posted on 14-Sep-2001 2:34:11 PM
Title: Chasing Max
Author: Jamie
Email: teddybehr2001⊕yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Don't own nothing.
Rating: R (language, sexual content, whatever R is for)
Summary: Max Liz and co. all live in a NJ town. They go on a quest to find
a filmmaker and end up finding each other. No aliens.
Author's Note: Hey. it's me. Don't worry, for all of the "there's only us"
readers, I am thinking about the sequel and formulating it in my
head. This idea I just had to get out first. Please, leave feedback to let me
know if this is worth continuing. Thanks.

PART 1

Liz's point of view

So, after 17 years of self-reflection, I have come to the conclusion that I
am sincerely fucked up. No, really, I am. Yes, that’s me. Fucked up Liz
Parker.

I’ve been living in Red Bank, NJ my entire life. It’s kind of boring.

Never heard of it? You know that director dude Kevin Smith? Yeah, he
lives here. He shot that movie Chasing Amy here. Yup, that’s my claim to fame.

It’s one of those really cozy small towns where people like to come down
during the weekend and just walk around. Musical festivals and all that shit.

Yup, that’s where I live.

My friend Max, he wants to be the next Kevin Smith.

Basically, he’s his idol.

He hangs out in his infamous comic book store, carries around a video camera
at all times, and even stakes out the Count Basie Theater hoping to get a
glimpse of Kevin. Supposedly, he was an actor here. Let me point out the
operative word here is WAS. Max still doesn't seem to get that.

See that’s what I’m doing here. Max is making me try out here.

I really don’t get it. I can’t act for my life. If he wants to see Kevin
Smith, let HIM try out.

But Max says he’s more of a behind the scenes type of guy, whatever.

In fact I hate being the center of attention or even in the spotlight.

Max and I aren’t even that close. I mean, I know his friend Alex and
that’s about it.

Max says I look the part of a leading lady.

Yeah, OK. Riiiiiight.

That makes A WHOLE lot of sense.

What play am I trying out for anyway? See, that’s funny, I don’t even know.

Max is pushing me on the shoulder. I don’t want to be pushed.

I really want to whip around, tell him off, throw the script in his face,
and walk out.

Go to that place where you can make your own ceramics. Therapeutic stuff I
tell ya, yeah whatever.

See that’s what Red Bank is made of.

What I really want to do is go live in the city after I graduate. THE
REAL CITY, as in NYC. You know, where the real shit happens.

I want to live there instead of some dinky NJ town where people over 40 like
to walk around.

How could Kevin Smith even LIVE here?

I mean, really, dude, it’s not that interesting.

Red. Bank.

It’s the bank of a river and some shops.

Max thinks he’s going to make his movie here.

Again, he wants to be Kevin Smith.

He watches Clerks constantly. So Alex tells me.

Really I don’t know him that well.

Why would I want to know him? He’s actually kinda...well...quirky.

Nothing against quirky, Maria’s quirky.

Speaking of which he could ASK HER to audition, she’s the drama queen.
And she's quite good at it, actually.

This is so stupid. I mean, come on, the likelihood of Kevin Smith coming
back and not only that, we could stalk the theater without me making a fool
out of myself.

Hey, it’s my turn? Yup, that’s really funny.

Max is looking at me weird.

Why am I talking about Max? Really I shouldn’t care.

Despite the fact that he is every girl’s dream, mysterious, incredibly talented. Sure, he’s got an obsession with Kevin Smith, but we all have obsessions. I have one on a grade B TV show with aliens. Yeah, me, go figure. I told you I was fucked up.

You know what, I’m just going to tell Max that I’m not going to do this. I
am going to just walk out.

“Max, hi. I know you are incredibly hot and asked me to do this for you, but
I can’t.’

Yeah, that’ll go over well. The whole, having to look into his deep amber
eyes thing wouldn’t work.

You see, Alex is my best friend in the whole world. We grew up together;
we know absolutely everything about each other. Max moved here two years ago,
Alex and him became friends. See, Alex is into photography and cinematography.
So when they met in film class, they sort of hit it off. Max is the director,
and Alex is the camera guy.

Alex is more of a Spielberg guy. It gets really annoying when they
start debating independent versus big budget filmmaking.

I never really talked to Max. I was always too shy or afraid to talk to
Max. He's hot, and I stumble on my words. Which is exactly why I don't want to
be doing an audition a) because again, I hate this and b) Max is here watching.

The only tie we had to each other was Alex. And they were usually off
doing film stuff while I was with Maria, trying to figure out what to do to
have fun in this miserable excuse of a town. But I have to say, it beats other
towns in New Jersey, so I guess I’m kinda lucky.

Then all of a sudden he comes up and asks me to do this favor. Considering he is like best friends with Maria, had her be an actress in countless of
their short films, you would think he would ask HER.

But maybe he just likes to embarrass fucked up Liz Parker. It's not the first time a guy has.

PART 2

So I didn’t get the part. Big surprise. Were you surprised? I wasn’t.
There, great minds think alike.

You know, I was waiting for Max to be really pissed off at me because of what actually happened, but his reaction completely surprised me.

Please don’t make me explain this.
Ok, you really want the excruciating embarrassing details? Fine, here we go.

“Miss Parker? Miss Parker? HELL-O!” A bald man in his forties with a lisp and a very shall I say...err...VIBRANT blue and purple button down shirt with little ruffles at the end of the sleeves and tinted purple sunglasses is yelling at me.

I am trying to bite back the laugh. I really am. Hey, did you get that outfit at the Girl Props store? Don’t know what Girl Props is? It’s a store that sells, boas, and...other things. A lot of edible and flavored things, and you really don’t need me to elaborate, do you?

I’ve been standing here in silence crumpling up my script paper for about ten minutes. The bald guy’s head is starting to turn beat red. I think I’m starting to see some steam coming out from...

“Why do I get the feeling this girl is just NOT theater material?” he waves his hand around, it looks like his hand will snap right off of his wrist.

“It took you that long to notice?” I murmur. He hears me. He looks at me funny, can’t tell if he’s mad or not.

I look over at Max; he has a blank statement on his face.

Oh no, he’s going to be pissed at me. Fuck. How could I mess my opportunity with him up?

Wait? What am I thinking? What opportunity? There. Is. No. opportunity.
Look back at the page, Liz, back at the script.

It’s wet from my sweat and crumpled into a million pieces. I squint my eyes to look at the first line.

“I...I...want.” I begin to say my line.

“OUT!” The bald man pushes me out the door, Max in toe. Was it the “want” that sent him over the edge or the stuttering 'I’s?

Ok, so now we’re out on the street. I’m looking at my shoes, avoiding all eye contact. They are amazingly white considering when I bought them. How do I keep them so clean? Really, I have a gift with that. I should...hold a seminar on how to keep clean sneakers. Yeah, a good productive thing to do with my life, considering I have absolutely no idea what gives my life purpose.

I can feel Max’s eyes on me. I’m ready for him to just yell at me any minute now. Scream every curse from Shit to Fuck and back again in my face and then walk off. But he’s quiet, too quiet. I finally get the courage. Liz, look him in the eyes.

BAAAAAAAAAAAD idea.

I hold his gaze for a minute. It’s really amazing how a pair of eyes can pull you in so easily...

Shut the fuck up Parker, just shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Then all of a sudden I see Max Evans, the one and only, solemn, introverted, always serious Max Evans do what I never thought was possible.

He began hysterically laughing.

And I don’t mean a little chuckle here and there, I mean, out on the floor, rolling on it, let me pee in my pants and then even add the tears in my eyes laughing.

He’s laughing at me. He’s. laughing. AT ME.

Should I be flattered or pissed? Ok, I was bad. REALLY REALLY BAD. I knew that before coming here. And the whole fact that I stood there like a deer caught in headlights didn’t help. I must have looked ridiculous in that
audition.

“What?” I give him a cold stare. I am really laughing inside, just watching him laugh. His eyes light up. As if the amber flexes couldn’t light up
anymore, aha! They can! Maybe I could start some scientific research on it or
something.

“When you said you were bad,” he escapes during laughs and wipes the tears from his eyes. “You weren’t kidding.”

“Shutup.” I slap him on the arm and can’t resist the urge to laugh myself.
I think it was the image of the director that sent me over.

So now, we’re both sitting at the curb and people are passing us by and staring at us cause we are laughing so hard.

I can’t breathe and my stomach hurts I’m laughing so much. I let out a snort.
“Nice job there, Pewee,” he says to me.
Max stares at me and bursts out laughing even harder, and then he snorts.

“A ha! Did I just hear...a snort?” I point at him with my eyes wide and I start laughing harder. “And by the way, I don’t think you have any right to
call ME pewee, I know about the incident with you in the eraser room, by yourself...”

He gives me a petrified look. “You don’t... uh...I...I...I wasn’t alone.”

“I was KIDDING! Jeez, a little paranoid much? Or is there something you SHOULD tell me?”

I am crying now from laughing, we both are. It’s actually kind of funny, how we must look like this.

Which made us both laugh harder.

“And that guy, WHAT was he wearing?” I manage to get out. Max looks at me really seriously.

“What? I have the same outfit. It brings out my skin tone.” He says it
pointblank. He really could be the actor. He should have auditioned. The delivery was perfect.

I burst out laughing again. Wow, even though we barely said anything, I think this was the best conversation we ever had. I think we bonded over this.

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

*********

“No. no. fucking. Way. Maria, that just can’t happen. We have to hold protest. Sign petitions. DO SOMETHING!”

Max and Alex exchange looks and try to hold their laughter. I stare them
pointblank.

Ever since my little theatrical debut the four of us have been hanging out
nonstop.

I don’t see why Max had to have me try out, despite the fact he wanted to embarrass me, but my parents always get tickets to Count Basie to see plays and I usually go, so if he really wanted to see Kevin or stake the place out,
we could go. Wait? Am I proposing a date? I AM SO not proposing a date. That would just be bad. Who asks each other out on a “date” anyway anymore?
Obviously no one I know.

Ok, back to conversation. Yes, so I like plays. WATCHING them. Not performing in them.

Yes I am a cultured person. I enjoy culture. Where do you think I get my amazing wit? No, it doesn't grow on trees.

“We...we could start an Internet campaign!” Maria sniffs her cedar oil and I can just see the ideas bubbling in her head.

“Aren’t you guys going a little extreme? You don’t think this is going overboard?” Max asks.

Maria looks at me; I am waiting in anticipation for her rebuttal because I have NO IDEA how she is going to respond. But that’s Maria, and it’s always intriguing.

She puts her hands on the table and leans over to Max and says

“Ok, Maxie boy,” she shags up his hair, so his bangs that are usually on his forehead and now a little messy.

He. Looks. So. Fuckin. Sexy. Right. Now.
Can I rape him? Please. Pweety Pweety Pweety Pwease?

Get a hold of yourself Parker.

Here comes his annoyed look as his eyes drift upward to look at his forehead.

Did I say sexy? Did I define sexy? Because, a picture, of this, right now, is the epitome of sexy. And no, I’m not talking about my hot bod. (yes I am being sarcastic) I am talking about the one and only Max “I wanna be a filmmaker” Evans.

“How would YOU like it if Kevin Smith had Justin Timberlake in HIS movie?”
She pats him on the cheek with her hand. I am actually getting jealous. I shouldn’t be. Maria and him are like bro and sis.

I have no claim on Max Evans. I don’t even like Max Evans.

“He’d throw a fit and do everything in his power, plus burn all of his Kevin Smith movies and anything with Justin on it in effigy,” Alex says before popping in a fry in his mouth.

I am smiling because I am amused. I only smile when Max is around. Is that
bad?

“Exactly. Well, they just can’t make a movie of Rent and have Justin as Mark. They just can’t.” Maria shrugs her shoulders and sits back and crosses her arms.

Max looks at me like he can’t believe I am so interested in a Broadway musical. I don't act/look like the usual Broadway musical lovin’ type.

“What? I don’t like performing, but I like watching.” I look down and sip my soda.

“Why Parker...so you like to watch, huh?” Alex wiggles his eyebrows.

I spit out my soda all over Max. Oh god. Good thing he's laughing.

“Say it don't spray it Parker...” Max adds.

I blush and I hand him a napkin.

Maria jumps in and says what I really want to kill her for. “Her parents always get ticket offerings at Basie.” Basie is my little nickname for Count Basie, since I am there so much. Maria sort of adopted it. She is my theater going buddy. Why do I have a feeling that that is going to change?

Max’s eyes light up. He looks at me.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“I...I...dunno?”

Yeah, parker that sounds real intelligent. Sure, Max will go to Basie with Maria while I’m stranded at home. I can just see it now.

“Oh no Max, what are you thinking now?” Alex groans, looks at him and sighs deeply.

Why do I get a feeling that something is going to be happening?

PART 3

“You seriously want to do THAT for your birthday?” I look over at Max as I’m talking on my cell phone. I drag it from my ear as I can just anticipate the squealing and screaming Maria in response.

“YES!!!!!” I hear over the phone and static. Yeah I was right. Note to self: get earplugs. If my ears are ringing now, is that a bad sign?

“Fiiiiiine. I guess we’ll just have to do what you want, considering it’s your birthday and all.” I let out an exasperated sigh.

“Thanks chica.”

“You really want to go to a Time to Kiln for your birthday? Really? I thought we would hit improv tonight. This doesn’t by any chance have to do with the fact that Michael Guerrin works there does it?”

A Time to Kiln, it's that shop where you make your own ceramics. I told you about that. Maria wants us to go. Yeah, ok.

“No.” I hear her mumble.

“Wait, what did you say? I couldn’t hear you,” I playfully add into the
phone.

At this point, Max finishes his ice cream cone (and he looked incredibly sexy licking it with his luscious tongue...ok Parker...you really have to stop
these porno fantasies, really) and grabs the phone out of my hand.

“Maria, don’t lie to me because I know that’s the only reason you want to go. We’ll meet you there, and I am not going to leave until you get some lovin’.”He closes the phone and smirks at me.

Talk about a guy who knows how to put his foot down. Hey, over here, can I get some lovin’? Yeah, short, sometimes cute brunette right in front of you could really use some lovin. Wow. He has ice cream on his lip. Can I lick it
off?

Bad Parker, Bad. Too much late night Cinemax.

Note to self: Remember to watch Church channel. Hey, it knows how to kill the mood.

So you are probably wondering what the whole big thing with Maria and Michael Guerrin is. Well, Michael is the bad ass, the loner, the wallflower, you pick it and he’s pretty much the complete opposite from her. Ever since middle school and their “one time kiss” she’s had this quest to seduce him, it has failed miserably to date. Considering it’s the summer before our senior
year, I think she realizes time is running out. Hence, we are going to a Time to Kiln to celebrate her birthday today. Alex can’t make it; he has to visit his dad. His parents are divorced and he’s up in the city all week. Lucky guy.

Yeah, shops in Red Bank have cheesy names like that.

We pass by the infamous comic book shop. Max has to stop. We always stop. Everyday. I think he should just get a job there.

We’ve been hanging out a lot alone lately. Don’t ask me why. We stake out Basie once in a while. Just to laugh at the director. He wore pink yesterday.
Good color.

We walk through the doors, and I see Max take a deep breath in. He always does. He has the cutest statement on his face right now. Pure awe, like a kid in a candy store. Yeah, I know that was a really trite cliché, but hey, I
can’t be witty and original 24-7.

They keep props from Kevin’s movies in here. Max walks over and traces them lightly with his fingertips afraid he’s going to ruin it. He always says the same thing.

“Can you believe that--” He starts. I finish for him because I know what
he’s going to say.

“--Kevin touched this.” He looks at me, blushes, a very cute adorable
blush might I add, and then smiles. I shake my head at him. He’s so passionate
and motivated. Ok I have to stop this shit. I sound like I’m describing a pet.

Sometimes I wonder if he has a crush on Kevin Smith. Because, Max is too perfect. He can’t be straight because that would be too good. But based on the stories he’s told me, he definitely isn’t gay.

Yeah, he tells me his girl troubles, past experiences. Past SEXUAL experiences. Does it bother me? No, no why would it bother me?

Oh right. Sarcasm again. I have to stop doing that. I give people
this impression I’m this bitch. Oh well.

So I go up to the counter, Max’s mouth is wide open. He can’t believe
I’m approaching “the counter.” And I do what Max wants to, but he doesn’t
have the balls to do. He’s too damn cute.

I take the help wanted sign off the window, ask them for an application
and hand it over to Max as we leave the store. He still hasn’t said anything.
It’s really hot outside. Probably like 90 degrees or something. Max
isn’t helping.

He thanks me and then he starts conversation as we start walking.

“So, now that you know what my dreams are, what are yours?” he looks over at me and I shrug.

“No fuckin clue, huh?” he asks me.

“Nada.” I reply.

Then he puts his arm around my shoulder and pulls me into his side and
says” Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.” I rest my head on his shoulder.

You know it is really hot outside, but I don’t care. It feels so great in his arms.

Wait, did he just say we? As in us?

Yeah, if you haven’t noticed, I tend to overanalyze.

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

We get to A Time to Kiln and there is no sight of Maria. I ask the girl
behind the register and she says she saw her and Michael go into the back.
“The. Back.” Woohoo, go Maria.

I look over at Max and he shrugs. “We might as well stay. We’re here already, aren’t we?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Ok as I’m rubbing my hands against the mud, I keep on imagining that scene
in “Ghost.” Me in the Demi Moore role and Max as Patrick Swayze. I really
have to stop that. And I really have to stop looking at Max like I’m about to devour him any second.

I stare back at mine and frown to realize it is completely slumped over.
It doesn’t even look like anything.

Wait, I tilt my head to the side. It looks like, a lopsided,

“What, Parker, can’t get it at home? All you need is some batteries.”

Max starts laughing and I look up and slap him on the arm, splatting some mud on it. He’s so sick. But what’s funny is that I thought the same exact
thing.

After we stop laughing, Max eyes his arm and notices the mud.

“Sorry.” I say softly. As I dip my bottom lip to the side nervously.

“It’s ok.” He says before grabbing my wrist, taking some mud and tracing my nose with it. Then he puts a handprint of mud on each cheek. I’m giggling.
I grab mud in my hand and massage it into his hair a little.

“Oh no you don’t,” He is about to put it right on the top of my head when
the owner comes out and starts yelling at us. We both turn back quickly and stiffly, look at each other, start laughing, and begin again on our
ceramics.

I look defeated at my lump and he notices. He comes over and guides my hands.

Ok it has just risen a couple of degrees in here. His fingers are interweaving with mine. He moves so he’s standing directly behind me. I press
my back against him and relax.

Did I just sigh? No. That was so NOT a sigh. I’m not the “sighing” type of girl. I’m. just. Not.

Ok Liz can’t relax. Max Evans is standing directly behind me. Yo Max, is
that film in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

No, that’s so not it. I did not just make Max, that’s ridiculous. Completely and utterly ridiculous.

I lean over to look at my ceramic, its actually forming some shape. I smile triumphantly as I turn to look at him, to notice him soulfully gazing at
me. A deep stare. A stare I’ve felt on me for a while.

I look down and hair falls in front of my face. He takes his dried muddy hand and brushes the strand back from my face.

Breathe, Liz, Breathe.

Suddenly I don’t feel the compel to breathe is mandatory. But that
doesn’t matter, because as soon as I feel like I’m about to fall over, Max
steadies me and kisses me.

PART 4
Liz’s point of view

Ok, so I looked up the definition of peck in the dictionary. A light quick kiss. Not that I don’t know what it means.

Well, now I’m sort of confused, because what Max and I did could constitute as
a peck, but not a brotherly peck that’s for sure.

So, if you really want the details, there was no tongue. I know what
you’re thinking. Yeah, I’m perverted too. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

It was actually very sweet. Very innocent. Very Max. Damn it, I’m
sighing again.

He cradled my face, stroked my cheek, and gently caressed my lips with
his. Tentatively, passively, like I was this precious jewel. I felt valuable.
I have never felt so valuable.

It was anything but light in my mind, and it felt anything but quick.

After it was over, we both pulled back and looked at each other. Then we both looked away. Then I left because the awkward silence and the tension between us were way too thick.

I have to go back next week to pick up my ceramic and then paint it. I already checked the calendar they have for customers, Max is going tomorrow. I left before we could really say anything.

As for Maria, she said they just talked. I think something happened, but she’s not telling me.

Funny thing is, after an hour, Max called me and we both act like it never happened. I’m not really upset though, I don’t think Max and I were meant to be anything serious anyway.

He’s bringing a video over. And no matter how much I want to, I am NOT going
to stress over what I’m going to wear. I won’t. Its just Max.

So, red or blue? Damn it. I want to kill myself.

*****************
Max’s point of view

Ok, I screwed up big time. Hey, Max Evans here. Royal idiot. Reporting for duty.

So, I kissed Liz. I really shouldn’t have. It was just the moment, and the way she looked. Yeah, even in mud she looks hot.

I don’t think of her that way though. I don’t. She’s Alex’s best friend, the girl I lusted over in fifth grade, but that ended right when we went to
Junior High.

She’s the valedictorian, the witty, the too-good-for-any-Red-Bank-townie Liz Parker.

She needs a guy that is sophisticated, that treats her right, that values her, and that certainly isn’t me.

I feel kind of bad. It got really awkward after it. She left. I wouldn’t blame her either. The last thing I want to do is lead her on.

Wow. That sounded really conceited. Score more points for the royal conceited
idiot.

She is not interested. She left. She was the one that had the horrified look on her face after it happened. I called her an hour later. We laughed it off. We’re close again.

It’s all good.

I’m bringing over the perfect peace offering. “Chasing Amy.” Classic Kevin Smith movie, and I know it’s one of her favorites.

*****************************************
Liz’s point of view

I plop down on my stomach on my bed, and grab some popcorn and pop it in my mouth after smiling at Max. My knees are bent so my feet are in the air and
I pull the bowl away from Max as a joke before surrendering when he looks at me defeated and very hungry. He pops the popcorn in his mouth and we continue
to watch the movie.

I don’t why, I get very fidgety when watching movies.

“Ow.” He says.

I just kicked him with my foot.

“Sorry.”

An hour later, my legs are tangled up with his and we both don’t seem to care.

“I’m just curious, why is this your favorite Kevin Smith movie?” he asks me.
“I mean, there are the other classics like Clerks and Mallrats. Why this one?
I mean if you want the whole chick flick aspect, in Mallrats the couple is together and happy in the end.”

Ah. So he wants to challenge my Kevin Smith devotion. I give him my honest answer.

“Because in this movie, love has no limitations. No labels. No boundaries. Holden and Alyssa love each other and no matter what, not even the ending can hide that.” I look down and take another piece of popcorn.

“No limitations?” he raises his eyebrow at me. “Hey, I wouldn’t mind seeing you and Maria,”

“Eeeeeew!” I slap his arm. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I know.” He says smiling at me. We turn back to the movie.

There’s a long silence as I get up to shut the VCR off.

“So, I thought I could ask your advice about something?” I turn to him.

“Ok. Shoot.” I love it when he asks me for advice. At this moment, I haven’t felt closer to Max, even if it is strictly platonic. And I love it, amazingly enough. I wouldn’t trade our friendship for a hundred kisses. He confides in me. And I treasure that more than anything. And if we were together, I might lose what we have now.

Ok, I’m really going soft. I have to get therapy. And fast.

“It’s about a girl.”

“Oh.” I nod my head. “In all honesty, I don’t see where you could use my
help. You seem pretty Ok there, lover boy.”

He definitely does not go unnoticed by the ladies.

“No, really. I need your help. I’m trying to win this girl over and she will just not respond to me. I’m thinking of getting her roses, what do you think?” he scratches his head and looks up at me.

“Roses?” I roll my eyes. “So typical. You wanna know the truth Max?”

He nods.

“Some girls would much rather like hand picked daisies than roses.”

“Really?”

“Yup. At least for me. So who’s the girl?”

“Serena.”

Serena. Don’t blame him. She’s not a blond. He scores points for that. I hate it when guys go for the blonds like Isabel Guerrin. I hate that girl. She is so superficial. So fake. Very shallow, just like the depth of her
intelligence.

Serena has auburn hair and is absolutely gorgeous. Sweet girl. Nice girl.
I can’t hate her.

Couldn’t she just be a bitch? She would make my life a whole lot easier.

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

I get out my order pad and I lift up my head as I hear the bell ring on the door to my parent’s restaurant. I smile. It’s Maria, Alex, Max and, Serena.

Ok I can do this. I really can.

My parents own this seafood restaurant in town. I work there. It’s not the most respectable place to work but it pays and I need money. I strode over to their table.

“Ok, so what do you want?” I say exhausted as I open my pad and look at them, as I’m about to write.

“Well, that is not proper service is it?” Max says to me sarcastically.

“Aww Maxie,” I lean over and I grab his chin in my hand. “If I gave you proper service you wouldn’t be able to walk,” I wiggle my eyebrows as I here
a “Dang” from Alex and a laugh from Maria. “Mwah.” I gave him a kiss on the cheek and then say “Just ask Alex.” I wink in Alex’s direction and Max opens his mouth to say something as he looks from me to Alex to me again but then
shuts it. Serena shakes her head in amusement and then grabs Max’s hand.

Does she feel threatened by me, that's really funny.

In all honesty, I haven’t seen Max this happy in a while, and you know what Aim going to be happy for him. Not like I had a chance with him anyway.

“Liz?” I turn around to see Serena standing there.

“Yeah?”

“Can we talk?”

“Sure.”

I lead her up to our apartment above the restaurant, to my balcony connected to my room. She’s fidgeting with her hands and I don’t know why she wants to talk to me. If she is going to give me one of those “Stay away from my man” speeches I’m just going to have to kick her ass.

Max isn’t a possession and sure as hell shouldn’t be perceived as one. And it’s not like I’m going after him anyway.

“What’s up?” I sit down on my lawn chair and look up at her.

“Um, It’s about Max.”

Yeah, so now I’m Liz Parker, date consultant. All of a sudden I am the one wise on everything involving love.

It’s very interesting, you know. Considering I have never had a boyfriend, and am usually the invisible one when it comes to guys. The girl next door.
The seafood waitress. Max’s best friend.

Whoa. Where did that come from? We’re close. I wouldn’t consider us best friends. Alex is my best friend. Maria is my best friend. Max is,

Ugh. I don’t know what he is. Back to reality.

“What about Max?” I ask her.

She sits down and sighs. “It’s just, we haven’t, we haven’t done anything.”

Three words: Too. Much. Information.

“Uh, excuse me? Why are you talking to me about this?”

“Well, you know Max.”

“Yeah, I do. So does Maria, his best friend. You could probably be better off asking her about this.” I start to stand up and walk away.

“Liz! Wait!” I turn. I look at her. “They say you know Max better than anybody. Please. Just help me.”

They say I know him better than anybody? It’s true, we have been hanging out, we have been getting close and I have realized there’s more to him than an obsessed Kevin Smith fan. He does seem to open up to me more.

I sigh. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. This is for Max, right? Yeah, It’s for Max. I sit down.

It actually does surprise me. They’ve been together for two weeks and nothing. I mean, from what he's told me before about his previous relationships, he usually doesn't wait too long to kiss a girl. And he still didn't wait long with me, and we're not even anything. We're just... why am I overanalyzing this?

“So not even a kiss?” I look over at her.

She stares at me blankly. “Not even a PECK.”

I smile a little and giggle a little thinking about peck. But I quickly stop when she eyes me warily.

“You don’t think, that Max is,” She starts.

“Gay? No. Max is definitely not gay.”

“Then am I just not pretty enough or something?”

“No. Max just is what most guys aren’t our age. Respectful and a gentleman. Most girls would kill for that.”

“Yeah I know.”

“Believe me, Max thinks your gorgeous.”

“Really? Ya think so?”

“I know so.”

“Thanks Liz.”

“For what?”

“For being such a great friend. To Max. To me.”

“Sure, no problem.”

Why do I have to be so damn nice?

We both head back downstairs and Max is eyeing us curiously. I smile at him and Serena sits back down. He looks at me confused. Then after ten minutes, he comes in the back because the curiosity is just killing him inside.

What he doesn’t know is that I’m getting dressed.

***********************************************
Max’s point of view

“Liz, what did you and Serena,”

Liz. Skin. Black Bra. Tiny waist. Long, flowing hair. god, I love her hair. I’ve always had a thing for her hair.

Liz in black bra. Liz in black bra.

Do I need to repeat it?

“Uh, sorry,” I turn around abruptly shutting my eyes and cursing myself for coming in the back without knocking. So is this how Maria ran into Michael? Undressing? In “the back?”

“It’s Ok.” She says with a laugh. I am surprised she’s so comfortable for me those her like this. “You can turn around again.” She says.

I turn around and refuse to look at her in the eye.

“Max, I know this isn’t the first time you’ve seen a girl in a bra before.”
She pats me on the back and is going over to her locker to retrieve her makeup from her bag.

She walks over to the mirror and starts applying it. She doesn’t need it.
She looks fine the way she is.

“Going someplace tonight?” I say nonchalantly. She looks at me.

“Yes, Dad. By the way didn’t you want to ask me something?”

“Um,” For some reason I can’t remember what I was going to say because she looks so goddamn perfect. Like a goddess. Absolutely enchanting.

My breath catches in my throat. “You look amazing.”

She pats me on the shoulder and says “Aw, thanks.”

Aw, thanks? Aw, thanks?! Yeah, I’m glad that peck was just a peck. Or else I would make a fool out of myself.

“So, where you headed?” I turn, as she is about to leave through the door.
She’s wearing a skirt and a black top. She pulls on her cardigan.

“Well, it might sound unbelievable to you, but yes, Liz Parker has a date.”

PART 5 A

Alex’s point of view

“Hey you ready to go?”

Max starts laughing. Why is Max laughing?

“This is funny guys, real funny. Ok, you got me there for a second, you really did,” he is slapping his knee and trying to catch his breath. Liz and I are sharing a confused glare.

“Max, we aren’t joking,” Liz tries to explain.

“So, let me get this straight.” He turns to her. “You, and Alex, are going out, as in a date?”

“Yeah, I don’t see what’s so fucking funny about it.” I chime in. I really don’t and Max is really starting to piss me off.

I’ve only had a crush on Liz since forever, I finally asked her out, she said yes, and he pulls this shit.

He lost his chance. It is blatantly obvious, even to me, that Liz has it
bad for him, even though she doesn’t ever say it. He doesn’t even notice her.
Not the way I do.

“Whoa.” Max adds as he reacts to my comment and my statement. He looks from me to Liz to me again. “So you guys, aren’t, kidding.”

Liz shakes her head no and stares at the floor. Is she ashamed of me or something? What? I’m good enough to be her friend, but as nothing more?
That is sure as hell what Max is implying.

“Boy do I feel like an asshole,” Max says after he gulps.

“Yeah I could say that,” I begin to say and step forward with a clenched fist. Usually, I’m the cool collected Whitman, but now, now I want to punch Max’s face in. Why? I can’t decide whether he’s laughing that Liz is going out on a date with me or that he’s laughing that Liz is going out on a date at
all.

“Let’s just go,” and before I have a chance to do what I want to, Liz is holding my hand and dragging me out of the restaurant.


******************************
Liz’s point of view
I reach my room and I’m exhausted. I had fun tonight. I always have fun with Alex.

We went to improv. I put my keys on my night stand and start to giggle as I relive in my mind how they pulled up Alex and made him act like a monkey.

The kid just cracks me up. I giggle. I usually don’t giggle, but its Alex, making monkey sounds, so I have to.

I’m about to change and pull of my shirt when I notice Max sitting outside on my balcony.

Ok, what is he doing here? Didn’t he have plans with Serena tonight?

“So how was your date?” he asks me.

Is he ok? He looks a little drunk.

“Max, are you drunk?”

“No.” he burps.

“Charming. Really.”

“I try. You didn’t answer my question.”

“Do I need to?”

I really don’t want to talk about my date with Alex with Max. Liz getting weird vibes right about now.

“Well, fiiiiiiiiiine then.” He begins to try to stand up and I can tell
he’s having trouble. He’s swaying from side to side.

“Do you wanna crash here tonight? I don’t think you are going to be able to
get home and you sure as hell shouldn’t drive.”

He looks at me defeated and sighs as he climbs through my window. I go to my closet and get out my spare sleeping bag when I turn to find:

a) Max sleeping on my bed. Did I mention it was my bed? The royal
prince here just decides to take it? Uh uh. No fucking way. It’s my bed and I
sure as hell am going to sleep on it tonight.

b) Max SHIRTLESS sleeping on my bed. Did I also mention what Max LOOKS
like shirtless? Yeah, can we say Greek god?

I put on some pants and a tank top and get into my bed. Max shifts and pulls his arms around me, pulling me into his arms. He feels so great. I tuck my head right below his chin. I start drifting off like this is normal.
O,K.Hellllllllllllllo Max!

************************************
Max’s point of view

Gah. Light. Hate light.

I pull my arm over my eyes to cover them from the sunlight streaming into her room. That’s when I notice the bed is empty besides me. I sit up quickly, and then hold my head after that because it’s throbbing like hell.

“Hey sleepy head,” Liz says as she sits on her window seat, drinking her mug of coffee.

The light hits her face in such a way that it brightens her, makes her even more beautiful than she usually is.

Woops, I think that’s the hangover talking.

Coffee. Must. Have. Coffee.

I walk over to her and grab her mug and take a long sip, before wiping my mouth with my arm.

She gives me a closed smile, like she’s confused or something. I take this ashy cue to leave.

“I’m think I’m just gonna,go. Thanks for letting me crash.”

“Sure.”

And I’m out the window, like this is normal.

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

Liz’s point of view

This is actually quite amusing. Here I am, sitting at a table with Alex and Max.

If you tried to measure the testosterone in the air right now, you could probably make some type of weapon of egotistical and macho destruction.

They haven’t said anything; they are just staring at each other. I think this has something to do with the movie they are shooting.

Alex wants to shoot a scene a certain way, but Max won’t let him or something. Don’t ask me, I’m just the supportive friend who gives their opinion once it’s finished.

I decide now would be the perfect time to talk to Maria. Yeah. It looks like they are about to kill each other.

I walk in the back of the restaurant where Maria is working.

“Hey Ria.”

She has a couple of plates in her hands and she’s not answering me.

“Ria?”

Still no answer. What the fuck did I do?

“Here let me help you with that,” I say as I try to take one of the plates, and the other one flips over, causing it to smash and all its contents to
go platting across the floor.

*****************************
Max’s point of view

I hope I’m burning a whole in his forehead from staring at it for so long. Telepathically, I am. So you can see right through his head. I begin to smile imagining it.

“What the fuck are you smiling at?” he says to me. His arms are crossed.

“No-nothing.” I stutter and then take a sip of my cherry coke. I mean, Alex is a puny guy, but the fury in his eyes is quite frightening right now.

“You just think you’re so special, don’t you?” He adds. I really have no fucking clue where he is going with this.

“Huh?”

Before we are really able to get into what he is talking about, Liz is back.

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

Liz’s point of view

“Now look what you made me do!” Maria crouches down and begins to pick up the food. When I try to help her, she adds, “ I can do it!”
Whoa. What the fuck is her problem.

“What the fuck is your problem, Ria? And why are you mad at me?”

She shakes her head as she gives me this disbelieving look.

“You don’t even know what you’re doing, do you?”

“What? WHAT!”

“Ugh. If you don’t know, you’re not worth talking to!” She walks briskly past me and I decide right now is a good time to go back to the table.

“I think it’s a good time to go,” I say as I eye Maria who is giving me the death stare. What could she be so mad about?

Both Max and Alex stand at the same time. Such gentleman. Yeah, the king of burps, and Mr. Curious George himself.

“I’m ready,” Alex says as he eyes Max and then turns to me. “When does the play start?”

I look at my watch. “We should get over to Basie in about ten minutes.”

“Basie?” Max asks and it looks like he’s upset and he just stares at me.

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

Again, thanks for the feedback!

PART 5B

Liz’s point of view

Man, it’s. just. a. theater. How can a guy get so upset over a THEATER?

But with those puppy dog eyes, Parker, you have to stop this. Really. You are in Alex’s car on the way to the theater. You are not supposed to be thinking about Max, not now. You are on a date. You are on a date.

I turn towards Alex and smile. Good ol’ Al. Trusty Alex. Best friend Alex.

Best. Friend. Alex. I’m on a date with Alex.

Holy Shit, I’m on a date with Alex.

And he looks so happy.

I slump down in the passenger seat and turn on the radio louder. Even though I can’t stand boy bands, O-Town at the moment is drowning out anything I am thinking about. And that’s good, very good. And for me to say O-Town is good, has got to mean that something is sincerely fucked up with me.

It’s Alex. It’s safe.

And the worst part is, that’s why I’m doing this. It’s safe.

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

Ok, I can’t take this. I have to talk to Maria, like now. I came back from the play two hours ago and I still can’t think.

“Ria, I know you are not answering cuz you have call waiting and are
screening this call but I have to talk to you,”

Still silence.

“Are you going to talk to me again, ever? Listen, I’m feeling really confused right now and if you are sitting down watching Dawson’s Creek because
you are too bored to do anything else, which I know you are, then come on
over.”

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

Max’s point of view

Once the message is done with, Maria looks over at me pleadingly. Jesus,
it’s like they go through withdrawal without each other.

I pop the popcorn in my mouth and turn back towards Dawson’s. Shit, Liz
knows her too well. She knows me too well.

I fucking hate this show. Do you have any idea how many people call
me” Dawson” because of this fucking show and how he wants to be a filmmaker?

Dude, the hair. Do something with that hair. I have never seen hair so
bad since that guy from that alien show. Is it like a prerequisite to have
long greasy hair on a teen show?

Talk about bad acting. I want to gag myself right now because the cheesiness
of this teen show is going to make me hurl. I turn back towards Maria.

She’s still giving me that pleading look.

Oh, fuck. What the hell.

I shrug.

“Fine, I’m going, go run to your little friend,” I wave my hand in a
dismissing manner and Maria squeals before she gives me a hug.

“Thanks” She grabs her bag and is out the door.

I don’t understand why she has to thank me. I don’t tell her who to see
and what to do. I guess she felt guilty leaving me here to go talk to Liz. I
mean, I don’t even know why they are not speaking.

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

Ding, dong. Doorbell.

I open the door.

“Cookie Dough or Chunky Monkey?” She holds up Ben and Jerry’s, gods of
ice cream, creators of scoop goodness, keepers of my sanity. You get the
picture.

“I. love you,” I grab the cookie dough and Maria’s hand and lead her into the
fitting room.

I get out two spoons.

“So, I’m assuming Cookie Dough is first, and then Chunky Monkey after
that?” Maria holds the pint up. I nod. She knows the drill too well.

We sit down on the couch and we each take a spoonful, I groan after eating
it and nod in satisfaction. Maria laughs.

“Better than sex,” we both say at the same time and then laugh again.

Not that we both have any type of experience.

“So, what troubles you?” Maria asks as she gives her best psychiatrist face.

I slowly hold the spoon in my mouth and pull it out.

“Why are you mad at me? I hate it when you don’t talk to me.”

“Believe me, it was hell. I go through Liz withdrawal,” she giggles and
takes another spoonful.

“I’m serious.”

“The truth is,” She starts. “I thought this whole thing with Alex was just
a bad idea, I mean, you are both best friends, and,well,I always knew he
had feelings for you, but you having feelings for him,”

I take another spoonful of cookie dough and put it in my mouth. God, I
feel like shit. She’s right on the money.

“But,” she adds. There’s a but? Really? I thought she was pretty accurate
so far. “It’s seems like you are both happy, so whatever,”

She is really hiding something from me. I can tell. But I’m not going to
push it, I am just happy we are speaking again.

I swallow my ice cream hard knowing full well that what I’m doing is
wrong. But, you know what, I do have fun with Alex, and yeah, he might not be
the man of my dreams but is there such a thing? And we are teenagers and are
supposed to have fun, and I have fun with Alex. Why not just date him?

I hold my head. Don’t know if it’s from the brain freeze or all the
thoughts swirling through my head, but it fucking hurts.

“Brain freeze?” she asks me.

“Yeah.” We both laugh.

Now on to Chunky Monkey.

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

PART 6

Liz’s point of view

I shut the door to the apartment as Maria leaves. I hold my stomach. I’m
so full from eating ice cream.

I go to my room, put on my pajama pants and my tank and walk around. The
'rents are away and I have the whole place to myself.

I guess in some cliché teen movie I would have a party, but I’m not like
that and I actually like the peace and quiet to myself. I grab my journal and
I sit down and just pour out my thoughts.

I don’t know why, I’ve always had this natural ability to write. I want to
go to the city and become a writer.

Just as I’m writing my thoughts about Max, I look over and see this weird
leggy buggy thing crawling towards me.

I don’t like bugs. AT ALL.

“AAAAAAHHHHH!” I shriek, drop the journal, and run out of the room.

Yeah, did I mention I don’t like bugs?

I look over at the clock. It’s almost 2 A.M. Should I call? Fuck it. There is
a leggy buggy thing near my journal that does not look it evolved on this
planet, I’m calling.

Ring. Pickuppickuppickup. I say that in my super fast voice without breaths.
I do that when I’m nervous.

“Hello?” The voice is low and I obviously woke him up.

“H-hey.” I stutter, clutching the phone.

“Liz, what the fuck are you calling this late for?”

Did I mention, Max sounds fucking hot when he fucking curses?

“Um,can you come over?”

Wow, I must sound like a skank. Two o’clock in the morning and I’m pleading
him to come over when he knows full well my parents aren’t home.

He groans. “What’s wrong?”

“I have a situation.”

“What kind of situation?”

“An insect situation.”

He groans again, says he’ll be there in ten minutes, and hangs up.

***************************
Max’s point of view

I knock on the door, put my hands in my pockets. Ok, that doesn’t cure
my boredom, so I start patting the sides of my pockets. Finally the door opens.

“No, don’t make me return to the facility,” I say laughing as I hold up
my hands and I take notice of what Liz is wearing.

She’s wearing her pajama bottoms, tank top, no bra (yeah no bra, ok I’m a
guy, so I notice those things), oven mitts, holding a can of hair spray, and
she cutout part of a paper plate, used some rubber band and put it over her
mouth like a doctor does in surgery.

She hits me with the fly swatter in the other hand. Good, something
I recognize.

I grab the fly swatter.

“Where is it?” I ask. I start to walk in. I immediately start to cough.

“Fuck.” Cough. “How” cough. “Do” cough. “You” cough. “Breathe” cough “in
here?”

“Don’t talk, just kill.” She says. Her eyes are filled with fear. She
looks adorable and I feel bad.

“Where is it? And why the hell are you dressed like that?”

“I’ll explain that to you later, it’s over there,” she points her shaky
hand to the wall.

I walk over to examine it. Shit. It has got to have at least 9 legs, it
looks like a spider, but it flies. What the fuck is this thing?

But I’m going to joke with her anyway.

“ This is what you called me over at 2 in the morning for?” I give her
a smirk.

I turn back to look at it to see that it’s flying towards my face. I start
to swat at it.

Liz comes up and starts spraying the hair spray like a fanatic. And, it
just got it in my eye. Shit, it stings.

I try to rub it out. I do, I can see. I’m not blind. That’s good.

I open my eyes again, to see Liz still spraying at the bug. When it
starts flying towards her, she jumps back.

“Aaaaah!” she shrieks, and jumps back towards me, grabbing for me, like this
is a huge monster and I am going to protect her by standing in front of her.
She also lands on my foot in the process.

So now my eye stings and I have a broken toe. Thanks Liz. Ok, maybe its
not broken, but you know,

“Ow.”

“Sorry. I just. don’t. like. Bugs.” She grabs onto my arm tighter and I
can’t help but smile knowing Liz is holding on to me. And that she called me,
not Alex, to take care of this situation.

She starts to spray at it again.

“Liz, why are you spraying it with hair spray? I really don’t think it
needs the styling.”

“It stops it from moving. And I don’t want it to come near my hands so
I’m wearing the mitts. And the mask is so I don’t have to breathe the spray
in. You want that thing to touch you?!”

I grab the hairspray because I can use it without jumping back every
single time the bug twitches and we successfully kill it. I throw it out
after wrapping it in a napkin.

Liz pulls off her mask, her hair is disheveled, but sexy as hell, and she
is squirming around scratching herself, like she thinks a bug is crawling on
her.

“You want me to stay in case this turns into Arachnophobia the movie?” I ask.

She nods.

“Thought so, I bought Mallrats.” I pull the movie out of my bag and I put it
in my VCR so we can watch it.

****************************
Liz’s point of view

“So you ok there, insect slayer?” Max asks me. He’s such an ass.

Even as an ass he’s hot.

“What did you say?” he looks over at me.

Oh. My god. I did NOT just say that out loud. Fuck, I did.

Quick. Think, Parker, think.

“Ben Affleck. Even as an ass he’s hot” Smooth, real smooth.

“Oh, Ben Affleck he’s okay”

Omg, is Max Evans jealous that I might think Ben is cute?

“What? Ben Affleck, the four Kevin Smith movies actor, Ben Affleck does
not meet your criteria?” I look at him astonished.

“The guy sold out to do mediocre movies. Pearl Harbor fuckin sucked. He’s
ok actor I guess, I just don’t see what makes him so appealing to girls,
that’s all,” he shrugs and goes up to get another soda.

I giggle to myself over his excuse.

“Hey what’s this book on the floor?” He says as he leans down to pick it up.

Fuck, my journal.

Please, do not read the page that is open. Pleasepleaseplease (again
quick talking thing, when I’m nervous).

And then he spits out his soda.

Oh god.

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

PART 7 “Appropriately Complex”

Liz’s point of view

I’m staring at this cheesy teen magazine, the kind my mom leaves around
hoping I’ll read them, so I’ll be “normal.”

Excuse me while I gag.

“To get his attention, make sure to smile or twirl your hair.”

Ok why don’t I just pretend I don’t have any brain cells, forget
independence, my individuality and any steps put forth by the female
movement, and bark like the lovesick puppy dog I am while licking his toes?

Yeah, didn’t think so. Then again, these are the same magazines that have a
quiz: “Do you have healthy self esteem?”

Dude, if you have to take a quiz to know that…

I can’t believe my mother would think this would be healthy for me. This is
what our impressionable youth is reading. How to get noticed by a guy by
pretending you’re something you’re not…forgetting who you are so he can have
you.

Then there’s an article “Would you rather want a guy like you for your bod
or your brains?”

Um, excuse me, this is the same magazine that flaunts anorexic models and
gives you make-up tips. Don’t tell me they are trying to go socially
conscious now.

I flip the page. “How to look hot for your guy”

Nah, I shouldn’t give them that much credit.

I flip the page and I see this ad. It’s some cheesy ad for some product I
don’t care about.

But at the bottom are two words. Words that define my life at the moment:

Appropriately Complex.

Appropriately. Complex. That should be like my motto. The Liz Parkerism…my
depth into the meaning of life.
Everything is so complex. But it’s appropriate because it’s dealing with me.

Liz Parker can’t have it easy. Liz Parker can’t have it make sense. It has
to be complex. Because it’s Liz Parker.

And who would have fucking guessed? Liz Parker finding some meaning in a
teen magazine, go figure…

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

Max’s point of view

I’m clutching the steering wheel. I’m mad. I don’t know why I’m mad, but I
am.

I’m thinking about things, I don’t know if my thoughts make sense, I’m just
thinking.

Thinking about Liz. Not about Serena, not about my new car, not about my
movie, not about Kevin Smith. About Liz.

My knuckles are turning white. I grab the steering wheel tighter.

Where am I going? Oh I know exactly where I am going.

I replay what happened at Liz’s house in my head.

I spot a book on the floor.

I pick it up and ask her what it is. I’m curious so I begin to read. Bad
idea.

I love Alex, I do. But I’m not sure if he feels the same way I do. And I
have no idea what I would do if I lost him. I think I would just die inside…

And Ma


That was all I read. That was enough.

“Uh, Liz I’m gonna go. I think my parents want me home.” Yeah, I know I told
her I would stay over but it was 4 am. That’s late.

Who the fuck am I kidding? My parents think I’m at Michael’s.

“Um, Ok.” She looks nervously at the floor and I leave.

I leave and I don’t know why, but I’m mad.

And everything is so fucking messed up. Like this complex puzzle I can’t
figure out in my head.

I don’t like Liz Parker. I don’t.

Then why do I want to hurt somebody?

And she was about to write about me. I don’t know what she was about to
write, but it was about me. I don’t know how I feel about that.

I make it to my destination, I hop out of my jeep and I go to the window. I
tap lightly at first.

Fuck it, I’m mad. I bang on the window.

Bang, Bang. Wow, that feels quite refreshing actually.

He finally gets up and opens the window. He slowly opens his eyes.

“Max, what are you—?” He doesn’t get to finish his sentence. I grab him by
his shirt collar. I don’t know what’s coming over me, but there’s this
adrenaline pumping…

“Alex, you fucking hurt her and I’ll kill you. You better not break her
heart, I swear to god…”

He shrugs me off and looks at me oddly.

“What the fuck are you talking about? You are worried about me
breaking her heart? Look in the mirror.

What?

“What?”

“Oh, don’t tell me you don’t know…”

I run my hand through my hair.

“What? I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

“Come ON. You know I had a crush on her. You know I’m dating her. You know I
would never do anything to hurt her. If anyone has the ability to do that,
it’s you

“Huh?”

I must be some idiot because I’m not following him with this.

“Jesus. She fucking likes you Max!”

I shake my head in disbelief.

“Look, I’m sorry I woke you up like that, I shouldn’t have. I gotta go.”

Is he crazy? He has got to be crazy.

And you know what, there is a crazy part of me that is thinking that’s what
she was going to write in that journal of hers.

Yeah, crazy I tell you. Because I saw with my own eyes what she wrote.

She loves Alex Whitman. I never thought Alex was the stud with the ladies,
and he never had many girlfriends. I was the playboy, the one who got all
the girls.

Now why do I feel so jealous? Why do I feel like he’s the lucky one?

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

Liz’s point of view

So, the magazine, yeah it didn’t serve as my distraction because I am still
kicking myself why I wrote what I did about Alex in my journal.

I do love Alex, like a brother. He doesn’t love me like that, and I know it.
And I know that if I continue this, if I lead him on, I might lose him. And
it’s true, I will just die inside.

But now reading it, and how Max must have read it, he must think I am head
over heels in love with Alex. Which is so not true.

But it’s complex.

And it’s appropriate.

Because it’s Liz Parker. Didn’t you know that?

*****************************************
A week later…

“If I could be like that, I would give anything just to live one day in
those shoes…”

Maria is singing along with the music as we drive along.

We pass by as we see Serena and Max walking. Max and I haven’t had a real
conversation since that night at my house. I mean, we have, but there’s this
weirdness factor that just inhabits all of the air around us that forces us
to avoid all eye contact and keep our sentences short and sweet.

I see her auburn hair blowing and Max’s arm around her. I see them stop and
I see him hug her.

And all I want is to be like that. All I want is to live in her shoes.

Because if I were Serena, I wouldn’t have to worry about Alex and worry how
he might get hurt.

I wouldn’t have to worry about Max and how I want him to hold me every time
I see him.

I wouldn’t have to be so goddamn confused.

I notice Maria, doing a double take at Max and Serena. Obviously, she’s
surprised, and I’m not.

“Maria, what’s up? What are you thinking?”

She has this thing she does where she shifts her head where she is thinking
about saying something. Like she is weighing her options and moving her head
to demonstrate the weight each position has. She doesn’t hide it very well.
But then again, I’m very perceptive.

Another thing is she can’t keep a secret and she can’t lie to me.

“Uh, nothing…”

Liar.

“Liar. You know you can’t lie to me.”

“Yeah, oooh I love this song,” she turns the radio on louder so it’s playing
Britney Spears. She HATES Britney Spears. She’s trying to change the
subject.

“Don’t try to change the subject. Just tell me.”

“Uhhh…”

“I know you’re dying to.”

“Fine! You got me!” She tries to pretend like I twisted it out of her but I
know she desperately wants to tell me.

We pull over and she kills the engine.

“You know the night, I came to you with ice cream?”

“You always come with ice cream.”

“Well you know the night you left that message on my machine?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, Serena broke up with Max that night.”

See, inside, my jaw is dropped and I’m astonished. 1) they were like
“perfect couple”, 2) why the hell would she dump such a great guy? 3) why
the hell didn’t Max tell me about it, we are only best friends?

But the outside, I can’t show that.

On the outside, I have to be sarcastic and pretend I don’t care.

So that’s exactly what I do.

“Excuse me, while I check my give-a-shit meter,” My right hand is on top of
my left in the genie position and I lift my right hand so it just wavers a
little bit and then falls, showing that I don’t give a shit.

Maria laughs.

“You know I thought you would be surprised, with your mouth hanging open and
really pissed that he didn’t tell you.”

“But I’m not. But why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because he made me promise not to tell.”

“Doesn’t want to wound his macho pride?”

“Who knows, Max is a complex guy.”

“Aren’t we all? Hey,” I say as I pull out a cut out piece of paper from the
magazine, “I found this in a magazine, thought it fit me perfectly.”

“Appropriately complex,” she reads it and laughs. “That’s an
understatement.” She laughs again.

Tell me about it.


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

b] PART 8

Max’s point of view

I’m at Alex’s house. I came over to apologize over our little fight and we promised not to discuss it again. I’m looking at his new pictures he took.

They are in black and white. He shot this picture of Liz that is absolutely breathtaking. She’s sitting on her window seat, writing in her journal, a couple of wavy strands of her hair falling on her face, her long eyelashes accentuated and the light casting beautiful shadows through the window.

She doesn’t realize how beautiful she is. I don’t think she realizes how amazing of a person she is.

She’s got this great wit and sarcasm, but this real soft, vulnerable side that you rarely see. But she opens that part up to me and I feel really privileged for that.

I trace my fingertips slowly over the plastic covering the picture. Alex knocks me out of my trance.

“So you and Serena are over, right?”

The truth would be yes. If I would be honest with Alex, I would say yes. But I’m jealous. Jealous of what he has with Liz, so I lie. Or, I don’t tell the complete truth.

“I don’t know exactly what we are.”

That’s complete bullshit. She broke up with me a week ago and the only person I told was Maria.

Which reminds me, I have to meet Serena to go shopping. We are still friends and she said she has something to discuss with me.

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

We walk along the streets of Red Bank. Serena is really quiet. I can’t fucking take it anymore. I need to know what happened. Everything was fine. I mean, it wasn’t great, but it was fine. I want to know what I did wrong.

“So…” I slowly start as I stuff my hands into my pockets.

“So…” She adjusts the bag on her shoulder and puts a hair behind her ear. It’s funny, when Liz does it, it’s enchanting, when she does it, it borders annoying.

“Why did you break up with me?” I turn to her and then look away quickly.

“You wanna know the truth Max?”

“Yeah. I wanna know the truth.”

“Because you like someone else.”

I do?

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

Liz’s point of view

I get home from my drive with Maria and I put my keys on the table. I find my mother at the counter waiting for me.

I think she’s ten years late for the whole mother-daughter bonding thing.

“Liz, can you come here for a second?”

Shoot. Me. NOW.

“Yeah…uh sure.”

I put down my bag and I go into the kitchen.

“Liz, honey, I’ve noticed that you really don’t have anything to do this summer.”

“Um, yeah?”

“Well I was thinking maybe you could go to the Barbazon school.”

You see me right now? I’m laughing. Really laughing.

“That’s funny mom. Really. You crack me up.”

I laugh as I get a soda from the fridge. See, you don’t understand. Barbazon is the modeling school. Like I want to hang around Isabel Guerrin, Pam Troy, and Tess Harding. Yeah…riiiiiiiiight.

Mom’s not laughing though.

“I think it would help you with your self esteem.”

Hey, I like having low self-esteem, ok? What does she want me to be? Conceited?

“I’m not going.” I shake my head and I am about to leave.

“You don’t have a choice.”

What?!

“What?! You actually want me to subject myself to that…”

“It will give you something to do. For all I know you could be smoking pot with that boy…Max….”

Ha! She thinks we’re druggies!

“Just because he forced me go to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back three times doesn’t mean he’s a druggie. You don’t even know him…”

“Well it shouldn’t matter. I already signed you up.”

Ugh. I hate my mother. Absolutely hate her.

***********************************
Max’s point of view

“I do?”

Serena laughs.

“You’re really not good at lying. Don’t become the actor in your film.”

“Ok, so if you know me so well, who do I like?”

“Liz.”

I shrug it off. It shouldn’t matter anyway. She’s in love with Alex.

“Just to let you know, I think she likes you too.”

I snap my head up. I shouldn’t have. That just gave me away.

What the hell.

“You do?”

She nods.

“The reason why I broke up with you was I felt like I was messing with fate or something. You are like perfect for each other.”

“She’s in love with Alex. To be honest, I don’t think I deserve her.”

“Max, if anything, if she can’t see who you are, then she doesn’t deserve you.”

“Thanks for saying that.”

“Liz is really lucky.”

“Why?”

“Because she has you.”

“She has Alex.”

“But she has your heart. I have a feeling that won’t last very long.”

“Thanks Serena. You’re a great friend.”

I hug her because she just made me realize that everything I ever wanted was right in front of me.

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


PART 9 “Personal Development”


Max’s point of view

It’s my first day of work. My trainer is making sure I’m following instructions:

Stock the comics on the shelves. Ring up the customers. Closing Procedure.

I just nod. I am still under this surreal disbelieving feeling when it comes to this place. Kevin Smith owns this place. He can walk in any minute. I stand behind the register and tap on the counter. So this is what a “Clerk” feels like?

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

Liz’s point of View

Personal. Development.

What is it with two word phrases? Do they just gravitate towards me or something? Liz Parker isn’t worth 3 or 4 words? No, she is just worth two.

A normal parent, if they were worried about your self-esteem would send you to a shrink. My mom, she sends me to Barbizon modeling school. Go fuckin figure.

“Liz Parker is here for personal development.

My ‘instructor,’ if you can even call her that, that would presume she has intelligence, says it with that emphasis. You know the emphasis I’m talking about. Like she just said some venereal disease or something. Something horrible, like a terminal illness, or “like a zit.” This is Barbizon, after all. How will I ever live without my Kate Spade bag? Yeah, that was sarcasm. If I met Kate Spade on the street and if I could afford to selfishly blow my money on superficial objects, I would hit her with her own designer fuckin bag.

Isabel, Tess, and Pam whisper to each other, and laugh when they hear I’m not here for “modeling exposure.” That’s what Barbizon calls it. I guess acting like a dumb bimbo wouldn’t constitute as good advertisement, now would it?

I cut in and open my mouth because I know how to speak.

“Actually, if you would allow me to speak my thoughts, because yes, women do have thoughts and I don’t know if that is allowed here, I am more interested in holding my own in the world than looking pretty for heterosexual men to jerk off at. And no, I don’t care if that is ladylike to say or if it is proper ‘model etiquette.’”

Hey, they are taking money from me to be subjected to this. They can be subjected to my witty bitchiness for my amusement. That’s fucking personal development for me.

All the girls gape and look at me in astonishment. I did not just say “jerk off” in front of Madame Cleo. Yeah, I did.

“Miss Parker, we don’t appreciate that type of language here. Girls come here to act like proper young ladies.”

“Oh, so sitting with your mouth shut, wearing a nice hair do is a proper way to be a woman? I don’t think so.”

I roll my eyes.

“Miss Parker, we might have to ask you to leave.”

“Gladly.”

Hey, my mom never said I had to stay past the ten minutes mark. I’m blowing this joint.

You would think being the number one person in my class would be enough. I’m applying to NYU, I am not going to some modeling school. No thank you.

I wonder what Max is up to.

***********************************************************
Max’s point of view

I look towards the door and I see flowing brown hair blowing in the wind. After my talk with Serena, I’ve come to realize that Liz…she is just amazing in every way. And now, suddenly, I feel nervous talking to her.

“Hey comic boy,” she says as she bursts through the door. A smile on her face literally lights up the room. To me, anyway.

“H-hey” I answer. “Aren’t you supposed to be at…Barbizon?” I flip my head like I have seen Isabel Guerrin do so many times. You know, where she looks like she has whiplash.

“Yeah, that didn’t go so well. Anyway, any signs from ‘the man,” she says as she leans over the counter. Her dark eyes are sparkling. She is so fucking beautiful. And she doesn’t need stupid modeling school for me to see that.

“Uh…”

Then the bells ring and Alex walks through the door. Right. Alex. Liz’s boyfriend. My best friend. Could things get more complicated?

“The man is right here,” Alex says jokingly as he walks through the door. He pulls out a simple white rose from behind his back.

Liz smiles and hugs him for the gesture. But I can still see some disappointment in her eyes. Because I know full well she would much rather enjoy hand picked daisies.

Yet she still hugs him. She hugs him close. Like she’s afraid she’ll lose him.

Suddenly I feel like the odd man out, the third wheel, the loner, and the one that doesn’t get the girl for once.

And you know what, it feels like shit.

To be in Alex’s shoes…I would give anything.

The thing with Liz, she could get never get boring or annoying in my book. There is always something new that just fascinates me and tugs at my heart.

I don’t know when I turned into such a sap. I think it’s when I realized I was in love.

She turns to me after she hugs Alex and is about to speak.

“So no sight of Kevin?” she says jokingly. We have now gone up to first name basis since I started working here.

“No.”

“Hey! You know those tickets you made me beg my parents for like a month and I had to work double time for? Yeah I finally got them!” she squeals. She is so adorable when she squeals. “It’s on Sunday at Basie. The three of us should go.”

“Ok. Great.” I try to not show my disappointment. I really don’t feel like watching Alex and Liz like that. And I was really excited about it. Supposedly Kevin knows the director of this production.

“Ok. Well…I better get home.” Liz hugs Alex and winks at me and then leaves.

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

Liz’s point of view

I place the rose on my nightstand. Alex is so sweet. Sure I would prefer hand picked daisies, but it’s the gesture that counts right?

He is taking me out tonight and every time we go out I feel guiltier for dragging this out more than I have to.

I change into my black dress and put on my necklace. I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t even see myself anymore. My hair is done up with little strands hanging down, I have put on makeup, and yet even though I am supposed to feel beautiful and my mom has told me like ten times since I’ve been in the kitchen, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel it because the only guy that would ever go for me was my best friend. And the worst part is that I used that for myself, not even considering his feelings.

I still have a half an hour before Alex is supposed to be picking me up, so I decide to take a walk. Unlike some girls, it doesn’t take me that long to get ready.

I swing my bag and my legs lazily as I stroll down Maple Avenue and I look towards the river.

I know I complain about Red Bank all the time, but the river at night is absolutely breathtaking. Suddenly someone’s voice interrupts my thoughts.

“Hey.”

I turn around. It’s Max.

“Hey.”

“Don’t you just love the river at night? I definitely want a shot of this.”

I smile as I look down at my bag. “Yeah. How’d you know I would be here?”

“Your mom told me on the phone. After I convinced her I wasn’t a pothead of course.”

I laugh. There’s a light breeze, and dumb me forgot to bring a cardigan.

I wrap my arms over my shoulders and rub my arms.

Max notices.

“Cold?” I nod slightly.

He stands behind me and wraps his arms around me. I lean back into him. I have never felt more at home, more content, than at this moment. And yes, for once, I feel beautiful.

Max is my personal development. Not some dumb modeling class. Because even though we are just friends, he makes me want to be a better person. Like I couldn’t handle disappointing him.

I know that sounds weird, but its true.

“Date tonight with Alex?” he asks me.

“Yeah.” I turn my head so I’m looking at his face and we are only inches apart.

That’s when he lets go of me. The awkwardness ensues.

“Max?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Do you think I should be with Alex?”

He stops. I could swear his face went white for a second.

“Are you happy with Alex?” he finally blurts out.

“Yeah, I guess. But have you ever had this feeling when you just look at somebody? Do you know what I mean? I am not even sure I am making any sense.”

“Yeah, I have. It’s an amazing feeling.” Max nods and stuffs his hands in his pockets. I think that’s my favorite quirk of his, when he stuffs his hands in his pockets. Or, when he dips his mouth to the side and scratches his head.

“It’s so uncontrollable.” I say. I hate being out of control. I like everything to be set in order, you know?

“Yeah, definitely uncontrollable.”

“So, you felt that with Serena or some gorgeous girl like that.”

“Oh yeah. Something like that. The girl is absolutely breathtaking.”

“Let me guess, blond?”

“No. You know I only go for brunettes.”

“Right. I remember you have good taste.” I nod and smile. “Well I better go, Alex is waiting for me."

At this point I am not sure what to do, just walk away or hug him goodbye. So I hug him. He smells so great. I can’t really pinpoint his smell; I guess it’s just the familiarity of it.

As I walk back to my house I already see Alex standing in front of his car outside. He is looking at the ground.

“With Max, huh?” he mumbles.

“Yeah…how’d you?”

“Well it’s a pretty lucky guess and then your mom told me. Something about she was happy I wasn’t a pothead and I was such a nice boy.”

“Oh.” I look down. ”So, do you want to go?”

“You love him, don’t you?”

Ok, that was random.

“Alex, are you drunk?” I smell alcohol on his breath. Alex “good boy” Whitman does not drink. Ever. Even if he did hang out with Max.

“You didn’t answer my question, Liz.”

I don’t think he’s that drunk. He probably just had a sip or two. Just for people to tell he was drinking. In fact, at the moment he is entirely sober.

I lean against the hood of his car. I realize that I have to end this. Now.

“Alex…”

He looks up and his eyes just look so empty.

“Alex, um…” How the hell do I say this? I have never had a boyfriend before, and now, now I don’t know how to let him down gently. I start to cry. I don’t know why, but I do.

And it’s contagious. He wipes his eyes too.

“Alex, you are my best friend. I don’t think I could bear to lose you. I think we should end this.”

“You don’t feel the same way about me.”

“Alex, I love you, but not like that. I’m sorry.”

“He better treat you right. I swear to god, Max better…”

“Max? There is nothing going on with Max and I.”

“Right.” He mumbles. “See you around.” He gets into his car and I feel like absolute shit.

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

PART 10
Liz’s point of view

I’m sitting in this make-up class and I’m thinking about those cheesy teen chick flicks. You know, where the girl has the makeover and the dream guy falls in love with her and they end up going to prom and going to the same college. Two kids with all American names, picket fences in their futures, and small houses in the suburbs. Golden retrievers running in the lawn.

Can I just say right now, fuck stupid cheesy teen chick flicks.

I know I’m not the most beautiful girl in the world, but I am not going to let some guy like me and get all ‘excited’ just because I have been added to the Barbizon ‘elite.’

No fucking way. If I have to castrate them to make sure it doesn’t happen, I’ll do just that.

It used to be so easy. I was independent. I thought guys were hot, yeah, but I never let any intense feelings get involved. I didn’t even have to worry about them, because that just never happened.

It was easier that way. I was Liz. I was invisible, but hey, I liked being invisible. Sure I had my few depressing moments when my estrogen kicked in and I wanted to be with a guy and not be invisible, but then I was happy I wasn’t like Maria and didn’t let every guy take over my life.

I mean, yeah, I love Maria, but she has got to learn that she can survive on her own without some testosterone filled guy telling her she’s beautiful just so he can fuck her.

High school guys, hell, even college guys, they are just not worth it. Not in my book.

I mean, I feel I have to explain myself about what happened with Alex.

See, Alex isn’t most guys. He’s sweet. He cares about me. He loves me for me. And that’s the first time that’s happened.

Guys rarely find me beautiful. And they sure as hell don’t like me for me.

Even though I didn’t love him back, he appreciated me. Liz Parker. I liked that feeling and I got selfish.

And now, I find myself here, learning how to put on eye shadow the proper way. I never saw the fuss about makeup anyway. Wasn’t it supposed to make you look natural? Then why am I putting bright purple eye shadow on?

What is this, Drag Queens R Us?

“Girls, finish up, runway is next.” Madame Cleo interrupts my thoughts.

Did she just say runway? Shoot me. Please. Can I get a lethal injection? One lethal injection for Liz Parker.

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

I put on these ridiculous high heels they provided for me. Seems as though my shoes don’t make the cut. What, sketchers are out?

You might get the idea that I’m a tomboy. I’m really not. I wear skirts. I can be feminine.

I can be feminine without setting back the women’s movement 10 years, unlike some people. Like coughMADAMECLEOcough. I think she’s still under that breakdown when her old boyfriend broke up with her. What? Red Bank gossip goes around…

I look at myself in the mirror and I look ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I’m wearing a pink, hairy tube top that should never have been made into existence, a black miniskirt and these huge high heels. I look like a fucking clown with all this makeup.

Funny, I could swear they were teaching me to be a whore.

I step up on the platform and I begin to follow what Madame Cleo is yelling at me.

“No no no! Turn your foot left!”

I am turning my foot left. I took ballet before. Believe me, this is as far as my foot is going to turn honey!

She tries to move my ankle and I end up falling. Thanks Madame Cleo, supreme bitch. You just twisted my ankle.

I tried to side with my mother that I should ditch the runway sessions and the ‘official photo shoot,’ yeah with the drunk ‘photographer’ named Herbie, because I was just in this for personal development. But she says I should get my money’s worth. Whatever.

Little did I know, Max came in and witnessed my fall.

****************************************************************
Max’s point of view

I can’t really explain what I’m feeling right now. A whole big mix of things.

Sympathy…for Alex. Poor guy. Liz completely trampled his heart. I haven’t seen him so sad.

I hate to say this, but I also feel relief…that Liz is now available.

And I also feel a little bit of anger. I really can’t understand why. Maybe its because Alex got hurt badly when he didn’t have to.

I walk into Barbizon, to witness what she has been expressing the past week as absolute torture.

I look up to see her on the runway. I have to say, that the outfit is not flattering at all on her. It makes her seem fake. Not Liz. I love the way she looks in a sweat suit. I’m not joking. Baggy sweatshirt and hair all messy. Or in simple jeans and a white t-shirt. I like her style, her clothes. And the makeup, its just too much. She doesn’t need it. I don’t like the way she looks like this at all.

But I smile inwardly at how uncomfortable she looks in that. And then I hear the discourse between her and Madame Cleo and I see her fall. I know she is about to start cursing in her usual bluntness any minute now on the top of her lungs, so I make an excuse to get her out of there.

“Liz, I have to see you outside.”

She picks up her shoe and she hobbles outside.

“Mother fuckin’ model nazi…” she grabs at her foot. She looks up. “How is he?”

“Not too good.”

I try to shake my feelings, but I can’t. I look off and I don’t make eye contact.

“What’s wrong?” She looks at me.

“Why’d you do it Liz? Why?”

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

Liz’s point of view

I don’t really think that’s any of his business and I don’t really want to elaborate.

“What are you talking about?” I say.

“Why did you go out with him in the first place? He’s fucking heart broken Liz. Heart broken. If you didn’t love him that way, you shouldn’t have gone out with him!”

His voice is getting louder and he’s upset. On Alex’s part or on his own, I can’t tell.

“Oh…oh…so you’re Max the Saint! Ha! What about you and Serena! You fucked her and you didn’t even love her. So don’t feed me that bullshit! If I remember correctly, you guys broke up, what, the next day? You didn’t seem so upset about that Max. No..not at all. Wasn’t a good lay huh?”

Ok, so that was an assumption. I know Serena said they didn’t do anything but after that news went around saying that they did…well you know. Maria told me she heard about it.

*****************************************************
Max’s point of view

I don’t know where she heard that, but it isn’t true. I don’t respond because I’m so in shock. We have always been able to talk. ALWAYS. And she just blew up, like she went on defense control as soon as I said something.

“Whatever…believe what you want to believe Liz. But, at least I was always able to tell you how I felt. You not only lied to Alex, you lied to me about this whole thing. What, all of a sudden you can’t talk to me?”

“Well, Max, its not that easy for me!”

“What a crock of shit. You didn’t want to tell me. You didn’t want to tell Alex. Or Maria. Or anyone. You wanted to detach yourself from everyone so it would be easier on you. I never thought you to be the selfish one Liz, but it turns out you are.”

“Easier for me? Do you know how hard this stuff has been on me? Do you?! No, you don’t. Maybe I’m just not used to this. Maybe I’m not used to all of this like you are.”

“You’re not even making sense Liz.”

“Unlike you I don’t fuck every member of the opposite sex I see. I don’t have a relationship every two weeks like Maria. I like to be on my own. In fact, Alex was my first relationship at all so I don’t think you have the ability to judge me right now.”

She turns around and stomps off. Or, hobbles off.

“Liz, you shouldn’t walk on your foot.”

“I don’t need your fucking help thank you. I am not going to be your fucking damsel in distress. What? You like the clothes now? They make me suitable to be around you?”

“Liz…”

“Maybe if I shed some clothing, you’ll find me attractive. Oh wait, that means I would have to be like every other girl you’ve dated. No thank you.”

Huh? Did she just say what I thought she said?

“Well I’m not going to do it Max. I might not be beautiful, but at least I will have some fuckin dignity.”

And then she hobbles off.
***********************************************************************

Liz’s point of view

Who the fuck does he think he is? Oh now he’s running after me? Suddenly I find myself in one of those cheesy teen chick flicks and I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.

Oh no. I turn the corner; my ankle is beginning to swell, and just my luck Sean nearly runs over me.

He used to tease me and start rumors about me in elementary school. Bastard.

Yes, I have recovered. I don’t have old childhood wounds. He’s just a bastard.

I did beat him up in pre school though. He took my leggos. I got pissed. I slammed him against the wall. He got in trouble.

“Why Liz, I didn’t imagine you as the type…” He looks me up and down with this outfit on and I see Max coming towards us. His blood is boiling and he looks mad.

Ugh, I want to get out of here right now. I roll my eyes at Sean and I turn to leave when he pinches my ass.

Max starts yelling and running towards us. I turn around and I grab Sean by the balls.

“You ever touch me like that again, I’ll make sure Viagra can’t even save you.”

He nods in agony and I release my hand. I look at Max.

“I told you I don’t need your fucking help. Leave me alone.”

I turn to walk off.

“Liz, I’m sor…”

“Save it Max. I don’t need another lecture on Alex. I don’t need this shit. I’m going to turn around now. I don’t want you following me home.”

I turn around and I hobble off.

I walk into my doorway and my mom looks at me astonished.

“Liz! How many times have I told you not to get mixed up with that pot!”

Ugh. I hate my life.

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

Max’s point of view

How did things get so messed up? I plop down on the sofa and I’m craving a beer. Or vodka. I settle on a Coke.

Yes, deep in the heart of him, Max Evans is a goody goody.

Why did I say all the things I said? I don’t even know why. I didn’t even know I was that mad. This weird part of me feels betrayed. Like she’s kept things from me. Hid things from me. But why should I even feel that way? I shouldn’t. If she wants to discuss things, she can.

Why do I feel like I have this claim on her? I decide I need to call Maria.
****************************************************************

Maria’s point of view

“No.”

Does Max realize what he’s making me do? This would go against all the rules as Liz’s friend. My loyalty belongs to her.

“Please Maria. I need to talk you.”

Now he starts weeping like a dog.

“No. Max, I said no.”

“I could get you a date with Michael Guerrin…” he says in a sing song voice.

“Tempting, but no. “

“Did she even call you yet?”

“Well…no.”

“So, why would be talking away from girl time when she hasn’t even called you yet? She isn’t even willing to talk to you about this and I am. Please!”

The guy does have a point.

“Ok fine. But I’m telling you right now, no Ben and Jerry’s. That Liz and Maria sacred!”

“Huh?”

“Nevermind…I’ll be over in five minutes.”

************************************************************************
Max’s point of view

“Ok, what’s up?” she asks me as I open my door.

“Don’t be too happy to see me.”

She rolls her eyes and plops down on the couch.

So, I tell Maria what happened today, and knowing Maria, I was expecting her to have some outburst or some reaction. She doesn’t look too surprised.

“I can’t say I’m very surprised.” She said.

“You’re not?”

“Max, listen to me. You have to understand something with Liz.”

“Ok…”

“Liz doesn’t talk a lot about guys because she hasn’t had a lot of experience when it comes to guys. I never really understood why. I mean, she’s gorgeous, but she never felt she was. And every time a guy tried to get close to her, she went on the defensive and pushed them away. She’s afraid of getting hurt.”

“Is that why she did that with Alex?”

I mean, I still got the sense she had deep invested feelings for him. And what she wrote…

“Alex?” She asks. She gives me a look as if the thought of me not knowing is surprising. “Liz never had those types of feelings for Alex. His feelings were genuine, and she knew that. I think that’s the only reason she let it last as long as it did.”

“Then who is she running from then?”

“The male species isn’t that smart, is it? Max, she loves you. Is in love with you.”

For the first time, I actually start to believe that it could be true.

“But…”

“Max, just apologize to her and get together already. Please, its exhausting the hell out of us.” She stands up abruptly and I already start to plan how to win Liz.

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

PART 11

Liz’s point of view

It’s been two days. I can finally walk on my foot again. Despite my protests, mom still doesn’t want to believe that Madame Cleo was responsible for my outfit. I have to go back tomorrow. I was able to prolong it with my foot but now my mother is making me go.

I pick up my journal and I head out to my balcony. I decide to write.

Have you ever had so many conflicting feelings that your mind goes into overdrive and you don’t even know yourself anymore? When it comes to Max, I don’t know what to feel.

Max is my friend. A good friend. A person I could share anything with. And there’s no denying it, I have feelings for him. It is just not possible for him to be in love with me. Just impossible.

That would be too happily ever after. And I don’t believe in happily ever after. I’m a rational person. I take things as they come. I don’t believe in dreams and fairy tales. There is no prince charming. Max is no prince charming. Max has his faults and so do I. And mine is that I will never measure up to what Max deserves.

Somehow I let it slip yesterday that I wanted Max to find me attractive. That just makes me more weak.

I know it’s strange, but I’ve grown accustomed to being alone. I just have. After a while it doesn’t bother you anymore. You start to like it. You push yourself away, because you’re afraid that if you take that leap that you’ll get hurt.

Because being alone, it’s on your own terms. You can be alone, but at least you decide that for yourself. If you put yourself in someone else’s hands, they have the power. They have the control. And sometime down the road you find yourself bawling because it’s over.

I tried to fill a void with Alex and that didn’t work. If I try to lead myself to believe that anything with Max is possible, I will be just setting myself up for rejection. Sometimes being the dorky valedictorian isn’t that bad. I know my future. I plan my future. There are no surprises. And I’m in control.



*~^ *~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*

“Well, well, well, isn’t it frigid prude Liz Parker. How’s your ankle?”

Have I told you how much I hate Tess?

Pam giggles at her comment. See, when we all went to the same sleep away camp while they were all experiencing their first kisses, I was alone in the bunk, writing in my journal.

“Hey, hey, hey…” Isabel interrupts them. I think she’s the worst of them all. “Give the girl some credit. She got Serena’s exquisite leftovers. Don’t think you have a chance with Max, he is only looking to get some action after Serena dumped his ass.”

“Funny, Isabel, I didn’t think being an ice cold bitch made you too fond with the guys.” I say as I pass her by. “And unlike some people, I am just fine being on my own.”

“What did you just say to me?” Isabel puts her hands on her hips. I really don’t want to have to get into anything right now. But, giving her nice black and blue on the face would so make my day.

“Oh, I called you an ice cold bitch. But now I’ll add that you are conceited, self absorbed, fat WHORE.”

The whole dressing room stops and they stare at us.

“Girl fight!”

“You’re just mad because you’re so ugly you can’t get a date.”

And then I punch her. Hard.

Ever heard of suspension in modeling school? Well, there is a first for everything.

*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^

I decide to walk alone by myself for the rest of the day. For a big girl, Isabel Guerrin can’t fight for shit. I don’t have one mark on my body.

I finally end up at home late at night because I know my mom will be gone. I don’t want to discuss the whole Barbizon thing with her.

I look at myself through my mirror and all I see is me. I look ugly. Isabel was right. I can’t get a date and I can’t get anyone to love me.

I look towards my window and figure this is a perfect opportunity to write in my journal. I step onto the balcony and I see the vase that Max made with me at A Time to Kiln. Painted on it is “I’m Sorry,” and it’s overflowing with hand picked daises. On top is a note.

Liz,
We need to talk. Meet me at the end of Maple Avenue by the river.

Max.



*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^

Max’s point of view

It’s been two hours and still no sight from Liz. The moon is shining over the river and it truly begins to sink in what I’ve been dreading this whole time. That Liz doesn’t want me. Liz doesn’t need me. I don't deserve Liz.

I stuff my hands deeper into my pockets. Maria said Liz pushed guys away. Maybe its because she knew she was too good for them. Too good for me. Liz is special, she doesn’t deserve an average guy like me. She is above us in ways I can’t even describe.

As I am about to turn around and leave I hear her voice. And it has never felt so calming in the world.

“Did you really hand pick them? Because if you didn’t hand pick them, it doesn’t count.”

I turn around and smile at her. I hold up my palms.

“Got the bee stings and thorn marks to prove it. Look, Liz…”

She smiles.

She lifts her hand. “Don’t worry about it. We both said stupid things that we didn’t mean. I accept your apology.” She runs her hand through her hair. She turns to leave.

*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^*~^
Liz’s point of view]

“Liz, I do think you’re beautiful…”

I stop dead in my tracks, but I don’t turn around to face him. I’m afraid he’ll laugh at me for believing in such nonsense.

“I know you don’t want to believe it but you are.” He starts moving closer to me and I can feel his voice getting louder as he gets closer. What’s so scary is what he’s saying is true. I don’t want to believe him. He continues. “I know you’re running away because you’re scared. You’ve been running away ever since that day in the Kiln. Do you know how much I’ve wanted to kiss you since that day?”

He touches my arm and forces me to face him. What surprises me, is that in his amber eyes I believe that what he is saying is genuine.

“Liz, I could have done the cheap thing. I could have written all my feelings on that note but I wanted to tell you to your face. I wanted to tell you to your face because even though I’m scared shitless of your reaction I still want you to see that I’m telling the truth and you can’t just dismiss it as bullshit.”

I try to look away but he lifts my chin, forcing my eyes to gaze at his. It doesn’t take long, because in that first second, your eyes are just addicted and you can’t move them away.

“So I’m going to tell you everything right now. I’m going to tell you how much I love you and I’m not going to let you run away.”

I shake my head as tears fill my eyes. He’s lying to me. He just has to be lying. This can’t be real. This is a dream. Just a dream. Because when I wake up things like this don’t happen to me.

“That day I kissed you because I couldn’t resist the urge not to. You were covered in mud. Your hair was a mess. You were wearing faded jeans and a t-shirt.”

I look at him confused.

“I know you’re wondering why I even bothered to remember that. I remembered it because I haven’t been able to forget it. I can’t forget it because I have never seen you so beautiful. That kiss…I wish I could give away all my experience with all of this and just have that one kiss for the rest of my life. Even if it was just a peck. Because it was with you and that’s the only thing that matters. That’s the only thing that feels right. You make me feel right.”

He moves in closer.

“Listen to me…I love it when you call me in the middle of the morning so I can kill a bug for you. I love how you like simple things and that you’re not like every other girl. I love how you look in baggy sweats. I love how you like hand picked daisies and not the usual roses. You’re intelligent, witty, sarcastic…loveable. You’re loveable Liz.”

I try to break free from him but he won’t let me go. Part of me doesn’t want him to.

“I know you don’t like compliments, which only makes me want to compliment you more. I know you hate having attention, but that only makes me want to pay more attention to you. I know you like being alone, but that only makes me want to be with you more. Everything about you, Liz, I love. And I know that because the hardest thing I have ever done was disappoint you. Seeing that hate in your eyes, I couldn't deal with it. I can't deal not having you in my life. You are a part of me now.”

He cups my face and runs his thumbs along my cheeks. All of a sudden my knees go weak and his voice is but a whisper.

“Liz…I know I don’t deserve you, but just let me kiss you this one time. So I’ll never forget how good you feel to me.”

Without being able to respond, his velvet soft lips are covering mine. My mind is in overdrive. I’m out of control. But Max is holding me. And I feel all right. He slowly pulls on my bottom lip and traces it with his tongue. All I can do is open up to him. So, I do. I feel at this moment more complete than I ever have in my life. I feel encompassed by him. His smell, his fingers, his hair, his lips, his eyes…even in my mind I can see his eyes. And as much as I want to fight this, fight us, be alone where I’m safe, I’m taking this leap because Max is leaping too. He’s scared too.

It seems like an eternity that we’re passionately kissing but I don’t mind. Max finally pulls away and he rests his forehead against mine. Our eyelids flutter open at the same time, our breaths labored, and our noses almost touching. Our lips are lingering close towards each other and Max licks his lips and then says as he lifts his eyebrows…

“So…”

“So…” I pick up my finger and trace his nose with it as a smile comes over my lips. “I think I’m in love with you Max Evans.”

“Oh you think? You think?” he asks.

“Well…”

“Well let me convince you…” he says as he begins to kiss me again. This time he moves his hands around my waist and pulls me as close to him as possible. The stars are shining in the sky and this has never felt so Hollywood. As if I need convincing…
**********************************







"It's about finding someone that is pure, that is perfect for you, that defines love in all sense of the word for you..."
~Jason Behr


"For people to tell you nice things or compliment you is rewarding, but if you allow yourself to buy into the notion you are now a star then you stop being actor. I'm just going along with the notion that ... people who end up walking around like their shoes are bigger than anybody else's end up stepping on other people's
shoes."
~Jason Behr

posted on 11-Nov-2001 4:19:29 PM
Yes there is. I just posted up to part 14 on the fic board. It's not on the first page, but it should be in the first couple of pages.

Thanks for all the feedback!
posted on 11-Dec-2001 9:24:32 PM
viewthread?forum=dreamer-fanfiction&id=768&sr1=chasing+max#post32657

there is the link to the updated parts. hope you enjoy.