Harding being publicly dissed!” She turned hugely disappointed eyes to Isabel who was by now fighting hard not to laugh as she sipped her soda. “ How cruel is that?” Maria implored.

Isabel laughed. “ Yeah, I know what you mean. I wish someone had captured that on film. It’s bound to go down in History.”

Michael frowned. “ Hey, where’s Liz?”

Maria looked around the quad. “ I don’t have the morning recess with her, but I saw her going to the English class right after.”

Biting her lip, Isabel played with a lock of her hair nervously. “ You don’t think the witch did anything to her, do you?”

Her eyes taking on a worried light, Maria turned towards her. “ I don’t know. I hope not.”

“ Aren’t you two being a little paranoid? I mean, Max and Liz just kissed. And Max and Tess aren’t even officially a couple so what’s it to her?” Isabel and Maria just exchanged glances with each other that screamed out to Michael as saying, ‘What-does-he-know-he’s-a-guy’. “ Okay, I get the picture. What do I know right?”

Maria rubbed a hand over his arm soothingly. “ Babe, it’s not that. It’s just that Tess is a little psycho when it comes to Max.”

Michael raised an eyebrow. “ How so?”

“ Well,” Isabel began. “ You remember that day when Jenna Masters and Gwen Porter were found locked in the restrooms? When they stayed there the whole night?”

Michael smirked. “ How could I forget? Those two practically screamed the place down when the kids started arriving.”

“ Do you ever wonder how they got in there?” Maria asked.

Michael frowned. “ Not really. They said the door just jammed shut behind them.”

Isabel laughed. “ Wow. Tess really did a number on them, then. No wonder they didn’t turn her in.”

“ What did Tess have to do with that?”

Leaning forward, Maria began to explain. “ Well, at that time, Max was ‘interested’ in Jenna and they had a date that night. She was supposed to go over to Izzy’s house to study then they would go off to the movies or something. So, Tess, being Tess and another one of her friends went into the restrooms after she saw them go in when the final bell rang and they had a little ‘talk’. Only Tess and her friend left that bathroom after that. Jenna and Gwen didn’t. Word was, she told Jenna to stay away from Max and then locked them inside just to make sure Max would be stood up. The poor girls were stuck in there the whole night. ”

“ Why didn’t they yell for the janitor?” Michael asked, a confused expression on his face.

Isabel tilted her head to the side. “ Tess paid him to knock off a little earlier than usual.”

Michael shook his head in disbelief. “ I remember that night. Max had just been about to change when Tess came to your place and offered to go with him.” He paused. “ It really was too convenient she happened to appear when he thought Jenna wasn’t coming. I can’t believe it.”

Maria snorted. “ This is Tess Harding we’re talking about. She'll do anything to get what she wants.”

Isabel nodded her head. “ Damn right. She’s just lucky I wasn’t home that night. I would have told her scram and never come back.”

“ So you see why we’d be worried about Liz, Michael.”

Michael shrugged. “ Hey, let’s just chill for a moment okay? Liz seems pretty able to take care of herself. But just in case, why don’t we go looking for both her and Max later? Say in ten minutes?”

“ Right,” Isabel and Maria both agreed.

Inside the school, Max prowled the hallways, searching for Liz. Right after his Trig class had let out, the halls had filled with students and he’d only managed to catch a glimpse of Liz’s dark hair as she walked down the hall away from him…and she wasn’t alone. He’s seen a guy in a varsity jacket walking next to her and the name ‘ Valenti’ lettered along the back of it immediately told him who it was. Kyle. Max had immediately felt jealousy flare up and as was fast becoming the case with anything to do with Liz Parker, he forgot everything else. He’d called out.

‘Liz!’

Across the massive crowd and the noise, she’d still heard him and she turned, her beautiful dark eyes narrowed with concentration as they scanned the hall, searching for the originator of the voice that had called her name. When her eyes made contact with his, he saw them shine before flickering slightly and then shutting down. Like a mask had been snapped down over them, hiding all emotions. He saw her begin to make her way towards him and he began to do the same, hurriedly saying ‘excuse me’ and ‘pardon me’ to anyone who stood in his way. He was just six feet away and closing when suddenly, he was surrounded. By girls. All of them squealing about how sweet he was and how sorry they were at having missed ‘it’ and cooing on how they’d like to try it with him sometime… everything flew through Max’s ears in a tangled mass of words. He didn’t even acknowledge them but instead peered over their heads, looking around for Liz. He saw her trying to get through the crowd and get to him but he couldn’t move anymore. It was like the ‘worshippers’ to quote Maria, had stuck themselves onto him and he was immobile. Liz wasn’t having much luck either. Just as she managed to get within the crowd, the bell had rung and Max saw Kyle place a hand on her arm and pull her back, saying something to her. Liz had looked unsure and bitten her lip and looked over at Max once more. Meeting her eyes again for a brief moment, he saw her gaze at him waver and then she nodded and allowed herself to be led away by Kyle only stopping once to throw him a look and mouth the word, ‘ Later.’

He sighed with frustration as he rounded a corner in his search for her. That ‘later’ had never come. Unfortunately, he had no idea what her next class had been and he had completely lost track of her. Add that to the fact that each time a class had ended and he was about to look for her, a crowd had enveloped him asking him if what they had heard was indeed true. It had been virtually impossible to seek her out. So now, here he was using his lunch period to scour the halls for her. He had lost precious minutes already as he had another run in with the girls from the hall in the morning. As he passed the classes, he peeked into each one, finding not a soul within them. He groaned. The school wasn’t all that big. How hard could it be to find her? Maybe she was looking for him and they had missed each other. Or maybe she was already out in the quad, eating lunch. Or maybe she’s with Kyle. Max frowned at this and set his jaw. All right. One more room and I’m going to check outside. Walking determinedly down the hall to towards the library, he stopped for a second when he saw a dark head poke out of the doors carefully, scanning the other side of the hall. A sudden sigh escaped his lips when he recognized the person. Liz. He watched with amusement as she looked up and down, clearly debating on whether it was safe to go out. He cleared his throat and Liz’s steady gaze down the hall snapped to his face and her eyes bored into his. Relief swept through them and a full-blown smile broke out over her face, making Max blink at its beauty. Liz virtually bolted from the library and launched herself into his arms.

“ Max!” She cried. “ Thank God! I’m so glad to see you!”

Max didn’t even stumble when her sudden weight came against him. Rather, he welcomed her soft body as she hugged him. Max closed his eyes and breathed in her scent as he held her against him. The scent of vanilla and strawberries invaded his mind and finally, the tense muscles in his body relaxed. After a minute, she pulled away quickly, a slight blush claiming her cheeks as she looked up at him.

“ I’m sorry,” Liz said sheepishly.

Max grinned down at her, marveling at how cute she looked when she was embarrassed. “ Missed me, huh?” He teased.

Liz rolled her eyes at him in that adorable way he had begun to love. “ Get over yourself, Max.” She grinned. “ I was merely using you as a shield against the gossip hungry masses.”

Max smirked. “ Yeah right.” Then his expression turned serious a moment later. “ They got to you too, huh? Is that why you were in hiding?”

Liz nodded and cast her gaze about the hall. “ They did. They’ve been hounding me all morning. I was just considering staying in the library until lunch was over when you showed up.” She turned almost accusatory eyes on him if it hadn’t been for the spark of amusement in them. “ You forgot to warn me about them.”

Max shrugged and held his hand out to her and was pleased to note that she took it without hesitation, though it was unconsciously. She was still peering down the halls as if a mob was going to attack them at any moment. Tugging gently, he began to walk her down the halls with him. “ I forgot. So how’d you ditch them?” He asked casually. What he really wanted to know was, how did you feel when we kissed? Did you feel the fireworks exploding like I did? Like nothing else in the world mattered except the person in your arms? Like you were complete? But he had seen the look in her eyes, after the kiss, in front of the class where they had separated; in the hall when Kyle had led her away… they all screamed the same thing to Max. She was scared. He knew it wasn’t of him but he also instinctively knew that whatever it was she scared of, she feared it enough that she would run from him if he pushed her. And that was the last thing Max wanted to do. Wondering if her fear had anything to do with the ‘very hard experiences’ Isabel had told him about last night, he suspected that it did. So for now, he’d stick to small things.

Liz shrugged. “ Well, Kyle kind of rescued me the first time.” She looked up at him. “ You looked pretty busy with your crowd of worshippers.”

Max groaned, choosing to ignore the mention of Kyle and concentrating on the latter part of her sentence. “ That was a disaster. I couldn’t move. It was like they had me in a death grip or something.”

Liz nodded. “ Well, I spent most of the morning trying to be low profile but I just kept giving myself away, you know? Then after French, I was heading to my next class when all of a sudden, this group comes out of nowhere and starts asking me loads of questions about you.” Her eyes twinkled mischievously. “ You obviously have no idea of how popular you are with the ladies.”

“ I think I have a pretty good idea. You’re gaining a popular following with the guys as well.” He regarded her steadily with a grin. “ Not bad for two days at a new school.”

“ Yeah, well, I don’t want it.” Liz stated, looking up at him. Her eyes lost their teasing light and uncertainty crept back into them. She cleared her throat and cast her eyes downward. Max could feel her hand in his tense and she pulled it out of his grasp and turned to face him. “ Max, listen-”

Max interrupted her by placing a finger gently against the soft lips he so badly wanted to taste again. He could have sworn he heard her groan softly in reaction to that because truth be told, it was exactly what he wanted to do. He glanced around the hall furtively. Though it was empty, he knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long. He looked down into her eyes.

“ I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it would be such a good idea if we were found like this again.” Her eyes began to sparkle up at him though there was still a hint of wariness in them. He smiled down at her. “ We don’t want to do, uh, another act without a crowd do we?” He joked. Liz shook her head silently and Max realized he still had his finger on her lips. Flashing a quick smile of apology, he removed it and he saw her nod.

“ No, we don’t want to do that.” Glancing around her, she brought her questioning gaze back to him. “ So where’s the place to go when you want to talk without interruptions?”

Max tapped a finger against his chin as if deep in thought. His eyes were dancing with playfulness as he gazed down at her. “ Well… there’s always the eraser room,” he answered nonchalantly.

Liz’s eyebrow raised and the corners of her mouth twitched as she fought her impulse to grin. “ The eraser room.” She repeated, eyeing Max’s innocent expression. “ That would be the place-”

“ Where people go to make out.’ Max finished for her with a grin. “ Yup. It is. So…” He prompted.

Liz’s eyes flickered up to meet his and Max was relieved to see them sparkling with laughter yet again. “ So, wouldn’t it defeat the whole purpose of not doing another act here in the hall if we get caught in there? Or if someone sees us going in?”

Max gave her a confident smile. “ We’re not going to get caught. Trust me.” He reached his hand out to her. Liz crossed her arms over her chest and stared down at his hand then back up at his face.

“ Before I let you lead me into another situation, might I ask how is it you’re so confident about this?” She asked with an up raised eyebrow and a knowing look.

He shrugged. “ Hey. You heard Izzy. I’ve been in it the most times.” He stated proudly. Liz had to smile at this. Typical guy. Max fixed his gaze on her. “ And if I recall correctly, I do remember offering to give you a tour of it.” He stepped closer to her and extended his hand a bit further towards her. “ What do you say? Do you trust me?” He asked softly.

Suddenly, it all came rushing back. Liz stiffened before him and eyed his hand warily, as if it was a snake that would be ready to strike at any moment. She swallowed nervously and looked around the hall, anywhere but up at his face. When she finally did look him in the eye, Max could see the struggle within her. Liz seemed torn at his simple question, like parts of her were fighting a silent war. She looked away from him and down the hall and for a moment, Max thought she was going to run away from him. But she didn’t. Instead, Liz took a deep breath and nodded shortly, putting her hand in his.

“ I do.” She whispered.

Something told Max Liz wasn’t the type of person who trusted easily and he couldn’t help but feel like he’d accomplished a major achievement. Even if it was just a trip to the eraser room. He smiled reassuringly down at her.

“ Come on,” He said.

Liz walked beside him, keeping her face neutral. Inside though, she was in turmoil. God. In just one day and a few hours, Max Evans had managed to wedge himself in her heart in a way no one had been able to do for so long. In way no one had ever done before. How had he done it? Or better yet, how had she allowed him to do it? Did he even know what he had asked of her by asking for her trust?

She had spent the past year and a half creating an impenetrable barrier around her heart, one that nobody had been able to break. Glancing up at Max’s handsome face, she felt a nervous flutter fly through her stomach. Nobody… except Max. Liz swallowed. No. That wasn’t completely true. He had managed to create an opening, a gateway, but the wall was still standing. Liz took a deep breath. All her fears about opening up came rushing through and consumed her hopes that she would be able to finally be free from the ghosts of her past. Her future was so uncertain. Though her father had agreed to let her start over, it wasn’t guaranteed that she would stay in Roswell indefinitely. At any given moment, he could give the command and they would leave and all traces of Liz Parker ever setting foot into Roswell would be erased. Like she didn’t exist. What was the point of trying to make memories with Max when any day, she could disappear and never be found again? It wasn’t fair to him… or to her. A sardonic smile appeared on her face. But then again, had life ever been fair to her? It hadn’t… and there was no reason to believe it would begin to do so now. Max pulled her to a stop behind him and Liz was jerked from her thoughts. They had stopped in the shadows of a corner as he carefully scanned the hallways before pulling them out into the open.

“ Are we almost there?” She managed to ask.

He nodded. “ Almost.”

One more quick turn around a corner and she saw the door to the eraser room. The hall was all clear. Max glanced down at her once before he took off down the hall towards it, pulling her along behind him. He opened the door and let her in first before stepping inside behind her and locking the door. Liz looked around the room. It wasn’t all that big, there was a bench in one corner and a rack of erasers on the wall opposite it. Directly to her right was a machine she assumed was used to clean them. There was an air vent close to the floor and a light switch next to where Max was standing. She looked at him and cleared her throat, hoping to stall for as long as she could.

“ So. This is it. The famous eraser room.”

Max nodded. “ Yeah.”

“ Shouldn’t we turn on the light?” she asked.

Max shook his head. “ It would be a dead giveaway. Principal Adams likes to call parents over when their kids are found in here doing something other than cleaning erasers.”

Liz smirked at him. “ Your parents ever been called?”

Max shook his head. Upon seeing Liz’s disbelieving look he held his hands out, palms upward in a gesture of sincerity. “Really. They’ve never been called.” He watched as she walked around the small room. “ So what did you want to talk about?”

Liz looked up at him and twisted around as well, bring her knees into contact with his and facing him directly. “ Um, yeah. Max, about this morning, I wanted to apologize-”

Max tilted his head to the side and gave her a puzzled look, a slight smile curling a corner of his mouth up. “ Why? It was a great kiss.” Max grinned when his comment got the desired effect. Liz gawked at him and opened and closed her mouth as he walked to her and sat down next to her. He glanced at her only to see a faraway look on her face, a small smile on her lips.

“ Yeah,” she breathed softly. “ It was.” Liz shook herself. Get a grip Liz. You’re not here to fantasize about kissing him. She cleared her throat and took a moment to collect herself and when she glanced up at Max, she saw him grinning at her devilishly. Liz narrowed her eyes at him while a smirk claimed her lips. “ You are such a jerk, Max!” she exclaimed hitting his arm playfully when she realized she had walked right into that one.

Max smiled at her. “ It one of my most endearing qualities,” he announced. Liz sighed and shook her head at him.

“ I’m trying to be serious here, okay? Can you please lay off the jokes until I finish what I want to say?”

Max nodded. “ Sure. Fire away.”

Liz took a deep breath. “ Alright. About this morning…” She bit her lip nervously. “ You know that I… I…” Liz stammered and trailed off, frowning at herself in annoyance. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I say it? Because you know saying it will only make you want to do it again more, a little voice in her head answered her. Liz glanced over at Max to find him studying her with a raised brow and a questioning look on his face.

“ Kissed me?” Max finished for her.

Liz nodded in relief. “ Yeah. You know I did that only to help you out, right? I mean, short of pulling her off of you, and I doubt she would have willingly complied, it was the only thing I could think of.” She rambled.

Max grinned and met her gaze. “ So all you could think about was kissing me?” He asked teasingly.

“ Yes.” Liz answered immediately. Realizing what she’d said, her eyes widened and she waved a hand in the air. “ I mean no! Yes. Well, actually, yes and no. Yes to get you out of a jam and no…” Liz stopped when she saw Max laughing. Liz tried to glare but she started laughing too. There was something about his laugh that was infectious and made her want to laugh too. She swatted him again. “ Max, stop it! It’s not funny! Anyway, you know what I’m trying to say, right? I-”

Max stopped laughing suddenly. “ It was all I could think about. Kissing you, I mean.” For the second time, Liz gawked up at him, completely flabbergasted, searching his face and eyes for any sign that he was joking. No such luck. She didn’t know whether to dance or cry.

“ It was?” she finally squeaked.

“ Yeah. It was.”

Liz blinked rapidly and tore her gaze away from his face. “ Um, yeah. Okay.” Deep breath. “ That’s what friends do right? Help each other out of trouble?”

Max shook himself out of the distracting occupation of watching her full lips move as she spoke. If he didn’t stop, he’d just sweep her into his arms and crush his lips to hers and then she’d run away from him for sure. He cleared his throat but couldn’t resist throwing in one last smart comment.

“ Well, I don’t know.” He began flippantly. “ I mean, if it is, you’re certainly the first friend I’ve had who could kiss me out of a sticky situation.”

It didn’t work this time. She smiled weakly at him but it was clear that she was waiting for a real answer. Max studied her carefully, holding her gaze for a long while before she looked away.

“ So we’re… friends, right?” Liz asked softly.

Max faced forward. “ Yeah. We’re… friends.” He gave her a sidelong glance. “ But is that what you really want?”

Liz turned her head away, keeping her stare away from him. “ Max-” she began.

Max captured her chin in his hand and turned her face towards his. “ Is it? ” Max interrupted quietly. He searched her eyes and could see the mask begin to crack and crumble before him. She tried to pull away and he instinctively knew that it would be impossible for Liz Parker to hide anything from him if he looked into her eyes long enough. All the answers he needed were screaming out to him from their dark depths yet at the same time, she looked frightened. Fear was quickly taking possession of her and he could see eyes turn distant and cool.

“ Yes.” She answered crisply.

Liz saw his steady gaze waver and he dropped his hand. Her heart contracted in response. This is the right thing to do, Liz, she told herself. This way, neither of you will get hurt. Sensible words, yes, but if they were true, why has there already a dull ache in her heart? Maybe it was because of the pained look she saw in his eyes but Liz couldn’t believe it when she felt relief wash over her when a steely determination took it’s place. It told her everything she secretly hoped for but would never acknowledge to herself. He didn’t believe her answer. He wasn’t going to just give up and let it be. He was going to go after her.

“ Okay.” Max said.

She swallowed.

“ Good, good. That’s great.” Her voice sounded a little breathless and Liz lost whatever ounce of air she had managed to gather when Max moved closer.

“ Yeah. It is.” He agreed in a low tone, his voice sliding over her senses like silk. Liz reminded herself to breathe but that only made it worse because it allowed his heady scent to invade her mind, just like in the morning. “ So, Liz, now that’s taken care of, ” Liz’s eyes widened in alarm when with each word that came from his mouth, he was inching closer. She held her ground and refused to look away from him. “ I was wondering if I could ask you something.” By this time, his head was so close, there were only a few inches separating their faces. Liz felt her heart begin to pound and she felt slightly dazed. Max paused to see if she was paying attention only to see a dazed and distracted look on her face. He fought to keep from grinning. “ Liz?” he asked softly.

Her eyes came back into focus and locked on his. Get a grip! You can handle this. “ You alright?” Max was asking. No, I’m not! She felt like screaming. You’re driving me crazy. Move away! Now! How could she be all right when he was practically attached to her face and she felt every breath that came out from his mouth? How? He had a satisfied light in his eyes and if she didn’t know better, she’d swear that was a smirk beginning to show on those gorgeous lips of his. Understanding dawned on her quickly. He was playing her! Using his proximity and that intoxicating scent of his to knock her senseless. She gave him a sweet smile. Well, two can play at that game, Mr. Evans.

“ I’m fine.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder and Max’s eyes widened when he realized her top was completely back less, with only two thin straps running across it, securing it to her body while one more ran across her neck, holding it up. Her skin was smooth and creamy and his hand ached to touch it and see if it was as soft as it looked. How had he managed to miss that? Oh yeah. He was too busy kissing her to notice. He dragged his eyes back to her face to see her watching him, her expression giving nothing away. She had a small smile on her lips. “ So. What did you want to ask me?”

“ Ask you? Oh right.” Max took a deep breath. “ You free this afternoon?” He kept his tone even.

Liz shrugged. “ Maybe,” Her tone was light. “ Why?”

“ I was wondering if you could teach me something.”

Liz licked her lips and his attention was immediately surrendered to them. Gotcha, Liz thought in triumph. She leaned closer until she could practically feel his body heat rising. “ Max?”

“ Hmm?” He brought his eyes back to meet hers and Liz ran her tongue over her lower lip effectively drawing his gaze to her mouth once more.

“ What did you want me to teach you?”

Max looked up at her and blinked as if coming out of a daze. Liz shot him a smug look. This was too easy. It was hard to believe she’d been in the same position only minutes before. Max must’ve seen the look because his eyes flashed with determination yet again and he gave her a crooked half smile. “ Actually, it’s kind of private. Would you mind if I whispered it to you?” Without giving her a chance to reply, he leaned over until his mouth was directly next to her ear. When she felt his warm breath on her ear, Liz shivered and closed her eyes Uh oh. She was in trouble now! And yet she couldn’t bring herself to move away.

“ Liz?” His voice was soft.

“ Y-yeah?” she answered in a breathy tone.

He smiled against her hair and inhaled deeply. Yep. Vanilla and Strawberries was DEFINITELY his favorite scent from now on. “ You okay?”

“ I’m fine.” Her voice sounded slightly garbled and Max KNEW he was getting to her.

“ Okay. Since we’re ‘friends’ now, could you teach me how to…” Max paused and blew gently into her ear, causing her to shiver. “ Kiss as well as you do?” he finished softly. He grinned when he heard her gasp and moved away to see her reaction.

Her face was a study of complete shock. Liz looked like she’d been told that pigs had grown wings and were flying around the hallways. Max couldn’t help it. He laughed. As soon as the shock cleared up, Liz raised an eyebrow at him and gave him an amused grin.

“ You really pulled out the big guns with that one, didn’t you Evans?”

Max did his best to look innocent. “ What guns? I really want to know. Especially the thing you do with your tongue.” Liz’s eyes widened and she swatted his arm.

“ Max!”

“What? Come on, Liz.” He teased. “Think of it as… furthering my education.”

Liz grinned at him. “ I don’t think so.” She replied, shaking her head. “ I don’t give away my, uh, secrets.”

I’ll say, Max thought. He gave her a puppy dog look. “ Alright. So what would it take to change your mind?”

Liz gave him a disbelieving look. “ Apart from the world coming to an end, very little would do that.”

“ Okay. One last question.”

Liz pulled back a little. “ You’re not going to ambush me like a few minutes earlier, are you?”

He laughed. “ I got you, didn’t I?”

“No,” she answered primly. Max looked at her skeptically and Liz sighed and relented. “ Okay, fine! You did… a little.”

Max grinned at her. “ Just ‘ a little’ ?”

“ Okay. More than a little.”

“ Try, ‘ You got me good’.”

Liz smirked. “ Don’t push it, pal. So you got me this time. I owe you. And I ALWAYS repay my debts.”

“ That a fact?”

“ More than that. It’s a guarantee.”

“ I can’t wait!” Max said, winking suggestively.

“ Max,” Liz laughed. “ As much fun as this is, I’m really getting hungry. So what is it you wanted to ask? Be serious this time!” She warned.

Max nodded. “ Right. I wanted to know if you were free this afternoon? We should probably get started on our project.”
Liz rubbed her forehead. There was no possible way she would be able to get Dave to agree to her staying late in school, alone with Max. He’d go crazy without at least a dozen men guarding the entrance to the lab and surrounding the school but at the same time, she couldn’t very well tell Max no. Especially not after the whole ‘friends’ talk. Sighing inwardly, she decided that this one time of running out on Matthews would be all right. It had been quite awhile since she had shaken him up anyway, she thought with a wry grin. Liz dropped her hand and looked up to see Max watching her curiously and she blinked away the image of his eyes dancing with open appreciation.

“ Yeah, I am.”

His face broke into a relieved grin and Max let out a breath he didn’t even know he’d been holding. “ Great. Can you meet me at the parking lot after the bell?” He stood and helped her up from the bench. Liz stood in front of him and smiled.

“ I would, except I don’t know where it is.”

“ Right. I’ll pick you up at your locker then.”

“ You don’t know where that is.” She reminded him.

“ I’ll find out.” He answered confidently. “ You hungry?”

Liz bobbed her head up and down. “ Famished! Think it’s safe to go out now?”

Max tilted his head to the side and shrugged. “ Won’t know till we go out. Come on.”

Max opened the door slowly, poking his head out first and looking up and down the hall. He glanced at her over his shoulder. “ Coast is clear. Shall we go to lunch?”

Liz smiled. “ Lead on!”

Max opened the door and stuck his head out, looking for teachers. When he didn’t see anyone, he stepped out and held the door open for Liz and once she was out, he shut the door behind her.

“ So you’re sure about not teaching me?” Max asked once more as the walked towards the quad.

Liz sighed. “ Ask me again after lunch. Right now, I’m so hungry I can barely walk!”

Max winked at her. “ Want me to carry you?” He offered sincerely.

Liz rolled her eyes playfully. “ In your dreams, Max.”

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

Two girls with varying degrees of emotions observed the whole exchange. Pam was supremely irritated. Tess may be her best friend, and she did have a duty to her, but she did have a duty to herself as well. Normally, spying on Max Evans would be a treat, it gave her time to appreciate the finer points of the male form but doing so during lunch hour and with Tess in an even more bitchy mood than usual was definitely not high on her fun-things-to-do list. Glancing at her best friend, Pam shuddered. Tess did not look good. In fact, she looked terrible! Was it her imagination or was her skin turning green? Yeah. Green with envy! Talk about adding insult to injury, not only had she been told off, put down and shown up by a NEW girl of all people, now, they had just witnessed Max and Liz coming out of the Eraser Room looking for all the world like a happy couple. Pam could literally see steam pouring out of Tess’ ears. She cleared her throat.

“ So. What do we do with her?”

Tess eyes narrowed malevolently. “ Haven’t thought of something bad enough yet. Come on. Let’s get out of here.” She turned on her heel and allowed an evil grin to make its way onto her face. “ We’ve got planning to do…”

TBC....

Author's Note: Hey guys. I'm going to repost parts 12-17 soon, okay? Meanwhile, happy reading and thanks for the fb!

Edited to add: Hey, FehrBehr! Glad to see you're still reading my mostly unfinished fics, lol! ok, getting down to it, I AM writing new parts for this as well as JOD and trying to remember how the next part of Cupid went.....tough going but I'm trying. ok, gotta go! bye guys! take care!


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 11-Sep-2002 4:32:11 PM ]
posted on 24-Nov-2002 11:07:39 AM
Chapter Twelve

Coming down the stairs, the man paused to flip on the light switch and surveyed the room that housed the driving force of his life for the past 20 years with a satisfied smile. He had it all. Every single monumental event that had happened to the Parker family and the not-so-monumental events had been captured, collected and stored away. Going down the last few steps, his gaze swept around the room. There was a framed newspaper clipping that announced the engagement of Jeffrey Parker to Nancy Gray. Another one screamed, ‘CEO of Parker Industrial to be wed today!’ and included a picture of a handsome, tall, broad-shouldered man with a beautiful dark haired woman, both smiling happily for the camera. The love in their eyes couldn’t be denied. Several clippings of articles about the wedding, newspaper photographs and a mountain of candid shots of the bridal couple were tacked to the same bulletin board. After that, there was a section dedicated to nothing but photos of Mr. and Mrs. Parker taken from a distance , the majority of them showing Nancy Parker. Then, on another of the boards that decorated the wall, another newspaper clipping had been framed. This one declared that Jeffrey Parker, CEO of Parker Industrial was taking a one-year sabbatical due to his wife’s pregnancy. Another smaller clipping under it voiced congratulations to the Parker family who had just been blessed by twin girls. Numerous photos were pinned underneath this, all of them depicting the Parkers and their two infants. The focus of the next couple of boards was mainly Nancy and the twins, Alison and Elizabeth, generally taken when the trio was inside a huge mansion. The next board displayed another framed newspaper clipping. It told of the death of Nancy Gray Parker, aged 35, after a long illness. Clippings of the funeral belonged on this board, along with shots of the twins, aged six by then, dressed in matching black dresses, holding hands in front of their mother’s coffin, openly crying while their father stood behind them, a hand on each girls shoulder with a devastated, haunted look on his face. The next board, the second largest one was filled completely with photos of Nancy Parker, dating back to even before the wedding, some of them taken when she was in high school. The focus of the next few boards that were hung around the large room was mainly Jeff Parker and the girls but in time, this changed. It had subtly shifted from the Parker family to the two dark haired, angelic twins. It was like a gallery that chronicled the different events of their life. Major events such as their first day of pre-school, before their mother had died. Alison’s first dance recital. Elizabeth’s first science fair award at the tender age of eight. Elementary school. Ordinary days spent playing in the park, always under the watchful eye of at least five bodyguards. Holiday photos taken in various exotic locations such as Hawaii. Aspen. Spain. Italy. Every place they had gone to, he had a record of.

Soon, a change could be noticed in the two girls. At age nine, their different personalities had already begun to manifest themselves in the photos. Gone were the days of wearing identical dresses and the same hairstyle. More often than not, one of the twins would be neatly dressed in a dress or a skirt, her long dark hair neatly pulled back in a ponytail or barrettes. Her sister was almost always dressed in jeans or shorts, her hair always cascading around her shoulders like a chocolate waterfall, left loose and wild. Even during their play in the park, it was obvious that the girls’ interests were as different from each other as could be. One enjoyed playing with dolls and didn’t like running around all the time. Her twin was definitely more restless and didn’t seem capable of sitting in the same place for more than ten minutes. She was always wandering off by herself and was constantly getting rescued by her bodyguards when she got lost. But for all their differences, he had seen that they were as close as only identical twins could be. At school, he had watched them as they held hands and stood against the whole class, not backing down. It was clear that they were fiercely protective of each other as well. The arrival of their Kathleen Topolsky on the scene had caused chaos in the life of the girls. Suddenly, after a whirlwind ‘romance’ Jeffrey Parker had remarried when the girls were fourteen. He knew it for a fact that Liz had not spoken to her father or his new bride for two weeks after the wedding. Alison, though deeply disapproving of it, had been their father’s only link to Liz but even she spoke to their father with a distinct coolness for a while after the wedding. It was apparent that they were NOT Kathleen’s biggest fans. He should know. He had been watching them throughout the whole ordeal, witnessed every tantrum that Liz had thrown, observed the way Alison comforted her twin and seen the way they had cried together.

He knew all their habits, all their little tendencies. Alison was clearly the more ladylike of the two, the twin who had worn dresses and skirts when they were younger and the more quiet, reserved, serious and responsible one. She had been born a full ten minutes before her sister. Elizabeth was the twin most like their mother. Impetuous, bold, full of laughter and spunk. She threw passion into whatever she did and had a certain intensity in her eyes that he remembered seeing once before in another set of eyes that mirrored hers. Yet, for all the similarities to her mother, Elizabeth, called Liz for short was different from her as well. In the brief and glorious time he had known their mother, Nancy had worn her heart on her sleeve. Every emotion could clearly be seen in her eyes or face, she had always been hopeless at trying to hide them. A memory of seeing Nancy standing before him with tears running down her cheeks as she said goodbye and left him for another life flitted across his mind, causing his heart to contract painfully and the hatred in it to flame hotter than ever. Elizabeth on the other hand was most reluctant to show even a hint of emotion, differing drastically from her mother and twin. Moving to a part of the room where a large desk had been placed, he glanced up at the more recent photos. In these photos, the twins looked to be about twelve or thirteen. They were both laughing at their father as he tried to help them pick out dresses for their first dance of junior high. A surge of red hot anger and jealousy consumed him. It should have been him in that photo. It should have been him who had the love and adoration of the two beautiful girls. Him… who was supposed to have had the love of Nancy. Frowning at the photo at it silently mocked him, he moved his gaze to another board. Alison and Elizabeth were sixteen then and there was a framed magazine cover with their picture splashed all over the cover. There was simply no doubt about it. If the media had thought their mother had been lovely, then her daughters were surely even more beautiful. Alison had her arm slung over her sister’s shoulders and was beaming for the camera while Liz had her head thrown back, lost in blissful laughter. Truly exquisite. In a way, it had been this very photo that had spurred him to action. He had been watching the Parker girls all their lives and his plan had been set into motion on the very day that their father had remarried. He would demolish Jeffrey Parker completely, bit by bit, starting with the people he held most dear. His daughters. He would destroy their lives first and watch as it slowly killed their father to see his daughters’ suffering. He would erase every bit of happiness Jeff Parker had every known, just as he had done to him so many years ago when he had stolen Nancy, his entire being, away from him. He picked up the lone framed photo on his desk, a picture of Alison and Liz taken when they were seventeen. And for not being his daughters, Alison and Elizabeth would have to pay the ultimate price. One of them had already. Alison’s face was marked with a large, red cross. And Liz would pay too. Then and only then, would his revenge be complete.

Glancing around the room, he nodded, smiling again with satisfaction. He turned and began to walk out, reaching the top of the stairs and switching off the light. The door clicked shut behind him, the light on the fingerprint accessed electronic lock going red, indicating that the room was safely locked. It wouldn’t do for his little protégé to find this room. It wouldn’t do at all.

Whistling softly as he walked down the richly carpeted hallway, enjoying the sunlight that filtered through the French windows, he smiled wider when he heard the familiar sounds of his charge working out in the gym. A particularly loud wallop reached his ears and he shook his head. No wonder it was so hard to find good help these days. With the way the child punched, it was a miracle some of these people even lasted as long as they did.

He strolled into the gym just in time to witness the perfect execution of a roundhouse kick that sent another man flying. He clapped approvingly, cold green eyes sparkling with malicious amusement. Deep hazel brown eyes snapped around to meet his, the ever present glaze within them hardening a little bit more. He walked right up to where his charge stood silently, gaze averted respectfully to the floor after initial eye contact.

“ That was very good, child. Your skill increases admirably more and more each day.”

A barely spoken murmur of, “ Thank you father,” greeted his ears.

His smile broadened.

“ I think, that as a reward, we should do something special. What do you say?”

“ You know best father.”

“ True. But since you’re doing so marvelously well these days… what do you want to do? Look up, child.”

He studied his carefully groomed apprentice carefully, paying extra attention to the dark eyes that raised to meet his. They flickered with scrutiny for an instant before the dark depths faded back to their usual blank expression.

“ I should like to…” A blink. A sudden look of confusion passed over the features of the teenager. “ paint. I should like to paint, father.”

“ Paint.” He repeated, peering very hard at his young companion. “ This… would make you happy?”

A furrowed brow was his answer. “ Happy?” The word was repeated tentatively, as if it were foreign and had never been tried out before. “ I…I do not understand.”

No, you wouldn’t, would you? He questioned silently, green eyes narrowed in thought. I have made sure you will never understand that concept.

“ Would this please you, child?” He asked coaxingly, injecting pleasantness into his tone.

The dark eyes watching him carefully brightened a little, the glaze disappearing just a bit.

“ Yes.”

“ Then in that case, we shall go hunting. Be ready in fifteen minutes.”

He stayed only to watch the light go out abruptly, and a small wince indicated that he had achieved his daily goal of crushing more of his protégé’s spirit. He turned and walked away, the satisfied smile seemingly painted to his lips for the day. He didn’t need to stay to know that the empty, hollow look had reappeared in her eyes. Or to know that he had further obliterated any chance of her knowing even the smallest bit of happiness.

And if I have my way, you never will, Alison. Not you……or your sister.


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

Maria walked through the quad, scanning the faces at the tables and those of the people coming out of the cafeteria as she went. Where were they? Max and Liz had virtually dropped off the face of the planet and this was the second time she was looking in the quad. Michael was currently within the school searching and Isabel was… Maria turned and found her friend chattering away with some girls…Socializing while I do all the work, she finished her thought.

“ Izzy!” She called.

Isabel glanced up and gave her an apologetic smile. She waved goodbye to the other girls and made her way to Maria.

“ Any luck?”

“ Nope. You don’t think she’s got Liz locked up somewhere do you?” Maria asked worriedly.

Isabel frowned. “ I hope not. None of the other girls have seen Tess or Liz. Or Max, for that matter. And I swear, if I hear another drooling session about how great a kisser my brother is supposed to be, I’m going to scream. I mean, HELLO? Don’t any of these Max worshippers get it? I’m his SISTER. His twin. This automatically puts me in I-don’t-want-to-hear-it land when the topic is about max and kissing. In fact, I’ve heard more about that than I ever wanted to know. I may be sick.”

Maria gave her a reassuring smile as they continued to walk through the crowded quad, appreciative looks being cast at the both of them. Any and all guys staring at Maria were taking a risk though. Michael was known to be extremely possessive and it was safe to say that all the guys treated Maria with the utmost respect or else they would have him to deal with. And it wouldn’t be pretty. “ Deal, Isabel. Like or not, Max is definitely considered a hottie around here and I suggest you invest in ear plugs if you want to make it through the day.”

Isabel groaned. “ Don’t you start too! I wish Alex were here. He’d make mincemeat of all these… emotional moments everyone seems to be having in no time with all those bad jokes of his.”

Maria cocked an eyebrow at her. “ Did you actually just ask for all those corny jokes Alex makes? You really must miss him!” Maria let a puzzled look claim her face. “ Hey, wait a second. Why isn’t he here yet? I thought you said he was arriving today.”

“ Flight got cancelled. If he’s lucky, he’ll be here by the end of week. I can’t wait.”

“ Neither can I. We need our lead guitarist back! But you know, I’ve witnessed something I never thought possible.” Maria said, a teasing light in her blue eyes.

“ What’s that?” Isabel asked distractedly, putting on her best ‘Ice Princess’ mask together with an I’m-in-no-mood-to-talk attitude.

“ You and Alex actually surviving without each other.”

Isabel blanched and stared at Maria. “ And what makes that so impossible?”

Maria rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “ Oh come on, Izzy. You two are practically joined at the hip. You hogged the eraser room so much, Michael and I barely even managed to snag some time in there,”

“ We are not that bad. You and Michael are worse! We were the ones who found you two in the library stuck to each other’s faces remember and if I recall correctly, one of you was in nothing more than a bathing suit?”

Isabel smiled smugly when Maria’s face went red. Aha! That should do it.

“ You just had to mention that, didn’t you?” Maria said, still flushed. “ We actually had no choice in that matter. The eraser room was LOCKED and I distinctly remember seeing you and Alex going in earlier.”

“ Right,” Isabel said, eyeing Maria knowingly. Suddenly, a peculiar thought made it’s way into her mind. All the talk about the eraser room made her wonder if Max and Liz were… Her eyes widened and she met Maria’s own wide blue eyes.

“ You don’t think…” Isabel began.

At the same time Maria said, “ They couldn’t be…” A grin appeared on her face. “ Actually they could. Wanna go see?”

Isabel gave her a distressed look. “ Maria, bursting into a room where my brother is most likely making out in right now is not my idea of a good day at school. I’ve suffered enough with all the drooling sessions.”

Maria just laughed and grabbed her hand, dragging her towards the school. “ So cover your eyes!”

Isabel groaned and wondered the same thing she always did when Maria dragged her into potentially embarrassing and explosive situations. How do I let her get me into these things? And like all the other times, Isabel received what she always got. Silence.