|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:25:57 PM|
|Title: Our Story|
Rating: PG (R, NC-17 parts will be labeled accordingly.)
Summary: 4 years after “Own Me” . They’ve all graduated college. Max, Liz, and Noah return home to Roswell.
Note: If you’re just stumbling across this, it is necessary to read Own Me first, otherwise you’ll be totally lost. I’m working on archiving Own Me at my fanfic page, but if you email me, I’d be more than happy to send you Own Me as an attachment.
A big thank you to Angela for coming up the title.
Also, I wanted to say thanks for those that read OM and have followed on to this. You guys almost had me in happy tears. LOL. I’m so happy that you guys enjoyed as much as I did.
This part is basically introduction, giving a little information to what has transpired over the four years. Anyways, I’m open to suggestions as nothing is concrete yet, so I’d love to hear your opinions.
Liz walked up the stairs with slightly wobbly legs as she tried to balance a box in her arms. With calculated steps, she rounded the corner, her body unexpectedly spinning when a certain six year old boy rushed passed her.
“Hi momma.....sorry momma!”
Liz spun, the box in her hands in danger of toppling over.
Just when she thought she was going to crash, a pair of strong arms wrapped themselves around her waist, steadying her.
“I’ve got you.”
Max grabbed the box from her hands, dropping it next to the growing pile beside the master bedroom. Frowning, he crossed his arms, giving his wife a pointed look. “I thought I told you not to lift any of those heavy boxes by yourself?”
Liz countered his move, raising an eyebrow at him. “And I distinctly remember telling you and Noah, that there was no running in the house?”
Max laughed, pulling Liz into his embrace. “I’m sorry. I promise, it won’t happen again. It’s just...” he looked around the room, eyeing their brand new home in awe. “This house is soo much bigger than the apartment, and-”
Liz silenced him with another admonishing look, but burst into a fit of giggles.
He leaned to kiss her neck, his hands splayed across her stomach. “So, you’re not mad?”
Liz grinned, pushing him away. “At Noah? Nope. He’s my baby, but you, you on the other hand...I may just have to hand you a punishment, Mr. Evans. You are the adult after all. You’re supposed to be setting an example for our son.” She poked him in the chest, shaking her head.
Max grabbed her hand, his eyebrows waggling suggestively. “Promise?”
“Mr. Evans, you are sooo bad.”
Max laughed, kissing Liz’s forehead. “I know. Tell you what? How about I make it up to you and start dinner? I’ll even get Noah to help....get him out of your hair for about an hour, and you can relax and take a bath or something.”
She threw her arms around him, her lips kissing his. “That’s sweet of you honey, but we gotta start unpacking these boxes. You and I start work on Monday. We can’t just leave this stuff lying around. If we don‘t start now, we‘ll be living out of boxes for the rest of our lives.” She pointed to the unpacked boxes scattered around their new home.
Max sighed, knowing that Liz had a point. “Fine. How about I call Michael at the restaurant and order us some dinner to go? Noah and I can go for a drive, and we can come back to get things finished here.”
Liz smiled, walking towards Noah’s room. “I love you, baby.”
Max grabbed the phone, dialing the number to Blondie’s Bar & Grill.
As he waited for someone to pick, his thoughts wandered to how he and his friends got to where they were today.
After high school, Michael and Maria tried the college thing, quickly realizing that it wasn’t for them. They had been at a loss at what to do with the rest of their lives, until Courtney had suggested Michael become a chef after having tasted one of Michael’s culinary cuisines.
Michael had mulled it over, knowing that he didn’t want to work for someone who just threw orders around. If he was going to become a chef, he wanted it to be under his terms. That’s where Maria came in.
After working most of her teenage years at the Crashdown, she had learned a few things about handling things on the management side. Together, the two of them moved back to Roswell and applied for a small business loan. They created Blondie’s, which became quite a favorite among the locals.
So for four years, they had launched a successful restaurant off the ground, finally finding their calling.
Although they had found much success in their business lives, their romantic relationship stayed the same. The only difference being that they lived together.
Max had once asked Michael why he had yet to pop the question to Maria, and the only response he got was, “Why mess with a good thing?”
Max had left it that, not mentioning it again.
As for the rest of the gang, they had all moved back to Roswell after their graduations.
Alex had been hired to work for a local computer company in town, and Isabel had followed in her parents’ footsteps, dipping her feet into the world of law. The two of them got engaged two summers ago, planning on having a wedding the September after they had gotten engaged.
But apparently, all the planning got to be too much for Isabel, so she and Alex eloped instead. Who would’ve thought that Miss planner extraordinaire would miss out on her own lavish wedding? Apparently not anyone.
But in light of things, Isabel and Alex managed to have a small wedding reception that included everyone. They lived in an apartment, towards the busier side of town, living quite close to Michael and Maria.
As for Kyle and Courtney, they were going on four years strong. They finally got engaged after graduation, moving to the old house across the street from the Valentis.
After everyone had moved away to school, Amy and Jim ended up with a bundle of joy named Jade. Kyle enjoyed being the older brother to his baby sister. Realizing that he didn’t want to miss any part of her childhood, he and Courtney moved as close to the Valentis without actually living with them.
As for jobs, Courtney got hired at Roswell Memorial where she was a pediatric nurse. She was the one that had gotten Liz the lab job at the hospital. So it wasn’t exactly head of molecular biology at harvard, but Liz was fine with that. She was where she wanted to be, with her friends, and most importantly, her family.
Kyle recently became the newest sheriff’s deputy, which made him one of Noah’s heros as he got to wear a badge.
Max’s thoughts were interrupted as someone finally picked up on the other end of the line.
“Blondie’s Bar & Grill. How can I help you?”
Max smiled into the phone at the sound Maria’s voice. “Hey Maria, it’s me, Max.”
He could almost hear her lips curling into a smile. “Hey Max. What can I do for you?”
“Well, I was wondering if I could order a couple of tonight’s special? Liz and I are still trying to get through the rest of the boxes, and well, cooking dinner is not really high on our list.”
Maria chuckled into the phone. “Not a problem, hun. I’ll go put in an order right now. It should be ready in fifteen.”
“Great. I’ll be by in a few minutes with Noah.”
“Kay, see you later, Max.”
Max grabbed a light jacket for himself and Noah, calling up the stairs. “Noah, let’s go. We gotta go pick up dinner!”
The sound of little feet scampering down the stairs, echoed in the house, as Noah called out. “Comin’.”
Max held out his son’s jacket for him. “What’d your momma say about running down the stairs?”
Noah looked thoughtful for a moment, as he tried to remember. “Momma said to always hold onto the railing, and not to go down too fast.”
“That’s right. Now, I don’t want you running down the stairs again, you hear? Your momma doesn’t need anymore stress right now, little man.”
Noah looked sorrowful, his head bobbing slowly. “I sorry. I didn’t meaned to make momma upset.”
Max smiled at his son, gently ruffling his hair. “I know that little man. And momma isn’t upset. I’m just reminding you the rules.”
Liz padded down the stairs, carrying a small load of laundry. “You boys ready to go?”
“Yep.” Max shoved his hands into his pockets, waiting until Noah ran to his mother.
“Bye momma. Me and daddy will be back soon.” He kissed her cheek, his little fingers curling into her soft brown hair like it always did.
Liz smiled at the conviction in her son’s voice. The way he spoke, it almost sounded as if he were trying to reassure her that he and Max wouldn’t leave her alone for too long. “Bye, precious. You be good for daddy. And give Ria and Michael a kiss for me when you see them, alright?”
Max walked up to Liz then, his hand cupping her jaw. “We’ll be back soon. Promise me you won’t try to lift anything while I’m not here?”
Liz held her hand to her hip, standing up taller. “I’ll have you know, that I am quite capable young woman. I’m 22 years old, Max. Not 62.”
“I know, but just promise me? I don’t want anything happening to you while we’re gone.”
Liz melted at his words, still awestruck, that after all this time, he still worried about her so much.
“Fine, I promise. Happy now?”
Max smiled, giving her a peck. “Much. We’ll see you later.” He grabbed Noah’s hand, leading him towards the jeep parked in the driveway.
Liz stood on the front porch, waving as she watched her boys drive away.
Taking a deep breath, Liz looked around her surroundings, her smile growing wider at the thought of their first home together.
Grabbing her laundry, she walked back into the house, shutting the door behind her.
Max pulled open the doors to Blondie’s, holding Noah’s hand.
“Blondie’s, how many will it be?” The hostess looked up, blushing when she realized that it was Max. “Mr. Evans. I didn’t realize that it was you.” She looked down at Noah, smiling. “Will it be just the two of you?”
His sentence was abruptly cut off when Maria entered. “Max!....Noah! How you doin’ big guy?” She leaned down, pulling Noah into an embrace.
“Hi, ‘Ria.” He let go of his father’s hand, clinging onto Maria’s instead.
Maria turned to the hostess and smiled. “It’s ok, Angie. I’ve got ‘em.”
Maria led Max and Noah into the kitchen, while striking up a conversation with Max. “So, it seems like you’ve still got the charm going.”
Max looked startled, laughing a little. “What are you talking about, Maria?”
Maria tipped her head back towards the front of the restaurant, where Angie’s attention was focused on Max’s retreating form. “Oh please, you honestly didn’t see her checking you out?”
Max turned to look at Angie, who turned around quickly. His cheeks warmed, a red color tinting his them. “Maria, Angie is going to be one of my students this year. She can’t be....she doesn’t think of me that way...Besides, who’s ever had a crush on their English teacher?”
Maria gave Max a look. “You mean, you’ve never thought about your teachers that way?”
When Max just gave her a blank expression, Maria laughed. “Ok then. Just be careful, Max. I mean these days, the kids in school are a lot worse of then when we were there. And especially since the new teacher happens to be a 22 year old hottie-
Max interrupted Maria, shoving his hands in his pockets. “It doesn’t matter. I love Liz. I don’t have eyes for anyone else.”
Maria grinned. “Well, that’s always good to know.” She looked down when she felt Noah tug on her hand.
She smiled, leaning down so that she could hear him over the bustling waiters. “Yes, hun?”
“Can we see, Michael? Momma wants me to say hi for her.”
Maria pulled Noah further into the kitchen in search for Michael.
“Maria, how much longer?”
Maria looked at her watch. “Uh, give us another ten minutes or so. We’re backed up in orders. Is that ok?”
Max nodded, grabbing his keys from his pocket. “That’s great. Look, there’s something I need to pick up at the drug store and I was wondering if you could watch Noah for a few minutes?”
“Sure.” She grabbed his hand before he could run out of the door. “Is everything ok?”
Max smiled. “Yeah. I just have to pick up a few things for the new house. You know, aspirin and stuff.”
Maria gave him a pat on the back as he went through the back exit.
Max drove to the drugstore, walking purposefully inside.
He walked to one particular aisle. He eyed the boxes in front of him, trying to decide which one to get. Finally heaving a sigh, he grabbed the one he was more familiar with and headed to the counter.
The cashier gave him a fake smile, eyeing the box. “Will this be it for you, sir?”
Max nodded, but on second thought, he changed his mind. “Actually, throw in some aspirin, will you?”
Max walked back into the kitchen, smiling when he saw Noah perched on one of the metal tables. He had captured Maria and Michael’s attention, telling them some story, using his hands animatedly.
“Is the food ready?”
Michael wiped his hands on his apron, smiling. “Yep. Jose is wrapping it up right now.” He turned to Noah, placing his hand onto the little boy’s head. “I’ll see you later, Noah.” He tipped his head to Max, grinning. “Max.”
Max smiled back, pulling Noah to his feet.
Maria reached for the paper bags that held Max’s order, and handed it to him. “Here you go.” She winked. “And I put a little something extra in there for dessert.”
Max grabbed his wallet, but Maria shooed him away. “Don’t think about it, Max. It’s on the house.”
Max shook his head, taking out the money to hand it to her, but Maria jumped away from him.
“You just go home to that beautiful wife of yours, and let her eat dinner, then you can tell her to call me.”
Looking defeated, Max turned to Michael.
Michael only shook his head. “Sorry, Max. Like Maria said, your money is no good here. You just go home and we’ll see you later.”
Before Max could get out another word, Maria pushed him out of the kitchen. “We’ll see you guys at mom and dad’s bbq tomorrow,” she waved.
Max stumbled a little, just nodding. He grabbed Noah’s hand, moving to the front of the restaurant. He stopped by Angie’s podium, handing her some money. “Can you make sure that Maria gets this? Tell her it’s from me.”
Angie took the money from his hands, deliberately brushing her hand against his. “Anything for you, Mr. Evans.”
Max pulled away, feeling uncomfortable. “Right...Thanks.”
Angie waved. “I’ll see you in English, Mr. Evans.”
After dinner, the Evans family worked through a few more boxes.
When it drew close to Noah’s bedtime, Liz walked into his room to find him playing with an airplane.
“Hey. Light’s out.”
Noah put down his airplane, scrambling to his bed. “Sorry, momma. But I couldn’t sleep.”
Liz sat down on his bed, pulling the covers around him. “I know, but we have to get up early tomorrow to get more of the boxes done, then we’re going to Amy and Jim’s bbq, and you can see Jade.”
Noah scrunched up his nose. “But momma, Jade’s a girl.”
Liz laughed, leaning down so that her hair fanned around the two of them. “So, what’s wrong with being a girl? I’m a girl.”
Noah shook his head. “You’re not just a girl....you’re my momma. Jade, well, Jade is only four.” He held out four fingers to emphasize his point.
Liz kissed his cheeks, smoothing back his hair. “Well, you’re not that much older. Just promise me you’ll be nice and play with her tomorrow?”
Noah smiled, touching Liz’s cheeks. “Ok. Anything for you, momma.” He placed a noisy kiss on her nose, snuggling back into his covers. His eyes drifted shut as his breathing evened out.
“Nite nite, precious.”
Noah turned on his side, curling under the sheets. “Nite nite.”
Liz smiled, walking to the door to switch off the light. Before doing so, took one last look at Noah before closing the door behind her.
She walked to her and Max’s room, practically skipping.
She found him sitting on the bed, looking over some papers.
She hurriedly shut the door behind her, pulling her shirt over her head. “Noah’s asleep.”
A devilish grin passed over Max’s lips as he put his papers away. Seeing that Liz had already taken off her shirt, he did the same.
There were no pleasantries as they jumped into each other’s arms, practically devouring each other.
The words, ‘Noah’s asleep’ became code for when they had a few hours of alone time together. It was hard to have an active sexual relationship, with an inquisitive little boy around, so they took what they got, when they got it.
Liz rolled onto the bed, intending to let out a moan, instead, letting out a shriek of pain. “Ow!”
Max jumped away, looking worried. “Did I hurt you? Was I too rough?”
Liz shook her head, her breathing still ragged. Instead of talking, she rolled over, looking at the brown paper bag lying on the bed. “What’s this?”
“Oh, it’s uhm....I sorta stopped by the drugstore and got you something.”
Liz eyed him warily, opening up the contents of the paper bag. She pulled out a bottle of aspirin, and then a pregnancy test. She sighed, tracing the lettering on the box. “Is that why you didn’t want me doing too much lifting? Because you think I’m pregnant?”
Max sat on the bed, looking down. “Well, you are late, and you’ve been a little sick...I just......I hope you’re not mad.”
Liz shook her head, placing her arms around him. “Of course I’m not mad. I just, I don’t want you to get your hopes up, honey. I mean it could just be stress.”
Max nodded, swallowing past the lump in his throat. “I know...and I promise, it won’t be like last time....I just want to be sure, is all.”
Liz kissed his forehead, taking the test into the bathroom. “Well, I can’t take it till tomorrow morning, so we’ll just wait.” She took her pants off, throwing on one of Max’s old shirts.
Max wrinkled his nose. “Hey, isn’t that my shirt?”
Liz giggled, jumping into bed. “Yeah, but I like your clothes so much better. They’re so comfy.”
Before Max could pounce on her, a knock came from the door.
Max and Liz sat up, finding Noah at their door.
“What’s up, little man? You’re supposed to be asleep.”
Noah nodded. “I know, but I can’t sleep. Can I sleep in here tonight?”
Max and Liz exchanged a look, knowing that their plans were foiled.
Liz scooted to her side as Max stood up, scooping Noah in his arms. “Alright, pal. But just for tonight.” He dropped Noah in the middle, shutting off the light as he climbed into bed.
“Nite, Max. I love you.”
The three of them snuggled in the big bed, falling asleep in each other’s arms just as they used to do.
“Did you pick up your toys?” Max finished unpacking a box as he talked to his son.
Noah called out from his room. “I am now.”
Max shook his head, dumping the empty box in a pile by the window. He glanced at his watch, then to the door of the master bedroom. Taking a deep breath, he walked to the door, curling his hand into a fist.
Gently tapping his knuckles on the door, he whispered so as not to startle Liz. “Liz, are you ok?”
“Uh huh....just uh....just give me a few more minutes.”
Max nodded even though he knew that Liz couldn’t see him. “Well, if you need anything...I’m right out here.” He turned to leave, but changed his mind. He laid his palm flat across the door, pressing his cheek against the wooden surface. “I love you, Liz.”
Liz whispered back, her voice sounding closer than before. It was almost as if she was doing the same thing that he was. “I love you too, Max.”
Max closed his eyes, pulling himself away from the door. He had to do something, something keep his mind off of what was going on with Liz in the bathroom. She had asked him not to get his hopes up, and he was really trying, but it was difficult.
He walked down the stairs, looking for something to do, when his mind drifted back to another time.
It was their sophomore year in college. Noah had just turned four, and Max had transferred out of ACC to UNM. Life was going great for their little family, and no matter what life threw at them, they got through it with flying colors.
Being on the same campus as Liz had given Max and her more time to spend together. They had even shared a few classes together, making their lives that much more interesting.
It wasn’t until Isabel and Alex had announced their engagement did things get a little more, intense with Max and Liz. It wasn’t as if their relationship wasn’t intense enough, but Liz had thought that she was pregnant.
At first, she had been frightened to tell Max, knowing how hard it would be for them to have a baby when they were still juggling school, work, and raising a four year old son. She had taken a home pregnancy test, hoping to have it tell her that she wasn’t expecting, but as it turned out, the test came out positive.
She had agonized over how to break it to Max, not knowing how he would take the news. As much as he wanted to have children with her, he had a gnawing fear in the back of his mind that what happened to Tess could very well happen to Liz. He had confided that in her, telling her that he was glad that she was still on the pill, because he really didn’t think that he was ready to have to face that fear yet.
It was an ongoing battle with Liz, one that didn’t go unnoticed by Max. He had cornered her, asking her to confide in him, because he hated seeing her so upset all the time. That on top of being her husband, and her lover, he was also her best friend. He hoped that whatever was plaguing her was something she could share with him because they had always promised that they wouldn’t keep anything from each other.
Liz broke down, telling him the news of her pregnancy, relaying her fears to him.
Max had been shocked. He had comforted Liz, not saying much of anything. He just held her in his arms, trying to soothe her even though his emotions were shot to hell.
It wasn’t until the day after, when he was on his way home from work that he decided to take a walk to clear his head. He had walked for hours passing by numerous stores on his way. On his way back to the jeep, he noticed a children’s store. Hoping to clear his mind a little more, he walked inside, looking at the various toys.
Maybe by pure coincidence or maybe in his subconscious, Max ended up in the infant section. He walked passed the little tables, his fingertips dancing lightly across the delicate trinkets. He stopped by some baby blankets, his hands marveling at the softness of the material.
A smile touched his lips as he remembered the time that he first bought Noah something. It was a little after he and Tess realized that she was pregnant. Things had been rough for her, and he had hoped getting her something for the baby would cheer her up. He stopped by a toy store, his attention grabbed by all the different toys. He couldn’t decide what to get, his arms full toys. His mind was going a mile a minute, trying to decide, when his eyes landed on a little boy carrying a stuffed Pooh Bear. He was dragging it on the floor, his little hand tugging on his mother’s sleeve, trying to get her attention. Once she did, he pleaded with her to have the plush toy. The boy’s mother had refused at first, but seeing the way her son’s lower lip trembled, she caved.
Seeing that scene in front of him, Max had made the decision to go with the Pooh Bear.
Returning back to the present time, Max chuckled, realizing that Noah wasn’t able to use the stuffed toy until he had grown a little older. His thoughts turned back to Liz and he remembered how upset she had been. He wanted her to know, that whatever happened, he loved her. That her being pregnant was a godsend and that they would make it through.
He grabbed a baby blanket from the table, purchasing it.
The drive home had been a good one. Max had suddenly began getting giddy at the thought of having a baby around the house again. He had never been around for Tess’ pregnancy, not for his lack of trying though. But he was happy to know, that he would be there to experience everything with Liz. That everything she would be experiencing, would be something new for him too.
He had walked into their apartment, wearing a grin on his face, the size of Texas.
He came in to find Liz playing with Noah, her happiness back in full swing. She had looked up the moment he walked in, their eyes locking. She ran to him, throwing her arms around him.
“I’ve got great news, Max.”
Max smiled into her neck, kissing her lightly. “I got you a present.” He handed her the package, his amber eyes twinkling. “I hope you like it. I know I was a real jerk yesterday when you told me, but....but now that I’ve thought about it...” He cupped her cheeks, willing her to see his happiness. “Liz, I can’t wait to have this baby with you.”
At his words, Liz’s face crumpled. She looked to the unwrapped package in her hands, her eyes watering. “Oh, god....Max...”
Max tilted her face to look at him, his heart aching at the sight of her tears. “Liz, what’s wrong?”
“I’m not pregnant, Max....I...I just got off the phone with the Dr. and she said that it was a false alarm.”
Max looked at her, confused. “But...but what about the test that you took?”
Liz wiped away at her tears. “She...she said that they weren’t 100% accurate. That they were wrong sometimes......I’m so sorry, Max.”
Max swallowed past the lump in his throat, forcing a smile on his lips. “Don’t be sorry, baby....It wasn’t meant to be....at least....at least not yet.”
Liz held the baby blanket in her hands, her sobs threatening to consume her. She tried to speak, but nothing was coming out of her mouth. She buried her face in Max’s chest, feeling his warm tears falling into her hair.
The two of them stayed that way for a long time, both of them grieving for a child that they had never created.
Max wiped the wetness from his eyes, as he returned to clearing out the living room.
The sound of footsteps behind him caught his attention. He turned to see Liz standing with her hands behind her back, the expression on her face unreadable.
“Did everything go ok?”
Liz only nodded, walking until she was standing face to face with him.
He waited with baited breath to hear what the result of the test had been. He bit his tongue, trying not to seem pushy.
She kissed his lips amorously, her hands running through his hair. She pulled away, smiling. “I just want to say a few things first before I tell you what the result was.”
It was Max’s turn to bob his head, as his voice seemed uncooperative.
“The last time we took a home test....well, it wasn’t exactly reliable, so I’m not going to put all of my eggs in one basket, so to speak...I made an appointment with my Dr, and I’m going to see her after work.”
Max just nodded, his anxiety eating him up.
She cupped his cheek, her hand brushing it tenderly. “I know how tough it was for you the last time when you thought....when you thought that we were going to have a baby....I just don’t want to lead you on again.”
Max was about to tell her not to worry about his feelings, when the last part of her sentence struck a chord in his mind. “Are you...?” He had to swallow a few times, just to make the words come out.
Liz tried to keep the excitement from her face, but her eyes betrayed her. “We’re not really going to know for sure until I visit with Dr. Walker on Monday.”
Max closed his eyes, breathing a sigh of relief. He hugged Liz to him, his breaths ragged against her cheek.
“I love you so much, Liz.”
Max and Liz arrived at the Valenti house, wearing the same excited gleam in their eyes. They had decided not to tell anyone about the possible pregnancy until they heard for sure from Liz’s Dr. on Monday.
Max and Liz had perched themselves at a table, sitting around and talking with their friends.
As Liz had requested, Noah went in search of Jade. He found her on Kyle’s back, as he gave her a piggy back ride.
Kyle noticed Noah standing in the corner, watching them curiously. He put Jade down, holding her hand as they walked towards Noah. “Hey, Noah. You remember my little sister, Jade?”
Noah nodded. “I remember.”
Kyle laughed at the wary glance that Noah was giving his sister. He shook his head, untangling Jade from his side. “Ok, how about the two of you play, while I go talk to the grownups.” He left the two kids, staring each other down.
Jade was a few inches shorter than Noah. Her hair was a soft blonde, her eyes a light brown. She placed her hands on her hips, watching Noah closely. “You know how to play twucks?”
Noah crossed his arms. “Girls don’t play with trucks.”
Jade nodded her head, her blonde curls bouncing around her face. “Uh huh, they do too.”
Noah shook his head. “Na uh, they do not.”
The two of them continued that way until Jade ran forward, knocking Noah over like a football player. She looked over his prone form, her face serious. “Do too. ‘Ria sayed I can do anytin’ I want!” She brushed the hair out of her face, smiling. She reached out a hand to help Noah up. “So, you wanna play now?”
The adults watched the exchange between the two children, all of them laughing the moment Jade rammed Noah into the ground. What made it even funnier was after the little scene they had, Noah took Jade’s hand the two of them playing with her toy trucks.
Maria shook her head, looking at her little sister. “Look what you’ve done to our little sister, Kyle.”
Kyle held up his hands in defense. “Hey, I just took her to the toy store and told her to pick out whatever she wanted. She was the one who came back with the trucks.”
The laughter continued as they watched the children play.
Jade was a little fireball. She had inherited Maria’s feistiness, and Kyle’s obvious athleticism. But she also inherited their loving nature.
Max continued to watch Jade, remembering how Noah was when he was her age. He couldn’t help but hope for a girl if Liz was pregnant. The thought brought a smile to his lips, making him pull Liz closer to him. He wrapped his arm around her waist, his hand laying on her flat tummy.
Liz looked up at him, smiling. She brought her arm around his, her hands entwining with his above her stomach.
As much as they had told each other that they wouldn’t get their hopes up, they just couldn’t help it. The thought of having another child, and experiencing everything together for the first time was almost euphoric.
And it certainly couldn’t come at a better time. They both had steady jobs, a new house, and Noah was a little older now. They were still a little young, but certainly just in age, for they had reached maturity a long time ago. Both of them grew up a lot faster than they would’ve liked, but that didn’t matter to them, because it was just right for them. Just like it seemed right for them, now too.
Max kissed her temple, his hand lovingly rubbing across her stomach.
Day turned into night, and pretty soon, everyone went about their separate ways, biding goodbye until the next time.
Max helped Liz into her coat, walking into the living room to call Noah.
He and Jade had gone into the house to watch cartoons after they tired of playing with all of her toys.
Max stopped, the smile on his face broadening.
Noah and Jade had fallen asleep on the carpet, both of them softly snoring. The light from the television illuminated their soft skin, making them seem angelic.
Walking lightly, Max gently picked up Noah in his arms, taking him to the jeep. He was careful not jostle him too much.
As he strapped him into the back seat, Noah yawned, opening his sleepy eyes. He looked around him, rubbing his eyes. “Where’s Jade?”
“She’s sleeping. We have to go home now.”
Noah turned hopeful eyes to his father. “Can I play with her again?”
Max smiled. “Sure, pal. But you and Jade have to get some sleep first.”
Noah just nodded, turning to his side, going back to sleep.
Max shut the light off, climbing in beside Liz. He pulled her to his side, his hand running down her arm. “Did you have fun today?”
Liz nodded against his shoulder, her hand caressing his naked chest. “I had a great time, but I think Noah had an even better time.”
Max chuckled “Yeah, well I think he’s realized that not all girls are bad.” He felt Liz smile against his chest as she shifted. He was about to ask her what she was doing when she began placing light kisses on his chest, her teeth gently nipping his skin.
He bit back a groan, pulling her so that she was straddling him. His hands traveled through her thick tresses, down her back, eventually cupping her butt. He moved her body slightly, so that her heat was positioned just above his hardness. She let out a small gasp, before grinding herself into him, feeling him arch up into her.
Moving quickly, she shed her shirt, tossing it over her shoulder. Her hands fumbled with the drawstring of Max’s pajama bottoms, throwing them to the floor.
Max looked at her with a hungry stare, his hands reaching out to touch her breast. Her head fell back, her back arching at his touch. He watched her closely, his hands gently tweaking her nipples. He cupped a breast in each hand, almost as if weighing them. He thought about how much bigger they would be when she started to produce milk for their baby. The thought that Liz’s body would change in order to provide sustenance for a life they might have created, did wonderous things to him.
He sat up, placing his mouth over one globe, his mouth gently suckling. Liz bucked her hips against his, her hands clinging to his short hair. Max grinned, moving to give her other breast, giving it the same luscious treatment. He squeezed his hand between their heated bodies, his hand rubbing her still flat tummy.
She pulled his chin up, fusing her lips to his in a hot kiss. Their kisses were wet and sloppy, as they tried to free each other from the confines of their undergarments.
Liz pulled away, gently pushing Max to lie back down. He did, his eyes watching her every move.
Liz smiled wickedly, her eyes trained on his erection. She licked her lips, her hands curling around his length.
Max could feel his eyes roll in the back of his head at the feel of her tiny hands encasing him.
She stroked him softly, almost as if she were petting a cat. She leaned down, placing a kiss on the head before moving to straddle him again. Her breaths came out as pants, her voice raspy with passion.
“Max.....open your eyes.”
Max did as he was told, watching as Liz grasped him in her hand. He watched as she positioned him at her opening, before sinking down onto him.
Their moans of pleasure at their joining were low, almost matching each other in pitch and depth.
He ran his hands up her thighs, coming to rest at her hips to help her begin a rhythm. She leaned forward, bracing her hands against his chest, allowing her more leverage. Soon, they built a pace that was driving them both insane.
Their bodies were slick with sweat, their flesh slapping together almost violently as they strived to reach a common goal.
Max let out a guttural moan as his eyes opened to see Liz hovering over him. Her eyes were closed, her face contorted in a grimace of pleasure. She bit her bottom lip, trying to keep herself as quiet as possible as she continued to ride him.
As their bodies produced more sweat, Liz slipped forward, her chocolate tresses falling over Max’s chest like a waterfall.
The silky smoothness of her hair against his heated skin was almost enough to bring him to orgasm. He held off, wanting to go over with Liz.
Snaking a hand between their gyrating bodies, his slipped his finger just above her opening, looking for her special bundle of nerves. It didn’t take much to make her fly, her walls tightening around his turgid length.
A strangled moan of pleasure seeped from her lips, causing Max to plunge his tongue into her mouth, swallowing her moans.
As she continued to spasm around him, Max finally let go, his seed shooting forth. Their bodies continued to rock against each other until the last of their tremors stopped.
Max hugged Liz to his body, kissing her skin anywhere he could.
The two of them fell into a deep sleep, their bodies nothing more than a tangle of arms and legs.
As the first light seeped through the blinds, Max shimmied down the bed so that he was facing Liz’s stomach. He looked up to make sure she was still sleeping before, laying his hand against it.
His voice came out as a whisper as he spoke. “Hey there, little one....I know I shouldn’t be bothering you right now because you need your rest, but daddy just wanted to tell you something.” He moved his hand across her tummy, tracing invisible patterns. “I know your momma told me not to get my hopes up, but I can’t help it.”
He heaved a sigh, before continuing. “I know that your momma and I are still young, but I can’t wait for you to get here. You have a big brother waiting for you too, and he’s going to love you so much.”
He leaned his forehead against her warm skin, finally laying his cheek against her stomach. “I already love you so much.” He chuckled at himself as he wiped away a tear from his eye. “I know that you may not even be in there yet, but I just wanted you to know.” He smiled as he looked down to where he had just rested his cheek. “When you do decide to make your grand entrance into the world, you’ll be coming into a family full of love......and I want you to know, that no one wants you to come sooner than I do.”
He ran his hand across her stomach reverently. “Please be in there, because daddy can’t wait to meet you.”
He brushed his lips softly against her tummy, before moving back up to snuggle with Liz. “Sleep tight little one.”
He spooned against Liz, making sure that his hand was touching her stomach. What he didn’t realize was that Liz had woken up and heard his every word.
A tear fell down her cheek as her hand met his around her stomach.
“I hope you’re in there too, little one.” She whispered to herself.
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:28:27 PM|
Max glanced at the clock that hung above the door in his classroom.
It was almost 2:30 and school was about to let out. He wished the time to go faster, his mind making a mental check list of what he had to do.
Liz was working till 5, but she her appointment with Dr. Walker was scheduled right after that. That gave him exactly 2 and a half hours to set things up. Liz was already under a lot of pressure, knowing how much the two of them wanted this pregnancy to be a reality.
Max had tried to devise a plan to make things a little more comfortable for her when she got home.
First, he had to stop by Amy’s to pick up Noah. Then he had to get home, start dinner, do a load of laundry, tidy up the house-
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the bell ringing. “Alright, I want everyone to read chapters 1 and 2 of the assigned reading by tomorrow.”
A simultaneous groan was heard from the bustling students, desperate to leave school.
“There will be a quiz on Friday, so I suggest you guys take this seriously. Quizzes account for 10% of your grade. I know that may not sound like a lot, but if you fail enough, you may run into some trouble. Do the reading, and you’ll be fine.” He grabbed his papers, stuffing them into his messenger bag. “I’ll see you all same time tomorrow.”
Throwing the bag over his shoulder, he grabbed his keys, intending to head out the door, but someone was blocking his way. He looked up to see Angie smiling at him.
“Angie, if you don’t mind, I really have to get going.” He pointed to the door, hoping she would get the hint, but she just stepped closer to him.
Max stumbled back, watching as she advanced towards him.
“Please, Mr. Evans? This will only take a minute.”
Max sighed in defeat, offering her a seat.
She sat down, smiling at him. She leaned her elbows on the table, leaning forward, giving Max an eyeful.
Max moved further away, the uncomfortable feeling he got when he was around her returning. “What’s this about, Angie? I really have some important things I need to take care of. Isn’t this something that can wait?”
“I was hoping you could give me some private tutoring sessions. I really suck in English. I’m so bad you’d think it wasn’t my first language,” she tried to joke.
But Max wasn’t amused. All he could think about was the precious time he was wasting, standing around. All he could think about was Liz.
Max rubbed his temples, willing his headache to go away. “I’m sorry Angie, but if you need a tutor, you’re going to have to find someone else. I can give you the names of some excellent tutors.”
Angie pouted, batting her eyelashes at him. “But I thought it would work best if you were my tutor. I mean, seeing as you’re the one who knows all of the material.”
Max bit his tongue, not wanting to vent his frustrations out on her. He really didn’t have time for this. “Angie, I’m willing to bend over backwards to help you during class time, but other than that, there’s nothing I can do for you. I have a family that I need to take care of, outside of class. Like I said, I’ll give you the names of some people, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I really have to go.”
Clutching his keys, he ran out of the door, heading towards the staff parking lot.
Angie glared at the door that he just escaped from. She stood up, crossing her arms across her chest. She was about to leave, when she noticed a few picture frames on his desk. There were four in total. One with Mr. Evans, and seven other people. There was one of his son. And one of his wife. She picked that one up, looking at Liz’s picture.
She stared at it for a long while before looking at the family portrait that was still on the table. She tilted her head at angle, noting the way Max held his family close. She turned her attention back to the picture in her hand, looking at her reflection in the glass. She smiled, tracing the outline of Liz’s face.
She went to return the picture to it’s original position on the desk, when her hand let go ‘accidentally’.
Holding a hand to her lips, she shook her head. “Oops!” She eyed the remnants of broken glass, snickering before digging her heel into it, her foot leaving an imprint on Liz’s face.
“It was nice knowing you, Mrs. Evans.”
Max struggled with some pots and pans, as he tried to yell over the sound of the television.
“Noah! Turn that thing off!”
Noah turned his gaze away from the tv, to look at his father. He gave the tv one last glance, before shutting it off. He stood up, holding his toy airplane in his hand.
He walked cautiously into the kitchen, watching as his father tried to get dinner ready.
Max looked up, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Did you finish your homework?”
Noah nodded. “Uh huh. Mrs. Valenti made me do it before she let play with Jade.”
Max took a quick glance at the clock, knowing that Liz was going to be home any minute.
He dropped the lid onto one of the pots, wiping his hands on his makeshift apron. He pushed Noah into the bathroom, taking the airplane out of his hands. “Wash your hands. Your momma’s gonna be here any second.”
He ran into the laundry room, grabbing the folded clothes. He rushed up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. He distributed the clothes in the appropriate rooms, running back down the stairs.
He untucked the dish towel from his pants, throwing it over his shoulder.
He went into the bathroom to check on Noah, only to find him splashing soap and water everywhere.
Noah turned surprised eyes at his father, hiding his hands behind his back. “I wasn’t doin’ nothing.”
Max reached for Noah’s dripping hands, holding it over the sink. He ripped up a few paper towels, trying his best to mop up the mess. “Don’t lie to me. I already saw you, And besides, it’s not, ‘I wasn’t doin’ nothing.’, it’s supposed to be, ‘I wasn’t doing anything.’”
Noah wiped his hands on the towel, looking down at his father. “Ok. I wasn’t doing anything.” He smiled. “How was that?”
Max laughed despite himself. “Better, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Go into the kitchen and get your momma’s flowers. She’s gonna-
Max shut up the minute the front door flew open, revealing Liz.
Her eyes closed as she took in the smell of food. Her eyes opened again, looking around the recently cleaned house. Her gaze landing on Max and Noah.
Max stood up, pushing Noah towards the kitchen to retrieve the flowers. He wiped his hands on his jeans, walking towards Liz slowly.
Noah ran in from the kitchen, presenting Liz with a bouquet of white roses. “These are for you, momma.”
Liz felt her heart burst in her chest. She leaned down, taking the flowers from Noah. She kissed the top of his head, looking around the room, before pinning Max with her gaze.
“What’s all this for?”
Noah shrugged his shoulders. “Because daddy said we had to make everything just right, for you. Daddy cleaned the house, did the washing, and the cooking.”
Liz felt her eyes tear up. “You cleaned, and did the laundry?”
Max grinned at her, finally coming to move to stand in front of her. “You forgot the cooking, too,” he finished with a teasing tone.
Liz sniffed back a tear, inhaling the delicious aroma of the food coming from the kitchen. She reached for Max’s hand, placing it onto her stomach. “Well, I hope you made plenty of food. Because according to Dr. Walker, I’m eating for two now.”
Max’s jaw dropped, his eyes bugging out of his head. He didn’t say anything at first, afraid that he was just hearing what he wanted to hear.
Liz looked up at him, her doe eyes twinkling. “That’s all you’ve got to say?”
Before Liz got all of the words past her lips, Max lifted her into the air, spinning her around. He placed noisy kisses everywhere he could before letting her down. He grabbed her cheeks, landing a sound kiss on her lips before picking Noah up in his arms. He grabbed Liz again, hugging her to his body.
“We’re going to have a little one.”
Max and Liz sat on either side of Noah, on his bed, trying their best to explain about the new baby on the way.
Noah looked up at Liz with wide eyes. “There’s a baby, in there?” He pointed to Liz’s still flat belly, his eyes dancing with curiosity.
Liz smiled, holding a hand to her stomach. “Yes, precious. The baby is in here, and then it’ll grow inside of me until it’s ready to be born.”
Max kissed the top of Noah’s head. “Your momma’s right, little man. And when the baby does come, we’re going to have to spend a lot of time with it, and it give it lots of attention. But just because we’re doing that, it doesn’t mean we love you any less.”
Noah smiled at his parents before taking Max’s large hand in between his. He gave it a soft pat, as if to reassure Max. “Is ok, daddy. I’m a big boy now, ‘member?”
Max laughed. “You’re absolutely right.”
Noah stared at Liz’s stomach curiously. “Was I in there too, momma?”
Liz felt her throat choke with tears. “I’m afraid not, sweetie. You remember when your daddy and I told you about your other momma? Tess?”
Noah bobbed his head. “Uh huh. You and daddy said that she was my birth mommy.”
Liz smiled through her tears. “That’s right, precious. Since she was your birth mommy, you grew inside of her.”
Noah smiled as he finished the all too familiar story. “And then I was born. But Tess had to go away, and then daddy and I were alone. Until he found you.” He cupped Liz’s cheek. “Then we were a family, and my other mommy watched us from up there.” He pointed his finger up to the sky.
Max reached for Liz’s hand, squeezing it. “You’re right.”
Noah scooted closer to Liz, his small hand fanning across her belly. “Can I choose what it is?”
Max and Liz chuckled softly together.
Liz placed her hand on top of Noah’s. “Well honey, it doesn’t really work that way. We can’t choose what we want the baby to be.”
Noah looked disappointed as he sat back down. “Oh.”
Max put his arm around Noah, pulling him to his side. “Sorry about that, pal. But if you could choose, what would you want? A little brother or a little sister?”
Noah grinned. “A sister.”
“A sister? But I thought you didn’t like girls?” Liz asked him jokingly.
Noah shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno know. If the baby is like Jade, then it would be ok if she was a girl.”
Max and Liz shared a look over Noah’s head.
“So you like Jade?” Max asked, leadingly.
Noah nodded. “Uh huh. She’s funny, and she always shares her toys.”
“Well, that’s good to know. But I’m afraid it’s time for bed. Light’s out, precious.” Liz kissed his cheek, moving to tuck him in.
Max kissed his other cheek, smoothing back his hair. “Sleep tight, little man.”
“Nite nite.” He turned to his side, closing his eyes. But before Max and Liz could close the door behind them, Noah called out. “G’nite to you too, baby.”
Liz held a hand to her chest, trying to keep her emotions under control.
She linked hands with Max, the two of them walking to their room.
After shutting the door behind them, Max pulled Liz into his warm arms. “You, ok babe?”
Liz nodded against his chest, tightening her arms around him. “Yea. I’m great. Just a little overwhelmed, is all.”
Max hugged her tighter, his hands, dancing in her hair. “I’m sorry honey. But I promise, Noah and I, we’re going to do a lot more.”
Liz pulled away from him, shaking her head as she smiled. “Max, you don’t have to go overboard. It’s true that I’m going to need a little more help now, but I don’t want you killing yourself in the process. I maybe pregnant, but I’m not an invalid.”
Max just stared at her, a goofy grin on his lips.
Liz eyed him warily. “What?”
Max shook his head, looking away shyly. “Nothing...it’s just....you’re really pregnant.” He cupped her cheek, his amber eyes sparkling. “We’re gonna have a baby.”
Liz bit the corner of her bottom lip, trying her best not to cry. “How can you still look at me like that?”
Max looked confused. “Like what?”
Liz laughed softly. “Look at me like I’m the most beautiful thing in the world. Like you haven’t seen my face everyday for the last five years.”
He kissed her lips softly, as his hands flanked her face. His thumbs softly brushed the sides of her lips, as his tongue gently made love to her mouth.
Leaning his forehead against hers, he pulled back, his breaths hitting her lips as warm puffs.
“Because I love you. Liz, you’re the most beautiful person I know. Inside and out. How can I not look at you like that?”
Liz let the tears drip. She hugged Max to her chest, trying to lose herself in him. “God, I love you. So much. I don‘t know what I ever did to deserve you, Noah, or this baby.”
Max kissed her cheek. “I think you’ve got that the other way around. I’m not the one that deserves you, but I’m not about to complain.” He chuckled, his laugh vibrating against his chest.
Liz wiped the wetness from her cheeks, smiling into Max’s eyes. “We’re gonna get through this, right?”
“Of course we are. If life throws us lemons, we make lemonade-
Liz held a hand to his chest, crinkling her nose. “Honey, you really shouldn’t listen to all of Alex’s um, sayings.” She began to chuckle. “They’re kinda geeky.”
Max let his jaw drop in mock shock. “Are you calling me a geek?”
Liz shrugged her shoulders. “If the shoe fits....”
Max grabbed her by the sides, his skilled fingers skimming down her ticklish spots. “What was that about you calling me geeky?”
Liz held out her hands in defeat, gasping for breath. “Ok, I take it back. You’re not geeky, but very sexy.”
Max let go of her, rolling his eyes. “You...Come on.” He led her to the bed as he started undressing. “It’s time for bed. Work, tomorrow.”
Liz pouted at him. “No goodnight kiss? Noah’s asleep.”
Max shook his head. “Nope. Goodnight kisses lead to certain other things.” He waggled his eyebrows.
Liz laughed. “And you’re saying you don’t want it to lead to things?”
Max curled up under the covers. “Of course not, but we’ve had a long day. I just want to hold you tonight.”
Liz let out a dramatic breath before snuggling into Max’s arms. “Have it your way Mr. Evans, but know this. I plan to collect, one of these days.”
Max walked down the halls of West Roswell as if he could walk on water.
He continued to grin like a fool until he reached his classroom. There were no students yet, but his attention was directly averted to the fallen frame on the floor. Shards of glass was littered around it, the picture rumpled.
Max felt a chill run down his spine, his blood running cold to find that it was Liz’s picture.
It wouldn’t have bothered him too much if he had just found the frame broken on the floor, but it looked as if someone had deliberately stomped on it.
Cleaning up the mess, Max tried to think of who would do something so obviously disturbed. His thoughts returned to Angie, and how he had left her alone in the classroom yesterday.
He knew that Angie had a crush on him. She had made that blatantly obvious.
But was she so far gone that she would do something like that?
Max shook his head, not knowing what to think. He muttered under his breath as he cleaned up Liz’s picture. “Get over yourself, Max. You ain’t no Michael Douglass and this isn’t a fatal attraction.....I really need to stop listening to all of Michael’s conspiracy theories.”
As the day wore on, Max found his stomach churning at the thought that he was going to have Angie in his class.
He knew that he had to set her straight, and try to figure out a way to stay as far away from her as possible.
The bell rang, students leaving in exchange for a new batch.
Max kept a close eye on the door, waiting for Angie to come through. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he just didn’t want her sneaking up on him.
The second bell rang, and there was still no sight of her.
Max just rolled up his sleeves, turning his attention to his class. “Alright, seeing as you’re all here today, I think it would be okay for me to assume that everyone has done the reading?”
When no one answered, Max sat at the front of his desk. He reached behind him, opening his book. “Anyone?”
Again, no one answered, frustrating Max. “Okay, this isn’t going to work. At this point, I don’t care if you did the reading. All I want is some sort of response.”
Just then, the door opened, with Angie walking in slowly.
She just smiled at Max, heading towards her seat.
“Ms. Taylor. So nice of you to join us.”
Angie stopped talking to the girl next to her, turning her attention to Max. “I’m sorry, Mr. Evans, but-
Max cut her off, standing up to full height. “Do you have a pass?”
Angie shook her head.
Max walked behind his desk. “That’ll be a detention for this afternoon.”
Angie sat up, protesting. “But-
Max held a hand to his head, to keep it from pounding. “Ms. Taylor, you walk into my class late, and without a pass. I distinctly remember handing out a piece of paper that stated what I expected out of the people in this class. You’re all old enough to read, otherwise you wouldn’t be in my class. This is high school people. I’m not here to babysit. You’re all 15, 16 years olds. I expect better.” He turned his eyes to Angie. “Report to detention after school, Ms. Taylor. End of discussion.”
The class had become eerily silent, unlike the lack of interest of before.
The students in the class sat up a little straighter, not wanting to be on Max’s bad side. As soon as they had first laid eyes on Max, they had immediately thought that he would be a pushover, considering how young he was. Apparently, they were wrong.
Max continued on with his lesson, trying to forget the incident. He knew that he may have been a little harsh, but rules were rules. Or so he told himself.
With five minutes left till school let out, Max finished up his lecture, letting the students talk amongst themselves.
He gathered his things together, wanting to get home as soon as possible.
The bell rang, the voices of the students getting louder as they left the classroom.
Angie purposely placed her book bag on her table, wanting an excuse to come back and catch Max alone.
She ran out of the door, heading towards detention.
Max was putting the last of his stuff together, when a knock came from the door.
Without looking up, he spoke. “Come in.”
Liz smiled, walking into the classroom. Max had yet to look up at her, so she decided to have a little fun with him.
She walked quickly, sitting on his table, while he was still putting his stuff away.
Max looked up to see Liz sitting on his desk, wearing a sexy grin on her face. Her short legs dangled, swinging back and forth as she reached for his chair.
She pulled him closer, so that he was in between her legs. “Well Mr. Evans....if I had known you would have made such a sexy English teacher, I would’ve flunked all of my English classes, just so you could be my teacher.”
Max shook his head, grinning. “What are you doing here?”
Liz smiled, pulling Max closer to her by his tie. “Nadine and I got done early at the lab, so Dr. Green let us home early.”
Max trailed his hands up her thighs, his eyes never leaving her face. “We have to go pick up Noah.”
Liz shook her head, as she bit her bottom lip. “I talked to Maria, and she’s going to be watching Jade tonight, so she offered to watch Noah for a couple of hours.”
Max gave her an impish smile, his hands reaching for her tush to bring her closer. “So, you’re saying that, uh....”
Liz nodded, brushing her lips against his. “That’s right, Mr. Evans. I plan on collecting.”
She was about to kiss him again, when a loud bang sounded from the door.
Startled, Max and Liz jumped apart, their eyes landing on Angie.
Angie stood by the door, smiling sweetly. She held her hands behind her back, her fists clenching and unclenching.
Max straightened up his tie, standing up. “Aren’t you supposed to be in detention?”
Angie nodded, pointing to her book bag. “I forgot my bag.” She walked in, grabbing her bag quickly. Before leaving, she gave Max a lingering look. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Evans.”
Liz stood up, her eyes following Angie until she was out of sight. She frowned, feeling a shiver run down her spine.
Max came up behind her, his hand massaging her neck. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Liz had yet to relax her stance. “I do not like the way she was looking at you.”
Max threw the strap of his messenger bag over his shoulder. “What do you mean?”
Liz turned to face him, still looking unhappy. “She was looking at you like you were her last meal or something.”
Max ran his hands down Liz’s arms, trying to comfort her. “Well, you don’t have anything to worry about. I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world, who’s having my baby. I belong to no one else, and I could want no one else.”
Liz melted at his words. “Well, just to be sure, I think we should go home and uh,” she tugged on his tie. “Let little miss thing know that you belong to me.”
Max’s eyebrows knotted in confusion. “But how will she-
Liz kissed him, her tongue colliding with his. “Well, I plan to claim you, numerous times, Mr. Evans.” She gave him a roguish grin. “And to be honest....maybe this is more for me than it is for her.”
Max had to gulp air into his lungs at her words. Grabbing her hand quickly, he led the two of them to the car, both of them running like two mad lovers.
Angie stepped out from behind the lockers, watching through the window as Max practically carried Liz into the car. Before he went around to the other side, he gave Liz a lingering kiss, his hands wandering where prying eyes shouldn’t be looking.
Screaming, Angie threw her back pack at the lockers, kicking it with her foot.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed away her messed up hair, a smile tinting her lips as she picked up her bag.
Maria sat at the kitchen table, talking to Courtney and Isabel.
Jade walked in, pushing Noah in front of her.
Noah lost his footing, tripping over his own feet.
Maria smiled at him, stopping her conversation. “Is there something you wanted, honey?”
Noah looked to Jade, who only pushed him again, whispering in his ear.
Noah turned to look at Maria, swallowing thickly. “’Ria, I was wonderin’. How do babies get into their momma’s tummies?”
Maria felt the laugh erupt from her lips, as she tried to find a way to explain to Noah how babies were created. Taking a few deep breaths, she turned to her friends, asking them with her eyes to give her a little help.
Courtney stood up from her chair, leaning down so that she was the same height as Noah. “Well, Noah, that’s really something you should ask your mom and dad. I’m afraid they might not be too happy with us if we just told you.”
Isabel joined in the conversation, kneeling down beside her nephew. “What’s with the question, buddy?”
Noah pointed to Jade. “I was tellin’ Jade ‘bout the baby in momma’s tummy, and how daddy says we’re gonna have a little one. But Jade doedn’t believe me. She says that babies can’t be in their momma’s tummies.”
Jade walked forward, holding her hands to her hips, the hair on her head, flying around. “Babies can’t be in their mommie’s tummies. I know.”
Maria looked at her little sister curiously, a smile on her lips. “And how do you know?”
Jade pointed to the big television in the living room. “I sawed it. The stork brings the babies to their mommies and daddys.”
All three women laughed, tears filling their eyes at Jade’s sweet innocence.
Courtney wiped the tears from her eyes. “Well, I’d have to say that Noah’s right honey. The stuff you watch on television isn’t always true.”
Noah stuck his tongue out at Jade. “See, I told you I was gonna have a baby sister.”
Jade walked up to Noah, grabbing the toy truck out of his hand.
Maria stood in between the two of them. “Munchkins, quit it. I don’t want to have to get all parental on the two of you. I’m supposed to be the fun aunt.” She grinned, trying to keep the kids from fighting.
It wasn’t until the two kids had quieted down, did Maria’s mind start rolling. “Noah, did you just say that you were gonna have a baby sister?”
Noah nodded, grinning to reveal all of his teeth. “Uh huh.”
Maria’s eyes grew wide, her jaw dropping to the floor. She turned to her friends, who all appeared to be wearing the same expression as her. “Did you guys know about this?”
Courtney stood up, looking a little dazed. “Liz didn’t mention anything to me, and I just saw her at work.”
“I cannot believe that Max wouldn’t say anything to me!” Isabel huffed.
Maria turned to Noah, making sure that it wasn’t something that he had misinterpreted. “Honey, are you sure that your momma and daddy are gonna have a baby?”
Noah nodded again, feeling slightly confused with all of the questions. “I already told you that ‘Ria. Did you forget already?” He continued to ramble on as he tried to make her feel better for forgetting so soon. “It’s ok. I forget things sometimes, too. Daddy always has to remind to put my toys away. He gets trustated but he doedn‘t get mad.” He smiled, reaching for her hand. “I won’t get mad at you, ‘Ria.”
Maria smiled at Noah, smoothing down his hair. “Thanks, hun. I’m just a little surprised to hear the news about the baby. Your mom and dad didn’t mention anything to us.”
Noah looked to all of the women around him. “Momma and daddy only knowed yesterday. Maybe they’ll tell you tomorrow?” He tried to get them to understand, not wanting them to be upset at his parents.
Maria gasped, holding a hand to her mouth.
“What? What is it?” Isabel shook Maria’s shoulder.
“I get it now.”
Courtney’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Get what?”
“Why Liz asked me to watch Noah tonight. I guess she and Max plan on having a private celebration. If I know Liz at all, she and Max are probably baking cake as we speak.” Maria smiled to herself, feeling proud that she had figured it out.
Isabel made a gagging face. “TMI, Maria. I really, really don’t need to know about my brother’s extra curricular activities with my friend, thank you very much.”
Courtney just giggled, finding it rather amusing, that after five years, the code, “baking cake” still ran among the friends.
Noah’s voice startled them. “Can we have some cake?”
Maria tried to keep the laughter from bubbling forth at his naive question. “Honey, I don’t think you’re gonna want any of that kind of cake until you’re older....Much older,” she added.
Isabel tried to get the focus off of Max and Liz’s “baking cake”. She just felt a little awkward even mentioning it, so she changed the subject. “How about we bake a cake of our own? Huh? How does that sound?”
Jade jumped up, clapping her hands together. “I wanna lick the spoon!” She grabbed Noah’s hand, smiling. “We can share.”
The two of them smiled at each other, forgetting about their little argument from moments ago.
Noah pulled on her hand as the women started setting everything up. “Maybe we can ask them if we can lick the bowl too. Me and my daddy always ask my momma.”
Jade grinned at him, before letting out a high pitched plea. “’Ria, can we lick the bowl too?”
The two conspirators smiled at each other, both of them batting their eyelashes, while giving the girls the quivering bottom lip.
Maria shook her head. “Oh, you guys are sooo good at that, it should be outlawed as a crime.”
Courtney laughed, placing a hand on Maria’s shoulder. “I think that’s how Kyle becomes putty when it comes to Jade.”
Isabel yelled over her shoulder, as she stuck her head out of the fridge. “Tell that to Max and Liz. I think they’re the poster children for being whipped when it comes to their kids.” She stood back up, standing with her friends to watch Noah and Jade, plead their case.
“Jeez, they’re good.”
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:31:29 PM|
Max fought to keep his eyes on the road, instead of on his beautiful wife.
Home was only ten minutes away from school, but right now it seemed like an eternity. The way Liz kept stealing glances at him, raking hot looks up and down his form, made it difficult to breathe.
Max gulped down air as if he had been deprived for days, his brow beading with sweat. He watched in silence as Liz unbuttoned her blouse, fanning it away from her body. The audible gasp that escaped his lips, startled Liz, her eyes flying to his.
Before she realized that she was speaking out loud, the words passed her lips, her voice trembling slightly. “Hurry, Max.”
Max just nodded, stepping onto the gas pedal.
They zoomed down the street, with Max haphazardly pulling up into the driveway. He was so intent on getting inside, that he was about to leave the keys in the jeep.
“Keys!” Liz yelled as she struggled to take off her seat belt.
Max turned back around as if realizing for the first time that the engine was still running. “Oh, right, keys.” He yanked the keys out, jumping through the door.
He met Liz by the front of the jeep, their hands automatically linking.
They ran up the porch steps, while Max dug through his keys.
Liz looked around the street, jumping from foot to foot, hoping to keep from mauling Max at the front door.
Max breathed a sigh of relief when he put the key in the hole, the door opening wide.
Liz shoved him inside, slamming the door behind her.
Before Max had a chance to romance her, she pushed him against the back of the door, her lips latching themselves onto his.
Max was a little stunned, but at this point, he was too far gone to care. He grabbed Liz’s hips, bumping it against his own.
The breathy moans that escaped from her throat, only served to excite him, his hands squeezing her tush. She held onto his shoulders, standing on her toes to get closer to him.
Taking a button in her hand, she quickly began slipping his shirt open. She slipped her hands inside, her warm palms running across his smooth skin. Untucking his shirt, her hands quickly moved to the zipper of his pants, her fingers clumsily trying to open them.
Max tore his lips from her, his breaths ragged as he tried to speak. “Upstairs...” He moved to take her upstairs, when Liz’s hand pushed against his chest, the back of his head hitting the door lightly.
“Uh uh.....it’s too far.” Her hands returned to their original task, her chest heaving a sigh of relief when she got the zipper down.
Max quickly glanced at the stairs, but his eyes fell shut the moment Liz’s hand maneuvered itself into his pants, slipping through the hole in his boxers to meet his heated flesh. She squeezed him tight, her fingers begging a slow rhythm over his arousal.
A strangled moan was torn from his lips as he opened his eyes to look at the stairs once again. Deciding that it really was too far away at the moment, he wrapped his hand around Liz’s wrist, gently extricating her hand from his member.
He turned around so that she had her back to the door.
Giving her a tight smile, he whispered against her lips before practically swallowing her whole. “Upstairs...too far.” With that, his lips fused themselves with hers, his tongue colliding with hers in a tidal wave of lust and love.
Moving quickly, he ran his hands up her skirt, letting the material bunch around his wrists as he continued upward. When he reached the top of her panties, he pulled them down her slim thighs, letting it pool at her ankles. Taking her hands, he helped her step out of them, before pinning her back against the door.
Looking into her eyes to see if she was ok, Max tucked her hair behind her ears, a form of endearment that he had continued to do since they had first developed a tentative friendship all those years ago.
Liz felt tears sting her eyes at the gentleness that Max continued to shower her with. She swallowed past the lump in her throat, allowing her passion to rule her.
She lifted her leg, wrapping it around Max’s hip as she pulled him into her. Grasping his erection in her tiny hand, she led him to her entrance, pleading with him to complete their joining.
Max kissed her again, bending his knees slightly to enter her slowly.
They moaned in each other’s mouths, before Liz sucked his tongue hard, urging him to take her body the way she was taking his mouth.
Max took the hint, slowly pumping in and out of her body. The awkward angle that they were in slowed his movements, making it hard for him to set a rhythm.
Liz pulled her lips from his, her breaths catching in her throat as she spoke. “Max....please...”
Max didn’t want to hurt her by being too rough, but they were at the breaking point. They needed the release and that was what Liz was begging him to do.
Grunting, Max lifted Liz’s leg higher on his hip, as he began pounding into her for all he was worth. Liz grabbed his ass, trying to push him in deeper, wanting him to go faster.
Their pounding bodies rammed against the door, making a banging noise as their movements picked up speed. Max buried his face in Liz’s neck, his knees trembling at his impending orgasm.
“Oh god...Lizzzzz....” He continued to pump into her body, his stomach clenching in anticipation.
Hot white lights flashed in the back of Max’s mind as he teetered over the edge, falling deeply in the abyss of his orgasm. Liz bit into his shirt, muttering obscenities as she too fell, her walls clenching his flesh inside her.
They stayed that way on shaky legs, neither wanting to lose contact.
Max pulled his head from it’s place on Liz’s shoulder, his lips brushing tenderly against her forehead, as he pulled her into an embrace. “I love you, baby.”
Maria, Isabel, and Courtney sat around the kitchen table, trying to devise a surprise baby shower for Liz.
Maria looked up from her list, tapping the pencil against her chin. “So, I was thinking, Courtney could be the one to distract Liz at work, while Kyle makes a quick stop at the school to keep Max from coming home early.”
Isabel shook her head. “I don’t get it? Why does Max even have to be there for the baby shower? Isn’t it supposed to be a girl thing?”
“I think it’d be more fun to have all of the guys there. Besides, I think it would be fun to watch the guys play a few of the baby shower games.” Maria smiled wickedly, eliciting laughs from her friends.
The timer on the oven went off, causing the three of them to stand up.
“Jade! Noah!” Maria placed her hands on her hips, raising a playful eyebrow at them.
They looked at her innocently, as they tried to hide the evidence behind their backs. But it was too late, because their faces were covered in frosting, as were their hands.
Jade looked up at Maria, trying to look as innocent as possible. “We wasn’t doin’ anytin’, ‘Ria.”
Courtney walked slowly with the cake in her hands. “Alright, someone grab the frosting so we can ice this baby.”
Isabel laughed. “I think we might be too late. It appears as if all of the frosting is gone.”
Courtney placed the cake down, wiping her hands against her jeans. “Gone? But we just opened.....
The sentence died in her throat as she eyed Jade and Noah trying to look as innocent as possible with icing covered faces.
“Oh my.” She held a hand to her mouth, laughing at their predicament. “I guess we’ll be eating a dry cake.”
Maria grabbed Jade, sitting her on the counter.
Isabel did the same with Noah, her and Maria grabbing paper towels and wetting them, as they tried to clean up the culprits.
Maria shook her head. “Jade, Jade, Jade.....what am I going to do with you?” She smiled at her little sister, as she continued to wipe up her face.
Breathing heavily, Jade spoke softly. “I sorry, ‘Ria. But the frosting is just nummy.”
Isabel looked at her nephew, raising a slender eyebrow at him. “And what do you have to say for yourself?”
Noah just shrugged his shoulders. “Daddy and I do it all the time when momma isn’t looking.”
The sound of the front door opening sounded through the house, several loud footsteps being heard.
“Honey, we’re home!”
Michael, Kyle, and Alex appeared in the kitchen all of them smiling when they laid eyes on their respective others.
Max carried Liz in her arms to the master bedroom.
Gently placing her on her feet, he turned around, plugging the tub and filling it with water. He turned around, and began slowly undressing Liz.
She gave him an amorous smile, his slow and tender movements a stark contrast from his wantonness from earlier.
He smiled back, kissing her forehead. “Go ahead and take a bath. I’ll uh, start on dinner.”
Liz shook her head slowly, her long tresses swaying from side to side. “No.”
Max bent his knees so that he was almost at eye level with Liz’s 5’1 frame. “No I won’t be making dinner?” The tone of his voice a little humorous.
“Exactly. Dinner can wait. I can’t.” She sat on the edge of the tub, her hand dragging across the bubbles that were beginning to surface. She looked up at him, a fiendish grin tinting her lips. “Are you telling me you’d rather be outside making dinner, while I’m in this big, lonely tub, all by myself?”
Max mumbled under his breath, stripping as he went.
He stood in front of Liz naked, her words leaving a very noticeable affect on one of his extremities.
Liz looked him over appreciatively, licking her lips in anticipation.
Max shook his head, turning off the faucet. “Now, now, Mrs. Evans......behave yourself.”
Liz nuzzled the taut skin on his stomach, her teeth snapping together as she pretended to bite him. Max yelped, jumping away.
Liz laughed as she stood up. She gave Max her most demure smile, reaching out a hand to him. “Give me a hand?”
Max nodded mutely, helping to ease her in the tub.
Once inside, Liz hugged her knees to her chest, moving forward so that there was room behind her for Max to get in. She gave him a coy look, crooking her finger as an invitation to join her.
Max couldn’t find it in himself to answer, so he responded by moving in to sit behind her. He sank into the warm bubbles, his head leaning back against the cool edge of the porcelain tub. He reached blindly for Liz’s warm body, cuddling her close.
Liz sighed, scooting closer to Max’s warmth, almost as if she were trying to crawl inside him.
Max groaned, his hand dipping into the water to stop Liz’s wandering hips. The more she wiggled her tush, the more her back rubbed against his arousal, making his body tremble with need.
Panting, Max placed his hands on her shoulders, gently massaging them. “I thought....you said....you would behave?”
Liz’s sultry laughter echoed against the tile walls. “I didn’t say anything about behaving.....you were the one who assumed that I would.” She wiggled against him some more, trying to get a rise out of him, not that she already hadn’t.
Max growled, his hands cupping her breasts possessively, his thumbs brushing against her nipples, turning them into stiff peaks. She let her head fall on his shoulder, her hands gripping onto his thighs under the water.
Max gave a wolfish smile before taking Liz’s lips, branding her as his. He continued to fondle her heaving breasts, his skilled hand sliding down her flat stomach, dipping into the water as he urged her legs apart.
Liz complied, raising her legs onto the edges of the tub, giving Max free reign. She gasped for air the moment his fingers delved into her heat, driving her to the brink, making her so insane with lust that she had only one thing in mind. One goal in mind.
The water lapped around them as she moved against his hand, breaths of frustration escaping her lips as the water slowed down the pumping of his hand. Unable to keep herself from going insane with want, she slipped her hand under the water, her hand covering his as she assisted him.
Together, they worked, slipping in and out of her folds. Her legs shook against the tub, her toes curling in the air as her walls clamped down on his fingers. A low keening sound came from her lips, her head falling limply on his shoulder as she tried to regain her bearings.
Taking several deep breaths, her eyes took a moment to focus. She smiled, letting her legs fall back into the water. Turning around purposefully, she faced Max, biting her bottom lip as she eyed the head of his arousal throbbing against his stomach, the tip glistening in the warm afternoon sun, seeping through the window.
She braced her hand against his chest as she reached behind him.
Max’s eyes widened when he saw her slip the shower gloves on her hands, her eyes dancing with a devilish quality.
Liz placed a chaste kiss on his lips, her hands seeking out his arousal.
A guttural moan sounded from his lips as she began to pump her glove covered hands over his erection. The semi-abrasive material of the gloves caused a delicious friction against his pulsating flesh.
He bit the corner of his bottom lip, his eyes closing in unadulterated pleasure. Unable to keep his hips still, he moved in time with her hands, the water splashing softly around them.
Liz kissed his chest lightly, her teeth nibbling his soft skin. He jumped in her hands as she licked his nipples, her teeth biting the hard nub softly. Knowing that the end up almost upon him, Liz leaned up, her lips capturing his.
She gave one last tug against his flesh, his head falling back as he gave himself up to her.
His shallow breaths sounded ragged in the silent room, his chest fighting to get oxygen into starved lungs. He opened his eyes, his amber orbs twinkling. “Where the hell did you learn how to do that?”
Liz blushed, burying her face in his neck. “A woman never reveals her secrets, Max.”
Max chuckled, his hand running down her naked back. “That’s fine with me, just as long as you have a few more of those secrets hidden in your bag.”
Liz giggled against him. She sat up, intending to continue their soft banter when the phone rang.
She groaned as Max left the tub, her eyes watching his retreating form as he wrapped a towel around his waist.
“Hello?” Max cradled the phone against his ear, trying to keep the towel from falling from his hips.
Nothing was said on the other line, the only sound was harsh breathing against the phone.
Max felt the hairs on his arm stand up, fear filling his veins. “Who is this?”
He was met with a click on the other end.
Ed nudged McKenzie, causing her to abruptly hang up her cell phone.
“Are you gonna be on that phone all day? They’re calling us to board now.” Ed had already gotten up, clutching his carry on luggage.
McKenzie took deep even breaths, trying to calm her harsh breathing. She stared at the phone in her hand, then at her husband. She hadn’t even realized that he had returned. She was glad that she hadn’t said anything on the other line to make him suspicious.
Holding her purse to her shoulder, McKenzie flipped her curly blonde hair over her shoulder. “So, you said you would be working the whole time we were down there, right?”
Ed rolled his eyes, handing his boarding pass to the flight attendant. “Exactly, which is why I don’t understand why you were so adamant about joining me. The whole time I’m going to be in Albuquerque is going to be strictly business.”
McKenzie forced a smile on her face, sitting in her seat as she fiddled with her lap belt. “I know, but you know how much I hate being alone.”
The twinge of sadness in her voice did not go unnoticed by Ed. He leaned across the arm rest, putting his arm around her shoulders. “I know, Mac. I’ll see what I can do to set aside a weekend for us. See what New Mexico has to offer.”
The flight attendants voice came through the intercom, instructions about flight safety being spoken.
McKenzie closed her eyes, leaning in to her husband’s touch.
As much as she wanted to spend some time with him, she had her own selfish reasons for wanting to go on this trip with him. She wished that work would keep him busy, otherwise all that money she spent on that private investigator would be shot to hell if Ed found out about her plans.
Liz slipped out of the tub, wrapping herself in a towel.
She walked into the bedroom, finding Max glaring at the phone in his hand.
Walking up behind him, she wrapped her arms around his waist, placing a light kiss on his back. “Hey, you ok?”
Max nodded, putting the phone away. He turned around, slipping his arms around Liz, almost crushing her with the force of his embrace. He nuzzled her cheek, his hands running up and down her body as if he were checking her for physical injury.
Liz pulled away, tilting his chin so that she could look into his face. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Max closed his eyes, placing his lips against Liz’s.
“Nothing....I just, I just really needed to do that.”
Liz looked concerned, her arms running across his shoulders. “Not that I’m complaining, but is there something that you’re not telling me?”
She cupped the side of his face, her hand running through his ebony hair. “Not that I don’t believe you, but I know something’s bothering you. Did it have something to do with that phone call?” She eyed the phone on the night stand, wondering why Max had been sending it death rays only minutes ago.
“It was nothing, just a hang up.” He shrugged his shoulders, not wanting to say anymore than that. He didn’t want to tell her that it had creeped him out, because that would mean getting her worked up over nothing.
She stepped away from him, fiddling with the phone. “Did you check the caller id?”
Max took the phone from her hands, placing it back on the console. “Yes, and it was a private number. Look, it was probably just a wrong number anyway. Hang ups just give me the heebie jeebies.”
Liz chuckled. “Heebie jeebies?”
Max laugh, the sound a deep rumble. “Alright, I’ll quit with the Alex sayings already.” He held her hand, tugging on it. “Come, let’s go downstairs and uh rejuvenate.”
Liz pulled him back into the bedroom, her laughs consuming her. “I’m not done with you yet.”
Max kissed her breathless, his hand coming down to rest on her belly. “I know, and I’m not done with you yet either. But we gotta let the little one have something to eat, and you my dear, you need to keep your strength up.” He raised his eyebrow in a suggestive manner, finally getting Liz to agree with him.
After eating dinner together, and teasing each other mercilessly, Max and Liz had eventually returned upstairs, making love in their bed.
They had gotten dressed a little while afterwards, driving down to Maria’s to pick up Noah.
Maria kneeled down in front of Noah and Jade, giving them a quiz. “Alright, Noah. If your momma and daddy ask if we know about the baby, what are you going to tell them?”
Noah looked thoughtful for a second, before grinning his answer. He held out his arms, tilting his head to the side. “What baby?”
Maria grinned, ruffling his hair. “You’re a genius.”
Isabel kneeled beside Maria. “Alright, you guys remember that you’re not supposed to say anything about the baby shower right?”
Jade nodded. “My lisps is sealed.” She held her hand up to her lips, pretending to lock it with a key, then throwing it away.
“Good girl!” Isabel turned to Noah, who did the same thing.
In the kitchen, all three men groaned as Courtney explained the roles they had concerning the baby shower.
Kyle banged his head against the table. “Tell me again why I have to be the one to keep Max busy? You do realize that he will never buy it. He’d probably run me over in a second just so he could get to Liz.”
Everyone laughed, knowing that what he was saying wasn’t too far from the truth.
Michael slapped him on the shoulder. “Suck it up, Valenti.”
Kyle made a face before scooting closer to Courtney.
The door bell rang, signaling Max and Liz’s arrival.
Everyone scurried around the house, pretending that they hadn’t been talking about them.
“Momma!” Noah ran into Liz’s arms.
“Hey, precious.” She kissed his cheek lightly, looking around to see that everyone was present.
Max stood behind her. “Looks like everyone is here.” He and Liz shared a smile. “Well, seeing as we’re all together, I can’t think of a better time than now to-
Maria cut him off, handing him Noah’s stuff. She didn’t want Max and Liz to spill the beans about the baby to them until she had pulled off the baby shower. She wanted to surprise them. “It’s getting kind of late, and everyone was just leaving, so we’ll see you guys this weekend.”
Maria glared at Alex and Kyle, trying to get them to play along.
It took them a minute to catch on, but Alex was the one who stepped up. He stretched his arms above his head, yawning. “Yeah, it’s been a long day.” He turned to Isabel, leading her towards the door.
Kyle followed his lead, taking Courtney’s hand. He ushered Max, Liz, and Noah out of the door, waving goodbye to Michael and Maria.
Liz looked curiously at her friends. “What was that?”
Alex shrugged his shoulders, shoving his hands in his pocket. “You know Maria. It’ll take a little while for everything to go through her filter. I’m sure it’s nothing.” He kissed the top of Liz’s head. “We’ll see you this weekend, right?”
Liz nodded, watching as her friends left.
They climbed into the jeep, her mind still working.
“That was weird.”
Max laughed as he turned the wheel. “Yeah, but when is anything ever normal with our friends?”
Liz smiled. “True, but I really wanted to tell them about the baby already.”
Max reached for her hand, kissing it. “I know. We’ll tell them this weekend. When we’re all together.”
Liz sighed, knowing that what Max was saying was true.
They’d just wait until the weekend to tell everyone about the baby.
Liz hurried down the Evans’ driveway, holding Noah’s hand as she knocked on the door. She tilted her head to the side, looking into the window to see if Diane was coming. "Mom?"
Diane opened the door, looking rather breathless. "Liz, honey. Come in." She ushered Liz and Noah inside the house, closing the door behind them.
"Hi gramma!" Noah gave Diane a brief hug as he made himself comfortable on the couch.
Liz smiled, opening her mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by the phone.
Diane held her hand in the air, rushing to the kitchen. "I’ll be right back."
Liz nodded, blowing air from her lips. She walked into the living room, sitting beside Noah as he fiddled with the tv remote.
Diane looked cautiously over her shoulder, making sure that Liz was out of ear shot. "Courtney?....Yeah, they just got here.......Don’t worry about it sweetie, I understand about work.....I’ll make sure Liz gets there.....Alright, bye!"
She ran back into the living room, grabbing her purse. "Liz, honey. I know asked you to come over, but would it be alright if I left you here for 20 minutes? I need to pick up some things for Phillip, but I’ve got something on the stove..."
Liz smiled, standing up with Diane. "That’s not a problem. 20 minutes right? Cos I have to meet up with Max and everyone else in like a half hour or so."
Diane smiled, running out the door with keys in hand. "Thanks dear. I’ll be back!"
She climbed in the car, intending to run the rest of Courtney’s errands. Courtney had been called in to work unexpectedly, so she had asked Diane to take over until she got through with work. She had a few things to pick up, then Diane would drop Liz off at her surprise baby shower.
McKenzie drove the small rent-a-car, watching closely for street signs and house numbers.
Ed had left for work early that morning, leaving her all day with nothing to do.
It was the perfect opportunity to put into motion what she had been wanting to do for a long time. She rounded the corner, turning onto Mulberry Lane. She stopped at the house that was supposedly Diane Evans’ house.
Her plan didn’t really include a stop to see Diane, but she had driven to Max’s house, only to find it bustling with cars and people. Even she had more than enough sense than to barge in at that moment.
She figured while she was still here, she could mend all of the broken fences. Not just with Noah and Max, but with Diane too.
She sat in her car, taking deep breaths, trying to relax. She had a quiet conversation with herself, hoping to ease the tension in her body.
Stepping out of the car, she walked up the steps slowly, her hand trembling as she reached for the door.
She waited, not knowing she was expecting.
As the door opened, she was greeted by a petite brunette, a smile on her face. "Can I help you?"
This was definitely not what she was expecting.
McKenzie faltered for a moment, thinking she had gotten the wrong house. "I’m not sure. Actually, I thought Diane Evans lived here?" She eyed the house, looking to see the number.
Liz smiled wider, extending her hand. "You’ve got the right house. I’m Liz. Diane just stepped out for a moment. Would you like to wait?"
McKenzie shook her head, intending to leave once she realized that it was Liz. The images that her PI had sent her did Liz no justice. She looked even more beautiful than the pictures she saw.
A polar opposite to her Teresa.
She was clutching her purse, stepping backwards to say that she would come back another time, when a six year old boy, clambered to the door.
He latched himself onto Liz’s leg, tugging on her shirt. "Momma, come look!"
Liz smiled at McKenzie, reaching down to untangle Noah from her leg. "Not right now precious. Momma’s a little busy."
Noah nodded, stepping away from his mother. He looked at the woman at the door, his head tilting to the side curiously as he regarded her.
McKenzie froze in her spot as her eyes locked with Noah’s. It was like looking into Tess’ eyes, only he had hazel eyes. She felt the urge to run, and never return. But a part of her wanted to stay, knowing now that she had laid eyes on him, she wouldn’t be able to walk away.
Not this time.
Noah grinned at her, waving a little. "Hi!" He scurried back into the house, leaving McKenzie to follow him with her eyes.
The soft sound of Liz’s laughter broke McKenzie out of her haze.
"I’m sorry about that. He’s just, very energetic."
McKenzie forced a smile on her lips. "He’s yours?"
Liz smiled a proud smile of a mother. "Yes, he is."
The way she said it without hesitation, the determination in her voice made McKenzie sick. She was ready to leave now, not knowing what had possessed her to come in the first place. She had no right to be here.
"Would you like to come in and wait? Diane shouldn’t be much longer now." Liz tried her best to convince the woman to stay. She had no idea why, but there was just something about the woman that seemed so familiar.
McKenzie was torn. Swallowing past the lump in her throat, she nodded mutely, allowing Liz to lead her inside.
"I’m sorry, what was your name again?"
McKenzie let Liz lead her into the living room. "Mac. Diane and I, we go way back."
Liz smiled as she perched herself on the couch. "You do look kind of familiar." She was about to say something else, but Noah came up beside her.
He sat at her feet, his head leaning against her legs. Liz ran her fingers through his soft locks, kissing his head.
McKenzie sat with silent envy at the close relationship that Liz had with Noah. She couldn’t help but try to picture the image of Liz and Noah with Tess sitting in Liz’s place.
The way it should’ve been.
The front door flew open with Diane struggling with her purse. "Liz? Who’s car is that outside?"
Liz smiled at McKenzie, standing up. "You have a surprise visitor."
Diane walked into the living room, seeing another head. Her heartbeat sped up when she saw the blonde curls, her heart clutching when the figure stood up.
McKenzie came to full height, as she tried to offer Diane a smile. "It’s been a long time."
Diane dropped her bag, her stance threatening. "Not long enough." The venom in her voice was undeniable, the hate in her eyes glowing.
Liz stood back, shocked to see Diane so callous with Mac. In the five years that she had known Diane, she had never really heard her so much as raise her voice. Right now she looked about ready to pounce. "Mom, Mac’s just-
Diane cut her off, her eyes sending death rays towards McKenzie. "Mac? So what other lies have you been feeding Liz?"
Liz tried to intervene. "Mom, Mac just said she was an old friend," she finished.
Diane snorted. "Old friend? More like old nemesis." She turned to Liz. "Did she tell you who she really was?"
Liz shook her head.
"Her real name is McKenzie Harding. I bet she neglected to tell you that little bit of information. Am I right?"
Liz clutched the arm of the seat behind her. "H-harding?"
Diane grabbed McKenzie by her arm, leading her towards the door. "Get out of my house! If I ever hear or see you anywhere near my family ever again, I’ll do more than just kick you out on the street."
McKenzie shook her head. "You’ve got it all wrong, Diane. I came here today in good faith."
Diane gave a bitter laugh. "Good faith? You mean just like Max came to you in good faith?" She shook her head, her body in a rigid stance. "I was foolish enough to trust you with my kids before, only to have you throw that back in my face. I stepped back and took it all, and I never once stood up to you and Ed. But things are different now. I will not allow you to come here and stir things up for my kids. Max is my son, and Liz is my daughter now. If you come near them ever again, I’ll see to it that you never see the light of day again!"
Diane grabbed the door, slamming it in McKenzie’s face. She leaned her head on the door, her whole body trembling.
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:47:17 PM|
“Mom?” Liz took a tentative step closer towards Diane.
She had no idea what to think. She didn’t know what she would be more surprised by. Diane’s lioness act, or Mac showing up unexpectedly? Either way she was confused, her emotions running around like crazy.
Diane placed a shaky hand on the door, steeling herself before turning around to face Liz. She noticed that Noah had gotten up, his eyes filled with fear.
It was not her intention to scare Liz or Noah, but seeing McKenzie brought up bad memories, leaving a bitter taste in her mouth.
“Noah, honey. Why don’t you go upstairs to your daddy’s old room and play with some toys?”
Noah had made his way over to Liz, clinging desperately to her pants leg.
Liz kneeled down beside him, ushering him up the stairs. “Go on, honey. You heard gramma.”
Noah looked reluctant to leave Liz and Diane alone, but went up the stairs at his mother’s request.
Liz felt dizzy as she stood up. She grabbed hold of the closest piece of furniture, trying to steady herself.
Diane ran to her, helping her to sit down. “Sit down Liz.”
Liz only nodded, her head still feeling a little light. She looked into Diane’s eyes, the brown color clouded with questions.
Diane patted her hand. “I’ll tell you everything. Just give me a minute to call Max, ok?” She walked into the kitchen, holding the cordless in her hand.
“Max, it’s mom.”
“Oh, hey mom. How’s Liz?”
“Max I think you should come over, there’s something-
“I’ll be right there.”
Diane was met with a click as Max hung up on her. She dialed the number to Liz’s intending to inform Isabel to cancel the baby shower.
Today was definitely not a good day for a party.
Kyle looked panicked as Max walked to his car. “Max, you can’t leave!”
“Out of my way, Kyle!” Max pushed past Kyle, running down the driveway to his jeep.
Kyle ran up to him, standing in front of the door so that he couldn’t get in.
Max towered over Kyle, all the play in his eyes from earlier, gone. “Either you step out of my way Kyle, or I will physically remove you. I don’t want to do that-
“But you will anyway.” Kyle rolled his eyes, stepping to the side. “Fine, but remember, hurricane Deluca will be after you!” He yelled as Max drove away.
Kyle shook his head, knowing that it was inevitable. “Why do I always end up in these situations?” He muttered to himself, as he walked back into the house.
Diane walked back into the living room to comfort Liz, but the front door burst open with Max thundering through.
“LIZ?” His eyes danced wildly as he looked for her.
When he caught sight of her on the couch, he ran, sweeping her up into his arms.
“Liz,” he breathed into her hair.
Liz buried her face in Max’s shirt, hoping to lose herself in it.
They stood that way until Diane stepped into the room.
“We have a lot to talk about.”
Max pulled away from Liz, but not letting go of her completely. He hugged her to his side, his brow etched with worry.
“What’s going on?”
Diane sat down, suddenly feeling lost. She didn’t even know where to begin.
Realizing that Diane was just in as much shock as she was, Liz spoke, hoping to get some answers herself. “Someone came by to see your mom today.”
“Who?” Max’s brow furrowed as he wondered why two of the most important people in his life were so upset by a visitor.
“McKenzie Harding stopped by. I wasn’t home, so she came in and talked to Liz.” Diane looked into Max’s eyes, almost as if she were asking for forgiveness for not being there with Liz.
“WHAT!?!” The booming of Max’s voice echoed in the house. He turned to Liz, clutching her arms. “Are you ok? Did she say something to you?” He hugged her again, running his hands down her body as he tried to see if she was really alright. He crushed her against him, his thoughts running mad.
“Where’s Noah?” He pulled away, his eyes scanning the room for his son.
“Max, calm down. He’s upstairs.” Liz stroked his arm, trying to soothe him a little.
Max ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “What the hell was she doing here? What did she want?”
Liz shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Your mom threw her out before she got a chance to talk.”
Max crossed his arms nodding. “You did the right thing, mom.”
Liz looked shocked. She had never seen Max so angry, so upset. “How can you say that, Max?”
Max looked at her, his voice rising slightly. “McKenzie Harding is probably up to no good. Why else would she be here?”
Liz felt herself shiver at the coldness in Max’s eyes. Even when he had talked about Tess’ family, he was never angry as he was now. She didn’t know what changed that now. “You don’t know that. Maybe she just wants to make amends?”
“She’s had a lot of time to make amends. She can’t just expect to come here after six years and expect us to welcome her with open arms.”
Liz felt tears sting her eyes. “You’re not even gonna give her a chance?”
Max’s lip trembled as he spoke. “It was fine if it were just me. I’d let her walk all over me like a doormat and I wouldn’t care, because I still feel responsible. But it isn’t just about me anymore. You’re my wife now. Noah’s old enough to get hurt and to remember. I am not dragging you guys into this.”
Liz squared her shoulders. “We already are a part of this. Can’t you just give her the benefit of the doubt, and assume that she’s here because she wants to have a relationship with Noah?”
“I will not let McKenzie Harding or her husband hurt my son.”
Liz felt like she had been kicked in the stomach. The tears fell down her cheeks as she spoke. “I see, so he’s just your son? It doesn’t matter that I’ve raised him since he was two, because I’ll never really be his mother, right Max? I’m just a substitute for McKenzie‘s daughter, right?”
Max shook his head, approaching Liz. “That’s not what I meant.”
Liz wiped angrily at her tears. “You know, you of all people should know how important it is for someone to be given a second chance. But I guess you’re not really who I thought you were.”
Max reached out to touch her, but she jumped away, almost as if she loathed his touch. “Liz...”
The agony in his voice sliced through her heart, but she didn’t let it get to her. She was too hurt, too confused to think about anything but getting away. “I have to get out of here.” She ran out of the house towards her car.
Max pounced after her, but she was too fast. He screamed in the open air, running back inside to get his keys. “Mom, watch Noah. I’m going after Liz.”
Diane was stunned speechless. Of all of the scenarios she had pictured happening, this was not one of them. If anything she thought this would bring Max and Liz closer together, but it seemed to be tearing them apart.
“Gramma?” Noah stood on the steps, his face full of confusion as he just witnessed the confrontation between his parents.
Diane ran to him, enveloping him in a hug.
“Where’s momma? Why was she crying?” He turned his concerned eyes to the door that his mother had fled through.
Isabel and Phillip came through the open door.
“Was that Max tearing down the road?”
Phillip felt the hairs on his neck stand up as he looked at his wife. “What happened?”
Phillip stepped into the house, closing the door behind him.
Diane held Noah in her arms, walking towards Isabel. “Honey, could you take Noah for a walk?”
Isabel was ready to protest, but Diane shook her head.
“Please? I really just need a few minutes with your father. I promise to tell you everything, seeing as this concerns you too.”
“Fine.” She took Noah’s hand, leading him through the front door.
Phillip waited until they were out the door before he spoke again. “What’s going on, Di?”
Diane blew out a breath as she tried to come to terms with what just happened.
“McKenzie Harding showed up at our house.”
“WHAT?!?” Phillip wore the same expression on his face that Max wore just minutes ago when he found out. He raked a hand through his hair, his feet pacing the carpeted floor.
“Tell me that you kicked her holier than thou act out of here?” He pinned his wife with a look.
She rubbed his arm, trying to offer some comfort. “Don’t worry. I did.”
Phillip began biting his nails, a nervous habit he hadn’t done in years. “What the hell did she want?”
Diane just shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. We barely got past the pleasantries before I made her get out.”
He had resumed his pacing, only to stop again when he realized something. “Is that why Max was tearing out of here like a madman?”
“Max and Liz had a misunderstanding, so Max went after her.”
Phillip kicked the coffee table, the magazines falling to the floor. “DAMN IT!”
He continued to kick at it until his foot grew sore, his body sliding to the floor. “Damn them to hell, Diane. Who does McKenzie think she is, waltzing in here after six years of nothing......So help me if Ed shows his mug around here......I won’t be held responsible for my actions.”
Diane wanted to say something along the lines of being reasonable, but she didn’t feel reasonable. She shared the same frustrations and anger that Phillip felt for the Hardings.
“You know it was bad enough that they made Max feel like he was responsible for what happened, but to treat Izzie like she was in on the whole thing........I’m not going to make the same mistakes I made with Max and Isabel with Liz and Noah.....Not this time.......”
Max rounded a corner, trying to keep up with Liz.
He realized fairly quickly that she was heading out towards the desert where they used to sneak some time alone when they still lived under their parents’ roof.
Liz parked her car, stepping out to get some air. She hadn’t realized that Max had followed her all of the way, but the screeching of the jeep’s tires behind her alerted her to his arrival. She took a quick glance in his direction, picking up her pace.
Without turning around, she broke out into a full run. “Just go away, Max!”
It didn’t matter that he had heard her voice or that he could see that she was doing her best to get away from him, but he knew that he couldn’t just walk away. He ran after her, his long strides bringing him to her in a matter of seconds.
She kicked at him, trying to pull herself from the comfort of his arms. “Let me go!”
He pulled her into a vice-like grip, his breath in her ear as his tears trickled down. “You know I can’t do that......please don’t send me away.”
Liz slapped her hands against his chest, the words refusing to come out of her mouth because she knew that it really wasn’t what she wanted.
She was already where she wanted to be. She was home. Home was being in Max’s arms, and for the first time in her life, it frightened her.
It frightened her because in the last five years, Max and Noah had become the centers of her universe. They had become the basis of her existence, and she was afraid that without them, she would have no idea who she really was.
Without her, they would still be Max and Noah. She was just a replacement. Today was a slap in the face, making her realize that Max and Noah had belonged to someone else. That had it not been for unfortunate circumstances, she would not be here today.
The agony in his voice shattered her resolve, making her crumble in his arms. She slumped against him, her own voice hoarse as she spoke. “Don’t do this.”
He pulled away slightly, his hands flanking the sides of her face. “Don’t do what? Love you? Fight for you?.......You’re my wife Liz. How can I not do this?”
Her lower lip trembled as she looked away from his gaze. “I wouldn’t even be your wife today if Tess was still alive. I’m just a poor substitute for the real thing.”
Max grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her a little. “DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT!”
He sobbed, his grip on her weakening. “Why are you punishing me?”
His voice sounded so defeated, so hurt. Liz looked up at him, her vision still blurred by her tears. “I’m not punishing you, I just, I hate this whole situation.” She threw her arms in the air. “Seeing McKenzie today, it made me realize that there used to be a time that you and Noah didn’t belong to me. That if Tess was still here, she would be your wife. She would be the one giving you your second child.....not me.”
Max shook his head.
Liz swiped at her nose. “Do you even know what that must have felt like for McKenzie? To see me with her daughter’s son, knowing that it should be Tess instead of me?”
Max ground his teeth, his jaw hard as granite. “I don’t care how she feels. She’s had every opportunity in the world to bridge the gap between her and her grandson. I didn’t even expect her to be civil to me, but she was the one who turned her grandson away. Granted her husband was a little more vocal and threatening, but she just sat back and let it happen. I wouldn’t have cared if they kicked and spat at me, but Noah was just a baby. For goodness sakes, he was their flesh and blood, yet they thought he was Satan’s spawn or something, just because I fathered him. If you’re asking me to give her a chance, I don’t see how I can.
Like you said before, Noah and you are a part of this now......I am not going to allow the two of you to feel the pain and rejection that Isabel and I had to go through....I was just a kid back then, but you, Noah, this baby,” he lay his hand on her tummy, gently caressing it. “The three of you are my family, and there is no way in hell that I’m just gonna stand back and let them screw up everything.”
Liz watched as that weary look in Max’s eyes returned. She hadn’t seen that look since they were seniors in high school, when they were bordering on a romantic relationship. He looked so wounded.
She grabbed him, hugging him to her chest. The tremors in his body consumed him, his stance of anger fading away as he melted in her arms. She kissed his temple her arms running down his body.
“What did they do to you?”
“What did they do to you?”
Liz’s question made Max go still. It wasn’t that he wanted to keep secrets from her, but he didn’t want her to know what it was really like.
“Like I said before, they just didn’t want anything to do with us.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.
Liz shook her head, not buying it. “I don’t believe that for a second, and I don’t think you do either.”
Max started grinding his teeth as he began to pace. “What’s the point in rehashing the past?”
“Make me understand, Max. Obviously, you’re not telling me something here.”
Max slumped to the dirt floor dejectedly, his head hung low. “You really wanna know?”
Liz just moved to sit beside him, her arms coming around his shoulders. She kissed his cheek, giving him support.
Max closed his eyes, trying to garner strength from Liz. He bent his head, kissing her hand before he spoke. “I know that I told you the condensed version of what happened, but I think it’s time for the unedited version.”
Liz tightened her grip, whispering in his ear. “Whenever you’re ready. I’m listening.”
Max nodded, his eyes taking on a distant look as he remembered.
“I know that I told you that Isabel and Tess were best friends. They used to sleep over at each other’s houses, and basically did everything together. Me, I was just Isabel’s dorky twin brother. I was shy, and I didn’t have too many friends. I think the two of them just felt sorry for me, so the three of us would hang out together.
The truth is, Tess had a crush on me first. She would always be whispering to Isabel about me, trying to pry information out of her. Isabel told me about it, and I wasn’t sure how to feel. I liked Tess, but I never really thought about her that way. It was a little overwhelming for me because I was always so shy. I remember the other guys in junior high would envy me because I always got to hang out with Tess. She was like little miss popularity.
We got together after our first junior high dance. Isabel had gotten asked to go, and Tess subtly hinted that she wanted me to take her, so I did. After that, we just spent so much time together that we just fell into a relationship that lasted through high school. I don’t think we were in love with each other at first, but we grew to love one another.
Her parents used to say that it was great that Tess ended up with me, because I was such a model young person. I was a straight A student who was never in any trouble.
Mrs. Harding loved Isabel. She used to say that Isabel was like her second daughter.
I remember that they used to say that we were always welcome in their house.” He shook his head as he continued.
“I guess you’re wondering why Tess and I even started a physical relationship?”
Liz spoke quietly. “The thought did cross my mind. You’re like the average boy next door. The one you could bring home to mom. All else aside, it’s hard to picture that you would decide to lose your virginity at such a young age.”
“The farthest we’d gone was second base. Tess said she wanted to move forward. Maybe it was just raging hormones on my part, or maybe it was because I believed that we would be together forever. So we went ahead with it.
Our first time was so awkward and uncomfortable. We didn’t know what we were doing, we were kind of just stumbling through the whole thing blindly. In our whole relationship, we had sex of a total three times. So you can imagine how we felt when we found out she was pregnant.
We’d only had sex three times, once without protection, and she wound up pregnant. I guess it really is true, what they say about the one time you don’t use it.
Anyway, we talked about our options. We both knew that we were incapable of taking care of a baby, but we couldn’t just give a part of us up for adoption.
Tess didn’t want to tell her parents, she was so scared. We decided to tell Isabel who I think was just too shocked to feel anything. Both of our parents just lost it.
The Hardings forbid me from seeing, and they told Isabel that she was no longer welcome in their home. They put Tess through home school while she was pregnant, trying to break all of our ties together.
I remember how guilty I felt, because Isabel was dragged into it. That because of a mistake I made, she no longer had a best friend.
When they would see us on the street, they wouldn’t even acknowledge us. It was as if we were invisible, like we didn’t exist.
Right after Tess died, the Hardings were supposed to take Noah home, but they didn’t show up. Noah was left at the hospital with no one claiming him. The hospital called me, and so my parents and I took him home. We tried to get in contact with the Hardings, but they didn’t take our calls. We would go to their house and knock on the door, but they would just ignore us. They wouldn’t even answer the door.
I came by with Noah one day, but Ed came out yelling like a madman. He threatened to get a shot gun and shoot me if I didn’t leave them alone. He wouldn’t even look at Noah. I saw McKenzie standing by the door, and I pleaded with her, but she just closed the door.
I tried a few more times to visit, but I was always met by Ed. I remember telling him to go ahead and shoot me, to beat me to a pulp so that it would make him feel better. So maybe that way, if I was dead it wouldn’t hurt so much.
Ed just sneered at me and told me to get off his property. He said that he wouldn’t kill me because he wanted me to live with the guilt that I killed his daughter for the rest of my life. He said that Noah was a constant reminder of what I took from him, and he hoped that I suffered a long life, living with my mistakes.
My family tried to go to Tess’ funeral service, but they wouldn’t let us in. Ed came to the church doors, yelling. My parents told me to leave, not wanting to cause trouble.
You know, they wouldn’t even let Isabel stay. They hated her for something she had nothing to do with. They wouldn’t even acknowledge that she and Tess were best friends. That because she was my sister, Isabel was no longer seen as McKenzie’s second daughter.
You know, I believe I deserved all of that. But I felt even guiltier because I pulled my whole family into the mess that I created. Because of me, they were treated like pariahs for something they didn‘t do.”
Max cried against Liz’s shoulder, his hands curling in her shirt.
“Oh, Max. No one deserves that. I had no idea it was that bad. I’m so sorry for putting you through that again.” She kissed his dark head, her hands roaming across his back in an aid to comfort him.
Max wiped away at his tears grudgingly. “I can’t believe that I still let it get to me.”
Liz tilted his chin, giving him a sad smile. “Max, this isn’t something you just get over. No one deserves what you had to go through. I understand. I won’t ask you to hear what McKenzie wants to say, if you don’t want to...I had no idea. I‘m sorry for hurting you like this, I guess I should learn to keep my mouth shut when I know nothing about the subject.”
Max shook his head. “That was no fault of your own. I didn’t tell you. You have a big heart, Liz, and I know how you’re always willing to see the good in people. That’s what’s going on here.”
Liz leaned her forehead against his, placing a tender kiss on his lips.
“I know that this isn’t over yet, but maybe we should finish talking with your parents. I think I gave your mom a near heart attack with the way I ran out like that.”
Max gave her a small smile. “I’ll follow you back.”
Liz kissed their linked hands. “I fully expect you too.”
Isabel sat on the park bench with Noah, her eyes glued to his sullen form.
“Hey, pal. Why are you so blue?”
Noah let out a breath, as his foot traced invisible patterns in the dirt. He looked up at Isabel with round eyes full of confusion. “Izzie? Why do mommas and daddys fight?”
Isabel was a little taken back by his question. “Why do you ask, pumpkin?”
Noah pulled his legs up on the bench so that he was sitting cross legged. “Momma and daddy were yelling at each other. And then momma left. She was cryin’ Izzie. Why was momma cryin?”
Isabel pulled Noah to her. “Oh honey, I don’t know why your momma and daddy were fighting. But you know, that just because they’re fighting, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. Everyone fights, every once in a while...In fact, I bet you and Jade have gotten in a fight once or twice. Am I right?”
Noah nodded. “She got mad at me cos I wouldn’t let her be wolverine.”
“But just because you had that fight, you guys are still friends, right?”
“Uh huh. Next time we played, she wouldn’t let me be the big truck. But I’m not mad.”
Isabel smiled. “See honey, it’s just like that with your mom and dad.”
Noah looked confused, his head tilting to the side. “You mean momma wouldn’t let daddy be the big truck? That’s why they were fighting?”
Isabel bit back her laugh. “Not exactly. I’m just saying they have a reason for being upset, but they still love each other. They still love you.”
Noah was silent for a moment before he spoke again. “Does gramma still love me?”
Isabel felt her jaw drop to the floor. “Of course she does, honey. Why would you say something like that?”
He just shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno know. Gramma was really mad at that lady, and she was yelling. It made my ears hurt.” He covered his ears to show Isabel just how it happened. “And then she told me to go upstairs to daddy’s old room. Izzie, I think gramma’s mad at momma. I don’t want them fighting.”
Isabel just kissed his brow, running her fingers through his hair. She whispered softly in his ear, words of comfort, telling him that Liz and Diane still loved each other, just like Max and Liz did, despite whatever misunderstandings they had. She replayed Noah’s words in her head as she tried to piece together the information, wondering why most of her immediate family was up in arms at each other.
Gramma was really mad at that lady, and she was yelling.
“Noah, who was the lady you were talking about?”
Noah looked up from where he was laying his head on Isabel’s side. “She told momma her name was Mac. She looked a lot like momma.”
“She looked like Liz?”
Noah shook his head. “No, my other momma.” He pointed up to the sky. “The one up there.”
She told momma her name was Mac.
She looked a lot like momma.
No, my other momma.
The one up there.
Noah’s words tumbled around in Isabel’s brain, her heart beating wildly against her chest.
“McKenzie Harding.” Her voice was monotone, almost as if she didn’t believe it, but every piece of the puzzle seemed to fit into place.
“Omigod.” She stood up, pulling Noah with her. “C’mon honey. We gotta go back home.”
Max and Liz walked hand in hand up the Evans’ walkway, neither refusing to lose contact with the other.
They stepped into the house, finding Diane and Phillip sitting on the floor, both of them locked into an embrace. Their position looked almost similar to their own, out in the desert.
Diane was the first to look up, her frown turning into a smile as she saw how close Max and Liz were standing. Almost as if it were impossible for them not to be touching. “Is it ok to assume that...
Liz smiled. “Everything’s ok. At least for now.”
Diane breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m just glad everything’s ok. There’s nothing worse than pregnancy hormones.”
Max and Liz started laughing, but stopped suddenly.
“Did you tell them?” Liz asked a little hurt that Max told his parents without her. She had wanted it to be a family occasion. Well, more than anything, she wanted to be there when they first told them.
“I didn’t.” Max was at a loss. He hadn’t said anything to anyone. Even though he was bursting at the seams to scream to the world that he was going to be a father again, he wanted Liz with him to share it.
“Diane!” Phillip hissed as he hobbled onto his legs.
Diane’s eyes grew wide, covering her mouth. “Oh my goodness. It was supposed to be a surprise.”
“What was?” Liz asked.
“Well, Noah sort of spilled the beans to Maria and the girls, and so we were going to have a surprise baby shower for you guys today.” Diane decided to come out and tell them. There really was no point in keeping secrets today.
Max and Liz looked stunned for a moment, both of them replaying the events leading up to today, realizing why everyone was acting so weird.
Phillip spoke up. “Just don’t tell Maria we told you. Or Izzie. They’ll never forgive us.” He tried to keep the mood light, knowing that they would have to have a big family discussion any moment.
The four of them shared a laugh which died quickly when Isabel pulled the front door open, her hand gripping Noah’s.
“We need to talk.”
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:49:34 PM|
“We need to talk.” Isabel looked at her family, intent on finding out what was going on.
“Momma!” Noah ran to Liz, clinging to her legs as if he were afraid that she would disappear if he didn’t hold on tight.
“Noah!” Liz kneeled, capturing Noah into her arms, peppering his sweet skin with motherly kisses of affection.
He tucked her long brown hair behind her ear, whispering so that only Liz could hear him. “You ok now momma?”
Liz pulled away, looking into Noah’s concerned face. He had the same crinkle between his brows that Max had when he was worried about her. “Of course I’m okay, baby. Why would you think otherwise?”
Noah placed a hand on her cheek, brushing away invisible tears. “You were cryin’. I don’t like it when you cry, momma. It hurts.”
“Where does it hurt, baby?”
He lay his palm flat against his chest where his heart lay. “In here.” He put his hand against Liz’s cheek again, giving her a loving smile. “No more tears momma. We still love you. ‘Specially daddy, even if he was yelling. He only yells cos he loves us soo much.”
Liz pulled Noah against her chest, not wanting him to see her tears and get the wrong idea. “I’m sorry you had to see that, precious. But you’re right. Daddy still loves me very much.”
Noah kissed her cheek, moving to Max who was only a few steps away. He tugged on Max’s pants leg, asking Max to carry him.
Max obliged happily, kissing Noah’s cheek lightly. “I’m sorry that you had to see that too, little man. I wasn’t yelling at your momma because I was mad, but because I worry about her and you so much.”
Noah just nodded. “I know.”
Phillip placed a hand on Max’s shoulder. “Look, maybe we could save this discussion for tomorrow. Why don’t the three of you go home with Noah and your mom and I will fill Izzie in on what’s going on?”
Max nodded, taking Liz’s hand in his. “Okay. I guess we’ll just see you guys tomorrow.” He gave his dad a quick hug, giving his mother a soft kiss on the cheek. He gave Isabel a small smile, patting her shoulder as he led his family out of the house.
Isabel sat on the couch, her arms crossed. “Why didn’t you guys tell me that Mrs. Harding was here?”
Diane was going to sit on the coffee table, but decided against it. Phillip had given it a good beating and she didn’t want to take her chances. “We were going to tell you, honey, but I just didn’t want Noah around to hear us talking negatively about McKenzie. It was bad enough that he caught Max and Liz yelling at each other, I just didn’t want him to see us any angrier than we already are.”
Isabel nodded, still feeling a little numb. She wasn’t sure whether she was angry that McKenzie had shown up after all these years, or be happy that she seemed to be making an effort. “Did she say why she was here?”
Diane looked to the floor, sitting beside Isabel as she wrapped an arm around her daughter. “No. I didn’t actually give her a chance to talk.”
Isabel bit her lip. “Well, now that the shock has worn off a little, are you guys gonna hear her out?”
Phillip crossed his arms. “I don’t really care what she has to say. That woman and her husband have caused this family nothing but grief. If they fall off the face the earth tomorrow, it wouldn’t bother me in the least.”
“Dad! They’re people too, you know. Just like we feel things, they do too.” Isabel frowned, not really liking how angry her father was. As angry as she was, she felt that Hardings had a reason to feel the way that they did. Although what they did wasn’t right, they were still human beings with feelings. They were the ones that lost their daughter. Tess had only been her friend, and she was devastated. She couldn’t even imagine what it would’ve been like for the Hardings to lose their only daughter.
“I don’t give a damn about how those people feel. Have you forgotten how they treated you and Max? And Noah? Six years of nothing, and then showing up out of the blue to claim remorse, I’m just not buying it. Ed and McKenzie Harding have cold hearts that pump lifeless blood. If they really cared so much, they would’ve known to stay away.”
Isabel wiped the tears welling up in her eyes. She was just so confused. She had thought that they had all put this behind them, but it was obvious that they hadn’t. Although the last five years had been a blessing for all of them, they still harbored deep feelings of hurt, anger, and insecurities.
Diane rubbed Isabel’s shoulder consolingly. “It doesn’t really matter how we feel about the situation. As much as I want McKenzie to stay out of our lives, I think the decision lies ultimately with Max and Liz. If they decide that they want to hear what McKenzie has to say, then that’s their decision.”
Phillip opened his mouth to protest, but Diane spoke up again.
“Look, I’m not happy about this situation either. But Max and Liz are adults. They’re Noah’s parents, and they can do whatever it is they feel is right. We may not agree with everything they do, but it’s their lives. They’re grown. They don’t need us to tell them what to do....They haven’t for a long time. The best we can do is support them.”
Diane sighed, not really wanting to say a lot of what she had just said, but she knew in her heart that it was true. As much as her maternal instincts were on alert, wanting to protect her family from any harm, she had to let Max and Liz make their own decisions.
They had made very wise decisions at such a young age, that she felt comfortable putting her faith in them.
Max and Liz opened the door to their home, finding it decorated for a baby shower.
A note was taped on the hall mirror in Maria’s handwriting.
Sorry that the shower was a bust.
I think I may be losing my touch with planning surprise parties. j/k
Anyways, I hope you’re ok, chica.
And Max, if you’re reading this, take care of my girl. She is after all carrying precious # dos.
Take care babes. You’re safe from hurricane Deluca for not attending your shower today. LOL.
Although, you guys better show up for the next shower or else I really will unleash the hurricane.
‘Ria and the gang.
Liz smiled, crumpling up the paper. She looked to Max, both of them sharing a look. They turned their gaze to Noah who had plopped himself on the couch, playing with one of the balloons.
Together, they walked hand in hand, both of them taking a seat on either side of Noah.
Max took the balloon from Noah’s hand, his voice low. “We need to have a talk, little man.”
Noah just sat back patiently waiting for his parents to speak.
“Honey, do you remember that lady at gramma’s today?”
“Uh huh. She looked like my other momma.” He grinned, proud that he remembered.
Max and Liz shared another look above Noah’s head. Liz reached for Max’s hand, giving it a soft squeeze, not really knowing if it was to comfort him or her.
Max cleared his throat, his voice catching a little as he spoke. “Well, pal, that’s because that lady was your other momma‘s mother. She’s your grandmother.”
Noah held out three fingers. “You mean I get three gramma’s?”
Liz nodded. “Yes, sweetie.”
Noah just grinned. “Cool.”
Max swallowed past the lump in his throat. He wanted to be honest with Noah, but he didn’t want to have to explain why McKenzie had been missing for the past six years, and why she only decided to show up now.
Noah slipped off the couch. “Can I go play in my room now?”
Liz nodded, glad that Noah’s attention was so easily diverted. It would give her and Max some time alone to figure out how exactly how they were going to handle the situation.
Max let his head fall back against the couch. “What am I supposed to tell him, Liz? What if he wants to meet her?”
Liz gently stroked his cheek. “I don’t know what to tell you, Max. But I want you to know, that whatever you decide, I’ll be behind you 100%.”
Max turned his head to Liz, gently shaking his head. “How in the world did I manage to end up with the most amazing woman in the world?”
Liz blushed under his words and gaze. She dropped her head, her hair falling over her face. “I’m the one that lucked out.”
Max tilted her chin up, giving her a tender kiss. “You’re wrong there.”
Their eyes met, the love that they felt for each other, seeping through.
Max heaved a heavy sigh. “Can we just hold off on talking about this for a couple of hours? I just....I just want to feel like everything we have is real...I just want to know that this isn’t some incredible dream that I’m having.”
Liz smiled, kissing his forehead. “C’mon, then. We’ll see what Noah’s up to.”
The two of them trudged up the stairs, going to Noah’s room.
They found him playing with his toys on the floor.
“Can we play?”
Noah looked up, smiling. He held out his toy trucks, making sure to give Liz the biggest truck. He didn’t want her to get upset like Jade.
The three of them played together, just enjoying being a family. None of them worrying about their immediate future, just basking in the love that their little family had.
Noah’s little voice popped up, startling Max and Liz. “Where do babies come from?”
Max dropped the truck in his hand, surprised at Noah’s question. He turned to Liz, looking for some help.
Liz just chuckled, pulling Noah into her lap. “Well honey, babies..............
“Well honey, babies come from love. Your daddy and I love each other sooo much love, that we created a whole ‘nother person.” Liz looked over at Max’s pale face. She gave him a look, saying that he should say something too.
Max swallowed convulsively. “Your mom’s right, pal. We had so much love between us, that we just didn’t know where to put it.”
Liz bit her lip, trying not to laugh at Max’s obvious discomfort at the situation. She had to bite her tongue to stop herself from saying something silly. She had to give it to him, he definitely was trying.
Noah squirmed against Liz’s lap, moving towards his toys, starting to play again.
Liz scratched the side of her brow. “Honey? Don’t you have any other questions?”
Noah just looked up, his hands stopping their movement. “No.”
“That’s it?” Max sat up, thinking that it was all too easy.
Noah didn’t cease his playing. “What’s what, daddy?”
Liz smiled, placing her hand on Max’s shoulder. “Well, precious, your daddy just wants to make sure that you don’t have any other questions.”
Noah just shook his head, smiling. “Can I have a snack?”
Liz kissed the top of his head. “Sure honey. Let me go downstairs, and make you one.” She stood up, reaching her hand to Max. “Wanna help?”
Max stole one last glance at Noah playing contentedly before taking Liz’s hand.
As they walked down the stairs, Liz casually bumped his hip with hers. “We had so much love that we didn’t know where to put it?”
Max covered his flaming face. “I know, I know, that was really bad. I just was expecting to have this talk for another couple of years.”
Liz laughed. “Well, in case you don’t know where to put that extra love, you might wanna try under the bed. You know, seeing as everything ends up under there anywhere.”
Max playfully glared at Liz. “Funny! You were the one that started that whole,” he made a wild gesture with his hands. “So much love thing.”
Liz laughed some more. “Well, let’s be glad that he seemed to be happy with the answer that he did get.”
They walked into the kitchen, hand in hand. “True.”
Alex held Isabel in his arms, his fingers gently running through her hair.
“I’m so confused, Alex. I just don’t know how to feel.” She sobbed into his shoulder, her frame wracked with her troubled breathing.
Alex just held her tighter, kissing her temple. “Well you don’t have to make a decision right now. You shouldn’t rush yourself. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready. But I do want you to know, that whatever you decide, I’ll be right there beside you.”
Isabel just nodded against him, her arms holding onto him for dear life. “Alex, just hold me.”
Alex smiled, moving to spoon against her. “I’ll play with your hair until you fall asleep.”
Isabel turned around, giving him a light kiss. “I love you.”
“Love you too, Iz.”
Max looked at Liz’s sleeping form. She looked so peaceful. He imagined angels to look like her, so serene, so at peace.
He tossed to the side, reading the flashing red lights of the alarm clock. It was barely past 9, and he was too wired to sleep. Too many things had happened, making it hard for him to shut his eyes with being bombarded with images of today’s events.
Making a quick decision, he slipped some pants on, scribbling a quick note. He placed the note on Liz’s bedside table, his lips placing a quick kiss on her forehead.
Max walked the lonely streets of Roswell, not really having a destination. He just wanted to feel the cool breeze against his face, hoping to clear his head.
Unknowingly, he found himself outside of the Crashdown. He walked up to the glass, looking inside to find only a few customers. He saw Jeff wiping down the counter.
Jeff looked up, smiling as he saw Max looking through the window. He waved him in, pointing to a swivel stool.
Max smiled, walking inside of the restaurant, taking a seat at the counter.
Jeff shook his head, laughing. “Max, how many times do I have to tell you? It’s just Jeff.”
Max chuckled, as he looked around his surroundings. “Sorry. I guess old habits die hard.”
Jeff tossed the rag over his shoulder. “Speaking of, what are you doing here tonight? Liz doesn’t work here anymore, remember?” he teased.
Max blushed a little at Jeff’s teasing. “I just, I needed to get some air.”
Jeff leaned his elbows against the smooth counter top, his eyes meeting Max’s. “Does this have something to do with you guys not making it to the shower today?”
Max nodded. “Yeah....some uh, some unexpected things popped up.”
“What things?” Jeff raised an eyebrow, hoping to encourage Max to speak up.
Max covered his eyes with his hands, his breaths becoming harsher. “Tess’ mother showed up at my mom’s today.”
“What? Out of the blue, just like that?”
“Yeah, just like that.”
Jeff busied himself pouring a couple cups of coffee. “What did she want?”
Max let out a heavy breath. “I’m not exactly sure.”
Jeff pushed the warm cup in Max’s hand. “You don’t want to hear what she has to say?”
Max gripped the warmness of the cup, his eyes following the swirls of steam coming from the coffee. “No. She’s already made it obvious how she felt. I can’t forget.”
Jeff eyed Max from his the rim of his cup. “What are you going to do if Noah wants to meet her? What if he wants her to be a part of his life?”
Max stared blankly ahead of him, before meeting Jeff’s eyes. “You think he’ll want to?”
Jeff shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know that, anymore than you do. I’m just asking a what if, question. I mean, don’t you want to be prepared for a situation like that?”
Max began grinding his teeth in an attempt to squelch his anger. “I’d have to tell him no. I don’t want his innocent affections to be stomped on by her. I won’t allow it.”
Jeff hid a small smile behind his cup, but it didn’t go unnoticed by Max.
“What’s so funny?”
Jeff put his cup down. “Nothing’s funny. Certainly not this situation. I just, it sorta reminds me of how torn I felt when I found out about you and Liz all those years ago. I had to go on blind faith that you had good intentions for my daughter, even though my extremely overprotective side wanted to keep you as far away from Liz as I could.”
Max put his cup down slowly as he remembered. His mind went back to how hard it was for Nancy and Jeff to come to terms with his relationship with Liz. He knew now how hard it must’ve been, especially when he had to wonder about his own son wanting something he didn’t want Noah to have.
His voice was small, timid like as he spoke. “Why did you go on blind faith, that I wasn’t going to hurt Liz?”
Jeff smiled. “Liz is a pretty good judge of character. She doesn’t just give her heart away to anyone. If she felt you were worthy of her love, then that’s all that really matters. I had to let her make that decision even though I may not have agreed with it at the time.”
Max just nodded.
Jeff reached to place a hand on Max’s shoulder. “If Noah wants to meet his grandmother, that’s a tough decision you’re going to have to make. Just make sure that you’re not keeping Noah from a little piece of happiness because you want to protect him so much that you don’t see clearly what’s in front of you.”
Max opened his mouth to thank Jeff for his advice, but Jeff just grinned at him. “Go on. Get outta here. Go home to your family.”
Max stood, holding his hand out to Jeff. “Thank you.”
Max watched as Noah ate his cereal.
Liz had left for work a while ago, leaving both of the Evans men alone together.
Max had been up all night, thinking about what Jeff had said to him. He had to wonder if McKenzie’s intentions were good, and if they were, was he willing to let his pride get in the way of his son knowing a part of his birth mother? What was it that Jeff had said? Blind faith?
Could he really go on blind faith?
Noah’s voice broke Max out of his daze. “Huh?”
“Sumpthin’ the matter?”
Max slid onto a stool next to Noah, turning it so that they were facing each other. “Little man. You remember how we talked about you having three grandmothers yesterday?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking. Would you.....do you wanna meet her?”
Noah’s eyes brightened, a small smile playing against his lips. “You mean I can?”
Max felt his stomach clench, his heart thumping wildly. The look of hope on Noah’s face was just.....words couldn’t describe it. Max knew that he didn’t want to be the one to tell him no. The one that would disappoint him.
He forced a smile on his lips, his large hand cupping Noah’s cheek. “Well, if that’s what you want, then, by all means.....”
Noah leaned across his seat, giving Max a hug.
Max kissed Noah’s head, his grip tightening.
Being the bigger person certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Jeff Parker was a man of heroic proportions for being able to go on blind faith.
Isabel looked at the piece of paper in her hands, the number written on it, corresponding to the door in front of her.
When she had come home the night before, she had talked to Alex about what had happened. She had told him about her conflicted feelings, and her desire to contact McKenzie on her own. If anything, she just wanted a few answers, maybe a little closure.
She had enlisted Alex’s help with tracking down McKenzie’s information, leading her to a hotel in the heart of Albuquerque. She had no idea if what she was doing was right, but it was something that she felt she had to do.
Isabel pulled back her sleeve, raising her hand to knock on the door.
Her palms were moist, her breathing erratic. Her feet began to itch with the sudden urge to run, almost as if this was some wild prank she was playing.
When no one answered, she let out a defeated sigh, her shoulders sagging. The tremor in her lip turned into a sob, her stance of authority melting away as she once again felt like she was a child.
She wiped angrily away at her tears, silently berating herself for losing her cool. Maybe this was a sign. Maybe this was fate’s way of telling her that she was making a mistake.
Holding her head up high, she turned on her heel, walking towards the elevator.
The chime of the elevator sounded, the doors sliding open.
People walked passed each other, no one really taking the time to make eye contact.
Isabel hurried in, her shoulder bumping someone accidentally. “Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not a problem. Don’t worry about it.” The woman looked up, smiling to let the stranger know that it was no trouble.
She and Isabel locked eyes, the smiles on their faces falling.
Isabel placed her hand in the way of the door, keeping it from shutting close. Her stomach took a nose dive, her blood pounding in her ears. “Mrs. Harding.”
McKenzie looked behind her, almost afraid as if someone was watching her. She turned back to Isabel, quickly making a decision to jump into the elevator.
McKenzie pressed the door close button repeatedly as if that would make the door close faster. She turned wild eyes to Isabel, her hands wringing the strap of her purse.
“What are you doing here?” She shifted her weight from foot to foot. “Did anyone see you?” She shook her head, her blond curls flying. “You shouldn’t be here.”
Isabel could barely hold herself together, but the things that were coming out of McKenzie’s mouth was causing her teetering emotions more harm than good.
“I knew this was a bad idea. I don’t know what I thought I would accomplish by coming here today,” she muttered under her breath. She had already cried enough tears over this. She wasn’t going to allow McKenzie to see her weak.
McKenzie reached out her hand to touch Isabel, but Isabel pulled her arm away, her eyes full of venom.
“Don’t touch me!” she hissed.
McKenzie stepped back, her hand flying to her chest. The look of contempt in Isabel’s eyes scared her. Even back in California, when emotions were flying high, and Isabel had felt the brunt of the fire of her and Ed’s anger, not once had Isabel said an unkind word, nor had a look of hate passed her face.
Isabel straightened her back. “Don’t be so surprised, Mrs. Harding. I’m grown now. I’m not just going to stand back and let you walk all over me like you did.”
“Is that what you think I’m going to do?” McKenzie’s voice trembled, not really sure if she wanted to hear Isabel’s answer.
The chimes went off again, the doors sliding open.
Isabel just looked at McKenzie as she stepped out. “Stay away from us, Mrs. Harding. Whatever your intentions are for being here in New Mexico, forget about them.” She turned on her heel, heading towards the revolving doors.
McKenzie ran after her, almost tripping as she tried to keep pace with Isabel. “I can’t just do that. I have-
Isabel turned sharply, her voice coming out in a harsh whisper. “You have no business here.”
“My grandson’s here, I can’t just walk away.” McKenzie let her walls down, hoping to let Isabel see the truth in her eyes.
Isabel let out a bitter laugh. “You have some nerve. Six years go by and suddenly you think you can stake claim to your grandson who you’ve turned away at every other opportunity before? You know, I thought that if I came here today, I was going to be able to forget, to let bygones be bygones. But I don’t think I can. You’ve cut too deep.......Noah doesn’t need someone who’ll flake out when things get tough, when the emotions are running amuck. If you thought that being a grandmother was something you could just walk into, you’ve got another thing coming.”
McKenzie wiped away at her tears. “You’re right.....I shouldn’t......I have no business being here....I don’t, I don’t know what I was thinking....” She met Isabel’s eyes briefly, before walking away quickly. “I’m sorry.”
Isabel felt her stomach twisting, her heart aching as she watched McKenzie scurry away.
She had done the right thing, right? She was supposed to feel proud that after all of these years, she had finally grown a backbone and stood up for herself.
If that was true, then why did she feel like the world’s biggest, heartless bitch?
Making a snap decision, Isabel picked up a run, heading towards the direction that McKenzie had headed off to.
Max tapped onto the clear glass, smiling when Liz looked up at him. He leaned against a table, waiting until Liz came through the door.
She lifted up her plastic goggles, wiping the sweat off her brow. She walked up to him, placing a sweet kiss on his lips.
“This is a nice surprise. What are you doing here?”
Max placed his arms lightly around Liz’s waist, pulling her closer to him. “I have a free period, and lunch is right afterwards. I thought I’d stop by and see if you’d like to go to lunch with me?”
Liz smiled, tossing her goggles and lab coat onto the table behind Max. She grabbed Max’s hand, calling out to her coworker. “Nadine, I’m headed off to lunch!”
Nadine waved, grinning at Liz. “Have fun! But not too much fun. You‘ve still got work to do when you come back.”
Liz waved back, linking her arm with Max’s as she buried her face against his shoulder, taking a whiff of his scent.
“So, what are you really doing here?”
“I told you, I came by-
“To have lunch with me. I know.” Liz finished. “I know that’s what your mouth is saying, but your eyes are saying something completely different.” She turned his face to look at her as she gave him an encouraging smile full of love. “Tell me what’s wrong, babe.”
Max let out a small smile, as he kissed Liz’s temple. “How do you do that?”
Liz chuckled as they walked to the parking lot. “Do what?”
Max stopped them, his hand gripping hers as he stared deeply into her eyes. “Know exactly what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling.”
Liz felt her knees wobble slightly as Max gazed lovingly into her eyes. She brushed away his bangs. “It comes with the territory of being married. Besides, how can I not know when you look at me with those soulful eyes of yours?”
Max blushed. He began to steer Liz towards the car, hoping to keep the flush from deepening in his cheeks. “I....I talked to Noah this morning. He says that he wants to meet McKenzie.”
Liz stopped in her tracks, pinning Max with a look. “What did you tell him?”
“What else could I tell him?”
Liz felt her stomach drop. She had thought that after calming down, Max would at least be open to hearing what McKenzie had to say. But if he had made his decision, she was going to stand by him.
“You know I always did find it hard to say no to him.”
Liz turned around so quickly that her brown hair flew around her face like wings. “What did you say?”
Max shrugged his shoulders, shoving his hands deep into his pockets. “Noah wants to meet McKenzie, and I said yes.”
Liz smiled, as she stepped closer to Max. She ran her hand along the side of his face, her hand cupping his jaw. “What made you change your mind?”
“Actually, your dad.”
Liz’s brow furrowed with confusion. “My dad? What does he have to do with any of this?”
“Nothing.......It was just something he said that made me see things a little clearer.” He let out a breath. “I’m not willingly going to open my arms and welcome McKenzie into the family, but if I could be given a second chance to start over without anyone judging me, then I think that it’s the least that I could do for Tess‘ mom.”
Liz threw her arms around Max, peppering his face with kisses. “I’m so proud of you, honey. I know how hard this must’ve been for you.” She pulled back, as she caressed his skin. “You’ve got a heart of gold, Max Evans.”
Isabel picked up her pace, making a sharp turn as she tried to keep McKenzie’s blonde curls in view. With long strides, she was by her side in a matter of seconds.
McKenzie stopped, eyeing Isabel warily.
“Look, can we talk? For a few minutes, like adults?”
McKenzie looked reluctant to say yes, but her gut told her to go for it, knowing that this may be the last chance she would ever get. She nodded, leading Isabel out of the hotel to a nearby cafe. “Not here.”
Isabel took a seat, as she held her purse on her lap. “I wanted to apologize for what I said back there. I shouldn’t have chewed you out like that.”
McKenzie smiled a little, intending to reach her hands out across the table to hold Isabel’s hands in hers, but decided against it. She didn’t want to push her luck. “Don’t apologize. I deserve that and a lot more.”
Isabel wasn’t going to argue, instead shifting the focus. “I’d really like to think that you have good intentions for being here, Mrs. Harding, but I have to wonder with all of the secrecy.”
McKenzie squeezed her hands together, taking a deep breath. “My intentions are good, but I’m not here alone.”
Isabel felt squeamish. “Mr. Harding’s here?”
McKenzie was quick to shake her head. “It isn’t....please, just hear me out?”
Isabel nodded, keeping her feet glued to the floor. She had come this far, she may as well hear what McKenzie had to say.
“Like I said, I’m not here alone. Ed’s here on business. I begged and pleaded with him to let me come with him. He doesn’t know that your family is in Roswell.”
“If he doesn’t know, then how did you?”
McKenzie took a few minutes to compose herself. “After you guys left, I....I couldn’t stand the thought that I wouldn’t know anything about what was happening with all of you. I hired a private investigator, and he’s kept me up to date with everything that’s been happening.”
Isabel fell back in her chair. “You had someone spying on us?”
“It wasn’t....it wasn’t like that. Don’t you see that there was no other way?”
“No other way? How about the truth, Mrs. Harding? If you cared that much, why just show up now?”
McKenzie’s eyes dropped to the table. “This was my only opportunity. Ed’s going to be busy with work that he’s barely gonna even notice that I’m not around.”
Isabel let out a breath. “I don’t want to sound unwilling to understand, but maybe I’m missing something here. If this really mean so much to you, why don’t you just tell Mr. Harding the truth?”
“The truth hurts, Isabel. I can’t just tell Ed that I want to see my grandson and have a relationship with him. Ed doesn’t think like that. If anything, Ed still won’t acknowledge Noah as his grandson.”
Isabel’s lips curled into a tight line. “If Mr. Harding still won’t accept Noah, then why should I believe that you’re ready to do that?”
“I’ve wanted to be a part of Noah’s life for a long time. Ed’s a man who likes to be in the driver’s seat. He’s a person that thrives on control, and when he doesn’t have that, his whole world falls apart. When Tess got pregnant, Ed about lost his mind because there was nothing he could do to change the fact. He tried to take control of everything, cutting all of her ties just so that he could feel like he was doing something. That he wasn’t just letting things happen. He wanted to believe that he was taking control of the situation and that because of that, things were going to be alright.
When Tess died, Ed, he became a different person. He couldn’t stand to look at Noah because he looked so much like Tess.........I know that everything he’s done up to this point was wrong, and I’m not trying to excuse his actions, but you have to know that Ed and I are two different people.”
“If Mr. Harding is really an over-bearing control monger like you claim, then why not just leave him? Why stay with someone who controls everything you do?”
McKenzie smiled sadly through her tears. “Despite everything that’s happened, Ed’s my husband. I still love him. He’s my home......I know that it’s hard for you to understand that, but he’s all I’ve got left. With Tess gone.......” She ran her hand under her eyes, wiping away the tears. “I know that it sounds like I want to have my cake and eat it too. And it’s probably true. I just want an opportunity to know a part of my daughter’s son......But, but if I’m asking too much, I’d understand.”
Isabel mulled over McKenzie’s words. In a way she knew what McKenzie was talking about. There was so much bad blood between the two families, but they all agreed on one thing.
Going with her gut, Isabel reached for McKenzie’s hand. “Come to Roswell with me.”
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:52:01 PM|
Isabel cradled her cell phone against her ear as she drove. “Max, it’s Isabel.”
“Oh hey. What’s up?”
Isabel threw a quick glance at McKenzie in the passenger seat, as she turned the steering wheel. “Not much. I...you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mrs. Harding showing up, and-
Max cut her off. “Me too. I’ve talked to Noah, and Liz. We’ve decided that we’re going to give her a chance after all. I know that mom and dad aren’t particularly going to like the idea, but....but it’s what Noah wants. I can’t keep him from her, for my own selfish pride.”
Isabel beamed against the phone. “Really? You mean it?”
“I do. My only problem is trying to figure out how to contact her. Mom didn’t exactly let her say much, let alone leave a number.”
“Why don’t you leave that to me?”
“Isabel, what are you talking about?”
“Max, do you trust me?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then, trust me and expect a guest at your house tonight.”
“What? Isabel, what’s going on?”
“Trust me, big brother. I’ll see you later.” Isabel snapped her phone shut, her foot pressing a little harder against the gas pedal.
Max sat on the sofa, flipping a pillow in his hands as he spoke to Liz. “I mean, she wasn’t making any sense. No sense at all.” He turned his amber gaze to Liz. “She was being cryptic.”
Liz laughed, laying her hand on Max’s thigh. “Then it must be a twin thing, because you aren’t making much sense yourself.”
Max pouted. “That’s not funny.” He crossed his arms, his brows knotting together. “I’m having a crisis here, Liz, and you’re just laughing at me.”
Liz made smoochy lips, pressing Max’s cheeks together so that his lips looked like hers. “Oh, I’m sorry baby. I didn’t mean to laugh.” She placed a kiss on his lips, making a smacking noise.
Max tried hard not to let his smile show on his lips. “I don’t know. My manly pride is hurt. It’s gonna take a lot more for me to forget.”
Liz gave him a cheeky grin, pulling the pillow from his lap. She grabbed him by his shirt collar, straddling his hips as she situated herself on his lap. “Let me see what I can do.” She licked her lips, leaning her face down to kiss him, when the doorbell rang.
Liz moved away from Max, intending to get the door, but Max just pulled her back.
“Don’t get that.”
Liz raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m sorry, honey, but I don’t think they’re just gonna go away.”
Max tugged on her hand, his other hand grabbing the pillow beside him. He threw it towards the door yelling. “Go Away!”
Liz giggled despite herself. “Max, behave yourself!”
The doorbell rang again, with Noah skipping down the stairs.
“I wanna git it!” He continued running, his hand reaching for the doorknob, ready to open it.
“NOAH!” Max jumped out from his position on the couch, lifting the six year old up in his arms, giving him an admonishing look. “What did your momma and I tell you about not opening the door to strangers?”
Noah squirmed against Max. “But it’s not a stranger.”
Max let Noah slide down to the floor. “How do you know that?”
“Cos I sawed them from the window.”
Max opened his mouth to begin a lecture, but Liz came up behind him, reaching for the knob.
“Hey, Iz.” Liz pulled the door wide open, welcoming her inside. Her smile faltered when she saw McKenzie standing beside Isabel. “Mac....I mean, Mrs. Harding.”
It didn’t take long before Max pulled Isabel into the house. “Kitchen. Now!”
Isabel looked back to McKenzie, but Max didn’t give her a chance to say anything.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Isabel straightened out her sleeves, glaring at Max. “I could say the same for you.”
Max threw his hands up in the air, his feet picking up a pace. “Look, cut the crap. What’s she doing here?”
“You said Noah wanted to meet her. I thought I’d do you a favor and bring her over.”
Max stopped. “I know, but...but couldn’t you have warned me?”
“Warned you? Max, she’s here to meet Noah. You’re acting like this is some sort of unannounced bombing raid.”
Max crossed his arms, ready to give a smart-alecky retort, but Noah’s voice filtered into the kitchen, making Max and Isabel turn their heads.
Noah held out his hand, a small smile on his lips. “I’m Noah. Wanna come inside?”
McKenzie couldn’t help but smile at the adorable little boy in front of her. She looked up at Liz, silently asking permission if she could enter her home.
Liz just smiled, stepping aside as she placed a hand on Noah’s shoulder. “Please, come in.”
McKenzie still looked a little hesitant, but Noah reached for her hand. “Come on. Momma wants you too.” She let herself be led inside, her heart thumping wildly against her chest.
Noah led her into the living room, sitting next to her on the couch. His head tilted at an angle as he studied McKenzie closely.
McKenzie resisted the urge to squirm at Noah’s intense scrutiny of her appearance.
Sensing her discomfort, Liz spoke to Noah, whispering softly. “Honey, please don’t stare. It’s not nice.”
McKenzie smiled politely, her hands wringing in her lap. “It’s...it’s alright.”
Noah let his eyes fall to the floor. “I sorry.” He looked up at McKenzie again, pulling his legs up underneath him as he made himself comfortable. “Daddy sayed that you were my other momma’s momma.”
McKenzie looked confused for a second, but Liz intervened, breaking down Noah’s speak into regular english.
“Max and I told him that you were Tess’ mom. He knows that your his grandmother.”
McKenzie nodded in understanding, turning her eyes to Noah. “That’s right.” She offered him a smile. “If you’d like, you can call me grandma.”
“Can I call you Mac?” His hazel eyes turned serious, as he spoke. “I don’t want gramma Di, and gramma Nancy to get upset.”
The smile on McKenzie’s face disappeared as she realized how much she had missed. Noah already considered Liz’s mother as his other grandmother, and it tore threw her heart. She knew that she had no business being upset by that, but she was only human. She forced a smile on her lips. “You can call me anything you want.”
Noah gave her a smile, breathing a sigh of relief. He moved closer to her. “You know any stories? My gamma has lots of ‘em.”
McKenzie looked up to Liz again, hoping to get some answers.
Liz spoke softly. “He’s talking about my grandmother Claudia.”
“Oh.” She looked down at Noah, shaking her head slowly. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know any stories.”
“Is okay. We can play with my toys. Wanna do that?” He turned hopeful eyes at her.
“S-sure....if you want.”
Noah slid off the couch, bounding up the stairs. “Be back!” he yelled over his shoulder.
McKenzie looked around her, her eyes taking in everything. The house was brand new, but it already had a worn in feeling. A warm feeling, that spoke volumes of a close knit family living inside. The house was littered with photographs, most of them, of family, she thought sadly. A family she didn’t belong to.
Liz stood up, walking closer to McKenzie. “I’m just....I’ll be in the other room.”
McKenzie turned wild eyes to her. “Don’t leave.....You don’t have too.”
Liz just smiled. “I think this would work better if I wasn’t here.”
McKenzie stood up, grabbing Liz’s arm. “I don’t know what to do.”
Noah ran back into the living room, his arms overflowing with toys. “I’m back!”
Liz looked at her son, then back to McKenzie. “Just relax. Don’t be so nervous. He’ll pick up on your feelings, and you’ll make him nervous.”
McKenzie nodded, her throat working hard to get a word out. “But-
Liz freed her arm from McKenzie’s grip, giving McKenzie her most sincere smile. “He just wants to play. The most you’ll have to worry about is that he’ll talk up a storm.”
Noah looked up at the adults from his spot on the carpet where he had arranged his toys. “Mac, you gonna play?”
Liz gave McKenzie a gentle push, making her way into the kitchen to Max and Isabel.
Max pulled Liz into his side, his eyes glued to Noah and McKenzie. “Are you sure it’s such a good idea to leave them by themselves?”
Liz kissed his shirt covered pec. “I think it’ll be easier for them to relax around each other if we weren’t there watching them constantly.”
“I hope you’re right.”
Noah grinned at McKenzie, holding out his toy airplane. “This is my plane. I’m gonna fly planes when I get older.”
McKenzie relaxed a little more, feeling at ease with the way Noah smiled so sweetly at her. The way he just struck up a conversation with her, like they had known each other for years, instead of the few minutes that they did. “You wanna be a pilot?”
Noah shook his head, his face dead serious. “No. I’m gonna be a plane flyer.”
McKenzie chuckled. “That’s what plane flyers are called. They’re called pilots.”
Noah nodded his head slowly, his face deep in concentration, letting her words sink in. “Pilot.”
McKenzie grinned. “That’s right.”
Noah moved closer to her, smiling at her with eyes full of wonder. “What else do ya know?”
Max paced the tile covered floor, his eyes flying to the living room every time he heard Noah and McKenzie laughing.
Liz grabbed him by a belt loop, making him stop. “Max, would you please quit it? You’re making me dizzy.”
Max tipped his head. “Sorry, I just....I’m just a little nervous.”
“Well, you’re not gonna do anyone any good if you keep watching them like a hawk.”
Max crossed his arms, refusing to take a seat. “Look, I know I agreed to this, but I just want to make sure that she’s not....that she’s not doing anything to him.”
Liz looked at the two huddled figures, laughing. “What do you think she’s going to do? Poison him with laughter?”
Max just pinned his wife with a look, but changed his tune immediately when he realized that she was only trying to lighten the mood. He ran a hand down his face. “I’m sorry.....I guess I’m not as ready for this as I thought I was.”
Liz placed her hands on his waist, pulling him towards her so that he was standing between her legs. She lay her cheek against his stomach, her arms wrapping around him. “I know this is a lot to take in. And considering the circumstances, I think you’re doing an amazing job.”
Max expelled a heavy sigh, his hands playing through Liz’s hair. “I’m glad one of us thinks so.”
Liz turned her head, her lips gently kissing his stomach. “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Max.”
Max bent his torso forward so that he could kiss the top of Liz’s dark shiny head. “Well seeing as Isabel is gone, then there’s only one other Evans I can get mad at.”
Liz looked up at him, raising a slender eyebrow.
Max chuckled a little. “Ok, I get it. Enough with the self beating.”
Noah had pulled out the photo albums from under the coffee table, placing it on his lap as he leaned against the foot of the couch. “Wanna see some pitures?”
McKenzie grinned, feeling more and more at ease every second she spent with Noah. She had no idea how she had lived without having him in her life for so long. “I’d love to.”
Noah patted the spot next him. “Ova here.”
He flipped through the various pictures, giving explanations of the different pictures.
“This was when momma and daddy took me to da zoo.” He pointed a stubby finger to the next picture, smiling as he spoke. “This is me and momma at granpa Jeff’s.”
“That’s me and momma again......and again.”
McKenzie realized fairly quickly that Noah seemed very attached to Liz. Even with the few encounters she had with Liz and Noah, he always seemed to be glued to her side. In the pictures that Noah showed her, he was always holding her hand, or laying his head against her chest as he sat on her lap.
What was it that they said? A picture was worth a thousand words?
By looking at these pictures, one would be a fool not to realize that Liz and Noah had a special bond. Had it not been for the obvious differences in their physical features, most would think that Liz was his biological mother.
McKenzie cleared her throat, her eyes glued to Noah instead of the pictures he was showing her. “So you and your momma are close?”
“So then she treats you well?....She loves you?” McKenzie knew that it was ridiculous to ask the question, seeing as she already had the proof sitting next her. Noah’s friendliness and loving nature proved that he was well loved. Abundantly so.
Noah shook his head, chuckling slightly. “Of course she does, silly. I’ve got the bestest momma in the world. She says that I’m the luckiest boy in the whole world cos I got two momma’s that love me.”
McKenzie moved so that she could get a better look at Noah’s face. “Really?”
“Does she....does your momma talk about your other momma?.....my daughter?”
Noah grinned widely, his head bobbing up and down. “All the time. She tells me stories about how much my other momma loves me, and how she’s watching us from up there.” He pointed his index finger towards the ceiling. “Momma even lets me keep a piture in my room.”
“Uh huh. Momma sayed that she doedn’t want me to forget.” He smiled some more as he stood up. “We even got flowers in the yard. They’re called, forgive-me-nots.”
McKenzie bit her lower lip to stop herself from crying. “You mean forget-me-nots?”
Noah reached out a hand to her. “That’s what I sayed. Wanna come see?”
McKenzie nodded her head, letting Noah pull her through the kitchen.
“Where are you going?” Max stood up from his seat, watching closely as Noah held onto McKenzie’s hand.
“I’m showin’ Mac momma’s flowers outside.”
McKenzie didn’t get a chance to get a word out for Noah dragged her into the yard.
He had kneeled down on a patch of grass, pointing to the forget-me-nots in the garden. “See, here they are.”
Noah continued to talk, as McKenzie kneeled down beside him. “Momma and daddy take turns taking care of it for my other momma.” He let out a proud smile. “Sometimes, momma lets me water them.”
McKenzie fingered the soft petals of the flower, the tears silently coursing down her cheeks. Any thoughts she had of Liz being just a replacement, flying from her mind. It was obvious that she was the light of Noah’s life, and that she took care of her grandson well. Her shoulders shook as she remembered Noah’s words, telling her that Liz wouldn’t let him forget about Tess.
Her head turned as she felt Noah’s small hand on her shoulder.
“Is okay, Mac. Momma knows that we love her.”
Sniffling, McKenzie wiped away at her tears. “How do you know that?”
Noah gave her a half smile. He pointed towards the house where Liz was. “Momma sayed that love is a great thin’. She sayed that if we love someone, it doedn’t matter where they are, cos they’ll know.” He placed a hand on his heart. “If we feel it in here, then they know.”
McKenzie sat on the edge of Noah’s bed, grinning wildly as he continued to chatter even though he was supposed to get to bed already.
Liz knocked on the side of the door, leaning against the frame. “Lights out.”
Max came up behind Liz, peeking in. “Say goodnight little man.”
The two of them went back downstairs, giving McKenzie and Noah some privacy to say goodnight to each other.
Noah stopped talking, sitting up. “You have fun today, Mac?”
She gently stroked his cheek. “I don’t remember having so much fun.”
Noah grinned. “You should smile more.” He placed his tiny hands on her cheeks, pulling at it a little to widen her smile. He got on his knees, kissing McKenzie’s forehead quickly. “Nite, Mac.”
McKenzie wrapped her arms around Noah, squeezing him gently against her body. “Goodnight, Noah.....Thank you for today.”
Noah scrambled back under the covers. “You gonna be here when I wake up?”
“I’m afraid not. I have to go home tonight, but I’d love to come and visit again another day?”
He grinned as he held Pooh Bear closer to his chest. “Good. I wanna ‘troduce you to my friend Jade.” He yawned, turning to his side. “Nite nite.”
McKenzie ran her hands through his soft hair, unable to resist placing a gentle kiss on his cheek before getting up.
She made her way downstairs to find Max and Liz cuddled up on the couch.
Liz stood up, pulling Max with her.
“Did he finally stop talking?” She asked with a grin.
McKenzie nodded. “Yeah.”
The three of them stood there, not really knowing what to say next.
McKenzie opened her mouth, seizing the opportunity say some things. “I wanted to thank you both for letting me do this. I know that this wasn’t an easy thing for the two of you. Lord knows that I don’t deserve this second chance, but I want to thank you for giving it to me.”
Liz smiled warmly, her hand reaching to touch Max’s where he had placed it on her shoulder.
McKenzie stepped closer, the expression on her face unreadable. “And.....I wanted to apologize as well......for so many things. For showing up unexpectedly, for thinking I could just come back after all of these years, and especially for how I treated you all those years ago, Max. I know that saying sorry is never going to be enough.....I know that Ed always told you that you took Tess away. But we took her away from you too.......Nothing I’m going to say or do will ever make up for what I did, or excuse it. But I want you to know that I do regret my actions......I wallowed in my own loss, and completely overlooked the fact that I wasn’t the only one that lost Tess.....”
Max opened and closed his mouth, trying to wet his parched throat as he swallowed. “I don’t....I don’t know what to say.”
McKenzie clasped her hands together, her sparkling blue eyes pleading. “Say that you’ll let me see Noah again?......I know that’s a lot to ask, but....I just can’t walk away.”
Max looked down at Liz. She gave him a loving smile, merely shrugging her shoulders, saying that it was up to him.
He looked at McKenzie, then up to the stairs that led to Noah’s room. His mind flashed with images of Noah, and how genuinely happy he seemed to be in McKenzie’s company. Taking a deep breath, he spoke, his decision having been made.
“You can see Noah again.....but, I still don’t know how I feel about all of this......I need more time.”
McKenzie nodded in understanding. “Of course. Thank you......again.” She gave them a quick tip of her head before letting herself out.
Later that night.
Liz rolled over, her arms unconsciously pulling Max closer to her. When he didn’t respond to her touch, she sat up, looking at him quizzically in the dark. “Max? What are you still doing up?”
He turned on his side, propping his elbow against the pillow so he could look into Liz’s face. “It’s nothing. Just go back to sleep.”
Liz groaned, lying flat on her back. “Don’t you know that when you say something like that, it just makes me worry more?”
Max copied her movements, a deep breath escaping his lips. “Sorry.”
Liz snuggled into his side. “Don’t be......I just worry about you.”
He kissed the top of her head. “I know. And I don’t mean to worry you. It’s just.....I’m just having a hard time falling asleep after what happened today.”
“Understandable.” Her fingertips danced lightly across his skin. “Today was a lot to take in.”
Max nodded, even though Liz couldn’t see him. “You think I did the right thing? Letting her see Noah again?”
“Yes.....regardless of what’s going on between you and McKenzie, Noah likes spending time with her....I think it’s important that she’s a part of his life....She can fill in the blanks about Tess, and tell him things about her that we don’t know.”
Max caressed her bare shoulder. “Does this bother you?.....That McKenzie can do that?....tell Noah stories about Tess.”
Liz was silent for a moment as she tried to find the right words. “Had it been a while ago, I’d say maybe......but now.......I don’t know......I guess I feel a little more secure.....I don‘t think it would bother me now.”
“Because we love each other....The three of us,” she chuckled lightly. “I mean the four of us,”
Max smiled, his hand creeping down to her tummy.
“We’re a family. If we stick together, like we did, we can get through anything.”
Max nuzzled her hair, softly inhaling her strawberry scent. He shimmied down the bed, throwing the covers off of them.
Liz giggled. “Max, what are you doing?”
He gave her a boyish grin, lifting up her night gown. He looked at her belly, before peppering it with kisses. “You hear that, little one? We’re a family that can’t wait to have you.” He lay his large hand against her stomach. “Be good to your mother.” Pulling his hand away, he placed a sound kiss on her belly, his hands pulling her nightgown back down.
He lay his head against the pillows, pulling Liz to him so that her head was lying on his chest. “I think I’m ready to sleep now.”
McKenzie fumbled with her keycard, pushing the door open to her hotel room.
She held a hand to her chest, a loud gasp escaping her lips as she saw Ed sitting at a chair in the dark. “Oh God. You scared me.”
She flipped on the light, dropping her purse on the bed. “What’re you doing sitting in the dark anyway?”
Ed shrugged his shoulders. “Waiting for my wife. You know, I convinced Joe to let me have the day off so that I could spend some time with you, but lo and behold, you’re not in the room. I try your cell phone, and surprise, surprise, it’s not on.”
McKenzie flinched at the sarcasm in his voice. “Look, I’m sorry. I got caught up sight seeing.”
“Sight seeing.” He nodded his head. “Must’ve been some sights for you to be gone all day.”
McKenzie closed her eyes, letting out a breath. “What do you want me to say, Ed?”
He stood up. “How about the truth? Where the hell were you?”
“I told you, I went sight seeing.”
Ed raised his voice slightly, anger flashing in his eyes. “And you’d have to be stupid to think that I would buy that. Tell me what the hell is going on McKenzie. Why are you gone all hours of the day? Why are you lying to me?” He turned to the desk, his hand reaching for a piece of paper with a guys name on it, and a phone number. “And who the hell is Chuck?”
McKenzie stood frozen to her spot, the color draining from her face. “How did you get that?”
“He left at the front desk for you,” he spat out bitterly.
McKenzie cursed inside her head. She couldn’t believe that her PI was stupid enough to leave a message for her at the front desk. Her thoughts were interrupted by Ed’s booming voice.
“How long has this been going on?”
McKenzie sighed, realizing that there was no use in lying. “On and off for the last few years.”
Ed’s jaw fell to the floor. He stumbled back to the chair behind him. He shook his head, mumbling. “I can’t believe this. All this time, behind my back.” He turned wounded eyes at her. “I can’t believe you would have an affair, with this....with this, Chuck, person.”
It was McKenzie’s turn to let her jaw drop.
Did she just hear him right? He thought she was having an affair with Chuck?
Ed stood up, pointing an accusatory finger at McKenzie. “Don’t play games with me! You’ve already admitted to it.”
McKenzie squared her shoulders, her back straightening. “I didn’t say I was having an affair with Chuck! You were the one that assumed that.”
Ed threw his arms up in the air, frustration rolling off of him in waves. “Do you really think I’m that stupid? You were the one that said that this had been going on for a few years.”
“I said that, but I have a completely different relationship with Chuck than what you’re thinking.”
He crossed his arms, sarcasm staining his words. “Let me guess. You’re going to tell me that what you have with Chuck is just a friendship. Am I right?”
“Would you just shut up for a second and let me speak?” Her jaw fell as she heard the words come out of her mouth, surprising herself more than it did Ed.
Ed’s eyes flew to hers. It was almost as if he didn’t even recognize the person in front of him.
The defensive stance of her body, the rise of her voice, the sudden confidence that she possessed was something he hadn’t seen in her since they had first met. It was one of the things that attracted him to her, because she wasn’t one to give up so easily.
McKenzie noted the shock in his face, deciding to take advantage. It was a rare moment to have Ed stunned speechless, and she was planning on banking on that experience.
“Chuck isn’t a friend, not even an acquaintance. He’s a private investigator I hired a few years ago.”
Ed stumbled back blindly, falling into the chair behind him, looking almost confused. “What the hell do you need a private investigator for?”
McKenzie crossed her arms across her chest. “Well, seeing as my own husband wouldn’t tell me where my grandson had moved to, I thought I’d take it upon myself to find out.”
“That’s what you wanted a private investigator for? Why the hell are you so intent on finding that shmuck and his kid?”
McKenzie began pacing. “Would you listen to yourself? Max Evans is not a shmuck! And that kid, that kid is a part of me. Of us! Noah is Tess’-
Ed stood up again. “Since when did you become Max’s defender? Have you forgotten that it’s because of him that Teresa isn’t here anymore? That child took her life, and for what? Huh?”
“ENOUGH!” McKenzie’s voice trembled with her pent up anger and frustration. “For the last seven years, I’ve let you dictate my life. I let you walk all over Max and his family, and I did nothing. I even agreed with you to a point......But, I can’t do it anymore. We’ve been blaming Max, and Noah for Tess’ death unjustly. They don’t deserve any of the grief we gave them.” She turned steely eyes at her husband. “It stops now, Ed.”
“Don’t be stupid, McKenzie!”
She strode up to him, slapping him hard across the cheek. “Just because I don’t agree with you, it doesn’t make me stupid. If there was ever a time that I was stupid, it was when I wouldn’t stand up to you.”
Ed just held his hand against his burning cheek, wondering who it was that was standing before him.
“I want to be a part of Noah’s life, and miraculously enough, Max and his wife are giving me a chance. Even after all of the terrible things that I’ve done, they’re willing to give me a second chance.” She ran her hands across her cheeks, wiping up the wet trails of her tears. “I’ve had enough. I don’t want to hide the fact that I want to be a part of my grandson. Doing that makes it seem like I’m ashamed of him, and I’m not. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the most loveable little boy in the world.” She reached out to place her hand on Ed’s where it lay across his cheek. “Don’t make me choose between the two of you, Ed.”
She smiled at him sadly. “I love you, and I probably always will. You’ve been my everything for so long, and you were the only thing I had to keep me sane when Tess died.....But if give me an ultimatum, I guarantee you, that both you and I are going to walk away unhappy.”
His hot tears trailed thickly across his cheeks, down across their hands.
“I’m not asking you to agree with me, or to even want to be a part of Noah’s life. But don’t take away the one thing that’s kept me alive all of these years.”
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:55:28 PM|
Max turned on his side, extending his arm to spoon against Liz. But instead of being met with the warmth of her tiny body, he was met with air, and rapidly cooling sheets. Sitting up slightly disoriented, Max looked around the room, his eyes flying to the light seeping through from the crack of the bathroom door.
He threw his legs over the side of the bed, walking towards the bathroom. His stomach clenched at the sound of retching come from the other side. Pushing the door open, he came in to find Liz sitting on the tile floor, her head hanging over the toilet as she emptied out her stomach.
Walking briskly towards her, he slid to the floor, pulling the hair away from her face.
Liz leaned her cheek against the cool porcelain, taking a deep breath as she squinted to get a look at Max’s face. “What are you doing up?”
Max just raised his eyebrow, indicating that she shouldn’t even be asking the question. He stood up again, pulling open the bathroom drawer. He took out a wash cloth, wetting it in the sink. He grabbed an elastic band from the vanity, pushing his hand through it so that it was on his wrist like a bracelet.
He sat on the floor again, beckoning Liz to him. She shifted on the floor, crawling to him.
He instructed her to turn around as he gingerly put her hair up, making sure not to tangle it up against the elastic. He brought the cool wash cloth to her face, gently wiping it down, bringing it down her neck, trying to cool down her heated body.
Letting out a sigh of appreciation, Liz fell back against his chest. She turned her face to the side, placing a light kiss on his skin. “Thanks babe.” She inhaled his familiar scent, her eyes closing as sleep started invading her body. “I’m so tired.”
Max kissed her forehead, gathering her close to him. “Sleep already. We have a Dr.’s appointment tomorrow.”
He had barely finished his sentence when he heard her softly snoring. He smiled, slowly standing as he carried Liz in his arms. He pulled her closer against his chest, walking back inside the bedroom.
He lay her on the bed delicately. He moved around her, pulling the cool sheets around her body. He kissed her again, walking back to the bathroom to shut off the light.
When he got into bed, he tried pulling up the covers, but realized that they were tangled around Liz’s legs. He sat up, tugging on the blanket so that he could pull it over her body again.
Once he finished his task, he lay down on his back, reaching for the blanket.
A rustling sound came from beside him, as Liz kicked off the sheets again. She turned on her side, snuggling against Max. “Too hot.” She mumbled, returning to her slumber without a second thought.
Max just shook his head, chuckling as he pulled Liz against him.
Roswell Memorial Hospital
Liz sat in the waiting area, staring at Max who had his head buried in a parenting magazine.
With a grin on her lips, she whispered in his ear. “You know, you didn’t have to come with me today.”
He grinned, putting the magazine on his lap. “Yeah?....Well I wanted to. I missed so much with Noah, that I want to be here for everything this time around.”
Liz put her arm around his neck, pulling his lips down for a kiss.
“Evans, Liz?” The nurse looked up from her chart, taking a closer look to see who would claim the name.
Max stood up, dropping the magazine. He grabbed Liz’s hand walking to the nurse. “This is Liz,” he beamed with a smile.
The nurse smiled at them leading them to the back. “Let me guess? This is your first?”
Max and Liz exchanged a look.
“Sort of....well, not really....” Max stuttered.
Liz smiled. “It’s a long story, but this is our first one together.”
The nurse smiled, opening the door to one of the exam rooms. “Ok, I’m going to need to ask you to step on the scale.”
Liz handed her purse to Max, stepping onto the scale as the nurse had asked. She watched as the nurse fiddled with the weights, quickly scribbling in the chart.
“You can step down, now.” She pointed to the exam table. “Ok, I’m going to ask you take a seat so I can take your blood pressure.”
Liz as she was told, extending her arm as the nurse checked her bp. She looked over the nurses head, giving Max a quick smile.
After writing a few more things in Liz’s chart, the nurse handed Liz a cup. “We’re going to need a sample.” She opened the door, pointing down the hall. “Bathroom’s that way. You don’t need to fill it up all of the way. Bring back the sample to me, I’ll be over there.”
After a few minutes, Liz reemerged from the bathroom, with cup in tow. She handed it to the nurse.
The nurse took the cup, sticking all sorts of labels on it. “Dr. Walker will be with you in a moment. I’ve left an exam gown for you to change into.”
Liz just nodded, returning to the small exam room.
Max’s eyes flew up, smiling when he saw Liz.
She closed the door behind her, unbuttoning her blouse as she moved closer to Max.
Max’s eyes bugged out of his head, as he saw Liz undressing. “Liz! What are you doing?” he hissed.
The sound of Liz’s light laughter, echoed in the small room. She stepped closer to Max, her face inches away from his. They were so close, his harsh breathing fanned across her face.
She grabbed the paper gown from beside Max. Laughing a little when Max caught sight of it, his face dawning with realization.
When his eyes met with Liz’s, he blushed.
Liz laughed a little more as she changed. When she was done, she sat on the exam table, her short legs swinging back and forth.
A few minutes passed with Max and Liz sitting together in silence, just enjoying being together without saying anything.
A knock from the door, made them turn their heads as a brunette in her mid forties walked inside, holding a chart.
Dr. Walker looked up, smiling at Liz. “Liz, it’s so good to see you again.” Her eyes landed on Max as he sat on a chair in the corner, clutching Liz’s purse in his lap. “And you must be Mr. Evans.” She held out her hand for a handshake. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
Max shook her hand. “Likewise.”
Dr. Walker instructed Liz to lie back as she got ready. “We’re going to be doing a pelvic exam today.”
Max just sat silently, watching as Liz put her feet up on the stirrups. He could hear Dr. Walker talking, explaining to the both of them what she was doing, but he couldn’t hear a thing. All he could hear was the pounding of his blood in his ears.
He had no idea why he was getting so worked up. A pelvic exam was normal. There wasn’t anything sexual about it, but he was still feeling a little weird with having Dr. Walker down there, talking so casually. He averted his eyes, trying to look elsewhere, as he began grinding his teeth.
When Dr. Walker was done, she and Liz exchanged a few more words. Dr. Walker smiled, bidding goodbye to them as she left.
Liz slipped off the table, walking to where Max was sitting. She cupped his granite like jaw, realizing that he was grinding his teeth. “Hey, are you ok?”
Max looked up, realizing for the first time that they were done. “You’re done?”
Liz nodded as she pulled her clothes back on. “Yeah. I just have to make an appointment at the front desk.” She slipped her jeans on her hips, zipping them closed. “You seem better. Everything ok now?”
Max breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah....I just...” He looked away, his cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
“You just what?” She tipped his chin, forcing him to look into her eyes.
He let out a breath, realizing that he could never lie to her. “I guess I just felt a little uncomfortable while she did your pelvic exam. I know that there’s nothing sexual about it, and that it’s all part of the deal, but I still feel a little weird with having someone that isn’t me....getting to see you.” He whispered.
Liz smiled at his awkward explanation, her heart swelling with love for him. She placed a kiss on his lips, hugging him tightly. “I love you.”
When they finished making another appointment, the two of them headed towards the parking lot where they ran into Courtney.
“Hey, Court. Getting ready for your shift?”
Courtney threw her badge around her neck, smiling. “More like running late.” She smiled. “Look, I don’t have much time to talk, but our house this weekend. My sister and her husband are coming in from Texas with their twins, so we want everyone there.”
Liz gushed. “Aww, how cute. How old are they?”
“Dexter and Damian just turned two,” she smiled proudly.
Liz patted Courtney’s hand. “How sweet. Ok, we won’t keep. We’ll see you later.”
They waved at each other, with Max pulling Liz to the jeep.
“Twins, huh?” Max asked casually.
Liz pinched his side. “Don’t even think about it, Max. We haven’t even gotten through this pregnancy yet.”
Max yelped, jumping away from Liz, and into the driver’s seat. “Jeez, all I asked was a question.” He laughed, his eyes full of mirth.
Liz shook her head, wagging her finger at him. “You are such a bad liar.”
Their laughs reverberated in the jeep, both of them just enjoying the laughter and the fun. The past few days had been filled with so much tension, and raw emotions, that it was nice to just be silly for a little while.
Michael looked down at Maria’s blonde hair, his eyes involuntarily closing as she stepped up to ring the bell at Kyle and Courtney’s. She smelled just like cypress oil, he thought amusedly.
Jade tugged on his pants leg, looking at him with wide eyes. “You ok, Mikey?”
Michael opened his eyes, blushing. He kneeled down, his fingers curling in Jade’s pigtails. “I’m good, kiddo. Why do you ask?”
Jade held onto the edges of her skirt, twisting it as she swayed her body from side to side. “I dunno. You looked kinda funny smellin’ ‘Ria’s hair wit your eyes closed.”
Maria shifted the box of coconut cream pie in her hands, looking curiously at Jade and Michael. With a grin on her lips, she turned teasing eyes at Michael. “You were smelling my hair?”
Michael fidgeted under Maria’s sparkling eyes. He scratched the side of his eyebrow, standing up. “I wasn’t....I wasn’t smelling your hair....” He crossed his arms, trying to look nonchalant, but his stance was rigid, his movements jerky, as his voice stammered a little. “Why would I......why would I wanna smell your hair?”
Jade opened her mouth to disagree with him, but loud thumps came from the other side of the door, and Courtney’s muffled voice yelling, “Dexter, Damian! Come back here, you two!”
Michael and Maria just exchanged looks, both of them laughing when they heard a few more thumps, and a loud yelp coming from a guy. A guy who sounded a lot like Kyle.
“Who’s Dexter and Damian?” Jade asked, as her eyes flew from the door to Michael and Maria.
The front door opened with a breathless Courtney, and two little boys hanging onto her legs.
“Sorry, I took so long.” She tried to step aside to let them inside, but Dexter and Damian had attached themselves to her legs, and had no intention of moving.
Sighing, Courtney touched the tops of their ebony colored heads. “Boys, you gotta let go for a second.”
Jade jumped up and down, tugging on Michael’s hand. “Lookie, Mikey! There’s two of them.” Her eyes turned wide with awe as she stared at Dexter and Damian. They were identical twins, and the only thing that was distinguishing them apart was the different colored shirts that they were wearing.
The boys looked up at Jade, smiling at her.
Damian waved at her. “Hi!”
Dexter, being a little shyer than his twin, attempted to disappear behind Courtney.
Courtney rolled her eyes in jest, doing her best to step aside to let them inside. “Come on in.”
Maria smiled as she stepped inside, her hand gently touching Dexter’s cheek. “Hiya, cutie! What’s your name?”
When he didn’t answer, Courtney spoke for him. “This is Dexter. He’s a little on the shy side.” She pointed to Damian, who had already let go of her leg, and was now holding Jade’s hand as he led her into the living room. “That over there is Damian.”
Michael laughed. “Where’s Kyle?”
Courtney’s hand flew to her mouth. “Omigod! He’s still in the kitchen. He kinda tripped when he tried running after the boys.”
Michael put his hand on Courtney’s shoulder. “I’ll go get him.”
Courtney smiled her thanks. She bent down, picking up Dexter in her arms.
“So, where’s your sister and her husband?”
“They’re at my parents. They were going to take the boys, but Kyle insisted that we would be fine taking care of them.”
Maria shook her head. “That’s just like Kyle, thinking he can do it all. You know, he thinks he knows everything after dealing with Noah and Jade as babies, but....” her voice trailed off as she eyed Damian climbing all over Michael. She chuckled, her hand coming to rest on her stomach. “I’m thinking these boys will give him a run for his money.”
Liz sat back in her seat, gushing to the women about how Max had been taking care of her through her bouts of morning sickness. “He’s just been the sweetest. It’s like he just knows what to say and do to make me feel better.”
Maria leaned her chin on her hand. “You sure lucked out, chica. You’ve got it all. Perfect marriage, a beautiful son, and a new baby on the way.” Her eyes flew to Michael. “Me?....I can’t even get Michael to propose,” she sighed.
Courtney placed her chin on Maria’s shoulder, her hand rubbing Maria’s shoulder consolingly. “He really loves you.”
Liz leaned across the table, her hand gentle tapping Maria’s. “She’s right, babe.”
Maria nodded sadly. “I know he does. I don’t doubt that for a second. But it just makes me sad to think that out of everyone of us, Michael and I have been together the longest, and it seems like we’re going to be the last ones to get married.” She closed her eyes, her forehead leaning onto the wooden surface of the table. “That’s even if we get married.”
After staying silent for most of the conversation, Isabel’s voice piped up. “Or you could propose.”
Maria’s head flew up. She looked at Isabel as if she had grown another head.
“What? This isn’t the 1800’s, Maria. Women propose to guys all the time. Heck, Liz did it.”
Liz grinned. “You know Maria, I think Isabel has a point. You know what they say, ’If Muhammad doesn’t come to the mountain.....’....”
Isabel laughed. “You have definitely been Alex’s friend for way too long.”
Liz shook her head, her hand covering her eyes as she giggled. “Yeah, well tell that to Max. He was the one that got me saying all of that junk.”
Isabel looked at her brother in the living room, her eyes looking away when he looked up at her.
Max sat Dexter on his lap, smiling. He looked up when he felt someone’s eyes on him. He met Isabel’s gaze briefly before she looked away, pretending that she wasn’t looking at him.
Alex sat beside Max, as he eyed his wife in the kitchen. “How long are the two of you gonna keep up this whole not speaking thing?”
Max turned his eyes to Alex, feigning indifference. “Hey, if she’s willing to apologize, she knows where to find me.”
Alex shook his head. “You guys really are twins.”
“What makes you say that?” Max asked, trying his best not to sound too interested.
Alex just laughed. “Well, she said exactly the same thing when I asked her.”
Max scoffed. “I’m not apologizing to her. She was the one that sprung McKenzie on me like it was no big deal.”
Alex just sighed, his fingers rubbing his temples. “Look, I don’t care who you think was right or wrong. All I know is that it’s eating her up, ok? She pretends like it doesn’t bother her, but it does. You know, however much you’re hurting right now, she’s hurting too.”
Max pouted. “Why do I always have to be the bigger person? Why can’t she come to me for once and just apologize to me? Why do I always have to make the first move?”
Alex sat silently, not knowing what to say, feeling torn. Max was his friend, and he understood what it felt like to always have to bow down first. But on the other hand, Isabel was his wife, and her feelings came first and foremost.
Max wiped his palm down his face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to put you in the middle like that. I just.....can we talk about something else?”
Alex nodded. “Fine, but can you just think about it?”
Max titled his head, contemplating Alex’s request. He tipped his head, holding out his hand to Alex.
Alex just smiled, shaking Max’s hand.
Kyle’s voice drifted towards them, as he spoke with Michael. “This brings back old times. The three of us babysitting Noah for the first time.” He shook his head, laughing.
The other three guys joined in the laughter as they remembered.
“Are you ever gonna talk to him again?”
Isabel looked up from pretending to study her manicure. “Talk to who?”
Liz scooted her chair closer to Isabel. “You know who. Look, I know that Max can be real stubborn, and it can be downright annoying, but if you could just overlook that, and be the bigger person...”
Isabel crossed her arms, her long blonde locks flying around her shoulders. “No way. He yelled at me. He can apologize whenever he’s ready. He knows where to find me.”
Liz sat up, intending to speak again when Isabel changed the subject.
“Like I was saying, Maria. I think you should be the one propose to Michael.”
The other three girls just silently exchanged looks, deciding not to push Isabel for the moment.
Jade stared at Dexter, watching as he sat quietly to himself. She looked down at her toys, then back at him. Making a decision, she picked up a few of her action figures, bringing them to Dexter. Offering a patented Deluca smile, she handed him the toys. “You can play wit these if you want.”
Dexter just looked at her shyly before taking an action figure then running to the safety of one of the adult males.
Jade smiled, proud of her good deed. She walked back to where Noah and Damian where building a fort out of pillows.
Noah looked up from behind the pillows, pretending to scan the perimeter. He grabbed Jade’s hand quickly, pulling her into the safety of the fort.
“That was close.” He said breathless, as he turned to Jade.
Jade giggled, covering her mouth. She turned her head, noticing how Damian was knocking down their fort. “Damian is knockin’ down the fort,” she pointed.
Noah stood up, shaking his head. “Damian, not again.” He walked towards Damian, hoping to ask him to stop, but Damian just grinned at him, continuing his task of knocking down the fort.
“No more!” He held up his hands, laughing.
Noah laughed, kicking a pillow out of the way. “No more fort.”
As everyone gathered their things to leave, Max headed towards the door to grab his family’s coats, when he ran into Isabel.
They both tried to step out of the other’s way, but ended up moving the same direction as each other.
“This isn’t going to work.”
Max simply nodded his head, stepping aside to let Isabel pass. He didn’t offer anything more, not feeling up to having another shouting match with his sister.
Isabel sighed heavily, her shoulders sagging when Max wouldn’t even look at her. She wished that the floor would just open up and just swallow her. She hated fighting with Max. She wished she wasn’t so stubborn, and just admit that it probably wasn’t the best idea to spring McKenzie on Max unexpectedly.
She stepped forward, almost letting her pride get the better of her.
She turned back around, taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”
Max’s head shot up as he heard Isabel’s words, definitely not expecting her to relent. “What?”
Isabel’s voice trembled as she spoke. “I said I was sorry.” She nervously twisted her long hair in her hands, letting the strands fall across her back before repeating the process. It was a nervous habit that she possessed. “I’m sorry for bringing McKenzie to your house unannounced. It was wrong of me to assume that it would be ok with you.”
Max was stunned speechless.
“And most of all, I’m sorry for being such an ass and not apologizing sooner.”
Max smiled. “Thank you” He shoved his hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels. “And I’m sorry too. I was an ass myself.”
Isabel returned his smile. “Apology accepted.”
The two of them just grinned at each other.
“So, are we okay now?” she asked.
Max shook his head, pulling Isabel to him as he gave her a noogie.
“Max!” she wailed. She elbowed him in the stomach, getting him to let go of her.
Having a hard time keeping a straight face, she tried in vain to glare at him. “You are such a jerk!”
Max just laughed. “Sorry, couldn’t resist....What can I say? It’s a big brother privilege.”
Isabel stuck her tongue out at him, while stomping on his foot.
“Ow!” he yelped.
Isabel laughed heartily, running to Alex as a means of protection from Max’s retaliation.
Liz linked her arm with Max’s as she laughed at their antics. “So, is it safe to assume that all’s well in the land of the Evans twins?”
Max grinned at her, kissing the top of her head. “You could say that.”
Courtney and Kyle helped Carrie strap the twins into the back seat.
“Are you sure you guys are going to be ok to drive tonight? You’re more than welcome to stay with us and just drive back tomorrow.”
Chris smiled at Courtney and Kyle. “Thanks for the offer, but we’ll be fine. I wanna beat the early morning traffic.”
Carrie reached out to Courtney, pulling her into a hug. “Thanks for everything, sis.”
Courtney patted her back. “Call us when you get in. No matter how late it is, ok?”
Carrie squeezed Courtney one last time before hopping into the car. She waved as they drove away, heading down 285 South.
Damian shifted in his car seat, whimpering loudly.
Dexter woke up at the sound of his brother’s cry’s. He followed his twin’s footsteps, his own tears falling as he too began to fuss.
Carrie slipped off her seat belt, turning around to comfort the boys. “It’s okay, boys.”
Chris tugged at Carrie’s shirt. “Carrie, sit down. I can’t see.”
Carrie nodded, intending to sit down, when Damian let out a wail. She turned back around, her hand soothing his leg.
Chris took off his own seatbelt, trying to get Carrie to sit down.
When he turned back around, he was blinded by oncoming headlights. He swerved the steering wheel, the sound of tires screeching, his family’s crying, ringing in his ears before everything went black.
Kyle rolled over in bed, his voice raspy when he answered the phone. “Hello?”
The sound of sirens in the background filled his ears, as his dad’s voice registered over the phone. “Kyle, I need you to head down to 285 South.”
Kyle sat up, rubbing at his sleep filled eyes. “Dad? What’s going?”
“There’s been an accident. An SUV swerved off the side of the road trying to avoid a head on collision with a truck.”
Kyle felt his heart pounding, his body finally waking as he dreaded the information he was about to ask for. “Dad.....
“Just come down here, Kyle. And don’t say anything to Courtney.”
Rated: PG-13? (a little, um, morbid?)
Kyle slid out of bed, retrieving his clothes as quickly and quietly as possible.
Grabbing his keys from the dresser, he opened the door slowly, trying to keep from waking Courtney.
"Kyle?" Courtney sat up in bed, fumbling for the light switch.
He sat by her bedside, stilling her hands as he whispered. "It’s ok. Just go back to sleep."
Courtney squinted against the darkness, a yawn escaping her lips as she attempted to speak. "What time is it? Where are you going?" She reached her hands to touch his face, hoping to calm the anxiousness building in the pit of her stomach.
Kyle felt his stomach clench as he said nothing. Technically, he wasn’t lying, for his father hadn’t said anything over the phone. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that it involved Chris, Carrie, and the boys. He cupped Courtney’s jaw, kissing her forehead. "I know it’s late, but there’s been an accident. It’s just a safety precaution that I go down there."
Courtney’s blue eyes adjusted in the dark. She stared at Kyle, noting the way his eyes shifted nervously, even in the darkness. "Kyle....."
"Court.....I don’t know anymore than you do, right now. All I know is that my presence has been requested."
Courtney shook her head. "Something’s happened, hasn’t it?.....Otherwise you wouldn’t be so....so formal with me." She threw her legs off the side of the bed, trying to stand up.
Kyle pulled her back down. "What do you think you’re doing?"
Her hair flew in her face, as Kyle propelled her to him. "This has something to do with Carrie and the boys, doesn’t it?"
Her words was more a statement than it was a question.
Kyle gathered her body close to his. "I don’t know what to tell you, Court. I promise you that I’m telling you the truth when I say that all they told me was to head down to 285 South."
Courtney broke down against Kyle as she heard the words 285 South cross his lips.
Kyle felt his own tears sting his eyes as he held her in his arms. He couldn’t find the words to say that would console either of them.
Kyle pulled up to the roadside.
There was police tape everywhere, flares littering the ground as various cop cars, an ambulance and a fire truck were parked haphazardly at the accident sight.
The hairs on his neck stood up as he remembered a similar looking scene about five years ago, outside of the Crashdown. The only difference then was that no one was seriously injured. He hoped that that was the case here.
He stepped underneath the police tape, when a voice halted his movements.
"Sir, you can’t be here. This is-
Deputy Hanson’s voice stilled when Kyle looked up at him. "Kyle."
"Where’s my dad?"
Hanson pointed to the Sheriff’s cruiser. "He’s over there with deputy Blackwood." He tipped his hat at Kyle as he walked towards them.
Jim was on the radio with someone as Kyle approached. He waved Kyle to him, holding his finger up asking him to give him a minute.
Kyle nodded, his eyes turning towards his left where the truck had crashed against a mile marker. His eyes looked further down, his body trembling when he saw Chris and Carrie’s SUV flipped onto it’s side. He felt the contents of his stomach churning, making him ready to gag.
Jim placed his hand on Kyle’s shoulder. "You alright, son?"
Kyle shook his head, running to the other side of the cruiser. The sound of him chucking his dinner made everyone cringe.
With rubbery legs, Kyle gripped the cruiser’s bumper as his other hand clutched his stomach. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead, his skin feeling clammy.
Jim’s heart broke at the sight of his son, and didn’t relish the idea of breaking the bad news to him. Trying to slow down the inevitable, he helped Kyle sit down. "Where’s Courtney?"
"I walked her to mom’s." His blue eyes were a mixture of different emotions. "She knows that something’s going on.....that it has to do with Carrie."
Jim nodded solemnly. "Good. It’s good that you didn’t leave her alone."
Kyle pinned his father with a look. "Just be straight with me, dad. Is everyone ok?"
The grim look on Jim’s face told him everything he needed to know, that something had gone terribly wrong. "What happened?"
Jim slid to the ground beside Kyle. "We’re not really sure, but something must have happened with the boys, because Chris and Carrie weren’t wearing their seatbelts. Chris missed hitting the truck, but the SUV tipped with his hard turn."
Kyle let his head fall in his hands. "Is he ok?"
Jim shook his head even though he knew that Kyle couldn’t see him. "The ambulance took him to the ER, but....." he choked on his words as he continued. "Chris was pronounced DOA just a few minutes ago."
"No!" Kyle wailed. He didn’t have the strength to get up and break something to release his anger and frustration. He wiped at his eyes. "What about Carrie? And the boys?"
"Carrie was airlifted to the University Hospital. The boys were strapped in their car seats, so I guess they’re lucky that they came out of it with some cuts and scrapes."
"How bad is she?"
"Well, they’re all doing the best they can-
Kyle stood up, his anger at the situation boiling over. "Just cut the crap, dad. How bad is she?"
Jim pushed himself up. "It doesn’t look good."
Night turned into day, and even in the light, things didn’t look a hell of a lot better.
Kyle paced the waiting room floor, biting his fingernails as he tried to keep himself from going insane. He had just gotten off of the phone with Amy, and they had agreed that she would drive Courtney to the hospital to await the verdict on what was going on with Carrie.
His dad took on the task of calling Courtney’s parents, informing them of the situation.
Kyle dropped against a seat, his head buried in his hands as he wept.
This was his fault. He should have convinced Chris and Carrie to spend the night, instead of letting them drive home. Because of his inability to change their minds, Dexter and Damian had lost their father, and in the process, faced the reality of losing their mother as well.
Max walked out of the kitchen, holding the phone against his ear as he tried to keep the rising of his voice to a minimum.
“Look, I understand that you and mom are worried, but this isn’t really your decision to make. Liz and I have made the decision together, and we think that regardless of the bad blood between McKenzie and I, it isn’t something that I should let stand in the way of Noah from knowing his grandmother.....” He ran a hand through his hair, his eyes closing as he listened to his father yell at him. He let out a heavy breath as he sank onto the couch. “Dad, it makes him happy. I think that it’s good for him, and if you don’t agree with that, then it really doesn’t matter. Noah’s my son, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job raising him with Liz. We’ve made our decision, and it’s final.”
Liz stood just by the clearing of the kitchen, so that Max was in her line of vision. It upset her to see how much this was troubling Max, but she knew in her heart that the two of them were making the right decision.
Liz turned around to face Noah as he ate his cereal dutifully. “Yes, sweetie?”
“Can I play with Dexter and Damian today?” He wiped his mouth with sleeve, smiling as he remembered something. “Oh, and Jade too.”
Liz walked to the table, pulling out a chair so that she was facing Noah. “I’m afraid not sweetie. Dexter and Damian went back home, and we’ve got a busy day, today.”
Max strode into the kitchen, hanging up the phone as he dropped a kiss on Liz’s head.
“How’d it go?” Liz rubbed Max’s arm, her eyes glued to him.
Max shrugged, taking a seat as he gulped down his coffee. “Well, my dad’s not speaking to me.”
“Oh Max.” Liz threw her arms around him, trying to offer him some comfort in her arms.
He let out a shaky breath, pulling away from Liz. “He’ll get over it.......eventually.” He turned his eyes to Noah, tipping his coffee cup as he pointed to him. “Meanwhile, you, young man should finish your breakfast so we can head out to the airport and say goodbye to Mac already.”
Noah’s eyes lit up at the mention of the airport. “Ohhh, do we get to see planes?”
Max shook his head, laughing. “Yes. You’ll get to see planes.”
Courtney ran into the living room, with Amy hot on her heels. She skidded as she saw Kyle weeping in one of the chairs.
“Kyle.” She ran to him, falling on her knees as she hugged him to her.
Kyle hugged her tight, his own tears falling harder as he felt Courtney tremble in his arms. “I’m so sorry......this was all my fault.”
Courtney looked at him, her hands cupping his face as she saw the look of guilt on his face. “How is any of this your fault?”
The sound of Courtney’s mother’s voice echoed in the room, causing all heads to turn her way.
Without being able to let out another word to Kyle, she was pulled up into her parents embrace as they cried. “What’s going on? How is she?”
Courtney pulled away from her parents, slowly shaking her head as she too continued to cry. “I don’t....I don’t know....”
Jim walked up to the family, placing a hand on Courtney’s shoulder. “She’s still in the operating room.”
Courtney’s mother smiled her gratitude, but her eyes were void of emotion. She gathered the remaining family she did have, clinging to them for dear life.
Amy sat beside Kyle, locking him in an embrace as she offered him a shoulder to cry on. She gently stroked his hair, his back, whispering words of assurance, but she knew that even as she spoke them, they were falling on deaf ears as Kyle’s grief overtook him.
Just as if he were a little boy, Amy cuddled him to her, trying to take away a little bit of his hurt. She may not have given birth to him, but Kyle would always be her son.
She kissed the side of his head, allowing his hot tears to soak the shoulder of her shirt.
McKenzie watched as Ed paced the worn carpet of the airport. “Ed, would you sit down?”
Ed stopped mid pace, giving McKenzie an incredulous look. “You want me to sit down? McKenzie, you invited that-
His voice wavered as McKenzie gave him a pointed stare. “I mean, you invited Max and his family to see you off. You don’t think that it’s gonna make me a little bit antsy?”
McKenzie just stared at him, thinking about how they had come to this point.
After they had the blow out about Noah, she had told him not to give her an ultimatum, instead, offering him one. He hadn’t said anything after that, just leaving the hotel room to walk around.
He had come back in the wee hours of morning, telling her that he didn’t agree with her actions. That however many years had passed, he would still feel the same way about Max and his son. But regardless of the animosity he had for them, he wouldn’t let it stand in the way of his marriage.
McKenzie was the only person he had left, and he didn’t want to risk losing her. He agreed to let McKenzie have a relationship with her grandson as long as she didn’t push him to have one with him. He promised to stop being so hateful, but that didn’t necessarily mean that he wanted to be a part of Noah’s life.
If that’s what McKenzie wanted, then that was fine. Just as long as she left him out of it.
McKenzie sat up, grabbing Ed’s hand. “Fine. Why don’t you go walk around or something? They’re not going to be here that long anyway.”
Ed breathed a sigh of relief, practically sprinting towards the gift shop, anything to get away from a possible encounter with Max and his son.
Dr. Cassadine walked out of the double doors, working out the kinks in his neck as he looked around for Carrie’s family.
Seeing them huddled in the waiting room, he took a deep breath, walking towards them.
“Mr. and Mrs. Banks?”
The family looked up with their tear stained faces. “Do you have some news on Carrie?”
The Dr. nodded, clasping his hands together as he opened his mouth to speak. “Carrie........
“Carrie has made it through the surgery.”
Everyone heaved a sigh of relief, glad that Carrie was still alive.
Dr. Cassadine decided to be as honest as possible, not wanting the family to have high hopes when the situation looked to be very discouraging. “While she’s still alive, I’m not going to lie, and say that everything will be ok. The truth is, it’s going to be touch and go for the rest of the day.”
Mrs. Banks stood up, brushing her golden locks out of her eyes. “I want to see my daughter.”
The Dr. nodded. “You can go in one by one and see her, but she specifically requested to see Kyle first.”
All eyes turned to Kyle as he looked up from his seat. “Me?”
The doctor just shrugged. “That’s all she said.” He rubbed his palms together, motioning for Kyle to follow him. “If you’ll just follow me this way.”
Kyle had the same confused expression on his face as everyone else did, wondering why in the world, Carrie would ask for him.
The doctor led him to her room, patting his shoulder as he left.
Kyle felt his tears well up again as he saw Carrie attached to so many different tubes and machines. He leaned his forehead against the clear glass, breathing heavily as he tried to calm down. He had to at least appear calm when he entered the room.
The last thing Carrie needed was more emotional baggage coming from him.
With shaky steps, he entered her room smelling of alcohol and an eerie cleanliness. He pulled up a chair, bringing it to sit beside her bed. He reached to take her hand in his, being carefull not to tangle his hands in her IV.
Carrie’s bruised eyes, fluttered open slowly, her happed lips forcing a smile as she recognized Kyle. “Kyle, “ she croaked out through her parched throat.
Kyle offered her a weak smile, rubbing her hand gently. “Hey, Carrie.”
She squeezed his hand back, attempting to speak again. “Thank you, for coming.”
Kyle only nodded, sensing that she had a lot more to say.
Her bloodshot eyes, blurred with tears, as her voice quivered. “They told me about Chris.....” She whimpered lightly, her tears falling onto the crisp, white linen of her pillow case. “Tell me that the boys are ok?”
Kyle swallowed past the lump in his throat as he forced air out of his lungs. “They’re fine. Only a few scratches.”
Carrie nodded, smiling despite the tears falling through the slits of her eyes. “Kyle,” she began a coughing fit, her weak torso lifting off of the bed as her dry throat itched.
Kyle rubbed her back as gently as he could, helping her through it.
When she calmed down, her face was flushed, her eyes glimmering with a new set of tears. She opened her mouth, trying to speak again, but Kyle shook his head. “Don’t talk.”
Carrie shook her head, persisting. She squeezed Kyle’s hand, her eyes staring into his soul. “I don’t think I’m going to make it, Kyle.”
Kyle’s hot tears spilled onto his cheeks, reaching all the way down onto her sheets. He gripped her hand tightly, shaking his head as he disagreed with her. “Don’t even say that, Carrie. You have two little boys waiting for you, your parents......Courtney. Don‘t give up.”
Carrie turned her eyes down, her voice lowering as she continued to speak. “I’m not giving up. I want more than anything, to see my boys grow up, but.....it’s getting harder to fight against the pain.”
Kyle shook his head, his voice taking a hiatus as he watched Carrie spill the contents of her soul to him.
“I know that you probably don’t want to hear this, but if something were to happen to me, I want you and Courtney to take my boys.”
Blue eyes met blue eyes, both of them pleading with each other.
One begging the other to understand, to agree to take on a huge responsibility.
The other, pleading with the other not to ask the obvious question.
“Please, Carrie.....don’t....” Kyle’s voice caught in his throat, his teeth chattering as his jaw trembled.
Carrie forged ahead. “I know that you and Courtney will love them, and take care of them like they were your own.......please don’t deny me this, Kyle.”
Kyle’s resistance crumbled. He let out a sad chuckle. “But we’re not even married yet.”
Carrie’s eyes lit up. “Marry her right now, then.”
To say that Kyle’s face was shocked, was understatement to say the least. “What?!?”
Carrie smiled. “I know they have ministers here at the hospital......marry my sister while I’m still breathing.”
Kyle was baffled. His jaw flapped as he tried to figure out what to say. “But, but-
She batted her long eyelashes at him, much like Courtney did when she wanted Kyle to relent. “Please?”
Kyle nodded slowly, wondering what he had gotten himself into.
Maria leaned her elbows on the breakfast counter, watching as Jade played with her toys, while listening to the tv.
Michael came up behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist as he dropped a kiss on her shoulder.
“How you doin’?”
Maria turned her head, looking into Michael’s troubled eyes. “I’d like to be able to say that I’m fine, but.....this whole thing just sucks, you know? Probably the least deserving people of tragedy in this world, and they’re hit with it full force.” Her breath was unsteady as she leaned back against Michael. “I just can’t believe that Chris is gone.”
Michael squeezed Maria in his arms, his lips touching her temple. “It just goes to show how you should never take life for granted.”
Maria nodded. “You’re right about that.”
Michael let out a deep breath as he pulled away. “Which is why......” He got down on one knee, producing a small velvet box from his pocket. “I was planning on doing this at a later date, but after everything that’s happened.....” His brown eyes teared up, as his voice quaked with his nervousness. “I don’t think I can wait anymore, blondie.” He snapped the black box open, taking Maria’s hand in his. “Maria Alejandra Deluca, will you marry me?”
For once in her life, Maria was speechless.
She threw herself in Michael’s arms, letting out an excited giggle as she peppered his face with noisy kisses. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited to hear you say that.”
Michael gave her a little smirk. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
Maria punched him in the arm, crushing him to her. “Of course I will.” She buried her face in his neck. “Like there was any doubt.”
Max and Liz sat a few rows away from McKenzie and Noah, trying to give them a little privacy as they said their goodbyes.
Noah kissed McKenzie’s cheek with a loud smack. “I’m gonna miss you, Mac. Will you come and visit me again?”
McKenzie hugged Noah, her fingers curling through his hair. “Of course I will. I promise to come and see you again, real soon.”
Max sat up when his phone started ringing. “Hello?.......Oh my God.....When?......This is terrible.....I can’t believe this happened.......” He nodded. “We’ll be there as soon as we can, Iz......Thanks for calling.”
Liz looked at Max, a mix of different emotions running through her face as he told her about Chris and Carrie.
Ed looked at his watch, thinking that it had been plenty of time to have given McKenzie and Noah enough time to say goodbye. Max had probably taken Noah home already, he calculated in his head.
He strode into the sitting area, taking a seat beside McKenzie.
“BOO!” Noah leapt out from behind the seats, scaring the life out of Ed.
He clutched a hand to his chest, as his harsh breathing filtered through his lungs.
Noah looked guilty as he looked at Ed. “I sorry, mister. I didn’t mean ta scare ya.” He held out his hand, smiling. “My name is Noah. Who are you?”
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay
|posted on 31-Aug-2001 5:58:10 PM|
Courtney touched Kyle’s face, her eyes boring into his. “What’s this about, Kyle? What did Carrie say to you?”
Kyle shook his head, trying to assuage Courtney’s fears. “It wasn’t anything bad.....” He gave her a tight smile, gently caressing her cheek. “I promise.”
Courtney only nodded, leaning against him as she hugged him. “Come on, I wanna go inside and see her.”
Kyle pulled her back to him. “Court, wait.”
Kyle swallowed past the lump in his throat, his eyes shifting nervously. “There’s something......I.....there’s something that I wanted to tell you.”
Courtney smiled, her hand cupping his jaw. “What is it? You know you can tell me anything.”
He let out a heavy sigh as he linked there hands together. “When I was talking to Carrie.....she wanted.....well, she kind of asked me a few favors.”
Kyle looked up to the ceiling, then down into Courtney’s eyes. “There’s......I don’t really know how to say this.”
She leaned forward, planting a warm kiss on the side of his jaw. “Just say it.”
“She asked me......if anything were to happen to her, she wanted us to take the boys.....” His blue eyes misted up again. “I couldn’t say no.....”
Courtney hugged him. “Oh Kyle.....thank you, for saying yes.”
Kyle was a little shocked. “You mean you’re not angry with me? For saying yes without talking to you first?”
“Never. You told her what she needed to hear, and I know that you meant that from the bottom of your heart.” She kissed his neck, rubbing her hands down his back. “I love you.”
Kyle gulped, squeezing Courtney tightly. He let her go, his fingers brushing her hair away from her face. “There was one more thing.”
Courtney smiled her encouragement.
Kyle took her left hand, his thumb brushing the diamond ring. He brought it to his lips for a kiss, taking a deep breath that he desperately needed. “I know that you and I haven’t talked much about when we were going to have the wedding, but.....marry me today?”
Courtney let out a little laugh, thinking that Kyle was joking. When he didn’t share her laughter, she stopped laughing. “You’re serious?”
Kyle nodded. “I already talked to a minister here at the hospital and he said that he would do it.”
Courtney shook her head, a little shocked. “But we don’t even have a marriage license.”
“I know.....here’s the thing. Carrie was, well, she said she wanted to be present for the wedding. She said that we should go ahead and do it, because she says that she’s afraid that she might not be here tomorrow.”
Courtney’s tears fell anew. “She’s not going to die. She’s gonna make it through this.”
Kyle cupped her face. “I know, that’s what I told her. I told her to fight, but she’s convinced that we should do this. And because I think she may just be scared right now, I couldn’t find it in me to say no. And since we have no marriage license, the minister said that the wedding wouldn’t be legal.”
Courtney’s blue eyes clouded with confusion. “I don’t get it. If the marriage isn’t going to be legal, then what’s the point of having it at all, today?”
“The ceremony would be for Carrie’s benefit. When she’s out of the hospital and better, we’re going to have the biggest, whitest wedding that Roswell New Mexico has ever seen.” He kissed her lips lightly. “Getting married in front of everyone is just a formality, because in my heart, we’re already married.”
Courtney’s tears continued to fall as she pulled Kyle towards her for a kiss. “You are the most wonderful man in the whole world.” She smiled at him, squeezing his cheeks together. “Let’s get married.”
“My name is Noah. Who are you?” He tipped his head to the side as he held his hand out for Ed to shake.
Ed felt the world around him go in slow motion.
Standing in front of him was his daughter’s offspring. It was uncanny how much he saw Tess in Noah. He was surprised that he couldn’t bring himself to move or say anything, except clutch his chest.
Noah frowned, but then smiled again. “Is okay. I don’t bite.” He grinned to show all of his teeth as he cracked a joke.
When Ed continued to sit there and stare at him, Noah just stood back, completely thrown for a loop. He looked at his feet, then looked up at Ed again when a thought occurred to him.
“Is it cos I’m a stranger? Momma and daddy sayed that I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” he paused as he gave Ed a visual study. He turned his head to look at McKenzie, who had her own jaw hanging down on the floor. “Is he your friend, Mac?”
McKenzie just nodded, unable to think of anything else.
Noah smiled a board smile. “Then ‘troduce us so we won’t have to be strangers no more.”
McKenzie swallowed with difficulty. “Noah, this is Ed.” She turned to Ed, giving him a warning look not to say or do anything to hurt Noah, or else there would definitely be hell to pay. “Ed, this is Noah.”
Noah held out his hand again in offering. “’Snice ta meet you mister Ed.”
Even Ed couldn’t help but smile at Noah’s sweet innocence. He exuded a friendliness and accepting persona, that he couldn’t help but be drawn to him even though he had said and thought so many terrible things about the little boy standing in front of him.
Slowly, he held out his hand for Noah to shake, his grin widening when Noah sat beside him, making himself comfortable.
“You got any stories, mister Ed? Cos I love stories.” He perched his elbow on his knee as he looked into Ed’s eyes with a friendly curiosity.
Max stood up, hugging Liz as he kissed the top of her head. “We should get Noah and head back- ......What the-?”
He pulled away, his body burning with anger as he caught sight of Ed sitting beside Noah. He stepped forward, intending to give Ed a piece of his mind, if not a taste of his fist, when Liz pulled at his hand.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
He pointed towards Ed, the cords in his neck, straining as he spoke with barely restrained anger. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m gonna give Ed Harding something I should have given him a long time ago.”
Liz grabbed him, pinning him to her body. “If giving him something, requires a knuckle sandwich and some verbal abuse, you better forget about it.”
Max gave her an unbelievable look. “What?!?”
Liz placed her hands on his chest. “It isn’t worth it, Max. Besides, Noah seems to be ok.”
Max snorted. “Yeah, for the meantime.”
Liz shook her head. “I really don’t want to argue with you, Max. But our friends need us back home.” She threw a look in Ed’s direction. “He isn’t worth all of the grief, Max.”
She turned to face him, placing a tender kiss on his lips.
The moment her lips and hands went to work on him, his tense body relaxed a little.
She looked at him with her doe eyes, pleading. “Please, Max? For me?”
Max relented, but it was obvious that he was unhappy. He grabbed Liz’s hand, walking towards the Hardings.
“Noah, it’s time to go.”
Noah looked at his father, pouting. “Already?”
“Say goodbye, little man.” Max’s voice was stern, leaving no room for argument.
Noah let out a breath, jumping from his seat. He walked to McKenzie, kissing her cheek one last time. “Bye Mac. See you again soon.”
McKenzie gripped him tight. “You can bet on that.”
Max cleared his throat, holding his hand out for Noah. He tipped his head in McKenzie’s direction. “McKenzie.”
McKenzie smiled, speaking with her eyes, what her voice couldn’t at the moment. “Thank you, Max...Liz.”
Max nodded, refusing to acknowledge Ed. He gathered his family close, turning to walk away.
Before they got too far away, Noah’s hand slipped from his, returning to McKenzie and Ed.
He threw himself in Ed’s arms. “G’bye mister Ed.”
Ed felt tears sting his eyes, his hands coming up to hug Noah tightly. He was beyond amazed at how quickly Noah had warmed up to him, welcoming him with open arms.
How could he have thought such hateful things about this little boy?
Noah gave his cheek a quick peck before running back to his parents.
Ed just stared after them, feeling a part of his heart breaking as he watched them walk away.
“You ok?” McKenzie rubbed his arm.
After the impromptu ceremony in Carrie’s room, they had left her in peace, giving her the much needed rest that she required.
The nurses only allowed the minister, Kyle, Courtney and their parents in the room, saying that it was already crowded beyond belief.
A knock at the door, made Carrie sit up, her eyes lighting up when she saw who it was.
“You have some visitors.” The nurse brought in Dexter and Damian, helping them scramble onto the bed with Carrie.
“Oh, boys.” She hugged them to her, kissing the top of their heads as she held them tightly.
The nurse smiled, walking out of the room to give them some privacy.
“Mommie.” Dexter leaned against Carrie, laying his head on her shoulder.
Damian followed suit, sucking his thumb.
“I can’t believe you guys are really here.” They snuggled against her, wanting to be as close to her as possible.
“I want you guys to know, that I love you so much......so did your daddy......” She cried as she continued. “If I join your daddy.......Courtney and Kyle will love you just as much.”
Her tired eyes drifted shut, the deep even breathing of the boys, lulling her to sleep.
A smile crossed her lips as an image of Chris appeared before her, beckoning her to him. She looked down at herself, seeing that she was no longer in the hospital. In each hand, she held the boys’ hands.
She smiled, looking at Chris.
He smiled back, waving to her, not saying anything.
She kissed Dexter and Damian on their heads before letting go of their hands. She walked towards Chris, finally breaking out into a run as she threw herself into his strong arms.
He kissed her lips, carrying her to an unearthly light, both of them taking one last look at their boys as they played together in the lush green grass.
Chris’ voice echoed in the atmosphere as he whispered in her ear. “Welcome home.”
The smile on Carrie’s lips was still there even as she flatlined, the beeping of the machine dying down into one stream of monotonous sound.
Natures first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So Dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay